Metaphors in Science


Any symbolic expression of a physical event,
whether in a mathematical language, computer language or
natural language, can have a positive or negative influence
on how we interpret that event. Such languages always convey
a metaphor which can be a very strong one (to the extent
we call these metaphors models of the physical event) or
very weak (to the extent we call them poetic, useless models
or just plain wrong).

For instance, the metaphor "lighting the candle" for "launching
a rocket" is not a very good one although it is poetic and
mostly useless.

A better symbolic metaphor would be "we are skating across space
in our sleds" because it conveys the information that ice-skaters 
know: that the lateral expansion and constriction of their
skates will propell them forward. And this is also modelled
in the expanding gas and its constriction in the combustion
chamber of the rocket engine resulting in a forward propulsion.

A natural language expression can in a metaphor, encode alot 
of physical insight in this manner and so can mathematics, but
all languages and even mathematics must be interpreted at some 
level as metaphors for the underlying physical processes (which
is why quantum (wave and particle metaphors) and relativity 
(space and time metaphors) theories have so many interpretive

When the language we use (especially mathematics) is so finely 
resolved that we notice the intrinsic disparities between it
and the physical processes, the only resort is to better understand
the way such generalized languages are used to "communicate 
information" and how they "effect control", in terms of whether
that information ultimately creates a physical backaction or not. 

Freud said "But there is nothing arbitrary or undetermined in 
psychic life." meaning that he seemed to think that people were 
incapable of commiting a purely random act, and this implies that 
the physical or non-psychic actions that we take, all have some 
basis in the information that we absorbed at some time in our lives.

This background of conscious or unconscious information, was 
always, to some extent great or small, affecting how we 
interpret the physical world (communicate with it) and act in it 
(control it). This implies that any _interpretation_ of a language,
or applied mathematical model, will be a very personal event 
at some level and particularly so at the finely resolved symbolic language 
levels used in quantum uncertainty and relativity theory where
there are almost as many micro-interpretations as there are people.
There are far fewer macro-interpretations like Copenhagen, Many-Worlds 
but we see the same effect in religions and philosophies were there 
are also many micro-interpretations (interpretations on specific points) 
but fewer macro-interpretations (interpretations on general points).

This all stems from the use of subjective metaphors, whether expressed in
applied mathematics, computer languages or natural languages, and how their
interpretations of the objective physical events effect what actions we
take whether in scientific measurements, or day-to-day life.

But even the physical world seems to communicate and "interpret" information
and respond to it, in terms of computers and in terms of atoms receiving
and interpreting information about what is near it an responding to 
that information. Some such physical "interpretations" are concrete
and literal like classical particle interactions, while others are 
more poetically interpretive like wave interactions where many 
"ethereal events" (wavefunctions) seems to guide the resulting physical 
responses in parallel.

But, no field of study like physics, likes to be absorbed into a "grand unified theory" along with many other fields like linguistics and philosophy which were thought to be "irrelevant". That kind of great change is uncomfortable and frightening but it is a consequence of searching for the ultimate theory of everything that such individualities are given up. Such a hypocratic attitude preserves practical immediate values though, and it is ironic that science's search for complete knowledge should lead it to an end, where practical values loose significance and more artistic values in terms of interpretations are adopted in its place. We live in the "now" where practical values are necessary and important, so the "theory of everthing" has little significance on that, and so physics and the other discretionary fields of science will always have their distinct places "in the present". There are some who worry that a "theory of everything" will "short circuit" all the potentials that in the past existed between the many fields of study and that this will result in a cataclysmic explosion and apocalypse. Indeed this is forseen in many religions and philosophies such as the apocalyptic end, when the towers of Brahma have completed their deterministic permutations; but there are more optimistic projections as well. The sand paintings of the Navajo suggest to us that each world which is painted upon is temporal and eventually comes to end and is blank-slated. We have been painting for a long time now on a finite "classical" canvas which has become so cluttered that it is unavoidable that we should be able to continue in this manner without one field of study "interfering" with another. But, the end of "the" world, is the end of "one" world in the Navajo context; symbolising a blank canvas to begin again from. This brave new world brought about by a "theory of everything" (TOE) need not be an end, as much as a new beginning where our finite canvas is replaced by a more infinite one, more suited to our more mature understanding of the world. The TOE, can herald a new second renaissance if we acknowledge and accept it together. Or, it can just as well herald our mutual destruction if we choose to stay with that stubborn individualism instilled into our thinking by reductionism and objectivism, as a core philosophy. In this case we have a well-prophesied future consisting of a melt-down of logic under its own energy within a finite Cartesian worldview. If we largely accept the new world brought on by TOE, we are not completely risk-free either. Overmodulation of its core ideas will result in its misinterpretations, and many cults, religious and idealistic wars will result. Many people will die in the new world brought on by a theory of everything. But this should not stop us from going forth; we can easily project a more dispicable demise in terms of a slower, incestious death if we reject the TOE. The new infinite canvas is worth fighting for. It is necessary for the survival of our species. Many people are inclined to be reductionists and objectivists and many are inclined to be spiritual and subjective. The infinite canvas will not destroy the _need_ for those tendencies. The need for objectivism is obvious in the laws of societies, and so too in the physics of sciences and technologies. This composes our objective and so pragmatic "intelligence". It is a conservative point of view. The need for subjectivism is obvious as well, in terms of seeing beyond our immediate needs in technologies and laws to what we need in general for morality and for future planning using information which has less of a basis in regards to tangibles. This composes our subjective and so speculative "wisdom". It is a liberal point of view. But in any "theory of everything" these modalities of thinking are static and rigid responses to the more dynamic aspects of life as a whole. TOE recognises the distinction of the domains where these modalities are effective, as well as the non-distinction where they are integrated into an _overall_ effective response. Overmodulations of these two fundamental modalities leads to neurotic obsessions. These are the dualistic, hard and soft world views which in management theory comprises individuals classified as "hard and soft talent". The hardened ultra pragmatist will abhor the more associative speculator. Sagan denounces Velikovsky. Realism denounces impressionism. The more liberal dynamisist will decry the fundamentalist. Einstein decrys Bohr. Hayek decrys Keynes. &c... all of which lead to endless battles of theory, ideology, religion, politics and wars. Nothing has killed more people than humankind's lack of understanding of these rigid modalities and the resulting "insanities" that they lead to. The "theory of everything" promises nothing except a basis of rationality that we can all agree on and be measured by and in that sense, the theory of everything _is_ a judgement day, but it need not be an apocalypse.
Beware the vivisectionist, who dices and slices destroying all context. You cannot measure an infinite wave without destroying it and creating the particles of rigid states through which the absolutes are exposed. Beware the generalist, who equates all values and homogenizes all morality, destroying the will to act. You cannot describe a world with only infinite waves that never collapse into discrete particle-like states. The waves expose the context and relativity which exist between such states, but that those states do exist is clearly evident and cannot be denied. Instead, use the Watchdog effect and restore context where it is destroyed by measurement. Such a recursion is fractal and propagates back the dynamic wavelike property to a static measurement so that a non-interaction measurement is made in the process. You will measure the truth without destroying it. You will make a interaction-free "assessment". "Judge not, lest ye be judged." is an old but wise truth. ``I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own.'' --No.6 Such interaction-free "assessments" do not guarrantee deterministic forsight, but they do limit Uncertainty, by allowing us to determine what is and what is not possible in the future. The non-determinism or uncertainty is linked to our "spirit" in allowing us free-will, and the determinism of knowing the constraints in which the future must unfold, gives us comfort in our objective lives by ruling over the future as "a law". Such Laws or Constraints, limit our Freedom, but in return it constrains our chaotic obsessions with Order. No less is "Culture" expressive of our "Freedom", while "Society" is expressive of Constraint. Culture must not be measured like a particle, and likewise a Society should not allow wave-like dispersions to unravel and dissolve it. Beware the obsessive individualism and Totalitarianism of that old testement of a measuring Law or Science, that is ignorant of Culture, Religion and Philosophy and so without Mercy or Wisdom. Beware the obsessive Dispersion of that new testement of a non-measuring free-will of the Anarchist or the complacency of the Nihilist, that is ignorant of the Law, Society and Deterministic Order.