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New Scientist asks, what is reality made of?


From Stuart Clark at New Scientist:

Although the scope of our definition determines the complexity of the puzzle, physics should still supply the solution, says philosopher Tim Maudlin of New York University. Physics is about just two questions, he says: “what exists?” and “what does it do?”. “If you answer both of those questions, then I think you have answered the question ‘what is reality?’.” More. (paywall)

Reality isn’t “made of” anything. What is the number 2 “made of”? What is the political idea of proportional representation “made of”? What is the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam “made of”? Almost certainly, they will get nowhere, but at least they will be able to reaffirm their basic vision of life. Not bad for the dead of midsummer.

Note: No more news blogging tonight. Off to other alternate night job.

See also: What great physicists have aid about immateriality and consciousness

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Stuart Clark in New Scientist writes
For many ancient peoples, basic elements such as earth, air, wind and fire formed the essence of the cosmos. In the past century or so, we have concluded that matter is built from atoms, that atoms are constructed from a small set of elementary particles, and that those particles are fluctuations in a melee of quantum fields pervading empty space (see “Why is there something rather than nothing“).
It seems that Stuart Clark has gotten behind in his reading by a few years . . . Vlatko Vedral is a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics, here’s how he expresses reality:
The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information––and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena.
And here's how Anton Zeilinger, a physicist at the University of Vienna, the Scientific Director of the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, and President of the Austrian Academy of Sciences puts it:
What we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure, which is a very, very deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.
Or maybe Clark is simply a victim of confirmation bias. -Q Querius
Moreover, this 'infinite information' quantum qubit is also mathematically defined as being in an 'infinite dimensional' state:
The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences – Eugene Wigner – 1960 Excerpt: We now have, in physics, two theories of great power and interest: the theory of quantum phenomena and the theory of relativity.,,, The two theories operate with different mathematical concepts: the four dimensional Riemann space and the infinite dimensional Hilbert space, http://www.dartmouth.edu/~matc/MathDrama/reading/Wigner.html Wave function Excerpt "wave functions form an abstract vector space",,, This vector space is infinite-dimensional, because there is no finite set of functions which can be added together in various combinations to create every possible function. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_function#Wave_functions_as_an_abstract_vector_space
Also of note,
"it from bit” Every “it”— every particle, every field of force, even the space-time continuum itself derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely—even if in some contexts indirectly—from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits. “It from bit” symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has a bottom—a very deep bottom, in most instances, an immaterial source and explanation, that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment—evoked responses, in short all matter and all things physical are information-theoretic in origin and this is a participatory universe." – Princeton University physicist John Wheeler (1911–2008) (Wheeler, John A. (1990), “Information, physics, quantum: The search for links”, in W. Zurek, Complexity, Entropy, and the Physics of Information (Redwood City, California: Addison-Wesley))
Thus every time we observe/measure, (i.e. collapse a quantum wave of), a single photon we are actually seeing just a single bit of information that was originally created from a very specific set of infinite information that was known by the infinite consciousness that preceded material reality. In other words, infinite information that was known only by the infinite Mind of omniscient God!
Job 38:19-20 “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings?” Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.
Also of related note: In order to join quantum mechanics with special relativity, in order to formulate Quantum Electrodynamics, it was necessary for Richard Feynman to brush “infinity under the rug.”
Theories of the Universe: Quantum Mechanics vs. General Relativity Excerpt: The first attempt at unifying relativity and quantum mechanics took place when special relativity was merged with electromagnetism. This created the theory of quantum electrodynamics, or QED. It is an example of what has come to be known as relativistic quantum field theory, or just quantum field theory. QED is considered by most physicists to be the most precise theory of natural phenomena ever developed.,,, If you examine the forces and particles that have been combined in the theories we just covered, you'll notice that the obvious force missing is that of gravity (i.e. General Relativity). http://www.infoplease.com/cig/theories-universe/quantum-mechanics-vs-general-relativity.html THE INFINITY PUZZLE: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe Excerpt: In quantum electrodynamics, which applies quantum mechanics to the electromagnetic field and its interactions with matter, the equations led to infinite results for the self-energy or mass of the electron. After nearly two decades of effort, this problem was solved after World War II by a procedure called renormalization, in which the infinities are rolled up into the electron’s observed mass and charge, and are thereafter conveniently ignored. Richard Feynman, who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga for this breakthrough, referred to this sleight of hand as “brushing infinity under the rug.” http://www.americanscientist.org/bookshelf/pub/tackling-infinity
Feynman rightly expresses his unease with “brushing infinity under the rug.” here:
“It always bothers me that in spite of all this local business, what goes on in a tiny, no matter how tiny, region of space, and no matter how tiny a region of time, according to laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out. Now how can all that be going on in that tiny space? Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do?" - Richard Feynman – one of the founding fathers of QED (Quantum Electrodynamics) Quote taken from the 6:45 minute mark of the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obCjODeoLVw Double Slit, Quantum-Electrodynamics, and Christian Theism - video https://www.facebook.com/philip.cunningham.73/videos/vb.100000088262100/1127450170601248/?type=2&theater
I don’t know about Feynman, but as for myself, being a Christian Theist, I find it rather comforting to know that it takes an ‘infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do’:
John1:1 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." of note: ‘the Word’ in John1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos is also the root word from which we derive our modern word logic http://etymonline.com/?term=logic
Phillips, Craig & Dean - Great I Am (Lyrics) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_VR-zwp2KA
as to:
“You need to be absolutely clear about the sense of the word ‘reality’ – otherwise the discussion is going to be all over the place.” For a start, do only physical objects like earth or atoms count towards reality – or things like minds and consciousness, too?
In order to even properly define reality in the first place, as WJM has made clear here on UD, mind must be primary.
"In any philosophy of reality that is not ultimately self-defeating or internally contradictory, mind – unlabeled as anything else, matter or spiritual – must be primary. What is “matter” and what is “conceptual” and what is “spiritual” can only be organized from mind. Mind controls what is perceived, how it is perceived, and how those percepts are labeled and organized. Mind must be postulated as the unobserved observer, the uncaused cause simply to avoid a self-negating, self-conflicting worldview. It is the necessary postulate of all necessary postulates, because nothing else can come first. To say anything else comes first requires mind to consider and argue that case and then believe it to be true, demonstrating that without mind, you could not believe that mind is not primary in the first place." - William J. Murray
WJM is in excellent company:
“No, I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.” Max Planck (1858–1947), the originator of quantum theory, The Observer, London, January 25, 1931 “Consciousness cannot be accounted for in physical terms. For consciousness is absolutely fundamental. It cannot be accounted for in terms of anything else.” Schroedinger, Erwin. 1984. “General Scientific and Popular Papers,” in Collected Papers, Vol. 4. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences. Friedr. Vieweg & Sohn, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden. p. 334.
As an interesting footnote to the claim that mind must be primary in any proper definition of reality, in the following study, researchers who had a bias against Near Death Experiences being real, found out, much to their surprise, that the memories of people who had experienced an NDE were 'more real than real':
'Afterlife' feels 'even more real than real,' researcher says - Wed April 10, 2013 Excerpt: "If you use this questionnaire ... if the memory is real, it's richer, and if the memory is recent, it's richer," he said. The coma scientists weren't expecting what the tests revealed. "To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors," Laureys reported. The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. "The difference was so vast," he said with a sense of astonishment. Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich "as though it was yesterday," Laureys said. http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/09/health/belgium-near-death-experiences/ Memories of Near Death Experiences (NDEs): More Real Than Reality? - Mar. 27, 2013 Excerpt: University of Liège ,,,researchers,, have looked into the memories of NDE with the hypothesis that if the memories of NDE were pure products of the imagination, their phenomenological characteristics (e.g., sensorial, self referential, emotional, etc. details) should be closer to those of imagined memories. Conversely, if the NDE are experienced in a way similar to that of reality, their characteristics would be closer to the memories of real events. The researchers compared the responses provided by three groups of patients, each of which had survived (in a different manner) a coma, and a group of healthy volunteers. They studied the memories of NDE and the memories of real events and imagined events with the help of a questionnaire which evaluated the phenomenological characteristics of the memories. The results were surprising. From the perspective being studied, not only were the NDEs not similar to the memories of imagined events, but the phenomenological characteristics inherent to the memories of real events (e.g. memories of sensorial details) are even more numerous in the memories of NDE than in the memories of real events. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130327190359.htm Medical Miracles – Dr. Mary Neal’s Near Death Experience – video (More real than real quote at 37:49 minute mark) https://youtu.be/WCNjmWP2JjU?t=2269
Exactly how does something become 'more real than real' in an NDE unless this reality is just a mere shadow of the heavenly reality that awaits us after death and that is above this one?
Special and General Relativity compared to Heavenly and Hellish Near Death Experiences and The Resurrection of Jesus Christ as the quote unquote "Theory of Everything" - video playlist https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbKELVHcvSI&index=1&list=PLtAP1KN7ahia8hmDlCYEKifQ8n65oNpQ5
Moreover, we have fairly strong, and consistent, physical evidence from quantum mechanics that Mind, with a capital M, must precede reality. Due to advances in quantum mechanics, the argument for God from consciousness can now be framed like this:
1. Consciousness either precedes all of material reality or is a 'epi-phenomena' of material reality. 2. If consciousness is a 'epi-phenomena' of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality. 3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality. 4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality. Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uLcJUgLm1vwFyjwcbwuYP0bK6k8mXy-of990HudzduI/edit Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
My favorite recent advance in quantum mechanics is this experiment:
New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It - June 3, 2015 Excerpt: The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts. “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,, “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said. Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer. http://themindunleashed.org/2015/06/new-mind-blowing-experiment-confirms-that-reality-doesnt-exist-if-you-are-not-looking-at-it.html “Look, we all have fun ridiculing the creationists who think the world sprang into existence on October 23, 4004 BC at 9AM (presumably Babylonian time), with the fossils already in the ground, light from distant stars heading toward us, etc. But if we accept the usual picture of quantum mechanics, then in a certain sense the situation is far worse: the world (as you experience it) might as well not have existed 10^-43 seconds ago!” – Scott Aaronson – MIT associate Professor quantum computation - Lecture 11: Decoherence and Hidden Variables
There is even mathematical evidence that the Mind that is collapsing the wave function must be omniscient. That is to say, an ‘uncollapsed’ photon, in its quantum wave state, is mathematically defined as ‘infinite information':
Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a (quantum) qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1) http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/faculty/duwell/DuwellPSA2K.pdf Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the Quantum Wave state and bringing reality into existence) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-quantcomp/#2.1

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