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Procyan
2010-Jun-09, 04:20 AM
I have a good friend who is a physicist and who has a theory on OOL. I am a chemist and we are trying to understand each other. He keeps refering to the eigenstate of the prebiotic world. Now I have asked him what that means, he has explained and I'm still befuddled. I thought i learned this at uni but that was 1000 years ago. The wiki page sounds just like my friend, maybe he wrote it LOL. Was es das Eigen??

So if anyone reading this has some words that would help me fit this into the context of a physical world replete with energy, warm tholin soup and lots and lots of time I would have a chance of contributing.

aastrotech
2010-Jun-09, 04:49 AM
I have a good friend who is a physicist and who has a theory on OOL. I am a chemist and we are trying to understand each other. He keeps refering to the eigenstate of the prebiotic world. Now I have asked him what that means, he has explained and I'm still befuddled. I thought i learned this at uni but that was 1000 years ago. The wiki page sounds just like my friend, maybe he wrote it LOL. Was es das Eigen??

So if anyone reading this has some words that would help me fit this into the context of a physical world replete with energy, warm tholin soup and lots and lots of time I would have a chance of contributing.

I don't know what you and your friend were discussing. But he may mean that there are forces inate in materials and systems that drive them to evolve/connect in certain ways, that connections/changes don't neccessarily, or most often, occur through random chance.

Procyan
2010-Jun-09, 05:12 AM
Yes, that was his point...that there is likely to have been a force directing order or complexity. The driver would be some natural oscillation and the "system" that was most suited, or tuned to that would emerge/survive.

So i take it that a particular Eigenstate that favoured biochemistry, that would be the collection of factors that characterize a particular physical environment as it transforms from prebiotic to living...IOW the eigenstate of spontaneous generation. ...Conversationally, a shorthand way of describing something complex, yes?

Yes, i know about the monsters, but most are friendly beasties ... more or less :)

Procyan
2010-Jun-09, 05:19 AM
Aastrotech, he did actually propose the idea that there is an inate inherent force in materials/systems, but it smacks so much of vitalism that I can't bring myself to even discuss it.

dgavin
2010-Jun-09, 06:19 AM
It sounds like just another form of Chaos Theory to me. Where random chance alone says that Chaos left alone, will tend to order itself over time.

aastrotech
2010-Jun-09, 06:26 AM
Aastrotech, he did actually propose the idea that there is an inate inherent force in materials/systems, but it smacks so much of vitalism that I can't bring myself to even discuss it.

As a chemist you should understand that there are forces that drive certain events more strongly than they drive others. It's easier, the forces are stronger, for iron to combine with oxygen than for it to combine with gold. That is not to say that there is a meta force of "vitalism" in this. As a physicist your friend should understand that metaphysicly speaking, forces that drive interactions could as well be uniform as not. That they're not uniform is no support for metaforces such as vitalism, anthropism (or worse hint hint) driving interactions.

Procyan
2010-Jun-09, 09:13 AM
Good points, and I do note the hint. a definite no go zone. but more to the OP, if I paste in here the following:

... a particular Eigenstate that favoured biochemistry, that would be the collection of factors that characterize a particular physical environment as it transforms from prebiotic to living...IOW the eigenstate of spontaneous generation. ...Conversationally, a shorthand way of describing something complex

would I have an approximate understanding of the use of the term Eigenstate?

aastrotech
2010-Jun-09, 11:44 AM
Good points, and I do note the hint. a definite no go zone. but more to the OP, if I paste in here the following:

... a particular Eigenstate that favoured biochemistry, that would be the collection of factors that characterize a particular physical environment as it transforms from prebiotic to living...IOW the eigenstate of spontaneous generation. ...Conversationally, a shorthand way of describing something complex

would I have an approximate understanding of the use of the term Eigenstate?

"Conversationaly"? if you understand that the "complexity" being characterized is all possible interactions in a specific matrix of interactions from which an Eigenvector favoring biochemistry is derived.

Eta C
2010-Jun-09, 02:43 PM
Eigenstates are a concept in quantum mechanics. Basically, they are generated by the solutions of Schroedinger's equation. Each eigenstate has an associated eigenvalue. A simple example is the energy levels of a hydrogen atom. The actual levels are the eigenvalues. The associated wavefunction is the eigenstate. For a given quantum mechanical system it is possible to describe its evolution through time as a superposition of the eigenstates. This equation will give the probability of finding the system in a given eigenstate as a function of time.

Perhaps another example would be Schroedinger's Cat. We'll leave aside the philosophical implications of the paradox for now. At a simple level the cat represents a nice two eigenstate system. As proposed, the cat has two eigenstates, alive or dead. As time goes on the probability the radioactive atom decayed and released the cyanide increases. So at earlier times the probability the cat is alive is high. As the state evolves the probability it's dead increases. At any time one can describe the cat's condition as a superposition of the alive and dead states.

As for your friend's idea, I think he's overextending the concept of eigenstate. The eigenstate of the universe strikes me as undefined.

aastrotech
2010-Jun-09, 02:49 PM
Perhaps a simpler example would be from the old "tree falls in the forest" paradox, does it make a sound? Yes, it makes an Eigensound.

Ken G
2010-Jun-09, 03:02 PM
... a particular Eigenstate that favoured biochemistry, that would be the collection of factors that characterize a particular physical environment as it transforms from prebiotic to living...IOW the eigenstate of spontaneous generation. ...Conversationally, a shorthand way of describing something complex

would I have an approximate understanding of the use of the term Eigenstate?I agree with Eta C, but I'd mince words less! It frankly sounds to me like your friend either has not the least concept of what an eigenstate is, or else he is simply choosing to co-opt a precise term for use in a vague and ill-defined way. If the former, he should learn some quantum mechanics, and if the latter, I'd advise that he choose a new word and not confuse the clear meaning of the previous one. It makes his entire argument sound very "woo-woo" when he employs the tired strategy of misusing jargon terms to make it sound like his point has scientific validity that it actually does not possess. If he is claiming some process that helps spontaneous generation, then the onus is on him to clearly define his terms and describe that process in detail-- it is a very lame strategy to misuse jargon words and thereby shift the onus onto you to understand what the heck he is talking about. It's just a trick to make you feel like you are the one at fault for not understanding his claims, when that is simply not the case here.

A very simple way to get at all this is to note that an "eigenstate" is always defined in terms of some "operator." So just ask him-- "what is the operator that corresponds to the eigenstate you are talking about"? That will expose just how woo-woo his thinking really is, because I wager he'll either object that you are trying to argue using jargon (in which case you point it that is actually what he did), or he will go with your question and say the operator is something like the "life-creating operator". Then you just say "what the heck is that", and when he says "I've not the vaguest idea", you clearly see what is living behind his thinking: dead air. Unless he can tell you something meaningful about the operator that corresponds to the eigenstate he's talking about, he is not actually saying anything at all. He is "not even wrong."

BigDon
2010-Jun-09, 03:15 PM
Wow Ken, sleep on the couch last night?


(:))

Argos
2010-Jun-09, 03:17 PM
I have a good friend who is a physicist and who has a theory on OOL. I am a chemist and we are trying to understand each other. He keeps refering to the eigenstate of the prebiotic world.

Its perfectly applicable [though awkward], since 'eigen' means 'innate', 'own', or 'intrinsic'. Hes just borrowing a fancy word from mathematics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eigenvalue,_eigenvector_and_eigenspace). Perhaps hes only meaning something like 'basal state' [of the prebiotic world], or 'natural state', whatever.

Procyan
2010-Jun-09, 07:12 PM
Aastrotech, you are right of course, these "inate forces" drive everything including chemistry. I shouldn't have jumped to vitalism so quickly.

Eta C, you said "So at earlier times the probability the cat is alive is high. As the state evolves the probability it's dead increases." In this example is time the operator?

Ken G
2010-Jun-09, 07:17 PM
In this example is time the operator?Not quite, time is not an operator of quantum mechanics. However, there is a "time-advance operator" called the "propagator", which involves the energy operator. But its eigenstates are called "stationary states"-- they are states that basically nothing is happening to. So your friend couldn't possibly mean eigenstates of any such operator if he is talking about spontaneous generation of life. It's really just an example of how far off the whole "eigenstate" idea really is, there's nothing to it at all here.

Procyan
2010-Jun-09, 07:28 PM
OK, now keep in mind I've only just had my first sip of coffee...

If he was trying to co-opt a term from quantum mechanics (Prof X is the real deal, he lives and breaths this stuff) and you were thinking about, for example, the oscillations of a living system, 'Success' is not just the lion catching the springbok.
It is both the lion not getting rid of too many springboks, so that the next generation lions can also exist, as well as the springboks not really being too phased by the occasional loss of individuals. In other words -- these components of the biospheric oscillation have separate and alternating maxima and minima, but they co-exist -- like the eigenstates of the abstract mathematical discussion of an oscillation -- and are preserved together.

If I can just hang there I can participate in further discussion with him. I must know if I am being snowed

kleindoofy
2010-Jun-09, 07:28 PM
... Was es das Eigen?? ...
If your problem is in part with the term "eigen," then perhaps I can help out a little.

The German "eigen" means "own" or "self," but the actual meaning in usage goes well beyond that typical dictionary definition.

For instance, a person who is described as being "eigen" is a person who is very idiosyncratic.

An Eigenschaft is a property, i.e. the state of being defined by one's own self.

An important term in your context is the socalled "Eigenbegrifflichkeit." This again means self-definition, but in a broader sense. An Eigenbegriff ("own concept") is a concept that does not need other concepts to support it, explain it, define it, or to be used as an origin for it.

E.g., for the longest time, every pyramid in the world was brought into connection with the Egyptian pyramids. The idea behind this was that other cultures could not have come up with the idea of the pyramid all by themselves. There had to be a connection of some kind or another.

Today people argue for the "Eigenbegrifflichkeit" of (many) societies, i.e. that even if aspects of a culture somehow resemble aspects of some other cultures, this does not mean that there is a connection between them and that those aspects of the one culture are not to be explained by comparision with other cultures, rather only in and by the culture in question.

Does that help?

DrRocket
2010-Jun-09, 07:33 PM
... It's just a trick to make you feel like you are the one at fault for not understanding his claims, when that is simply not the case here.

A very simple way to get at all this is to note that an "eigenstate" is always defined in terms of some "operator." So just ask him-- "what is the operator that corresponds to the eigenstate you are talking about"? That will expose just how woo-woo his thinking really is, because I wager he'll either object that you are trying to argue using jargon (in which case you point it that is actually what he did), or he will go with your question and say the operator is something like the "life-creating operator". Then you just say "what the heck is that", and when he says "I've not the vaguest idea", you clearly see what is living behind his thinking: dead air. Unless he can tell you something meaningful about the operator that corresponds to the eigenstate he's talking about, he is not actually saying anything at all. He is "not even wrong."

Absolutely correct.

Guys who use such tactics deserve to be exposed.

Procyan
2010-Jun-09, 07:57 PM
Thank you Kleindoofy. I tend to react negatively to this word. It has always smacked of something spiritual.

Could you describe what that "connection" among various groupings would be? is it held to be physical, meta physical or ... ESP?

kleindoofy
2010-Jun-09, 08:19 PM
... I tend to react negatively to this word. It has always smacked of something spiritual. ...
Certainly not in German. It's just a normal word.


... Could you describe what that "connection" among various groupings would be? is it held to be physical, meta physical or ... ESP?
"Eigen" negates connections and references.

I can't make any comments on the aspects in physics, but don't waste your time with ESP.

Procyan
2010-Jun-09, 08:50 PM
Understood, thanks again. As you can see, I'm a little doofy myself!

-EigenProcyan

DrRocket
2010-Jun-09, 08:58 PM
Thank you Kleindoofy. I tend to react negatively to this word. It has always smacked of something spiritual.

Could you describe what that "connection" among various groupings would be? is it held to be physical, meta physical or ... ESP?

If you prefer, eigen vectors are also called characteristic vectors. An eigen state is an eigen vector, it just happens that the vector space is a function space. So you can call an eigen state a characteristic state if you like.

Argos
2010-Jun-09, 09:14 PM
German, the dialect of philosophy... [sigh]

Ken G
2010-Jun-09, 09:36 PM
In other words -- these components of the biospheric oscillation have separate and alternating maxima and minima, but they co-exist -- like the eigenstates of the abstract mathematical discussion of an oscillation -- and are preserved together.I'm sorry, but if "Prof X" advocates associating "biospheric oscillations" (which are quasi-periodic, classical, and chaotic), with oscillations in "eigenstates" (which are strictly periodic to a spectacular precision, non-classical, and non-chaotic), then the only "real deal" he is is a real-deal woo-woo. If there were any kind of meaningful connection between those words, it would be quite easy to be specific about what this "state" is that he has in mind-- and not some vague idea about how biological populations show stochastic variations labeled as "oscillations". The connection is nothing less than absurd, it is a clear example of how precise terms can get completely garbled when not used correctly. (For example, eigenstates refer to linear systems, and the biological population variations you refer to are quintessentially nonlinear. It's apples and oranges, a tower of Babel.)



If I can just hang there I can participate in further discussion with him. I must know if I am being snowed
The snow is ten feet deep already.

Procyan
2010-Jun-09, 11:21 PM
Got it. I should have flagged this sooner. Like when someone Theorizes that atooms are little solar systems. I kept hoping it would go away.
Thanks Ken

slang
2010-Jun-10, 12:11 AM
With all that said and done.. Eigenstates are BAUT forum posters (http://www.bautforum.com/member.php/100918-EigenState). Glad I could help. :)