Tuesday Highlights

And so it goes, another world leader steps off the stage.

  1. Not that way however. Yikes.
  2. A climate question.
  3. A book noted.
  4. Liturgy.
  5. If you don’t laugh, your having a really really bad week.
  6. Someday we’ll find out what the Obamacare supporters were smoking when they supposed longer hours, more uncertainty, less pay would attract more the field.
  7. They will, however, insist it wasn’t this.
  8. A question is posed. Woops, that was a follow-up. Start here.
  9. merica.
  10. Won’t be sold here.
  11. Matrix and cellular automata have some challenges.
  12. Thoughts on nuclear Iran. And … why you really really need to read that last linked post.
  13. Our un-serious President. Alas. Don’t look at me, I didn’t vote for him.
  14. And to finish off, what hard riding man puts on his shelf. Wow.

16 Responses to Tuesday Highlights

  1. 6.Someday we’ll find out what the Obamacare supporters were smoking when they supposed longer hours, more uncertainty, less pay would attract more the field.

    Wow, I didn’t realize Obamacare was three decades old!

    But more seriously this seems to be less about evil Obamacare and more about market adjustment. Consider:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2013/02/american_doctors_are_overpaid_medicare_is_cheaper_than_private_insurance.html

    The last time the OECD looked at this (PDF), they found that, adjusted for local purchasing power, America has the highest-paid general practitioners in the world. And our specialists make more than specialists in every other country except the Netherlands. What’s even more striking, as the Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff observed last week, these highly paid doctors don’t buy us more doctors’ visits. Canada has about 25 percent more doctors’ consultations per capita than we do, and the average rich country has 50 percent more. This doctor compensation gap is hardly the only issue in overpriced American health care—overpriced medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, prescription drugs, and administrative overhead are all problems—but it’s a huge deal.

    Simple market dynamics. If a profession was overpaid, you’d expect lots of people to try to enter it. Likewise, those who pay for are going to try to cut back on their pay or make them do more.

    Ask doctors what the theme of the last 3 decades has been and you’ll probably be told it’s insurance companies telling them they have to bill less per visit, see more patients per hour and see their billings get more scrutiny. If the ‘party is coming to an end’ it’s not surprising fewer people would be trying to get to it.

  2. Boonton,
    I’m unclear on how you think this was not exacerbated by Obamacare.

  3. I’m unclear how you think Obamacare has created ‘longer lines’ in doctors offices? Let’s leave aside the logical problem of why a long line inside a doctors office would be a bad thing from their POV. Do business owners often hate to see customers lines up for their services?

    Even so given that the law is not even 2 years old and not even fully implemented explain how it has caused longer lines in doctors offices and less pay for docs?

    I’m also unclear why you think the change is a bad thing. If some sector is getting paid more than average for doing less work the natural market reaction would be to lower pay in that sector and/or demand the workers do more work.

  4. 11.Matrix and cellular automata have some challenges.

    Indeed but I think he is a bit too hard on the idea. Clearly we simulate the universe with massive computers, it seems at some point if our simulations get more and more sophisticated, more and more granular, at some point we are going to have something like a ‘universe in a box’. If that ‘universe in a box’ is simulating an entire universe on an atomic or subatomic scale, then it follows that it will contain simulated intelligences who will be running their own universe simulations on their own simulated giant computers. At a certain point you realize for any one ‘real universe’ you’ll end up with numerous simulated universes all over the place. Then the question is what are the odds we are the ones living in the ‘true universe’ as opposed to one of the countless simulations spawned by a single ‘true universe’?

  5. Boonton,

    Clearly we simulate the universe with massive computers, it seems at some point if our simulations get more and more sophisticated, more and more granular, at some point we are going to have something like a ‘universe in a box’.

    Relativity is a pretty fundamental and well proven thing. Making cellular automata Lorentz invariant hasn’t been done and nobody even knows how to start attacking that problem. What simulations are you talking about? How is relativity and Lorentz invariance applicable. Let’s make that statement stronger. What we know of as cellular automata (and matrix rules) are not Lorentz invariant. Our universe is clearly Lorentz invariant. Ergo, our Universe it not a matrix/cellular simulation.

    If that ‘universe in a box’ is simulating an entire universe

    … then of those entities are us, it’s not cellular automata which are not Lorentz invariant.

  6. How is relativity and Lorentz invariance applicable. Let’s make that statement stronger. What we know of as cellular automata (and matrix rules) are not Lorentz invariant.

    Question: Could you make an online game with POV things like space travel be Lorentz invariant? If so you’ve simulated a non-binary universe in a binary box.

  7. Boonton,
    Let me put it simply. In a Lorentz invariant universe there is no preferred inertial frame. In a cellular/matrix world the matrix/cells provide exactly that thing which does not exist in a invariant universe. There is “a thing at rest” with respect to the substrate, there is a preferred time, simultaneity at different points in spacetime has meaning.

  8. Yes but you’re confusing what ‘is’ versus ‘can be measured’. I can build a mock spaceship for you to ‘train’ in and feed its computer screens data that would be consistent with it flying through the ‘real universe’. Any experiment you do flying the simulated spaceship will give you the feedback from a non-cellular/matrix universe yet that feedback is indeed coming from a type of celluar system.

    Which goes back to our models of universes. If we can have a universe simulated at the atomic scale, then that sim-universe is going to have to contain sim-people who are doing experiments that indicate ‘their universe’ is not celluar…even though it is.

  9. Boonton,
    Let’s separate two things, “video games with Lorentz invariance” and matrix/cellular automata. A CA/Matrix simulation has a variable assigned for each small region in space. It evolves conditions based on the surrounding local neighborhood in each pass of the engine. Time moves forward as the simulation evolves. There is a preferred time, i.e., each execute slice propagating through the matrix. As well, there is a preferred coordinate frame, namely the matrix itself.

    And no, I don’t think you could simulate a POV Lorentz invariant multi-player game. How would time move differently for different players. How would you work that. Is there not a preferred “time” axis?

  10. Boonton,

    I can build a mock spaceship for you to ‘train’ in and feed its computer screens data that would be consistent with it flying through the ‘real universe’.

    You simulate g-forces how? Two of us are doing a simulation … each in our own spaceship. How do you simulate relative perception of the passage of time?

    If we can have a universe simulated at the atomic scale …

    How? How do you do that? How to you propagate “time” in that scenario? This sets aside questions of quantum mechanics and Bell’s inequality. No hidden variables are allowed to determine the outcome of a quantum decision … remember that … so if you simulate an quantum event … no computer program can be used to “pick” an outcome. That would be hidden vars.

    CA/Matrix then have two problems. Bell and Lorentz.

    The other thing is a “simulation” like a video game is top down, it’s not a CA/Matrix model which were started discussing. Sim City (the game) at the outset was a top down game that pretended to be bottom up, i.e., the game used a set of rules and equations to determine outcomes. Now it more akin to the CA/matrix model, in which sims (citizens) have properties and they interact locally … producing aggregate behavior which is reported. This is more like “reality” but … it has a preferred time-frame and is not Lorentz invariant. It can’t become our universe merely by adding (many) orders of magnitude of computational power and detail.

    Some of the theory group back when I was in school had some calculations that suggested that the smallest computer with the power to simulate reality at sufficient detail to ape reality is in fact the actual (real) universe. Computation takes energy, uses entropy it doesn’t come for free. Notice those high power high end video games simulating (amazingly detailed … but when you really look at it … so flawed in so many ways, cheating in so many) … run very hot … and draw a considerable amount of power … Cray’s real breakthroughs in early supercomputers were not because he was so amazing at electronics, software, but his real talent lie in cooling electronics. He could run his CPUs hotter (and hence faster), because he had a real expertise/talent at pulling heat away.

  11. And no, I don’t think you could simulate a POV Lorentz invariant multi-player game. How would time move differently for different players. How would you work that. Is there not a preferred “time” axis?

    Players that interact with each other must do so via some shared time just as in real life. If players are not interacting with each other (such as in galaxies beyond the visible universe), then their ‘different times’ would produce no problems.

    I wonder if this is really the only way to make a ‘celluar universe’.

    You simulate g-forces how? Two of us are doing a simulation … each in our own spaceship. How do you simulate relative perception of the passage of time?

    I think you’re missing the problem with the analogy to video games. How can you tell when playing Call of Duty that you are in a combat simulation? You examine your senses from outside the game environment. You feel no heat from the blasts, you can’t smell smoke, you miss the feeling of guns recoiling on you as you fire them etc. In other words you are able to call upon observations from outside the simulation to judge the simulation itself. But if you are part of the simulation you don’t have this ability to ‘step outside’ and see what might be missing.

    Computation takes energy, uses entropy it doesn’t come for free. Notice those high power high end video games simulating (amazingly detailed … but when you really look at it … so flawed in so many ways, cheating in so many) … run very hot … and draw a considerable amount of power

    As big as it is, our visible universe contains a finite amount of matter/energy which means a computational simulation of it would consume a finite amount of energy in a larger universe containing it. Since we can’t access outside the simulation, we have no idea what the energy economics would be in the larger universe. Likewise a universe we simulate might exploit shortcuts to limit the amount of energy used (such as ‘summarizing’ the calculation in ‘uninteresting’ corners of the the simverse) or we might simply do a more complete simulation of a smaller universe.

  12. Boonton,

    As big as it is, our visible universe contains a finite amount of matter/energy which means a computational simulation of it would consume a finite amount of energy in a larger universe containing it

    Right. And the suggestion was that a simulation of our universe would take the same amount of energy to simulate (or more if you were less efficient).

    I think you’re missing the problem with the analogy to video games.

    No. Remember your Mr Tompkins (Mr Tompkins in Paperback (now reprinted) was a very simple accessible popularization of quantum mechanics and relativity by a leading physicist, which I recommend(ed) to people who were interested in good accounts of such. It was by George Gamow … the guy who theorized the microwave background as the first experimental confirmation of the Big Bang). Acceleration is what tells the twin (in the Einstein twins paradox) which one is experiencing time dilation and which isn’t. Look at the twins looking at the other. Both see the “other” accelerate away and return. Only one experiences slowed time. Which one? The one which accelerated.

    Players that interact with each other must do so via some shared time just as in real life.

    If this is only a single player game … how are you are testing Lorentz invariance?

  13. Boonton,
    On the single vs multiplayer, much of the interesting effects of Lorentz invariance with notion that the physics of the universe should appear the same from rotated (in 4-space) frames, but that different things might appear differently to observers in different frames. You need more than one observer to simulate/test that.

  14. Well let’s keep it simple, two player game that simulates spaceships capable of near light speed travel. Why could the simulation not produce the output that would be required?

    In fact, consider what it means to ‘test’ things like relativity and Lrentz invariance (which you’ll have to explain to me sometime). We construct a model of what should happen using paper, pencil, or thesedays maybe a computer. We then make some specialized observation of the universe using telescopes, light rays or whatnot and see of they conform to the prediction. In order to test our theory it seems we first need a scaled down simulated universe. Might not it make sense to someday build a simulated universe 1 billion LY in radius? If so whose to say we aren’t a 14 BLY simulated universe sitting inside a trillion LY one?

  15. Boonton,
    Lorentz invariance. … In 3-dimensional space (not relativity) … physics is rotationally and transitionally invariant. You can shift, or rotate your frame of reference and the physical universe looks the same (which via Noether which we talked about before, means momentum and angular momentum are conserved). In a four dimensional universe (like ours) time is the fourth dimension. In three dimensions, rotations and translations can be represented by matrix operations on coordinates. “Rotations” in 4 space are analogous. When you rotate into the time dimension you don’t just move, you “boost”, i.e., your velocity changes. Part of the problem (which you’ve stepped past in some of this discussion) is that we don’t know how to make the cellular matrix, if that’s how you do your simulation, Lorentz invariant. Think of it this way. There is no “preferred” frame or reference in our universe. But in a matrix/cellular simulation, there is. The matrix itself provides a base “non boosted” coordinate frame. Two different observers one moving, one not moving in that matrix should see the same thing … but the moving guy sees the direction in which he’s moving shortened. How do you do that for the one guy and not the other within the matrix for the two entities in the matrix. Answer, you can’t. Ergo, a matrix/cellular simulation is not a way of simulating a relativistic universe. Our universe is relativistic, ergo if you want to think of us a a simulation it isn’t that sort.

    Ok. One player decides to putter around a planet and the other zips off to a far away star and back. The first guy spends 2 years playing his game, the other experiences 2 weeks of play time. How did you do that? Look, you can probably do 4 dimensional ray-tracing that allows your perception of the universe to reflect the distortions of special relativity. What you have difficulty doing is mulitplayer, how do you simulate for the two different players different passage of time. There is a “preferred” time axis, shared by that of the player and the simulator.

    Might not it make sense to someday build a simulated universe 1 billion LY in radius? If so whose to say we aren’t a 14 BLY simulated universe sitting inside a trillion LY one?

    That’s not where we started. We started by pointing out a matrix or cellular simulation won’t be Lorentz invariant, and therefore won’t be how you do you simulation. The other point was, from Dan Friedan at U of C, the suggestion that it would take an computer at least as big and as energy expensive as our actual universe to simulate our universe. At which point, what does simulation mean?

  16. Boonton,
    There are ways around the lattice problem. Just not cellular ones.

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