Friday, 18 August 2017

Wave–Particle Duality Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1989: xvi):
In this new world of particle physics it turned out that particles and waves are two aspects of the same thing.  Light, which was thought of as an electromagnetic wave, had now to be thought of as a stream of particles, called photons; and electrons, previously regarded as particles, like little hard billiard balls, now had to thought of as smeared-out waves.  Worse still, when they tried to apply their new understanding of quantum physics to predicting the behaviour of electrons, or other objects, in an experimental setup, the physicists of the 1920s found that it was impossible, except on a statistical basis.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, 'wave' and 'particle' are meanings construed of experience.  In the field of quantum physics, the wave aspect models the quantum in terms of potential, whereas the particle aspect models it as an instance of that potential.  The wave aspect is concerned with system probabilities, since probability is a quantification of potential, whereas the particle aspect is concerned with the statistical distribution of its instances, since frequency is a quantification of instances.  This is why prediction is probabilistic/statistical.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Thoughts Of Ernst Mach Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: xv):
Nobody has ever seen an electron, say, or an atom.  We deduce that there are things we call electrons and atoms because whenever we carry out certain experiments we get results consistent with the existence of atoms and electrons.  But what we actually "know" are sense impressions of readings on meters, or of lights flickering on a screen, not even direct sense impressions of the particles we believe we are investigating.  Ernst Mach … summed the position up in his book Science of Mechanics in 1883:
Atoms cannot be perceived by the senses; like all substances they are things of the thought … a mathematical model for facilitating the mental reproduction of the facts.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, atoms, substances, facts and mathematical models are "things of the thought"; they are meanings construed of experience.  Within the domain of meaning, first-order (material) phenomena, such as atoms, are reconstrued as second-order (semiotic) phenomena, metaphenomena, such as mathematical models.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Realist Epistemology Vs Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: xv):
This concern with the ultimate nature of reality is the first of three great roots of metaphysics.  The metaphysician is concerned to know just how accurate a picture of the real world our sense impressions provide.  Our senses respond to impressions they receive from the world outside, and our brains interpret those sense impressions as indicating, perhaps, that there is a tree in the garden.  But the only things that my brain can have direct knowledge of are sense impressions; all my "knowledge" about trees is secondhand, filtered through my senses and into my brain.  So which is more real — the sense impressions or the trees?

Blogger Comments:

The epistemological assumption here is that meaning is transcendent of semiotic systems, rather than immanent within them.  It is the view that there is one true labelled reality that is filtered through senses into an interpreting brain, and that it the task of science to discover the true labels.  This is the assumption on which the notion of an eventual end of science is based.  It is an assumption rejected by the model of brain function of Gerald Edelman, and one which, as this blog argues, is falsified by the experimental findings of quantum physics.

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, all meanings are immanent within semiotic systems, and all ideational meanings are construals of experience.  In this view, the distinction between a real thing labelled 'tree' and 'knowledge' of a tree is a false distinction.  It is through mental and verbal processes that the meaning 'tree' is construed of experience.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [14]

Gribbin (1989: xiv-xv):
The metaphysician who wonders whether a tree, or a house, has any real existence when nobody is looking at it, is seen by most of us lesser mortals as something of a joke.  But the joke is on us, for the twentieth-century discoveries of physics, that most hard-nosed and objective of sciences, have led inexorably to the conclusion that at the fundamental level of subatomic particles such as electrons and protons, things really don't have and "real" existence when they are not being monitored.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, it is not that 'things really don't have and "real" existence when they are not being monitored', but that there is no construal of experience as meaning — e.g. as things, as real, as existing — when no observations are being made.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Aristotle's Physics Vs Metaphysics Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: xiv):
Among [Aristotle's] many scientific and philosophical writings, two are particularly relevant to the modern search for an understanding of the nature of the universe.  One, the Physica, deals with the nature of the world as we perceive it.  The other, the Metaphysica (literally meaning "what comes after physics"), is an inquiry into what Aristotle called "being as such," the underlying truths responsible for the world as we perceive it.
 … the distinction that Aristotle was trying to make between the world we see, or measure with our scientific instruments, and the underlying reality is an important one that strikes to the heart of modern physics.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the "world as we perceive it" is a construal of experience as meaning, whereas so-called "underlying truths" are construals of the "world as we perceive it" as meaning.  That is, such "underlying truths" are construals of construals of experience as meaning.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The Many Worlds Vs Copenhagen Interpretations Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 253-4):
The success of the Aspect team's experiments to test the Bell inequality has eliminated all but two possible interpretations of quantum mechanics ever put forward.  Either we have to accept the Copenhagen interpretation, with its ghost realities and half-dead cats, or we have to accept the Everett interpretation with its many worlds.  It is, of course, conceivable that neither of the two "best buys" in the science supermarket is correct, and that both of these alternatives are wrong.  There may be yet another interpretation of quantum mechanical reality which resolves all all of the puzzles that the Copenhagen interpretation and Everett interpretation resolve, including the Bell Test, and which goes beyond our present understanding — in the same way, perhaps, that general relativity transcends and incorporates special relativity.  But … remember that any such "new" interpretation must explain everything that we have learned since Planck's great leap in the dark, and that it must everything as well as, or better than, the two current explanations.  … we have to accept that science can at present only offer these alternatives explanations of the way the world is constructed.  Neither of them seems very palatable at first sight.  In simple language, either nothing is real or everything is real.


Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics is the "best buy", provided that it includes the distinction between potential and instance, and provided that the distinction is made between experience and its construal as meaning.

On this interpretation, there are no "half-dead cats" and no "ghostly realities", and 'reality' is a property of the interpretation, the construal of experience as meaning.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [8]

Gribbin (1990: 252-3):
The puzzle is why a world ideal for life should have appeared out of the Big Bang.  The anthropic principle says that many possible worlds may exist, and that we are the inevitable product of our kind of universe.  But where are the other worlds?  Are they ghosts, like the interacting worlds of the Copenhagen interpretation?  Do they correspond to different life cycles of the whole universe, before the Big Bang that began time and space as we know them?  Or could they be Everett's many worlds, all existing at right angles to our own?  It seems to me that this is by far the best explanation available today, and that the resolution of the fundamental puzzle of why we see the universe the way it is amply compensates for the load of baggage carried by the Everett interpretation. … All worlds are equally real, but only suitable worlds contain observers.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this simply confuses potential (possible worlds) with instances of that potential (actual worlds).  Such 'worlds' are meanings, construed of experience.

Friday, 4 August 2017

The Anthropic Principle Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 251-2):
The greatest question left to answer within this framework is why our perception of reality should be what it is — why should the choice of paths through the quantum maze that started out in the Big Bang and leads to us have been just the right kind of path for the appearance of intelligence in the universe?
The answer lies in an idea often referred to as the "anthropic principle."  This says that the conditions that exist in our universe are the only conditions, apart from small variations, that could have allowed life like us to evolve, and so it is inevitable that any intelligent species like us should look out upon a universe like the one we see about us.  If the universe wasn't the way it is, we wouldn't be here to observe it.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the "intelligence" of Homo sapiens is the greater potential afforded by language to make meaning of experience, in comparison to the semiotic systems of other species.

It will be seen in later discussions of the anthropic principle, that one type of cause, result, is frequently misconstrued as another type of cause, purpose, both of which can be realised by 'so that…'.  That is, humanity is misconstrued as the purpose of the unfolding of the universe, rather than one of its myriad results.

The term 'anthropic' is anthropocentric in this usage, since the principle applies to everything, not just humans.  It could just as accurately be termed 'the Higgs boson principle', 'the potassium sulphate principle' or 'the seaweed principle'.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [7]

Gribbin (1990: 251):
According to my interpretation of the many–worlds theory, the future is not determined, as far as our conscious perception of the world is concerned, but the past is.  By the act of observation we have selected a "real" history out of the many realities, and once someone has seen a tree in our world it stays there even when no-one is looking at it.  This applies all the way back to the Big Bang.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, by the act of observation we have construed experience as one instance of meaning out of the many potential meanings.  Whether or not experience is construed as a tree depends on an observer doing so.

Monday, 31 July 2017

The Notion Of Time Travel Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 248):
Conventional wisdom has it that true time travel must be impossible, because of the paradoxes involved, like the one where you go back in time and kill your grandfather before your own father has been conceived.  On the other hand, at the quantum level particles seem to be involved in time travel all the "time," and Frank Tipler has shown that the equations of general relativity permit time travel.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the notion of travelling through time can be seen as a category error that arises from treating time as if it were equivalent to space.  For space, there is the distinction between 'moving from here to there' and 'extending from here to there', but for time, there is no distinction between 'moving from now to then' and 'extending from now to then'.  In the case of time, both renderings construe the Extent (duration) of the unfolding of the process.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [6]

Gribbin (1990: 244-5):
As DeWitt explained in an article in Physics Today in 1970, the Everett interpretation has an immediate appeal when applied to the paradox of Schrödinger's cat.  We no longer have to worry about the puzzle of a cat that is both dead and alive, neither alive nor dead.  Instead, we know that in our world the box contains a cat that is either alive or dead, and that in the world next door there is another observer who has an identical box that contains a cat that is either dead or alive.  But if the universe is "constantly splitting into a stupendous number of branches," then "every quantum transition taking place on every star, in every galaxy, in every remote corner of the universe is splitting our local world on earth into myriad copies of itself." … DeWitt's conclusion is as dramatic as the earlier conclusion of Wheeler:
The view from where Everett, Wheeler and Graham sit is truly impressive.  Yet it is a completely causal view, which even Einstein might have accepted … it has a better claim than most to be the natural end product of the interpretation program begun by Heisenberg in 1925. 

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, there is no paradox in the Schrödinger's cat thought experiment, because 'alive' and 'dead' are potential states of the cat only.  An act of observation construes one instance of that potential or the other.

Not distinguishing between potential and instance has caused some physicists to hypothesise a "stupendous number" of universes, none of which can be observed.  Accordingly, the many–worlds interpretation has no claim whatsoever 'to be the natural end product of the interpretation program begun by Heisenberg in 1925'.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [5]

Gribbin (1990: 243):
In the Everett interpretation, it is not that our choice of which spin component to measure forces the spin component of another particle, far away across the universe, to magically take up a complementary state, but rather that by choosing which spin component to measure we are choosing which branch of reality we are living in.  In that branch of superspace, the spin of the other particle always is complementary to the one we measure.  It is choice that decides which of the quantum worlds we measure in our experiments, and therefore which one we inhabit, not chance.  Where all possible outcomes of an experiment actually do occur, and each possible outcome is observed by its own set of observers, it is no surprise to find that what we observe is one of the possible outcomes of the experiment.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, 'our choice of which spin component to measure' does not force 'the spin component of another particle, far away across the universe, to magically take up a complementary state'.  Nor does it choose 'which branch of reality we are living in'.

Instead, measuring the spin component of a particle is construing experience as a statistical instance of potential meaning, and the complementary spin state of the other particle is another statistical instance of the same potential, in line with the probabilities inherent in that quantum potential.  There is no "magical" interaction (force) between instances (spins of particles).  The "choosing of realities" is the construing of different instances of meaning from the same potential.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [4]

Gribbin (1990: 241-2):
Everett carefully explained in his Reviews of Modern Physics paper that the argument that the splitting of the universe into many worlds cannot be real because we have no experience of it doesn't hold water.  All the separate elements of a superposition of states obey the wave equation with complete indifference as to the actuality of other elements, and the total lack of any effect of one branch on another implies that no observer can ever be aware of the splitting process.  Arguing otherwise is like arguing that the earth cannot possibly be in orbit around the sun, because if it were we would feel the motion.  "In both cases," says Everett, "the theory itself predicts that our experience will be what in fact it is."

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, 'all the separate elements of a superposition of states' are the construal of experience as potential meaning only. 

Importantly, the relation between a superposition of states and a wave equation is one of symbolic abstraction (intensive identity: realisation), not "obedience"; a wave equation represents a superposition of states, just as a map represents a landscape.  A superposition of states does not "obey" a wave equation, just as a landscape does not "obey" a map.  This type of metaphor leads to very serious epistemological errors in the physical interpretation of mathematical equations.

(Everett's analogy is invalid, because, whereas the earth, sun and orbits are perceived phenomena that can be theorised, the myriad additional universes in the many–worlds interpretation of quantum physics are not.)

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation Of The Double-Slit Experiment Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 241):
On the many–worlds interpretation, [the particle] doesn't choose [which hole to go through].  Faced with a choice at the quantum level, not only the particle itself but the entire universe splits into two versions.  In one universe, the particle goes through hole A, in the other it goes through hole B.  In each universe there is an observer who sees the particle go through just one hole.  And forever afterward the two universes are completely separate and non-interacting — which is why there is no interference on the screen of the experiment. 
… and yet, as Everett established twenty-five years ago, it is a logical, self-consistent description of quantum reality that conflicts with no experimental or observational evidence.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the many–worlds interpretation mistakes potential meanings for actual universes.  The probabilities of a particle going through one or the other hole are construals of experience as potential meaning.  The observation of a particle going through one of the holes is a construal of experience as an instance of that potential.

There is no observational evidence in support of any of additional universes proposed by the many–worlds interpretation.

Friday, 21 July 2017

The Copenhagen Interpretation Of The Double-Slit Experiment Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1990: 239-41):
Let's get back to the fundamental experiment in quantum physics, the two-holes experiment.  Even within the framework of the conventional Copenhagen interpretation … the interference pattern produced on the screen of that experiment when just one particle travels through the apparatus is explained as interference from two alternative realities, in one of which the particle goes through hole A, in the other of which it goes through hole B.  When we look at the holes, we find the particle only goes through one of them, and there is no interference.  But how does the particle choose which hole to go through?  On the Copenhagen interpretation, it chooses at random in accordance with the quantum probabilities — God does play dice with the universe.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the interference pattern that gradually builds up on the detector screen, when particles are emitted one at a time, is the statistical distribution of instances, in line with the probabilities of the system potential.  There is no "interference from two alternative realities".

Locating another particle detector at one of the holes changes the quantum system potential, such that the probability of detecting particles at that hole is 1, and the probability of detecting particles at the other hole is 0, and the statistical distribution of instances is in line with this, which is why, in this case, there is no interference pattern on the original detector screen.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Gribbin (1990: 237-8, 239):
The equations of quantum mechanics tell us that inside the box of Schrödinger's famous thought experiment there are versions of a "live cat" and "dead cat" wave function that are equally real.  The conventional, Copenhagen interpretation looks at these possibilities from a different perspective, and says, in effect, that both wave functions are equally unreal, and that only one of them crystallises as reality when we look inside the box.  Everett's interpretation accepts the quantum equations entirely at face value and says that both cats are real.  There is a live cat, and there is a dead cat; but they are located in different worlds.  It is not that the radioactive atom inside the box either did or didn't decay, but that it did both.  Faced with a decision, the whole world — the universe — split into two versions of itself, identical in all respects except that in one version the atom decayed and the cat died, while in the other the atom did not decay and the cat lived.  It sounds like science fiction, but it goes far deeper than any science fiction, and it is based on impeccable mathematical equations, a consistent and logical consequence of taking quantum mechanics literally. …
Everett's world is one of many concrete realities, where all the worlds are equally real … .  But Everett's version is science fact, not science fiction.


Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the equations of quantum mechanics tell us that "live cat" and "dead cat" are potential meanings ("possibilities") only.  The Copenhagen interpretation is consistent with this view, if 'unreal' is interpreted as 'potential', and if 'crystallising as reality' is interpreted as the instantiation of potential when an observation is made.

Everett's interpretation that 'both cats are real' mistakes potential for instances: potential cats for the cat, potential universes for the universe.  It demonstrates that the misinterpretation of the most "impeccable mathematical equations" can, indeed, result in science fiction.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1990: 237):
Everett's interpretation is that the overlapping wave functions of the whole universe, the alternative realities that interact to produce measurable interference at the quantum level, do not collapse.  All of them are equally real, and exist in their own parts of "superspace" (and supertime).  What happens when we make a measurement at the quantum level is that we are forced by the process of observation to select one of these alternatives, which becomes part of what we see as the "real" world; the act of observation cuts the ties that bind alternative realities together, and allows them to go on their own separate ways through superspace, each alternative reality containing its own observer who has made the same observation but got a different quantum "answer" and thinks that he has "collapsed the wave function" into a single quantum alternative.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, 'the overlapping wave functions of the whole universe, the alternative realities that interact to produce measurable interference at the quantum level' are construals of experience as potential meaning only.  

It is indeed the case that 'what happens when we make a measurement at the quantum level is that we are forced by the process of observation to select one of these alternatives, which becomes part of what we see as the "real" world'.  However, the alternatives are probability-weighted options in the system of quantum potential, and the "collapse of the wave function" when an observation is made is a construal of experience as one statistical instance of that potential.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1990: 233-4):
But still the Copenhagen interpretation is intellectually unsatisfying. What happens to all those ghostly quantum worlds that collapse with their wave functions when we make a measurement of a subatomic system?  How can an overlapping reality, no more and no less real than the one we eventually measure, simply disappear when the measurement is made?  The best answer is that the alternative realities do not disappear, and that Schrödinger's cat really is both alive and dead at the same time, but in two or more different worlds.  The Copenhagen interpretation, and its practical implications, are fully contained within a more complete view of reality, the many-worlds interpretation.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the "ghostly quantum worlds" are potential meanings only.  The collapse of "their wave functions when we make a measurement" is the construal of experience as statistical instances of that probabilistic potential.  There is no disappearance of "overlapping realities" because these are potential only, not instances.  Schrödinger's cat is not "both alive and dead at the same time" because these two states are potential only, not instances.  The many-worlds interpretation is not "the best answer" because it confuses potential with instance and because, to the extent that it proposes universes that cannot be investigated experimentally or observationally, it is not a scientific answer.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Quantum Non-Separability Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Gribbin (1990: 230-1):
If everything that ever interacted in the Big Bang maintains its connection with everything it interacted with, then every particle in every star and galaxy that we can see "knows" about the existence of every other particle. …
Does it seem paradoxical?  Richard Feynman summed up the situation succinctly in his Lectures: "The 'paradox' is only a conflict between reality and your feeling of what reality 'ought to be'."

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, there is no paradox, and interacting particles do not "know" anything.  Particles are instances of physical potential, and their measurable qualities depend on the instantiated qualities of other particles of the same potential.

It is not so much "a conflict between reality and your feeling of what reality 'ought to be' ", as a conflict between the epistemology of Galileo and Descartes and an epistemology that holds that all meaning is located within semiotic systems.  As the neuroscientist Gerald Edelman pointed out: the world is unlabelled.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Quantum Non-Separability Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1990: 229-30):
Theorists such as d'Espagnat and David Bohm argue that we must accept that, literally, everything is connected to everything else, and only a holistic approach to the universe is likely to explain phenomena such as human consciousness.
It is too early yet for the physicists and philosophers groping toward such a new picture of consciousness and the universe to have produced a satisfactory outline of its likely shape, and speculative discussion of the many possibilities touted would be out of place here. 

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, it is the meaning construed of experience that is interconnected, and meaning is the content of consciousness.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Aspects's Experimental Test Of Bell's Inequality Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1990: 229):
… the Aspect experiment and its predecessors do indeed make for a very different world view from that of our everyday common sense.  They tell us that particles that were once together in an interaction remain in some sense parts of a single system, which responds together to further interactions.

Blogger Comments:

As previously explained, this "everyday common sense" derives from the epistemological assumptions of Galileo, and their refinement by Descartes.

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this is indeed what the Aspect experiment and its predecessors tell us: particles that were once together in an interaction remain in some sense parts of a single system.  However, the relation between the particles and the system is not one of part–whole constituency, but of instantiation: particles are instances of the system, and system is the probabilistic potential of which the particles are instances.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Quantum Non-Separability Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1990: 228):
Following the announcement of of the results from Aspects's team just before Christmas 1982, nobody seriously doubts that the Bell test confirms the predictions of quantum theory. … As d'Espagnat has said, "Experiments have recently been carried out that would have forced Einstein to change his conception of nature, on a point he always considered essential … we may safely say that non-separability is now one of the most certain general concepts in physics."

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the non-separability of entangled quantum states can be understood in terms of related instances of the same quantum potential, and these as meanings construed of experience.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Aspects's Experimental Test Of Bell's Inequality Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1990: 227):
Because it takes 20 nanoseconds for a photon to travel from the atom in which it is born in the heart of the experiment to the detector itself, there is no way in which any information about the experimental setup can travel from one part of the apparatus to the other and affect the outcome of any measurement — unless such an influence travels faster than light.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, there is no "travelling of information about the experimental setup" and, thus, no faster–than–light signalling. Two entangled photons are two related instances of the same quantum potential, and these are meanings construed of experience.

Monday, 3 July 2017

'Local Realistic' Views Of The World Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 222-3):
[The theoretical physicist] D'Espagnat says that our everyday view of reality is based on three fundamental assumptions.  First, that there are real things that exist regardless of whether we observe them; second, that it is legitimate to draw general conclusions from consistent observations or experiments; and third, that no influence can propagate faster than light, which he calls "locality". Together, these fundamental assumptions are the basis of "local realistic" views of the world.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the first of these assumptions involves an epistemological error, and it this that the experiments of quantum physics disconfirms.  Things and existing are meanings — participants and processes — and meanings are distinctions made within semiotic systems that construe experience.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Quantum Entanglement Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1990: 221-2):
Now we imagine some atomic process that produces two photons travelling in opposite directions.  There are many real processes that do this, and in such processes there is always a correlation between the polarisations of the two photons.  They must be either be polarised in the same way, or in some sense in opposite ways.  For simplicity, in our thought experiment we imagine that the two polarisations must be the same.  Long after the two photons have left their birthplace, we decide to measure the polarisation of one of them.  We are free to choose, entirely arbitrarily, in which direction we line up our piece of polarising material, and once we do so there is a certain chance that the photon will pass through it.  We know afterward whether the photon is polarised "up" or "down" for that chosen direction of space, and we know that, far across space, the other photon is polarised the same way.  But how does the other photon know?  How can it take care to orientate itself so that it will pass the same test that the first photon passes and fail the same test that the first photon fails?  By measuring the polarisation of the first photon we collapse the wave function, not just of one photon but of another, far away, at the same time.


Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the collapse of the wave function, at the same time, for the polarisation of two 'entangled' photons, no matter how far apart, is a construal of experience as instances of the same quantum potential.  The metaphor of one photon "knowing" the polarisation of another is misleading, and is motivated, in part, from failing to distinguish between statistical instances and probabilistic potential.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Quantum Entanglement Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1990: 217-8):
So what happens when we try to measure the spin of one of two separating particles?  Considered in isolation, each particle can be thought of as undergoing random fluctuations in its spin components that will confuse any attempt to measure the total spin of either particle.  But taken together, the two particles must have exactly equal and opposite spin.  So the random fluctuations in spin of one particle must be matched by balancing, equal, and opposite "random" fluctuations in the spin components of the other particle, far away.  As in the original EPR argument, the particles are connected by action at a distance.  Einstein regarded this "ghostly" nonlocality as absurd, implying a flaw in quantum theory.  John Bell showed how experiments could be set up to measure this ghostly nonlocality and prove quantum theory correct.


Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, each measurement of particle spin is a construal of experience as an instance of potential meaning.  Each random fluctuation in spin is a distinct instance, in line with the probability of the system potential of which it is an instance.  In the case of quantum entanglement, the two particles are instances of the same system.  Consequently, there is no "action at a distance" and no "ghostly nonlocality".

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Wheeler's 'Participatory Universe' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 212):
Wheeler goes on to consider the whole universe as a participatory, self-excited circuit.  Starting from the Big Bang, the universe expands and cools; after thousands of millions of years it produces beings capable of observing the universe, and "acts of observer–participancy … in turn give tangible 'reality' to the universe not only now but back to the beginning."  By observing the photons of the cosmic background radiation, the echo of the Big Bang, we may be creating the Big Bang and the universe.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, Wheeler's "acts of observer participancy" are acts of construing experience as meaning.  The history of the universe, from the Big Bang onwards, is meaning that is created when experience is construed.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

The 'Schrödinger's Cat' Paradox Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [9]

Gribbin (1990: 208):
So, unlike the Einstein–Podolsky–Rosen thought experiment, the cat–in–the–box experiment really does have paradoxical overtones. It is impossible to reconcile with the strict Copenhagen interpretation without accepting the "reality" of a dead–alive cat, and it has led [Eugene] Wigner and John Wheeler to consider the possibility that, because of the infinite regression of cause and effect, the whole universe may owe its "real" existence to the fact that it is observed by intelligent beings.


Blogger Comments:

As demonstrated in previous posts, Schrödinger's thought experiment only has paradoxical overtones from the epistemological perspective that was first formulated explicitly in science by Galileo, in which an "objective reality" is not understood to be a construal of experience as meaning.

As demonstrated in previous posts, the mistaken notion of Schrödinger's cat being both dead and alive arises from not distinguishing potential meaning, as construed by the wave function, from instances of that potential, construed as particles.

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the 'whole universe that may owe its "real" existence to its being observed by intelligent beings' is the meaning construed of experience.

Friday, 23 June 2017

The 'Schrödinger's Cat' Paradox Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [8]

Gribbin (1990: 207-8):
But suppose we replace ["Schrödinger's human"] by a computer.  The computer can register the information about the radioactive decay, or lack of it.  Can a computer collapse the wave function (at least inside the box)?  Why not?  According to yet another point of view, what matters is not human awareness of the outcome of the experiment, or even the awareness of a living creature, but the fact that the outcome of an event at the quantum level has been recorded, or made an impact on the macroworld.  The radioactive atom may be in a superposition of states, but as soon as the Geiger counter, even, has "looked" for the decay products the atom is forced into one state or the other, either decayed or not decayed.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the collapse of the wave function is a construal of experience as an instance of meaning in the field of quantum physics.  In contrast, the "superposition of states" of a radioactive atom is a construal of experience as potential meaning in the field of quantum physics.

By the same token, observing (or imagining or talking or writing about) a computer or geiger counter registering ± radioactivity is construing experience as an instance of meaning.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The 'Schrödinger's Cat' Paradox Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [7]

Gribbin (1990: 207):
The chain is endless.  Imagine that we have announced the ["Schrödinger's Human"] experiment in advance to an intrigued world, but to avoid press interference it has been performed behind locked doors.  Even after we have opened the box and either greeted our friend or dragged the corpse out, the reporters outside don't know what's going on.  To them, the whole building in which our laboratory is based is in a superposition of states.  And so on, back out in an infinite regression.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, there is no infinite regression here, and 'the whole building is not in a superposition of states.  A superposition of states is the potential meaning that can be made in realising a construed situation.  The reason the reporters outside 'don't know what's going on' inside the room is that instances of that potential meaning cannot be construed by them.

Monday, 19 June 2017

The 'Schrödinger's Cat' Paradox Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [6]

Gribbin (1990: 205-7):
Moving in the other direction, since this is only a thought experiment we can imagine a human volunteer taking the place of the cat in the box… .  The human occupant is clearly a competent observer who has the quantum–mechanical ability to collapse wave functions.  When we open the box, assuming we are lucky enough to find him still living, we can be quite sure that he will not report any mystic experiences but simply that the radioactive source failed to produce any particles at the allotted time.  Yet still, to us outside the box the only correct way to describe conditions inside the box is as a superposition of states, until we look.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, any humans inside the box construe their experience as (an instance of) meaning, whereas the humans outside the box construe their experience as (an instance of) different meaning.  When humans outside the box look into the box, they construe that experience as (an instance of) meaning, that can be compared with that construed by the human inside the box.  The "superposition of states" is the potential meaning that can be construed by those outside the box until they look and construe one instance of that potential.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

The 'Schrödinger's Cat' Paradox Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [5]

Gribbin (1990: 205):
Arguments about the cat in the box have gone for fifty years.  One school of thought says that there is no problem, because the cat is quite able to decide for itself whether it is alive or dead, and that the cat's consciousness is sufficient to trigger the collapse of the wave function.  In that case, where do you draw the line?  Would an ant be aware of what is going on, or a bacterium?

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, other species construe their experience in terms of the non-linguistic semiotic systems specific to their species.  These do not include linguistic construals such as 'I am alive, and therefore, not dead'.  Only language affords meanings such as 'the cat/ant/bacterium is alive/dead'.  When a language user looks inside the box, one instance of the potential meanings is construed: either a smashed bottle of poison with a dead cat, or an intact bottle with a live cat.  The collapse of the wave function is the instantiation of (linguistic) meaning potential.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The 'Schrödinger's Cat' Paradox Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [4]

Gribbin (1990: 205):
Schrödinger thought up the example to establish that there is a flaw in the strict Copenhagen interpretation, since obviously the cat cannot be both alive and dead at the same time.  But is this any more "obvious" than the "fact" that an electron cannot be both a particle and a wave at the same time?  Common sense has already been tested as a guide to quantum reality and been found wanting.  The one sure thing we know about the quantum world is not to trust our common sense and only to believe what we see directly or detect unambiguously with our instruments.  We don't know what goes on inside the box unless we look.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Quantum theory, to say what's happening when we are not looking is 'to produce an error', as Richard Feynman cautioned.

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, a cat being "both alive and dead at the same time" confuses potential with instance. An instance of that potential is only construed when an observation is made.

By the same token, an electron is not "both a particle and a wave at the same time" because particles are construed instances of quantum potential, whereas waves are construed quantum potential, and it is only instances that are actual.

The "common sense" that has been "found wanting" by the results of Quantum experiments is the worldview based on the mistaken epistemological assumptions of Galileo (and Descartes), as previously explained here. When these assumptions are jettisoned, Quantum Physics no longer seems mysterious or paradoxical.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

The 'Schrödinger's Cat' Paradox Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Gribbin (1990: 205):
It is one thing to imagine an elementary particle such as an electron being neither here nor there but in some superposition of states, but much harder to imagine a familiar thing like a cat in this form of suspended animation.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, imagining a cat, like seeing a cat, is a construal of experience as an instance of meaning.  On the other hand, the "superposition of states" — live cat vs dead cat — is a construal of experience as potential meaning.  It does not equate with an instance of a cat being in suspended animation, since this misinterprets the range of potential as a single instance.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

The 'Schrödinger's Cat' Paradox Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1990: 203-5):
Schrödinger suggested that we should imagine a box that contains a radioactive source, a detector that records the presence of radioactive particles (a Geiger counter, perhaps), a glass bottle containing a poison such as cyanide, and a live cat.  The apparatus in the box is arranged so that the detector is switched on for just long enough so that there is a fifty–fifty chance that one of the atoms in the radioactive material will decay and that he detector will record a particle.  If the detector does record such an event, then the glass container is crushed and the cat dies; if not, the cat lives.  We have no way of knowing the outcome of this experiment until we open the box to look inside; radioactive decay occurs entirely by chance and is unpredictable except in a statistical sense.  According to the strict Copenhagen interpretation, just as in the two–hole experiment there is an equal probability that the electron goes through either hole, and the two overlapping possibilities produce a superposition of states, so in this case the equal probabilities for radioactive decay and no radioactive decay should produce a superposition of states.  The whole experiment, cat and all, is governed by the rule that the superposition is "real" until we look at the experiment, and that only at the instant of observation does the wave function collapse into one of the two states.  Until we look inside, there is a radioactive sample that has both decayed and not decayed, a glass vessel of poison that is neither broken nor unbroken, and a cat that is both dead and alive, neither alive nor dead.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the "two overlapping possibilities", and the "superposition of states" they produce, are construals of experience as potential meaning.  Instances of that potential are only construed when observations are made.

The mistaken notions that a radioactive sample is "both decayed and not decayed", that a vessel is "neither broken nor unbroken", and that a cat is "both dead and alive, neither alive nor dead" all arise from misconstruing potential meanings of experience as instances of Galilean "objective reality".

Friday, 9 June 2017

Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [13]

Gribbin (1990: 201-2):
According to our best theories of particle behaviour, the vacuum is a seething mass of virtual particles in its own right, even when there are no "real" particles present.  And this is not idle tinkering with the equations, for without allowing for the effect of these vacuum fluctuations we simply do not get the right answers to problems involving scattering of particles by one another.  This is powerful evidence that the theory — based directly on the uncertainty relations, remember — is correct.  The virtual particles and vacuum fluctuations are as real as the rest of quantum theory — as real as wave/particle duality, the uncertainty principle, and action at a distance.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the "seething mass of virtual particles" is a construal of experience as quantum physical potential, whereas the "real particles" are actual instantiations of that quantum physical potential.  'Virtual' and 'real' are both construals of experience as meaning.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [12]

Gribbin (1990: 198):
So a proton is even more the centre of its own cloud of activity than an electron is.  As it moves on its way through space (and time) a free proton is constantly emitting and reabsorbing both virtual photons and virtual mesons.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the emitting of "virtual" particles is the instantiation of quantum system potential as photons and mesons — they are no longer "virtual" when instantiated — whereas the "reabsorption" of photons and mesons reflects a change in the quantum system potential that can be instantiated as a result of the particle interactions.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [11]

Gribbin (1990: 198):
Protons and neutrons — nucleons — can only exchange mesons when they are very close together, essentially when they are "touching", to use an inappropriate expression from the everyday world.  Otherwise, the virtual pions cannot get across the gap during the time allowed by the uncertainty principle.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, it is the quantum system potential — the probability of pi meson instantiation — that varies with the distance between nucleons.

It can be seen that the 'uncertainty principle' is a (Galilean) way of interpreting quantum physical data in the absence of the notion of instantiation, which provides a distinction between potential and instance as perspectives on the meaning being construed of experience.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [10]

Gribbin (1990: 197-8):
Yet two protons are held together in the nucleus by exchanging, repeatedly, pions that weigh a good fraction of the proton's own weight, and without the protons losing any mass themselves.  This is only possible because the protons are able to take advantage of the uncertainty principle.  A pion is created, crosses to another proton and disappears all in a twinkling of uncertainty allowed while the universe "isn't looking".

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, "taking advantage of the uncertainty principle" is the instantiation of quantum system probabilities.  The creation of a pion is an instantiation of that potential, and its disappearance signals a change in the system potential that can be instantiated.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [9]

Gribbin (1990: 196):
The photons exist only for a tiny fraction of a second, less than 10⁻¹⁵ sec, but they are popping in and out of existence around the electrons all the time.  It is as if each electron is surrounded by a cloud of "virtual" photons, which only need a little push, a little energy from outside, to escape and become real.  An electron moving from an excited state to a lower state in the atom gives the excess energy to one of its virtual photons and lets it fly free; an electron absorbing energy traps a free photon.  And the same sort of process provides the glue which holds the nucleus together.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the "cloud of virtual photons" is a construal of experience as physical potential.  The "popping into existence" of each "real" photon is an instantiation of that potential.  The "popping out of existence" of each "real" photon indicates a change in the physical potential — a change of what can be instantiated physically — as a result of the particle interactions.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [8]

Gribbin (1990: 196):
The uncertainty principle applies to the complementary properties of time and energy as well as to position/momentum.  The less uncertainty there is about the energy involved in an event at the particle level, the more uncertainty there is about the time of the event, and vice versa.  An electron does not exist in isolation, because it can borrow energy from the uncertainty relation, for a short enough period of time, and use it to create a photon.  The snag is, almost as soon as the photon is created it has to be reabsorbed by the electron, before the world at large "notices" that energy conservation has been violated.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, uncertainty is an interpersonal assessment of meaning in terms of probability.  Probability is a feature of the construal of experience as potential meaning.  The creation of a photon in particle interactions is an instantiation of the system of quantum potential.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [7]

Gribbin (1990: 195-6):
This confirmation that nuclear forces, as well as electric forces, can be thought of purely in terms of interactions between particles is a cornerstone of the physicists' view of the world today.  All forces are now regarded as interactions.  But where do the particles that carry the interactions come from?  They come from nowhere, something for nothing, in accordance with the uncertainty principle.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, (observed) particles are construals of experience as instances of meaning.  The "nowhere" they "come from" is the (theorised) physical potential of which they are actualisations.

The translation of the virtual into the actual is construed grammatically by aspect, which, with tense, is one of the complementary features of time, an inherent property of processes.  Halliday (2008: 35):
The grammar of every language is (in one of its metafunctions, the ideational) a construal of human experience: it constructs our “reality” by transforming our experiences into meanings. And in doing this, the grammar often has to choose: to choose either one way of seeing things, or the other. For example, think of time. Either time is a linear progression, out of future through present into past; or else it is a translation from the virtual into the actual. It can’t be both. We may choose to model it (and note here that I am talking about our grammar — not our theory of grammar, our “grammatics”; so we means the speakers of the language, not the linguists) … so let us say our language may choose to model it either as tense, or as aspect;

Friday, 26 May 2017

Einstein's 'Time' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [6]

Gribbin (1990: 192-3):
The flow of time in the everyday world is a statistical effect, largely caused by the expansion of the universe from a hotter to a cooler state.  But even at that level the equations of relativity permit time travel, and the concept can be very easily understood in terms of space-time diagrams.
Motion in space can proceed in any direction and back again.  Motion in time only proceeds in one direction in the everyday world, whatever seems to be going on at the particle level. … The technique for time travel allowed by relativity theory […] involves distorting the fabric of space-time so that in a local region of space-time the time axis points in a direction equivalent to one of the three space directions in the undistorted regions of space-time.  One of the other space directions takes on the rôle of time, and by swapping space for time such a device would make true time travel, there and back again, possible.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the notion of a flow of time confuses the unfolding of a process (flow), with the dimension (time) along which the process unfolds.

Similarly, the notion of time travel misconstrues duration in time as motion in time.  It is because time is endured, rather than moved through, that we only experience time "in one direction".  It is this category error that undermines the validity of treating the time axis as equivalent to any of the space axes.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Einstein's 'Time' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [5]

Gribbin (1990: 191-2):
Imagine a Feynman diagram that encompassed all of space and time, with the tracks of every particle laid out on it.  Now imagine viewing that diagram through a narrow slot that only allows a limited segment of time to be scanned, and move the slot steadily up the page.  Through the slot, we see a complex dance of interacting particles, pair production, annihilation, and far more complex events, an ever-changing panorama.  All we are doing, though, is scanning something that is fixed in space and time.  It is our perception that alters, not the underlying reality.  Because we are locked into a steadily moving viewing slot, we see a positron moving forward in time rather than an electron moving backward in time, but both interpretations are equally real.


Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the notion of a particle moving forward or backward in time, rather than enduring in time, is a category error.

The imagined Feynman diagram construes experience as a static image, with both the duration in time and the movement in space of particles represented as lines. That is, the diagram itself construes a static universe — and takes a God's eye view.

What we call "reality" is meaning construed of experience — in the first instance, of perceptual experience.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Einstein's 'Time' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [4]

Gribbin (1990: 191):
But the reality is a photon track in space-time, linking my eye, perhaps with the Pole Star.  There is no real movement of time that sees a track developing from the star to my eye; that is just my perception from my viewpoint.  Another equally valid viewpoint sees that track as an eternal feature around which the universe changes, and during those changes in the universe one of the things that happens is that my eye and the Pole Star happen to be at opposite ends of the track.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, (the perception of) the movement of a photon from the Pole Star to an eye on Earth is a construal of experience as meaning.  The notion of a 'movement of time' is inconsistent with the construal of time in Physics as a dimension like space — since there is no analogous movement of space.

The "equally valid" viewpoint is invalid on several fronts, largely because it confuses the "non-unfolding" in time of a photon as process (analogous to the "non-ticking" of a hypothetical clock moving at light speed) with the unfolding in time of the locomotion process of the photon from the Pole Star to an eye (analogous to the movement of a hypothetical clock through space at light speed).

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Einstein's 'Time' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Gribbin (1990: 191):
The mystics and popularisers who seek to equate Eastern philosophy with modern physics seem to have missed this point [that time stands still for photons], which tells us that everything in the universe, past, present, and future, is connected to everything else, by a web of electromagnetic radiation that "sees" everything at once. Of course, photons can be created and destroyed, so the web is incomplete.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, if time stands still for a photon, then a photon is not itself a process that unfolds in time — analogous to the ticking process of a locomoting clock — and, if it is not a process that unfolds in time, then no processes can be ascribed to it, not even a metaphorical process of "seeing".

On the other hand, the creation, locomotion and destruction of a photon are material processes that a photon does participate in, and so, which do unfold in time, just as the creation, locomotion and destruction of a clock are material processes that a clock participates in, and which do unfold in time.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Einstein's 'Time' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1990: 190):
A photon of the cosmic background radiation has, from our point of view, been travelling through space for perhaps 15,000,000,000 years since the Big Bang in which the universe as we know it began, but to the photon itself the Big Bang and our present are the same time.  The photon's track on a Feynman diagram has no arrow on it not only because the photon is its own antiparticle, but because motion through time has no meaning for the photon — and that is why it is its own antiparticle.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the two timescales construed here are the dimensions of two distinct processes: the unfolding of the travelling process vs the unfolding of the photon as process.  The duration of the travelling process is about 15,000,000,000 years, whereas the photon does not unfold as a process.  The notion of 'motion' through time is a category error, as previously explained.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Einstein's 'Time' Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1990: 190):
But what does the photon itself "see" as the arrow of time? We learn from relativity theory that moving clocks run slow, and that they run slower the closer they get to the speed of light. Indeed, at the speed of light, time stands still, and the clock stops. A photon, naturally, travels at the speed of light, and this means that for a photon time has no meaning. A photon that leaves a distant star and arrives at the earth may spend thousands of years on the journey, measured by clocks on earth, but takes no time at all as far as the photon is concerned.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the "arrow of time" is a construal of experience as meaning that conflates the unfolding of a process (arrow) with the dimension along which it unfolds (time).  This relates to time being a dimension that is endured, not traversed (see previous post).

To say that moving clocks run slower the closer they get to the speed of light is to construe that a process — the ticking of a clock — unfolds at a slower rate the faster the process itself is travelling through space.

To say that, travelling at the speed of light, time stands still and the clock stops, is to construe that a process that is itself travelling at the speed of light ceases to unfold in time.  That is, without the unfolding of a process, there is no dimension, time, along which it unfolds.  No process, no time.

To say that, for a photon travelling at the speed of light, time has no meaning is to construe that a photon itself does not unfold as a process when it is in motion.

To say that a photon travelling from a distant star to the earth takes thousands of years, measured by clocks on earth, but takes no time at all as far as the photon is concerned, is to construe that a photon itself does not unfold as a process for those thousands of years.

In physics, a photon is construed to exist only when it is in motion.  That is, construed as a process, light either doesn't unfold (when travelling) or doesn't exist (when not travelling).  This would seem to invalidate the construal of a photon as a process unfolding in time.

To be more explicit, the notion of a photon as a process follows from construing it as unfolding in time.  This follows from Einstein's original thought experiment of imagining himself riding a photon, and subsequent explanations in which a ticking clock is substituted for Einstein or for the photon.  Both Einstein and a clock do mediate the unfolding of processes — a mental process in the case of Einstein observing, a material process in the case of a clock ticking.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

"The Flow Of Time" Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1990: 184-5):
The track of an electron is represented on a Feynman diagram by a line.  An electron that sits in one place and never moves produces a line that moves straight up the page, corresponding to motion in the time direction only; an electron that slowly changes its position, as well as being carried along by the flow of time, is represented by a line at a slight angle to the line straight up the page, and a fast–moving electron makes a bigger angle with the "world line" of a stationary particle.


Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this demonstrates the error of misconstruing extent in time (duration), as movement in time (location).  In a Feynman diagram, a particle that doesn't move is misconstrued as moving through time, instead of persisting through time.  Particles are not carried along by the flow of time, because this notion confuses the unfolding of processes (flow) with the dimension along which they unfold (time).

Friday, 12 May 2017

"The Flow Of Time" Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1990: 183):
Physicists often use a simple device to represent the movement of particles through space and time on a piece of paper or on a blackboard.  The idea is simply to represent the flow of time by the direction up the page, from bottom to top, and motion in space across the page.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the notion of particles moving through time can be seen as a category error, mistaking Extent for Location: motion.  To explain, in the case of space, there is the distinction between
  • Location (motion): the object moved from A to B, and
  • Extent (distance): the object moved three metres.
However, in the case of time, although the grammar provides the same distinction
  • Location (motion): the object moved from from noon to 1pm and
  • Extent (duration): the object moved for one hour
both renderings actually construe the Extent (duration) of the object's motion.  There is no distinct traversal of the dimension of time, analogous to the traversal of any of the three dimensions of space.

The notion of a 'flow of time' — derived from (an interpretation of) the Second Law of Thermodynamics — also involves a category error, mistaking the unfolding of processes (flow) for the dimension along which processes unfold (time).  Physics treats time as a dimension just like space, but there is no 'flow of space'.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Thoughts Of Bohr vs Einstein Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 183):
Bohr and his colleagues could live with a reality in which the position and momentum of the second particle had no objective meaning until they were measured, regardless of what you did to the first particle.  A choice had to be made between a world of objective reality and the quantum world, of that there was no doubt.  But Einstein remained in a very small minority in deciding that of the two options open he would cling to objective reality and reject the Copenhagen interpretation.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the position and momentum of any particle are not construed as meaning until they are measured.  "Objective reality" and the quantum world are both construals of experience as meaning.  The findings of quantum theory expose the epistemological error in the notion of an objective reality secundum Galileo.

Monday, 8 May 2017

The Thoughts Of Einstein On The Copenhagen Interpretation Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 182):
The point of the argument was that, according to Einstein and his collaborators, the Copenhagen interpretation had to be considered as incomplete — that there really is some underlying clockwork that keeps the universe running, and that only gives the appearance of uncertainty and unpredictability at the quantum level, through statistical variations.  According to this view, there is an objective reality, a world of particles that have momentum and position, both precisely defined, even when you are not looking at them.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, "objective reality" is a construal of experience as meaning.  When we are not looking, there is no experience to be construed as meaning, and so: there are no construals of experience as particles with momentum and position.  The Copenhagen Interpretation is not incomplete; instead it exposes the epistemological error of Galileo and Descartes.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Thoughts Of Bohr On The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 175-6):
Bohr suggested that the very idea of a unique "world" may be misleading, and offered another interpretation of the experiment with two holes.  Even in that simple experiment, of course, there are many paths that an electron can choose through each of the two holes.  But for simplicity, let's pretend there are just two possibilities, that the particle goes through hole A or through hole B.  Bohr suggested that we might think of each possibility as representing a different world.  In one world, the particle goes through hole A; in the other, it goes through hole B.  The real world, the world that we experience, is neither of these simple worlds, however.  Our world is a hybrid combination of the two possible worlds corresponding to the two routes for the particle, and each world interferes with the other.  When we look to see which hole the particle goes through, there is now only one world because we have eliminated the other possibility, and in that case there is no interference.  It isn't just ghost electrons that Bohr conjures out of the quantum equations, but ghost realities, ghost worlds that only exist when we are not looking at them. … Combine that with the puzzle that an electron at A knows whether hole B is open or closed, and that in principle it knows the quantum state of the entire universe …


Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, each path "choice" of an electron is the construal of an instance of potential meaning, with instance frequencies in line with potential probabilities.

The two possible paths do not represent different worlds, but are construals of different potential meanings.  Each path is a construed instance of that potential.

The "world that we experience" corresponds to the instantial meanings construed of experience.  It is not a hybrid combination of possibilities (potential), but the instantiation of potential meaning.

The interference patterns are not the result of "possible worlds" interfering with each other.  They are the accumulation of instances whose frequencies correspond to the probability values of the system potential, as represented by the wave equations.

When we look to see which hole an electron goes through, that experience is construed as an instance of meaning, in line with the different probabilities of a different system potential.

The "ghost worlds" that Bohr conjures out of quantum equations are construals of potential meanings, instances of which only "exist" when experience is construed.

Electrons don't "know" anything.  Our construal of them as meaning depends on the system potential of which each is an instance.

Thursday, 4 May 2017

The Copenhagen Interpretation Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Gribbin (1990: 175):
In his first exposition of what became known as the Copenhagen interpretation, back in 1927, Bohr stressed the contrast between descriptions of the world in terms of pure space-time coordination and absolute causality, and the quantum picture, where the observer interferes with and is a part of the system that is being observed.  Coordinates in space-time represent position; causality depends on knowing precisely where things are going, essentially on knowing their momentum.  Classical theories assume that you can know both at once; quantum mechanics shows us that precision in space-time co-ordinates has to be paid for in terms of uncertainty of momentum, and therefore causality.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, both descriptions of the world in terms of pure space-time coordination and absolute causality, and the quantum picture, are each construals of experience as meaning.  The observer is part of the system in the sense that it is the observer that construes the experience as meaning.  To know the position and momentum of particles is to have construed experience as meaning.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: x):
… “understanding” something is transforming it into meaning, and to “know” is to have performed that transformation.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [6]

Gribbin (1990: 174):
Persist in asking for a physical picture of what is going on, and you'll find all physical pictures dissolving into a world of ghosts, where particles only seem to be real when we are looking at them, and where even a property such as momentum or position is only an artefact of the observation.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, quantum particles, and such properties as momentum and position, are only construed as meanings when we are looking at them.  The "dissolving" is simply the cessation of construal, and to speak of "a world of ghosts" is 'to produce an error', as Feynman made clear; see original relevant post here.