What, in relatively simple language, are the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics?

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Someone enlighten me.

Jonathan Z., Wednesday, 3 December 2003 12:46 (twenty years ago) link

Small things act differently to big things. Deal with it.

Pete (Pete), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 12:51 (twenty years ago) link

relative attraction is always negative

stevem (blueski), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 12:53 (twenty years ago) link

There are more reliable ways of killing a cat.

Pete (Pete), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 12:53 (twenty years ago) link

What Pete said the first time.

Ricardo (RickyT), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 13:24 (twenty years ago) link

1. Nothing can be absolutely deterministic at small scales
2. If a tree falls where no one can hear it, does it make a sound? (ie observation can indeed make for different results than normal)

Chaos is awesome.

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 13:43 (twenty years ago) link

The same thing can be in two places at once.

neil simpson (neil simpson), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 13:46 (twenty years ago) link

if you know precisely where and/or how fast a thing is moving you won't know precisely where it is and vice versa.

ken c, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 13:49 (twenty years ago) link

1. Nothing exists until it is observed(someone actually sees it)
2. If you unplug your walkman, is it still making playing?

Oh, and wot everyone else said.

Johnney B (Johnney B), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 13:53 (twenty years ago) link

(xpost) Well...it's not and/or - it's or.

Really it's more accurately stated as the more accurately you want to know property a, the less accurately you can know property b.

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 13:53 (twenty years ago) link

Nothing exists until it is observed(someone actually sees it)

Again, technically incorrect (at least according to quantum science) - it's that observation will affect your results.

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 13:55 (twenty years ago) link

i should have known that it is Xor!

ken c, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 13:55 (twenty years ago) link

i disagree with Johnney's #1 - lots of things exist even though they cannot be seen

stevem (blueski), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 13:55 (twenty years ago) link

chaos owns

stevem (blueski), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 13:55 (twenty years ago) link

Never trust science.

Nick Southall (Nick Southall), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 13:56 (twenty years ago) link

we are too big to be clever

Snowy Mann (rdmanston), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 14:26 (twenty years ago) link

Really it's more accurately stated as the more accurately you want to know property a, the less accurately you can know property b.

Provided that properties a and b are noncommuting.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 14:37 (twenty years ago) link

Why all the fuss about quantum mechanics? Doesn't anyone feel the love for Statistical Mechanics these days?

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 14:49 (twenty years ago) link

1 As quantum physics tells us that everything that exists is energy, and that matter is an illusion, it is more likely that living things/their consciousness do not cease to exist when they die.

2 The universe IS intelligent/conscious.

Pete S, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:04 (twenty years ago) link

Insert Tab A into Slot B.

Spinktor the Unmerciful (mawill5), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:05 (twenty years ago) link

1. Not true at all.
2. Don't know where your pulling that from.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:07 (twenty years ago) link

But Im right. Right?

Spinktor the Unmerciful (mawill5), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:09 (twenty years ago) link

Not really, you can know the x and y components which would be a and b in your case, but not z.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:12 (twenty years ago) link

Damn it. Inches from goal...

Spinktor the Unmerciful (mawill5), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:12 (twenty years ago) link

All things, whether they appear to have form or not(e.g thoughts, impressions, visible objects) are linked in a way that is impossible for us to comprehend. This supports the concept of karma - the universe is an ocean in which any action causes a ripple that touches everything else. Of course this is unbounded by time, which further supports the above.

Pete S, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:15 (twenty years ago) link

. . . human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria!

Lynskey (Lynskey), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:16 (twenty years ago) link

Pete S that is a bit of a from out of nowhere assertion.

Ricardo (RickyT), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:22 (twenty years ago) link

Thoughts are not an object as far as physics is concerned. They are a collection of electrical impulses involving ions and neurons and other such much more tangible things.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:23 (twenty years ago) link

New Age assertions about quantum mechanics - C/D?

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:24 (twenty years ago) link

God plays dice with the Universe.

Jeremy the Kingfish (Kingfish), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:26 (twenty years ago) link

Well, i agree you could have a bunch of ppl looking at quantum mechanics and all coming up with different philosophical conclusions. However i don't feel anyone really answered Jonathan Z's question - most of the replies are scientific implications, not philosophical.

Pete S, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:26 (twenty years ago) link

We dont need Rome telling us what to do.

Spinktor the Unmerciful (mawill5), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:28 (twenty years ago) link

Perception is creation.

nickalicious (nickalicious), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:29 (twenty years ago) link

Girolamo you heard of Buddhism, Hinduism, Toasim, Zen?
Disciplines many hundreds of years old?

Pete S, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:29 (twenty years ago) link

Not true either nickalicious.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:30 (twenty years ago) link

In the really old days people used to think the world was flat. Im not sure what that discipline was called.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:30 (twenty years ago) link

Individual points of awareness are entire universes unto themselves.

nickalicious (nickalicious), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:30 (twenty years ago) link

Old Age preconceived notions recycled without question to become assertions about quantum mechanics - C/D?

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:31 (twenty years ago) link

Mr. Noodles, OTM!

possible m (mandinina), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:31 (twenty years ago) link

I was oversimplifying, true dat. What I mean is, until something has been perceived, it is undefined.

nickalicious (nickalicious), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:31 (twenty years ago) link

Philosophical implications need not be mystical in ontology, Pete.

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:32 (twenty years ago) link

if consciousness is the result of electrical impulses traveling along a path of amino acids, which are made up of, essentially, energy, then the philosophical implications are nearly too many to be listed, and will vary depending on what you believe(d) when you learn that (assuming a person believes it).

possible m (mandinina), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:34 (twenty years ago) link

Funny isn't it Mr Noodles - i've not caricatured anyone else's beliefs (and all science is a theory remember), but you feel happy to pour scorn. Well whatever you think is clearly infallible, isn't it?

Pete S, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:35 (twenty years ago) link

We're all just quark-gluon soup. (Mostly, anyway.)

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:35 (twenty years ago) link

I've not mentioned mysticism.

Pete S, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:36 (twenty years ago) link

Does quantum theory mean that 'things' or events exist only so far as they can be experimentally measured?

Also if events on a quantum level can't be determined, does that mean the whole concept of causality has to be re-worked?

What about the explanatory chain, does it come to an end at the quantum level and what are the logical implications of that?

Jonathan Z., Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:38 (twenty years ago) link

I was oversimplifying, true dat. What I mean is, until something has been perceived, it is undefined.

Closer but not quite true either. :)

Funny isn't it Mr Noodles - i've not caricatured anyone else's beliefs (and all science is a theory remember), but you feel happy to pour scorn. Well whatever you think is clearly infallible, isn't it?

Hey, sorry didn't intend to be mean.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:39 (twenty years ago) link

philosophy is physical science's bitch.

Dale the Titled (cprek), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:39 (twenty years ago) link

Does quantum theory mean that 'things' or events exist only so far as they can be experimentally measured?

No. It just means that your observing and measuring them will affect certain outcomes.

Also if events on a quantum level can't be determined, does that mean the whole concept of causality has to be re-worked?

Quantum results are not absolutes, but rather probabilities. So while certain results are not uniform, result A can be more probabilistically favorable than result B.

What about the explanatory chain, does it come to an end at the quantum level and what are the logical implications of that?

Just because things are less predicatable does not predicate them being unexplainable.

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:43 (twenty years ago) link

Whatever dude. Bill Nye knows, and thats all that matters.

Spinktor the Unmerciful (mawill5), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 15:44 (twenty years ago) link

Feckin Planck...

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:25 (twenty years ago) link

If you can't absolutely determine the smallest of things, then how can you expect to make unimpeachable statements about what those small things compose and affect?

depends what the statements are ?
when my central heating broke down i didn't call in a subatomic physicist to fix the boiler because 'the atoms weren't working properly'
(though obviously it would have been good to have that call recorded on Scottish Gas' helpline)

Snowy Mann (rdmanston), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:27 (twenty years ago) link

Planck should have fudged his results and we never would have been in this mess.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:28 (twenty years ago) link

if your dealing with central heating or cooling, statistical mechanics is much more handy.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:29 (twenty years ago) link

greasy-rag mechanics works too

Snowy Mann (rdmanston), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:29 (twenty years ago) link

Cowboy physicist inspects boiler:
"It's yer atoms mate. They need replacing. That's pricey but I can get you a new lot for a pound each!"

mark s (mark s), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:32 (twenty years ago) link

i didn't call in a subatomic physicist to fix the boiler because 'the atoms weren't working properly'

Being as they would be a subatomic physicist, what did you expect?

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:35 (twenty years ago) link

This is still going?

Spinktor the Unmerciful (mawill5), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:36 (twenty years ago) link

Its the Boise-Einstein clan that have decided to stop working with the Fermi-Dirac clan and you got a blood feud breaking out.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:37 (twenty years ago) link

Quantum gravity vs. relativistic electroweak force FITE!

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:38 (twenty years ago) link

Someone - I forget who - has posited a connection between quantum theory and consciousness, to cover the so-called 'explanatory gap' in the consciousness debate. Now, if that were true (or even simply the fact that a scientist can think it might be true) then quantum theory might well have a huge effect on the non-subatomic world.

Jonathan Z., Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:39 (twenty years ago) link

No one's denying that quantum theory can have a huge effect on the non-subatomic world. We're just denying that the implications within the subatomic world can simply be cut and pasted into larger scenarios wholesale.

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:40 (twenty years ago) link

generally, science has been used as useful tropes to explore the relationship of various epistemologies with each other. not just cut/paste

possible m (mandinina), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:44 (twenty years ago) link

You guys jumped the shark.

Spinktor the Unmerciful (mawill5), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:45 (twenty years ago) link

well, the various aspects of science. so the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, revealing the limits of science, is important in itself -- especially because so many social sciences have striven for the purity of 'real science'.

possible m (mandinina), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:46 (twenty years ago) link

well, the various aspects of science. meant, um to clarify my earlier post.....

possible m (mandinina), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:46 (twenty years ago) link

Oh, to sort of answer the question:
If you stop moving completely, aka your energy drops to 0ev, you may perhaps disappear. I remeber someone mentioning this while lecturing on electron traps.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:47 (twenty years ago) link

Godel, Escher, Bach.

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:47 (twenty years ago) link

If you stop moving completely, aka your energy drops to 0ev, you may perhaps disappear.

But wouldn't you have to be at absolute zero? Which pretty much kills entropy.

Girolamo Savonarola, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:48 (twenty years ago) link

Heisenberg amoung other things, showed everyone the importance of commuting, and not just to work.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:49 (twenty years ago) link

But wouldn't you have to be at absolute zero? Which pretty much kills entropy.

Yup, which is why its not possible at this time. Please hang up and try again.

Mr Noodles (Mr Noodles), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:50 (twenty years ago) link

Being as they would be a subatomic physicist, what did you expect?

that to fix a system you need to understand its constituent parts ?


ref: micro-vs-macro:
did anyone here see a Horizon prog a few months ago (or more?) about freakishly huge waves (eg 100 ft) of really short duration that randomly sink loads of ships per year?

as far as i can recall there was a suggestion that these things were some kind of macro-world equivalent (or even a kind of 'manifestation') of 'waves' as understood via quantum weirdness - conventional hydro-whatever theory couldn't understand them atall -
they even had a Proper Quantum Physicist Filmed In Front Of Scribblymath Whiteboard on the prog, making all the comparisons and predictions...
once they had figured what they were looking for, satellite imagery showed these isolated monster waves popping up then disappearing all over the oceans

i reckon it must have been Scary-Science crud, otherwise this macro-manifestation would be really really famous by now ?

Snowy Mann (rdmanston), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:51 (twenty years ago) link

boiler fixed:
'that'll be 2^5739995848207837573829234758983738598758 pounds please mate....oh and there's yer VAT to be added on'

Snowy Mann (rdmanston), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 16:55 (twenty years ago) link

"Someone - I forget who - has posited a connection between quantum theory and consciousness, to cover the so-called 'explanatory gap' in the consciousness debate."

Quantum theory in respect to philosophy of mind is a total red herring. Roger Penrose is a stunningly intelligent mathematician – that he fell for it's charms is something I've yet to come to terms with. http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~philos/MindDict/quantum.html

I sound very big-headed there, but the Penrose thing really does get to me.

Alan (Alan), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 17:04 (twenty years ago) link

Conspiracy!!!! My similar post to Alan's saying how much I detest the wrongheadedness of the mystery of consciousness=mytery of quantumness in the Emperor's New Mind was so apparent to me that an arrogant 20 year old almost staked his entire academic career on it (and of course lost). Penrose's idiocy in this matter suggests he is not as bright as Alan suggests. No big head comes into it.

Pete (Pete), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 17:21 (twenty years ago) link

Pete, yr post doesn't make sense!

Ricardo (RickyT), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 17:25 (twenty years ago) link

That's how angry even the mention of Roger Penrose makes me.

Pete (Pete), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 17:26 (twenty years ago) link

Even when talking abt his tiles?

Ricardo (RickyT), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 17:28 (twenty years ago) link

Even the tiles. (Crazy paving is not maths).

Pete (Pete), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 17:32 (twenty years ago) link

I did try to read the Penrose book ages ago, but I couldn't get to grips with the technicalities of his argument. There is a good debunking of it though in Searle's 'The Mystery Of Consciousness', which is a good overview on current consciousness theories (but weak on positing any actual theory per se).

Jonathan Z., Wednesday, 3 December 2003 17:35 (twenty years ago) link

The theory of quantum mechanics implies we are all hostages of circumstance.

Aimless, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 17:37 (twenty years ago) link

Quantum mechanics proves Ryan Adams Rock n Roll is the best album ever. Whod've thunk it?

Pete S, Wednesday, 3 December 2003 18:11 (twenty years ago) link

re the freakwaves prog: the relationship to quantum mechanics was that the (ocean) wave system can better (sometimes) be described by similar wave equations to those found in quantum mechanics - ie not just the 'linear" wave equations that are usually (for simplicity, but reasonably successfully) used to describe sea-systems, but cannot account for the height and relative commonness of freak waves

there was no suggestion that this was any sort of macro quantum effect...

i am sad at the penrose hate as he wz my non-euclidean geometry lecturer - and he invented this:
http://www.cameron.edu/~lloydd/webdoc1.htg/section2/PENROSE.GIF

and this:
http://amazing-space.stsci.edu/resources/explorations/blackholes/teacher/graphics/black%20hole%20diagram.jpg

mark s (mark s), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 21:54 (twenty years ago) link

i suspect his book is poor however

mark s (mark s), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 21:56 (twenty years ago) link

"I'm not even going to touch 3 cause its a good question and would require me to go pour over several large books again."


I realize this makes me a big gay meerkat, but I was enjoying reading this debate till ya misspelled "pore." PORE NOT POUR DAMMITALL! Unless you mean that you are going to turn into a liquid and flow around the pages till you've absorbed all the knowledge and then turn back into a Mr. Noodles again. That would be thexthy.

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 23:09 (twenty years ago) link

mr noodles is a gas-based lifeform, ann

mark s (mark s), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 23:11 (twenty years ago) link

I WILL NOT MAKE A STUPID BUSH FAMILY JOKE OH GOD HELP ME I'M ABOUT TO POST THIS AREN'T I?

...

I have to stop thinking about politics. I spent all holiday listening to my mother scream at the president on TV and all I can hear is this embittered voice in my head. Somebody, quick, convey the essence of light and matter in one simple catchy lyric so's we can all smoke a doob and listen to the stereo!

Ann Sterzinger (Ann Sterzinger), Wednesday, 3 December 2003 23:24 (twenty years ago) link

he invented penrose tiles too, no? Those things are k-rad and "prove" things too tho i forget what and also figure in computer science tho i forget how -- map to an np-complete?

Sterling Clover (s_clover), Thursday, 4 December 2003 02:07 (twenty years ago) link

two months pass...
Was this whole thread spawned from the PBS program about quantum physics, which I recall seeing around this time?

dleone (dleone), Thursday, 5 February 2004 06:19 (twenty years ago) link

No.

Jonathan Z. (Joanthan Z.), Thursday, 5 February 2004 11:02 (twenty years ago) link

eighteen years pass...

The Nobel prize for physics this year went to three experimenters who have, independently and over the years, finally proved that local realism is false. (Local: influences can't travel faster than light; realism: things have definite properties or values even when you're not looking them.) I thought this had been done long ago but apparently there were loopholes - the last experiment, as far as I can tell, was in 2017. I used to be very keen on this stuff, actually knew the maths behind Bell's inequalities, held a candle for hidden variable theories.

ledge, Thursday, 27 October 2022 07:47 (one year ago) link

eight months pass...

Interesting backstory on that Nobel win:
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-little-known-origin-story-behind-the-2022-nobel-prize-in-physics/

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 10 July 2023 17:13 (eleven months ago) link

Good article, thanks! Nobel committee = fuckwits. One thing, I'm sure Scientific American know better than me but where it says an action performed on one particle (such as measurement) affects the other - well. it's just measurement, isn't it, not any old action? You can't wiggle one and have the other wiggle, as I read in some sf novel decades ago, or you could send ftl messages, which is still forbidden. The loophole with measurement is that you don't know what value you'll get when you measure, it's a correlation of random values.

a holistic digital egosystem (ledge), Monday, 10 July 2023 19:58 (eleven months ago) link

There are some YouTube explainers posted in the wake of the Nobel win with better visualizations on all this, but yeah "no information" as it's described means exactly that. No fancy quantum radios, encryption, etc. I don't even think you could count on it as a good random number generator. Conceptually, this may be harder to bust than FTL unless you could somehow operationally work in higher dimensions. Searching on "weakly coupled interacting quantum field theories" will dig up some mathematics papers on exactly that, but that's the double black diamond ski run for that sort of thing. You gotta be both Doctor Strange *and* Carl Sagan to do anything fun.

I'm imagining a Wong Kar-Wai biopic of Chien-Shiung Wu and completely forgot about that overblown physicist movie that's coming out now.

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 11 July 2023 07:08 (eleven months ago) link

ilx had some folks that drank the What the Bleep Do We Know? Koolaid back when

New No-No Bettencourt (Sufjan Grafton), Tuesday, 11 July 2023 07:26 (eleven months ago) link

One of my best "wow, of course this is how it ends" expressions was when I learned that one of that movie's directors later ended up being involved in NXIVM

Elvis Telecom, Tuesday, 11 July 2023 07:54 (eleven months ago) link

"You'll get no result unless you put enough in"

Mark G, Tuesday, 11 July 2023 08:20 (eleven months ago) link

I'm somehow less impressed - less awestruck maybe - by the philosophical implications than I used to be. I mean even classical physics says the world doesn't confirm to our intuitions - solid matter being mostly empty space & all that. The implications of qm are perhaps qualitatively different - things (i.e. property values) not existing till you measure them can't be written off as an effect of scale like the previous example. But you could, perhaps, if you squint, write it off as a mathematical quirk of whatever the underlying reality is; after all something - perhaps represented by the wave function, whatever that is - does exist regardless of measurement. It's certainly hard to tease out any solid philosophical implications beyond 'things ain't what they seem', and yes tying it in to the mystery of consciousness is a fool's errand and easily leads to woo.

a holistic digital egosystem (ledge), Tuesday, 11 July 2023 08:23 (eleven months ago) link

There's probably a boatload of practical implications of QC advances that will likely overturn a lot of BS philosophical arguments -- the one I'm looking forward to the most is crypto bro musings on the lofty nature of trustless decentralized society squashed by sufficiently powerful computers wrecking the entire encryption basis of all their funny monies.

Though fair enough, crypto bros have also done their part in exposing the moral flimsiness of tenured philosophers like MacAskill by having him credulously shill for them, then imploding.

Maybe this is more implications of attention-grabbing tulip-mania driving philosophical discourse than anything particularly quantum-y, though.

re: Wu and Oppenheimer, the article mentions Oppenheimer going to bat for her despite being unable to bring her along to the Manhattan Project -- maybe she makes an appearance in the movie?

Philip Nunez, Tuesday, 11 July 2023 23:06 (eleven months ago) link

ten months pass...

Today in abstracts you can use: The binding of cosmological structures by massless topological defects

Assuming spherical symmetry and weak field, it is shown that if one solves the Poisson equation or the Einstein field equations sourced by a topological defect, i.e. a singularity of a very specific form, the result is a localized gravitational field capable of driving flat rotation (i.e. Keplerian circular orbits at a constant speed for all radii) of test masses on a thin spherical shell without any underlying mass. Moreover, a large-scale structure which exploits this solution by assembling concentrically a number of such topological defects can establish a flat stellar or galactic rotation curve, and can also deflect light in the same manner as an equipotential (isothermal) sphere. Thus, the need for dark matter or modified gravity theory is mitigated, at least in part.

I just assumed that once brollionaires get time machines and begin rolling coal with tachyons, the amount of space-time distortion these jackasses pollute places like the JFK assassination, Pompeii, the Titanic, etc. with would be a serious problem, but maybe these nexus types of events need to happen?

Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 9 June 2024 05:20 (five days ago) link


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