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New points (June 2011 onwards)
- I dislike the simple ny-challenges and the simple greyed-out challenges. Is it because you just didn't have the time to include answers? If so, are you interested in proposals? (CS: yes, I am!)
Points that led to changes in the text
- One person dislikes the new 91st "challenge" edition 22:
Using angles, the sine, cosine, tangent, cotangent, secant and cosecant can be defined. Look them up in your trigonometry text from high school. Can you confirm that sin 15° = [...]
Thinking about sines and cosines is good, but I dislike that you ask to refer to a high-school book for that. In France maths and physics at high-school are mostly craming: for instance trigonometry formulas must be known by heart but are not even explained. An average good student would only try every known "resolution methods" without visualizing. Why not provide intuitive definitions of sine and cosine instead of relying on high-school background ? (CS: I have added a figure and taken the reference to high school out.)
- One person dislikes it when big pdf files open in the browser (not served as Octet stream). (CS: I added a zipped version.)
- One person dislikes that fact that no one seems to know how to construct a sentence or spell correctly! Eew nead to be dislecksic to reed thiis payge. (CS: this is a wiki: correct it.)
- One person dislikes the following argument: space cannot be continuous because if it were, one could apply the Banach-Tarski paradox to vacuum energy. (CS: the dislike is justified, I changed this into a puzzle.)
- One person dislikes sites that advertise in the usenet using spam.
(CS: please look up the definition of spam; the usenet announcements of the text are not spam, because (1) they are targeted to those who are interested, and because (2) there is no commercial interest. Because the announcements are not spam, but a service to the community, all moderated newsgroups to which I send them approve these announcements. (Would you call new Linux version announcements spam?) Of course, you might still be annoyed - but the interest for the text is so large that I have little choice. I hope you can live with seeing a message every 9 months or so.)
- One person dislike the way of dismissing the butterfly effect (given at page 362, Challenge 574).
Of course there is no way to prove that it ever happened because one can't make reproducible experiments with chaos. But one could do mind experiment: if we remove one flap of the wings of one butterfly, will everything stay nearly the same for all times (perturbation die out) and that to hold for any butterfly and any flap or there will be some profound changes in future (how much into the future should we look?) when one flap is removed (not so easy question). Whether we can say that butterfly is reason or cause of the hurricane is completely different question. As for number of butterflies compared to number of hurricanes, we don't know how many flaps are critical and whether some hurricane will disappear by 'flapping'. As for dissipation, some complex system tend to be less influence to dissipation than expected (e.g. solitons, rock avalanches ..) and whole idea of deterministic chaos is that small changes of something (atom, current, market flow, position of body in a 3-body system ...) in some situation will diverge. On reproducibility: Movement of 1 gram of matter by 1 cm on Sirius will prevent us from finding exact position of atom in a gas after 1sec so no exact reproducibility is possible (page 274).
(CS: all these arguments are beside the point: the butterfly "effect" does not exist, independently whether you dislike it or not, because it has never been observed.)
I don't like the way of proving it's nonexistence, or to say I am not convinced (the word "hate" was there just to comply with the form). Simple arguments given are just too weak to support the claim, or they are not presented well enough. (The proof is valid or good when reader "knows" that it can only be like that and can not be opposite). Of course the claim without prof is still beneficial and can at least give generally accepted scientific opinion and give more weight to one claim over another.
(CS: OK, I'll improve the explanation in the next edition.)
- I dislike exciting but vague claims without handles for further research. Here's just one example (from page 1117):
The ways [sic] people handle single atoms with electromagnetic fields is a beautiful example of modern applied technologies. Nowadays it is possible to levitate, to trap, to excite, to photograph, to deexcite and to move single atoms just by shining light onto them. In 1997, the Nobel Prize in physics has been awarded to the originators of the field.
If that paragraph would just include some keywords (like optical tweezing or laser cooling), it would be so much easier for the reader to google more information. And of course, the process involves a lot more than "just shining light onto" an atom—hence the Nobel. That's a gross oversimplification, a.k.a. dumbing down the text. So what's the deal with this vagueness? Is it the intended writing style for Motion Mountain, or are we looking at a first rough draft that needs to be improved? Are you interested in readers supplying the missing details? Would you consider Wikipedia references for further information, if there is no place in the text?
(CS: There are photographs of levitated, excited, trapped, and moved single atoms in the text; tweezing is also presented; the same is for Paul traps. I added more cross references and details. Thanks for the feedback. Any additional material proposal is welcome, of course.)
Points that did not lead to changes in the text
- Several people dislike the support for evolution theory. (CS: I will also not write that the Earth is flat to please people who believe it is.)
- Two persons dislike the criticisms of astrology. (CS: I will also not write that the Moon is made of green cheese to please people who believe it is.)
- I (CS) found out that somebody dislikes the book because it states that classical electrodynamics is not correct. Well, that it is not correct is proven by experiment: photons exist and space is curved. Photons contradict classical electrodynamics. For this reason, the electromagnetic field is not a continuous, classical quantity. Indeed, every serious writer on classical electrodynamics (from Einstein to Jackson) stresses that the definition of the classical electromagnetic field is based on arbitrarily small test charges. And he stresses that such charges do not exist, and that it is therefore impossible to define the classical electromagnetic field. This impossibility is a direct consequence of charge quantization, thus of quantum theory. Nowadays, if an author repeats what Einstein said, he will not only encounter dislike, but real aggressive behaviour.
- I (CS) was told that another person dislikes the book because it states that electromagnetic fields are limited in magnitude. Now, every electromagnetic field contains energy, and energy density is limited by general relativity: if energy density is too high, a black hole appears. The smallest possible black hole then leads to a field limit. If you deny an upper field limit, you deny general relativity. However, general relativity has been confirmed in every experiment so far. Again: Nowadays, if an author repeats what Einstein said, he will not only encounter dislike, but real aggressive behaviour.
- I'd like to add something here. Suppose for a moment the energy density limit is correct [again an Einstein denier - rest deleted by CS]
- (CS) Again you? If you want details, first comply to the wiki usage terms. A physicist, like a scientist, must be a truthful man.
- Several people dislike the description of general relativity with the maximum force or power. (CS: That is a pity; this is fully equivalent to the usual formulation of general relativity.)
- Various people, including several experts, claim that there is no maximum force in general relativity, and claim that they can provide a counterexample, i.e., a physical system that produces a higher force than the force limit. (CS: Humorous first answer, by authority: "Then you must know more about about general relativity than Gary Gibbons" (see this paper). Second answer, this time serious: all counterexamples and paradoxes I know of are discussed in volume II, and all are shown to be flawed. But I am always happy to hear about new proposed counterexamples and to add them in the text. As I explain there, this issue will provide discussion material for many years to come.)
- Several people dislike the "physics of love" section. (CS: It used to be called "physics of sex" some years ago; anyway, I'll take it out when I meet somebody who does not owe his own life to it.)
- One person dislikes the statements on Paul of Tarsus. (CS: Deorum offensae diis curae.)
- One person dislikes the statements on infinity. (CS: There is no disagreement across the whole world about the following aspect of infinity: only a concept with parts/elements can be infinite. No known scientist, no known philosophical and no theological scholar has ever said the opposite, for a simple reason: the opposite is plain wrong.)
- Two persons dislike the "glove problem". (CS: I guess this is because it used to be called the "condom problem" But in fact the term "condom problem" is the official name used in mathematical books and papers.)
- One person dislikes a few arguable facts / urban stories that are presented as true:
Footnote on Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier's experiment of blinking on the guillotine. Discussion at http://msgboard.snopes.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=36;t=000797 is nice.
(CS: thank you - it seems that the story is not correct; has been corrected in version 21 Nevertheless, see the last paragraph of  for a witness of such effects. See also )
Citation: "A famous crook, Robert Peary, claimed to have reached the North Pole in 1909." National Geographic Society still claims that he was the first man on the North Pole, as many other believe. Whether or not he reached his goal is an open question, with evidence surfacing in the 1980's that he came only within 20 miles of the Pole. But in 1989 the National Geographic Society concluded, based on the shadows in photographs and ocean depth measures taken by Peary, that he was no more than five miles away from the pole.
(CS: I will not add more details on this; the shadows obviously do not allow such precise statements; the ocean depth data is not satisfying, he forged data in his diaries, National Geographic is not objective in the whole endeavour, as it co-financed the expedition (besides that, it once also ridiculed Peary in the past); and only crooks work to get confirmation of their feats by a parliament, in order to guard their claims against competitors. Peary knew that he had not reached the pole; thus he was not a deluded dreamer but a simple crook.)
- One person dislikes mocking of the philosopher's statement "We don't know if the Sun will rise tomorrow".
Statement: "It is a hypothesis that the Sun will rise tomorrow; and this means that we do not know whether it will rise." is used to state that all we know is just from our past experience. It can be as well said that we do not know if gravity will exist tomorrow, but we strongly believe it will, just from our experience from past. We can't have any knowledge of nature, we can just have beliefs. There is no complete logic induction in the universe from a standpoint of a human.
(CS: (1) Even the lack of logic induction and your invented imprecision of the term `know' still allows one to mock the statement as wrong. (2) That time invariance is an assumption is stated in the book several times. (3) There actually *is* complete logical induction in nature, because nature is not infinite and not made of independent parts; see the section on the issue in the last volume.)
- The 6th volume of the 23rd edition made several people angry because (1) it predicts a high energy desert and the lack of new physics, and because (2) the model of unification is three-dimensional and reasonably simple. (CS: That's life.)
Final note by CS
Some people dislike sections that go against their beliefs and values. On the other hand, I am convinced that explaining the difference between truth and falseness is the main point of a physics book. So only one type of people have real problems with this book: those whose beliefs contradict the facts.