“…an anchor in the cosmic swirl.”

Looking through some blog sites that I once frequented (but have recently neglected) I saw that John Horgan’s Cross Check had a piece on George Johnson’s book Fire in the Mind: Science, Faith, and the Search for Order. This quickly caught my attention because Horgan and Johnson figured prominently in my mind in the late […]

Physics, Plato and epistemology

In a recent Scientific American article, the late physicist Victor Stenger, along with authors James A. Lindsay and Peter Boghossian argue that, while not acknowledged as such, some interpretations of quantum mechanics are implicitly platonic (with a lower-case p).

We will use platonism with a lower-case ā€œpā€ here to refer to the belief that the […]

Collective behavior: flocks, magnets, neurons and mathematics

The analysis of collective behavior is quickly becoming cross-disciplinary. I wrote a few years ago about a study that analyzed the coordination of starling flocks. That post was based on the work of Thierry Mora and William Bialek, presented in their paper Are Biological Systems Poised at Criticality. The paper was published in the Journal […]

Dirac and Hawking on Math and Physics

As I read more discussions of the relationship between mathematics and physics, I find that what mathematics might reveal about how physical science progresses becomes an increasingly interesting question.

I recently found the text of a lecture given by Paul Dirac in 1939. It was reproduced on the occasion of the Dirac Centennial Celebration organized […]

Things versus Relations and Objects versus Properties

In the August issue of Scientific American, Meinard Kuhlmann addresses, yet again, the conceptual difficulties inherent in the interpretations of experimental data of modern physics.

…the particle interpretation of quantum physics, as well as the field interpretation, stretches our conventional notions of “particle” and “field” to such an extent that ever more people think the […]

What can’t be sensed

Step by step, our ideas about the nature of our reality have moved far from the sensory constructions of space and time that define our immediate experience. And once fully outside the knowledge brought with sensation, we lose our footing. It’s difficult to manage ‘what can’t be sensed.’ But our conceptual difficulties with quantum mechanics […]

What’s the tool, what’s the reality, what are we doing?

I am intrigued by the current debate in physics concerning the significance of the wave function in quantum theory. The nature of the debate opens the door to a host of philosophical issues surrounding both physics and mathematics. In an article appearing in the June issue of Scientific American, I was introduced to a relatively […]

Multiverse, busses and emergent space-time

There was once what many call a ‘foundational crisis in mathematics’ – disputes among mathematicians about both their ideas and their methods. But while one needn’t now address the relationship between mathematics and reality in order to pursue a successful career in mathematics, the conceptual and experimental puzzles of modern physics likely reflect a similar […]

Quantum mechanical biology

In my guest blog for Scientific American, I wrote about the work of Bob Coecke who has designed a graphical mathematics, based on a branch of mathematics called category theory. He uses this diagrammatic calculus to describe and investigate quantum mechanical processes. Coecke’s work has found application in biology and linguistics, suggesting some interesting links […]

Quantum Mechanical Words and Mathematical Organisms

My post appeared on the Scientific American Guest Blog this morning. Here’s the link:

Quantum Mechanical Words and Mathematical Organisms