MCAT CARS Skills—Our Comprehension of the Universe

Session 35

Today, Jack Westin and I talk about the universe. The passage is very MCAT-like as it presents a philosophical perspective on things you may not be aware of. In the previous weeks, we talked about the things you may have heard about in a way you normally don’t discuss.

In this case, we’re discussing something we don’t normally discuss or even see. And we also discuss it in a way that we don’t normally discuss.

So it’s pretty hard in two ways. First, the topic is not that interesting. Second, they’re discussing ideas that have no relevance to our lives.

Because it’s a more challenging article, you’re required to read more carefully and to pick up on the author’s points.

If you want to maximize your score on the MCAT, check out JackWestin.com, the premier MCAT CARS tutor online. They will teach you how to better comprehend what you’re reading so you can get the score that you want.

[03:20] Dealing with the Boredom

Jack reminds students that there are 9 passages on this test. After those, you’d never have to read MCAT CARS passages again. So you might as well enjoy what you’re reading.

'Find some interest in whatever you're reading because it's probably the only and last time you're going to read this article.'Click To Tweet

Sure, there is so much pressure. But at the end of the day, it’s not about proving yourself to your friends or family. It’s all about taking the test to see if you really want medicine. The score is important, but not as important as just taking the test and working hard.

Link to Article:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/quantum-monism-could-save-the-soul-of-physics/

“The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible,” Albert Einstein famously once said. These days, however, it is far from being a matter of consensus that the universe is comprehensible, or even that it is unique. Fundamental physics is facing a crisis, related to two popular concepts that are frequently invoked, summarized tellingly by the buzzwords “multiverse” and “uglyverse.”

Multiverse proponents advocate the idea that there may exist innumerable other universes, some of them with totally different physics and numbers of spatial dimensions; and that you, I and everything else may exist in countless copies. “The multiverse may be the most dangerous idea in physics,” argues the South African cosmologist George Ellis.

Ever since the early days of science, finding an unlikely coincidence prompted an urge to explain, a motivation to search for the hidden reason behind it. One modern example: the laws of physics appear to be finely tuned to permit the existence of intelligent beings who can discover those laws—a coincidence that demands explanation.

With the advent of the multiverse, this has changed. As unlikely as a coincidence may appear, in the zillions of universes that compose the multiverse, it will exist somewhere. And if the coincidence seems to favor the emergence of complex structures, life or consciousness, we shouldn’t even be surprised to find ourselves in a universe that allows us to exist in the first place. But this “anthropic reasoning” in turn implies that we can’t predict anything anymore. There is no obvious guiding principle for the CERN physicists searching for new particles. And there is no fundamental law to be discovered behind the accidental properties of the universe.

Quite different but not less dangerous is the other challenge—the “uglyverse.” According to theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, modern physics has been led astray by its bias for “beauty,” giving rise to mathematically elegant, speculative fantasies without any contact to experiment. Physics has been “lost in math,” she argues. But then, what physicists call “beauty” are structures and symmetries. If we can’t rely on such concepts anymore, the difference between comprehension and a mere fit to experimental data will be blurred.

[06:09] Paragraph 1, Sentence 1

“The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible,” Albert Einstein famously once said.

Jack says:

It’s a confusing statement and this could throw off a lot of students. But you just have to go with it. It might get easier as you keep reading. So it’s something about understanding.

[07:00] Paragraph 1, Sentence 2

These days, however, it is far from being a matter of consensus that the universe is comprehensible, or even that it is unique.

Jack says:

The author is saying that everybody agrees that it’s incomprehensible. The point they’re really trying to make here is that it’s not even unique. It’s questioning whether the universe itself is unique or not.

We don’t know where the author is going with this. But think of it in terms of not just comprehension, but also uniqueness.

[08:12] Paragraph 1, Sentence 3

Fundamental physics is facing a crisis, related to two popular concepts that are frequently invoked, summarized tellingly by the buzzwords “multiverse” and “uglyverse.”

Jack says:

The author is painting a picture of uncertainty and not being unique. They talk about multiverse and uglyverse. So it may not be unique and something we can not understand. It sounds negative, especially with the use of the word “crisis.” Knowing that vibe will help you understand the rest of the passage.

'You don't have to understand everything exactly because you don't need to. You don't need to be a PhD in Physics to get the questions right.'Click To Tweet

[09:37] Paragraph 2, Sentence 1

Multiverse proponents advocate the idea that there may exist innumerable other universes, some of them with totally different physics and numbers of spatial dimensions; and that you, I and everything else may exist in countless copies.

Jack says:

It’s just like what we see in movies about multiverses like Spiderman and the Avengers.

[10:40] Paragraph 2, Sentence 2

“The multiverse may be the most dangerous idea in physics,” argues the South African cosmologist George Ellis.

Jack says:

It seems like there’s a crisis based on the previous paragraph. And this is consistent with the danger mentioned here. That said, understanding the multiverse is more than enough. Knowing it’s dangerous is more important. Knowing that there’s a problem, as what Ellis believes, is the key.

[11:35] Paragraph 3, Sentence 1

Ever since the early days of science, finding an unlikely coincidence prompted an urge to explain, a motivation to search for the hidden reason behind it.

Jack says:

The author is talking about science and the search for the unknown and trying to explain everything.

[11:58] Paragraph 3, Sentence 2

One modern example: the laws of physics appear to be finely tuned to permit the existence of intelligent beings who can discover those laws—a coincidence that demands explanation.

Jack says:

The author says, we have these laws of physics and we also have humans who are smart enough to discover the laws of physics. Apparently, this is a coincidence. The author is saying it’s important to be able to get explanations for these coincidences.

[12:50] Paragraph 4, Sentences 1-2

With the advent of the multiverse, this has changed. As unlikely as a coincidence may appear, in the zillions of universes that compose the multiverse, it will exist somewhere.

Jack says:

The author was just talking about the multiverse being dangerous and is now going into coincidences. This is something that can happen on the MCAT. A lot of students would be wondering how these can be connected. So challenge yourself to think about that.

Most of the time, when the author brings up a point, they want to explain their point. They want to go into it more deeply. And that’s what the author is doing here.

And maybe the mutliverse is dangerous because it challenges coincidences. The multiverse idea affects the way we interpret stuff which is based on coincidences. There’s a connection to be made.

'When you're reading, ask yourself why did the author discuss this? Maybe to bring up a more important point or to go back to the point we were making before.'Click To Tweet

[14:38] Paragraph 4, Sentence 3

And if the coincidence seems to favor the emergence of complex structures, life or consciousness, we shouldn’t even be surprised to find ourselves in a universe that allows us to exist in the first place.

Jack says:

The author is saying that we shouldn’t be surprised that humans exist as physics allows complex structures, life, and consciousness.

[15:11] Paragraph 4, Sentence 4

But this “anthropic reasoning” in turn implies that we can’t predict anything anymore.

Jack says:

“Anthropic reasoning” could again throw a lot of the students off. But the key part of the sentence is that we can’t predict anything anymore. But by having a multiverse, there goes our prediction.

The MCAT is going to focus on whether or not you understand that the multiverse stuff affects our prediction and the way we look at things.

[16:14] Paragraph 4, Sentence 5

There is no obvious guiding principle for the CERN physicists searching for new particles.

Jack says:

The author is just establishing the physicist. We don’t know a lot about this so we just have to keep on reading to see where this is going. Stand by. Don’t freak out. Don’t panic.

[17:02] Paragraph 4, Sentence 6

And there is no fundamental law to be discovered behind the accidental properties of the universe.

Jack says:

It’s suggesting that if we have multiverses, we cannot predict anything. And we wouldn’t have any laws because there are infinite versions of things.

Basically, what it’s saying is that the multiverse is dangerous and we can’t make predictions. Don’t delve into the small details. And you’re going to lose your sanity if you do that. Focus on the big picture. You know the trend. That’s it.

'The more laymen and the more basic you keep it, the better off you are.'Click To Tweet

[18:28] Paragraph 5, Sentences 1-2

Quite different but not less dangerous is the other challenge—the “uglyverse.” According to theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, modern physics has been led astray by its bias for “beauty,” giving rise to mathematically elegant, speculative fantasies without any contact to experiment.

Jack says:

It’s just describing a new way of looking at the universe – the uglyverse and how people are focused on beauty. But it does present uglyverse in a negative way. It’s still dangerous. Many people focus on the beauty and maybe we shouldn’t.

[19:45] Paragraph 5, Sentences 3-4

Physics has been “lost in math,” she argues. But then, what physicists call “beauty” are structures and symmetries.

Jack says:

The author talks about Hossenfelder’s idea about ugly and beauty, or math and physics. The author is saying that beauty for physicists includes structures and symmetries, as well as math to make that happen.

[20:20] Paragraph 5, Sentence 4

If we can’t rely on such concepts anymore, the difference between comprehension and a mere fit to experimental data will be blurred.

Jack says:

This last sentence could be confusing. So you’ve got to read a lot of these and just be aware of what’s important in order to tackle the problem.

[21:05] The Big Takeaways

The author says that if we lose that side of beauty then there’s no comprehension. Ultimately, what the author is trying to portray is that there is no beauty and it’s taking away our ability to understand it.

But all those being said, you really don’t have to know this up to that degree. All you need to understand is that uglyverse is dangerous. Multiverse is dangerous.

Again, think of the big picture. Don’t worry about the small details. Stand by. See what’s happening and where it’s going. These things will help you along the way.

[23:05] Jack Westin

If you want more help from Jack Westin, go to medicalschoolhq.net/jackwestin. Text CARSCOUPON to 44222 and get $100 off.

Links:

JackWestin.com

Link to Article:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/quantum-monism-could-save-the-soul-of-physics/

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