Monday, 23 October 2017

The Laws Of Physics Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [2]

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

Blogger Comment:

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


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

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

Saturday, 21 October 2017

The Laws Of Physics Through Systemic Functional Linguistics [1]

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

Blogger Comments:

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

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Quantum Reality Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

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

Blogger Comments:

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

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

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Virtual Particles Through Systemic Functional Linguistics

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

Blogger Comments:

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

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.