Yet another weird SF fan


I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

Go to first entry


 

Archives

<< current
 
E-mail address:
jhertzli AT ix DOT netcom DOT com


My Earthlink/Netcom Site

My Tweets

My other blogs
Small Sample Watch
XBM Graphics


The Former Four Horsemen of the Ablogalypse:
Someone who used to be sane (formerly War)
Someone who used to be serious (formerly Plague)
Rally 'round the President (formerly Famine)
Dr. Yes (formerly Death)

Interesting weblogs:
Back Off Government!
Bad Science
Blogblivion
Boing Boing
Debunkers Discussion Forum
Deep Space Bombardment
Depleted Cranium
Dr. Boli’s Celebrated Magazine.
EconLog
Foreign Dispatches
Good Math, Bad Math
Greenie Watch
The Hand Of Munger
Howard Lovy's NanoBot
Hyscience
Liberty's Torch
The Long View
My sister's blog
Neo Warmonger
Next Big Future
Out of Step Jew
Overcoming Bias
The Passing Parade
Peter Watts Newscrawl
Physics Geek
Pictures of Math
Poor Medical Student
Prolifeguy's take
The Raving Theist
RealityCarnival
Respectful Insolence
Sedenion
Seriously Science
Shtetl-Optimized
Slate Star Codex
The Speculist
The Technoptimist
TJIC
Tools of Renewal
XBM Graphics
Zoe Brain

Other interesting web sites:
Aspies For Freedom
Crank Dot Net
Day By Day
Dihydrogen Monoxide - DHMO Homepage
Fourmilab
Jewish Pro-Life Foundation
Libertarians for Life
The Mad Revisionist
Piled Higher and Deeper
Science, Pseudoscience, and Irrationalism
Sustainability of Human Progress


























Yet another weird SF fan
 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A JavaScript Bug and Stephen Hawking's Theology

I just found that a JavaScript program I had been working on had a bug in it: Some of the variables had not been initialized and, instead of being empty strings, printed out “undefined” when I tried displaying them. I then realized I had made the same mistake Stephen Hawking had made when he said:

Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist. … It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going.
According to Stephen Hawking's theory, the universe as we know it can develop from the cosmological equivalent of an empty string. (Actually, I'm not so sure about that. His theory might involve the universe developing from zero, which requires even more to be defined.) Zero is not the same as undefined. If a physicist says he has evidence the universe started from zero, the question of how the zero was created is not meaningless.

I'm reminded of a famous anecdote about teaching statistics:

One of my college professors liked to ask his classes, “What is the difference between zero and nothing?” After allowing the students several minutes of metaphysical and sophomoric discussion he would write “0” and say, “That's zero.” Then, with a flourish he would erase the zero explaining, “And that's nothing.”
To a physicist, the differences between undefined, nothing, and zero might seem like quibbling. To a mathematician or a computer programmer, it's not.

Digression: The theory, by the way, is still speculative. If I recall correctly, the “no-boundary” condition requires a finite universe and it is currently unknown if the universe is finite or infinite. On the other hand, that really is just quibbling.

To return to the creation question: Some people have been claiming that it makes sense to assume this universe is a simulation running in a larger universe. I'd like to see a debate between those people and Stephen Hawking.

2 Comments:

Blogger lightning bulb said...

While it's not necessary to invoke God, it's also not possible to exclude him.

10:49 AM  
Blogger lightning bulb said...

While it's not necessary to invoke God, it's still not possible to exclude Him.

10:50 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

 
Profiles
My Blogger Profile
eXTReMe Tracker X-treme Tracker

Site Meter
The Atom Feed This page is powered by Blogger.