Archive for June 16th, 2021

Cheating In Science: Fix It By Boosting Funding

June 16, 2021

Cheating can be emotional, spiritual and semantic, and it can affect science on a millennial scale, the obvious example being the progressive collapse of Greek science under fascist regimes (320 BCE until the closing of the Athenian academies in the Sixth Century). Science seeks to ascertain the truth, so mentioning cheating when seeking truth is not surprising, as the powers that be, except in democracy, have interest to lie, and thus learning how to eschew truth is a paramount notion when educated under such regimes. Once again, a blatant example was Aristotelian physics, which overlooked the existence of friction, and then proceeded to pretend a force was needed for motion to persist. Buridan proved that wrong in the Fourteenth Century. Why it did not happen before was precisely because Aristotelian physics was a blatant lie, a big lie, hence its utility (the Nazis, following other autocrats, insisted “big lies”were great).   

Cheating in physics starts apparently small, and ends up very big. For example the Anglo-Saxons evoke “Newton Laws” and “Maxwell Equations”, as if the Englishmen were the only ones who contributed to these laws. In truth, Newton may have added the Third Law, and Maxwell found part of one of the equations. Many other physicists, over centuries, found the rest. Ignoring them is not just unfair and racist, it obliterates logic… and not just the logic of historical discovery, but also the logic of epistemological discovery, how one goes from appearances and obviousness, to more cerebral considerations one is forced into, and how, and why.

I focus here on “physics” because the term actually it comes from “nature” in Greek, and so physics is actually the master science: biology is *just* Quantum Computing writ large. And thus biology itself is why it’s important to find out what “quantum” is and what “computing” is. 

To find what these concepts entails is no mean feat: they will require inspecting nature to new depths… Including the nature of our obscure selves, and how and why it is that we thought some ways about some things. For the concept of “computing” there is, among other things, an activity, a field of science, called “proof theory”. More generally there is logic… and, although some forms of logic are well established, overall one does not know what logic is… And yes, there is a field called “Quantum Logic”, yet, although it is different from conventional logic already, it is by no means clear it really covers all of Quantum Physics (which could be weirder). From my point of view logic is very general, it is whatever goes (which is basically the fundamental idea of Category Theory)… Should that be true, and it is, the consequences on the nature of reality will be farfetched

So it’s important to under-stand the Quantum. We need to stand under, we need something from which the Quantum emerges. However, as Ian Miller points out

Most people probably think that science is a rather dull quest for the truth, best left to the experts, who are all out to find the truth. Well, not exactly. Here is a video link where Sean Carroll points out that most physicists are really uninterested in understanding what quantum mechanics is about: https://youtu.be/ZacggH9wB7Y

This is rather awkward because quantum mechanics is one of the two greatest scientific advances of the twentieth century, and here we find all but a few of its exponents really neither understand what is going on nor do they care. What happens is they have a procedure by which they can get answers, so that is all that matters, is it not? Not in my opinion. What happens thereafter is that many of these are University teachers, and when they don’t care, that gets passed on to the students, so they don’t care. The system is degenerating.

But, you protest, we still get the right answers. That leaves open the question, do we really?

Under-standing the Quantum is the deepest question. Fully answered, it will probably bring an answer to the nature of consciousness.

The Quantum is about the infinitesimally small. To expect that “smaller” would ever be “smaller” just the same way was first philosophically solved by the Greeks, by denying the idea smaller is ever the same. Instead they the Greeks invented a-toms, which could not be divided. The Greeks claimed to have observed the atoms (or assemblies thereof) moving around haphazardly, so they also invented (or discovered) Brownian motion (or the effect of Brownian motion on larger particles).

But what was what could not be divided, these atoms, be made of? All forces we know augment inversely to distance, they become infinite at zero scale… so the smaller the portion of an object, the more crushed it is going to be, ultimately, so crushed light would not come out (as Laplace found out in the 18th Century). So we shouldn’t be able to see what is incredibly small, because the gravitational field goes to infinity. That was not really a problem… although a variant of this, when applying the idea of Quantum Field to gravitation and its gravitons (excitations of the gravitational field) is a problem, because gravitation should black holed itself, although it obviously does not.(I made a very famous mathematician in the field a friend actually, completely furious in his Stanford office when I pointed out this simple fact; he was the world’s top specialist in that generation, learning his field was empty was not a pleasant experience…)

A road to scientific cheating is misattributions. Misattributions are important, because they falsify the logic of discovery, thus the ontogenesis of epistemology. For example, Anglo-Saxons tend to elevate Newton to a quasi-divine status which he himself explicitly rejected, using a medieval aphorism several centuries old:”I stood on the shoulders of giants”. Roughly 90% of what is traditionally attributed to Newton was not discovered by Newton or when Newton was alive.

For example, the 1/dd law was derived by Boulliau, with an analogy to light which keeps its simple force to this day. Boulliau, aka Bullaldius, became a member of the Royal Society before Newton learned calculus (an invention of Descartes, Fermat, etc…). The first and second laws are pretty much in Buridan, three centuries before Newton (when geometric calculus, abandoned since Archimedes, got relaunched). Buridan, an iconoclast very familiar with kings and queens of France, addressed the question of the Cretan paradox… which is at the heart of the incompleteness theorem of Godel and Tarski… So not only was Buridan burying Aristotelian physics, he also addressed logic. 

There are so many misattributions, it’s frightening. Emilie du Châtelet, correcting Newton (again!) demonstrated the concept of energy (with contribution from Leibnitz). That was a tremendous advance (Newton had confused mv with ½ mvv, momentum, Buridan’s impetus, with energy… Emilie corrected that). 

The attribution of Relativity to Einstein has to do, ironically enough, with Anglo-Saxon-German nationalism, aka Nazism. This dubious amusement had the other grave consequence of burying Poincare’s careful ontogenesis of whatever happens to be relative (local time)… which was much more careful than Einstein’s prestidigitator style…

Another form of cheating, in which Feynman himself indulged, was to claim that philosophy has nothing to do with physics, “shut up and calculate” as the slogan goes (the truly greatest physicists never made that mistake). That is roughly as intelligent as claiming that the heart has nothing to do with breathing. All the more silly as some of Feynman’s own excellent lectures in physics are sometimes more akin to prestidigitation than logic.

One way physics jump is by making a broad claim, and then checking its consequences. For example, Buridan invented “impetus” (= momentum), and then drew consequences.

With the Quantum, the two initial claims: E = hf (Planck 1900-Einstein 1905) coalesced with De Broglie sweeping generalization that any object that has energy E and momentum P *is* a de Broglie wave of frequency F and wavelength L:

E=hF

L = h/P.

Here, E and P are, respectively, the relativistic energy and the momentum of a particle.

When an interaction has occurred, what happens next? Doing physics consists in pushing the consequences of the De Broglie Hypothesis (DBH).

Turns out, if we are honest, we don’t know much. There has got to be some object O, that is, a wave, and we should apply DBH to O. That leads to predictions. The first obvious one is that O, being a WAVE, is NONLOCAL.

And this is why Quantum Physics is completely different from its limit, Classical Physics.

Very simple and very deep, simply philosophical, this (De Broglie) matter wave hypothesis leads to many predictions: besides matter behaving like waves, the so-called Schrodinger equation, which was in De Broglie thesis, pops right out.

But then, philosophically again, we observe interactions happen at points (both Quantum Field Theory, and non-demonstrated String Theory dilute this a bit). How do we get from waves to point? Obviously, nonlinearly. Observing water waves confirms that their linearity can be spectacular. Here we are prisoner to the lack of nonlinear theory, partly the result of a lack of efforts towards non linear mathematics.

Ian Miller explains that a lot of the computations in chemistry may be bogus, because the constants are manipulated to get the results. But then it gets better: 

“That scientists do not care about their most important theory is bad, but there is worse, as published in Nature ( https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-01436-7) Apparently, in 2005 three PhD students wrote a computer program called SCIgen for amusement. What this program does is write “scientific papers”. The research for them? Who needs that? It cobbles together words with random titles, text and charts and is essentially nonsense. Anyone can write them. (Declaration: I did not use this software for this or any other post!) While the original purpose was for “maximum amusement” and papers were generated for conferences, because the software is freely available various people have sent them to scientific journals , the peer review process failed to spot the gibberish, and the journals published them. There are apparently hundreds of these nonsensical papers floating around. Further, they can be for relatively “big names” because apparently articles can get through under someone’s name without the someone knowing anything about it. Why give someone else an additional paper? A big name is more likely to get through peer review and the writer needs to get it out there because they can be published with genuine references, although of course with no relevance to the submission. The reason for doing this is simple: it pads the number of citations for the cited authors, which is necessary to make their CV look better and to improve the chances when applying for funds. With money at stake, it is hardly surprising that this sort of fraud has crept in.”

A monopolistic effect has been discovered: big institutions, that is, big universities, have big names on the big panels distributing big funds: they distribute to themselves. Nature 21 May 2021. Update 07 June 2021. Prestigious European grants might be biased, study suggests

Institutional affiliations of panellists seem to skew European Research Council decisions — especially in the life sciences.

How to fix all this cheating in science? Simply by providing enough funds. Multiply science funding by ten. We can do this: the COVID pandemic has shown much of the economy is “NON-ESSENTIAL”! Maybe it’s high time, to save the biosphere, to run a more disciplined ship, where the crew actually turns out to be essential?

Patrice Ayme

Ten stories high wave, Nazare, Portugal. Notice how the wave starts to make a singularity: the bigger the wave, the more energetic and the faster they go, like matter waves. The physics of nonlinear waves is poorly understood beyond solitons (KdV equation, Nonlinear Schrodinger) and the fact that faster waves catch up with smaller ones, being even bigger monsters (rogue waves).

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