von Neumann

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Wigner’s Friend Receives a Death Threat

It is related that on the day that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi died, the Sages decreed a fast, and begged for divine mercy so that he would not die. And they said: Anyone who says that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi has died will be stabbed with a sword. (Talmud, tr. Ketubot 104a)   We find an interesting example of the Wigner’s Friend paradox in the Gemara quoted above. The Gemara discusses the circumstances surrounding the death of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi (Juda the Prince, knows simply as the Rebbi), one of the greatest sages of Israel, who compiled Oral Torah in the Mishnah. Why did the Sages issued a death threat to “anyone who says that Rabbi has died” promising that he “will be stabbed with a sword”? The medieval Talmudist Rabbi Bezalel Ashkenazi (1520-1592), in [...]

Wigner’s Friend Paradox

Amicus est Socrates, magister meus, sed magis est amica veritas. “Socrates is my friend but a greater friend is truth” – Plato c. 428-348 BCE. Amicus Plato, sed magis amica veritas. “Plato is my friend, but a greater friend is truth" – Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 350 BCE. Amicus Plato amicus Aristoteles magis amica veritas. “Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but a greater friend is truth.” – Isaac Newton, Cambridge Student Notebook, 1661 You are my friend, but what is truth? – Eugene Wigner, 1961   If Isaac Newton summed up the aphorisms of Plato and Aristotle in his student notebook, exactly 300 years later, Eugene Wigner put this notion on its head. Although taking a poetic license, I put Wigner's words above in quotation marks, I do not know if [...]

By |2019-03-18T20:23:42-04:00March 17th, 2019|Uncategorized|4 Comments

Re’eh – the Power of Seeing the Blessings

The Torah portion Re’eh, begins with the verse: Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse. (Deut. 11:26) The first word of this verse, re’eh, literally means “see” in Hebrew. So, literally, this verse should be translated as: See, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse Spoken words are heard, not seen. Why did Moses implore people to see, as he was about to set before them a blessing and a curse? To understand this, we need to look at the following verses defining the blessing and the cure: The blessing, if ye shall hearken unto the commandments of the Lord your God… (Deut. 11:27) …and the curse, if ye shall not hearken unto the commandments of the Lord your God… (Deut. 11:28) Does this [...]

Two Beginnings

B’reshit bara Elokim et hashamaim v’et haaretz… In the beginning, God created heaven and earth… Alternative translation: With two beginnings God created heaven and earth… Genesis 1:1   *This is an abridged and updated version of my paper “Towards Reconciliation of Biblical and Cosmological Ages of the Universe” Presented at the Third Miami International Conference on Torah & Science in Dec. of 1999 and published in B’Or HaTorah, 13 (2002) p. 19. Contemporary science places the age of the universe in the thirteen to fourteen billion years range, or 13.787 ± 0.02, [1] to be precise.  This age is derived from both theoretical models as well as experimental data.  (For an overview of theoretical and experimental approaches to dating the universe and our planet Earth see my original paper TOWARDS RECONCILIATION OF BIBLICAL AND [...]

On the Nature of Time and the Age of the Universe

Presented at the International Torah and Science Conference in Miami International University on December 18, 2005 Alexander Poltorak   Introduction. This is the third in a series of articles, in which I attempt to sketch various approaches to reconciling a cosmological age of the universe currently estimated at 13.75 billion years with the Jewish tradition setting this age at less than six thousand years (5770 as of the day of this writing, to be exact). The first article [1] tackled this problem from the point of view of Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics suggesting that there were two distinct forms of existence—physical and proto-physical—and that the first conscious observers, Adam and Eve, collapsed the universal wavefunction, bringing the world from amorphous proto-physical existence into tangible physical existence.  This approach leads to two distinct [...]