Sunday, 30 April 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [13]

Gribbin (1990: 173-4):
[Feynman explains:] In quantum mechanics, an "event" is a set of initial and final conditions, no more and no less.  An electron leaves the gun on one side of our apparatus, and the electron arrives at a particular detector on the other side of the holes.  That is an event.  The probability of an event is given by the square of a number which is, essentially, Schrödinger's wave function, ψ.  If there is more than one way in which the event can occur (both holes are open inside the experiment), then the probability of each possible event (the probability of the electron arriving at each chosen detector) is given by the square of the sum of the ψ's, and there is interference.  But when we make an observation to find out which of the alternative possibilities actually happens (look to see which hole the electron goes through) the probability distribution is just the sum of the squares of the ψ's, and the interference term disappears — the wave function collapses.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, an event is a construal of experience as meaning.  The probability of an event is the construal of experience as potential.  The observation of an event is the construal of experience as instance.

The interference pattern that builds up on the detector screen, when there is more than one way that the event can occur, is the construal of the statistical distribution of instances in line with the potential probabilities of the system.

When experience is construed as instances of an electron going through one of the slits, the probability of the system potential is changed, and the statistical distribution of instances reflects this.

Each collapse of the wave function is the construal of experience as one instance of the overall range of system potential.

Friday, 28 April 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [12]

Gribbin (1990: 173):
What's worse, as soon as we stop looking at the electron, or whatever we are looking at, it immediately splits up into a new array of ghost particles, each pursuing their own path of probabilities through the quantum world.  Nothing is real unless we look at it, and it ceases to be real as soon as we stop looking.

Blogger Comment:

(Note that here, again, the author, like many physicists, in saying what happens when we are not looking, unwittingly violates the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Physics.  As Feynman cautioned, this is to produce an error.)

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, when we look, we construe the experience as meaning, and when we stop looking, we stop construing the experience as meaning.  There are no ghost particles pursuing their own paths, and 'real' itself is a construal of experience as meaning.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [11]

Gribbin (1990: 173):
The observation that crystallises one ghost out of the array of potential electrons is equivalent, in terms of wave mechanics, to the disappearance of all of the array of probability waves except for one packet of waves that describes one real electron.  This is called the "collapse of the wave function," and, bizarre though it is, it is at the heart of the Copenhagen interpretation, which is itself the foundation of quantum cookery [i.e. applications].

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this is not at all bizarre.  The collapse of the wave function is the semiotic process of instantiation.  In observing, experience is construed as an instance of meaning (electron) in line with the potential (wave of probability) that it instantiates.

Monday, 24 April 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [10]

Gribbin (1990: 172-3):
In the simplest experiment with two holes, the interference of probabilities can be interpreted as if the electron that leaves the gun vanishes once it is out of sight, and is replaced by an array of ghost electrons that each follows a different path to the detector screen.  The ghosts interfere with one another, and when we look at the way the electrons are detected by the screen we then find the traces of this interference, even if we deal only with one "real" electron at a time.  However, this array of ghost electrons only describes what happens when we are not looking; when we look, all of the ghosts except one vanish, and one of the ghosts solidifies as a real electron.  In terms of Schrödinger's wave equation, each of the "ghosts" corresponds to a wave, or rather a packet of waves, the waves that Born interpreted as a measure of probability.

Blogger Comment:

(Note that here the author, like many physicists, in saying what happens when we are not looking, unwittingly violates the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Physics.  As Feynman cautioned, this is to produce an error.)

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the interference of probabilities construes the potential of the system, as instantiated by the statistical distribution of particles.

When the electron is out of sight, it does not "vanish"; the electron, as an instance of meaning, is simply no longer being construed.  Nor is the electron replaced by an array of ghost electrons taking different paths to the detector; the notion of an 'array of ghost electrons' misconstrues the potential of the probabilistic system (wave) as statistical instances (particles).  Nor, therefore, do 'the ghosts interfere with one another', and 'the traces of interference' construes the statistical distribution of particles that instantiates the probabilities of the system as potential.

When we look, therefore, there is no vanishing of ghosts, and no solidifying of one ghost as a real electron.  In looking, experience is being construed as meaning: as one instance (particle) of the system as potential (wave of probability).

Saturday, 22 April 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [9]

Gribbin (1990: 172):
[The quantum world] is holistic; the parts are in some sense in touch with the whole. And this doesn't just mean the whole of the experimental setup.  The world seems to keep all its options, all its probabilities, open for as long as possible.  The strangest thing about the standard Copenhagen interpretation of the quantum world is that it is the act of observing a system that forces it to select one of its options, which then becomes real.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this is not strange at all.  In the act of observing, experience is construed as an instance of meaning (particles being fired through slits at a detector screen).

The strangeness only arises through an epistemological error: mistaking an instantiation of meaning for an instantiation of (nonsemiotic) "reality".  The error can be sourced to Galileo and Descartes, as previously discussed (e.g. herehere and here).

Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [8]

Gribbin (1990: 172):
As Feynman explained to his BBC TV audience in 1965, if you have an apparatus that is capable of telling which hole the electron goes through, then you can say that it either goes through one hole or the other.  But when you have no apparatus to determine through which hole the thing goes, then you cannot say that that it goes through either one hole or the other.  "To conclude that it goes either through one hole or the the other when you are not looking is to produce an error," he states.

Blogger Comment:

Feynman's explanation of quantum physics is in line with the view of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory that the acts of looking (and saying) are acts of construing experience as meaning.  If no-one is looking, there is no meaning being construed of an experience.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [7]

Gribbin (1990: 172):
You might say that the double-slit experiment tells us that we are dealing with waves; equally, by looking only at the pattern on the detector screen you can deduce that the apparatus has two holes in it, not one.  The whole thing is what matters — the apparatus, the electrons, and the observer are all part of the experiment.  We cannot say that an electron goes through either hole, without looking at the holes as it passes (and that is a different experiment).  An electron leaves the gun and arrives at a detector, and it seems to possess information about the whole experimental setup, including the observer.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the double-slit experiment tells us that the frequencies of instances of meaning (particles) are in line with the probability (wave) of potential.

The observer is part of the experiment in the sense of being the construer of the experience as meaning.

An electron does not possess information about the experimental set-up.  As a semiotic construal, an electron is an instance of potential: a participant in a process unfolding according to circumstances.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [6]

Gribbin (1990: 172):
What we see is what we get.  An experimental observation is only valid in the context of the experiment and can't be used to fill in details of things we do not observe.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, it is only when we are observing that experience is being construed as an instance of meaning.

Friday, 14 April 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [5]

Gribbin (1990: 171):
When we try to look at the spread-out electron wave, it collapses into a definite particle, but when we are not looking it keeps its options open. In terms of Born's probabilities, the electron is being forced by our measurement to choose one course of action out of an array of possibilities. There is a certain probability that it could go through one hole, and an equivalent probability that it may go through the other; probability interference produces the diffraction pattern at our detector. When we detect the electron, though, it can only be in one place, and that changes the probability pattern for its future behaviour — for that electron, it is now certain which hole it went through. But unless someone looks, nature herself does not know which hole the electron is going through.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the reason we construe a particle rather than a wave is that the wave is a construal of potential only, and it is the instance, the particle, that we construe when we are looking.  When we are not looking, we are not construing experience as meaning.

The measurement does not force an electron to choose from the potential.  The measurement is the construal of one instance from the probabilistic array of potential instances.

The diffraction pattern at the detector records the instance frequencies, in line with the probability of the system as potential.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [4]

Gribbin (1990: 171):
We can try cheating — shutting or opening one of the holes quickly while the electron is in transit through the apparatus.  It doesn't work — the pattern on the screen is always the "right" one for the state of holes at the instant the electron was passing through.   
We can try peeking, to "see" which hole the electron goes through.  When the equivalent of this experiment is carried out, the result is even more bizarre.   
Imagine an arrangement that records which hole an electron goes through but lets it pass on its way to the detector screen.  Now the electrons behave like normal, self-respecting everyday particles.  We always see electrons at one hole or the other, never both at once.  And now the pattern that builds up on the detector screen is exactly equivalent to the pattern for bullets [i.e. for particles, not waves], with no trace of interference.  The electrons not only know whether or not both holes are open, they know whether or not we are watching them, and they adjust their behaviour accordingly.  There is no clearer example of the interaction of the observer with the experiment.


Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this result is not at all bizarre. Construing experience as an instance of an electron going through one hole reduces the potential of the electron going through the other hole to a probability of zero, and the statistical distribution of all such instances reflects this.  Electrons don't need to "know" anything, and the "interaction of the observer with the experiment" is the construing of experience as meaning.

Monday, 10 April 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Gribbin (1990: 170-1):
Indeed, for electrons or photons, if we took a thousand identical experiments in a thousand different laboratories, and let one particle pass through each experiment, we could add up the thousand different results and still get an overall distribution pattern in line with diffraction, just as if we'd let a thousand electrons through one of those experiments together.  A single electron, or a single photon, on its way through one hole in the wall, obeys the statistical laws which are only appropriate if it "knows" whether or not the other hole is open.  This is the central mystery of the quantum world.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, there is no mystery here.  As construals of experience as meaning, the frequencies of particles "instantiate" the probabilities of the quantum as potential, as represented by the wave equation.

The notion of particles obeying statistical laws is invalid on two counts. Interpersonally, it misconstrues probability (modalisation) as obligation (modulation), and ideationally, it misconstrues different orders of experience, the material (particles) and the semiotic (statistical laws), as being of the same order.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1990: 170):
The diffraction pattern of the electron two-hole experiment is a pattern of ψ² [wave intensity]. If there are many electrons in the beam, this has a simple interpretation — ψ² represents the probability of finding an electron in some particular place.  Thousands of electrons rush through the two holes, and where they end up can be predicted on a statistical basis using this interpretation of the ψ wave — Born's great contribution to quantum cookery.  But what happens to each individual electron? …
And we still get this pattern if we slow down our electron gun so much that only one electron at a time goes through the whole setup.  One electron goes through one hole, we would guess, and arrives at our detector; then another electron is let through, and so on.  If we wait patiently for enough electrons to pass through, the pattern that builds up on our detector screen is the diffraction pattern for waves.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this demonstrates that the wave model is a construal of experience as the probability of a quantum system as potential.  Each electron is a construal of experience as instance, and the diffraction pattern is the accumulation of instances, with instance frequencies in line with the probabilities of the system as potential.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Double-Slit Experiment Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1990: 168-9):
"Probability waves" seem to decide where each "particle" in the beam goes, and probability waves interfere just as water waves do. … The rules of wave behaviour are needed to assign probabilities to the appearance of an electron — a particle — or not. We don't see a wave.  We cannot say what the electron is "really" doing during its passage through the apparatus.


Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, probability waves are construals of experience as system potential, whereas particles are construals of experience as instances of that potential.  The interference patterns are construals of experience as the statistical distribution of instance frequencies, in line with the potential probabilities.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [5]

Gribbin (1990: 162):
Can Eddington's doubts really be taken at face value?  Is it possible that the nucleus, the positron and the neutrino did not exist until experimenters discovered the right sort of chisel with which to reveal their form?  Such speculations strike at the root of sanity, let alone our concept of reality.  But they are quite sensible questions to ask in the quantum world. … But the interpretation of particles is all in the mind, and may be no more than a consistent delusion.If we cannot say what a particle does when we are not looking at it, neither can we say that if it exists when we are not looking at it, and it is reasonable to claim that nuclei and positrons did not exist prior to the twentieth century, because nobody before 1900 ever saw one.


Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the nucleus, the positron and the neutrino did not exist as meanings until experimenters discovered the means of construing experience as such.

Moreover, the construal of experience as particles is "all in the mind", in the sense that particles, like all meanings, are the content of consciousness, projected into semiotic existence by mental (and verbal) processes.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Thoughts Of Eddington Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 161-2):
"The discovery [of the nucleus] does not go beyond the waves which represent the knowledge we have of the nucleus," says Eddington [in The Philosophy Of Physical Science], for nobody has ever seen an atomic nucleus.  All we see are the results of experiments, which we interpret in terms of the nucleus.

Blogger Comment:

This is consistent with the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory to the extent that the 'knowledge we have of the nucleus' is the meaning 'nucleus' that we construe of experience in experiments.  The 'waves which represent' such knowledge are construals of experience as potential (probability) rather than instance (frequency).

Sunday, 26 March 2017

The Copenhagen Interpretation Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1990: 161):
Secondly, all we know about are the results of experiments. … What we can learn from experiments, or from the equations of quantum theory, is the probability that if we look at a system once and get answer A then the next time we look we will get answer B.  We can say nothing at all about what happens when we are not looking, and how the system gets from A to B, if indeed it does.  The "damned quantum jumping" that so disturbed Schrödinger is purely our interpretation of why we get two different answers to the same experiment, and it is a false interpretation.  Sometimes things are found to be in state A, sometimes in state B, and the question of what lies between, or how they get from one state to another, is completely meaningless.
This is the really fundamental feature of the quantum world.  It is interesting that there are limits to our knowledge of what an electron is doing when we are looking at it, but it is absolutely mind-blowing to discover that that we have no idea at all what it is doing when we are not looking at it.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this is not 'mind-blowing' at all.  If there is no observation, then there is no construal of experience as meaning — e.g. as particles and their states.  The construing of experience as a probabilistic system is the construing of experience as potential rather than instance.  The construing of experience as particles in state A, B etc. is the construing of experience as instances, with instance frequencies in line with (and predicted by) the system probabilities.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Copenhagen Interpretation Of Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1990: 160-1):
Today the key features of the Copenhagen interpretation can be more easily explained, and understood, in terms of what happens when a scientist makes an experimental observation.  First, we have to accept that the very act of observing a thing changes it, and that we, the observers, are in a very real sense part of the experiment — there is no clockwork that ticks away regardless of whether we look at it or not.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the observer is part of the experiment in the sense that it is the observer that construes the experience as meaning.  No observer, no construal of experience — as particles, as time etc.  The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics is consistent with the SFL distinction between experience and meaning, and the view that meaning is immanent within semiotic systems rather than transcendent of them.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1990: 160):
By choosing to measure position precisely, we force a particle to develop more uncertainty in its momentum, and vice versa; by choosing an experiment to measure wave properties, we eliminate particle features, and no experiment reveals both particle and wave aspects at the same time; and so on.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, measuring the position or momentum of a particle is a construal of experience as meaning.  Any uncertainty lies in such construals as propositions, as enactments of interpersonal meaning by an observer.

Measuring wave properties does not eliminate particle features. Measuring wave properties is construing wave properties; and simultaneously not measuring particle features is simultaneously not construing particle features.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Thoughts Of Bohr Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Gribbin (1990: 160):
[Bohr] pointed out that that whereas in classical physics we imagine a system of interacting particles to function, like clockwork, regardless of whether or not they are observed, in quantum physics the observer interacts with the system to such an extent that that the system cannot be thought of as having independent existence.

Blogger Comment:

The perspective of classical physics derives from Galileo's notion of primary (vs secondary) qualities and Descartes notion of res extensa (vs res cogitans), as previously discussed here and here.

Bohr's perspective on quantum physics is consistent with Systemic Functional Linguistic theory in as much as 'the interaction of the observer with the system' means that, without the observer, there is no construal of experience as meaning.  It is the semiotic construal of experience that has no independent existence from the observer.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

The Thoughts Of Bohr Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Gribbin (1990: 160):
The idea of complementarity, that both wave and particle pictures are necessary to understand the quantum world (although in fact an electron, say, is neither wave nor particle), found a mathematical formulation in the uncertainty relation that said both position and momentum could not both be known precisely, but formed complementary and in a sense mutually exclusive aspects of reality.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the complementarity of wave and particle and the complementarity of position and momentum are different types of complementarity.

The complementarity of wave and particle is a construal of experience as the complementarity of potential and instance, whereas the complementarity of position and momentum is a construal of experience as a complementarity of instances.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The "Arrow Of Time" Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 159):
Very few things in physics "care" which way time flows, and it is one of the fundamental puzzles of the universe we live in that there should be a definite "arrow of time," a distinction between the past and the future.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, time is a construal of experience as meaning: as an inherent property of processes.  Halliday & Matthiessen (1999: 113):
Whatever the mode of occurrence of any figure, it will always unfold in time.  This temporal unfolding is construed as an inherent property of the process itself, realised grammatically in tense and aspect;
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.
The location or extent (duration, frequency) of a process in time is construed as a circumstance of its unfolding.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Thoughts Of Heisenberg Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 156-7):
The more accurately we know the position of a particle, the less accurately we know its momentum, and vice versa. … But what the uncertainty principle tells us is that, according to the fundamental equation of quantum mechanics, there is no such thing as an electron that possesses both a precise momentum and a precise position.
This has far-reaching implications.  As Heisenberg said at the end of his paper in the Zeitschrift, "We cannot know, as a matter of principle, the present in all its details."

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, Heisenberg's conclusion is about constraints on construals of experience; either the precise position of an electron can be construed, or the precise momentum of an electron can be construed.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1990: 123-4):
There is no model of what the atom and elementary particles are really like, and nothing that tells us what goes on when we are not looking at them. But the equations of wave mechanics (the most popular variation on the theme) can be used to make predictions on a statistical basis. … Quantum theory does not say what atoms are like, or what they are doing when we are not looking at them. Unfortunately, most of the people who use the wave equations today do not appreciate this and only pay lip service to the rôle of probabilities. … [Students] learn to think of the waves as real, and few of them get through a course in quantum theory without coming away with a picture of the atom in their imagination. People work with the probabilistic interpretation without really understanding it …

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional linguistic theory, both 'the atom and elementary particles' and the scientific model of them are construals of experience as meaning; the former are phenomena, the latter metaphenomena (phenomena about phenomena).

When no observations are being made, no experience is being construed as meaning ('what atoms are like and what they are doing').

The wave equations of quantum mechanics are metaphenomena: phenomena about the phenomena construed of experience.  The wave function construes phenomena as potential (wave), providing the probabilities of the phenomena as instances (particle frequencies).

Sunday, 29 January 2017

The Thoughts Of Bohr And Born Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 120-1):
Bohr stressed the importance of experiments in our understanding of the quantum world. We can only probe the quantum world by doing experiments, and each experiment, in effect, asks a question of the quantum world. … In addition, we have to interfere with the atomic processes in order to observe them at all, and, said Bohr, that means that it is meaningless to ask what the atoms are doing when we are not looking at them. All we can do, as Born explained, is to calculate the probability that a particular experiment will come up with a particular result.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, each observation is a construal of experience as meaning.  When no observation is being made, there is no construal of experience as meaning ('what particles are doing').  Born's probability interpretation of the wave function is a construal of experience as potential ('where particles are likely to be').

Sunday, 22 January 2017

The Thoughts Of Born Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 118-9):
Born found a new way of interpreting Schrödinger's waves. The important thing in Schrödinger's equation that corresponds to physical ripples on the pond in the everyday world is a wave function, which is usually denoted by the Greek letter psi (ψ). … [Born] tried to find a way of associating a wave function with the existence of particles. The idea he picked up on was one that had been aired before in the debate about the nature of light, but which he now took over and refined. The particles were real, said Born, but in some sense they were guided by the wave, and the strength of the wave (more precisely, the value of ψ²) at any point in space was a measure of the probability of finding the particle at that particular point. We can never know for sure where a particle like an electron is, but the wave function enables us to work out the probability that, when we carry out an experiment designed to locate an electron, we find it in a certain place.


Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the complementarity of wave and particle is the complementarity of potential and instance.  The wave model is concerned with the probability of construing experience as a particle across a range of locations, whereas the particle model is concerned with each instance of construing experience as a particle across a range of locations, with the frequency of instances reflecting the probability of potential.

This is not a trivial observation.  Everett's 'many worlds' interpretation of quantum mechanics mistakes potential for instance, and leads to the notion of a multiverse, where potential universes are misconstrued as actual universes.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

The Thoughts Of Bohr Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

Gribbin (1990: 118):
Bohr gave us a philosophical basis with which to reconcile the dual particle/wave nature of the quantum world… . Bohr said that both the theoretical pictures, particle physics and wave physics, are equally valid, complementary descriptions of the same reality. Neither description is complete in itself, but there are circumstances where it is more appropriate to use the particle concept, and circumstances where it is better to use the wave concept. A fundamental entity such as an electron is neither a particle nor a wave, but under some circumstances it behaves as if it were a wave, and under other circumstances it behaves as if it were a particle (really, of course, it is a slithy tove). But under no circumstances can you invent an experiment that will show the electron behaving in both fashions at once. This idea of wave and particle being two complementary facets of the electron's complex personality is called complementarity.

Blogger Comment:

Bohr's view that physics provides a picture or description is consistent with the view of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory that physics is a construal of experience as meaning.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Quantum Physics Through Systemic Functional Linguistics: Causality

Gribbin (1990: 66):
In the classical world, everything has its cause. … But in the world of the quantum, such direct causality begins to disappear as soon as we look at radioactive and atomic transitions. An electron doesn't move down from one energy level to another at particular time for any particular reason. The lower energy level is more desirable for the atom, in a statistical sense, and so it is quite likely (the amount of likelihood can even be quantified) that the electron will make such a move, sooner or later. But there is no way to tell when the transition will occur. No outside agency pushes the electron, and no internal clockwork times the jump. It just happens, for no particular reason, now rather than then. … It really does seem that these changes occur entirely by chance, on a statistical basis, and that already begins to raise fundamental philosophical questions.


Blogger Comment:

Systemic Functional Linguistic theory distinguishes between self-engendered processes and those with an external cause (agent). In the 'world of the quantum', electrons are construed as the medium of self-engendered processes — processes that can be viewed from the complementary perspectives of 'happening' (material) vs 'being' (relational).

Sunday, 1 January 2017

The 'Schrödinger's Cat' Paradox Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Gribbin (1990: 2-3):
For what quantum mechanics says is that nothing is real and that we cannot say anything about what things are doing when we are not looking at them.  Schrödinger's mythical cat was invoked to make the differences between the quantum world and the everyday world clear.
In the world of quantum mechanics, the laws of physics that are familiar from the everyday world no longer work.  Instead, events are governed by probabilities.  A radioactive atom, for example, might decay, emitting an electron, say; or it might not.  It is possible to set up an experiment in such a way that there is a precise fifty-fifty chance that one of the atoms in a lump of radioactive material will decay in a certain time and that a detector will register the decay if it does happen.  Schrödinger, as upset as Einstein about the implications of quantum theory, tried to show the absurdity of those implications by imagining such an experiment set up in a closed room, or box, which also contains a live cat and a phial of poison, so arranged that if the radioactive decay does occur then the poison container is broken and the cat dies.  In the everyday world, there is a fifty-fifty chance that that the cat will be killed, and without looking inside the box we can say, quite happily, that the cat inside is either dead or alive.  But now we encounter the strangeness of the quantum world.  According to the theory, neither of the two possibilities open to the radioactive material, and therefore to the cat, has any reality unless it is observed.  The atomic decay has neither happened nor not happened, the cat has neither been killed nor not been killed, until we look inside the box to see what happened.  Theorists who accept the pure version of quantum mechanics say that the cat exists in some indeterminate state, neither dead nor alive, until an observer looks into the box to see how things are getting on.  Nothing is real unless it is observed.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the finding from quantum mechanics that 'we cannot say anything about what things are doing when we are not looking at them' is not at all strange, but entirely consistent with the view that 'what things are doing' is meaning construed of experience.  Without the observation, there is no construal of the experience as meaning. The meaning 'Schrödinger's cat is alive/dead' cannot be construed of experience until the observation is made.

The confounding notion of 'real' here derives from the Galilean and Cartesian distinction of 'primary' qualities, such as locomotion and position, being 'out there' in the world of matter versus 'secondary' qualities being 'in here' in the world of the mind.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Thoughts Of James Jeans In Systemic Functional Linguistics

Kœstler (1979: 542-3):
Jeans went even further [than Eddington]:
The concepts which now prove to be fundamental to our understanding of nature — a space which is finite; a space which is empty, so that one point [which appears to us unoccupied by a material body] differs from another solely in the properties of the space itself; four-dimensional, seven and more dimensional spaces; a space which for ever expands; a sequence of events which follows the laws of probability instead of the laws of causation — or, alternatively, a sequence of events which can only be fully and consistently described by going outside space and time, all these concepts seem to my mind to be structures of pure thought, incapable of realisation in any sense which would properly be described as material.
And again:
Today there is a wide measure of agreement, which on the physical side of science approaches almost to unanimity, that the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine.  Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.


Blogger Comment:

Jeans' view is consistent with the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory that meaning is immanent, not transcendent; that meaning is within the domain of the semiotic systems, and not outside them; that meaning is a construal of experience.  Within the semiotic domain, it is also consistent with the notion of meaning as the content of consciousness, that is, as the ideas projected by mental processes.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Thoughts Of Eddington In Systemic Functional Linguistics

Kœstler (1979: 542):
Thus Eddington wrote:
The stuff of the world is mind-stuff.  The mind-stuff is not spread in space and time; these are part of the cyclic scheme ultimately derived out of it.

Blogger Comment:

Eddington's view is consistent with the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory that categories of experience, such as space and time, are meanings construed in the social semiotic system of language, and so are the contents of consciousness.

cf also the view of William James that pure experience is the one primal stuff out of which everything in the world is composed.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

The Thoughts Of Descartes Vs Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

Kœstler (1979: 535-6, 539):
The division of the world into 'primary' and 'secondary' qualities was completed by Descartes.  He further reduced primary qualities to 'extension' and 'motion', which form the 'realm of extension' — res extensa — and he lumped together everything else in the res cogitans, the realm of the mind …
Descartes carried the process one step further [than Galileo] by paring down the reality of the external world to particles whose only quality was extension in space and motion in space and time.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, all such qualities, primary and secondary, extension and motion, exist "only in the observer's consciousness" — since they are all meanings construed of experience.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Thoughts Of Galileo Vs Systemic Functional Linguistics

Kœstler (1979: 476-7, 535, 537):
Above all, Galileo outlines a principle which became of outstanding importance in the history of thought: the distinction between primary qualities in nature such as the position, number, shape and motion of bodies, and secondary qualities such as colours, odours and tastes, which are said to exist only in the observer's consciousness.
To excite in us tastes, odours, and sounds I believe that nothing is required in external bodies except shapes, numbers, and slow or rapid movements.  I think that if ears, tongues, and noses were removed, shapes and numbers and motions would remain, but not odours or tastes or sounds.  The latter, I believe, are nothing more than names when separated from living beings. …
Though anticipated by the Greek atomists, it is for the first time in the modern age that this distinction is made in such concise terms, the first formulation of the mechanistic view of the universe. …
Galileo takes the hyperstatisation of mathematics a decisive step further by reducing all nature to 'size, figure, number, and slow or rapid motion', and by relegating into the limbo of 'subjective' or 'secondary' qualities everything that cannot be reduced to these elements — including, by implication, ethical values, and the phenomena of the mind. … 
Galileo banished the qualities that are the very essence of the sensual world — colour and sound, heat, odour, and taste — from the realm of physics to that of subjective illusion.


Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, all such qualities, primary and secondary, exist "only in the observer's consciousness" — since they are all meanings construed of experience.  It will be seen later in this blog that it is precisely the continued adoption of Galileo's viewpoint by scientists that makes the experimental findings of Quantum physics seem bizarre.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Thoughts Of Russell Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [4]

Russell (1961: 788):
There remains, however, a vast field, traditionally included in philosophy, where scientific methods are inadequate. This field includes ultimate questions of value; science alone, for example, cannot prove that it is bad to enjoy the infliction of cruelty. Whatever can be known, can be known by means of science; but things which are legitimately matters of feeling lie outside its province.
Philosophy, throughout its history, has consisted of two parts inharmoniously blended: on the one hand a theory as to the nature of the world, on the other an ethical or political doctrine as to the best way of living. The failure to separate these two with sufficient clarity has been a source of much confused thinking. Philosophers, from Plato to William James, have allowed their opinions as to the constitution of the universe to be influenced by the desire for edification: knowing, as they supposed, what beliefs would make men virtuous, they have invented arguments, often very sophistical, to prove that these beliefs are true. For my part I reprobate this kind of bias, both on moral and on intellectual grounds. Morally, a philosopher who uses his professional competence for anything except a disinterested search for truth is guilty of a kind of treachery. And when he assumes, in advance of inquiry, that certain beliefs, whether true or false, are such as to promote good behaviour, he is so limiting the scope of philosophical speculation as to make philosophy trivial; the true philosopher is prepared to examine all preconceptions. When any limits are placed, consciously or unconsciously, upon the pursuit of truth, philosophy becomes paralysed by fear, and the ground is prepared for a government censorship punishing those who utter "dangerous thoughts" — in fact, the philosopher has already placed such a censorship over his own investigations.


Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, this division in philosophy relates to the ideational distinction between the two means of projecting ideascognitive and desiderative mental processes.  This, in turn, relates to the interpersonal distinction in the ideas thus projected between propositions and proposals, along with the agnate modality distinction between modalisation (probability/usuality) and modulation (obligation/inclination).

Saturday, 20 August 2016

The Thoughts Of Russell On Perception Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Russell (1961: 787):
Modern physics and physiology throw a new light upon the ancient problem of perception. If there is to be anything that can be called "perception," it must be in some degree an effect of the object perceived, and it must more or less resemble the object if it is to be a source of knowledge of the object.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, an object is a construal of experience  — the impact of the environment on the body — as meaning.  That is, the appearance of the experience as an object is within the domain of semiosis.  Accordingly, the notion of a resemblance between an object and its perception amounts to a resemblance between a perception and itself.

From the perspective of Edelman's Theory of Neuronal Group Selection, filtered through the lens of Gregory Bateson, reliable perception involves different impacts on sensory receptors selecting different neuronal groups in global brain mappings.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Russell On The Distinction Of Mind And Matter Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Russell (1961: 787):
The distinction of mind and matter came into philosophy from religion, although, for a long time, it seemed to have valid grounds. I think that both mind and matter are merely convenient ways of grouping events. Some single events, I should admit, belong only to material groups, but others belong to both kinds of groups, and are therefore at once mental and material. This doctrine effects a great simplification in our picture of the structure of the world.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the distinction of mind and matter first arose in language — as a construal of experience as meaning: the general distinction between mental and material processes.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Thoughts Of Russell On Quantum Theory Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Russell (1961: 786-7):
Quantum theory reinforces this conclusion, but its chief philosophical importance is that it regards physical phenomena as possibly discontinuous. It suggests that, in an atom (interpreted as above), a certain state of affairs persists for a certain time, and then suddenly is replaced by a finitely different state of affairs. Continuity of motion, which had always been assumed, appears to have been a mere prejudice. The philosophy appropriate to quantum theory, however, has not yet been adequately developed. I suspect that it will demand even more radical departures from the traditional doctrine of space and time than those demanded by the theory of relativity.


Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, the discontinuities of physical phenomena at the quantum scale are discontinuities in the construal of experience as meaning.  Such spatiotemporal discontinuities arise because, as Bohr says, it is meaningless to ask what a particle is doing when it is not being observed.  In the intervals when no observation is being made, no construal of experience as a particle locomoting through space-time takes place.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Thoughts Of Russell On Relativity Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

Russell (1961: 786):
What is important to the philosopher in the theory of relativity is the substitution of space-time for space and time. Common sense thinks of the physical world as composed of "things" which persist through a certain period of time and move in space. Philosophy and physics developed the notion of "thing" into that of "material substance," and thought of material substance as consisting of particles, each very small, and each persisting throughout all time. Einstein substituted events for particles; each event had to each other a relation called "interval," which could be analysed in various ways into a time element and a space-element. The choice between these various ways was arbitrary, and no one of them was theoretically preferable to any other. Given two events A and B, in different regions, it might happen that according to one convention they were simultaneous, according to another A was earlier than B, and according to yet another B was earlier than A. No physical facts correspond to these different conventions.
From all this it seems to follow that events, not particles, must be the "stuff" of physics. What has been thought of as a particle will have to be thought of as a series of events. The series of events that replaces a particle has certain important physical properties, and therefore demands our attention; but it has no more substantiality than any other series of events that we might arbitrarily single out. Thus "matter" is not part of the ultimate material of the world, but merely a convenient way of collecting events into bundles.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, experience is construed most generally as a configuration of a process and a participant that is the medium of the process, with the further possibility of other participants — an agent or beneficiary of the process — and the circumstances — spatiotemporal etc. — in which the process unfolds.  Such configurations are potentially related to each other by the logical semantic relations, forming sequences.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Thoughts Of Russell Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [3]

Russell (1961: 785-6):
One result of the work we have been considering is to dethrone mathematics from the lofty place that it has occupied since Pythagoras and Plato, and to destroy the presumption against empiricism which has been derived from it.  Mathematical knowledge, it is true, is not obtained by induction from experience; our reason for believing that 2 and 2 are 4 is not that we have so often found, by observation, that one couple and another couple together make up a quartet.  In this sense, mathematical knowledge is still not empirical.  But it is also not a priori knowledge about the world.  It is, in fact, merely verbal knowledge.  '3' means '2 + 1', and '4' means '3 + 1'.  Hence it follows (though the proof is long) that '4' means the same as '2 + 2'.  Thus mathematical knowledge ceases to be mysterious.  It is all of the same nature as the 'great truth' that there are three feet in a yard.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, 'mathematical knowledge' is the meaning of the registers of language that realise the contextual field of mathematics.  Mathematical equations are identifying clauses.

'3'
means
'2 + 1'
Identified Token
Process: relational
Identifier Value

'4'
means
'3 + 1'
Identified Token
Process: relational
Identifier Value

'4'
means
the same as '2 + 2'
Identified Token
Process: relational
Identifier Value

Monday, 15 August 2016

The Thoughts Of Russell Vs Systemic Functional Linguistics [8]

Russell (1961: 785):
Suppose I say, 'The golden mountain does not exist', and suppose you ask 'What is it that doesn't exist?'  It would seem to me that, if I say 'It is the golden mountain,' I am attributing some sort of existence to it. … The theory of descriptions was designed to meet this and other difficulties.

Blogger Comment:

From the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistic theory, Russell's reply does not attribute existence to 'the golden mountain'.  Instead, it identifies 'the golden mountain' with that which does not exist. (The question seeks an encoding, and the answer provides it.)


what
is
it [[that doesn’t exist]]
Identifier Token
Process: relational
Identified Value


it [[that doesn’t exist]]
is
the golden mountain
Identified Value
Process: relational
Identifier Token