Irish Quantum Foundations and Other Matters

So here I am then, at Irish Quantum Foundations (IQF) 2019 which is being held in the Hamilton Building (shown above), and hosted by the School of Mathematics of the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth near Dublin, which is sometimes known as Trinity College, Dublin for short.

I got here a bit later than I originally planned as some last-minute things came up this morning to do with next week’s events. I’ll have to skip tomorrow morning too, for similar reasons. When I did get going this morning I had to stand all the way from Maynooth to Connolly because the train was packed. At least it was reasonably on time though.

Anyway, the schedule of IQF 2019 is rather varied and I’m looking forward to the parts of it that I can attend.

Among the things I have been dealing with to do with next week are  submitting the final version of pedagogical piece about the Eclipse Expeditions of 2019 which should be published very soon in Contemporary Physics (at least in the online version) and writing a short piece for RTÉ Brainstorm (which will appear on Monday 27th May), and sorting out an appearance on Newstalk Radio next week. How I’ll get time to finish my exam marking in the middle of all this I don’t know!

 

8 Responses to “Irish Quantum Foundations and Other Matters”

  1. Dark Energy Says:

    Is this institute anyway related Schroedinger ? Who had trouble
    finiding a job where his unconventional domestic arrangements, sharing living quarters with two women will be accepted?
    He had also accepted the offer of chair position at Department of Physics, Allahabad University in India according to wikipedia.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    In 2004 I gave a talk on ancient Greek mathematics to a joint meeting of the undergraduate Classics and Mathematics societies at Trinity College, Dublin. In view of the disjoint nature of the audience it was a demanding talk to write – and therefore a satisfying one to give. The definitive work on the subject is Thomas Heath’s 2-volume publication A History of Greek Mathematics (Oxford, 1921), but the most valuable book in my preparation was John Stillwell’s excellent Mathematics and its History, which looks at the history of different parts of mathematics, chapter by chapter; most run back to ancient Greece and then pick up again at the Renaissance. To the mathematicians in the audience I aimed to give a history of their subject set in the context of the history of Western civilisation; to the classicists I aimed to demonstrate some of the beauty of mathematics. The ancient Greek achievement was threefold: the notion of abstract number (not three units of length or whatever); the concept of systematic proof from axioms; and mu ch technical development formalised in theorems. Euclid’s Stoicheia (Elements) was a mathematics textbook for a record 23 centuries.

    • Dark Energy Says:

      The UK govt. spend huge amount through outreach and
      try to encourage young kids. I have been royal institution
      on various occasion as a parent and as a maths enthusiast
      and was delighted to see how much effort the schools in association with the nearby University spends. They provide
      free books and other accessories as well as organise regular
      trips to London. I am not however sure if it actually
      changes the mind set. Most kids see it as difficult subject
      and try to avoid it like a plague. Probably because python
      codeing can provide a quick job. Unless you opt for
      additional maths, further maths the basic maths that
      students learn is rather rudimentary.

      As for 23 centuries of Euclid’s element it is also to do with
      decline of science resulting from suppression of curiosity
      by church during the middle ages. It flourishes in other
      countries to some extent e.g. China, India and Iran.
      In some of these countries math was used and incorporated
      in religion in a strange manner, e.g. specific ratio and
      geometric relations were considered more divine than
      others in construction of temples and other holy places.
      Ramanujan always thought his equations were given to
      him in his dream by god.

      The progress made in other countries are typically
      not acknowledged as discussions always tend to be Eurocentric.
      Euclid’s Elements was not derived by Euclid it is a collection
      of all available results at that time.

      Mathematics is not only beautiful but is also useful.
      Many beautiful mathematics were later found to be useful in
      diverse areas from economics to biology not to mention physics.
      There are famous quotes and interesting debates as to Maths
      is invented or it is discovered. I think like new planets
      all new maths already exists. It is objective and doesn’t
      depend on our perception. Nature knows it and obeys
      the rule.

      Systematic proof from axioms is also part of Buddhism.
      Where logical debates are an essential part. There is
      no doctrine and anyone can challenge (of course in principle).
      Many Buddhists literatures are written as a debate
      between proponents and opponents – the way all
      science papers should be written

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Stillwell’s book is well aware of mathematics genius in cultures other than European, eg the 7th century Hindu mathematician Brahmagupta.

        I meant systematic proof from axioms in mathematics specifically; when the Jesuits expounded this concept to Chinese court mathematicians in the 16/17th century, the Chinese – always an innovative culture – were deeply impressed. The Catholic church never suppressed mathematics, although physics did get tangled with theology to its disadvantage, and I mean before Galileo: the status of Aristotle could not be challenged, and he was wrong about force, which he took to be mv rather than ma, having been fooled by friction. The status of Aristotle in mediaeval Catholic Europe is ironic given that he was pagan.

        Euclid’s Elements was indeed a textbook that collected the mathematical theorems known to the Greeks. If I say that I learnt mathematics at university from Whittaker and Watson’s book, nobody supposes that they were the originators of everything in it. Nevertheless Euclid binds it all together into a united whole by making it a systematic exposition proceeding from axioms. His success may be judged by its longevity.

  3. Dark Energy Says:

    >Stillwell’s book is well aware of mathematics

    I never complained about Stillwell. I am sure many discussions
    of Indian Mathematics (as opposed to Hindu Mathematics –
    there are other religions in India)
    will enter many books
    as footnote and most often are summarised by the joke
    “The sum total of Indian contribution to the subject of Maths
    is zero”.

    All systematic proofs in maths have their foundations in set theory
    which is based on formal logic a subset of philosophy.
    So I don’t particularly see any difference in logical proofs
    in maths and in other area. Maths don’t answer the question
    why everything should be logical and to what extent our
    experience shape our logic. There is a general idea
    that concept of debate is exported from Europe to enlighten
    the Chinese/Indians during the colonial age. These issues
    are discussed and well documented. My opinions are similar to one
    in the book “The Argumentative Indian” by A. Sen.
    Democracy in India flourished long before it took root in the west.
    While Jesuits followed the colonial trading agents and their
    military recruits – Buddhist monks too visited China but
    without any military and trading ambitions.

    There is a slight difference between Whittaker and Watson and Euclid. Whittaker and Watson have references to the original text. I don’t think Euclid gives reference to the original work by Assyrians,
    Babylonians and Egyptians. In modern day such practices
    are not encouraged.

    Church didn’t suppressed Maths, considered it to be
    a part of arts but oppressed science which is the driving force of
    all/most mathematical developments.

    Colonial pride mixed with religious jingoism often
    forms the basis which blinds our ability to appreciate other’s
    culture/traditions. While Jesuits may have “surprised” the Chinese,
    China has a 5000 years of history and had trade
    relations with Roman Empire long before Jesuits
    exist which no one can deny.

    No religion can every encourage science. By default
    all religions are based on answers that can’t be questioned
    while science doesn’t have issues with questions that
    it still doesn’t know how to answer (from someone famous).

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      All systematic proofs in maths have their foundations in set theory which is based on formal logic a subset of philosophy

      Set theory is not without its paradoxes, and once that was realised a century ago the foundations of mathematics splintered into four schools, identified and explained in Morris Kline’s fine book “Mathematics: The loss of certainty”.

      May I have a reference for pre-Athenian democracy in India? In any case, hunter-gatherer societies are far more democratic than the agrarian cultures which succeeded them, in all places; the powerful can claim ownership of land, and extort people who have to work it for their food.

      There is a slight difference between Whittaker and Watson and Euclid. Whittaker and Watson have references to the original text. I don’t think Euclid gives reference to the original work by Assyrians, Babylonians and Egyptians.

      What proportion of the theorems in Euclid were known to the Assyrians, Babylonians or Egyptians?

      Church didn’t suppressed Maths, considered it to be a part of arts but oppressed science which is the driving force of all/most mathematical developments.

      Science was not behind the solution of cubic and quartic equations which took place in 16th century Renaissance Italy, and which Feynman credits as a huge boost to the intellectual self-confidence of Euope because they had done something that the Greeks had failed to do.

      The mediaeval Catholic church abused its worldly power in defence of Aristotle, whose physics turned out to be wrong, but it was not a systematic oppressor of science. Science made no progress in early mediaeval Europe, for two reasons: first, during the Dark Ages people were too busy defending themselves and ensuring their food supply; second, the pagan view that the physical world was animated by myriads of spirits had infiltrated European Christianity, and weakened the earlier view that the world was comprehensible by humans because it had a divine author who was into order and in whose image humans were cast. Obviously the ‘spirits’ view is inimical to science, whereas the ‘divine order’ view promotes it. At the Renaissance the latter view began to prevail again.

      While Jesuits may have “surprised” the Chinese, China has a 5000 years of history and had trade relations with Roman Empire long before Jesuits exist which no one can deny.

      For the avoidance of doubt, I am not denying it, and I called China an “innovative culture” above.

      • Dark Energy Says:

        >Set theory is not without its paradoxes
        Yes, I am aware of that and that simply signals inadequacy
        of human logic and everything derived using logic.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_democracy#cite_note-12
        about republics and proto democracy in India. These are
        often moderated views of our colonial historian – some opposing account can be found in “Discovery of India” J.Nehru.

        About your question of what qualifies as a democracy it is more
        fundamental and I can also claim that modern democracies
        that now exist after the Industrial revolution/ Napoleonic war
        are actually no democracies at all.

        >What proportion of the theorems in Euclid were known to the >Assyrians, Babylonians or Egyptians?

        I don’t think I know any plagiarism detector for that.
        But I would be “surprised” if pyramids were constructed
        without a knowledge of maths.

        >16th century Renaissance Italy..
        It was driven by colonial ambitions of various European
        nations when a lot of maths were developed for
        astronomical research to chart out navigation routs
        to reach India. As a results we have west Indies, east Indies,
        red Indians, Indonesia, India China, Indian Ocean..

        >Dark Ages people were too busy defending themselves and ensuring their food supply;

        Isn’t it same in all ages? What’s different today?

        >‘divine order’ view promotes science?
        Just accept everything as gods will and call it science?
        Why not accept our curiosity to question everything
        including god as god’s will too?

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