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Are theories invented or discovered?





ptolomeo
Physics theories are (maybe) rational constructs made by humans. One could think that theories
are inventions of the mind, in the sense that the theory is something that was not there before and now it is (of course theories can be reinvented, as many invented things have been, but that doesn't mean that they are discovered). Or we could think, on the other side, that theories are discovered, that is, they were there (?) before and we discovered them, in the same way we discover a gold mine.
Maybe, also, we could think that theories are not invented neither discovered. Theories, for evolutionists, should be a product of our evolution, because in evolution there is no place for creation (even human creation is not possible in evolution).

When I speak of theories, I mean the ideas and mathematical artifacts expressing that ideas. Not the physical fact per se.

What do you think?
tidruG
When you're talking about a theory, you're talking about an idea that has been put forth in order to explain some occurrence in nature or some phenomenon that hasn't previously been explained. In that way, I guess it fits the bill more as an invention rather than a discovery.

By definition, a discovery is something that already existed without our knowledge, and we just happened to stumble across it. No scientific theory has ever been completely accepted as the truth. A scientific theory is accepted on face value as an explanation either until a new experimental discovery/conclusion contradicts it (in which case, the theory must be modified or rejected altogether), or until an experimental conclusion verifies that theory, in which case the theory becomes strengthened.
Gagnar The Unruly
I agree. A theory is an invention and not a discovery. In the case of evolution, the process of evolution was discovered, but theories of evolution are invented.
chatrack
A "theory" is a product of Carefull observation, analizing the results of observartion, genaralising facts,
and more..

so, formation of a theoy is discovery of truth of life to some extent.

---
Find his location undisturbed: www.chatrack.frihost.net
infinisa
The same question can be asked about mathematical theories - are they invented or discovered?

This is discussed in the thread Was mathematics invented or discovered?, which includes a reference to an article on the matter by a professional:
Bikerman wrote:
It is a very old question and there are supporters of both viewpoints.
Here is an interesting essay on the matter;
http://www.people.ex.ac.uk/PErnest/pome12/article2.htm

The one sure conclusion (in the case of mathematics) is that there is no simple answer!
Xanatos
A scientific theory is both invented and discovered. It is discovered from the observations of nature and it is created by the scientist who puts it all together.
nanunath
no yaar..theories are discoveries...Question ...coz everything that already exists in nature...the rules of nature...already..its found out by ppl...Exclamation
They cant b called "Inventions of mind" [Maths seems an exception...Hmmmm worth thinkin]...Exclamation
Conclusion:
ur quest is not a valid quest!.. Smile
mazito
I think is a discovered, the math ins cience is there (the laws) human just discovered that was happen from the begginig
binsmyth
In my opinion I think theories are invention and discovery at once. It is found -> changed -> invented into something unique so, that it could be used by other people.
TomS
Theories are invented. Evidence that proofs theories are discovered.

Once you know for sure, it's not a theory anymore, but the truth. And the truth was discovered.
metalfreek
Theory is a thought put forward by some people. The validity of which is done by extensive calculation, observation and experimentation. This is my view.
Nero
I think theories are discovered and invented at the same time.
Dennise
IMHO, theories are invented to fit accurate and detailed observations. Newton's theory of gravity is a very good example.

His inverse square law of mass attraction fits observation quite well. It is used today to track bodies in the cosmos and also to put human made artificial bodies into space for applied science as well as pure science.

Not to belittle his stupendous accomplishments, Newton did NOT discover gravity, instead he invented a theory that describes it. This was purely a product of the human mind. Scientists today are working hard to actually discover the source of gravity. Some, perhaps Einstein himself in his theory of general relativity, say (said) gravity really doesn't exist at all. Instead what we call gravity is actually the 'natural' curvature (warp) of space-time. And then there are new subatomic particles called gravitons. Theory has it that these particle are the 'carriers' of gravity's force.

In the mean time, Newton's theory will likely be with us for a long time.
sheedatali
Theory can not be discovered, theories arise when there is lack of explanation of something. You write down logical steps that might explain something, however they are just observations or logical steps and nothing more. You carry out experiments to discover proof that turns a theory into a fact. I am no scientist however this is what my understanding is.
Bluedoll
My science is my newest discovery . . . by Bluedoll

I personally envision and feel physic theories are merely projections. The difference between a discovery and theory is the point of arrival. I am suggesting that sometimes the distinction between what is fact and what is only a theory can be very close and the point of arrival is on a specific time line, where first we theorize then we search to discover the truth, once we are satisfied, we can then precede to theorize some more. It is endless.

The beauty about physic theories is that it opens our mind to new undiscovered things. Therefore a good scientist will be open to new things but might not necessarily go down the path of a new theory being presented if the he/she is not confident about the proposal.

Statements like evolution will rule out creation for example might be true for a specific groups however in good science there will always be, thank goodness, some ‘different’ models and people who will suggest new theories and thereby open new doors for anyone wishing to pursue another viewpoint. People always can choose to reject theories however, which is entirely up to them.

In my opinion, theories are discovered in that they are always pushing the envelope. Inventions on the other hand is the employment of knowledge which science grants.

In other words, scientists seek to discover new theories based on something as to why things are and people invent new stuff from present knowledge.
icool
The theories proposed earlier, now and later are all a discovery. Nuclear reaction was invented? lol no.. it was discovered as Sun and most of the stars are exhibiting the nuclear reaction for billions of years . So my argument would be that all the theories are discovered rather than invented!
tazone
they are first hyphotisized based on a discovery
and then proven with mathematical deduction
Indi
tazone wrote:
they are first hyphotisized based on a discovery
and then proven with mathematical deduction

No.

They are first hypothesized based on an observation.

Then they are tested with experiments.

They are never proven.

Mathematical deduction has absolutely nothing to do with science.
pauline5765
Imho, theories are discovered. Everything in this would is already there. They exist before, current or after human beings exist. I think that every theory that humans make are just a study of something that already exist and just discovered how it works or how it began, etc.

There's already an explanation to everything, just that sometimes if we don't know what it is, it remains a mystery. If we know what it is, it becomes a theory.
GoldenEagle
From a deductive science like in mathematics and in many cases physical sciences, theories are really discovered. Once you lay out the ground rules for a universe of discourse (say the natural numbers or physical laws) anything new you can derive from them through deduction are discovered since they existed (or moreso a path to them existed) but the path was previously unknown.
Mrs Lycos
By definition, you discover something that was already there, but you didn't realize it was there until now.

A theory is just an explanation of facts from a specific point of view. May the point of view be broader or not, is not in question here.

You can't discover a theory, because you can't discover an explanation. You discover more evidence about what the theory states, and the theory stands or is refuted.

Unless you think of a theory as an abstract thought in a world of ideas, waiting to be "thought of" by some brilliant person, then you would talk about discovery. (?)
Bikerman
I disagree. All scientific theory is model. Theory isn't the reality being modelled - the map is never the territory. As such any scientific theory is a creation and the formulation of such theory is a creative act. Relativity is a model of reality. It is almost certainly flawed at a fundamental level - either incomplete or inadequate to the task of modelling the quantum world. If it were simply 'discovered' then it existed, as an entity, before Einstein. I don't believe that is true, just as I don't believe there was a theory of universal gravitation simply waiting for Newton to arrive. I would certainly agree that if not Newton or Einstein then somebody else would almost certainly have arrived at similar, if not identical, theories - there is a certain inevitability in this - but imagine that Newton had taken the radical step of not just accepting Galilean relativity, but also postulating a fixed velocity of light in all frames. He would have arrived at Special Relativity centuries early, and his theory of universal gravitation would never have been 'born'. That theory would not exist in potentia waiting to be 'found', it would simply have never existed because it was never created.
asnani04
Neither. Theories aren't invented or discovered - they are given.

For example, Newton's laws of motion were a discovery. But Einstein's theory of relativity can't be termed as a discovery - it was a theory, and is a theory, given by that great man! So, theories are given.

Take again Faraday's theories, Rutherford's atomic model, Dalton's atomic theory...and there we get a perfect synchronization between thought process, theory and discovery. Certainly not an invention, I suppose. Rolling Eyes Shocked
abhinavm24
Confused
umm, but for sure theories are invented.
refering to the two term specifically by their meaning,

Idea invention-a new entrant to our scene after the complex process of its definition is done by *inventor*
Idea discovery-something which has been a part of our world just lying there adminst of hidden world of possibilities waiting for someone to unfold the hidden treasure of knowledge to the world.

Arrow Theories are invented as they wern't a part of our world ,none existed before that great grand idea(s) came to the ofcourse great persons!-inventor of the theory(specifically not the discoverer of the same).
Wink
Bikerman
So was the triangle an invention? What about the number 2?
Caexkepesk
Theory (the·o·ry) - noun: a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained. In example "Darwin's theory of evolution"

By definition a theory would not be discovered. You don't discover a system of ideas. You discover an event or object and in turn that discovery makes you invent or postulate a theory to explain and aid in the understanding of what that discovery really is or means. So on a purely technical level a discovery causes a theory to be needed. The only way you could really "discover" a theory is if someone in the past actually formed one, wrote it down and locked it away, then years later you "discovered" it where they put it. For a theory to exist someone had to put effort and thought into creating it.
Pippo90
As you mentioned evolution in your first post, I would say theories are developed.
jamesparker
Theories are invented after observations and experiments.
mshafiq
Theories are neither invented or discovered. They are just proposed or put forwarded. Am I right guys?
spinout
So discovery is not supported if I read the postings...
Hm, the movie character Indiana Jones maybe disagree - if he found the rosetta stone then he could both have discovered something that led to an invention. It is a case of the memory, forgotten inventions ...
JoryRFerrell
A Scientific Theory is defined as follows:

"A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method, and repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation."

A theory is therefore not invented. It is a collection of stats, observations, evidence.
You don't create the evidence. It already exists. Gravity wasn't created. Therefore the explanation for why things fall was (EDIT: WASN'T) created/invented. A theory is generated by observation. To create a theory would make it separate of the thing being explained. If it's dependent upon the thing which it describes, I would say that by a technicality, that makes it a discovery.
JoryRFerrell
Gagnar The Unruly wrote:
I agree. A theory is an invention and not a discovery. In the case of evolution, the process of evolution was discovered, but theories of evolution are invented.


Butttt, the "theory" itself was only formulated by observation of the discovery. It relied on evidence.
It was made from empirical evidence. Would you say that you invented a schematic of a pre-existing computer chip if you basically drew the design from a computer chip? Technically you have invented nothing. You made a representation in paper form, but that's not an invention, it's just an act of recording something. It would be different if you drew a design for a completely new circuit. Then you would have created the phenomenon AND the theory for it's operation. Technically, there is only one reality for any given issue. Like, again, Gravity which has a theory explaining it's full function by virtue of simply existing, before ever being discovered, and it only has one explanation, so you can't even claim that you invented an interpretation of it's attributes.
Bikerman
A theory isn't simply the result of observation. It must account for observation, certainly, but many hypotheses can do that most of the time. It must fit with existing knowledge and, ideally, pull in observations from an area previously thought distinct. Then we know we have the most powerful of new theories - a unifying theory that unites two previously distinct fields into one. Examples would be electromagnetic theory unifying electricity and magnetism thanks, largely, to Maxwell and co; symmetry breaking showing how the weak and em forces unify at t='not much'; and so on....
Gravity is a good case in point. Newtonian mechanics work fine for most purposes. Einstein is needed in a few rare cases (such as GPS) where accuracy is critical. NEITHER of them tell us how gravity actually WORKS. Yes, bends in space-time is, at least, more descriptive than f=ma therefore f=mg (why?), but it doesn't explain what is going on at the particle level, which is the way we understand everything else in physics. Observation will be used to test any GUT, eventually, but there is a deal of creativity, imagination and lateral-thinking required, methinks, before we get down to experimental predictions....first we need something to test....
As for there being one truth - I agree, but the map is never the territory so there may be many maps for each truth.
JoryRFerrell
spinout wrote:
So discovery is not supported if I read the postings...
Hm, the movie character Indiana Jones maybe disagree - if he found the rosetta stone then he could both have discovered something that led to an invention. It is a case of the memory, forgotten inventions ...


While the invention may have resulted from the stone, the "theory" of the stones intention existed prior to any invention later derived from it.
JoryRFerrell
Bikerman wrote:

As for there being one truth - I agree, but the map is never the territory so there may be many maps for each truth.


I agree to a point, but consider the fact that just because the map is of finite detail doesn't mean you have invented what the map describes. The map is meant to represent something which you haven't created. You do you best to represent the phenomenon/object, but in the end, that object has a discrete
set of properties. Attempting to faithfully record those properties isn't really an invention. If I record the structure of a strand of DNA, my record might be imperfect, but it's still just a record of something which existed before I got involved.

You make a point that we have a general idea of how gravity works, and I think you are claiming proof for "invention" of a theory is that we don't yet fully know how gravity works. But that doesn't matter.
We observe the phenomenon and try to compare our observations, and find how they fit in with existing theories. But in the end, in this case, all we do is rely on indirect observations to record a phenomenon. Again, we may not know fully how gravity works, but it has one way of working.
In the end, we can't invent the laws which govern it's operation. They are set in stone. So how can we invent the theory describing those attributes when the theory is simply a strict recording of facts based on observations, whether they be direct, or indirect? We have technically invented nothing.
Everything already existed. We are just acknowledging it's properties. If we are wrong in our recording, then maybe we have invented an incorrect possibility, a fiction, but the second we actually record the true reality, we lose the credit for invention. Hell, if I am tasked with recording the notes for a song by ear, I may make an imperfect record of the song. I have therefore invented a new version of the song, but my "theory" of the song is not correct. So technically it's not the one right theory belonging to that particular song. As soon as I have recorded the song, note for note, I can not take credit for inventing a song (the song), or it's theory, because the theory belongs to the song itself.
It owns it's own record of operation.

I would think that the "theory" for how something works should be, and is tied to it's existence, from the moment it begins to exist. So therefore it would have to be discovered, not invented.
Bikerman
But here the map IS invented. A physical theory doesn't 'look like' the thing it models, it isn't an analogue or a copy of any sort. So when, for example, we say that Universal Gravitation is equal to
then we invented the concepts - such as constants, variables, algebra. We also invented the notion of one mass as distinct from another - there is no intrinsic reason why one should regard, say, earth and moon as two distinct entities. One could imagine them as a single whole. Then we invented the idea that we can describe a particular observed behaviour as 'falling' and built the idea of forces to explain it. It works pretty well, but it is only a construct and EInsteins different construct showed the limits of that particular construct.
You seem to be taking an extreme Platonist position - ie that mathematical 'truth' is all out there and all we do is find it. That is a line which many mathematicians would secretly agree with, but it is very hard to defend it against rigorous challenge.
JoryRFerrell
Bikerman wrote:
But here the map IS invented. A physical theory doesn't 'look like' the thing it models, it isn't an analogue or a copy of any sort. So when, for example, we say that Universal Gravitation is equal to
then we invented the concepts - such as constants, variables, algebra. We also invented the notion of one mass as distinct from another - there is no intrinsic reason why one should regard, say, earth and moon as two distinct entities. One could imagine them as a single whole. Then we invented the idea that we can describe a particular observed behaviour as 'falling' and built the idea of forces to explain it. It works pretty well, but it is only a construct and EInsteins different construct showed the limits of that particular construct.
You seem to be taking an extreme Platonist position - ie that mathematical 'truth' is all out there and all we do is find it. That is a line which many mathematicians would secretly agree with, but it is very hard to defend it against rigorous challenge.


Your argument about the earth and moon is basically a matter of discrete vs non-discrete math. Some things have a finite,discrete value. So the moon and it's particles are absolutely separate from those of earths, and in terms of discrete math, they have a independent affect on
one another. To say they are one and the same, and no different, would definitely be an invention because it doesn't fit the reality. Again, this theory of separate-yet-same identities would be an invention on your part, but as soon as your record matches the true reality, that the moon and earth are made of discretely separate particles, it's no longer an invention, it's a record.
It wouldn't matter how you record, the properties you record are not something you made, but which already existed. Each atom of my body is a discrete entity. It has a quantitatively different value from the others. They are definitely separate. That isn't a matter of convention or symbolism on my part, it's inherent in the particles and physics which govern them. We didn't invent the idea of falling. Falling existed, and we simply acknowledged the discrete part of reality that we fall. We may have invented symbols, but that doesn't mean we invent the way, what we describe with those symbols, works.

This is actually why we have so many religious folks who don't believe in evolution. They think it's something we "invented" which doesn't match the reality. But what they are not realizing is that the Theory isn't created. It's recorded. A record is fundamentally different from creation of the phenomenon to be recorded. They think we are pulling it out of thin air. God itself is an invention. But if God existed, he wouldn't be an invention (on our part...maybe Zeus's?). To have a tested, text-book-definition scientific theory of his existence by poking him (if he could be poked) could only exist if he existed to be tested in the first place. Otherwise it's not a true scientific theory because scientific theories only exist after being proven. If he doesn't exist, nothing can be tested, and claiming a Scientific Theory which explains his existence would absolutely be an invention because nothing exists to test, thereby defying the definition of a honest scientific theory.
Bikerman
JoryRFerrell wrote:
Your argument about the earth and moon is basically a matter of discrete vs non-discrete math. Some things have a finite,discrete value. So the moon and it's particles are absolutely separate from those of earths, and in terms of discrete math, they have a independent affect on one another.
Their 'independence' is arbitrary and this notion of discreet value is a red herring. One can quantise the universe into any number of discreet 'quantities' as you chose - and it IS a matter of subjective choice.
Why is the earth ONE unit and the moon another? The notion that it is absolutely separate is simply wrong. They are gravitationally linked, for one, but they also exchange particles continuously. Saying they are 'discreet' is no more or less objective than saying Africa is 'discreet' from Asia - it is subjective. It suits us to regard the spatial separation as defining two discreet units - but it makes just as much sense (arguably more sense) to regard them as ONE unit, since they are one orbiting unit amongst several others around the Sun. Or, from a different viewpoint, they are simply components of a unitary solar system, and have no discreet existence at all.
Quote:
To say they are one and the same, and no different, would definitely be an invention because it doesn't fit the reality. Again, this theory of separate-yet-same identities would be an invention on your part, but as soon as your record matches the true reality, that the moon and earth are made of discretely separate particles, it's no longer an invention, it's a record.
Nope. They are not 'discreet' in any universal sense, as I explained above. Take a different viewpoint and the 'reality' is different. Yes, the view that they are distinct entities is ONE valid definition, but there are an almost infinite number of equally valid distinctions in which they are NOT distinct entities and whether they are or are not depends entirely on your choice of criteria.
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It wouldn't matter how you record, the properties you record are not something you made, but which already existed. Each atom of my body is a discrete entity. It has a quantitatively different value from the others.
Sure about that are you? Presumably you define 'atom' as nucleus with orbiting electrons? But they don't actually exist like that when you look. Most of the time you have groups of nuclei with clouds of electrons moving around between them. From an observational point of view it would make more sense to simply count the electrons and nuclei as discreet units rather than defining a theoretical construct called an 'atom' which has n electrons. That's not what we observe.
Quote:
They are definitely separate. That isn't a matter of convention or symbolism on my part, it's inherent in the particles and physics which govern them. We didn't invent the idea of falling. Falling existed, and we simply acknowledged the discrete part of reality that we fall. We may have invented symbols, but that doesn't mean we invent the way, what we describe with those symbols, works.
Ahh now it gets even more hairy....
Falling? What nonsense is this? What does 'falling' mean? Being 'pulled'? Is that it? If we don't resist the 'pull' then is that what you call falling? So falling is simply f=ma? Some force pulls or pushes, and we move...that is falling? OK. It seems a pretty useless concept though, since it is what everything does all the time.....a bit like defining a new word 'PLUGERT' and defining it as that subgroup of the universal set which exists in the universal set - sort of redundant.....
Ahh, but Einstein tells us that there is no force. It is all simply travelling in different paths through space-time which is curved by matter.
So which of these is 'reality'? Neither? Either? Both?
What we generally mean by 'falling' is an entirely arbitrary definition of unrestrained movement in response to one particular space-time kink caused by an arbitrarily defined entity we call 'earth'. This is no more real than the view that we are continually 'falling' into the Sun, or that we are 'falling' in a complex path caused by the movement through the galactic plane. We have plenty of different explanations for the fact that we observe that when we drop things they tend to move 'down'. Newton and Einstein are the best (in that they most closely model our observations) but I can easily imagine other models which are equally accurate for our tests and which use entirely different fundamental concepts.

As for this being a religious opt-out - no. Just because there may be many valid models for observations which are based on different concepts and paradigms, that doesn't mean that all models are valid. When ANY model is contradicted by observation then it is INVALID. The religious do not accept this fundamental truth which is why religion has nothing useful to say about reality.
JoryRFerrell
Quote:
Their 'independence' is arbitrary and this notion of discreet value is a red herring. One can quantize the universe into any number of discreet 'quantities' as you chose - and it IS a matter of subjective choice. Why is the earth ONE unit and the moon another? The notion that it is absolutely separate is simply wrong. They are gravitationally linked, for one, but they also exchange particles continuously. Saying they are 'discreet' is no more or less objective than saying Africa is 'discreet' from Asia - it is subjective. It suits us to regard the spatial separation as defining two discreet units - but it makes just as much sense (arguably more sense) to regard them as ONE unit, since they are one orbiting unit amongst several others around the Sun. Or, from a different viewpoint, they are simply components of a unitary solar system, and have no discreet existence at all.


Africa is separate from Asia, due to tectonic plates. Anyways, in the end, just because things form groups and we assign names to groups, does not mean we invented the groups. These particles are discrete entities. We may share electrons in our body, but that is simply a regrouping of discrete particles. No matter what, they are discrete from each-other. If they were the same, nothing would exist because nothing would interact, with there being no potential difference in energy and mass from one entity or another. Discrete entities are necessary for everything to exist. There has to be a logical 0, and logical 1, at the very least. Otherwise nothing can exist. If nothing was the same as something...there would be nothing because no object or phenomenon could be different from anything else, and everything would be a formless, uniform void. Discreteness is literally necessary for existence. In order to count, we must have discrete groups to count. We can rearrange these groups, but in the end, the groups we count are technically discrete.

If I have 10 stones, I have ten stones. I can break a stone in half, but that just means I reordered groups, and still now have 11 discrete groups of what I am counting at this point. It is not a matter of convention that the stones are separate from one another, because in the end, the very bases and particles that make them up are discrete and separate from the next. The electron shared between two atoms is not affected by every other single atom in existence as well. Why? Because it is separate. It CAN, if physics allows it to, form a bond with ALL other atoms, but it does not HAVE to, and it can do it's own thing, being separate. Despite gravity forming a link between earth and the moon, each is made up of discrete particles.

Each set of particles forms a discrete gravity well of it's own. The two main grouped gravity wells are not a convention or invention. They exist, and our math is used to record the extreme difference in potential between the two groups. This potential is a discrete value. It's not indiscrete is it? Same goes for inside our bodies. Atoms may share electrons in our bodies, but these particles are discrete nevertheless. My atoms are discrete from yours. I prove this by going about my day, largely independently of how you go about yours. So my atoms must be discrete and separate from yours. Some atoms from my body can flake off as skin, so these atoms must be discrete from every other atom in my body. They'd have to be or they could not separate. They'd have to be or I would not exist because every atoms would be the other, and I could not be a collection of discrete parts.



Quote:

Nope. They are not 'discreet' in any universal sense, as I explained above. Take a different viewpoint and the 'reality' is different. Yes, the view that they are distinct entities is ONE valid definition, but there are an almost infinite number of equally valid distinctions in which they are NOT distinct entities and whether they are or are not depends entirely on your choice of criteria.


I know their not 'discreet'. They have no need for shyness, and they are certainly not unnoticeable. They are however 'discrete' because of the difference in potential, as I explained above. LOL...J/K, J/K...
Seriously though, they each have distinctly different energy potentials. The atoms within each form their own energy potentials, and so on. Just because we choose to acknowledge a specific group of collective potentials, does not mean that we invented the earth or moons varying potential. It exists.
Each is discrete from the others grouped potential.

Quote:

Sure about that are you? Presumably you define 'atom' as nucleus with orbiting electrons? But they don't actually exist like that when you look. Most of the time you have groups of nuclei with clouds of electrons moving around between them. From an observational point of view it would make more sense to simply count the electrons and nuclei as discreet units rather than defining a theoretical construct called an 'atom' which has n electrons. That's not what we observe.


Again, at any given point, yes, electrons may be shared, but the nucleus's which share a given electron are not forced to share that electron with every other single atom in the universe. They can form a unique bond with it because it's a discrete entity. So if two nuclei share an electron, that trio is discrete from all the others as having this particular configuration of particles. That isn't a convention, it's a reality. We are not responsible for creating the idea of individuals being other separate entities because the grouped atoms have formed a discretely separate group from other people. Even in the case of quantum entanglement, the fact is that two particles do not HAVE to be entangled and can in fact be non-entangled. This is only possible because they are discrete units.
The ability to link and affect the other does not mean they are the same identity through and through.

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Ahh now it gets even more hairy....
Falling? What nonsense is this? What does 'falling' mean? Being 'pulled'? Is that it? If we don't resist the 'pull' then is that what you call falling? So falling is simply f=ma? Some force pulls or pushes, and we move...that is falling? OK. It seems a pretty useless concept though, since it is what everything does all the time.....a bit like defining a new word 'PLUGERT' and defining it as that subgroup of the universal set which exists in the universal set - sort of redundant.....
Ahh, but Einstein tells us that there is no force. It is all simply travelling in different paths through space-time which is curved by matter.
So which of these is 'reality'? Neither? Either? Both?
What we generally mean by 'falling' is an entirely arbitrary definition of unrestrained movement in response to one particular space-time kink caused by an arbitrarily defined entity we call 'earth'. This is no more real than the view that we are continually 'falling' into the Sun, or that we are 'falling' in a complex path caused by the movement through the galactic plane. We have plenty of different explanations for the fact that we observe that when we drop things they tend to move 'down'. Newton and Einstein are the best (in that they most closely model our observations) but I can easily imagine other models which are equally accurate for our tests and which use entirely different fundamental concepts.


I agree we created the word 'falling' to describe the action of gravity causing us to accelerate. However, we did not create the phenomenon which we describe by the word. If I want, I can use the word 'falling' to indicate the act of skateboarding. At this point however, no matter what I do, there is still a discrete action caused by gravity, and no matter what language I choose to use, the meaning will still be the same. I can choose to invent what ever words I want, but in the end, all I have invented is the words, "Nurfle etl yut hasd kil giddle civy pasle", and the action I use them to record remains the same. The order, and number, of the words required in my chosen form of recording, is dictated by something outside myself. That can't be an invention on my part. No matter what I do, a faithful record requires that what ever words I have assigned to the actions and objects needed to describe the phenomenon being recorded, must be used.

[/quote]
Bikerman
JoryRFerrell wrote:
Africa is separate from Asia, due to tectonic plates.
Bzzzz...incorrect. Asia, for example, has two main plates, so continents are not defined or delineated by plates, though there is a looser relationship and I don't wish to get needlessly pedantic.
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Anyways, in the end, just because things form groups and we assign names to groups, does not mean we invented the groups.
Yes, it does. Or, more accurately, we chose to select that particular grouping mechanism rather than an uncountable number of alternative criteria.
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These particles are discrete entities.
LOL...I thought you said atoms? Which is it? Atoms are constructs as I said - one grouping of fundamental particles which we define because it is useful. As for those particles being discreet entities...well, only sort-of...until the quantum wavefunction is 'collapsed' they exist as a probability function with no 'discreet' spatio-temporal existence.
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We may share electrons in our body, but that is simply a regrouping of discrete particles. No matter what, they are discrete from each-other.
Well, again I have to say no. Firstly, quantum theory actually means that all particles (say electrons) cannot be regarded as distinct or discreet and, as Brian Cox recently put it, a little clumsily, everything is connected with everything else. I'm happy to elaborate, but it will get heavy quickly because we will be talking about Hamiltonians and Eigenstates. I've included the lay explanation as a link. One simple way to picture it is to think about quantum entanglement. Are two entangled particles REALLY discreet?
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If they were the same, nothing would exist because nothing would interact, with there being no potential difference in energy and mass from one entity or another.
There is some potential confusion here. Firstly let's stick to either energy or mass - I don't mind which - talking about them as distinct categories isn't helpful. Next I did not say that all atoms are really one atom, so let's dispose of that possible meaning of 'same'. Neither did I say that all particles are identical, they aren't. But how are we defining particle? All electrons are identical and I'm pretty sure that photons are indistinguishable - in principle as well as theory.
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Discrete entities are necessary for everything to exist. There has to be a logical 0, and logical 1, at the very least. Otherwise nothing can exist. If nothing was the same as something...there would be nothing because no object or phenomenon could be different from anything else, and everything would be a formless, uniform void. Discreteness is literally necessary for existence.
Big claim. Prove it. Logical 1 and 0 do not mean 'nothing and something'. They mean 'true and false'. As for nothing and something....I'm not happy speculating because I don't even know if nothing is a real concept, let alone the details of what it might mean. Nobody has ever seen a 'nothing' so it always surprises me how willing people are to use the concept with such certainty...
Does it mean absence of particulate mass/energy? That is something though, dimensionally speaking. So absence of everything INCLUDING dimensionality? Put your analyst on danger money dude.....

Richard Feynman - not exactly a slouch in these matters - gave serious consideration to the 'single electron universe' hypothesis in which there is actually only one electron in the universe. This was proposed to him by his PhD referee John Wheeler - himself no slouch. In his own words:
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[Wheeler said to me] I know why all electrons have the same charge and the same mass" "Why?" "Because, they are all the same electron!" And, then he explained on the telephone, "suppose that the world lines which we were ordinarily considering before in time and space—instead of only going up in time were a tremendous knot, and then, when we cut through the knot, by the plane corresponding to a fixed time, we would see many, many world lines and that would represent many electrons, except for one thing. If in one section this is an ordinary electron world line, in the section in which it reversed itself and is coming back from the future we have the wrong sign to the proper time—to the proper four velocities—and that's equivalent to changing the sign of the charge, and, therefore, that part of a path would act like a positron."

I could then consider many-worlds physics in which every quantum event is resolved in a distinct universe - notions of distinctness and discreetness then become rather moot...
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In order to count, we must have discrete groups to count. We can rearrange these groups, but in the end, the groups we count are technically discrete.
You are sliding down the slope which ends in my point...let's watch...
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If I have 10 stones, I have ten stones. I can break a stone in half, but that just means I reordered groups, and still now have 11 discrete groups of what I am counting at this point.
Which is another way of saying - you decided what to count arbitrarily. It also means that 1 previously 'discrete' member of the set has now become 2 and has the potential of becoming a huge number. This could be problematic for our counting system...
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It is not a matter of convention that the stones are separate from one another, because in the end, the very bases and particles that make them up are discrete and separate from the next.
Oh dear, again I have to disagree. Firstly, imagine a stone which contains a standard mix of minerals - silicon, quartz, schist etc. Why is that one? Why is that not 3, 4 or more? In what way is it distinct or discrete? Your criterion seems to be an arbitrary change from one molecule type to another - in this case a group of molecules which we call minerals and a group of molecules which we call air. That is one possible grouping system amongst many and it is no more or less arbitrary than counting by groups of similar molecule - which gives a completely different answer. In fact that would be a better system methinks, since it would avoid the problem with yours (the 10 becomes 11 scenario). THAT seems very arbitrary to me....
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The electron shared between two atoms is not affected by every other single atom in existence as well. Why? Because it is separate.
Well, no, sorry, 'tis not so. Aside from the single-electron universe hypothesis, modern QM disagrees. But even if we just stick to a small clump of molecules, the point at which you begin counting is arbitrary. Do you count the group as a discreet unit? Or the nuclei as distinct units? Or the quarks in the nuclei? The notion that there is some universally obvious demarcation system which distinguishes entities unambiguously, and which is real (by which, philosophically, we mean it is independent of mind - it exists distinct from any observer and in no way depends on that observer) seems to me to be insupportable. At best there are a huge number of potential systems and our selection of one or more is therefore an arbitrary and non-real selection, because other 'minds' could select a different one with no less validity.
I'll leave the rest since it is largely an extension of the above and if I am correct about the above then the rest falls necessarily....
Be clear what I am saying. This is not some woo-woo 'observing makes reality' crap. I am not disputing the fact that we can both agree that a stone is a stone and distinct from other stones. Neither am I asserting that our distinction is invalid or simply invented. I am saying that it is ONE method of arranging the universe which produces ONE way of thinking and measuring it, and that it is not necessarily (or even probably) any more valid than an uncountable number of other methods which could be employed with equal facility/accuracy (by which, I think we can agree, I mean correspondence to observation). So there are at least 5 possible ways of interpreting quantum physics. All account for our observations and are identical in that respect. In a wider context, however, they are hugely different. Many-worlds interpretation is one, Copenhagen is another, supersymmetric string theory (M theory) is another, Loop Quantum Gravity is another and some even cling to a hidden variables model. You might say that in time this will converge on the one 'true' model, but I say that you cannot assert that with any confidence, let alone proof. It could be that the predictions made are beyond our ability to measure practically, but it could be that they are, in principia, unmeasurable. Many worlds might be one such...but it is worth remembering that probably a majority of physicists believe it is the correct model...so which of them was 'discovered' and which was 'invented'? And this is OLD physics, if we come a bit more up to date then it just keeps getting worse for the Platonist...the hologram hypothesis, for example, blows all notions of 'real' out of sight, since none of it is real, simply a hologram of reality projected onto a surface which we think of as spacetime. Was this hypothesis discovered or invented?

Here's one thought that might be useful and should certainly be provocative:
If a universe is a collection of discreet entities as you posit, then why count? Why would we have any numbers above 1? To say there are 2 of a thing is to say that we consider them to be the same because of some arbitrary properties they share, rather than acknowledging that they are in fact discrete non-identical entities...
And before anyone dismisses this too quickly....there is empirical data. We know of one group of intelligent beings that manage perfectly well with no concept of counting - Google Pirahã tribe
quanmechanix
In my opinion, theories are either invented or discovered. Smile

At first, it is a discovery because you can't invent or label a theory not until you know what that phenomenon is all about and what it does. You can only invent or label a theory once you have made an idea about the phenomenon and you have an intelligent guess on how it occurs and what does that phenomenon do. Very Happy
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