Guest essay by Nancy Green
At the close of the 19th century physics was settled science. The major questions had been answered and what remained was considered window dressing. Our place in the universe was known:
We came from the past and were heading to the future. On the basis of Physical Laws, by knowing the Past one could accurately predict the Future.
This was the Clockwork Universe of the Victorian Era. We knew where we came from and where we were going. However, as often happens in science, this turned out to be an illusion.
A century before, the double-slit experiment had overturned the corpuscular theory of light. Light was instead shown to be a wave, which explained the observed interference patterns. However, Einstein’s 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect turned the wave theory of light on its head.
We now accept that Light is composed of particles (photons) that exhibit wave-like behavior. Each photon is a discrete packet of energy (quanta), determined by the frequency of the wave. What Einstein did not envision was the implications of this discovery, which led to the famous quote, “God does not play dice”.
But as it turns out, with our present level of understanding, God does play dice. Consider the dual slit light experiment. What does it tell us about the nature of our universe when we view light as particles?
In the dual slit experiment, light from point A is shone towards point B. What we find is that the individual photons will go through slit 1 or slit 2 to reach point B, but there is no way to determine at Point A which slit (path) the photons will choose. And equally perplexing, there is no way to determine at Point B which path the individual photons will arrive from. Relabeling the slits as paths we have:
This property is not confined to light; it can also be recreated with other particles. The implications are profound. Point A has more than one possible future, and Point B has more than one possible past. Rearranging our double slit experiment so that A and B coincide with the Present, we end up with:
Which we can simplify:
Our Victorian Era picture of one future and one past is no longer correct. Our deterministic view of the world now becomes probabilistic. Some futures and some pasts are more likely than others, but all are possible. Our common sense notion (theory) of one past and one future does not match reality, and when theory does not match reality, it is reality that is correct.
Now you may say, well that may be true for very small particles, but surely it doesn’t apply to the real world. Consider however, that in place of a particle, we used you the reader.
Let point A be your office and point B your home. Some days you will travel from the office to home via path 1. On other days however, maybe you need to go shopping first, or meet friends, or your car may break down, or any number of activities may require you to take path 2 to reach home. So you take path 2.
For all intents and purposes your behavior mimics the behavior of a particle. An outside observer will not be able to tell which path you are likely to take. To an outside observer your “free will” is no different than the behavior of the particle. To the observer the reason for both behaviors is “unknown” or “chance”. It cannot be determined, except as a probability.
Chaos is routinely discussed when considering models. What does our double slit experiment tell us about Chaos?
Consider that instead of starting at point A, we start at A1. A1 is a microscopic distance along the path from A to P1. Or, instead we start at point A2, which is a microscopic distance along the path from A to P2.
From geometry, A1 and A2 will be an even smaller distance from each other than they are from A. They are less than a microscopic distance from each other, yet they lead to different futures. At A1 you can only travel to P1. At A2 you can only travel to P2. Thus with a less than microscopic difference in “initial values” we get two different futures, neither of which is wrong.
But wait you say, ignoring that P1 and P2 are in A’s future, they both lead to the same future. They lead to B. But in point of fact, B is only one possible future. We purposely kept the diagram simple. Reality is more complex. From points P1 or P2 the particle may travel to a whole range of futures. (thus the interference pattern of the double slit experiment).
And this is what we see when trying to forecast the weather or the stock market. Very small differences in the values of A1 or A2 quickly lead to different futures. All the futures are possible; some are simply more likely than others. But none are wrong.
Climate Science and the IPCC argue that climate is different. Because climate is the average of weather, we should be able to average the results of weather models and arrive at a skillful prediction for future climate. However, does this match reality?
Climate science argues that future climate = (C+D+B)/3, where 3 = number of models.
However, climate is not the average over models. Climate is the average over time. Thus:
If we arrive at B via path 1, then climate = (A+P1+B)/3, where 3 = elapsed time
If we arrive at B via path 2, then climate = (A+P2+B)/3, where 3 = elapsed time
Since P1 <> P2, even though we have arrived at the identical future B, we have two different climates, none of which resemble the IPCC ensemble model mean. And this only considers future B.
Futures C and D are also possible, with different probability. We will arrive at one, but there is no way to determine in advance which one. Thus for a single starting point A, there is an infinite number of future climates that are all possible. Some are simply more likely than others.
Thus the failure of climate models to predict the future. The IPCC model mean predicts B, simply because it happens to be in the middle. However, this is simply accidental. As the “Pause” demonstrates, nature is free to choose C, B, or D, and in the real world nature has chosen D. As a result the models are diverging from reality.
In reality the models are attempting an impossible task. There are not simply 3 futures and are not simply 2 paths; there are for all intents and purposes an infinite number of futures, and an infinite number of paths. All are possible.
Some futures are more likely, but that is simply God is playing dice. We are not guaranteed to arrive at any specific future, thus there is nothing for the climate models to solve. They are being asked to deliver an impossible result and like Hal in 2001 they have gone crazy. They are killing people by cutting life support via energy poverty.
HAL: “The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error”.