Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Quantum economics

No doubt in my mind that there are parallels between quantum physics (many dimension worlds) and economic modeling. These excerpts are from The Great Beyond by Paul Halpern which was a great read until I had to struggle to understand tensor calculus and SU(3) symmetry and the such. I'd be surprised if I can find an accessible (read: idiot's guide) to these concepts.

Now that mathematicians had taken over relativity, he [Einstein] bemoaned, he could barely understand it himself. (pg. 79)

A main problem for us theoreticians rather resembles that represented Charybdis and Scylla between which Odysseus was forced to steer. ... Speculation is certainly a necessary part of the theoretical work, just as much as building on experimental facts. Still, it drags many of us into a mental whirlpool not unlike the hydrodynamical one of Charybdis, from which the escape feels like a miracle. On the other hand, sticking too closely to the facts - Scylla had six hard ones - may be equally deadly when using them as building stones for theory. - OSKAR KLEIN, From My Life of Physics (pg. 114)

I was surprised how dogmatic Einstein's view could be - on page 171:

As he [Einstein] guided his assistants during their exhibitions into unknown territories, it became clear to them that he had very fixed ideas about what features should or should not become part of a unified theory. ... Knowing his taste, they would strive hard to make their models more "virtuous" and less "sinful." One of the cardinal sins, for example, was bringing any notion of probability into the theories.

Supersymmetry is one of the most audacious proposals in the history of modern scientific thought. Year after year since it was postulated, experiments have failed to demonstrate its existence. Accelerators have smashed countless particles, producing not a single supersymmetric companion in their debris. Yet many theorists find it so compelling that they can scarcely believe the world could survive without it. ... No other physical theory has won so many supporters with so little experimental support, surviving instead on the basis of its own mathematical beauty and internal consistency. (pg 231, emphasis mine)

... [physicist, Steinhardt] sees considerable danger in relying on one particular model. "When you get down only to a single competitor it's not always a healthy situation," he advises. "It's much better to have two or more competing models, forcing you to think more carefully about your theories, your predictions and the observations." (pg. 284)

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