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Wheatley

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  1. I think at this point we shouldn't get too bogged down with the definitions of "theory". In the context of natural sciences, the word essentially means a body of explanations, ranging from a collection of concepts and evidence such as evolutionary theory, to a mathematical formulation such as the Standard Model of particle physics. Whether or not this usage is consistent with everyday usage, this is what is meant in physics. The big bang "theory" is one of these objects. Now, to touch on the earlier part, my intention was not to say that the big bang is essentially proven. My goal was in fact to say that our concept of what is "known" is very weak. People willingly accept many ideas as "facts" with far less of a basis than the historicity of a universal expansion. We, as humans, are not very good judges of the "factualness" of things. Thus, I think that we should not get too focused on how "factual" the big bang is, because this question is purely subjective, but rather on how well it works. Now, it's possible that the big bang is not the right idea, but for the moment at least I don't have many reasons to think this. It works pretty well, so for now I think we ought to consider it a pretty good model (and the inflationary theory may have just received a pretty big boost of evidence.) I understand your point and you essentially are correct, but I think that the question of how factual ideas are is very tricky. If we focus too much on just how tangible these models are, then we get tangled up in an exercise of trying to isolate just what their exact tangibility is, and how we can judge it, and ultimately we then are faced with arguing epistemology. When we get to that level, everything becomes unknown and unknowable. However, with the looser, more everyday definitions of "fact", there is no particular reason to call the big bang less of a fact than most other things, except that it is more disjoint from our common experiences. I'll note that I'm in a physics sort of mood, so hopefully I haven't come across as being dismissive to either of you, as when I want to talk about physics sometimes I'm not as good at perceiving my own tone.
  2. That is the great question of quantum mechanics; is the universe deterministic? One of the more interesting things QM has to say about determinism is contained in the violations of Bell's Inequality. Essentially, we know experimentally that for some conditions, at least, the state of a system cannot be determined before its measurement, and hence there can be no knowledge of its state before the measurement, and no prediction of the outcome. There's a really good article on Bells Inequality in an old issue of Physics Today.
  3. If I may, I think Feynman had something very interesting to say about what physical laws are. With this in mind, we would probably say that classical mechanics is a "theory" built from the "laws" of Newton (and then expressed equivalently by Lagrange and Hamilton). Similarly, the fundamental postulate that the speed of light is observed to be the same in every reference frame could be said to be the "law" from which (special) relativity theory falls from; the law is some sort of statement which allows us to understand everything else better. Theory is really just a word for the understanding that follows from a set of laws. Technically we cannot prove anything which is not purely abstract; however, insofar as the daily "facts" we deal with (the Earth goes around the sun, iron is ferromagnetic, etc.), the Big Bang is as much of a fact. This observation is not actually being taken as evidence for the Big Bang, rather it is evidence for the inflationary model of the Big Bang. There are models of the Big Bang without inflation, and were inflation shown to be incorrect, it is likely that one of the other models would be used.
  4. Actually the universe's expansion is accelerating, meaning that a "cyclic" universe or "big bounce" is very unlikely. In general, in order to take any kind of prediction about anything we essentially have to assume that the basic rules which the universe follows remain constant over time and space. If not, then no observations have any meaning because we would have no way to draw "borders" of where law B begins and law A ends. Any description modeling a change of physical behavior between two areas would in itself be a model of a rule set governing the entire system. There's basically no way to study the world without assuming that the universe can't simply change rules at any given moment or place. Now, our model of these rules can be off enough that certain things could appear to be governed by a different logical system, but when that happens scientists generally take this to mean the models are incomplete, rather than attempt to create separate models.
  5. I voted no, however I merely don't personally like those particular sounds over the originals, I'm not opposed to replacing the sounds in general.
  6. Actually, humans are far better adapted to live in dry hot environments (deserts in this case) than wet hot environments; it screws up our cooling system. I'd prefer the desert over the jungle any day.
  7. I'm no lawyer, but I'm extremely skeptical of the legal precedent for stopping a man from making free videos which cannot be legally sold anyway, especially given the fact that it's basically Ross' voice over video game footage. I would guess that the main obstacle to Ross would be that Machinima may have the funds to pursue this legally while he probably does not. If taken to court it's possible that it might turn out in favor of Ross, but without even being able to consult a lawyer, he could be in a severe bind. This is entirely speculation, of course, but it's my best guess at the legal aspect of this scenario. I'm starting to think that involvement with groups like Machinima may be an extremely bad idea for anyone who doesn't have access to a lawyer and whatever other resources needed to protect their work. I don't mean to be too critical of Ross here, I know that there are probably good reasons for becoming and staying involved with Machinima that are not obvious, but nonetheless this whole thing has raised several red flags for me.
  8. I remember several potential life-supporting planets being discussed in the field of astronomy; last time I checked known candidates do exist. Regardless, we can see a miniscule fraction of the planets in this galaxy, let alone the universe. All observations indicate our planet is representative of a very large portion of planets. The chance of being alone in the universe is so low, it would be more astounding if we were alone.
  9. I seriously doubt that a judge would uphold a suit to stop Ross from producing a series that's most basically playing a game and putting his voice over it, but I don't know if Ross would be able to take it that far.
  10. Machinima.com really is pissing me off with this sort of modus operandi. I hope you resolve this ASAP.
  11. Perhaps you could clarify exactly what assumption you see is being made, as I'm still quite unsure about that. The assumption that an undetectable, inconsequential frame isn't actually privileged over all known frames? That assumption is a part of methodological naturalism, it states that models with predictive capability are better than models with no predictive capability because the latter are unfalsifiable. If that's not what you mean, I'm really not sure. I'm not even sure what you're saying here. If we pose the hypothetical that an actual distance between two objects is actually changing in an inertial frame, there is by definition a uniform motion. If you would dispute that an actual distance being actually changed constitutes actual motion, you're pretty much arguing with the entire field of physics from Galileo to Einstein and basically everyone in between and since. Well, if you're satisfied with the discussion I suppose that works, but your point is still quite unclear to me.
  12. I'd appreciate a citation that uniform motion can even be defined without reference to another frame. (edited unified to uniform, silly brain-hand coordination.) What does "appears to be" mean? If you're speaking about some strange scenario where bent light would create an illusion of an object moving towards you, that's completely outside the scope of this conversation. In terms of a distance between two objects actually changing, there is no privileged reference frame that tells us which objects are "really" moving and which aren't, this is only determined in each individual reference frame. This concept of relativity has been known since Galileo and was extended by Einstein to light and gravity, among other things. If by "appears to be" you're suggesting that there's some sort of hidden master reference frame no one knows about or can observe, you're posing an empty hypothesis. Relativity is about describing how nature behaves; an accurate description cannot be a false fact simply because that is all a fact is defined as: an accurate description of a phenomenon. I think in the root of this there is some debate about the fundamental nature of the universe containing relativistic properties, which does pose some relevance to philosophies that would exclude a relativistic universe (similar to the discussions about the indeterministic implications of quantum mechanics), but if this is too much of a physics debate, I wouldn't be opposed to splitting off these posts and/or making a new thread.
  13. You've nearly hit the nail on the head here; there simply is no physical difference between something "appearing" to be moving and something that is moving (barring some funky gravitational distortion of light). An objects movement can only be determined relative to something else: in object As frame, object A will always appear to be at rest (providing this frame is inertial) and object B will appear to have a velocity, but in object Bs frame, the opposite will appear to be true. There simply is no way to say something is moving or at rest except by comparing it to another object. In this hypothetical, there is no possible way of determining which one is at rest and which one is moving (or even if they are both moving); they're each moving relative to the other but they also both appear to be at rest in their own frame. It isn't a false fact to state that in the frame of object A, A is at rest and B is moving, as physics will behave in exact accordance with this statement. The same is true for object B. The choice between which one we label to be "at rest" is completely arbitrary, as the concept of movement is only meaningful in relation to something else.
  14. There is one phenomenon, yes, but the details of the phenomenon actually do change based on your frame of reference. If I'm in space and an object comes soaring past me, from my frame of reference it would be perfectly accurate for me to say that I am at rest and this object has velocity, but from the frame of the object, it is correct to say that I have velocity and this object is at rest. There is no way to physically determine which is actually the case, so we have to conclude both are correct statements, even though taken together, both I and the object simultaneously are at rest and have a velocity. This isn't merely some sort of illusion. Space are time aren't actual things, all they are is the relationship between events and objects, and the relationship something has with another thing changes with regards to the observational position you take. Since the relationships are actually changing, spacetime changes based on your frame of reference. Again, the video series I linked to has a much more in-depth analysis of the subject, so if you haven't already I'd suggest viewing a couple of them.
  15. Given the event in question, I'd say that most people would second guess their actions and decisions here; that's perfectly normal and suggests you have a good sense of empathy for people in distress. That said, you did everything you should have and more than what many would have done. You made the right decisions.
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