[LINK] electromagnetic fields effect brain activity

Antony Barry tony at tony-barry.emu.id.au
Mon Jan 8 13:07:36 AEDT 2007

On 08/01/2007, at 11:34 AM, brd at iimetro.com.au wrote:

> They sometimes try and do things they are not trained to do. My  
> experience of
> nuclear scientists is that they are trained to understand how to  
> take things
> apart i.e. they are reductionists. Where they tend to fall down is
> understanding how complex things work i.e. emergent properties of  
> chaotic,
> non-linear systems.

Science, particularly the physical sciences,  succeeds well in areas  
which are simple at gross level and simplifying assumptions can be made.

Astrophysics is a case in point. A star is simple. It is largely  
spherically symmetrical , with an overlay of cylindrical symmetry on  
it's axis of rotation. As a first approximation you can assume  
reasonably smooth flow in it's interior and straightforward radiative  
transfer of energy which is produced by a few of the particles of the  
standard nuclear model interacting.

You can observe type II supernova and find that you can predict their  
evolution by knowing what they must be made of initially. The theory  
predicted that when the core collapsed and electrons and protons  
merged to form neutrons at the core resulting in a neutron star. A  
flash of neutrons would exit the star and precede the emission of  
light which would follow when the shock wave from the explosion  
reached the surface of the star about eight minutes later.

And so it proved to be. When the supernova 87A exploded in 1987 the  
light travelled for 50,000 years to get here but eight minutes before  
it arrived at the earth the two neutrino detectors, one in Japan, one  
in the US, saw the pulse of neutrinos.

I think this is one of the most dramatic demonstrations of the power  
of theoretical physical models EVER in the history of science  
involving as it did quantum mechanics, nuclear theory, gravity, non- 
linear effects in fluid dynamics and plasma physics.

Once you get to the nitty gritty of fine scale effects like solar  
flares things become messy however.

Getting back to reductionism. You need it. Being holistic will only  
get you so far. On the other hand if you just start with the bits you  
won't go far either. There are ~1000 parts in a bicycle. You'd have  
to be Leonardo to figure out what you could do with the bits if you  
had never seen a bicycle being used. Take an example from chemistry.  
Back in the 50's the chemists knew about hydrogen bonding empirically  
but it wasn't until we could pull a chemical compound to bits and use  
quantum theory and solve Schrödinger equation <http:// 
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schr%C3%B6dinger_equation> for the system that  
we could predict how strong it would be and how and where it would work.

I seem to have spent most of my adult life doing things I wasn't  
trained to do. I like to think a mostly did a reasonable job and I  
like to think that it was my education in mathematics and physics  
which had a large part in it. You can't understand the whole without  
knowing how the parts interact. You can't predict what the parts will  
do unless you have an idea of what the whole does. A good education  
in physics helps.


phone : 02 6241 7659 | mailto:me at Tony-Barry.emu.id.au
mobile: 04 1242 0397 | mailto:tony.barry at alianet.alia.org.au

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