In reminiscing over the enormous contribution the late Tom Van Flandern made to physical science, I re-read his essay, “Physics has its Principles”. Tom epitomised principles and ethics to me, so I share with you today the abstract and concluding paragraphs:

Abstract

Physicists and mathematicians have fundamentally different approaches to describing reality. The essential difference is that physicists adhere to certain logical principles, any violation of which would amount to a miracle; whereas the equations of mathematics generally are oblivious to physical constraints. This leads to drastically different views of what is, and what is not, possible for cosmology and the reality we live in. Physics that adheres to these logical principles is known as “deep reality physics”.

The principles of physics are inviolate rules because any contradiction would be tantamount to magic, a miracle, or the supernatural. Allowing miracles into theories makes them non-falsifiable, and therefore unscientific. Adhering to these logical principles and accepting “no miracles” as the only valid “first principle” is now known as “deep reality physics”.

The following principles were discussed here:

  • Every effect has an antecedent, proximate cause
  • No time reversal
  • No true action at a distance
  • No creation ex nihilo
  • No demise ad nihil
  • The finite cannot become infinite
  • Tangible, material entities cannot occupy the same space at the same time

These corollaries flow from application of the principles:

  • Nature has no singularities
  • There are no black holes
  • There was no Big Bang
  • 2-way time travel is impossible

These corollaries follow from classical definitions of dimensions:

  • Extra dimensions are not needed to describe physical reality
  • The five ordinary dimensions are always uniform, linear, and universal
  • The speed of light is not a universal speed limit

Discovering a definite violation of a physical principle would bring into question the nature of the reality we inhabit.

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