The Theoretical Map and the Empirical Path
Many of the interesting paradoxes of the quantum theory and physics in
general are replicated in fields which are not classified under the
general title of physics.
For instance, Fourier's uncertainty is essentially the same as
the Heisenberg's in the context of signal processing and Quine's
somewhat less rigourous definition of Translation Indeterminacy
in terms of linguistics is functionally no less a transform uncertainty
between Saussure's analog of functional domains in terms of
Synchronic and Diachronic analysis. Similarly we find in the works
of Sapir and Whorf the essential formalism of a Relativity theory
(again between functional domains in terms of spatial and temporal
linguistic grammars) in their Linguistic Relativity conjecture.
That Quantum theory has effects which seem so general in their
influence beyond "physics" as some monolithic domain, seems to
beg the question whether there is some simple explanation for all
these analogous effects which will unify them all.
Generally science works from the bottom-up or inside-out in terms
of understanding the parts before the whole. This is a very
productive way of working that fosters practical understanding
and is immediately translated into engineering's own language.
But theoretical concerns within this approach suffer because
'theory' is a unification process and the bottom-up or inside-out
approach is working against the grain of theory's most effective
tool: analogy. Top-down or outside-in, is more in tune with the
theortician's goals of unification and analogy.
That quantum theory has been bogged down for some number of years
with theoretical concerns in terms of paradoxes etc., and that
it's effects seemed so general as to extent into other fields,
suggests that the proper course of action is to reverse our
usual practical mode of bottom-up, inside-out attack and look
outside of the arbitrary bounds of "physics" for clues to resolving
As Rabi seemed to indicate, that solution will likely seem so
simple and yet dumbfounding, because it will encompass the effects
of day-to-day concerns of linguistics, as well as those 'invisible'
and seemingly bizarre quantum particles in the microcosm.
At first it will seem so simple that it cannot possibly be true,
and yet the generality of the resulting effects cannot be denied.
Analogy is not easily 'proven' except in context, and the simple
solution will at first seem unprovable or too vague for practical
consideration, but this vestige or inertia of bottom-up and inside-out
thinking will eventually be overcome by the prospects of having
a new theoretical basis that will act as a map, pointing us to areas
where science's traditional pragmatic stance will be effective.
A road map is an effective tool for determining paths, but maps
can get tangled and wadded up making the paths difficult to follow.
This I believe is the current state of quantum physics and by
looking outside of it's domain for clues, that map can be unravelled
and provide a clear picture of where quantum researchers are, can and
should next go.
Undoubtably, such a re-engineering of science would lead to a rash of
many new theories and conjectures and what will seem infinite in number
and 'noisy' to extreme, but with some patience in understanding better
the role of theory in science, we will have an effective means of
handling that rapid convergence of ideas from many fields.
The prospect we can look forward to is a healthier approach to science
in the future, which combines theorical and empirical concerns in a
more optimised symbiosis. The neglect or denial of such an approach,
can only lead to future problems which- will ultimately lead us to very
serious and unrecoverable problems.