Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Peter Atkins talks post World Humanist Congress

Peter Atkins
source: via

Post by British Humanist Association.

Peter Atkins book 'On Being'.

Peter Atkins on ...

Energy of the Universe (2 mins)

"hardly anything happened at the Creation" (2 mins)

Using E=mc2, taking the mass of of all galaxies and multiplying them by c2 (speed of light2) means the Universe has an enormous energy! Where did all the energy come from? When galaxies attract each other gravitationally, their energy falls. As a result the the energy of the galaxies overall is "reduced by an almost equal amount". When all the interactions of all the galaxies are taken into account the energy is reduced to zero (it is tempting to think!).

At the creation there was nothing with no energy and after the creation there is still no energy so need to worry about where the energy came from.

Where do the laws of nature come from? (4 mins)

The sources of the laws of nature are 1) indolence and 2) anarchy.

Indolence: Before creation you had absolutely nothing (no space and no time), so there must have been absolute uniformity. After creation you have also have uniformity. The theorem of Emmy Noether ('the most important woman in the history of mathematics' according to Einstein) states "every conservation law has an underlying symmetry" ie. Conservation Laws mean nothing changes. Uniformity of time: time ticks on at a uniform rate. Uniform Nothing turned into uniform time giving Conservation of Energy. If absolutely nothing turns itself into uniform space you get another Conservation Law viz. Conservation of Linear Momentum (think of billiard balls bouncing off each other).

Anarchy: (a.k.a. unconstrained freedom) - Light travels in straight line is a law of nature. Why? All the paths that are not straight lines have neighbours that annihilate (aka interfere with each other) one another.

Incipience (definition) is a better word than Creation: How did absolutely nothing turn into more interesting nothing?

What is Consciousness?

If a computer were self aware would it be ethical to experiment upon it? (26 mins)

What is the nature of Faith?

"Faith is a medicine really" (35 mins)
"Preying 5 times a day is a pretty good way of insuring that your Faith is so firmly embedded in your brain that there is no escape from it". (36 mins)
"Just as you can't forget how to ride a bicycle, you can't forget your Faith". (37 mins)
"the brain has been pre-conditioned by environment, by cultural upbringing, by practise. You can't forget how to ride a bicycle, so you can't discard your Faith".

Science and Ethics

more to come...

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