Magnetism - distilling the everyday from the extraordinary

Use this forum to discuss the philosophy of science. Philosophy of science deals with the assumptions, foundations, and implications of science.
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Re: Magnetism - distilling the everyday from the extraordina

Post by Mechsmith » October 27th, 2017, 11:25 am

Rainman, I tend to think that a "field" is set up by relative motion. In the case of electromagnet fields, by the motions of electrons in a conductor. In the case of gravitational fields, the field is set up by the motions of electrons in matter.

A field can exert "pull". This is how solenoids work. Also the pull may be why the electrons don't just fly away from the nucleus. Or the planets from the sun.

This is simply my thought as to "what is gravity?". Id like to see somebody chase the idea a bit further.

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Re: Magnetism - distilling the everyday from the extraordina

Post by Chili » October 27th, 2017, 11:49 am

If two bodies are close together, and are exchanging a volley of particles, then each one, like a gun recoiling, or people playing catch, experiences a "pushing" force, and they will be inclined to move apart.

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Re: Magnetism - distilling the everyday from the extraordina

Post by Steve3007 » October 27th, 2017, 1:07 pm

Yes. That is the analogy that is often used in explaining the particle exchange model for repulsive forces. For attractive forces, a more contorted analogy which makes use of boomerangs is sometimes used. Clearly these are analogies. Obviously the recoil idea is a recursive analogy because the impact of the particle which is proposed to be the mechanism by which force works is itself a force.

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Re: Magnetism - distilling the everyday from the extraordina

Post by Atreyu » November 6th, 2017, 4:40 pm

Steve3007 wrote:Are readers happy to allow that familiar, everyday phenomena are explained in terms of such combinations of seemingly outlandish and initially difficult to believe underlying mechanisms? Or do you mistrust these explanations? Is it a tenet of your philosophy that it must be possible to describe everyday things using everyday mechanisms and language?
Well, science and philosophy are two different things.

Explaining phenomena via quantum physics is science. It's scientific theory. And I have no problem with it. However, I enjoy philosophy, and electromagnetic theory is science, not philosophy.

My tenet of philosophy is that it explains phenomenon to me in a way that satisfies me. And whether or not I'm satisfied with the explanation would depend on what I'm trying to understand in that moment. So generally the more coherent, simple, and most "common-sensical" explanation is ordinarily preferable (occam's razor).

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Re: Magnetism - distilling the everyday from the extraordina

Post by Steve3007 » November 9th, 2017, 3:54 am

Atreyu:
Well, science and philosophy are two different things.

Explaining phenomena via quantum physics is science. It's scientific theory. And I have no problem with it. However, I enjoy philosophy, and electromagnetic theory is science, not philosophy.
There are several categories of topic on this website with names of the form "Philosophy of X" where X is some subject, like science. Do you think that all such categories have no place on a philosophy website? Science/Politics/Religion/Art and philosophy are two different things?

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Re: Magnetism - distilling the everyday from the extraordina

Post by Atreyu » November 13th, 2017, 6:37 pm

Steve3007 wrote:There are several categories of topic on this website with names of the form "Philosophy of X" where X is some subject, like science. Do you think that all such categories have no place on a philosophy website? Science/Politics/Religion/Art and philosophy are two different things?
No, not at all. You can philosophize about science, but discussing the particulars of scientific theory is science, not philosophy.

Explaining phenomena via quantum mechanics would be science. Discussing the relevancy and implications of quantum theory might be philosophy.

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Re: Magnetism - distilling the everyday from the extraordina

Post by Steve3007 » November 14th, 2017, 3:19 am

Atreyu:
You can philosophize about science, but discussing the particulars of scientific theory is science, not philosophy.
I see your point. But I think philosophical questions can be examined by considering particular examples of science (or politics, art, religion etc) as exemplars of a wider point. To me, considering the "philosophy of" a particular subject means standing way back and trying to spot some very deep principles that might be illustrated by specifics. So it involves getting up close before standing back. This is done in many of the topics on this site. A particular issue within the subject in question is used to start a philosophical discussion.

In the case of this topic, I was seeking to use a particular piece of physics to examine the question (the philosophical question?) of whether everyday phenomena can have extraordinary counter-intuitive underlying mechanisms. (This was the question at the end of the OP. That was the "standing back" part.)

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Re: Magnetism - distilling the everyday from the extraordina

Post by Atreyu » November 14th, 2017, 7:32 pm

Steve3007 wrote:I see your point. But I think philosophical questions can be examined by considering particular examples of science (or politics, art, religion etc) as exemplars of a wider point. To me, considering the "philosophy of" a particular subject means standing way back and trying to spot some very deep principles that might be illustrated by specifics. So it involves getting up close before standing back. This is done in many of the topics on this site. A particular issue within the subject in question is used to start a philosophical discussion.

In the case of this topic, I was seeking to use a particular piece of physics to examine the question (the philosophical question?) of whether everyday phenomena can have extraordinary counter-intuitive underlying mechanisms. (This was the question at the end of the OP. That was the "standing back" part.)
I also see your point, and get it. And your question is a good one.

Your question seems to be basically, "How much weight should we give to some of the strange and extraordinarily counter-intuitive explanations posited in some modern scientific theories?"

Well, I would definitely take them with a grain of salt. The question is how practical are the explanations. By "practical", however, I don't mean in the sense of enabling us to build a better mousetrap, but rather does it help us to understand things better. Do they help make the Universe more sensible and understandable? Or do they only make the Universe seem more complicated and confusing?

If the former, then I would accept the explanation as "valid" and useful. However, if the latter, then I would call the explanation an "aberration" or "distraction".

It all depends on whether it makes things more, or less, clear...

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Re: Magnetism - distilling the everyday from the extraordina

Post by Steve3007 » November 16th, 2017, 2:43 am

Atreyu:
Well, I would definitely take them with a grain of salt. The question is how practical are the explanations. By "practical", however, I don't mean in the sense of enabling us to build a better mousetrap, but rather does it help us to understand things better. Do they help make the Universe more sensible and understandable? Or do they only make the Universe seem more complicated and confusing?

If the former, then I would accept the explanation as "valid" and useful. However, if the latter, then I would call the explanation an "aberration" or "distraction".
I don't think I'd put it in quite those terms. They sound too subjective to me. What seems sensible and understandable to one person might be complicated and confusing to another.

I would say that scientific theories should be judged to the extent to which they accurately describe a relatively large set of possible observations with a relatively small theory. The bigger the ratio between the former and the latter, the better the theory.

The reason I think the subject of the OP qualifies is that it is part of a theory which unites electricity and magnetism into a single phenomenon - electromagnetism. So it decreases the amount of theory required to accurately describe a very large set of possible observations.

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Re: Magnetism - distilling the everyday from the extraordina

Post by Greta » November 16th, 2017, 6:27 am

Steve3007 wrote:The reason I think the subject of the OP qualifies is that it is part of a theory which unites electricity and magnetism into a single phenomenon - electromagnetism. So it decreases the amount of theory required to accurately describe a very large set of possible observations.
It's basically just chunking. Each finding is part of a larger one, just as everything we know can be found on Sagan's "pale blue dot". We can keep drilling down to incredible complexity - or push outwards - and each time to an unknown extent.

The complexity involved in the details of each domain of reality and its interrelations are not suited to comprehension by simian brains. Worse, developing a reliable and objective overarching narrative when living within larger systems may not be possible. Still, we've done pretty well so far.

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Re: Magnetism - distilling the everyday from the extraordina

Post by Atreyu » November 21st, 2017, 6:53 pm

Steve3007 wrote:I don't think I'd put it in quite those terms. They sound too subjective to me. What seems sensible and understandable to one person might be complicated and confusing to another.
In this case, you're the only person that counts. I don't care if a theory makes sense to others, only to myself. So if a theory gives me a less coherent view of the Universe, as a philosopher trying to understand the Universe, I wouldn't "accept" it. If, however, it does make the Universe more sensible, then it fits in with my goal of having a more objective and/or broad understanding of things, and I would endorse it.
Steve3007 wrote: I would say that scientific theories should be judged to the extent to which they accurately describe a relatively large set of possible observations with a relatively small theory. The bigger the ratio between the former and the latter, the better the theory.

The reason I think the subject of the OP qualifies is that it is part of a theory which unites electricity and magnetism into a single phenomenon - electromagnetism. So it decreases the amount of theory required to accurately describe a very large set of possible observations.
But this is basically what I've been trying to say. A theory like electromagnetism, which unites various phenomenon and even other theories into a single unified explanation, is precisely what would give me a more clear, broad, and encompassing view of the world.

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Re: Magnetism - distilling the everyday from the extraordina

Post by Steve3007 » November 21st, 2017, 7:22 pm

Atreyu:
But this is basically what I've been trying to say. A theory like electromagnetism, which unites various phenomenon and even other theories into a single unified explanation, is precisely what would give me a more clear, broad, and encompassing view of the world.
OK. Good! We agree. :-)

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