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Laws Of Physics And Volkswagons

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Posted by Harvey on December 7, 2001 21:28:26 UTC

Hi Dick,

Thank you for cooperating in narrowing down our topics. I suspect that we will have to make this choice one, two, or even three times hopefully narrowing closer and closer to our differences in a quantifiable context.

Our choice of conversation has focused on the interpretation of the laws of physics. I will respond to the text which mentioned your argument about Volkswagons.

>>>H: How can you separate the equations of electromagneticism from the explanation? D: The equations tell you how phenomena (the facts) are related! What kind of results you will obtain if you check some particular relationship. What you call these facts (what name you give to them) is another issue entirely. (And an issue, I might comment, fraught with the danger of multiple definition.)>For example, when an experimenter says he has a electron which is being scattered by a nucleus, what is he really saying? How does he know he is not talking about a Volkswagen being run over by a 18 wheeler? Well, he says, if it is a Volkswagen being run over by an 18 wheeler, I would expect a much larger lab with some rather different equipment. Look at my equipment! That thing over there is a power supply and it is attached to an electron gun in that evacuated tube! And here, down on the other end is a thin window of aluminum. Now the electron is being scattered by the nucleus of the aluminum. Do you get the point? The actual event he is talking about (what he claims is scattering) is not well defined unless a very large number of associated events (called the lab, the power supply, the electron gun, the tube, the vacuum pump, and many more) are in a rather unusual state (certainly not sitting on the shelf in the store room). If the surrounding facts (events?, objects?, things?) were different, the event (fact?, object?, thing?) he was observing could very well have been a Volkswagen! Let us be careful that we know what we mean when we use the term "electron".>H: The equations are part of the explanation. If you obtain the fundamental equations of physics, yet you do not obtain the particles themselves which carry the charge (e.g., the photon), then do the physics equations make any sense? D: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Suppose I am right and the whole thing is circular (how the tiger got its stripes), how do you propose to show I am wrong? Are you really up to the job? You only have two choices: either find an error in my presentation or find a set of facts which cannot be enumerated!

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