Propulsion Disk wrote:
I know we said this several times now but I want to emphasize this. If atomic erosion is a strange use of the term "erosion" then electron erosion is just totally wrong. Electrons are elementary particles, they do not erode. If you have a strange substance made of billions of electrons then yeah, you could say that de substance can be eroded, electrons can be lost, electrons can be dispersed with time by mechanical or electromagnetic forces, but that is the erosion of your special "electron substance" in the best case, no erosion of the electrons themselves. No electron is different from any other electron in the entire cosmos (besides their location in space). They all have the same mass, the same charge and the same spin. An electron "eroding" would transform into what? what aditional feature would change so you can discern between a fresh new electron and an eroded one? would lose what? mass? charge? then is not an elecron anymore (ignoring the fact that electron's charge is a quanta and it can't be lost). Would they change form? their rought spherical surfaces would be polished by erosion? No, because they don't have texture, they don't have any geometrical form associated with them. The representation of electrons as colored tiny spheres is just misleading when it comes to this. They are just that, a mass, a charge and a precise spin combined. They are elementary particles, fundamental blocks of nature. You can disarange a collection of fundamental blocks but you can't disarange them one by one because they are just that, elemetary in nature and all identical with one another. If they could be eroded then electrons wouldn't be elementary particles, they could be split in more elementary pieces so they would be complex composite objects. But there is not a single line of evidence pointing to that and there is no theoretical backup for that idea either so talking about erosion at this scale is just wrong.
I'm goin to give you a more common example for what we mean here by simple vs complex systems;
Do you have a LCD TV screen near you? Take a close look to the screen (with a magnifying glass if you can). You would notice that the image is generated by small elementary pixels. Each pixel has 3 properties, or in this case 3 colors, red, green and blue, that light up in a controled fashion.
As you can see there is no yellow color. But your screen is sure capable of producing yellow tones, and orange, and purple, and black. Where are these colors coming from if your screen is just a collection of red, green, blue lightbulbs? Well, one way of saying it is that yellow it's coming from complexity of the system. The arrangement of pixels, their lighting patterns can generate an emergent property in a macroscopic scale that is an entire new color, and that color is something more than the sum of the colors each pixel has. Your screen is a complex system, your pixels are not, they are "the elementary particles" of the "TV screen universe".
So, does one pixel has yellow in it somewhere? No. Does one pixel has the potentiality of yellow in it? No. There is some essence of yelowness in each pixel? No. Is complexity the one that generated the yellow color in your screen (it could be regarded as an effect that has to do with the integration in time and frequency domain of our visual system, don't think of it as ghostly appearence, but in the end is just an emergent feature of a complex system).
The same works with the mind. Do you think a neuron has conciusness? or intelligence? No, they only perform chemical reactions. But when you contemplate the macroscopic scale of an array of billions of neurons firing with certain patterns then an emergent property comes out. Intelligence and counciousness could only be that, an emergent property of a vast collection of neurons. Neurons don't have intelligence as the pixels lack yellow, but complexity bring both to life.
The same reasoning can be applied here. Atoms nor electrons can have erosion, because erosion is an emergent phenomena when contemplating vast arrangements of particles, like a mountain, a rock or a screw. There is no erosion for each individual component of matter. It wouldn't make sense. This is not a semantic problem it has to do with mixing everyday classical concepts that can apply to our macroscopic world with a realm where they do not apply anymore. You can't search for erosion if the system is not complex enought, as you can't find the yellowness of your pixels in your TV, or the conciusness of a neuron in your brain, or a computer virus in an electrical circuit, or a master plan in the contruction of an ant colony, etc...
I recognize that there is also a semantic issue here in the case of atoms (since atoms can be dissasembled because they are a little higher in the staircase of complexity when compared to electrons). There is also a debate on the metaphysics of identity
. A rock can lose it's pointy shape while been eroded by a river and lose some mass (grains are been stripped from the rock itself) but still be considered and categorised as a rock. An atom is not like that. If an hydrogen atom lose an electron it's strange to call it an atom anymore because it's just a proton. If an hydrogen atom loses it's proton then you just have an electron, so it is difficult to follow the idea of erosion here, just as a non-alcoholic Cuba Libre is just Coca-Cola. But I don't care about this since methaphysics shouldn't be part of any rational discussion. I care about aplying macroscopic behaviours to sub-atomic particles.