From physicist Carlo Rovelli, author of Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity, interviewed by Cody Delistraty, at Nautilus:
You’ve said before that space and time don’t “really exist.” Why say that?
We study in school that fixed space is like a table over which things happen and time just passes. We have this quantitative view from Newton. With Einstein we understand that this container is in fact an active thing in the universe. Space and time, as Einstein said, is like a big jellyfish in which we’re immersed. This theory has stood up. So we know that all this dynamical stuff is quantum. We need a quantum description of this jellyfish, but a quantum description means that we cannot think of it anymore as something fixed and stable.
We have to think of it like a quantum electron: something that can open up and spread in a cloud of probability—like the probability cloud in quantum mechanics. A probability cloud in space is plural and time is plural, so we can no longer think of the universe as contained in a single space in a single time. We need something richer. It’s not that our sense of space and time is wrong; it’s just that it’s approximate, and nature is far richer than that. That’s why.
The Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg recently wrote in the New York Review of Books, “There’s no argument about how to use quantum mechanics, only how to describe what it means. So perhaps the problem is merely one of words.” Is he right?
I don’t like in his vision that we don’t understand quantum mechanics. No—we use it to explain the world. When new ideas come out, they’re very counterintuitive. When we discovered the Earth was round, the idea that people were upside-down on the sides of the Earth was not the most sensible idea comparatively. Now it is. I think quantum mechanics requires more discussion, but we will understand it nicely, I think. More.
One problem might be with what we mean by “understand” something. That is, are we prepared to understand it as it reveals itself or only insofar as we can fit it into a framework? Are we prepared to live with warranted uncertainty?
See also: Physics flowering — yet in one of its “deepest funks” ?
Unvarnished: Why scientism helps sell books
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One Reply to “Carlo Rovelli: Theories of everything ill-conceived but we can learn to understand quantum mechanics”
The irresolvable dilemma for atheists with quantum mechanics is that quantum mechanics strongly points to “Mind” and yet atheists deny the reality of not only their own mind but also deny the reality of the infinite Mind of God. Thus, since they deny the reality of their own mind and also the reality of the infinite Mind of God, then atheists will forever be hoping to ‘someday’ understand quantum mechanics.
One of the biggest distinctions to be made of subjective ‘mind’, when compared to space-time, is that the subjective ‘mind’ has its own distinctive frame of reference, i.e. ‘the now’, that is set completely apart from the passing of time. Simply put, the subjective mind stays still while it watches time passing. Stanley Jaki puts the unique distinction of subjective mind compared to passing time like this:
In fact, this distinction between the ‘now’ of the subjective mind and the passing of space-time is one of the primary reasons that Einstein failed to receive a Nobel prize for relativity
Years after Einstein’s run in with Henri Bergson, Einstein had another encounter with another respected philosopher on a train. The philosopher’s name was Rudolf Carnap.
During that meeting, Einstein was asked by Rudolf Carnap:
Einstein’s answer was categorical, he said:
The statement Einstein made to Carnap on the train, ‘‘the now’ cannot be turned into an object of physical measurement’, was an interesting statement for Einstein to make to the philosopher since ‘the now of the mind’ has, from many recent experiments in quantum mechanics, established itself as central to quantum theory.
Here is my favorite
i.e. ‘the Now’, as philosophers term it, and contrary to what Einstein (and Jaki) thought possible for experimental physics, and according to advances in quantum mechanics, takes precedence over past events in time. Moreover, due to advances in quantum mechanics, it would now be much more appropriate to phrase Einstein’s answer to the philosopher in this way:
Moreover, if we rightly let the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into the picture of modern physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned, (Newton, Maxwell, Faraday, and Planck, among others), then an empirically backed reconciliation between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity readily pops out for us in Christ’s resurrection from the dead. Specifically, we have evidence that both Gravity and Quantum Mechanics were dealt with in Christ’s resurrection from the dead:
Verses and Music: