I started inventing things, and I couldn’t stop, like beavers, which I know about. People think they cut down trees so they can build dams, but in reality it’s because their teeth never stop growing, and if they didn’t constantly file them down by cutting through all of those trees, their teeth would start to grow into their own faces, which would kill them. That’s how my brain was.

- Oskar Schell, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

An overview of Occam’s RazorOccam’s Razor is one of the greatest arrows in the quiver of science. The term was coined (somewhat ironically methinks) by the Friar William of Ockham during the 14th century. The principle is quite succinct and follows that answers should tend towards the most simplistic explanation that makes the fewest number of new assumptions. The words exactly described by William of Ockham were “Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”. Although this is often paraphrased as “The simplest answer is often the right one” this is not the case, as more often than not an incredibly complex answer is actually right (I’m looking at you quantum physics), for example I could attribute the falling of an apple to gravity and this is a property of mass, or I could say magical gravity fairies are behind this. While the gravity fairies answer seems the most simplistic, it relies on the assumption that gravity fairies actually exist despite being unobservable and untestable and thus makes the fewer number of assumptions.

An overview of Occam’s Razor

Occam’s Razor is one of the greatest arrows in the quiver of science. The term was coined (somewhat ironically methinks) by the Friar William of Ockham during the 14th century. The principle is quite succinct and follows that answers should tend towards the most simplistic explanation that makes the fewest number of new assumptions. The words exactly described by William of Ockham were “Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”. Although this is often paraphrased as “The simplest answer is often the right one” this is not the case, as more often than not an incredibly complex answer is actually right (I’m looking at you quantum physics), for example I could attribute the falling of an apple to gravity and this is a property of mass, or I could say magical gravity fairies are behind this. While the gravity fairies answer seems the most simplistic, it relies on the assumption that gravity fairies actually exist despite being unobservable and untestable and thus makes the fewer number of assumptions.

The concept of the fieldThis post is more me rambling about things I don’t understand and simply using fields an example for how often answers very rarely actually answer questions.Things such as gravitational and magnetic fields have always bothered me considerably. They’re there, we can detect their effects such as the fluorescent tubes up there being powered by an electrical field produced by the wires overhead (they’re not attached to a power source.)  but they just don’t make sense. Gravity is the easiest one of these to explain on the surface, mass warps space time and thus creates a gradient. Gradients are one of those things in the universe that are often overlooked but INCREDIBLY important, this sets up a system whereby one state has a higher (potential) energy than another state and according to thermodynamics everything tends towards the lowest energy state, thus we have objects with mass being pulled towards eachother. But this doesn’t explain why, or even how this happens. It’s one of those great explanations in life that answers the question only to a certain level and it’s hoped we won’t realize there are obvious holes in this explanation. It’s like how rainbows form and simply being told that it’s how light refracts within water droplets. It only answers part of the question but does not talk about the complex series of optical refractions, or the varying wavelengths of light in white light and it especially does not explain why the light doesn’t all mix back together or why it’s shaped like an arch.
Anyways, so if gravity causes distortions in space-time then maybe other things cause distortions in some other dimensions which leads to electrostatic forces. And in fact if you try the math by adding a 4th dimension for electrostatic forces you find it works for a bit, but then to explain more phenomenon you have to add more dimensions you have to add more dimensions, eventually winding up at 11, and then we get string theory (which I in no way endorse at this moment in time).But this still doesn’t explain what a field is or how it works or what actually causes it. We can say that forces are caused by warps in dimension, but there will always be another question underlying that. The truth is that with all questions, no matter how simple, it’s impossible to get an answer that actually explains anything. The more I learn the more I realize that nobody knows anything.
Then again I could be wrong.

The concept of the field

This post is more me rambling about things I don’t understand and simply using fields an example for how often answers very rarely actually answer questions.

Things such as gravitational and magnetic fields have always bothered me considerably. They’re there, we can detect their effects such as the fluorescent tubes up there being powered by an electrical field produced by the wires overhead (they’re not attached to a power source.)  but they just don’t make sense. Gravity is the easiest one of these to explain on the surface, mass warps space time and thus creates a gradient. Gradients are one of those things in the universe that are often overlooked but INCREDIBLY important, this sets up a system whereby one state has a higher (potential) energy than another state and according to thermodynamics everything tends towards the lowest energy state, thus we have objects with mass being pulled towards eachother. But this doesn’t explain why, or even how this happens. It’s one of those great explanations in life that answers the question only to a certain level and it’s hoped we won’t realize there are obvious holes in this explanation. It’s like how rainbows form and simply being told that it’s how light refracts within water droplets. It only answers part of the question but does not talk about the complex series of optical refractions, or the varying wavelengths of light in white light and it especially does not explain why the light doesn’t all mix back together or why it’s shaped like an arch.

Anyways, so if gravity causes distortions in space-time then maybe other things cause distortions in some other dimensions which leads to electrostatic forces. And in fact if you try the math by adding a 4th dimension for electrostatic forces you find it works for a bit, but then to explain more phenomenon you have to add more dimensions you have to add more dimensions, eventually winding up at 11, and then we get string theory (which I in no way endorse at this moment in time).

But this still doesn’t explain what a field is or how it works or what actually causes it. We can say that forces are caused by warps in dimension, but there will always be another question underlying that. The truth is that with all questions, no matter how simple, it’s impossible to get an answer that actually explains anything. The more I learn the more I realize that nobody knows anything.

Then again I could be wrong.