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Posted by Aurino C Souza on August 12, 2002 13:22:29 UTC

" Hi Souza "

Hi Box!

" If you don't wanna tell me your answer, fine. "

I do feel bad about not replying to a lot of posts here, yours or otherwise. I hope you'll forgive me for having a job.

" According to your careful prognosis, at what level of dexterity with algebra does a person become able to understand the mysteries of physics that a mathematical physicist comprehends? "

I don't really know how to answer that question, especially as so many mathematical physicists don't comprehend physics!

Why is it that some people can understand something while others can't? I really don't know, and I wish I did.

" It's not hard to understand the mathematical relation of distance between two objects, their masses and the pull of gravity, once the equation has been discovered by an advanced mathematician. "

But that's the easy part. And the good thing (or bad thing, depending on how you look at it) is that you don't have to understand the equations in order to use them. That's the wonder of it, but it's also the source of all confusion.

" But if a mathematician or physicist arrives at an equation that works, are you saying that mathematicians (who can reproduce the lengthy calculation which got them there after "factoring out") are the only "regular folks" who will be able understand the shape and causation of the universe's phenomena? "

Haa!!! Right here is the whole problem! The relationship between the equations of physics and the "shape and causation of the universe's phenomena" is far from being a well-understood issue. To some extent we understand it, but a lot of it ends up becoming a matter of personal opinion.

Let me give you a case in point. I used to think the idea of warped space was ridiculous, and I still think it is. The whole problem is that according to physics spacetime (not space!) is warped, and spacetime is just a imaginary set of coordinates. Now no one can seriously oppose the idea of a warped set of coordinates, but the issue is what does it mean? Does the fact that the laws of physics can only be cast in a certain way mean that they perfectly describe the universe? I believe that question cannot be answered, so all we're left with are opinions.

What one needs to keep in mind is that physics is not about opinions, and that's why it doesn't concern itself with philosophical issues. Physics is very practical and is only concerned with that which no one can seriously argue against.

That's what I think, for what it's worth... which is not much.

Regards,

Aurino

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