January 03, 2012

Probable Facts ...and the Higgs Boson

2+2 is always equaled to 4. That is a fact.
Well, that is true if you use the meaning of the word fact: a statement of a state of affairs that is true for all time.

But we know that other than maths and logic, this is not true.

The sun provides light to me. This statement only applies to this moment in time, because we know that some time later today, it will not provide any light to me. So the statement that the sun provides light is not a fact.

In the extremest case, quantum mechanics may mean that there are no true facts at all in the universe, only a set of self-consistent but mutually-inconsistent explanations. 1 -Pam Perdue-

The majority of "facts" are subject to context and perspective.

The things that we "know" to happen, are observations, our -evidence based- explanations of those observations are not absolute, but estimates of confidence on how these things we observe happen.
For example, we know life exists. This is an observation -some might call it a fact-. The explanations for life could be rated like this:

That life started and is sustained by chemical reactions at the molecular level is -based on the evidence at hand- (that being experimentation and hypothesis or theoretical conclusions) highly probable.
The notion that life was "spoken" into existence by an all powerful being, is  most likely improbable.
Why? because it does not provide any mechanism (a theory for example) by which we can test this claim.

All this means I live in a world of probability and uncertainty. A world of chance.

Yeah, but highly probable things solve many of our problems today. With the probability and uncertainty of quantum mechanics we have atomic energy, computers and a space station up in the atmosphere. 

Most religious people think that scientists believe in the facts they have observed, they criticize this belief as being faith based and also believe that many natural things are absolutes, when we explain that this is not so,  that we can only estate the likeliness of things to be explained by one scientific theory or another, they respond to this that is their understanding then, that everything is due to chance.

The is also this claim used by believers, that the high improbability of a phenomena to happen is evidence that only God can make them “happen”.

The probability of things that we have observed happening is not probability at all.   We have seen them happening, we cannot come and calculate, in retrospect, the probability for it to happen. This is a worthless exercise.

You can only make sense of the probability of phenomena that has not happen, that are indeed predictions and the likeliness of it to be true or false. there is no use in calculating the probability of an event that has happened. because as much highly improbable that you might calculated it to happen, it has.

The Standard Model Theory of quantum mechanics has predicted that there must be a particle who allows other particles to acquire mass. This particle is called the Higgs Boson and is the quanta of the Higgs field.

We have not observed the Higgs Boson in natural world, but it has been predicted by the theory. Therefore we can calculate the probability for it to be true. Scientist give it a high probability, due to the fact that the other 15 particles of the theory have already been found.

Recently the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, has found instances of the elusive boson. It needs to be confirmed by other scientists, but we now have a higher confidence it that it is highly probable for it to exists.

Once we found it, the probability will mean nothing, since we will know that it exists and that its behavior I similar to that predicted in the Standard Model.

So for people who use science daily to explain most of the things he or she observe, there is no chance on things that have happened.

There is no believe into a scientific statement.
There is no believe into a supernatural claim either.

The claim that most natural phenomena has a natural scientific explanation is probable true.

And the claim that there is an all omnipotent, all knowing being that supersedes everything that is going on in the natural world, is highly improbable.

1 Comentarios:

  1. UPDATE: We've seen now the Higgs boson. Its existence is fact. Even its discoverers have been awarded with the 2013 Nobel Prize on physics. Yet, we are still waiting for an all omnipotent, all knowing being that supersedes everything that is going on in the natural world, to appear. Its improbability is still high.

    Its existence is NOT fact.


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