[unrev-II] Re: Complexity and everything

From: reilly3@aol.com
Date: Sun Apr 08 2001 - 14:12:03 PDT

  • Next message: Jack Park: "Re: [unrev-II] Re: Complexity and everything"

    --- In unrev-II@y..., Jack Park <jackpark@t...> wrote:
    > Don Mikuleky just sent to his complexity list the URLs of two talks
    he gave
    > in Alaska, one to the public and one to the faculty there. They
    > http://views.vcu.edu/~mikuleck/alskapub.htm
    > <http://views.vcu.edu/~mikuleck/alskapub.htm>
    > and one to the faculty
    > http://views.vcu.edu/~mikuleck/alskuniv.htm
    > <http://views.vcu.edu/~mikuleck/alskuniv.htm>
    > I recommend looking at these talks to those who take an interest in
    > the universe one way or another. In the end, I get from all of
    this that
    > our simple Newtonian qualitative reasoning systems are at risk of
    not being
    > robust enough to model the universe and everything. Rather, we are
    going to
    > have to find some other way(s) of modeling, and an important
    pointer to the
    > technology for that lies in Don's talks, and other stuff found at
    his site
    > http://views.vcu.edu/~mikuleck/ <http://views.vcu.edu/~mikuleck/>
    > I have looked at the talks you mention, and, unfortunately find the
    veracity of some of Mikuleck's statments to be in doubt.

      As I've found elsewhere in discussions of systems, Mikuleck
    strongly disses standard atomic theory reductionism -- decomposition
    into atoms and molecules misses important stuff, or so it is claimed,
    just like vitalists claim as well. The problem is that there is no
    evidence to support such a supposition, particularly when the
    electric and magnetic atomic/molecular fields are considered -- as
    they must be, they supply lots of the magic of physics. Think of the
    laser, superconductivity, the Hodgkin-Huxley model of neural pulse
    generation and transmission -- all highly complex systems the
    description of the behavior of which is based on extraordinarily
    simple principles. The sum greater than the parts -- physics handles
    this issue quite elegantly in many instances.

        Apart perhaps from string theory, the Newtonian model/approach is
    alive, well and extremely productive. It is somewhat ironic that this
    approach dominates even quantum mechanics -- we use classical
    descriptions of quantum systems to help develop the proper quantum
    mechanical approach. The entire field of chaos and complexity arose
    from Newtonian mechanics, and later work in the 30s and 40s in
    electrical circuits and biology were formulated in "Newtonian" terms.
    An enormous amount of work in neurophysiology and cognitive science,
    in biochemistry and biophysics, even thermodynamics and stochastic
    dynamics is fundamentally Newtonian. And more holistic, global and
    topological approaches flow directly from the Newtonian approach, as

       The reason that this Newtonian approach is the best game in town:
    it emphasizes empiricism, it searches for simple(understandable)
    causes, more complex causal mechanisms if necessary, and it prizes
    sharp, logical analysis. It has a major drawback-- it can be very
    difficult to pursue, and also to understand, and for the most part
    requires a sophisticated mastery of mathematics. Adhominum dismissals
    of the basic scientific approach do great disservice to their authors
    and to science. Physics is a lot more powerful than outsiders can
    easily know.

    You want visionary, out-of-the-box, stimulating ideas: read Sir
    Francis Crick's The Amazing Hypothesis. If you want to speculate,
    dream and learn from others, then make sure their basic science is
    correct. And in the talks you reference, some of the basic science is
    very suspect. For many of us who have spent much time and energy to
    do science, the dismissal of our endeavors, as missing something or
    God know what else, is annoying at the least.
    Reilly Atkinson

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