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Sascha VongehrRSS Feed of this column.

Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙] studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory) at Sussex University, UK, and subsequently researched... Read More »


While many fields realize that modernity comes to an end like any epoch eventually does, the “hard sciences”, especially physics, still rest in relatively naïve stages, still proud of their “modern” status like a teenager loving his first car. Attempts to advance beyond adolescence are countered with references to the Sokal Affair, although that affair has long since been understood in more enlightened ways and even Alan Sokal himself in the end concluded that the affair proved the enormous bias due to pure status in all sciences, news perhaps to the physicist Sokal, but certainly not to social constructionists.

The idea that we are already inside a simulation is in a sense true anyway (if we define “simulation” as the possibility of being described as emergent from a computational substrate). Nick Bostrom, the director of Oxford University’s 'Future of Humanity Institute', and others became famous with such ideas, see Simulation Hypothesis on Wikipedia.

The holographic universe: A “simulation” anyway!

The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) famously offers $1000000 to anyone who can demonstrate paranormal abilities.  Its has helped to stem the spread of pseudoscience.  The Quantum Randi Challenge is quite similar (although its main purpose for you personally is to teach you quantum mechanics intuitively):  The large reward it offers is instant fame.  Whoever overcomes the challenge would deserve a Nobel Prize in physics!  But the Quantum Randi Challenge does not depend on a foundation that is

Instead of getting any public support, increasingly the mob starts to get out their pitchforks. Now I came across this gem over at the FQXi site – it is down on the comment thread, but it is written by the author of the article there, a technical writer and editor by trade (consistent with the terrible state of science writing for sure), Thomas Howard Ray:

It would be idiotic to claim that quantum mechanics just follows from getting stoned and blurting “everything is possible”. One of the difficulties with understanding the derivation of quantum mechanics (QM) from tautological modal realism [1] is that vital steps are omitted from the discussion (see for example many comments here). An important early step is grasping the indeterminism contained in tautological modal realism (TMR). Before discussing indeterminism, let us briefly see where indeterminism is in the bigger picture. The derivation of QM looks as follows [numbers like (3) refer to numbered paragraphs in [1] ].

The physicist John Archibald Wheeler wrote in 1984:

...the most revolutionary discovery in science is yet to come! And come, not by questioning the quantum, but by uncovering that utterly simple idea that demands the quantum.” Wheeler, 1984 [1]

Here is where a “modal realist version of Einstein”, while contemplating the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox involving the infamous Alice and Bob characters, could have stumbled onto Wheeler’s “utterly simple idea that demands the quantum”: