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Physicist resigns from American Physical Society, after 67 years, and scorches earth

Hal Lewis* reminisces for Society president, Curtis G. Callan, Jr. of Princeton University, charging:

When I first joined the American Physical Society sixty-seven years ago it was much smaller, much gentler, and as yet uncorrupted by the money flood (a threat against which Dwight Eisenhower warned a half-century ago). Indeed, the choice of physics as a profession was then a guarantor of a life of poverty and abstinence—it was World War II that changed all that. The prospect of worldly gain drove few physicists. As recently as thirty-five years ago, when I chaired the first APS study of a contentious social/scientific issue, The Reactor Safety Study, though there were zealots aplenty on the outside there was no hint of inordinate pressure on us as physicists. We were therefore able to produce what I believe was and is an honest appraisal of the situation at that time. We were further enabled by the presence of an oversight committee consisting of Pief Panofsky, Vicki Weisskopf, and Hans Bethe, all towering physicists beyond reproach. I was proud of what we did in a charged atmosphere. In the end the oversight committee, in its report to the APS President, noted the complete independence in which we did the job, and predicted that the report would be attacked from both sides. What greater tribute could there be?

How different it is now. The giants no longer walk the earth, and the money flood has become the raison d’être of much physics research, the vital sustenance of much more, and it provides the support for untold numbers of professional jobs. For reasons that will soon become clear my former pride at being an APS Fellow all these years has been turned into shame, and I am forced, with no pleasure at all, to offer you my resignation from the Society.

Lewis is motivated by the Climategate attempt at censorship of dissenting views on manmade global warming:

It was a fraud on a scale I have never seen, and I lack the words to describe its enormity. Effect on the APS position: none. None at all. This is not science; other forces are at work.

(The really big scandal, in my view, is that Climategate wasn’t treated as a scandal, just business as usual.)

But now, what say you physicists among us: Were the good old days really better? Has love of money been the root of all evil? Read More ›

Do atheists know enough about the concept of God to reject it on rational grounds?

Sometimes I think atheists are simply having arguments with themselves – or, more precisely, with phantoms bred by their own ignorance. It’s easy to see why atheism does not make more headway, even in modern secular society: Once atheists begin to spell out the sort of deity they are rejecting, it becomes clear that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

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The Dwarfs are for the Dwarfs!

A friend directed me to this fun little article from the Jewish World Review. I’m not a regular reader of JWR, so missed this wonderful little piece from Paul Greenberg, in which he recalls the Sokal Hoax of 1996. For those not familiar with it, the Sokal Hoax was an article written by Professor Alan Sokal, a professor of Physics at New York University and submitted to a not too widely followed academic journal called Social Text as part of a series on Science wars. The article was entitled Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,( Social Text, Spring/Summer 1996), and was, according to Greenberg, Read More ›

Stephen Hawking: “Science Will Win”

World renowned physicist Stephen Hawking says “science will win” in a recent interview with ABC news’ Diane Sawyer. From the interview:

But exploring the origins of time inevitably leads to questions about the ultimate origins of everything and what, if anything, is behind it all.

“What could define God [is thinking of God] as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God,” Hawking told Sawyer. “They made a human-like being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible.”

When Sawyer asked if there was a way to reconcile religion and science, Hawking said, “There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.”

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Granville Sewell on the 2nd Law

The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics has never been a friend of materialistic evolution. Granville Sewell’s arguments concerning it at the following two links are worth pondering: Link 1: from the book IN THE BEGINNING Link 2: video presentation “A Mathematician’s View of Evolution”

Self-organized Criticality

Many conceptual and experimental attempts have been made by evolutionists to explain the arise of the huge complexity and organization of nature based on unguided processes, that is without the intervention of an organizing intelligence. Among them I recall those related to chaos theory, evolutionary algorithms, emergent properties, far-from-equilibrium dynamical systems, self-organized criticality (SOC). Here I will briefly focus on SOC, the last on this list though not the recent one.

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The Quantum Enigma of Consciousness and the Identity of the Designer

In this thread, I will suggest the identity of Intelligent Designer of life. The question of the identity of the Intelligent Designer is outside of ID proper, but if a design is detected, it inspires the question, “who is the Designer?”

If the identity of the Intelligent Designer is outside of ID proper, is it outside the speculations of science? I think not. As Dawkins himself once remarked:

You then realize that the presence of a creative deity in the universe is clearly a scientific hypothesis. Indeed, it is hard to imagine a more momentous hypothesis in all of science.

Richard Dawkins
as reported in Dawkins on the Discovery Institute Payroll?

In that spirit, rather than offer a theological speculation, I will offer a speculation based on inference from scientific observation. And I will argue scientific observation suggests the Intelligent Designer is a Deity of some sort.

To begin, I point out this essay in the prestigious scientific journal Nature in 2005 by physicist Richard Conn Henry:

“The ultimate cause of atheism, Newton asserted, is ‘this notion of bodies having, as it were, a complete, absolute and independent reality in themselves.’”

The 1925 discovery of quantum mechanics solved the problem of the Universe’s nature. Bright physicists were again led to believe the unbelievable — this time, that the Universe is mental.

According to Sir James Jeans: “the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the Universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears to be an accidental intruder into the realm of matter…we ought rather hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.”
The Universe is immaterial — mental and spiritual.

Richard Conn Henry
The Mental Universe: Nature Volume 436

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Can SETI’s algorithm detect intelligence?

TED granted Jill Tartar her wish to: “empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company”. TED and Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has set up SETIQuest.org to:

. . . make vast amounts of SETI data available to the public for the first time. It will also publish the SETI Institute’s signal-detection algorithm as open source code, inviting brilliant coders and amateur techies to make it even better. . . . You are officially invited to join the search for extraterrestrial life. . . .With available cloud storage and processing resources, we can prov de digital signal processing experts and students with a lot of raw data … and invite them to develop new algorithms that can find other types of signals that we are now missing,”

The Challenge for ID
1) Is SETI’s methodology valid? Read More ›

Do humans influence temperature records?

Can the methods of Intelligent Design be brought to bear to detect anthropogenic influence in temperature records? Core to the climate debate is the danger of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming. We hear of “tipping points” promising coast lands drowning in glacial melt. Defining “very likely” as > 90%, the IPCC’s Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report holds that:

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations.

In The Smoking Gun At Darwin Zero Willis Eschenback examines temperature records at Darwin, North Australia. Read More ›

36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction

The title of this post is also the title of a recent book by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein. According to the website for The Edge Foundation,

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, known to Edge readers as a philosopher who has interesting things to say about Gödel and Spinoza, among others, enters into this conversation, taking on these and wider themes, and pushing the envelope by crossing over into the realm of fiction.

Goldstein isn’t the first novelist to appear on Edge, nor the first to discuss religion. In October 1989, the novelist Ken Kesey came to New York spoke to The Reality Club. “As I’ve often told Ginsberg,” he began, “you can’t blame the President for the state of the country, it’s always the poets’ fault. You can’t expect politicians to come up with a vision, they don’t have it in them. Poets have to come up with the vision and they have to turn it on so it sparks and catches hold.”

It’s in this spirit that Edge presents a brief excerpt from the first chapter, and the nonfiction appendix from 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein.

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The ID argument from thermodynamics

Since in my last post a commenter put on the table thermodynamics to support evolution I decided to offer my personal answer in a specific post, although UD already dealt with this issue. As known, 2nd law of thermodynamics (SLOT, also called “entropy law”) states that in a closed system the overall energy entropy ΔS never decreases spontaneously (i.e. without an external intervention). Example: in a room (considered a closed system) a hot cup of coffee on a tabletop, loosing heat, decreases in energy entropy –ΔSc (neghentropy). Around the table the environment, absorbing heat, increases energy entropy ΔSe, in such manner that the overall energy entropy of the room ΔSr doesn’t decrease. In this example SLOT can be expressed with this formula: Read More ›

Physics: Can the laws of physics evolve?

All these universes popping up in the clouds in our coffee, in the torment of a black hole, in the futility of an escaped balloon—their existence guarantees that our universe is a product of chance. If only they would exist . . . if only they would exist . . . Read More ›