Complexity and Simplicity

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In Murray Gell-Mann’s, “The Quark and the Jaguar,” he mentions, early-on, his life long interest and passion for understanding nature and later his work at the Santa Fe Institute on complexity. There is a beauty to how complex systems emerge from simple inputs and rules. He published this book in 1994, a full 25 years prior to my writing this post. Yet for the last 45 or 90 years (a case can be made for both) physicists have been struggling against complexity, seeking to explain nature from a fundamental level that replaces complexity with simplicity and emergence. I think that with Neoclassical Physics and Quantum Gravity (NPQG), that solution has finally revealed itself.

For NPQG basics see: Idealized Neoclassical Model and the NPQG Glossary.

Dr. Gell-Mann says, “…a complex adaptive system acquires information about its environment and its own interaction with that environment, identifying regularities in that information, condensing those regularities into a kind of “schema” or model, and acting in the real world on the basis of that schema.” This is a model of emergence, with a mechanism as well. Yet, we must not ascribe any kind of mysticism or thinking intelligence to this process. This is a natural process where the system and the environment are symbiotic and evolve together, in reaction to each other.

All matter possesses energy, and all energy is associated with matter. When people refer carelessly to matter being converted into energy (or vice versa), they mean simply that certain kinds of matter and energy are being converted into other kinds. For example, an electron and a related (but oppositely charged) particle called a positron can come together and turn into two photons, a process a process often described as “annihilation” or even “annihilation of matter to give energy.” However it is merely the transformation of matter into other matter, of certain forms of energy into other forms.

Murray Gell-Mann in “The Quark and the Jaguar”

This is an excellent observation from Dr. Gell-Mann. In NPQG this is written simply as fundamental particles are conserved and energy is conserved, where the fundamental particles are the electrino and the positrino.


Dr. Gell-Mann knew David Bohm quite well from their days in Princeton, NJ. Of Einstein and later Bohm’s “hidden variables” ideas, Gell-Mann writes,

“Those variables may be imagined as describing individual flies buzzing about everywhere in the universe, more or less at random, interacting with the elementary particles and affecting their behavior. As long as the flies are undetectable, the best the theorist can do in making predictions is to take statistical averages over their motions. But the unseen flies will cause unpredictable fluctuations, creating indeterminacies. The hope was that the indeterminacies would somehow match those of quantum mechanics, so that the predictions of the scheme would agree with quantum-mechanical predictions in the many cases where observation confirms the latter.”

Murray Gell-Mann in “The Quark and the Jaguar”

Gell-Mann’s description of hidden variables matches well to the NPQG idea of a superfluid of very low energy particles of standard matter. This superfluid replaces the vague quantum mechanics (QM) concept of the quantum vacuum. Furthermore, the black body radiation of the superfluid matches what GR-QM era scientists interpreted as the cosmic microwave background from the dawn of the universe at the Big Bang, which was a wrong concept, replaced by galaxy-local mini-bangs and galaxy-local inflation/expansion in NPQG. Of expansion, Gell-Mann writes tellingly,

“The solar system is not expanding, nor is our galaxy or the cluster of galaxies to which it belongs. The other galaxies and clusters are not expanding either. But the different clusters are receding from one another, and that is what reveals the expansion of the universe.”

Murray Gell-Mann in “The Quark and the Jaguar”

Gell-Mann’s description here is more consistent with NPQG, where an outflow of superfluid from galaxies and galaxy clusters would roughly balance the inflow of higher energy standard matter (gas, dust, celestial objects). The outflow of superfluid would cause a photon to experience incrementally more redshift causing drag, as if it had traveled on a longer path through the superfluid than it actually had.


ASSESSMENT

Overall, I found “The Quark and the Jaguar” to be a somewhat interesting read, if rather dryly intellectual and esoterically bland. Written 25 years ago as of my review, the main problems in physics are the same, illustrating the lack of progress in the field. The large majority (~2/3) of the book goes fairly wide into philosophy of science and complexity around the field of physics, reflecting Dr. Gell-Mann’s work at the Santa Fe Institute. The physics content in the book is relatively minimal, which I found disappointing.

J Mark Morris

San Diego July 26, 2019 v1

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