Scientonomy: The Theory of Scientific Change

The semester soon is coming to it’s end, which means that there would only be one session left. But, since there are so many people interested in giving a talk, there will be an extra session.
Therefore we will meet again next week on the 13th of June at 20:00 at WUK to listen to Patrick’s talk about “Scientonomy: The Theory of Scientific Change”, a construction of a historically motivated attempt to understand how and why scientific theories and methods change in time.

For additional material see:

As a starting point the following lecture on “The laws of scientific change”
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BBBxJ8yYrsg

The Encyclopedia of Scientonomy
https://www.scientowiki.com/Main_Page

The first book chapter of Hakob Barseghyan’s Book “The Laws of scientific change”,  provides a good overview. In order to obtain the book chapter, contact e.schwarzhans(at)gmx.at

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Could the physical world be emergent instead of fundamental, and why should we ask?

The next Naturwissenschaftscafé will take place on Wednesday the 6th of June at 20:00 in Wuk. This time Marius will give us an introduction into the paper “Could the physical world be emergent instead of fundamental, and why should we ask?”, which was published by his supervisor Markus Müller.

There are two versions of this paper, a long one and a short one. Both are on the arxiv under the following links:

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1712.01816.pdf  (short version)

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1712.01826.pdf  (Full version)

And additionally you can find a presentation Markus Müller gave about this topic under:
http://mpmueller.net/theory.html

 

The physical interpretation of probability and the quantum theory

The next Naturwissenschaftscafé will take place on the 9th of May at 20:00 in Wuk. This time Flavio will talk about The physical interpretation of probability and the quantum theory. You may find following suggested literature helpful:

  • Book:
    “Philosophy and Probability” by Timothy Childers (pp. 33-36)
  • Extended conference paper:
    “The physical motivations for a propensity interpretation of probability, and the reactions of the community of quantum physicists” by Flavio

In order to get one of the above texts please contact e.schwarzhans(at)gmx.at .

Lecture series on foundations of science: Scientific Realism

Whether there exists something ‘real’ to be described by science is one of the oldest question in philosophy of science, and it is one of the fundamental pillars on which scientific disciplines are built. In particular, are theoretical entities introduced by scientific theories merely useful predictive tools, or rather do they offer a faithful description of an outside ‘real’ world? Do we have scientific (i.e. non-metaphysical) methods to discriminate between these world views?

In this regard, foundations of natural sciences were shaken by the advent of quantum mechanics. Indeed, this theory demolished most of the a priori ideas, upon which classical theories were built, including the conception of reality. Crucial fundamental issues in quantum theory, such as the ontological status of the wave function and of the properties of particles are still heatedly debated. As D. Mermin pointed out, “today, nearly 90 years after its formulation, disagreement about the meaning of the [quantum] theory is stronger than ever. New interpretations appear every day. None ever disappear”.

Despite the importance of the concept of realism for science, fundamental issues of such a kind are rarely treated in as much detail as they would deserve in university courses. Therefore, a group of students of the University of Vienna from different scientific fields (see https://naturwissenschaftscafe.wordpress.com/) have organised a lecture series devoted to the subject of scientific realism. The lecture series will consist of nine lectures (in SS 2018), held by some of the most prominent (both international and local) professors in the field of foundations of quantum mechanics and philosophy of science. Moreover, the lecture series will be an official course of the University of Vienna, for which students could get ECTS upon passing an exam.

Further information can be found on Ufind under the following link:
https://ufind.univie.ac.at/de/course.html?lv=442632&semester=2018S

This initiative has been stimulated also by a very successful (over 200 attendees) symposium on foundations of science, entitled “Shut Up and Contemplate!”, which was organised in March 2017 (https://shutupandcontemplatesymposium.wordpress.com/).

ScientificRealismPoster-min-1

What is Fundamental?

In our next meeting Flavio will discuss the question “What is Fundamental?” and expound his and Chiara’s viewpoint on the topic. The meeting will take place on the 17th of January at 8pm in Tunnel Vienna.

The Topic was inspired by the Community Essay Contest of  Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi), in which Flavio and Chiara participate. Their essay “Demolishing prejudices to get to the foundations” can be found and commented under the following link:

https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3017

To have some structure, the suggested way of reading the essay is:

  • Level 1-general idea:
    Until page 6, second paragraph (the one ending with “for every future scientifically significant theory.”)
  • Level 2-examples from physics:
    the whole text

Quantum Brain Dynamics

The next Naturwissenschaftscafé will take place on the 19th of December at 20:00 in Tunnel Vienna.

This time Moe will talk about Quantum Brain Dynamics and how current studies in Quantum Biology and Neuroscience deal with phenomena like “Quantum Conciousness” and quantum information processing in the brain.

Warning:
The topics discussed are highly speculative and may contain some philosophic and even esoteric components. When reading into the field, I got the feeling that it is very important to stay open AND critical. I’m looking forward to an open discussion, because there seems to be no consensus in the scientific community whatsoever.

I will start with a short introduction in Neural Network Theory and how its assumptions are based on classical physics.

Then I want to give you an overview about the hypothesis that sparked the speculative discussion about “Quantum Conciousness”, which was developed by Penrose and Hameroff in the 90s.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iIyEjh6ef_8

And finally, I would like to talk about the current status of Quantum Neuroscience and which hypothesis have been killed by in-depth analysis:

(https://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9907009)

and which are still alive:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/a-new-spin-on-the-quantum-brain-20161102/

For the preperation of the discussion it would be ideal to watch the first video, read the abstract of the arxiv paper and the quantamagzine article 🙂

Additional Literature:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orchestrated_objective_reduction
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-consciousness/

What is life? Are viruses alive?

The next meeting will take place on Fr 16.6. 18:00 again in Tunnel Vienna. This times topic will be: What is life? Are viruses alive? presented by Geli and Patrick.
Please read into and watch the materials provided in order for us to have a common basis of knowledge for the discussion:

Level 1:

Watch this video explaining in brief what Viruses are and discussing differences in organization compared to things perceived as alive.

Level 2:

Read these articles discussing how newly found giant viruses might alter our previous understanding of aliveness/alivehood/alivebeing?
level 3:
Read a physicists perspective on the subject in Erwin Schroedingers book: What is life? A book that is based on a course of lectures held in 1943.