Re: Fwd: Why physical laws

From: Christopher Maloney <>
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 1999 19:33:04 -0400

Wei Dai wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 08, 1999 at 01:54:03AM -0400, wrote:
> > To answer your question, I could say that, in my opinion, the real essence of
> > the world is disorder. The world is becoming undone every Planck time and is
> > also reconstituted every Planck Time, as James Higgo recently stated. What
> > brings order to chaos is the fact that we can ONLY observe the portion of
> > this many world which supports our existence, and this is precisely the
> > portion where "per force" the physical laws exist for if they didn't we would
> > not be around to observe the world.
> Higgo and Levy, Do this thought experiment: consider a region of the
> meta-universe that is exactly identical to ours, but where all of the
> raindrops are shaped like elephants. If all regions are ruled by disorder,
> then there must be many more regions where these kind of wierd things
> happen then regions where they don't. Why are we not in such a region? Why
> do we never observe apparent violations of physical law that do not
> threaten our existence? It must be that most regions do follow
> physical laws.

John Wheeler said (from Ghost in the Atom):

    I cannot believe that nature has "built in", as if by a corps of
    Swiss watchmakers, any machinery, equation or mathematical
    formalism which rigidly relates physical events separated in time.
    Rather I believe that these events go together in a
    higgledy-piggledy fashion and that what seem to be precise
    equations emerge in every case in a statistical way from the
    physics of large numbers; quantum theory in particular seems to
    work like that. . . . The second law of thermodynamics does not go
    back to any equations written down at the beginning of time, not
    to any "built in" machinery - not to any corps of Swiss
    watchmakers - but rather to the combination of a very large number
    of events.

This I agree with whole-heartedly. Considering that members of this
list for the most part agree that "everything exists", I would assume
(and this might be a stretch, but I doubt it) that most would reject
the notion of a divine creator. Well, without a divine creator, just
_how_ could an object that acted one way yesterday be "compelled" to
act the same way today? From an aesthetic philosophical vantage, I
just cannot accept it. I really can't say it better than Wheeler:
how could the universe behave as though it were an elaborate machine
built by a "corp of Swiss watchmakers"?

Yet nature does seem to obey "laws". There does seem to be some sort
of connectedness between different subjective times that we experience.
I have a sort of nebulous, speculative idea that the connection
derives from the laws of probability and from the anthropic principle.

The anthropic principle first: as has been said by others, in order
for an "I" to exist, that is, in any given mathematical structure, in
order for you to be able to define an SAS, you must be
able to define a single time step of that SAS, which means being able
to define:
  1. information contained by the SAS at time t
  2. information contained in a "delta-SAS" which is "connected" to
      the SAS(t) by one delta-time

Now, in the _entire_ ensemble of structures in which "I" can be
defined, it must be that for any observable, the expectation value
can be derived from the equations of quantum mechanics. But it's
not necessary for each individual structure to obey physical laws,
just for their average, when considering large numbers, to produce
what we see about us.

Chris Maloney
"Knowledge is good"
-- Emil Faber
Received on Wed Jun 09 1999 - 17:06:02 PDT

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