Thursday, January 26, 2006

effective theories, dualities, and the chinese medicine

inspired by debates on the chinese medicine in xys, i would like to say something about concepts called effective theories and dualities. is it possible to incorporate the traditional chinese medicine into the framework of western medicine?

recent developments in elementary particle physics (and in superstring physics) have made some concepts, such as dualities, effective theories and so on, to be very useful and interesting. for an example, let us talk about the particle pion. the pion is a meson which mediates strong interaction (like that photons mediate electromagnetic interaction). this interaction combines protons and neutrons tightly inside nuclei. the quantum chromodynamics provides a basic description for the pion, such as a pion is made of quarks and gluons. at low energies, however, the quantum chromodynamics cannot give definite predictions to the pion behavior by ordinary calculations. at low energies, pion can be better described by the chiral perturbation theory. this theory is a low energy effective theory of the quantum chromodynamics. instead of being regarded as a composite particle, the effective theory takes pions as basic degrees of freedom. the effective theory provides a dual description to the quantum chromodynamics with a very different language.

dual theories often adopt totally different basic degrees of freedom, terminologies, and therefore different laws. the interesting point of dualities lies in the fact that duality is a general phenomena. an example in biology is that the darwin's theory of evolution can be regarded as an effective and dual theory of the dna theory in describing creatures in a long time scale. it is quite general that the microscopic description is more fundamental than its dual description. however fundamentalness does not necessarily mean usefulness. in certain cases effective theories make clear and powerful descriptions, whereas microscopic theories are incapable of working.

i know little about the chinese (oriental) medicine. its basic concepts are totally different from the western one. it uses different terminology. for examples, it takes the human body as a whole with a net connected; it roughly classifes some diseases according to "yin" and "yang". but i know that it is useful in some cases. since 1950's, china has tried to combine the traditional chinese medicine with the western medicine in medical research. there might be some progress. but i do not know how deep the reseach has reached.

i wonder if the basic chinese medicine, or some part of it can be regarded as a dual medicine which is an effective theory of the western medicine. if this is true, this part chinese medicine maybe given a real scientific foundation. if this conjecture makes sense, the following conditions must be satisfied.

1. the basic chinese medicine theory (or some part of it) is valid in some regions, and in some cases where the western medicine cannot provide clear description. even though the western medicine is more foundamental, it does not mean it has clear pictures everywhere. of course this part of chinese medicine should not be in contradictory with the western medicine. furthermore, it may have some general support from the western medicine's theory.

2. it must be a subject of sciences. namely it is based on experiments. it is falsifiable. but for the time being it is not necessarily to have obvious relation to the western medicine, because this detailed relation maybe hard to be found . in principle, the chinese medicine will be derived from the western medicine finally.

3. the other large part of the whole chinese medicine should be thrown away. it would be too much accidental if the whole chinese medicine is the dual medicine of the western medicine. in this sense, the chinese medicine must have limited application, compared to the western medicine.

i have noted that several days ago, a friend asked if the two medicine theories can be regarded as two different pictures of the same theory. i think it is more reasonable to regard the chinese medicine theory to be an effective one of the western medicine. the latter describes human body microscopically, which is therefore more foundamental. on the other hand, the chinese medicine theory takes a human body as an integral object. this picture should be only valid in some limited situation, if it is not nonsense at all. finally i want to add that this is not a hoax post. the relation between the two medicine theories is just a conjecture. other people might have the same idea.

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