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.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

The Notion Of Phenomena "Obeying" Physical Rules Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 244):
[Fermions] obey a set of statistical rules known as Fermi-Dirac statistics.  [Bosons] obey a different set of rules called Bose-Einstein statistics;

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, these rules are statements of probability (modalisation), not commands of obligation (modulation), and the notion of (material) particles "obeying" a (semiotic) model of them has the same epistemological status as a (material) landscape "obeying" a (semiotic) topographical map.  This interpersonal metaphor pervades physics and leads to serious epistemological confusions. 

Friday, 13 October 2017

Wave-Particle Duality Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [5]

Gribbin (1989: 243-4):
For many purposes, and especially for teaching undergraduate physics, physicists do indeed treat electrons as "real" particles, and the waves associated with them as "probability waves," which can interfere with one another, be diffracted through small holes, and do all the other tricks waves can do.  "It is the probability which has the wave-like behaviour," Davies [1984] tells his students in that book, "while the particles themselves remain as little lumps, albeit elusively secreted in the wave which guides their progress … which facet of this wave-particle duality is manifested depends on the sort of question being asked."  This is bad teaching.


Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the "interference" of probability waves is the ensemble of interdependent potentials of the quantum system.  Waves do not pass through the slits, particles do.  Particles are the instances of the quantum system potential, and the scatter of particle frequencies "instantiates" the probabilities that quantify the potential.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Wave-Particle Duality Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [4]

Gribbin (1989: 243):
"Resist at all costs," [Paul Davies] says in [Quantum Mechanics, 1984], "the temptation to think of an electron as pulled asunder and smeared out in space in little ripples.  The electron itself is not a wave.  Rather, the way it moves about is controlled by wave-like principles.  Physicists still regard the electron as a point-like entity, but the precise location of that point may not be well-defined."  And he goes on to describe the probability waves that determine where an electron is likely to be…

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, wave-like principles "control" an electron in the sense that 'wave-like principles" model the probabilistic potential of which each electron is an instance.

Monday, 9 October 2017

The Copenhagen Interpretation Of The Double-Slit Experiment Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1989: 242):
In an experiment where an electron goes from point A to point B via an intervening screen that has two holes in it, quantum theory says that unless we watch all the time we cannot possibly tell which holes it went through — indeed, that it is meaningless to say it went either way.  Its "real" trajectory is given by the sum of the two possible paths.  But classical theory says there is a definite path and it must have gone through just one of the holes, even if we weren't looking.  When we look to see which hole the electron goes through, of course, that particular uncertainty vanishes and we have a different experiment in which we know which path the particle took.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the reason we cannot tell which hole an electron went through unless we watch it going through one of them is because an electron going through a hole is a construal of experience as meaning.  For any interval that we are not watching, there is no construal of experience as meaning.

The "sum of the two possible paths", on the other hand, is a construal of experience as quantum system potential.  When we look, we construe one instance of that potential.

The Copenhagen Interpretation of the double-slit experiment is not strange, and does not contradict common sense, if the distinction is made between experience and meaning, and within meaning, between potential and instance.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Everett's Many Worlds Interpretation Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [9]

Gribbin (1989: 242):
What Everett found was that the equations could be interpreted, with complete validity, as implying that every time the Universe is faced with a "choice" at the quantum level it splits into two, and both options are chosen. … But, says Everett (or rather, say the equations), for every observer who looks and sees the electron go through one hole, there is another observer — in another world — who looks and sees it go the other way.  Both are equally real.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, Everett's 'many worlds' interpretation confuses the system of potential (possible options) with its instances ("chosen" options), and misconstrues the alternative ('or') relation between options as an additive ('and') relation.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Feynman's Path Integral Technique Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 241-2):
Feynman tells us that in the two–slit experiment we not only have to think of the electron going through both holes at once, but also as taking every possible path through both holes at once.  The conventional quantum view has it that there is no trajectory; from Feynman's point of view, we have to take account of every trajectory.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, Feynman's taking into account of every possible trajectory is the construing of experience as quantum system potential.

It is not true that one electron goes through both holes at once, since a singly fired electron is detected as having passed through one hole or the other.  The statistical distribution of multiple electrons is in line with the overall probabilities of the potential of the quantum system.

It is not true that there is no trajectory, but that, without observation, there is no construal of the experience as an instance of meaning, as a trajectory.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Classical vs Quantum Mechanics Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 239):
In the classical view, a particle at point A has a definite speed in a definite direction.  As it is acted upon by external forces, it moves along a precise determinable path, which, for the sake of argument, passes through, or ends at, point B.  The quantum–mechanical view is different.  We cannot know, not even in principle, both the position and momentum of a particle simultaneously.  There is an inherent uncertainty about where a particle is going, and if the particle starts out at point A and is later detected at point B, we cannot know exactly how it got from A to B unless it is watched all the way along its path.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the difference between classical and quantum mechanics is that the latter — unwittingly — introduces the distinction between potential (quantified as probabilities) and instances (quantified as frequencies).

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Quantum Uncertainty Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [5]

Gribbin (1989: 238):
Every time subatomic particles are involved in interactions, the outcome depends on chance.  The odds may be very heavily stacked in favour of one particular outcome, or they may be no better than tossing a coin on a 50:50 basis.  But they are clearly and precisely laid down by the laws of quantum physics, and there is no such thing as certainty in the quantum world.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the chance on which the outcomes of particle interactions depend is the probability that quantifies the quantum system as potential.

By the same token, the laws of quantum physics are themselves statements of probability (modalisation), not obligation (modulation).

Friday, 29 September 2017

Quantum Uncertainty Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [4]

Gribbin (1989: 235):
And the uncertainty is not restricted to our knowledge of the electron.  It is there all the time, built into the very nature of electrons and other particles and waves.  The particle itself does not "know," with absolute precision, both where it is now and where it is going next.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, knowledge is meaning construed of experience, and electrons and other particles and waves are ideational meanings.  The uncertainty is in what physicists mean — think and say — and it is interpersonal meaning: modalisation, the space between the positive and negative poles 'is' and 'isn't'.

The grammatical metaphor of construing physical particles — instead of physicists — as mediums of mental processes ("know") is a significant source of epistemological incongruity.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Notion Of Wave Packet Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1989: 233):
To express itself in particle terms — as a photon, or as an electron — a wave must be confined in some way.  Mathematicians know all about this.  The way to confine a wave is to reduce its purity.  Instead of a single wave with one unique, well-defined frequency, think of a bundle of waves, with a range of frequencies, all moving together.  In some places, the peaks of one wave will combine with the peaks of other waves to produce a strong wave; in other places, the peaks of one wave will coincide with the troughs of other waves, and they will cancel each other out.  Using a technique called Fourier analysis, mathematicians can describe combinations of waves that cancel out almost completely everywhere except within some small, well-defined region of space.  Such combinations are called wave packets.  In principle, as long as you include enough different waves in the packet, you can make it as small as you like. … By losing the purity of a single wave with a unique frequency, we can localise the wave packet until it has the dimensions of an electron.


Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the relation between particle and wave is not one of expression (token to value), but one of instantiation (token to type).  A particle, a photon or electron, is each an instance of a (different) type of potential.

Because quantum waves are quantifications of potential in terms of probability, the 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.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Wave-Particle Duality Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Gribbin (1989: 232):
Which is more real, the particle or the wave?  It depends on what question you ask of it.  And no matter how skilful a physicist the questioner may be, there is never any absolute certainty about the answer that will come back.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the particle is a construal of experience as instance, whereas the wave is a construal of experience as potential.  Which is construed as more real depends on the meaning of 'real'.  If 'real' means actual(ised), then the instance is more real than the potential.  The wave is not detected; it is the statistical distribution of particles — as instances of the probabilistic potential — that is detected.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [15]

Gribbin (1989: 232):
If we carry out an experiment designed to prod the atom (perhaps by bombarding it with photons, as in the photoelectric experiment), one or more of the electron wave functions may be modified in such a way that there is a high probability that we will detect an electron outside the atom, as if a little particle had been ejected.  But the only realities are what we observe; everything else is conjecture, hypothetical models we construct in our minds and with our equations to enable us to develop a picture of what is going on.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, modifying electron wave functions is modifying electron potential, and, because potential is quantified as probability, it is modifying the system probabilities, and hence, the statistical distribution of instance (particle) frequencies.

The "only realities" are meanings that we construe of experience, consistently or otherwise.  What we observe are construals of experience as instances of potential.  Hypothetical models and equations are construals of experience as potential — as systems whose instances are 'what is going on'.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Quantum Uncertainty Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Gribbin (1989: 231-2):
The implications of this are very deep indeed.  For one thing, we can no longer say that an electron, in principle identifiable as a unique object, starts at one side of our experiment and follows a unique path, a trajectory, through to the other side.  The very concept of a continuous "trajectory" is a hangover from classical Newtonian ideas and has to be abandoned.  Instead, quantum physicists talk in terms of "events," which may happen in a certain order in time but which tell us nothing about what happens to the particles involved in events when they are not being observed.  All we can say is that we observe an electron at the start (event 1) and that we observe an electron at the finish (event 2).  We can say nothing at all about what it does in between, and indeed we cannot say that it is the same electron that is recorded in each event.  Fire two electrons off together, and although two electrons arrive on the detector screen a little later, there is no way of telling which one is which.


Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the continuous trajectory of an electron is a construal of experience as meaning. Whenever there is no observation, there is no construal of an electron in space-time.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Collapse Of The Wave Function Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1989: 231):
The jargon "collapse of the wave function" (which has a precise mathematical significance in quantum theory) is equivalent to saying that we can know where things are only when we are actually looking at them.  Blink and they are gone.  And the behaviour of the particles depends on whether or not we are looking.  If we watch the two holes to see electrons passing by, the electrons behave differently from the way they behave when we are not looking.  The observer is, in quantum physics, an integral part of the experiment, and what he or she chooses to watch plays a critical rôle in deciding what happens.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the "collapse of the wave function" is the construal of experience as an instance (particle) of potential (wave function); it is the instantiation of quantum potential as a particle.

We "know where things are" when we construe experience as things located in space.  When we blink, it is the construal of experience that ceases.  It is the construal of experience as particles that ceases when we are not looking.

It is the construal of experience that differs when particles are detected at the slits as well as at the detector screen behind the slits, because each is an instance of different quantum potential.

The observer is "an integral part of the experiment" in the sense that it is the observer who construes the experience as meaning.  "What happens" is what is construed as happening by the observer.  The "decision" is the decision between quantum potentials that will be instantiated when experience is construed in an observation.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

The Collapse Of The Wave Function Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1989: 230-1):
Quantum physicists have some nice phrases to describe all this.  They say that there is a wave of some sort associated with an electron.  This is called the "wave function," and it is spread out, in principle, to fill the Universe.  Schrödinger's equation describes these wave functions and how they interact with one another.  The wave function is strongest in one region, which corresponds to the position of an electron in everyday language.  It gets weaker farther away from this region but still exists far away from the "position" of the electron.  The equations are very good at predicting how particles like electrons behave under different circumstances, including how they will interfere with one another when they, or the wave functions, pass through two slits.  When we look at an electron, or measure it with a particle detector, the wave function is said to "collapse."  At that instant, the position of the electron is known to within the accuracy allowed by the fundamental laws.  But as soon as we stop looking, the wave function spreads out again and interferes with the wave functions of other electrons — and, under the right circumstances, with itself.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the wave that is "associated with an electron" — its wave function — construes its potential.  The "interaction" of wave functions construes the ensemble of quantum potentials for a given situation.

The "strongest region" of the wave function construes the most probable position of an electron for a given situation.  The "weaker regions" of the wave function construe less probable positions of an electron for a given situation.

Wave functions do not pass through slits, since they construe potential electron positions only.  Only particles, instances of that potential, can be construed as passing through slits, with each particle passing through one slit or the other, not both.

When "we look at an electron" we are construing an instance of potential; the "collapse of the wave function" construes an instantiation of quantum potential.  When "we stop looking" there is no construal of experience — no construal of an instantiation of potential.

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [18]

Gribbin (1989: 230):
This is very strange.  Whenever we try to detect an electron, it responds like a particle.  But when we are not looking at it, it behaves as a wave.  When we look to see which hole it goes through, it goes through only one hole and ignores the existence of the other one.  But when we don't monitor its passage, it is somehow "aware" of both holes at once and acts as if it had passed through them both.


Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, only particles (instances of potential) are detected, and each particle goes through only one of the holes, not both.  Waves do not pass through the apparatus, because waves are construals of quantum system potential only.

As Feynman pointed out, 'to conclude that it goes either through one hole or the other when you are not looking is to produce an error'.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [17]

Gribbin (1989: 230):
It looks as if each electron goes through both slits.  This is crazy.  But we can devise an additional set of detectors that notes which slit each electron goes through, and repeat our experiment to see if that is indeed what happens.  When we do this, we do not find that our detectors at the two holes report the passage of an electron (or half an electron).  Instead, sometimes the electron goes through one slit, and sometimes through the other.  So what happens now when we send thousands of electrons through the apparatus, one after the other?  Once again, a pattern builds up the detector screen.  But it is not a diffraction pattern!  It is simply a combination of the two bright patches we get when on or the other of the holes is open, with no evidence of interference.

Blogger Comments:

As previously explained, from the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, each particular electron, as an instance of quantum potential, only ever goes through one slit or the other, not both.

When the experimental set-up is changed so that electrons are detected at the point of going through one slit or the other, the potential meaning to be construed of experience is also changed, and the instances of that potential reflect that change in the different statistical distribution of impacts recorded on the detector screen.

Monday, 11 September 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [16]

Gribbin (1989: 229-30):
So what happens when you do fire one electron at a time through the experiment?  Clearly, when you get one flash on the screen on the other side that doesn't tell you much about how the electron has behaved.  But you can repeat the single–shot experiment time after time, observing all the flashes and noting all the positions on the screen.  When you do this, you find that the flashes slowly build up into the old familiar diffraction pattern.  Each individual electron, passing through the apparatus, has somehow behaved like a wave, interfering with itself and directing its own path to the appropriate bright region of the diffraction pattern.  The only alternative would be that all the electrons going through the apparatus at different times have interfered with each other, or the "memory" of each other, to produce the diffraction pattern.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, each individual electron has not "somehow behaved as a wave" and "interfered with itself".  Instead, the wave is a construal of experience as quantum system potential, and each electron passing through the apparatus is an instance of that potential.  The diffraction pattern that builds up on the detection screen behind the two slits is created by the statistical distribution of impacting particles, with frequencies as instances of quantum system probabilities.

From the perspective of Edelman's Theory of Neuronal Group Selection, memory is the ability to repeat a performance.  To construe quantum potential as quantum ability is to construe modalisation (probability) as modulation (inclination: ability)

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [15]

Gribbin (1989: 229):
It is more than a little strange that electrons can behave like waves when they are going through the experimental apparatus, then suddenly coalesce into hard little lumps to strike flashes from the detector screen, but by combining the ideas of particle and wave we can at least begin to convince ourselves that we have some idea of what is going on. After all, a water wave is actually made up of myriads of little particles (water molecules) moving about.  If we are firing hundreds of thousands of electrons in a beam through two holes, perhaps it isn't so surprising that can be guided in some way like waves, while retaining their identity as little particles.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, electrons do not behave like waves when going through the experimental apparatus and then coalesce into hard little lumps.  Because the wave model construes system potential and the particle model construes the instance of that potential, it is only the particle (instance) that goes through the apparatus to be detected on the screen.

On the other hand, the notion of waves guiding the particles is getting nearer this perspective, at least in the sense that the waves construe the potential of particle behaviour.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [14]

Gribbin (1989: 229):
But when both holes are open, there is a clear diffraction pattern on the screen.  The flashes that mark the arrival of individual electrons form bright stripes separated by dark regions.  This is explained by the wavelike nature of electrons.  The electron waves going through the two holes are interfering with one another, cancelling out in some places and reinforcing in others, just like light waves.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this confuses potential (wave) with instance (particle).  The pattern on the detection screen appears even when it is built up one electron at a time — that is, when no interference between electrons is possible.  However, the pattern can be explained by treating the statistical distribution of individual electrons as instances of the probabilities of quantum system potential.  Probability is the quantification of potential, frequency is the quantification of instances.

On this explanation, particles, not waves, go through the holes, and each particle goes through one hole or the other, not through both.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The Notion Of Phenomena "Obeying" Equations Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 220):
All the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to visible light and on to X-rays, obeys Maxwell's equations.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the claim here is that material phenomena obey the semiotic models of the phenomena (metaphenomena).  This is analogous to claiming that a landscape obeys the map of it.  This is not a trivial point of alternative wording; it exemplifies a fundamental epistemological error that pervades physics.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

The Wave Aspect Of Light Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 218):
The best evidence for the wave nature of light comes from the way it can be made to "interfere" with itself, like the interference between two sets of ripples on a pond, producing patterns of shade and light that cannot be explained in any other way.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the patterns of shade and light can be explained as the statistical distribution of instances (particles), consistent with the probabilities of the system potential (waves).  Probability is a quantification of potential; frequency is a quantification of instances.  Frequencies are instances of probabilities.

This same statistical distribution occurs even when it is built up one particle (instance) at a time.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Quantum Uncertainty Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1989: 215):
[Quantum theory] tells us that it is impossible to predict with absolute certainty the outcome of any atomic experiment, or indeed any event in the Universe, and that our world is governed by probabilities.  And it tells us that it is impossible to know simultaneously both the exact position of an object and its exact momentum (where it is going).

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the world is not governed by probabilities.  On the one hand, a model of a phenomenon, such as a map, does not govern the phenomenon that it models, such as a landscape.  Within the domain of meaning, the two are of different orders of experience: the model of a phenomenon (metaphenomenon) is second-order (semiotic) experience, whereas the phenomenon is first-order (material) experience.  The model is a second-order reconstrual of a first-order construal of experience as meaning.

On the other hand, the probabilities of quantum physics are (second-order) construals of experience as potential meaning.  Probabilities are the quantification of potential.  The statistical behaviour of instances of that potential actualise the probabilities inherent in that system potential.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Wave-Particle Duality Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1989: 215):
It turned out that the behaviour of light could sometimes be explained only in terms of particlesphotons — while the wave explanation, or model, remained the only valid one in other circumstances.  A little later, physicists realised that if waves that sometimes behave as particles were not enough to worry about, particles could sometimes behave like waves. …
[Quantum theory] tells us that there are no pure particles or waves, but only, at the fundamental level, things best described as a mixture of wave and particle, occasionally referred to as "wavicles". 

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the wave model is a model of quantum system potential, whereas the particle model is a model of instances of that potential.  The notion of "wavicles" confuses potential with instance.

Monday, 28 August 2017

The Notion Of An End Of Theoretical Physics Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: 215):
But, by and large, [before about 1900] the division of the world into particles and waves seemed clear-cut, and physics seemed to be on the threshold of dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's.  In short, the end of theoretical physics and the solution to all the great puzzles seemed to be in sight.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, theoretical physics is a semiotic system, and semiotic systems are evolutionary systems that adaptively change as the environment in which they function changes.  On this basis, there is no end to theoretical physics in the sense of "complete" knowledge — just further potential speciation, with the extinction of those lineages of thought that no longer fit.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

The "Reality" Of Space And Time Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: xviii):
From Plato to Kant and up to date philosophers have mused on the nature of space and time.  Admittedly this is a lesser puzzle than the puzzle of reality, or the origin of everything … .  But are space and time any more real than atoms and electrons?  Or are they just artefacts of our perceptions?

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the nature of space and time, the origin of everything, atoms, electrons and reality are construals of experience as meaning.  It is in this sense that they are, in the first instance, "artefacts" of our perceptions.

The word just in just artefacts of our perceptions realises the interpersonal meaning of 'counter-expectancy: limiting', and thus asserts that space and time being 'artefacts of our perceptions' is not only contrary to expectation, but also limiting in some way.  The validity of such propositions needs to be argued.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

"The Ultimate Nature Of Reality" Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: xvii):
Quantum physics has provided the "answer" to the first of the three great metaphysical puzzles.  It says … that nothing is real, in the everyday meaning of the term.
So quantum physics tackles the fundamental puzzle of what things do when you are not looking at them, and whether they are really real even if you are looking at them.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, there is no "ultimate" nature of reality, since reality is a construal of experience as meaning, and meaning evolves as it adapts to the changing environments in which it is required to function — including environmental changes that it makes possible.

What quantum physics actually says is that you cannot say "what things do when you are not looking at them", and as Richard Feynman pointed out, to do so 'is to produce an error'.  And what Systemic Functional Linguistic theory says is that this is precisely because experience is only construed as things when an observation is made.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Laws Of Quantum Mechanics Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1989: xvi-xvii):
This state of affairs is as unsatisfactory as it sounds — so much so that most scientists and engineers ignore it and continue to pretend that electrons are little, hard, predictable billiard balls, even though the equations they use to design lasers, or nuclear reactors, depend fundamentally on the bizarre laws of quantum mechanics worked out in the 1920s.

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the reason why most scientists and engineers can regard electrons as particles is that particles are instances of quantum potential, whose overall statistical distribution is in line with the probabilities provided by the wave function.

Importantly, the laws of quantum mechanics are "laws" in the sense of modalisation (probability, usuality), not in the sense of modulation (obligation, inclination).  That is, they are statements of probability, not commands that are "obeyed" by the universe.  This misunderstanding leads to serious epistemological confusions.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Quantum Uncertainty Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1989: xvi):
In quantum physics, nothing tells you where an electron is, or what it is doing, when you are not looking at it.  All you can do, if you make a measurement of some property of an atom and get the answer A, is calculate the probability that the next time you measure the same thing you will get answer B.  Even then there is a definite probability that you will actually get a different answer, C, when you do the experiment!

Blogger Comments:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, an electron is a construal of experience as meaning.  'When you are not looking', there is no experience to be construed, no act of construal, and no meaning.

Each measurement of a property of an atom is a construal of experience as an instance of meaning, and the statistical distribution of such instances is given by the probabilities in the system potential of which they are instances.

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.