iSoul In the beginning is reality

What is broken?

On the eve of the U.S. national election that is considered by many to be symptomatic of a broken political system, I want to reflect on what it is that is broken.

A consistent majority say they are unhappy with either major Presidential candidate. How could this happen? Why were they nominated?

The one-liner “Washington is broken” says more about the speaker than anything definite about the political system. It hearkens back to “the government is the problem” as a political position. Does that mean something should be fixed or replaced or destroyed?

Some are in a smash and burn mode. We see this in the eruption of urban riots about police treatment of suspects. It seems to be present in some anti-Washington speech. Should we smash the Lincoln Monument? Trash the Capitol? Burn the White House?

Some blame “the elite” – leading politicians, mass media, big corporations, billionaires, powerful unions, influential intellectuals or celebrities. Is this revolutionary rhetoric — switch the top and the bottom parts of society? Do people really despise each other?

Some are frustrated by “inaction” or “gridlock” – by politics not solving problems that fester for years, by bad laws persisting, by good laws not passing. Others are fed up with “hypocrisy” (hypocracy?), by politicians that lie or say one thing and do another.

Some are sick and tired of graft, of corruption, of “pay for play” – by greed masquerading as public service, by insiders helping insiders, with the rest of us getting the shaft. Others are just plain tired of politics, politics, politics, and want it all to end. Can’t we just get on with our lives?

In response, I first return to a point I’ve made before that we currently have a partial vote, not a full vote of up-or-down on each candidate. We have enough democracy to get people’s attention, but not enough democracy for people to express their views. So they’re disappointed.

A full vote would lead to more centrist candidates. One faction wouldn’t be enough for a candidate to stand out. Candidates who are acceptable to the largest number of people would be selected. Primary elections with many candidates should select the candidate approved by the widest majority rather the one with the greatest plurality.

A full vote would allow “third-parties” to get meaningful votes rather than trying to be spoilers. People wouldn’t be conflicted between voting for a candidate they don’t agree with very much who has a chance to win versus voting for a candidate who has almost no chance to win. They could vote for both.

The second point is that the entertainment media have an excessive role in politics, and most news is entertainment. The drive for headlines and updates, the focus on the sensational or unusual, and the hyping of celebrities and scandals lead away from political discourse. “The issues” are not the media issues – they are real issues that are now or will be up to the elected leaders to deal with.

The mass media treat the President like a dictator whose word is law. There is little connection between Presidential “debates” and what a President actually has authority to do on their own. Almost everything the media focuses on depends as much or more on Congress than the President.

Political education has declined. Civics isn’t taught in state schools anymore. People are ignorant of the separation of powers, the power of the purse, and the limits of authority. And so abuses of power are not as shocking as they once were.

We can go back to the basics of a constitutional republic or we can keep sliding toward dictatorship. We can’t do both. And that depends on what happens after election day.

Unlimited banks of explanation

In his 1869 Presidential Address to the Geological Society of London on the subject of Geological Reform TH Huxley said:

Catastrophism has insisted upon the existence of a practically unlimited bank of force, on which the theorist might draw; and it has cherished the idea of the development of the earth from a state in which its form, and the forces which it exerted, were very different from those we now know. That such difference of form and power once existed is a necessary part of the doctrine of evolution.

Uniformitarianism, on the other hand, has with equal justice insisted upon a practically unlimited bank of time, ready to discount any quantity of hypothetical paper. It has kept before our eyes the power of the infinitely little, time being granted, and has compelled us to exhaust known causes before flying to the unknown.

He went on to say that Evolution “embraces all that is sound in both” of them. If only that were true. Instead evolutionary theories draw from “a practically unlimited bank” of force and time.

Explanation is easy with an unlimited bank of resources to draw from. With two unlimited banks, force and time, one can explain just about anything. The problem of explanation is solved. The problem then is that explanation is too easy.

Consider if one had “a practically unlimited bank” of money to draw from to explain contemporary events. You could easily show how money controls everything — just chercher l’argent (look for the money trail) and you’ll find suggestive evidence everywhere. Pick your boogeyman and match them with money since there’s “a practically unlimited bank” of liquidity floating around.

Good explanations require something better. They require a balancing of solution spaces and solutions. An equation that is easy to solve for complex numbers may be very difficult to solve for integers, which is the challenge of Diophantine Equations.

What is the right domain of solutions? The one that is real. People don’t believe in speeds greater than the speed of light because that would lead to imaginary values for space and time. Restricting the domain is necessary to maintain correspondence to reality.

Somehow many people accept deep time, deep force, deep multiverses, etc. Meanwhile science gets deeper in debt to inflated explanations and goes off the deep end.

Interpretation of math and science

There’s a common understanding that most writings need to be interpreted — especially those of a religious or philosophical nature. But mathematical and scientific writings are similar and need to be interpreted, too.

Consider that mathematicians and scientists write as if they were creating a world. Mathematicians say things like, “Let there be a line and a point not lying on it such that …” Or scientists will say, “Occam’s razor is a principle of science” as if they can assert principles ex nihilo. How should these creations be interpreted?

Mathematicians write as if infinity were next door: “As x approaches infinity …” Scientists write as if the entire universe were in view: “The universal theory of gravitation states …” But universal theories turn out to have limitations. And the One who is actually infinite never appears in mathematics. So what do these locutions really mean?

Before the discovery or invention (which one?) of non-Euclidean geometry and its application to physics, it was common for people to think that Euclidean geometry described the space we live in. It is said that most mathematicians are Platonists, and believe that mathematical entities literally exist. Since the 19th century, the literal interpretation of science has been in ascendancy, in which nature is all that exists (i.e., scientific naturalism, see here).

Some say modern science was an unintended consequence of the Reformation’s rejection of levels of meaning in the Bible, which led to a more literal interpretation of God’s other book, the book of nature. The conclusion from all this is that mathematics and science need to be interpreted as much as religious or philosophical writings. What’s your interpretation?

Renaissance for today

What does it take for a renaissance? A willingness to go back and take another path. That is, a willingness to go back in history and take the words, thoughts, and actions of others as applying to the present. Ad fontes was the cry of the Renaissance, and later the Reformation, which looked to the sources of civilization and religion.

The “now generation” will never have a renaissance. Those who think the present is superior or who merely ignore the past will never have a renaissance. They are too self-satisfied, self-uncritical, and self-focused.

Progressive disciplines have a problem here because they have an inherent bias toward more recent knowledge and practice, which are taken to be superior to anything prior. How can they reconsider the past which in some ways has been rejected?

A renaissance is spurred by a reconsideration of the past, which could arise because of new discoveries about the past such as recovery of lost or forgotten manuscripts, or from a crisis in the present, which leads people to reconsider another way forward. The latter is the situation of today. Many, even a majority depending on what is asked, agree that contemporary civilization is in crisis, that things are going in the wrong direction.

What can be done? We can reconsider what has been rejected. Some are doing this in regard to Christianity, and are rejecting Christianity for other religions or the religion of “none”. The question then is whether what is rejected is a certain variety of Christianity or Christianity in toto. I think it is the former because critics of Christianity are often using Christian criteria to reject Christianity.

It should not be a matter of mere rejection but of openness to other ways of thinking, with an implied critique that current ways of thinking are not adequate. But it must be aimed at something that is a major component of current thought and action. Otherwise, it will lead only to an alternate way of doing things, rather than a challenge to current ways.

For example, a major component of current thought and action is naturalism, which arose in the 19th century, especially from the influence of Thomas Huxley, and took hold in the 20th century. Those challenging the limitation of the natural sciences to naturalistic causes today are the intelligent design theorists and those working in the Goethean approach to science.

The foundation of the modern world is anchored in the rejection of geocentrism and the acceptance of a mechanistic view of the world, as modified by quantum and relativistic theories. This includes the establishment of absolute time — now modified by relativity but otherwise intact — within a 3D spatial universe. I have challenged some of this but more work needs to be done to open the door to a renaissance of civilization.

Ad fontes!

Lorentz transformation for 3D time

It is worth returning to my post on Lorentz and Co-Lorentz transformations in order to make the point that the Lorentz transformation is sufficient for 3D time. Superluminal speeds are not required for 3D time, contrary to what others have said, such as here.

What is required for 3D time (with 1D space) is the use of measures relating measured changes in time to independent changes in space. Pace, celerity, and deprestination are needed instead of speed, velocity, and acceleration. See glossary above for definitions of terms.

The conception of space is then simplified to a one-dimensional distance from some conventional origin point. This conception of space is analogous to the common conception of time, as something that flows on independently of us. That is what it means to be an independent variable: it’s out of our control.

Commuters may use a conception of 1D space since they are focused on the distance to and from their residence or place of employment. The shortest distance in space may not be the shortest duration of time, which is more important. A route that takes advantage of multi-dimensional time may take the shortest time, which in this context is a dependent variable, and can be controlled to some extent.

In time-space (3D time + 1D space) time becomes like space and space becomes like time. But space is still composed of lengths and distances, and time is still made of durations.

As a reference I repeat below the previously given derivation of the Lorentz transformation for both speed and pace:

There are many expositions of a Lorentz transformation, such as here. It is standard to present them in terms of two reference frames and their coordinate systems in uniform relative motion along the x-axis. Here we take the spatial axis to be the r-axis, which is parallel to the spatial axis of motion. Similarly, the temporal axis is taken to be the t-axis, which is parallel to the temporal axis of motion.

One aspect of the exposition here is that the notation is indifferent as to the existence of other dimensions. If they exist, they are orthogonal to the direction of motion, whether spatial or temporal, and their corresponding values are the same for both frames.

The two frames are differentiated by primed and unprimed letters. Their relative speed is v, and their relative pace is u = 1/v. The key difference between speed and pace is their independent unit of measure: speed is measured per unit of time (duration), whereas pace is measured per unit of space (distance).

A Lorentz transformation requires what I’m calling a characteristic (modal) rate, in units of speed or pace, which is the same for all observers within a context such as physics or a mode of travel. The characteristic speed, c, or pace, ç (c-cedilla), may take any positive value, and may represent a maximum, a minimum, or a typical value, depending on the context. In the context of physics, the characteristic rate is that of light traveling in a vacuum.

The trajectory of a reference particle (or probe vehicle) that travels at the characteristic rate follows these equations in the two frames:

speed: r = ct or r/c = t and r′ = ct′, or r′/c = t′,

pace: çr = t or r = t/ç and çr′ = t′ or r′ = t′/ç.

Lorentz transformation

This starts with the Galilean transformation and includes a factor, γ, in the transformation equation for the direction of motion, along with the characteristic rate:

speed (–): r′ = γ (rvt) = γr (1 – v/c) = ct′ = γ (ctrv/c) = γt (cv),

pace (–): rγ (rt/u) = γr (1 – ç/u) = t/bγ (t/çrç/u) = γt (1/ç – 1/u),

with equal values for the other corresponding primed and unprimed coordinates. The inverse transformations are then:

speed (+): r = γ (r′ + vt′) = γr′ (1 + v/c) = ct = γ (ct′ + r′v/c) = γt′ (c + v),

pace (+): rγ (r + t/u) = γr′ (1 + ç/u) = t/çγ (t/ç + rç/u) = γt′ (1/ç + 1/u).

Multiply each corresponding pair together to get:

speed: rr′ = γ²rr′ (1 – v²/c²) = c²tt′ = γ²tt′ (),

pace: rr´ = γ²rr′ (1 – ç²/u²) = tt/ç² = γ²tt′ (1/ç² – 1/).

Dividing out rr′ yields:

speed: 1 = γ2 (1 – v2/c2),

pace: = γ2 (1 – ç2/u2).

Or dividing out tt′ yields:

speed: c2 = γ2 (c2v2),

pace: 1/b² = γ2 (1/ç² – 1/).

Either way, solving for γ leads to:

speed: γ = (1 – v2/c2)–1/2,

pace: γ = (1 – ç2/u2)–1/2.

which is the standard Lorentz transformation and applies only if |v| < |c| or |u| > |ç|.

Space and time expanded

Space-time is relativistic 3D space + 1D time. It obscures the 3D nature of time. The opposite is time-space with 3D time + 1D space, which obscures the 3D nature of space. Both of these have their advantages and disadvantages.

To avoid the disadvantage of obscuring 3D space or 3D time use 3D space + 3D time with an invariant interval and without measures such as speed or pace that require combining dimensions.

The invariant interval with coordinates in 3D space (r) and 3D time (t) between two events 1 and 2 (second subscript) is:

(t11 – t12)² + (t21 – t22 )² + (t31 – t32 )² – (r11 – r12)² – (r21 – r22 )² – (r31 – r32 )²,

which can be plus or minus depending on the sign convention. Here c² is a conversion constant that does not favor spatial over temporal coordinates.

The invariance of the interval under linear coordinate transformations between inertial frames follows from the invariance of

c² t11² + c² t21² + c² t31² – r11² – r21² – t31²

for any point event. This quadratic form can be used to define a bilinear form

u · v = t11² t12² + t21² t22² + t31² t32² – r11² r12² – r21² r22² – r31² r32²,

which is often written in matrix form. The signature is then (+ + + – – –).

Pace of light

Excerpts from How is the speed of light measured?

Before the seventeenth century, it was generally thought that light is transmitted instantaneously.  This was supported by the observation that there is no noticeable lag in the position of the Earth’s shadow on the Moon during a lunar eclipse, which would otherwise be expected if c were finite.

Instantaneously means a pace of zero. This is a basis for the Galilean transformation.

The first successful measurement of c was made by Olaus Roemer in 1676.  He noticed that, depending on the Earth–Sun–Jupiter geometry, there could be a difference of up to 1000 seconds between the predicted times of the eclipses of Jupiter’s moons, and the actual times that these eclipses were observed.  He correctly surmised that this is due to the varying length of time it takes for light to travel from Jupiter to Earth as the distance between these two planets varies.

This was actually the pace of light since the measured travel time was dependent on the known distance.

In 1728 James Bradley made another estimate by observing stellar aberration, being the apparent displacement of stars due to the motion of the Earth around the Sun.  He observed a star in Draco and found that its apparent position changed throughout the year.  All stellar positions are affected equally in this way.  … Bradley measured this angle for starlight, and knowing the speed of the Earth around the Sun, he found a value for the speed of light of 301,000 km/s.

The distance that the stars appear to move is proportional to the speed that the Earth moves divided by the speed of light, which is equivalent to the pace of light divided by the Earth’s orbital pace.

The first measurement of c that didn’t make use of the heavens was by Armand Fizeau in 1849.  He used a beam of light reflected from a mirror 8 km away.  The beam was aimed at the teeth of a rapidly spinning wheel.  The speed of the wheel was increased until its motion was such that the light’s two-way passage coincided with a movement of the wheel’s circumference by one tooth.  This gave a value for c of 315,000 km/s.  Leon Foucault improved on this result a year later using rotating mirrors, which gave the much more accurate value of 298,000 km/s.

Again, this was actually the pace of light since the measured travel time was dependent on the known distance.

According to the conventionality of simultaneity, the speed of light is actually the harmonic mean speed of the two-way speed of light. The harmonic mean is used because the length of the trips is the same. The pace of light is actually the arithmetic mean pace of the two-way pace of light.

The speed of light adopted as an international standard in 1983 is 299 792.458 km/s, which is equivalent to a pace of light that is 3.335 640 952 s/Gm.

Terminology for space and time, part 3

This is part 3 of an open series of posts on terminology; see part 1 and part 2.

As another way of indicating the dimensions of space and time, let space-time mean unified 3D space + 1D time, and let time-space mean unified 3D time + 1D space.

Consequently, Galilean time-space requires what I’m calling the co-Galilean transformation. And Lorentz time-space requires what I’m calling the co-Lorentz transformation.

The appropriate way of measuring the rate of movement in space-time is speed and velocity, since time is the independent variable. Pace is equivalent to the inverse of speed but their independent variables differ.

The appropriate way of measuring the rate of movement in time-space is pace and celerity, since space (length or distance) is the independent variable. Speed is equivalent to the inverse of pace but their independent variables differ.

This political moment

It’s difficult not to say something about the political moment of the U.S. Presidential election. Earlier this year I wrote briefly about its symmetry.

The media coverage has been mostly fantasies about what a king or queen would do rather than an actual president with enumerated powers. The low-information voter has almost nothing but fantasy to go on.

People are eager not only for the election to be over (the political ads, the mudslinging, the exaggerations and falsehoods) but to undo this year, as if it has turned out all wrong and needs a retake.

There are few bumper stickers this year. People are not excited about their candidate, even if they have a candidate. Others aren’t saying, and maybe don’t know, and perhaps won’t know until they enter the voting booth.

It’s worth thinking some about how this happened. It’s easy to blame them — the politicians, the parties, the mass media, etc. But it comes back to We the people. We have met the enemy and they are us.

An election with bad candidates concentrates the mind. The choice between Bad A and Bad B requires more wisdom than the choice between Sorta Ok A and Sorta Not Ok B.

It doesn’t makes sense to ask which candidate people like. It’s not about like anymore. People wouldn’t want to spend time alone with either candidate.

What issues there are are mostly about party ideology, so individual candidates matter less. The right to be born. Religious freedom. The role of  government. Health care. Jobs. Foreign affairs.

It’s becoming clear that the election won’t do what elections are supposed to do: dissipate public tension. Polarization will continue, even get worse after the election.

It’s hard to be optimistic about America today. People with a variety of opinions have been remarking about the moral decline of the nation for some time. Now it’s too obvious to think otherwise.

Creation of ubiquitous light

The first chapter of the first book of the Bible, Genesis 1, has attracted many commentators over the centuries. Recent scholarly work attempts to place it in the context of ancient Near East writings. (Near East is the European moniker for what Americans call the Middle East.) That however undervalues the unique, nuanced text of Genesis.

Creation ex nihilo is analogous in some ways to the creation of an axiomatic system such as Euclid’s Elements of Geometry. Before the first postulate (“A straight line segment can be drawn joining any two points.”) one should not assume that any such straight lines exist. “Let there be a line such that …” is the act of creating a line.

Similarly, in reading Genesis 1 we should not assume that before something was created, it existed or it existed in the way that we know it. Things we take for granted today, such as light, had to be created. This requires a close reading of Genesis 1 as a step by step process in which as little as possible is assumed to exist before there is some indication that it does exist.

Genesis 1 begins with some of the most famous words ever written:

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

In regards to light, the second verse says there was darkness but no light, at least in the earthly world (we’re not told about the heavens of verse 1). Light is created in verse 3: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

Where was the light shining from that was created in verse 3? And what time was the light shining? The text answers the second question first, in verses 4 and 5: “And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”

The light of verse 3 was separated from darkness to produce daylight, that is, a time of light. Before that separation, light and darkness were commingled in time. That is, at first light was ubiquitous in time. After the separation, light was concentrated in time, which is what constituted Day, that is, daylight.

Several verses later the text reads about the fourth day (Gen. 1:14-18):

14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

For centuries people have found this passage perplexing. How could there be light on earth without the sun? Why was the sun needed if there was already light on earth? To start with, there was light on earth before the sun; that’s what the text says about day one. There was also evening and morning, nighttime and daytime without the sun.

Again, where was the light shining from that was created in verse 3? The answer is given in verse 18, which says why the sun, moon, and stars were created: to separate the light from the darkness. Prior to this light and darkness were commingled in space. That is, at first light was ubiquitous in space.

The image is that of the creation of ubiquitous light, which is then separated from darkness in time, and later separated from darkness in space. The separation of light and darkness on the fourth day produced stars, including the sun. The stars were not created from nothing at that time but were made by concentrating the light in space. Stars are a concentration of light that was already there.

This answers another perplexing question, which is asked since the speed of light is known to be finite, and some stars are many light-years away: How did the light get from the stars to the earth so quickly? The answer is that the light was already on the earth because light was ubiquitous in space before the stars were made. Concentrated darkness was lacking, too, before the light and darkness were separated.

In order to explain how starlight got to earth in a short time, it is sometimes asserted that God created light in transit. That is a different view than the one presented here, and one that lacks support in the text of Genesis 1. There are those who say Genesis 1 is just poetry and so can be interpreted any way you want. I have no patience for such a low view of poetry or anyone who plays fast and loose with the text. The close reading above shows that the text of Genesis 1 makes sense on its own terms.