July 2007 Newsletter
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Welcome to the first issue of the Chronon Newsletter. I intend this to be a monthly newsletter, in which I highlight some of the pages on my websites from the previous month and give a taste of what is likely to appear in the following month. I'll also take a look at anything which has happened recently which relates to what I have written.
Recent additions to my websites
You may have noticed that the last item on the main page of Chronon Critical Points is dated the 27th April - quite a time ago. There are several reasons for this long gap. Firstly, of course, I never manage to get done as much as I would hope to. But I haven't been as inactive as it may seem. The link is to the page 2007 Royal Society Prizes for Science Books, which has links to full page reviews of the shortlisted books (which are not listed on the index page as with other full page reviews). Also I have been working on my Tachyos.org website, and in particular the Gödel project. Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem states that given an axiomatization of arithmetic, there will be statements which cannot be proved or disproved from the axioms. The idea of this project is to produce such an undecidable statement. The first part, which is an applet implementing a Gödel-type numbering scheme for arithmetical statements, is finished. The second part, which is a function which takes a number representing a proof and finds the statement proved, is nearing completion. Next comes the more difficult third part, which involves writing a compiler-like program to transform the function from the second part into an arithmetical form.
One of my articles argues against the idea of expanding space in cosmology. Two recent papers on the astrophysics arXiv, Expanding Space: the Root of all Evil? and Coordinate Confusion in Conformal Cosmology, argue in favour of expanding space. I've read the first of these, but didn't find it particularly convincing - well not for a sceptic like me. It goes through some of the many problems of expanding space (in fact at first glance I thought it was arguing against the idea), and then seems to say "well we've confessed to its faults, now can we get back to using it as normal".
In my article 'Black Holes - do they exist?' I give an informal argument suggesting that Hawking radiation means that black holes will never form. Now a new paper Observation of Incipient Black Holes and the Information Loss Problem puts forward a similar argument, but with some substantial mathematics to back it up. It looks like the days of black holes may be numbered
The end of reality
I recently read the article 'Reality Check' in the June 23rd issue of New Scientist, in which it is claimed that recent experiments cast doubt on the existence of reality itself. I've written about why I think that this sort of talk makes little sense - so what do the experiments really show? It turns out that it is the existence of definite properties of photons which is disputed. This made me laugh, since a significant argument from local realists is the denial that photons are meaningful objects. So, far from putting a nail in the coffin of realism (local or otherwise), this experiment seems to support what has long been claimed by local realists.
My next article will be another look at the philosophy of mind, and in particular the problems with the physicalist/materialist view which seems to dominate at present. Now a couple of pages I've written have had titles starting with 'The Trouble with Physics'. The new page has nothing to do with Smolin's new book, but I've decide to stick with the habit and call it 'The Trouble with Physicalism'. Given my reaction to the 'Reality Check' article mentioned above, I'm also thinking of another article on realism and the Bell inequalities.
I'm reading a couple of books at the moment, The Last Man Who Knew Everything by Andrew Robinson, and The Watch on the Heath by Keith Thomson. Look out for reviews of these and a full page review of at least one of them.
As mentioned above, I'll continue work on the Gödel project on the Tachyos website. I'm planning to put what I've done so far on to the Sourceforge website, so look out for that, particularly if you feel that you can offer some help. Also I've been thinking about Cellular Automata, and in particular the relationship of reversible Cellular Automata to thermodynamics - how to investigate the nature of thermodynamics in the 'toy worlds' of CA's