For questions about epistemology in the context of physics - what knowledge is, and how we arrive at it.

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4
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1answer
175 views

Why does math work for describing and solving physics problems? [closed]

The clarified version As far as I understand, Wigner considers a "miracle" the fact that it is even possible to find a mathematical equation that describes a natural phenomenon. It is not exactly ...
9
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8answers
11k views

Can a scientific theory ever be absolutely proven?

I personally cringe when people talk about scientific theories in the same way we talk about everyday theories. I was under the impression a scientific theory is similar to a mathematical proof; ...
4
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3answers
580 views

Is a theory the same as a hypothesis? [duplicate]

“Any physical theory is always provisional, in the sense that it is only a hypothesis: you can never prove it.” Excerpt from Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, iBooks. So does that ...
21
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11answers
2k views

Why can't the outcome of a QM measurement be calculated a-priori?

Quantum Mechanics is very successful in determining the overall statistical distribution of many measurements of the same process. On the other hand, it is completely clueless in determining the ...
1
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1answer
73 views

Is contemporary physics interpreted in an instrumentalist way? [closed]

I'm a master student in theoretical physics and the reason why I choose this career is far more related to the "philosophical beauty" of physics, than to my personal ability or skills. This, in some ...
6
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5answers
866 views

Is the wave function objective or subjective?

Here is a question I am curious about. Is the wave function objective or subjective, or is such a question meaningless? Conventionally, subjectivity is as follows: if a quantity is subjective then ...
1
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0answers
43 views

How can a spinor represent an “epistemic” state?

I have read a lot of stuff on the seemingly endless debate on ontology/epistemology of the quantum state $\psi$. But I always wonder: how can a spinor be considered epistemic when $\psi$ really ...
4
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2answers
280 views

In what way are the Mathematical universe hypothesis and A New Kind of Science connected

The Mathematical universe hypothesis, mainly by Max Tegmark and A new Kind of Science, mainly by Stephen Wolfram both claim (as least as I understand it) that at its innermost core reality is ...
19
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6answers
3k views

Is there a difference between observing a particle and hitting it with another particle?

First, let me state that I'm a lot less experienced with physics than most people here. Quantum mechanics was as far as I got and that was about 9 years ago, with no use in the meantime. A lot of ...
0
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1answer
43 views

When experimental search for exotic dark matter-like particles began exactly?

I am looking for information about : what was the first experiment that claimed to look specifically for non baryonic dark matter particles ; when occurred the first serious(*) reporting of an ...
2
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1answer
380 views

How widespread is the meme “QM is counterintuitive” in academic physics? [closed]

I have recently entered university — studying CS — and I have spoken to many physics students on campus. Most of these — when propmted — will gladly proclaim that QM is ...
2
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0answers
95 views

Geometry and physics [closed]

I'm searching for references, articles and books, that discussed the geometrization of modern (and contemporary) physics, in a philosofical point of view. Something in the way that Michael Friedman ...
2
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4answers
4k views

Is there anything physically infinite?

I can't think of a single thing that could be infinite. Because the universe is expanding, isn't it? But there is an ever-changing barrier, so why could there be anything infinite, both ...
1
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2answers
528 views

Is the big desert hypothesis a wilder assumption than the see-saw mechanism to explain neutrino masses?

Sometimes I see comments about the big desert hypothesis that I don't understand. For instance in a famous blog : ...This is based on a renormalization group calculation extrapolating the Higgs ...
38
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10answers
3k views

What is the difference between a measurement and any other interaction in quantum mechanics?

We've learned that the wave function of a particle collapses when we measure a particle's location. If it is found, it becomes more probable to find it a again in the same area, and if not the ...
1
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2answers
702 views

The quantum state can be interpreted statistically, again

Now there are two papers The quantum state cannot be interpreted statistically http://arxiv.org/abs/1111.3328 (It was discussed here the consecuences of this "no-go theorem") And this one (two of ...
3
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3answers
620 views

Time travel and nuclear decay

Reading a previous closed question an interesting variation has come to my mind. Suppose that time travel to the past was possible: I wait for an atom to decay and measure the time, $t_{1a}$ I ...