TED Conversations

Manyika Sakambuki

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Mention one scientific theory you think needs adjustment. Why do you think that way?

Our assumptions fashion how we see and make decisions. in the past, astronomy was defined as the study of how heavenly bodies move around the earth because it was believed that the earth was the center of the solar system. that was until a Polish Astronomer- Nicolai Copernicus changed our thinking. same as when the atom was thought to be the smallest particle until electrons, neutrinos, etc. were discovered. bring forth your ideas!

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Closing Statement from Manyika Sakambuki

Ok thanks! Turns out that all theories which have no direct application to the physical world wont hang around for long. Most likely, they'll stay as just ideas of the 'geniuses' which have no proof but only serve to quench our thirst for understanding certain things that seem hard to understand e.g. black holes, perpetuity of life, being able to control infinitesimally small stuff(nano techs), death... and we can go on and on. This has been a useful conversation.

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    Mar 16 2013: i put a bet on quantum mechanics not surviving another 50 years.
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      Mar 16 2013: I'll take that bet and say modern physic wont survive
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      Mar 17 2013: I agree that quantum mechanics in its present form is incomplete. But to say that it will not survive the next 50 years I find highly unlikely. It is a theory that has proven itself time after time. As a whole we haven't understood it properly, but that is not an argument for discarding it.

      What is it about QM that makes you think that it is inadequate to describe our reality? And what other theories do you think will replace it?
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        Mar 17 2013: two reasons.

        1. all other theories have a very "simple" mathematics that capture the essence of what's going on. they are quite minimal yet effective. aerodynamic, so to speak. on the other hand, i feel, after watching some material on youtube, for example leonard susskind's lecture series on the subject, that the math of quantum mechanics is "bloated". it is so large, yet we used it to describe something fundamentally simpler. so, as some 6th sense, i feel that the observed phenomenon must have a mathematically more "fitting" description.

        2. the arthur fine argument. since bell, we know that any good models of the world has to be probabilistic, because nature is in fact probabilistic. arthur fine argues that it is still not decided yet, and we do have a simple explanation for the actual experiments that seem to break the bell inequalities.

        so i expect another theory, deterministic, local and markovian, and smaller in scale what we have today. my prediction is that at higher energies and with better detection technology, we will see deviances from quantum theory, which will continued to be patched but eventually abandoned.
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        Mar 17 2013: ps. what i know as the "arthur fine" argument is actually known as "loopholes in bell test experiments", and suggested by many authors. seems that he only advocates it, not the originator.
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          Mar 18 2013: Hi Krisztián

          Regardless of how you feel about QM it does actually work and describe the world we live in. I don't understand why you think that the math that describes how matter in the universe behaves is too complex. You have no way of extrapolating the nature of these laws from your macroscopic experiences.

          Do you really believe that the world is deterministic? If I had all the information about you down to a microscopic level would I be able to predict your behaviour?

          Do you believe that Heisenberg's uncertainty principle would be violated once we have better measuring equipment?

          Regarding the Bell inequalities it is a shame that an experiment hasn't been conducted to settle this once and for all. I am quite confident that it will be in favour of QM.

          Doesn't Susskind teach string theory? That would definitely explain the bloated math.
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        Mar 18 2013: i was talking about that lecture actually. string theory is like super bloated, and they are still inflating it, because it refuses to describe reality entirely. now we have 20 dimensional strings, complex states, plus branes of whatever dimension that strings are locked onto. all this to explain like cross sections, which pretty much seems to a combinatorial problem. just the very idea that we use a string freely vibrating in 20 dimension space, which can do so many things, to describe quantum states that can be described by some simple integers. that does not feel good.

        compare it to the local formulation of newtonian mechanics. we have phi, gravitational potential, we have rho, density, and we have a beautiful differential equation describing how the density causes the field: div grad phi = rho, constants omitted. or consider general relativity, which is basically the same thing, except we have stress-energy tensor in place of the density, and the einstein tensor in place of the gravitational potential, and it is elegant.

        or just look at the initial assumption of those fields. general relativity follows from a simple assumption of c being constant, and acceleration being the same as gravity. add our ordinary knowledge about classical mechanics as special case, and voila, you get the theory. in contrast, the assumptions made in quantum theory are so numerous, i can't even list.

        yes, i think the physics we are looking for is deterministic, local and markovian. i don't believe in probabilistic theories. nor non-local theories. and especially not in superdeterminism nonsense.
        • Mar 19 2013: Gravity and acceleration are only approximately equivalent. If I am a giant 100 miles tall in a spaceship, gravity affects me in ways that acceleration doesn't. If my feet are closer to the center of gravity, they are pulled more than my head so I know that I am in a spaceship. Acceleration in a spaceship should not show this effect.

          In addition we speak of a "center of gravity". We do not refer to a center of acceleration.

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