Monday, 18 December 2017

Molecular Resonance Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1988: 130):
… spectroscopic studies show quite clearly that ozone molecules are held together by two equal bonds, each equivalent to a bond strength of 1.5 [instead of one single bond and one double bond].  The explanation is that the 'real' structure is a resonance between the two possibilities … a hybrid structure like the hybridisation which gives us the sp³ orbitals in the carbon atom.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the one single and one double bond between oxygen atoms in the ozone molecule constitute the potential of the ozone molecule as a whole, and so apply equally to both chemical bonds, yielding the "hybrid" potentials of each bond.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Molecular Resonance Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1988: 129):
The principle of resonance says that if a molecule can be described in two (or more)  equally acceptable ways (where 'acceptable' effectively means states with the same energy, different versions of the lowest possible energy state for that molecule) then the molecule has to be thought of as existing in both (or all) of those states simultaneously.  The 'real' molecule is a hybrid of all the possible structures with the same lowest energy, just as the 'real' carbon orbitals are mixtures of s and p states.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the possible molecular structures with the lowest possible energy states are construals of experience as potential structures.  An actual structure of a molecule is an instance of that potential.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Pauling's Hybrid Atomic Orbitals Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1988: 128):
Electrons in the spherical, s, orbital ought to behave differently from those in the perpendicular, p, orbitals.  But an atom like carbon forms four identical bonds.  Each of these is a hybrid, flavoured one part of s and three parts of p.  Such behaviour is only possible because electrons behave as waves, not particles, in these interactions.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the one spherical and three perpendicular orbitals constitute the interrelated potential locations of electrons in relation to the nucleus of a carbon atom.  It is because they constitute the potential of the atom as a whole that they apply equally to all four chemical bonds, yielding the "hybrid" potentials for each of them.

From this perspective, electrons do not "behave as waves".  The wave is a model of quantum potential (i.e. potential behaviour), whereas the particle is a model of instances of that potential (i.e. actual behaviour).

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Pauling's Hybrid Atomic Orbitals Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1988: 127-8):
Casting aside any idea of little hard particles orbiting around the atom, and building from the concept of an electron as some hybrid of particle and wave, Pauling hit on the idea of each of the four symmetric orbitals in the [carbon] atom as a hybrid combination of the four fundamental orbital states.  These orbitals come in two different varieties, which were identified and labelled as s and p on the basis of spectroscopic studies long before anyone had any idea that such things as spread out electrons occupying volumes of space with distinct shapes existed.  Serendipitously, it happens that  that these initials provide a convenient mnemonic for remembering the shapes of the orbitals.  The spherical, or s, orbital had to be mixed in with the three perpendicular, or p, orbitals, to produce four orbitals denoted as sp³.  Just as it is impossible to say whether any electron is 'really' a wave or a particle, so it impossible to say whether a particular bond is 'really' s or p.  It is both, at the same time, in a ratio 1:3. … The symmetric state is, indeed, one with lower overall energy than a state of one pure s and three pure p orbitals.  If you want a physical picture of why this should be so, it is because the four hybrid orbitals keep the four electrons, or electron clouds, at the greatest possible separation from one another.  As you know, like charges repel; the electrons (harking back to the picture of little negatively charged particles) would 'like' to be as far apart from each other as possible, and hybridisation of the available orbital states allows them to achieve this.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, each electron cloud represents the potential locations of an electron, and the shape of the cloud represents the extent of those potential locations.  The 1:3 ratio of s to p atomic orbitals is thus a relation between potentials of the carbon atom as a whole, and this is why the ratio applies to all of the orbitals, making each of them "hybrid".

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the notion of what electrons 'would like' is an interpersonal metaphor of modality in which probability (modalisation) is incongruently represented as inclination (modulation).

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Electron 'Clouds' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [6]

Gribbin (1988: 123):
When two hydrogen atoms combine to form a hydrogen molecule, one elongated electron cloud surrounds both nuclei.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the elongated electron cloud that surrounds the combined hydrogen nuclei represents the extent of potential locations of the electrons as particles.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Electron 'Clouds' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [5]

Gribbin (1988: 118):
The chemical nature of an atom depends on the number of electrons in the highest energy shell that is occupied at all; those electrons are best thought of as spread out, three-dimensional objects with a definite shape, attached to the nucleus and sticking out into space, each one covering a volume comparable to the size of the atom itself; full shells are particularly stable, so that atoms 'like' to arrange themselves to get filled outer shells; and electrons come in two flavours, up and down, which 'like' to pair up with one another.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the "spread out, three-dimensional objects with a definite shape, attached to the nucleus and sticking out into space, each one covering a volume comparable to the size of the atom itself" — that is: electron clouds — are construals of the potential locations of electrons at the various energy shells (atomic orbitals).  An actual electron, as an instance of quantum potential, is a particle at one of these potential locations.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Electron 'Clouds' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [4]

Gribbin (1988: 117-8):
There is one oddity here, which calls for a little explanation and which brings in the dual particle–wave nature of the electron once again.  Just when you thought it was safe to think of electrons as waves, there's a catch.  Why should there be room for two electrons in each orbital?  The explanation for this has to do with a property of the electron that has, unfortunately, been called 'spin', even though it bears little resemblance to the spin of an object in the everyday world, like a child's top or the Earth in space.  Electrons can be slotted into orbitals in one of two states, 'up' or 'down'.  Quantum mechanics — quantum maths — predicts that no two identical electrons can ever occupy exactly the same energy state at the same time.  But an electron with spin up is not in identically the same state as an electron with spin down.  So two electrons, paired with opposite spins, can occupy each orbital allowed by the wave equation.  Indeed, this is a particularly stable state.  Just as the atom 'likes' to have its outermost shell full of electrons, so it 'likes' to have two paired electrons in each orbital within that shell.  And, of course, it can all be explained in terms of waves, matched up to mesh in with each other in a state of minimum energy.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the wave perspective is a construal of experience as quantum potential, whereas the particle perspective is a construal of experience as an instance of that quantum potential.  Both perspectives are required, and this interpretation of the distinction between them provides clear thinking on waveparticle complementarity and on the relation between electron clouds and individual electrons in the quantum model of chemistry. 

Monday, 4 December 2017

Electron 'Clouds' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Gribbin (1988: 116-7):
The simplest [electron] clouds are spherical and centred on the nucleus.  The two electrons in the helium atom occupy these simplest orbitals, the lowest energy state.  At the next level up the energy ladder, however, things are a little more complicated.  The wave equation does indeed predict the existence of another spherically symmetrical state, into which two more electrons with slightly more energy than the two innermost electrons can slot.  But alongside it, at very nearly the same energy, there are three more standing wave patterns, shaped rather like short, fat dumb-bells, or hour glasses, at right angles to each other.  Two electrons are able to slot into each of these orbitals, giving a total number of eight (2 + 6) for the filled outer shell.  Things get still more complicated at higher energy levels.  But the quantum mechanical wave equation exactly predicts how many electrons can fit into each shell, and this explains the structure of the periodic table of elements.  The quantum maths also tells us that although some electrons do fit spherically around their nuclei, very many electron orbitals have a definite shape and a definite orientation with respect to one another.  In very many cases, electron orbitals stick out from atoms in certain clearly defined, and predictable, directions.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, differences in the shape and extent of electron clouds are construals of (experience as) differences in the potential locations of quanta.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Electron 'Clouds' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1988: 115-6):
The [electron] standing waves are described by Schrödinger's equation.  This defines the shape and extent of the electron clouds, and they are different for different energy levels and different orbitals.  But instead of thinking of the electrons in different shells as neatly outside each other, like a series of onion rings, we have to visualise them all interpenetrating, like lots of ripples on a pool.  Every individual electron cloud extends down to 'touch' the nucleus, and all electrons come under the direct influence of the nucleus, but some more strongly than others.  There are many ways to picture what is going on.  The electrons that used to be thought of as further out from the nucleus do indeed 'spend more time' further out — their orbital clouds are concentrated further from the nucleus.  But the most important thing is that they are less strongly attached to the nucleus.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the standing waves described by Schrödinger's equations construe experience as quantum potential, quantified in terms of probability.  The shape and extent of electron clouds, therefore, construe the potential locations of electrons.  The interpenetrations of electron clouds are, therefore, overlaps of the location potentials of different quantum systems.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Electron 'Clouds' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1988: 115):
A particle is localised in space; the only way a particle can 'surround' the [atomic] nucleus is to whizz round it very rapidly.  But a wave is a spread out thing.  An electron wave trapped by an atomic nucleus can 'surround' the nucleus in a much more real sense, in the same way that a sound wave completely fills up an organ pipe.  Such a sound wave is called a standing wave; the electron waves around an atomic nucleus can also be thought of as standing waves, and described in mathematical terms as waves trapped in in the electric potential field of the nucleus.  Each single electron has to be regarded as a diffuse object spread out over a volume roughly as big as the whole atom.  This cloud corresponding to a single electron is thicker — more dense — in some places than in others.  If you try to explain that in terms of particles, it 'means' that the electron 'particle' is more likely to be found in some places (where the cloud is thickest) than in others.  The concept of uncertainty comes in again here.  If you insist on thinking of the electron as a particle, all you can say about its position is that it exists somewhere within a particular orbital, and that it is most likely to be found in the densest parts of that 'cloud'.  But it really is best to get rid of the image of an electron as a particle altogether now, and to think of the diffuse cloud around the nucleus as representing the 'real' electron.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Function Linguistic theory, the electron wave that surrounds an atomic nucleus is a construal of experience as a measure of quantum potential in terms of probability.  It is thus not more 'real' than any actual particle that is an instance of that potential. A sound wave, on the other hand, is actual, not potential, and, unlike an electron, it is a process, not a thing: the propagation of a disturbance through a medium.  Thus, it is electron potential (a probability wave) that is "trapped in in the electric potential field of the nucleus" and "spread out over a volume roughly as big as the whole atom".

By the same reasoning, the electron cloud of an atomic orbital represents the position of an electron as probabilistic potential, with cloud density proportional to probability.  That is, the electron as particle, as instance, is located more frequently where the cloud, as potential, is densest, since frequencies are instances of probabilities.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Quantum Uncertainty Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [9]

Gribbin (1988: 106-7):
Notice the way I said that by measuring momentum precisely we are selecting a wavelength for the electron.  It is no longer merely the case that the answers we get from nature depend on the questions we ask.  What the uncertainty relation is telling us is that what nature is depends on the questions we ask.  By choosing to measure the momentum of an electron, or beam of electrons, very accurately, we are creating uncertainty in the position of the electrons; by measuring the position of an electron very precisely, our experiment itself produces uncertainty about the wavelength, or momentum, of an electron.  This is just the edge of the very deepest and most mysterious of quantum mechanical pools, a glimpse of the way in which the experimenter, or observer, becomes part of what he is observing.   In fact, it makes more sense to say that neither the position nor the momentum of an electron has any meaning at all until one of them is measured.  And this uncertainty extends to other pairs of properties, such as the time a fundamental event takes and the amount of energy involved in the event.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the selection of a wavelength for an electron is the instantiation of one potential wavelength, rather than another, and the instantial wavelength of an electron depends on the frequency and speed of such particles in a beam.

Moreover, "the answers we get from nature" and "what nature is" is a false distinction; "the answers we get from nature" and "what nature is" are both construals of experience as meaning.

"What the uncertainty relation is telling us" is that there is a complementary relation between the probabilities of momentum potential and location potential in a quantum system. 

The experimenter/observer is "part of what he is observing" in the sense of being the medium through which experience is construed as meaning.

The reason why "neither the position nor the momentum of an electron has any meaning at all until one of them is measured" is because each constitutes meaning construed of experience, and because measuring construes experience as an instance of meaning.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Quantum Uncertainty Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [8]

Gribbin (1988: 106):
Heisenberg's relation says that if you multiply the amount of uncertainty in the position of a quantum particle by the amount of uncertainty in its momentum then the product can never be less than Planck's constant divided by 2π.  This is not simply a practical limit, an indication that our measuring techniques are imperfect.  It is a fundamental law of nature, which says that there is no such thing as a particle which has a precisely defined position and a precisely defined momentum at the same time.  We cannot know simultaneously exactly where a particle is and exactly where it is going.  The law is very closely linked to the dual wave/particle nature of things, but it is telling us something at once both more subtle and more profound.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, Heisenberg's relation is about constraints on construals of experienceeither the precise position of a quantum particle can be construed, or the precise momentum of an electron can be construed.  It is in this sense that "there is no such thing as a particle which has a precisely defined position and a precisely defined momentum at the same time".

Friday, 24 November 2017

Complementary Quantum Uncertainties Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1988: 106):
Measuring position very accurately corresponds to squeezing the wave packet, and the smaller the wave packet the bigger the spread in wavelength, and therefore in momentum.  Measuring momentum very accurately corresponds to selecting out a very precise wavelength, or velocity, for the electron, and that means that the wave train stretches out over a greater distance.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, measuring the position or momentum of a quantum is construing experience as an instance of meaning.  The complementary uncertainties of quantum position and momentum are the complementary probabilities in the quantification of the potential.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

The Spread In Wave Packet Wavelength Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1988: 105):
The spread in wavelength depends only on the size of the wave packet, and has nothing to do with quantum effects — it happens in exactly the same way for waves in the everyday world, ripples on a pond and the like.  But the spread in wavelength does have implications in terms of quantum physics, because we now know that a spread in wavelength must correspond to a spread of momentum over an equivalent amount.  At the same time, even though the wave packet may be very small, it always has some physical spread in space itself.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the spread in the wavelength of the wave packet corresponds to the probabilistic spread of the momentum potential and the locomotion potential of the quantum system.  The actual frequencies of particle momenta and locomotions are the instances of that potential.

Monday, 20 November 2017

The Notion Of Wave Packet Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Gribbin (1988: 105):
But the only way to create a wave packet which is localised in space is to allow waves of different wavelengths to interfere with one another.  And the smaller the wave packet the more variety of different wavelengths is needed to keep it tightly confined.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the way to construe "a wave packet that is localised in space" is to clearly distinguish between the potential (an ensemble of "superposed" waves of probability) and the instance (actual particle frequencies) as different perspectives on the same phenomenon.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

The Notion Of Wave Packet Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1988: 104-5):
In the everyday world, a wave is a spread out thing.  The ripples on a pond stretch out over a long distance, and it is hard to be sure exactly where the string of ripples — the wave train — begins and ends.  But a particle is a very well defined thing, which occupies a definite place at a definite time.  How can these two conflicting images be reconciled, as they must be if an electron is to be regarded as both wave and particle at the same time?  The appropriate image is of a little package of waves, a short wave train which only extends over a small distance, a distance roughly corresponding to the size of the equivalent particle.  There is no difficulty in constructing such wave packets, as they are known, in the real world.  The mathematics describing such phenomena are very well known.

Blogger Comments:

The ripples on a pond constitute the propagation of a disturbance through a medium.  Electrons, on the other hand, propagate even in the absence of a medium; i.e. through a vacuum.  So electrons are not waves in this sense.  

The mathematics describing wave packets is known as a Fourier analysis.  From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, because quantum waves are quantifications of potential in terms of probability, a Fourier analysis is a technique that manipulates the probabilities of quantum potential. The resultant wave packet is thus a compromise of potential probabilities (wave) and instance frequencies (particle) that arises from not making a clear distinction between potential and instance.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Quantum Uncertainty Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [7]

Gribbin (1988: 104):
In quantum physics, uncertainty is a definite thing.  It can be measured, very precisely, and is governed by equations and laws, like other physical phenomena.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, uncertainty is both a construal of experience as ideational meaning and an enactment of intersubjective relations as interpersonal meaning.

Ideationally, uncertainty is a Quality of cognitive projection, reconstrued metaphorically as a Thing.  It is agnate with projecting figures such as those worded as I think… .

Interpersonally, uncertainty is a type of modalisation, probability, that assesses the validity of propositions.

The measurement of 'uncertainty', as probability, is a quantification of meaning as potential: potential happenings etc.

Physical phenomena are not "governed" by equations and laws, any more than a landscape is "governed" by a map of that landscape.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Wave-Particle Duality Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [7]

Gribbin (1988: 103-4):
It is no use asking whether a photon, an X-ray or an electron is 'really' a particle or wave.  The names 'photon', 'X-ray' and 'electron' are simply labels which we attach to certain natural phenomena.  When we make certain measurements of those phenomena — perform certain experiments — the results we get can be interpreted, for convenience, in terms of the behaviour of particles in the everyday world.  When we make other tests, the results we get are most conveniently interpreted in terms of the laws of physics that describe waves, such as ripples on a pond.  The answers we get from nature depend not just on the questions we ask, but on the kind of questions we ask.  Ask particle questions and we get particle answers; ask wave questions and we get wave answers.  But the natural phenomenon itself is not 'really' either a wave or a particle.  It is something we have no everyday experience of at all, something which is sometimes called a 'wavicle'.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the names 'photon', 'X-ray' and 'electron' are construals of experience as wordings, and the natural phenomena they label are construals of experience as meanings.  That is, the names are wordings that realise meanings construed of experience.

The construal of experience as particles is the construal of experience as instances of quantum potential, whereas the construal of experience as waves is the construal of experience as quantum potential, of which the particles are instances.  The word 'wavicle' realises meaning that combines the potential and instance perspectives on the quantum.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Wave-Particle Duality Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [6]

Gribbin (1988: 100):
[Maurice de Broglie's] experiments showed clearly that during the photoelectric process an X-ray gives up the whole of its quantum of energy — there is no combination of wave and particle moving, as it were side by side.  It wasn't that the X-ray was a combination of a wave and a particle, but rather that the X-ray possessed some mixture of the properties which are associated, in the everyday world, with particles and waves separately.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the relation between quantum as wave and quantum as particle is the relation of instantiation.  A wave models a quantum as potential, whereas a particle models a quantum as instance.

Friday, 10 November 2017

The Wave Interpretation Of Light Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1988: 96):
One of the most striking features of waves is the way they can interact with each other, interfering to produce distinctive patterns of peaks and troughs.  This is true for ripples on the surface of a pond, and it is also true for two beams of light, carefully prepared to be in step with one another by letting light from a single source — a lamp — pass through two pinholes in a sheet of cardboard.  Light spreading out from each of the pinholes overlaps and interferes to produce a characteristic pattern of bright stripes and dark shadows — a diffraction pattern — on a second card held up on the other side of the pinholes from the lamp.  This, and similar, effects can only be explained in terms of wave motion, and such experiments had been the basis of the wave interpretation of light in the nineteenth century.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, it is not true that the diffraction pattern is produced by wave motion, and this is borne out by the fact that the diffraction pattern occurs even if one photon is emitted at a time, thereby making interference impossible.  This is also borne out by the fact that a wave is a propagation of a disturbance through a medium, and light propagates even in the absence of a medium through which to propagate.

Instead, the observed pattern of peaks and troughs "instantiates" the constructive and destructive interference between the superposed waves of probability that quantify the system as potential.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Many Worlds Interpretation Of The Wave Function Of The Universe Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 384):
The correct way to calculate the probabilities that describe the behaviour of the Universe (or any system that includes an observer) is to use the alternative interpretation of quantum physics, the so-called Many Worlds Interpretation, in which the effects of all the possible wave functions for the system can, in principle, be calculated and added together, using Feynman's path integral (or "sum over histories") technique to produce an overall mathematical description of the system and how it gets from state A to state B. …
But as Hawking has pointed out on several occasions, a combination of the Many Worlds Interpretation and sum over histories is the only way to approach a quantum description of the Universe — and in this case the "sum over histories" is literally that, an adding together of all the possible ways in which the Universe could evolve.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, Everett's 'Many Worlds Interpretation' of quantum physics is neither the "correct" way, nor the "only" way to describe any system that includes an observer.  This false inference derives from the confusion of first and second order experience, as pointed out in the previous post.  More importantly, Everett's 'Many Worlds Interpretation'  confuses potential with instancespossible worlds that could evolve with an actual world that did — as explained in previous posts.

Monday, 6 November 2017

The Copenhagen Interpretation Of The Wave Function Of The Universe Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 383):
This [Copenhagen] interpretation of the quantum maths works very well as a practical tool for calculating how many atoms and subatomic particles (and, indeed, molecules) will behave.  But it is hardly common sense, and there is a real difficulty in trying in trying to apply the Copenhagen Interpretation to the entire Universe.
We can imagine the Universe as being described by quantum mechanical wave functions, of course, even if we can never hope to write down the equations that would describe the "wave function" of the entire Universe.  But since, by definition, the Universe includes everything of which we can have knowledge, including ourselves, there is nobody "outside" the Universe to observe it and thereby to cause it to collapse into one possible quantum state.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this confuses two orders of experience.  An observer is a construal of experience as first-order meaning, whereas what they construe as an instantiation of quantum potential — "collapsing the wave function" — is a construal of experience as second-order meaning.

Saturday, 4 November 2017

The Copenhagen Interpretation Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [4]

Gribbin (1989: 383):
What version of quantum physics, however, is appropriate when we are describing the whole Universe?  Remember that quantum theory tells us nothing about how a particle, or a system, gets from state A to state B.  The conventional interpretation of quantum physics is the Copenhagen Interpretation.  This says that when we are not looking at a system it exists in some sort of superposition of all the possible states it could be in, and that the act of measuring the system — or looking at it — causes a "collapse of the wave function" into just one of these possible states, a state selected solely on the basis of probability.  When we stop measuring the system, or looking at it, it spreads out, in the quantum sense, from that certainty into a new superposition of states, only to collapse again, perhaps in a different way, the next time it is measured.


Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, what quantum theory tells us is that if we want to know how a particle, or a system, gets from state A to state B, we have to be able to construe experience as a continuous transition.

When we are not "looking at a system", we are not construing experience as meaning.  This is distinct from a "superposition of all possible states" which is a construal of experience as potential, as the word 'possible' makes clear.  When we are "looking at it", we are construing one instance of that potential; that is what the 'collapse of the wave function' is: an instantiation of quantum system potential.  The probability of instantiation is a quantification of that potential.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Hawking's Wave Function Of The Universe Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 378):
Stephen Hawking, of the University of Cambridge, has developed an approach based on the concept of defining a quantum mechanical wave function that describes the entire Universe, and dealing with this, as one could any other wave function in quantum physics, in terms of path integrals.  And he says there may be no boundary to the Universe, even at the moment of creation.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the path integral approach — Feynman's taking into account of every possible trajectory — is the construing of experience as quantum system potential.  In applying it to the entire Universe, Hawking is modelling the entire Universe as potential.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Quantum Uncertainty Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [6]

Gribbin (1989: 378):
If there really was a moment of creation, then the concept of quantum uncertainty, one of the strangest and most fundamental features of quantum physics, seems to provide the best hope of explaining how the Universe came into being.  In that case, there may indeed have been a moment of creation marking the boundary of the Universe at the beginning of time.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, quantum uncertainty is the construal of experience as quantum probability, which is the quantification of physical systems as potential.

As interpersonal meaning, probability is an assessment of a proposition as 'either yes or no', that is 'maybe yes, maybe no' (Halliday & Matthiessen 2014: 177, 691).

Construing the coming into being of the Universe is construing a first instantiation of physical potential.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Universe As A Quantum Fluctuation Of 'Nothing' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 375-6):
Ed Tryon himself revived his idea in the context of inflation in the 1980s, and in 1982 it was also taken up by Alexander Vilenkin of Tufts University.  Vilenkin, indeed, takes things a step further than Tryon did in 1973.  Tryon talked about a "vacuum fluctuation," implying that some form of space-time metric existed before the Universe came into being; but Vilenkin is trying to develop a model in which space, time and matter are all created out of literally nothing at all, as a quantum fluctuation of nothing.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the idea of the space, time and matter being "created out of literally nothing at all" is also the idea of the material order of experience as an instance of material order potential.  The inclusion of space-time in Vilenkin's model is the inclusion of the spatiotemporal location and extent of processes and their participants in the instances of material order potential.

Friday, 27 October 2017

The Universe As Vacuum Fluctuation Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 372):
But one of the most dramatic implications of the idea of inflation in its 1985 form is that the whole Universe may have appeared literally out of nothing at all, created as a quantum fluctuation in the same way that quantum uncertainty allows a virtual pair of particles to appear and exist for a short time before annihilating.
The idea surfaced in Nature in December 1973, in the form of a scientific paper from Edward Tryon of Hunter College, City University of New York.  Tryon proposed what he called "the simplest and most appealing" Big Bang model imaginable, that "our Universe is a fluctuation of the vacuum."

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the idea of the whole Universe "appearing literally out of nothing at all" is the idea of the material order of experience as an instance of material order potential.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

The Statistical Mechanics Of Boltzmann Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 368):
It was Boltzmann who showed that entropy (a concept introduced by the German physicist Rudolf Clausius in 1865) is a measure of the disorder of a system.  Boltzmann's approach was statistical.  The behaviour of a gas could be explained, he found, by the random motions of very many molecules colliding with each other and with the walls of any container in which the gas was confined.  The rules that describe such a system of many particles interacting at random are very accurate and reliable — they start out from simple probability calculations (like the chance of rolling two sixes on a pair of dice three times in a row) and give you the odds of certain possibilities occurring for the system of molecules that make up the gas, and they tell you what the most probable state for such a system is.  The set of equations developed by Boltzmann and later refined by others is called statistical mechanics.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, Boltzmann's probability calculations quantify physical systems as potential, and the statistical behaviours of interacting particles are quantified instances of that potential.

Monday, 23 October 2017

The Laws Of Physics Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1989: 348):
This is hardly likely to be a chance occurrence and must mean that the laws of physics somehow require the Universe to be born out of the Big Bang in a state of extreme flatness.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this:
  1. confuses meaning of the first-order (the Universe) with meaning of the second-order (laws of physics);
  2. by the word 'require', misconstrues the laws of physics as modulation (obligation/inclination) instead of modalisation (probability/usuality); and
  3. proposes that the second-order (theory) requires something of the first-order (data), which is equivalent to proposing that a map requires something of the landscape it models.


modulation: obligation
modalisation: probability
2nd-order meaning
theory
'map'

Laws of Physics
according to SFL
1st-order meaning
data
'landscape'
Laws of Physics
according to Gribbin

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Laws Of Physics Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1989: 344):
We owe our existence to a very tiny imbalance in the laws of physics, a preference for matter over antimatter in the decay of X bosons that amounts to no more than one extra quark for every billion antiquarks — an imbalance equivalent to one ten millionth of one percent of all the matter that existed in the form of X and anti-X pairs in the GUT [Grand Unified Theory] era [of the early universe].

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this confuses first-order meanings (physical data) with second-order meanings (the laws of physics).  This is equivalent to mistaking a map (laws) for the landscape (data) it models, and is a widespread epistemological error in the field of physics.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Quantum Reality Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 324):
If only our minds were equipped to handle the same concepts in a more abstract form, in keeping with the quantum equations, so that we could properly understand the nature of quantum reality, where nothing is real unless it is observed, and there is no way of telling what "particles" are doing except at the moments when they interact with one another, then supersymmetry would seem much more natural.  The flaw lies in our imagination rather than in the theory.

Blogger Comments:

The "flaw" here lies in the interpretation of the theory, which results from not questioning the epistemological assumptions of Galileo and Descartes on which classical physics is based, and which quantum physics disconfirms.

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, it is not that "nothing is real unless it is observed" but that 'real' is a construal of experience as meaning, and without observation, there is neither experience nor its construal as meaning.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Virtual Particles Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 245-6):
The laws of quantum physics allow such a pair of particles [an electron–positron pair] to pop into existence out of the vacuum for a very, very tiny split second of time (Planck's constant divided by 1 MeV) and then to annihilate one another and disappear again. Such particle pairs are called "virtual" particles. Each pair can exist only for a very short time, but the vacuum is seething with such pairs, constantly being produced, disappearing, and being replaced by new pairs. At least that is what quantum physics says the vacuum is like. And the existence of virtual particles has a direct effect on the equations of particle physics. Without virtual particles, the equations do not predict correctly the interactions between charged particles. With effects due to virtual particles included, they do.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, virtual particles are hypothesised instances of quantum potential — their frequencies being instances of quantum probability.