Category Archives: physics

Sabine Hossenfelder says we don’t have free will, but its nonexistence shouldn’t bother us

Here we have the German theoretical physicist, author, and science popularizer Sabine Hossenfelder giving an 11-minute talk called “You don’t have free will, but don’t worry”. (My own talk on the subject is the first five words she uses, and I think we should be concerned—though not in the sense she means.)  The video and […]

Nobel Prize in Physics goes to three for showing that formation of black holes is predicted by relativity theory

This morning the Karolinska Institute awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics to two men and a woman—Roger Penrose, Reinhard Genzel, and Andrea Ghez—for work on black holes.  As the press release notes: Three Laureates share this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics for their discoveries about one of the most exotic phenomena in the universe, […]

George Ellis responds to my criticism of his argument for free will

Yesterday I posted a critique of an Aeon article by physicist George Ellis, arguing that science itself gives evidence for true libertarian free will. This rests on his claim that psychology exerts a “top-down” effect on molecules, and those top-down effects, because they stem from our thinking, our experiences, and our personalities (all subsumed under […]

Another paper claiming (but failing) to give evidence for libertarian free will

UPDATE: Reader Coel pointed out in the comments—this had escaped my notice—that the author of this piece, George Ellis, won the Templeton prize in 2004 for efforts in harmonizing science and religion. This may be relevant to the article below. Part of his citation says this: Beyond ethics, Ellis contends that there are many areas […]

Sean Carroll on the shows “Westworld” and “Devs”: free will, simulations, and multiverses

In the May 4 New York Times, culture reporter Reggie Ugwu interviewed Sean Carroll about the recent television series “Westworld” (HBO) and “Devs” (FX on Hulu). Sean watched both shows and gives his reactions, then discusses the premises of the shows.  Since I’ve seen only two episodes of one show (“Westworld”), and none of the […]

A good critique of panpsychism but a lousy alternative

The article at hand was published by the Institute of Art and Ideas, a British organization that I hadn’t heard of but is described by Wikipedia thusly: The Institute of Art and Ideas is an arts organisation founded in 2008 in London. Its programming includes the world’s largest philosophy and music festival, HowTheLightGetsIn and the online channel IAI TV, where […]

Podcast: Dan Dennett and Sean Carroll on illusions, consciousness, free will, and other stuff

Reader Paul called my attention to a new episode of Sean Carroll’s Mindscape podcast. It’s two hours long, so of course I don’t have the patience to listen to it (you can by clicking on the screenshot below), but fortunately there’s a transcript you can get by clicking on “Click to show episode transcript” near […]

Is “white empiricism” hindering physics?

UPDATE: James Lindsay has an analysis of this paper in a number of successive tweets, starting with the one below. Click on it if you want to see his take. He criticizes a number of points that I either missed or ignored, so I recommend your reading it. Time to start talking about the now […]

Nobel Prize in physics awarded to three researchers in astronomy and cosmology

This morning, the 2019 Nobel Prize in Physics was split between three men, with half of the award (a total of $910,000) split between Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz (25% each) “for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star,” and the other half of the Prize going to James Peebles of Princeton “for […]

Murray Gell-Mann died

UPDATE: There is a celebration of Gell-Man’s life, “Remembering Murray“, at the Edge website, where many physicists, friends, and physicist-friends pay tribute to the man. __________   By now most of you probably know that famed physicist Murray Gell-Mann died Friday at the age of 89. He won the Nobel Prize in 1969 for “for […]