Question on Matter

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Ixtellor
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Question on Matter

Postby Ixtellor » Mon Jun 20, 2011 1:49 pm UTC

Does it exist absent the laws of nature?

Me and my wife started discussing religion and she was trying to get me to say something I believe to be true.
Eventually I said I believe that the laws of nature (Unified Field Theory - or what ever the actual laws are).

Which made me wonder, does Matter actually exist or is it only the result of the laws of the universe which force it to exist?

If you removed the mathamatical laws that govern the universe, would all matter cease to exist? Or would there be something there. (super tiny particles?)
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Zamfir
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Re: Question on Matter

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jun 20, 2011 2:28 pm UTC

Not sure how much sense it makes to talk about matter in the absense of laws of nature. Every thing we call matter, every property we associate with matter is deeply interwoven with the entire physical structure of the universe. If there was "something" in the absense of such structure, it would be pushing the concept of matter to call it that.

It is useful to distinguish between a specific set of laws, like the GUT or whatever, and 'laws of nature' in general. If reality has any kind of structure, any kind of order or predictability, then some of that structure can at least be approximately described in some rules or laws. "This stuff will still be here later on" is already a law of nature, that assumes time for example, and enough structure to identify "this stuff" from other "stuff". If a reality has people like us in it to ask questions, than it has tons of structure for sure.

If you take away all such structure, what are you left with? What would be the difference between completely structureless "something", and just "nothing"?

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Re: Question on Matter

Postby Moose Hole » Mon Jun 20, 2011 2:56 pm UTC

Math and laws are made by humans. Matter is present in the universe whether or not humans exist.

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Re: Question on Matter

Postby Ixtellor » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:06 pm UTC

Moose Hole wrote:Math and laws are made by humans. Matter is present in the universe whether or not humans exist.



So the weak nuclear force is manmade?

I assume that in the absence of Humans... something (a law or math) will still hold atoms togeather. Absent that law (weak nuclear forces, gravity) atoms would presumbably fly apart no? I guess I am asking if something exists outside a law that says it must 'hold togeather'. Is there a particle so funadmental (and small) that it doesn't require some weak nuclear force (or whatever law) to exist.
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Re: Question on Matter

Postby Moose Hole » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:14 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:
Moose Hole wrote:Math and laws are made by humans. Matter is present in the universe whether or not humans exist.



So the weak nuclear force is manmade?

I assume that in the absence of Humans... something (a law or math) will still hold atoms togeather. Absent that law (weak nuclear forces, gravity) atoms would presumbably fly apart no? I guess I am asking if something exists outside a law that says it must 'hold togeather'. Is there a particle so funadmental (and small) that it doesn't require some weak nuclear force (or whatever law) to exist.
Math and laws are representations of what we observe in nature. They are simply concepts for our brains to deal with. Nature exists whether our brains deal with it or not. If we all stopped thinking, nature would endure. Unless we stopped thinking because nature stopped enduring, I guess.

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Re: Question on Matter

Postby Dopefish » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:17 pm UTC

Absent that law (weak nuclear forces, gravity) atoms would presumbably fly apart no?


Only if you're still keeping Coulombic interactions and newtons laws. Without Newton's laws (or more refined equations of motion) there's no reason to believe matter would have a tendency to fly apart or to stay in the same place, and theres really no sensible way to talk about such a thing.

If you mean what would happen if we could selectively 'turn off' individual fundamental forces but still keeping the governing mechanics, then that could possibly have some discussion to it, but matter would certainly still exist. Maybe not matter as you think of it, but even individual nucleons 'are' matter, so it'd still be around, even lacking a strong nuclear force to bind them.

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Re: Question on Matter

Postby Zamfir » Mon Jun 20, 2011 3:24 pm UTC

@ Ixtellor, I wouldn't hold to much on the "existence" of particles apart from a law. Laws at that level are mathematical descriptions that predict with high accuracy the outcome of experiments, and by extension of all reality we observe.

Some parts of that mathematical description can be sort-of seen as (wave functions of) individual particles. But saying that these laws describe the behavior of particles is misleading. Particles and their behavior are inseparable parts of the same theory, of the same model. The model says "there are particles that behave this way", and that does indeed predict how experiments turn out. But the particles themselves are just as much part of the model (or the theory or the laws) as their behavior.

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Re: Question on Matter

Postby Adam Preston » Mon Jun 20, 2011 4:24 pm UTC

Laws and mathematics are human expressions of observations made from the universe. For example algebra is simply putting a problem in terms where we can deal with it easily. Laws for example such as Avogrado's law which states that 2 samples of ideal gases at the same temperature, pressure and volume contain the same number of molecules. With Laws in particular it's a foundation in what we expect to happen in a given scenario. If the results do not match the law, you check your work or create a new law :D .
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