Is matter infinitely divisible?

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Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 04:13 am
[CENTER][CENTER]Thought experiment
(Deductive reasoning)
Syllogism [/CENTER]
[/CENTER]


PREMISE 1: MATTER OCCUPIES SPACE.

PREMISE 2: SPACE IS INFINITELY DIVISIBLE.

CONCLUSION: MATTER IS INFINITELY DIVISIBLE.
 
vectorcube
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 04:52 am
@diamantis,
Premise 2 can be challenged, because if space-time is discrete, then it is meaningless to talk of dividing something without space.
 
Serena phil
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 05:15 am
@diamantis,
It is my understanding that as long as matter is presentable, it can thus be perpetually divided. When it is completely depleted of all properties, it will finally be reduced to "nothing" in which nothing is presentable to divide.
 
vectorcube
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 06:54 am
@Serena phil,
Serena;82933 wrote:
It is my understanding

that as long as matter is presentable, it can thus be perpetually divided. When it is completely depleted of all properties, it will finally be reduced to "nothing" in which nothing is presentable to divide.


Don` t make sense.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 07:00 am
@diamantis,
diamantis;82926 wrote:
[CENTER][CENTER]Thought experiment
(Deductive reasoning)
Syllogism [/CENTER]
[/CENTER]


PREMISE 1: MATTER OCCUPIES SPACE.

PREMISE 2: SPACE IS INFINITELY DIVISIBLE.

CONCLUSION: MATTER IS INFINITELY DIVISIBLE.


Hi,

I guess we run into problems with Premise 1, since experiments using classical instruments, do not allow us to understand what is happening at the quantum level (e.g. photons, electrons, etc.).

Whatever it is, it is neither a particle of matter or is it a wave, but it is something that is sometimes referred to as a wave-particle, but no one knows what it is. Scientists and philosophers can only speculate and interpret what they are measuring. However, it is certainly not simply a particle of matter.

At the end, it may be nothing more than a holographic thought (this is speculation on my part, since it is unknown what it is). If so, would a thought be considered infinitely divisible? Is a thought divisible at all?

Rich
 
Serena phil
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 07:25 am
@vectorcube,
vectorcube;82946 wrote:
Don` t make sense.



It's difficult to divide something that isn't there and lacks all elements of matter.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 08:00 am
@diamantis,
diamantis;82926 wrote:
PREMISE 1: MATTER OCCUPIES SPACE.

PREMISE 2: SPACE IS INFINITELY DIVISIBLE.

CONCLUSION: MATTER IS INFINITELY DIVISIBLE.
Why are we using syllogisms to answer questions about matter? Democritus and Aristotle spent a lot of time on this topic.

But it turns out that their explanations did not stand up to plain old observation, and everything we think we know about the constituents of matter comes from the likes of Plank, Thompson, Rutherford, Roentgen, Einstein, etc etc etc etc.

Matter is observable. Both experimental and mathematical evidence suggested that atoms were divisible, and that protons and neutrons were divisible. Nothing suggests that a quark is (or needs be) divisible. So what is half a quark? It's a concept for which we lack evidence and for which we lack need.

And you're also running into the problem that the fundamental constituents of matter are NOT purely matter themselves -- you get into the wave/particle duality of quantum particles, and you can't speak of them as "occupying space" or having divisible mass. That's a classical model that has been disabused by quantum science.
 
de budding
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 08:04 am
@diamantis,
diamantis;82926 wrote:
[CENTER][CENTER]Thought experiment

(Deductive reasoning)
Syllogism [/CENTER]
[/CENTER]




PREMISE 1: MATTER OCCUPIES SPACE.

PREMISE 2: SPACE IS INFINITELY DIVISIBLE.

CONCLUSION: MATTER IS INFINITELY DIVISIBLE.


I agree with your conclusion!

I think the whole thing is fractal: if you keep dividing and dividing matter you eventually get to what looks like tiny planets with tiny satellites, and on those planets you get little, pink creatures made of smaller matter. Equally, if you divided up these little, pink creatures you would eventually get even tinier planets.

So in conclusion, if you zoomed-out of the earth and looked at our universe with all its planets, then zoomed out some more - then some more, you would eventually reach a giant, pink creature whose matter is made up of the planets of our universe, as if they were atoms.
Dan.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 08:37 am
@de budding,
de_budding;82963 wrote:
I think the whole thing is fractal: if you keep dividing and dividing matter you eventually get to what looks like tiny planets with tiny satellites, and on those planets you get little, pink creatures made of smaller matter. Equally, if you divided up these little, pink creatures you would eventually get even tinier planets.
Except for a couple things that you find experimentally.

1) Most variables at the subatomic level do not exist continuously, the way mass, velocity, time, acceleration, force, etc do at a macroscopic level. Electrons all have one charge. They all have the same mass. They all have the same spin. They exist in specific energetic levels (Bohr demonstrated this with valence states). There is no middle ground. So you can't just arbitrarily divide something. It's like saying "what if the universe were twice as big?" Fine question, but it's not twice as big.

So let's just bear in mind that this is a thought experiment, but it has no necessary relationship with the physical world. Guess that's what makes it metaphysics and not physics. But it also makes us wonder why we'd bother to ask this question.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 09:14 am
@Aedes,
Aedes;82974 wrote:
Except for a couple things that you find experimentally.

1) Most variables at the subatomic level do not exist continuously, the way mass, velocity, time, acceleration, force, etc do at a macroscopic level. Electrons all have one charge. They all have the same mass. They all have the same spin. They exist in specific energetic levels (Bohr demonstrated this with valence states). There is no middle ground. So you can't just arbitrarily divide something. It's like saying "what if the universe were twice as big?" Fine question, but it's not twice as big.

So let's just bear in mind that this is a thought experiment, but it has no necessary relationship with the physical world. Guess that's what makes it metaphysics and not physics. But it also makes us wonder why we'd bother to ask this question.


Hi,

I think we ask these type of questions, but it is the really difficult questions to understand and answer that lead us ultimately to a better understanding or awareness of who we are.

How wonderful that we have met with a paradox. Now we have some hope of making progress. [Niels Bohr]

Rich
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 09:47 am
@diamantis,
Rich, the original post is diametrically opposed to the experimental findings in Bohr's own works. The fact that science can be refined does not always mean you're starting from scratch. Thought experiments about the material world are useful until you actually look at the material world. If the answers contradict your thought experiment, then the thought experiment was faulty.

I've got a thought experiment in which I've come to the conclusion that heavy objects fall faster than light objects when dropped from the same height. How do you feel about this one?
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 10:46 am
@Aedes,
Aedes;82992 wrote:
Rich, the original post is diametrically opposed to the experimental findings in Bohr's own works. The fact that science can be refined does not always mean you're starting from scratch. Thought experiments about the material world are useful until you actually look at the material world. If the answers contradict your thought experiment, then the thought experiment was faulty.


Yes, but Bohr's work was diametrically to the way science look at matter before Bohr and Heisenberg proposed something different. It was not a refinement, it was something diametrically opposite of accepted science at the time. Similarly, Einstein's description of light was diametrically opposite of accepted science at the time.

Accepted science is nothing more than a paradigm that happens to work at the moment. In all cases, there are always problems and questions to be answered. Bell's Theorem came about from the painful EPR paradox that haunted quantum physics. Often, totally new ways conceptualizing nature are required to better understand it. The Copernican view of the solar system was not a simple refinement of the Ptolemaic view, it turned everything inside out.

Aedes;82992 wrote:
I've got a thought experiment in which I've come to the conclusion that heavy objects fall faster than light objects when dropped from the same height. How do you feel about this one?


See where it takes you. That is what Einstein did when he envisioned light as being constant in all frames of reference and falling in an elevator being conceptually the same as gravity. You have to have these thought experiments to ask questions and to expand our understanding of nature. You never know where it will lead.

Rich
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 11:01 am
@richrf,
richrf;83005 wrote:
Yes, but Bohr's work was diametrically to the way science look at matter before Bohr and Heisenberg proposed something different.
I wouldn't say that, I mean Bohr and Heisenberg entered particle physics at a time when it had already made tremendous strides in the previous 50-100 years. What would Bohr have been without JJ Thompson, Max Planck, Max Born, Louis de Broglie... They were ALL making diametrical departures from prior physics and prior worldviews.


richrf wrote:
Accepted science is nothing more than a paradigm that happens to work at the moment.
yes, I know all that but you're completely missing my point:

The original post is NOT NOT NOT asking "how is the current paradigm wrong". THAT is how paradigms become shifted and how science advances.

The original post either 1) altogether rejects the proposition that you can learn about the world through observation, or 2) asks anachronistic (i.e. 2500 year old) questions as if no one has actually put these questions to the test.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 11:20 am
@Aedes,
Aedes;83009 wrote:
I wouldn't say that, I mean Bohr and Heisenberg entered particle physics at a time when it had already made tremendous strides in the previous 50-100 years. What would Bohr have been without JJ Thompson, Max Planck, Max Born, Louis de Broglie... They were ALL making diametrical departures from prior physics and prior worldviews.


In my view, everyone preceding led to where Bohr and Heisenberg's startling (at the time) interpretation of nature. However, it was more than a simple refinement. It was a complete change in the way one views the world - from a scientific point of view. Of course, similar ideas were discussed in philosophical circles for thousands of years.

Aedes;83009 wrote:
The original post is NOT NOT NOT asking "how is the current paradigm wrong". THAT is how paradigms become shifted and how science advances.


We are in a philosophical forum, and I am open to all lines of inquiry. Any thought experiment, for me is legitimate. As you may have noticed, I replied with my thoughts.

My original inquiry into the nature of health led me to thought experiments that moved away from germs (every human body is full of bacteria) as being the source of health problem, and instead came upon the idea that it was the environment, something that was happening within the human body that created an unhealthy breeding ground for bacteria. I came to this, after wondering in my mind why some people get sick and others do not, even though the bacteria may be in both people. I realized that it was because of the condition of the environment (e.g., stagnated blood, too much sugar, etc.).

Aedes;83009 wrote:
The original post either 1) altogether rejects the proposition that you can learn about the world through observation, or 2) asks anachronistic (i.e. 2500 year old) questions as if no one has actually put these questions to the test.


That is fine with me. It is a thought experiment. Let the original poster see where it goes. It is the nature of inquiry. I find stagnation and inflexibility more of an issue (health wise), than natural inquiry and exploration. Problems occur when a group attempts to suppress inquiry in order to maintain a status quo. This creates tension. I say, let it flow.

Rich
 
vectorcube
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 11:35 am
@Serena phil,
Serena;82953 wrote:
It's difficult to divide something that isn't there and lacks all elements of matter.



What about space? Do you think space is something, is it just matter to you?
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 11:45 am
@richrf,
richrf;83013 wrote:
In my view, everyone preceding led to where Bohr and Heisenberg's startling (at the time) interpretation of nature. However, it was more than a simple refinement. It was a complete change in the way one views the world - from a scientific point of view.
Rutherford, Planck, and Schroedinger deserve every bit as much credit for this advance as do Bohr and Heisenberg. The only person in this entire late 19th / early 20th century group who can be truly credited with shifting a paradigm by himself was Einstein, but that is because of relativity and not his contributions to quantum science. Bohr and Heisenberg simply cannot be seen as some sort of culmination of this, brilliant as they were.

richrf;83013 wrote:
We are in a philosophical forum, and I am open to all lines of inquiry.
Me too, but it's disingenuous to ask certain questions without even stipulating how we should regard or disregard the great attention that history has already devoted to such a topic.

Let's start a thought experiment in which you logically prove that the world is flat, or that the earth is at the center of the universe. That's fine, but you're going to have to explain why we should relinquish our current understanding in order to consider your proofs.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 12:28 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;83022 wrote:
Rutherford, Planck, and Schroedinger deserve every bit as much credit for this advance as do Bohr and Heisenberg.


All were certainly involved, but duality, uncertainty, and complementarity were a consequence of Bohr's new perspective of observed phenomenon. Nothing like this existed prior to Bohr in scientific circles. However, Daoism and Heraclitus inferred similar thoughts two thousand years earlier by ober by observing nature.

Aedes;83022 wrote:
Let's start a thought experiment in which you logically prove that the world is flat, or that the earth is at the center of the universe. That's fine, but you're


Precisely the point of view of cubism in art. Looking at and flattening three-dimensional objects from the fourth dimension. It is amazing. I think this line of thought has many possibilities. However, it requires one to be not so enamored by one's own view of the world. One has to remove oneself from the center and see it from another different point of view.

I come to this forum to seek out new ideas, not to substantiate those that I already have.

Rich
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 01:58 pm
@richrf,
richrf;83030 wrote:
All were certainly involved, but duality, uncertainty, and complementarity were a consequence of Bohr's new perspective of observed phenomenon. Nothing like this existed prior to Bohr in scientific circles.
You seriously need to read more about this subject if you think this is true. Planck and Einstein and de Broglie were THE central figures in the development of wave-particle duality, in fact Bohr had nothing to do with it. Rutherford effectively discovered electrons -- Bohr discovered where they lived.

richrf;83030 wrote:
However, Daoism and Heraclitus inferred similar thoughts two thousand years earlier by ober by observing nature.
Oh no they didn't, and this is YOUR analogy if you believe so. And even if they had, it doesn't matter because LOTS of people had canonized ideas based on philosophy, including Aristotle's well-canonized and completely incorrect idea about earth / wind / fire / water.

The inferences may have been elegant, but in the absence of evidence there was no way of deciding which to believe.

richrf;83030 wrote:
I come to this forum to seek out new ideas, not to substantiate those that I already have.
You're being condescending here, and don't think that you can hide it beneath a passive-aggressive tone.

If what you're interested in are new ideas, you sure spend an awful lot of effort attacking mine where they differ.
 
richrf
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 06:09 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes;83043 wrote:
You seriously need to read more about this subject if you think this is true. Planck and Einstein and de Broglie were THE central figures in the development of wave-particle duality, in fact Bohr had nothing to do with it. Rutherford effectively discovered electrons -- Bohr discovered where they lived.


Do I?

Complementarity (physics) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quote:
In physics, complementarity is a basic principle of quantum theoryCopenhagen interpretation, and refers to effects such as the wave-particle duality, in which different measurements made on a system reveal it to have either particle-like or wave-like properties. Niels Bohr is usually associated with this concept, which he developed at Copenhagen with Heisenberg, as a philosophical adjunct to the recently developed mathematics of quantum mechanics and in particular the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. In its narrow orthodox form, complementarity is the notion that a single quantum mechanical entity can behave either as a particle or as wave, but never simultaneously as both; a stronger manifestation of the particle nature leads to a weaker manifestation of the wave nature and vice versa.


Rich
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 13 Aug, 2009 08:17 pm
@diamantis,
Wave?particle duality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From your own link.

Tell me about all the other scientists to whom you're giving short shrift.

I've got nothing but awe and admiration for the accomplishments and contributions of Bohr and Heisenberg (with the exception of the latter's complicity with the Nazis). My point isn't to bring them down. My point is to disabuse you of your neglect of their myriad colleagues who were no less central to modern physics.
 
 

 
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