These days the physicist Kyriakos Vitalis (research and teaching scientist at the University of Cyprus) contacted me, in order to find a way to share with the general public and to convey to him a popular article entitled “Freedom – Ataxia – Random: A universal physical sequence (?) “. Reading the text, which connects the concepts of freedom, disorder and randomness from the point of view of science, I was led – influenced by the main topic of the day – to correspond with the outbreak of coronavirus in Cyprus, as in the rest of the world, due to “Uncontrolled / excessive freedom”.
Contacting Dr. Vitalis, I told him that the positions he develops in his article on the relationship between the three concepts could give readers an interesting perspective on the evolution of the pandemic, and he shared the same view. With this in mind, we prepared the following questions and answers, based solely on the ideas of his text.
In your article you mention that “the transition from order to disorder takes place in a completely natural way and is a fundamental feature of the universe in which we live.” In fact, at another point you emphasize that “during this evolution we were also created”. For a start, would you like to develop this position for us?
We live in a universe which, as we know and understand it today according to current scientific evidence, goes from order to disorder, thus revealing that there is no particular purpose out there. This transition from order to disorder is inextricably linked, for us humans, to the flow of time: the past corresponds to a state of greater order, while the future to a state of lower order or, equivalently, greater disorder. The fact that the future is more naughty than the past gives time a quality, what we call the “arrow of time”. That is, time flows only from the past to the future leading the class to disorder (overall on average). This transition from order to disorder is, as we say, spontaneous, occurs in a completely natural way, is preferred if you will, and is a fundamental, internal, or congenital feature of the universe in which we live. If you let a physical system evolve freely without any external intervention, then it will spontaneously prefer to end up / balance in a naughty rather than a regular situation and in fact in the state of maximum possible disorder.
As for the second part of your question, I consider that our creation is a random event of this natural evolution of the universe from order to disorder and not an end in itself in the context of some “Human principle”. Also, although it seems to reduce disorder because it is organized matter, it increases it because we are open biological systems, living organisms that interact with the environment by exchanging energy and increasing its entropy on average – entropy is a measure of a natural disorder systemic. In addition, with the end of our life our body is led to decomposition and complete disorganization of matter.
Artistic depiction of the history and evolution of the universe from full order – zero entropy (point of “Big Bang”) to complete disorder – maximum entropy (“Thermal Death”). “During these 13.8 billion years of evolution, we were created as a very recent event – all human existence has a duration equivalent to opening and closing the eyes to the cosmic hourglass of the history of the universe,” says Dr. Vitalis in “P”.
Could we try to say that the coronavirus example is governed by this “fundamental law” of the universe? I am talking about the recent increase in cases, as people have been left free and at the same time the virus “free”, without any external intervention, resulting in the path of a “naughty” or even worse “chaotic situation”.
In what you are saying we could say that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which has been roaming our planet for about 9 months and has brought upside down socio-economic – and not only – level internationally and changed the course of history, seems to obeys this universal law. Since it is easily transmitted from person to person through physical interaction, in the absence of external intervention in the form of mitigation strategies, mutual cooperation and compliance, coordinated enforcement and relaxation measures and generally coordinated response to the pandemic, it is inevitable lengths and breadths of our social networks in an uncontrollable way and lead to complete disorder and eventually to chaos with tragic consequences.
Another example, simpler, that we could think about the spontaneous evolution of a physical system is what could happen if we let the pages of a book fall freely from some height to the ground. The possibility of them coming together harmoniously and forming the book (structured information – knowledge), which corresponds to the state of maximum order, is negligible – really, when did anyone see something like this happen? However, what is observed to happen in most cases (and we call it a daily experience) is for the pages to scatter erratically in all directions looking for the state of maximum disorder with the end result being scattered information with (almost) no meaning at all.
Therefore, at the level of human reality – everyday life, a society can not exist when one does what one wants uncontrollably, without moral or legal barriers and respect for one's fellow human beings. Dostoevsky is confirmed, who characterized absolute – excessive freedom as arrogance, audacity and reckless energy.
Any excess or irrational use causes a disturbance in the balance (as a consequence of violation of fundamental principles of conservation) with the result that things are more prone or sensitive to deviations, such as e.g. a pencil that balances on its nose, which in turn increases their “degrees of freedom”, that is, the parameters that determine their movement or evolution in general – the more (or less) the degrees of freedom of a system the more (or less) information is needed / required to describe it. When the system under study develops under restrictions then the degrees of freedom decrease.
In short, what I mean is that excessive freedom or impunity can lead to excessive disorder, to an uncontrollable and irreversible situation, and ultimately to chaos. Once again we see the power and wisdom of the ancient Greek saying “excellent measure”.
“What is true? Are we puppets in the cosmic scene of the universe or masters of ourselves? », Wonders the physicist Kyriakos Vitalis.
Freedom – disorder – randomness
Now let's move on to “deep water” and the essence of your article. How do you connect with the concepts of randomness and freedom this perspective with which we can see the system: the transition from order to disorder?
The view of a system in which disorder prevails reflects at the same time a complexity, which in turn implies a randomity in predicting a future or past state of the system. If we can not make any predictions then we say that the system is chaotic. Moreover, the higher the aforementioned “degrees of freedom”, then the more complex the system, and therefore the more uncertain / accidental / contemplative. We see, then, a relationship emerging between freedom, disorder and chance. For example, a free man is more naughty, complex and unpredictable than a slave man whose movements are determined by some guidelines / orders thus making him more regular and predictable. In summary, the following natural sequence is revealed: freedom → disorder → randomness.
Another important thing to say here is that modern natural theories of the creation of the universe “predict” that the universe is a product / creation of quantum fluctuations of vacuum within a fundamental physical principle, the Heisenberg Principle of Uncertainty / Uncertainty (Nobel Prize in Physics). 1932). That is, the universe itself emerged through chance or, in other words, the universe is the child of a fundamental indeterminacy. Although the probability of creation is zero, it is not zero and therefore it can, that is, it has the freedom, and it will be created since as we know it already exists. However, we must say that nowadays this physical theory lacks experimental control due to the fact that there is no appropriate technology and even worse there is not even a remarkable and consistent proposal / recipe for whether and how one can / in theory be designed an experiment that can control it. So it corresponds, at least still, to a philosophy / belief of the natural sciences and not to an experimentally proven physical theory, since physics is an experimental science. The only remarkable thing here is that this physical theory exists and is therefore a candidate for describing reality.
However, what is experimentally proven, that is, what the indications-measurements show us, is that the universe evolves spontaneously from order to disorder – its entropy increases as we say – and that during this evolution we were also created. A fundamental quality that possesses us is what we call “free will” . Although neuroscience rejects conscious free will, it does not reject the individual's sense of self-control. In addition, the aforementioned Principle of Uncertainty and the fundamental randomness that entails give way to freedom. In this way, the sequence seems to exist: randomness → disorder → freedom.
Given the above, we conclude that the relationship between freedom, disorder and chance is, as we say, two-way. That is, where there is freedom there is disorder and randomness and vice versa. Overall, the following vicious circle emerges: freedom → disorder → randomness → disorder → freedom.
“Are we puppets or masters of ourselves?”
Why introduce the concept of “randomness” in our quest to understand the universe?
We try to understand the universe using the capabilities of our minds and senses, which are limited. One consequence of this is that we are unable to know all the details or, in other words, to appreciate all the degrees of freedom or all the parameters of a complex system and we are forced to introduce the concept of “contemplation-randomness” in our attempt to do so. describe and draw useful information from it. Everywhere we see that there is, to a small or large extent, what we call “randomness” with the ultimate goal of giving a description and interpretation. This property that we perceive to exist around us and within us we see it reflected in our equations for the description of our physical world, sometimes by introducing it “by hand” and sometimes to arise spontaneously, that is, in a natural mathematical way.
For example, the naturally occurring Principle of Uncertainty / Uncertainty tells us that there is a fundamental coincidence independent of us. Yes, but mathematics is something that our mind invented πως Ή is it not the language of the universe that we have discovered? Whether chance is a fundamental component of the universe or a product of our mental weakness is, at least for me, a supreme question. It is at this point that I am reminded of the words of Max Planck (Nobel Prize in Physics 1918), one of the fathers of quantum theory: “Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. This is because, in the final analysis, we are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery we are trying to solve. “
If chance is fundamental and therefore exists, then the physical sequence I mentioned above holds true and reveals a truth about our universe. If not, that is, that chance is a construction and by-product of our mind and in (independent of the human sphere) reality does not exist, then this particular sequence-chain is an illusion. What is true? Are we puppets in the cosmic scene of the universe or masters of ourselves? Maybe the answer, if there is one, is a matter of luck, as has happened repeatedly in the past with a plethora of great discoveries! ..
* Kyriakos Vitalis' article “Freedom – Ataxia – Randomness: A Universal Natural Sequence (?)” Can be read as HERE .