The 123 new ideas included in the latest update (of 19th June), by Theme

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1. Philosophy / H. Continental Philosophy / 2. Phenomenology
Phenomenology needs absolute reflection, without presuppositions [Husserl]
     Full Idea: Phenomenology demands the most perfect freedom from presuppositions and, concerning itself, an absolute reflective insight.
     From: Edmund Husserl (Ideas: intro to pure phenomenology [1913], I.63), quoted by Victor Velarde-Mayol - On Husserl 3.1
     A reaction: As an outsider, I would have thought that the whole weight of modern continental philosophy is entirely opposed to the aspiration to think without presuppositions.
5. Theory of Logic / C. Ontology of Logic / 1. Ontology of Logic
Logicians presuppose a world, and ignore logic/world connections, so their logic is impure [Husserl, by Velarde-Mayol]
     Full Idea: Husserl maintained that because most logicians have not studied the connection between logic and the world, logic did not achieve its status of purity. Even more, their logic implicitly presupposed a world.
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Formal and Transcendental Logic [1929]) by Victor Velarde-Mayol - On Husserl 4.5.1
     A reaction: The point here is that the bracketing of phenomenology, to reach an understanding with no presuppositions, is impossible if you don't realise what your are presupposing. I think the logic/world relationship is badly neglected, thanks to Frege.
Phenomenology grounds logic in subjective experience [Husserl, by Velarde-Mayol]
     Full Idea: The phenomenological logic grounds logical notions in subjective acts of experience.
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Formal and Transcendental Logic [1929], p.183) by Victor Velarde-Mayol - On Husserl 4.5.1
     A reaction: I'll approach this with great caution, but this is a line of thought that appeals to me. The core assumptions of logic do not arise ex nihilo.
6. Mathematics / B. Foundations for Mathematics / 1. Foundations for Mathematics
Pure mathematics is the relations between all possible objects, and is thus formal ontology [Husserl, by Velarde-Mayol]
     Full Idea: Pure mathematics is the science of the relations between any object whatever (relation of whole to part, relation of equality, property, unity etc.). In this sense, pure mathematics is seen by Husserl as formal ontology.
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Formal and Transcendental Logic [1929]) by Victor Velarde-Mayol - On Husserl 4.5.2
     A reaction: I would expect most modern analytic philosophers to agree with this. Modern mathematics (e.g. category theory) seems to have moved beyond this stage, but I still like this idea.
7. Existence / C. Structure of Existence / 6. Fundamentals / c. Monads
Husserl sees the ego as a monad, unifying presence, sense and intentional acts [Husserl, by Velarde-Mayol]
     Full Idea: Husserl's notion of monad expresses a complete inegration of every intentional presence into its sense, and every sense into the intentional acts, ....and finally every intentional act is integrated into the ego.
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Cartesian Meditations [1931]) by Victor Velarde-Mayol - On Husserl 4.6.2
     A reaction: No, I don't understand that either, but it makes good sense to employ the concept of a 'monad' into the concept of the ego, if you think it embodies perfect unity. That was a main motivation for Leibniz to employ the word.
9. Objects / D. Essence of Objects / 5. Essence as Kind
The sense of anything contingent has a purely apprehensible essence or Eidos [Husserl]
     Full Idea: It belongs to the sense of anything contingent to have an essence and therefore an Eidos which can be apprehended purely.
     From: Edmund Husserl (Ideas: intro to pure phenomenology [1913], I.02), quoted by Victor Velarde-Mayol - On Husserl 3.2.2
     A reaction: This is the quirky idea that we can know necessary categorial essences a priori, even if the category is currently empty. Crops us in Lowe. Husserl says grasping the corresponding individuals must be possible. Third Man question.
11. Knowledge Aims / B. Certain Knowledge / 5. The Cogito
The physical given, unlike the mental given, could be non-existing [Husserl]
     Full Idea: Anything physical which is given in person can be non-existing, no mental process which is given in person can be non-existing.
     From: Edmund Husserl (Ideas: intro to pure phenomenology [1913], I.46), quoted by Victor Velarde-Mayol - On Husserl 3.3.5
     A reaction: This endorsement of Descartes shows how strong the influence of the Cogito remained in later continental philosophy. Phenomenology is a footnote to Descartes.
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 4. Solipsism
The Cogito demands a bridge to the world, and ends in isolating the ego [Velarde-Mayol]
     Full Idea: All philosophies inspired in the Cogito have the problem of building a bridge from the starting point of consciousness to the external world. The result of this is the isolation and solitude of the very ego.
     From: Victor Velarde-Mayol (On Husserl [2000], 4.7.2)
     A reaction: This strikes me as a pretty good reason not to develop a philosophy which is inspired by the Cogito.
12. Knowledge Sources / A. A Priori Knowledge / 2. Self-Evidence
Husserl says we have intellectual intuitions (of categories), as well as of the senses [Husserl, by Velarde-Mayol]
     Full Idea: The novelty of Husserl is to describe that we have intellectual intuitions, intuitions of categories as we have intuitions of sense objects.
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Logical Investigations [1900], II.VI.24) by Victor Velarde-Mayol - On Husserl 2.4.4
     A reaction: This is 'intuitions' in Kant's sense, of something like direct apprehensions. This idea is an axiom of phenomenology, because all mental life must be bracketed, and not just the sense experience part.
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 3. Representation
The representation may not be a likeness [Velarde-Mayol]
     Full Idea: Representationalism is the doctrine that maintains that the object is represented in consciousness by means of an image. ...One should not confuse an image with a likeness.
     From: Victor Velarde-Mayol (On Husserl [2000], 2.4.3)
     A reaction: Helpful reminder that sense-data or whatever may not be a likeness. But then how do they represent? Symbolic representation needs massive interpretation.
12. Knowledge Sources / E. Direct Knowledge / 1. Intuition
Direct 'seeing' by consciousness is the ultimate rational legitimation [Husserl]
     Full Idea: Immediate 'seeing', not merely sensuous, experiential seeing, but seeing in the universal sense as an originally presenting consciousness of any kind whatsoever, is the ultimate legitimising source of all rational assertions.
     From: Edmund Husserl (Ideas: intro to pure phenomenology [1913], I.19), quoted by Victor Velarde-Mayol - On Husserl 3.3.5
     A reaction: Husserl is (I gather from this) a classic rationalist. Just like Descartes' judgement of the molten wax.
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / c. Knowing other minds
Husserl's monads (egos) communicate, through acts of empathy. [Husserl, by Velarde-Mayol]
     Full Idea: For Husserl monads have windows because they communicate with each other. The windows of the monads are the acts of empathy.
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Cartesian Meditations [1931]) by Victor Velarde-Mayol - On Husserl 4.7.5
     A reaction: Leibniz said his monads (which include minds) have 'no windows'. The mere existence of empathy (or mirror neurons, as we would say) is hardly sufficient to defeat solipsism.
16. Persons / B. Nature of the Self / 4. Presupposition of Self
The psychological ego is worldly, and the pure ego follow transcendental reduction [Husserl, by Velarde-Mayol]
     Full Idea: Husserl distinguishes two sorts of egos or subjects of experience, the psychological ego and the pure ego. The psychological ego is a reality of the world, and the pure ego is a result of transcendental reduction.
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Cartesian Meditations [1931]) by Victor Velarde-Mayol - On Husserl 4.6.1
     A reaction: The sounds like embracing both the Cartesian and the Kantian egos. This is obviously the source of Sartre's interesting early book on the self. 'Transcendental reduction' is his bracketing or epoché.
18. Thought / D. Concepts / 4. Structure of Concepts / b. Analysis of concepts
We clarify concepts (e.g. numbers) by determining their psychological origin [Husserl, by Velarde-Mayol]
     Full Idea: Husserl said that the clarification of any concept is made by determining its psychological origin. He is concerned with the psychological origins of the operation of calculating cardinal numbers.
     From: report of Edmund Husserl (Philosophy of Arithmetic [1894]) by Victor Velarde-Mayol - On Husserl 2.2
     A reaction: This may not be the same as the 'psychologism' that Frege so despised, because Husserl is offering a clarification, rather than the intrinsic nature of number concepts. It is not a theory of the origin of numbers.
21. Aesthetics / A. Aesthetic Experience / 4. Beauty
The beautiful is whatever it is intrinsically good to admire [Moore,GE]
     Full Idea: The beautiful should be defined as that of which the admiring contemplation is good in itself.
     From: G.E. Moore (Principia Ethica [1903], p.210), quoted by Graham Farmelo - The Strangest Man
     A reaction: To work, this definition must exclude anything else which it is intrinsically good to admire. Good deeds obviously qualify for that, so good deeds must be intrinsically beautiful (which would be agreed by ancient Greeks). We can't ask WHY it is good!
24. Applied Ethics / A. Decision Conflicts / 5. Omissions
Utilitarians conflate acts and omissions; causing to drown and failing to save are the same [Shorten]
     Full Idea: Most uitlitarians do not distinguish between acts and omissions, and see no morally relevant difference between walking past a drowning child and pushing a child into a pond.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 09)
     A reaction: He cites Peter Singer as an instance. The notorious Trolley Problem focuses on such issues. Michael Sandel in 'Justice' is good on that. If motive and intention matter, the two cases could be very different. Too timid to push, but also too timid to help?
25. Society / A. State of Nature / 1. A People / c. A unified people
Rawls rejected cosmopolitanism because it doesn't respect the autonomy of 'peoples' [Rawls, by Shorten]
     Full Idea: Rawls rejected the cosmopolitan extension of his theory because he thought it failed to respect the political autonomy of 'peoples', which was his term of art for societies or political communities.
     From: report of John Rawls (The Law of Peoples [1999], p.115-8) by Andrew Shorten - Contemporary Political Theory 09
     A reaction: Interesting that you might well start with the concept of 'a people', prior to some sort of social contract, but end up with rather alarming conflicts or indifference between rival peoples. Why should my people help in the famine next door?
25. Society / B. The State / 2. State Legitimacy / d. Social contract
Power is only legitimate if it is reasonable for free equal citizens to endorse the constitution [Rawls]
     Full Idea: Exercise of political power is fully proper only when it is exercised in accordance with a constitution the essentials of which all citizens as free and equal may reasonably be expected to endorse in light of principles and ideals acceptable to reason.
     From: John Rawls (Politcal Liberalism [1993], p.217), quoted by Andrew Shorten - Contemporary Political Theory 02
     A reaction: This is not the actual endorsement of Rousseau, or the tacit endorsement of Locke (by living there), but adds a Kantian appeal to a rational consensus, on which rational people should converge. Very Enlightenment. 'Hypothetical consent'.
25. Society / B. The State / 8. Religion in Society
Religious toleration has been institutionalised by the separation of church and state [Shorten]
     Full Idea: One historically influential solution to the discord unleashed by the fact of religious diversity was to institutionalise the principle of toleration by separating church and state.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 03)
     A reaction: In 2018 Britain we still have an established religion (Anglicanism - Episcopalianism in the US), but toleration has arrived with the decline of religious belief. It must still be tough for Muslims, Jews etc to see a different religion as the official one.
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 1. Social Justice
If everyone is treated with equal injustice, at least that is fair [Morganbesser]
     Full Idea: When the police hit me over the head at the demonstration, it was unjust but at least it was fair, because they hit everybody else over the head.
     From: Sidney Morganbesser (talk [1970]), quoted by PG - Db (ideas)
     A reaction: An example of Morganbesser's famous wit, but this is the perfect and simplest riposte to Rawls's claim that justice is fairness. Horrific injustices can be distributed fairly, and often are, in prisons, schools, families and armies.
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 2. Social Freedom / g. Social power
Domination is probable obedience by some group of persons [Weber]
     Full Idea: Domination is the probability that a command with a specific content will be obeyed by a given group of persons.
     From: Max Weber (Economy and Society [1919], p.53), quoted by Andrew Shorten - Contemporary Political Theory 06
     A reaction: Said to be an 'influential definition'. In principle you might have no domination, but be regularly obeyed because your commands were so acceptable to a very independent-minded group of people. That said, good definition!
Supreme power is getting people to have thoughts and desires chosen by you [Steven Lukes]
     Full Idea: Is it not the supreme exercise of power to get another or others to have the desires you want them to have - that is, to secure their compliance by controlling their thoughts and desires?
     From: Lukes (Power: a Radical View (2nd ed) [2005], p.27), quoted by Andrew Shorten - Contemporary Political Theory 06
     A reaction: This seems to be beyond dispute. When the operation is successful, those under your power not only do not need to be intimidated, but they don't even need to be guided. But if two people are in perfect harmony, which one has the power?
There are eight different ways in which groups of people can be oppressed [Shorten, by PG]
     Full Idea: Groups can be oppressed in seven different ways: by violence, marginalisation, powerlessness, cultural domination, exploitation, stigmatisation, neglect of interests, and lack of egalitarian ethos.
     From: report of Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 08) by PG - Db (ideas)
     A reaction: [my summary of Shorten's summary] These headings seem to overlap somewhat. It strengthens my growing view that if one builds a political philosophy around the supreme virtue of respect, then all of these modes of oppression are undermined.
25. Society / C. Social Justice / 5. Right to Punish / d. Reform of offenders
Power is used to create identities and ways of life for other people [Foucault, by Shorten]
     Full Idea: For Foucault power is less about repressing people or issuing commands, and more about producing identities and ways of living.
     From: report of Michel Foucault (works [1978]) by Andrew Shorten - Contemporary Political Theory 01
     A reaction: I take this to be the culmination of the Hegelian view of a person, as largely created by social circumstances rather than by biology. I'm beginning to think that Foucault may be a very important philosopher - although elusive.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 1. Political Theory
Constitutional Patriotism unites around political values (rather than national identity) [Shorten]
     Full Idea: 'Constitutional patriots' favour a 'post-national' form of political identity in which members share common political values, but not necessarily a common national identity.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 02)
     A reaction: Interesting. Not sure if you can keep political values distinct from community values. In theory it is an approach designed for cultural pluralism. But if the political values are liberal that implies cultural freedoms for (e.g.) women.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / a. Nature of democracy
Democracy is competition for support of the people, guided by self-interest on all sides [Posner]
     Full Idea: Democratic politics is a competition among self-interested politicians, constituting a ruling class, for the support of the people, also assumed to be self-interested, and none too interested or well informed about politics.
     From: Richard Posner (Law, Pragmatism and Democracy [2003], p.144), quoted by Andrew Shorten - Contemporary Political Theory 05
     A reaction: This articulates the 'competitive' view of democracy, as simply a technique for establishing legitimacy. Posner is also an economist, and they also assume that everyone is wholly self-interested, which may be why they are so frequently wrong.
Democracy is a method of selection, or it involves participation, or it concerns public discussion [Shorten]
     Full Idea: Competitive democrats believe that democracy is simply a method for selecting political leaders …Participatory democrats associate the democratic ideal with living in a participatory society …Deliberative democrats identify public reasoning as key.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 05)
     A reaction: Personally I would favour public discussion, but that is the last thing leaders want, especially if they are not very knowledgeable or clever.
Some say democracy is intrinsically valuable, others that it delivers good outcomes [Shorten]
     Full Idea: Some theorist think that democracy is intrinsically valuable, but others believe that it is valuable because it delivers good outcomes.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 05)
     A reaction: It is hard to see how the majority having a dictatorship over the minority could be an intrinsic good. If we start with respect as the supreme social virtue, then participation and public discussion might be intrinsic goods.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 5. Democracy / d. Representative democracy
Representative should be either obedient, or sensible, or typical [Shorten]
     Full Idea: Mandate Representation says they are delegates who should not deviate from instructions; Trustee says they use their discretion and judgement; Descriptive says they share group characteristics.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 04)
     A reaction: [compressed] There is also being a representative because you have an audience (such as celebrity campains). The second type was famously defended by Edmund Burke. The third implies being the same colour, or gender, or religion.
There is 'mirror representation' when the institution statistically reflects the population [Shorten]
     Full Idea: The general theory of 'mirror representation' says that a representative body or institution should be a statistically accurate sample of the wider society it represents.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 04)
     A reaction: How fine-grained should this be in accuracy. Should every small minority have at least one rep? Can't reps be trusted to speak for people a bit different from themselves? Maybe not! He quotes Mirabeau in support of this idea.
In a changed situation a Mandated Representative can't keep promises and fight for constituents [Shorten]
     Full Idea: An important tension in Mandate Representation seemingly requires politicians to both uphold their electoral promises and promote the interests of their constituents. These can conflict, with changed circumstances or information.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 04 Box 4.1)
     A reaction: So be careful what you promise, and don't take on a party loyalty that conflicts with your constituents' interests. Easy.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 6. Liberalism
The self is 'unencumbered' if it can abandon its roles and commitments without losing identity [Sandel, by Shorten]
     Full Idea: Sandel says liberals are committed to the 'unencumbered self', ..when it has no roles, commitments or projects that are 'so essential that turning away from them would call into question the person I am'.
     From: report of Michael J. Sandel (Liberalism and the Limits of Justice [1982], p.86) by Andrew Shorten - Contemporary Political Theory 02
     A reaction: This is a very penetrating criticism of liberalism. The liberal self that makes social and legal contracts and exercises basic political rights is not far from being a robot. It has the minimum needed to join a society. Belonging is quite different.
Liberalism should not make assumptions such as the value of choosing your own life plan [Shorten]
     Full Idea: Communitarians say that liberalism could only justified by appealing to controversial assumptions that are not universally shared, such as the significance of choosing one's own plan of life.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 01)
     A reaction: In the past, at least, huge numbers of people have been perfectly happy living a life designed for them by their parents. It is not much consolation for a disastrous life that at least you planned it yourself. Liberal values are not self-evident.
Liberal equality concerns rights, and liberal freedom concerns choice of ends [Shorten]
     Full Idea: A liberal society treats people as equals by equipping them with the same set of rights, and it respects their freedom by allowing them to choose their own freely chosen ends.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 01)
     A reaction: Equality of rights is fairly standard in any modern society (at least in principle). Freedom of ends is trickier. You can dismiss someone sleeping in the gutter as living a life that resulted from their choices. How many people have clear goals in life?
Liberal citizens have a moral requirement to respect freedom and equality [Shorten]
     Full Idea: The liberal theory of political community contains a moral thesis which says that members should share a moral concern for one another as free and equal citizens. …Citizens are not required to have much else in common with one another.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 02)
     A reaction: A key thought. Liberal hearts swell with pride at the first half, but anti-liberals are interested in the second bit. If my neighbour lives in miserable poverty, should I only ask whether they are 'equal and free'? Respect everything!
Liberal Nationalism encourages the promotion of nationalistic values [Shorten]
     Full Idea: 'Liberal nationalists' say liberalism is compatible with promoting nationality, by teaching national history and literature and supporting its language. Compatriot priority adds that the needs of compatriots can override those of foreigners.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 02)
     A reaction: [compressed] As a teacher of literature I always preferred to teach the literature of my own country, but without considering the reasons for it. But it was a combination of pride in my people's achievements, and a desire to strengthen social bonds.
Liberal Nationalism says welfare states and democracy needed a shared sense of nationality [Shorten]
     Full Idea: The Liberal Nationalist argument is that if we want to have welfare states or vibrant democracies, then we will need the kind of solidarity that shared nationality fosters. …Unwelcome democratic decisions are more acceptable when made by co-nationals.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 02)
     A reaction: We've just experienced this with Brexit (2016), where perfectly sensible decisions were being made in Brussels, but the popular press whipped up hostility because the British had a restricted role in the decisions. Prefer our idiots to their sages.
Liberal Nationalism is more communitarian, and Constitutional Patriotism more cosmopolitan [Shorten]
     Full Idea: While Liberal Nationalists push liberalism in a particularist and communitarian direction, Constitutional Patriots emphasise its universalistic and cosmopolitan aspects.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 02)
     A reaction: So many attractive qualities to choose from! A tolerant community ought to be cosmopolitan. Being universalistic should not entail a neglect of the particular. Etc.
Maybe the rational autonomous liberal individual is merely the result of domination [Shorten]
     Full Idea: On a radical reading of Foucault, the very ideal of a rational, autonomous moral agent that lies at the heart of liberal governmentality is nothing more than the effect of a particular form of domination.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 06)
     A reaction: [Apologies for the word 'governmentality'; I'm just the messenger] Presumably Foucault's philosophy is also the result of domination, so it is hard to know where to start. The status of rationality is the central issue.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 7. Communitarianism
Liberals treat individuals as mutual strangers, rather than as social beings [Shorten]
     Full Idea: Communitarians say that liberalism treats individuals as strangers to one another, and underestimates the extent to which individuals are 'constituted' by their societies and social memberships.
     From: Andrew Shorten (Contemporary Political Theory [2016], 01)
     A reaction: On the other hand you can have 'too much community'. Surely the test for any political system is the quality of lives led by individual citizens? There can never be a wonderful community full of miserable citizens.
25. Society / D. Political Doctrines / 13. Feminism
Liberals must respect family freedom - but families are the great oppressors of women [Nussbaum]
     Full Idea: A liberal society should give people considerable latitude to form families as they choose. …On the other hand the family …is one of the most notorious homes of sex hierarchy, denial of sexual opportunity, and sex-based violence and humiliation.
     From: Martha Nussbaum (Rawls and Feminism [2003], 03), quoted by Andrew Shorten - Contemporary Political Theory
     A reaction: The question of how the state might intervene in the family rarely seems to turn up in standard political theory. This idea shows why that is a mistake.
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / d. Knowing essences
Find the essence by varying an object, so see what remains invariable [Velarde-Mayol]
     Full Idea: Eidetic Reduction consists of producing variations in the individual object until we see what is invariable in it. What is invariable is its essence or Eidos.
     From: Victor Velarde-Mayol (On Husserl [2000], 3.2.2)
     A reaction: This strikes me as an excellent idea. It more or less describes the method of science. Chemical atoms were thought to be unsplittable, until someone tried a new variation for dealing with them.
27. Natural Reality / A. Classical Physics / 1. Mechanics / c. Forces
The strong force has a considerably greater range than the weak force [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: The strong nuclear force has a range of 10^-15 m, considerably larger than the range of the weak force.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 01)
     A reaction: This is because the bosons transmitting the weak force (W+, W-, W°) are much heavier than the gluons of the strong force.
Relativity and Quantum theory give very different accounts of forces [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: General Relativity and quantum mechanics are the two great theories in physics today but they give two very different ideas for how forces work.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 01)
     A reaction: Relativity says it is space curvature, and quantum theory says it is particle exchange? But is there a Relativity account of the strong nuclear force?
27. Natural Reality / A. Classical Physics / 1. Mechanics / d. Gravity
Instead of gravitational force, we now have a pervasive gravitational field [Farmelo]
     Full Idea: Physics replaced the notion that bodies exert gravitational force on each other by the more effective picture that the bodies in the universe give rise to a pervasive gravitational field which exerts a force on each particle.
     From: Graham Farmelo (The Strangest Man [2009], 08)
     A reaction: This still uses the word 'force'. I sometimes get the impression that gravity is the curvature of space, but gravity needs more. Which direction along the curvature are particles attracted? The bottom line is the power of the bodies.
Gravity is unusual, in that it always attracts and never repels [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Gravity is an odd sort of force, not least because it only ever works one way. Electromagnetism attracts and repels, but with gravity there are only positive masses always attract.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 05)
     A reaction: This leads to speculation about anti-gravity, but there is no current evidence for it.
27. Natural Reality / A. Classical Physics / 2. Thermodynamics / a. Energy
Thermodynamics introduced work and entropy, to understand steam engine efficiency [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: The Laws of Thermodynamics introduced the concepts of entropy and work; put simply, how much useful energy you can really get out of a steam engine.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 03)
     A reaction: The point of science by this stage was to introduce measurable and quantifiable concepts
27. Natural Reality / A. Classical Physics / 2. Thermodynamics / c. Conservation of energy
If an expected reaction does not occur, that implies a conservation law [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: If some reaction is not observed when there is apparently nothing to prevent it occurring, it is an indication that a conservation law is in operation.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 07)
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 1. Relativity / a. Special relativity
Assume the speed of light is constant for all observers, and the laws of physics are the same [Farmelo]
     Full Idea: Einstein assumed that when each observer measures the speed of light in a vacuum, they find the same value, regardless of their speed; and that measurements will lead to agreement on the laws of physics.
     From: Graham Farmelo (The Strangest Man [2009], 03)
     A reaction: So are the laws of physics constant for all observers, irrespective of their speed?
The theory is 'special' because it sticks to observers moving straight, at constant speeds [Farmelo]
     Full Idea: Einstein's first theory is 'special' because it only deals with observers who move in a straight line at constant speeds with respect to one another.
     From: Graham Farmelo (The Strangest Man [2009], 03)
     A reaction: Most theories of this period seem to have focused on the simplest cases, for obvious reasons.
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 1. Relativity / b. General relativity
In the Big Band general relativity fails, because gravity is too powerful [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: At the origin of the universe gravity becomes so powerful that general relativity breaks down, giving infinity for every answer.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 09)
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 2. Electrodynamics / a. Electrodynamics
Electron emit and reabsorb photons, which create and reabsorb virtual electrons and positrons [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: In QED an electron constantly emits and reabsorbs virtual photons and these photons constantly create and reabsorb pairs of virtual electrons and positrons, and so on.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 06)
     A reaction: 'And so on'! These virtual particles have energy, and hence mass.
Quantum electrodynamics incorporates special relativity and quantum mechanics [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: The theory of electromagnetism that incorporates both special relativity and quantum mechanics is quantum electrodynamics (QED). It was developed by Dirac and others, and perfected in the 1940s. The field is a collection of quanta.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
     A reaction: This builds on Maxwell's earlier classical theory. QED is said to be the best theory in all of physics.
Photons have zero rest mass, so virtual photons have infinite range [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Photons, the field quanta of the electromagnetic force, have zero rest mass, so virtual photons can exist indefinitely and travel any distance, meaning the electromagnetic force has an infinite range.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
Spinning electric charge produces magnetism, so all fermions are magnets [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: The muon, like all fermions, spins - and because a spinning electric charge generates a magnetic field all fermions act like tiny bar magnets.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 11)
Photons are B and W° bosons, linked by the Higgs mechanism [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: The photon is actually a mix of two deeper things, the B and the W°, tied together by the Higgs mechanism.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 06)
     A reaction: The B (for 'Boson') transmits a force associated with the 'winding symmetry'. (I record this without properly understanding it.)
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 2. Electrodynamics / b. Fields
A 'field' is just a region to which points can be assigned in space and time [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: The word 'field' is simply a shorthand way of saying that a physical property is assigned to the points of space and time in a region.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 01)
     A reaction: This is disappointing because I had begun to think that fields were foundational for modern ontology. Turns out they are operational abstractions (according to Martin). Note that a field extends over time.
The Higgs field, unlike others, has a nozero value in a state without particles [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: The Higgs field has the property of having a nonzero value in a state without particles, the vacuum state. Other fields are assumed to have a value zero in a vacuum state.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 09)
     A reaction: This seems to make a big difference to our concept of a field, since it has a measurable reality even when there are no particles. So it isn't just a geometrical frame for locating particles.
In the standard model all the fundamental force fields merge at extremely high energies [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: The standard model says that the fields of all fundamental forces should merge at extremely high energies, meaning there is also a unified, high-energy field out there.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 03)
     A reaction: Not quite sure what 'out there' means. This idea is linked to the quest for dark energy. Is this unified phenomenon only found near the Big Bang?
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 2. Electrodynamics / c. Electrons
Many physicists believe particles have further structure, if only we could see it [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: Although standard particles are assumed to be structureless, many physicists believe that if distances could be probed down to 10^-35 m structures would be discovered.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 01)
     A reaction: Such probing is said to be probably impossible. And does the division then come to a halt? Aristotle's meditations on this are not irrelevant.
Electrons move fast, so are subject to special relativity [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Electrons in atoms move at high speeds, so they are subject to the special theory of relativity.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
     A reaction: Presumably this implies a frame of reference, and defining velocities relative to other electrons. Plus time-dilation?
Electrons may have smaller components, bound by a new force [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: Quarks, leptons or bosons may actually be made up of something even smaller, bound together by a conjectural new force.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 05)
     A reaction: Electrons are a type of lepton. Compare Idea 21180, from the same book. If electrons are not fundamental, what matters is not some 'stuff' they are made of, but a different force that would bind the ingredients.
Electrons are fundamental and are not made of anything; they are properties without size [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: As far as we can tell, electrons (and quarks) are fundamental. They are not small lumps of material, because we could always ask what the material is. The electron just ...is. They are collections of properties, with no apparent size.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 01)
     A reaction: This idea from physics HAS to be of interest to philosophers! The bundle theory is discredited for normal objects and for minds, and so is the substrate idea for supporting properties. But rigorous physics accepts a bundle theory.
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 2. Electrodynamics / d. Quantum mechanics
The Schrödinger waves are just the maths of transforming energy values to positions [Farmelo]
     Full Idea: Dirac showed that the Schrödinger waves were simply the mathematical quantities involved in transforming the description of a quantum based on its energy values to one based on possible values of its position.
     From: Graham Farmelo (The Strangest Man [2009], 08)
     A reaction: Does this eliminate actual physical 'waves' from the theory?
Uncertainty allows very brief violations of energy conservation - even shorter with higher energies [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: The uncertainty principle states that energy conservation can be violated, but only for a limited period of time. As the energy violation increases, the time period within which 'borrowed' energy has to be 'paid back' decreases.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 01)
     A reaction: This is the only reason modern physicists ever seem to mention the uncertainty principle. You can ask why this debt must be paid, but it seems to be hidden where the laws of physics may not even apply.
The Exclusion Principle says no two fermions occupy the same state, with the same numbers [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: The 'exclusion principle' initially stated that no two electrons in a system could simultaneously occupy the same quantum state and thus have the same set of quantum numbers. The principle actually applies to all fermions, but not to bosons.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 02)
     A reaction: This principle is said to be at the root of atomic structure, making each element unique. What exactly is a 'system'? Why does this principle hold? How do you ensure two women don't wear the same dress at a party?
Physics was rewritten to explain stable electron orbits [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: Explaining the stable electron orbits would require a complete rewriting of the physics of subatomic particles.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 03)
     A reaction: This really looks like a simple and major landmark moment. You can ignore a single anomaly, but not a central feature of your entire theory.
Virtual particles can't be measured, and can ignore the laws of physics [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: We can never measure these virtual (transitory) particles directly, and it turns out that they don't even have to obey the laws of physics.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 05)
     A reaction: These seems to be the real significance of the Uncertainty Principle. Such particles 'borrow' huge amounts of energy for very short times.
Quantum mechanics is our only theory, and is very precise, and repeatedly confirmed [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: Quantum mechanics is the only working description of the universe that we have. It is amazingly precise, and so far every experimental test has verified its predictions.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 02)
     A reaction: I take it from this that quantum mechanics is simply TRUE. Get over it! It will never turn out to be wrong, but may be subsumed within some more fine-grained or extensive theory.
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 3. Chromodynamics / a. Chromodynamics
The strong force is repulsive at short distances, strong at medium, and fades at long [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Experiments show that the nuclear binding force does not follow the inverse square law, but is repulsive at the shortest distances, then attractive, then fades away rapidly as distance increases further.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
     A reaction: So how does it know when to be strong? Magnetism doesn't vary according to distance, and light obeys the inverse square law, because everything is decided at the output. - See 21151 for an explanation. It interacts after departure.
Gluons, the particles carrying the strong force, interact because of their colour charge [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: In QCD the particles that carry the strong force are called gluons. ...Gluons carry their own colour charges, so they can interact with each other (unlike photons) via the strong nuclear force (which limits the range of the force).
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
     A reaction: So the force varies in strength with distance because the degree of separation among the spreading gluons varies? The force has one range, which is squashed when close, effective at medium, and loses touch with distance?
The strong force binds quarks tight, and the nucleus more weakly [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: The strong force holds quarks together within protons and neutrons, and residual effects of the strong force bind protons (whch repel one another) and neutrons together in nuclei.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
     A reaction: So the force is much stronger between quarks (which can't escape), and only 'residual' in the nucleus, which must be why smashing nuclei open is fairly easy, but smashin protons open needs higher energies.
Colour charge is positive or negative, and also has red, green or blue direction [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: Colour charge is 'three-dimensional'. As well as the charge having a positive or negative sign, it can also have a direction, and for convenience these three different directions (pointing like a weather vane) are labelled 'red', 'green' and 'blue'.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 04)
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 3. Chromodynamics / b. Quarks
Three different colours of quark (as in the proton) can cancel out to give no colour [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Just as mixing three colours of light gives white, so the three colour charges of quarks can add up to give no colour. This is what happens in the proton, which always contains one blue-charge quark, one red and one green.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
Classifying hadrons revealed two symmetry patterns, produced by three basic elements [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Classifying hadrons according to charge, strangeness and spin revealed patterns of eight and ten particles (SU(3) symmetery). The mathematics then showed that these are built from a basic group of only three members.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 01)
Quarks in threes can build hadrons with spin ½ or with spin 3/2 [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Quarks in threes can build hadrons with spin ½ (proton, duu; neutron, ddu; lambda, dus), or with spin 3/2 (omega-minus, sss).
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 01)
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 4. Standard Model / b. Standard model
The standard model combines theories of strong interaction, and electromagnetic and weak interaction [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: As presently formulated, the standard model is two theories. One operates in the sector of strong interaction, and the other in the sector of the electromagnetic and weak interactions.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 01)
     A reaction: The first is Quantum Chomodynamics (QCD). The second is Quantum Electrodynamics (QED). Interesting that the weak interaction is included in the latter, which (I take it) means there is an electro-weak union. Interactions are the heart of the model.
The four fundamental forces (gravity, electromagnetism, weak and strong) are the effects of particles [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: There are four fundamental forces: gravity, electromagnetism, and the weak and strong nuclear forces. Particle physics has so far failed to encompass the force of gravity. The forces that shape our world are themselves the effect of particles.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
     A reaction: Philosophers must take note of the fact that forces are the effects of particles. Common sense pictures forces imposed on particles, like throwing a tennis ball, but the particles are actually the sources of force. The gravitino is speculative.
The weak force explains beta decay, and the change of type by quarks and leptons [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: The beta decay of the neutron (into a proton, an electron and an antineutrino) can be described in terms of the weak force, which is 10,000 times weaker than the strong force. It allows the quarks and leptons to change from one type to another.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
     A reaction: This seems to make it the key source of radioactivity. Perhaps it should be called the Force of Change?
Three particles enable the weak force: W+ and W- are charged, and Z° is not [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: The quantum field theory of the weak force needs three carrier particles. The W+ and W- are electrically charged, and enable the weak force to change the charge of a particle. The Z° is uncharged, and mediates weak interactions with no charge change.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
The weak force particles are heavy, so the force has a short range [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: The W and Z particles are heavy, and so cannot travel far from their parents. The weak force therefore has a very short range.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
Why do the charges of the very different proton and electron perfectly match up? [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Why do the proton and electron charges mirror each other so perfectly when they are such different particles?
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 04)
     A reaction: We seem to have reached a common stage in science, where we have a wonderful descriptive model (the Standard Model), but we cannot explain why what is modelled is the way it is.
The Standard Model cannot explain dark energy, survival of matter, gravity, or force strength [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: The standard model cannot explain dark matter, or dark energy (which is causing expansion to accelerate). It cannot explain how matter survived annihilation with anti-matter in the Big Bang, or explain gravity. The strength of each force is unexplained.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 06)
     A reaction: [compressed] P.141 adds that the model has to be manipulated to keep the Higgs mass low enough.
The Standard Model omits gravity, because there are no particles involved [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: Gravity is not included in the Standard Model because we simply cannot study it using particles.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 09)
     A reaction: I'm guessing that Einstein describes how gravity behaves, but not what it is.
In Supersymmetry the Standard Model simplifies at high energies [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: Supersymmetry suggest that the Standard Model becomes much simpler at high energies.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 10)
Standard Model forces are one- two- and three-dimensional [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: The forces in the Standard Model are built on gauge symmetries, with a one-dimensional charge (like electromagnetism), a two-dimensional charge (the weak force), and a three dimensional charge (the strong force).
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 10)
     A reaction: See also Idea 21185.
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 4. Standard Model / c. Particle properties
Experiments show that fundamental particles of one type are identical [Farmelo]
     Full Idea: It is an established experimental fact ...that every single fundamental particle in the universe is the same and identical to all other particles of the same type.
     From: Graham Farmelo (The Strangest Man [2009], 07)
     A reaction: A loud groan is heard from the tomb of Leibniz. I'm unclear how experiments can establish this. If electrons have internal structure (which is not ruled out) then uniformity is highly unlikely.
The properties of a particle are determined by its quantum numbers and its mass [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: In quantum theory, the full set of quantum numbers defines the state of the particle and, along with its mass, determines its properties.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 02)
Eletrons don't literally 'spin', because they are point-like [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: The picture of a particle spinning like a top is sometime useful, but it is not consistent with the idea of the electron being point-like. In fact there is no analogy for spin in non-quantum physics.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 02)
     A reaction: If we take this stuff literally then it blow traditional metaphysics to bits, because an electron has properties without being a substance. In what sense can an electron 'have' properties if it is a point? In interactions they cease to be points. Eh?
Virtual particles surround any charged particle [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: A cloud of virtual particles always surrounds a charged particle.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 06)
     A reaction: Here's a nice fact for aspiring Buddhists to meditate on.
Spin is a built-in ration of angular momentum [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Spin is a built-in ration of angular momentum.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 01)
     A reaction: As an outsider all I can do is collect descriptions of such properties from the experts. The experts appear to be happy with the numbers inserted in the equations.
Fermions, with spin ½, are antisocial, and cannot share quantum states [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Particles with half-integer spin, such as electrons, protons or quarks (all spin ½) have an asymmetry in their wavefunction that makes them antisocial. These particles (Fermions) cannot share a quantum state.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
     A reaction: This is said to explain the complexity of matter, with carbon an especially good example.
Particles are spread out, with wave-like properties, and higher energy shortens the wavelength [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Particles obeying the laws of quantum mechanics have wave-like properties - moving as a quantum wave-function, spread out in space, with wavelengths that get shorter as their energy increases.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
     A reaction: Thus X-rays are dangerous, but long wave radio is not. De Broglie's equation.
Spin is akin to rotation, and is easily measured in a magnetic field [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Spin is a quantum-mechanical property of a particle akin to rotation about its own axis. Particles of different spins respond to magnetic fields in different ways, so it is a relatively easy thing to measure.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 04)
     A reaction: I wish I knew what 'akin to' meant. Maybe particles are not rigid bodies, so they cannot spin in the way a top can? It must be an electro-magnetic property. Idea 21166 says spin has two possible directions.
Quarks have red, green or blue colour charge (akin to electric charge) [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Quarks have a property akin to electric charge, called their colour charge. It comes in three varieties, red, green and blue.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
Quarks and leptons have a weak charge, for the weak force [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: For the weak force there must be a corresponding 'weak charge', and all the fermions, all the quarks and leptons carry it.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 05)
     A reaction: So electrons carry a weak charge, as well as an electromagnetic charge. Like owning several passports.
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 4. Standard Model / d. Mass
The mass of protons and neutrinos is mostly binding energy, not the quarks [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Most of a proton's or neutrino's mass is contained in the interaction energies of a 'sea' of quarks, antiquarks and gluons that bind them. ...You might feel solid, but in fact you're 99 per cent binding energy.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 04)
     A reaction: This is because energy is equivalent to mass (although gluons are said to have energy but no mass - puzzled by that). This is a fact which needs a bit of time to digest. Once you've grasped we are full of space, you still have understood it.
Gravitional mass turns out to be the same as inertial mass [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: There are two types of mass: gravitational mass quantifies how strongly an object feels gravity, while inertial mass quantifies an object's resistance to acceleration. There proven equality is at the heart of General Relativity.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 05)
     A reaction: It had never occurred to me that these two values might come apart. Doesn't their identical values demonstrate that they are in fact the same thing? Sounds like Hesperus/Phosphorus to me. The book calls it 'mysterious'.
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 4. Standard Model / e. Protons
Top, bottom, charm and strange quarks quickly decay into up and down [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Quarks can change from one variety to another, and the top, bottom, charm and strange quarks all rapidly decay to the up and down quarks of everyday life.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 01)
     A reaction: Hence the universe is largely composed of up and down quarks and electrons. The other quarks seem to be more important in the early universe.
Neutrons are slightly heavier than protons, and decay into them by emitting an electron [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: The proton (938.3 MeV) is lighter than the neutron (939.6 MeV) and does not decay, but the heavier neutron can change into a proton by emitting an electron. (If you gather a bucketful of neutrons, after ten minutes only half of them would be left).
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 01)
     A reaction: Protons are more or less eternal, but some theories have them decaying after billions of years. Smashing protons together is a popular pastime for physicists.
Quarks rush wildly around in protons, restrained by the gluons [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: Inside a proton the quarks are rushing around like caged animals, free to move until they push against the bars to try to escape, when the gluons pull them back in.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 04)
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 4. Standard Model / f. Neutrinos
Neutrinos were proposed as the missing energy in neutron beta decay [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: When a neutron decays into a proton and an electron (one example of beta decay), the energy of the two particles adds up to less than the starting energy of the neutron. Pauli and Fermi concluded that a neutrino (an electron antineutrino) is emitted.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 01)
     A reaction: I'm wondering how much they could infer about the nature of the new particle (which was only confirmed 26 years later).
Only neutrinos spin anticlockwise [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Neutrinos are the only particles that seem just to spin anticlockwise.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 06)
     A reaction: See 21166. Anti-neutrino spin is the opposite way. Which way up do you hold the neutrino when pronouncing that it is 'anticlockwise?
Neutrinos only interact with the weak force, but decays produce them in huge numbers [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: Neutrinos only interact with the weak force, which means they barely interact at all, but because the weak force is crucial in the decays of so many other particles, neutrinos are still produced in huge numbers.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 08)
     A reaction: They only interact with the W and Z bosons.
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 4. Standard Model / g. Anti-matter
Standard antineutrinos have opposite spin and opposite lepton number [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: In the conventional standard model neutrinos have antiparticles - which spin in the opposite direction, and have the opposite lepton number.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 05)
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 5. Unified Models / a. Electro-weak unity
The symmetry of unified electromagnetic and weak forces was broken by the Higgs field [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: In the very early hot universe the electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces were one. The early emergence of the Higgs field led to electroweak symmetry breaking. The W and Z bosons grew fat, and the photon raced away mass-free.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 07)
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 5. Unified Models / b. String theory
String theory only has one free parameter (tension) - unlike the standard model with 19 [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: Unlike the standard model, with its 19 free parameters (including the masses of quarks, coupling constants and mixing angles), string theories have a single free paramater: the string tension.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 10)
     A reaction: This must be one feature in favour of string theory, despite its problems.
String theory is now part of 11-dimensional M-Theory, involving p-branes [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: String theory has now been incorporated into Ed Witten's M-Theory, which is a mathematical framework that lives in 11-dimensional space-time, involving higher-dimensional objects called p-branes, of which strings are a special case.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 09)
Supersymmetric string theory can be expressed using loop quantum gravity [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: String theory, together with its supersymmetric particles, has recently been rewritten in the space-time described by loop quantum gravity (which says that space-time ust be made from finite chunks).
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 09)
String theory offers a quantum theory of gravity, by describing the graviton [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: String theory works as a quantum theory of gravity because string vibrations can describe gravitons, the hypothetical carriers of the gravitational force.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 09)
     A reaction: Presumably the main aim of a quantum theory of gravity is to include gravitons within particle theory. This idea has to be a main attraction of string theory. Compare Idea 21166.
String theory might be tested by colliding strings to make bigger 'stringballs' [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: A future accelerator might create 'stringballs', when two strings slam into one another and, rather than combining to form a stretched string, make a tangled ball. Finding them would prove string theory.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 08)
     A reaction: This is the only possible test for string theory which I have seen suggested. How do you 'slam strings together'?
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 5. Unified Models / c. Supersymmetry
Supersymmetry has extra heavy bosons and heavy fermions [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Supersymmetry posits heavy boson partners for all fermions, and heavy fermions for all bosons.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
     A reaction: The main Fermions are electron, proton and quark. Do extra bosons imply extra forces? Peter Higgs favours supersymmetry.
The evidence for supersymmetry keeps failing to appear [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: The old front-runner theory, supersymmetry, has fallen from grace as the Large Hadron Collider keeps failing to find it.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 07)
Only supersymmetry offers to incorporate gravity into the scheme [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Peter Higgs says he is a fan of supersymmetry, largely because it seems to be the only route by which gravity can be brought into the scheme.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 03)
     A reaction: Peter Higgs proposed the Higgs boson (now discovered). This seems a very good reason to favour supersymmetry. A grand unified theory that left out gravity doesn't seem to be unified quite grandly enough.
Supersymmetry says particles and superpartners were unities, but then split [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: The key to supersymmetry is that in the high-energy soup of the early universe, particles and their superpartners were indistinguishable. Each pair existed as single massless entities. With expansion and cooling this supersymmetry broke down.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 08)
To combine the forces, they must all be the same strength at some point [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: If all the forces are to combine, at some point they must all be the same strength, and Supersymmetry (SuSy) makes this happen.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 10)
     A reaction: This sounds like an impressive reason for favouring supersymmetry - as long as you have an a priori preference for everything combining.
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 1. Space / b. Space
Empty space contains a continual flux of brief virtual particles [Krauss]
     Full Idea: Empty space is complicated. It is a boiling brew of virtual particles that pop in and out of existence in a time so short we cannot see them directly.
     From: Lawrence M. Krauss (A Universe from Nothing [2012], 10)
     A reaction: Apparently the interior of a proton is also like this. This fact gives a foot in the door for explanations of how the Big Bang got started, from these virtual particles. And yet surely space itself only arrives with the Big Bang?
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 1. Space / d. Substantival space
The Higgs field means even low energy space is not empty [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: The point about the Higgs field is that even the lowest-energy state of space is not empty.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 02)
     A reaction: So where is the Higgs field located? Even if there is no utterly empty space, the concept of location implies a concept of space more basic than the fields (about 16, I gather) which occupy it. You can't describe movement without a concept of location.
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 1. Space / e. Relational space
'Space' in physics just means location [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: 'Space' in physics really just means location.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 06)
     A reaction: Location can, of course, only be specified relative to something else. Space is really an abstraction, but at least it means there is some sort of background to locate all the fundamental fields.
27. Natural Reality / C. Space-Time / 3. Space-Time
Space-time arises from the connection between measurements of space and of time [Farmelo]
     Full Idea: Einstein noted that the measurements of space and time are not independent but inextricably linked, leading to the idea of unified space-time (introduced by his former teacher Minkowski).
     From: Graham Farmelo (The Strangest Man [2009], 03)
     A reaction: Notice the instrumentalist assumptions behind this.
27. Natural Reality / D. Cosmology / 8. Dark Matter
Dark matter must have mass, to produce gravity, and no electric charge, to not reflect light [New Sci.]
     Full Idea: Whatever dark matter is made of, it must have mass to feel and generate gravity; but no electric charge, so it does not interact with light. The leading candidate has been the weakly interacting massive particle (WIMP), much heavier than a proton.
     From: New Scientist writers (Why the Universe Exists [2017], 08)
     A reaction: Note that it must 'generate' gravity. The idea of a law of gravity which is externally imposed on matter is long dead. Heavy WIMPs have not yet been detected.
The universe is 68% dark energy, 27% dark matter, 5% regular matter [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: The most precise surveys of the stars and galaxies tell us that the universe is made up of 68% dark energy, 27% dark matter, and just 5% regular matter (the stuff of the Standard Model of particle physics).
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 09)
     A reaction: Regular matter - that's me, that is.
27. Natural Reality / D. Cosmology / 9. Fine-Tuned Universe
If a cosmic theory relies a great deal on fine-tuning basic values, it is probably wrong [Hesketh]
     Full Idea: If a theory has to rely on excessive 'fine-tuning', a series of extremely unlikely events in order to produce the universe we see around us, then it is extremely unlikely that this theory is correct.
     From: Gavin Hesketh (The Particle Zoo [2016], 10)
     A reaction: He says the Standard Model has 26 parameters which are only known by experiment, rather than by theory. So instead of saying '...so there is a God', we should say '...so our theory isn't very good'.
27. Natural Reality / E. Chemistry / 2. Modern Elements
An 'element' is what cannot be decomposed by chemistry [Martin,BR]
     Full Idea: In the modern sense 'element' means a substance that cannot be decomposed by the methods of chemistry.
     From: Brian R. Martin (Particle Physics [2011], 01)