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Now for something completely ridiculous

Okay. You were promised ridiculous as well as sublime, so here goes. But be forewarned: sublime posts are speculative; ridiculous ones are not.

The Millennium Conjectures are speculations, guesses, wild assumptions. The Sackler Laws are not. They are not conjectures. They are not theories, nor hypothesis, nor speculation, nor guesses.

They are absolutely immutable laws of the universe. So you have been warned, and with that I present Sackler Law #1:

The Law of Bumper Sticker Activism

A person with one political bumper sticker on their car is a person with a cause.

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A person with two political bumper stickers on their car is an activist.

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A person with three or more bumper stickers of any kind on their car is a complete nut case!

As previously stated, this law is absolute, immutable, and not open to debate. It matters not the persuasion: liberal, conservative, moderate, authoritarian, libertarian, religious, atheist, vegan, cannibalistic, tea party, green party, toga party. It’s all the same. I have spoken. End of discussion. Next question please! (For a complementary, but not competing view on the subject of bumper stickers, click here.) Text in this post ©2012 Mark Sackler

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Introducing The Millenium Conjectures

“..in reality, scientific theories are not ‘derived’ from anything.  They are guesses—bold conjectures.”

David Deutsch, The Beginning of Infinity

 

David Deutsch

In his provocative and stimulating tome The Beginning of Infinity, the British astrophysicist David Deutsch describes the role of science as one not so much as describing reality as explaining it.  It does this, he asserts, through conjectures which then may be tested by experiment.   But this leaves substantial problems in today’s complex and technical world, as there are many conjectures about reality which we cannot test, or at least, cannot test yet.  The existence of exo-planets—planetary systems around stars other than our sun—was only a conjecture until the technology existed to actually detect such bodies. Many mathematical conjectures were not provable for centuries until the advent of sufficient computing power to do so.  Many other scientific ideas—from simple speculations to profound interpretations—cannot be tested with today’s technologies; in some cases, we cannot even imagine how ever to test them.  The “many worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics is one of these.   This is a subject I will deal with specifically in a later post.  But the point is: my concern here is with ideas we cannot yet, or maybe never can prove.

Edge.org

Why bother?  One of the most interesting books I have ever read is the 2005 volume What We Believe but Cannot Prove. Published by edge.org,one reviewer expressed its content quite succinctly:

John Brockman, writer, publisher and events manager for the science elite, has asked a hundred researchers the question, What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it? The answers are posted at his e-magazine Edge (www.edge.org), and they exert an unquestionable morbid fascination—those are the very ideas that scientists cannot confess in their technical papers.  –JAVIER SAMPEDRO, Madrid,  EL PAIS, February 20, 2005

We all need a worldview.  And while some scientists and philosophers may simply say, “that’s just the way it is, no explanation is needed,” I cannot live with that.  My worldview is based on science, but it needs explanations.

I do not pretend to have any answers.  I don’t even have the viewpoint of a trained scientist.   My viewpoint is the journalistic approach of a layman generalist with a passion for science.  These are, in effect, my own interpretations of what I have read and learned about the present state of human knowledge of physical reality.  In some cases, I may be simply re-stating in my own terms, with my own views of the implications, ideas that may have been put forth or at least hinted at by others. Most of these subjects will involve issues we can’t really test now—maybe never.  I for one need a way of viewing reality that is based on science, but goes beyond what we can absolutely test.  I require explanations, but untestable explanations must seem at least scientifically feasible.  I cannot brook the mystical or supernatural—and yes, in some respects, the religious.  I am a non-theistic existentialist, and this is how I build my world view based on science.

So these are my conjectures.  They are indeed bold guesses.  They are not intended to be absolute assertions of reality—anything but.  They are my suggestions of things that might be true, that I imagine could be true, but that in many cases may not even be provable one way or the other.  What I am doing is asking: what are the implications of this viewpoint?  These are—essentially—what ifs.

UP NEXT:   #1 The Conjecture of Infinity

Text in this post ©2012 Mark Sackler

Suggested reading:

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What is this?

These are my musings, both ridiculous and sublime.  I would have made “Ridiculous and Sublime” the primary title of this blog, but I am vain.  I want some semblance of uniqueness and there are many other bloggers using this theme.   But I will explain both title and subtitle before proceeding.

So what are Millennium Conjectures?  I’ll explain that in a bit as well.  But first, I present a word about the overall content and nature of my posts.  And why I, and my posts, are both ridiculous and sublime.

This is not a personal journal.  Who would be interested in reading my personal journal online?  I wouldn’t even be interested.  No, these are musings, observations and conjectures from a journalistic standpoint, a way of looking at things you might find interesting or funny.  You might also find some silly and trivial.  I do have some past background in both broadcast and print journalism, but that is not my professional livelihood these days; I do this for the satisfaction and outlet.

So—I’ll get back to the subtitle.

Let’s face it: I am both ridiculous and sublime.  To start with, the two most famous people whose birthday I share (October 2) are Mohandas Gandhi and Groucho Marx.

Gandhi

What could be more sublime and ridiculous than those two?  And to boot, the most famous thing, arguably, that happened on the very day of my birth (Oct 2, 1950), was the appearance of the very first syndicated Peanuts cartoon.  Good ‘ol Charlie Brown was born the same day as me.  He is most certainly a perfect blending of the two qualities we are talking about.  Wishy-washy? Maybe. But that is only because he is so torn by these conflicting aspects of the universe that surrounds him.  Yes, the silly and profound seem both to be bound into my DNA.

Content herein will then consist of both the trivial/silly (WheresGeorge.com, history of CT license plates, Pearls Before Swine) and the profound (Quantum Physics, Cosmology, Existentialism, Opera and the philosophy of science).  There will also be topics that engender a bit of both characteristics; baseball, for example, and especially baseball statistics.  Yes, Baseball is a game, but as George Will so astutely observed, “if baseball is just a game, then the Grand Canyon is just a hole in the ground.”   This will happen solely because my cluttered mind embraces all of these endeavors, and for some strange reason, I think that somewhere out there one or two people might be interested in my insights.

So, back to the Millenium Conjectures.  My posts will be marked as either Ridiculous or Sublime or Ridiculous AND Sublime.  The lion’s share of the Sublime category—indeed of all the content– will be a series I call The Millenium Conjectures.  These will deal with my views and speculations on the nature of reality, the universe and  scientific philosophy.  Everything else will be a time-out to blow off steam. But lest my head explode, let alone yours, this is enough for now.                                                   Text in this post ©2012 Mark Sackler

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