The insanity of non-realism

A special section about sanity in modern physics

The insanity of non-realism

Postby minkwe » Sun Mar 16, 2014 7:40 pm

To appreciate one particularly troubling insanity in modern physics, consider the so called "experimental evidence" that realism is "untenable".

We set out assuming that a single particle pair has simultaneous values for 4 observables A, B, C, D. And this assumption is supposed to be the realism assumption. We then derive a relationship between those observables in the form of inequalities.
But unfortunately we are only able to measure two of those observables since we only have 2 particles in a pair. But maybe if we measure A, B on our initial particles, and C, D on two different particles then we can use those outcomes. It turns out, the outcomes we obtain in such a manner violate the inequalities we obtained by making our realism assumption. So we conclude with straight faces that therefore A, B, C, D do not simultaneously exist and therefore the realism assumption is false.

If this was not so insane, it would be funny. What we have in fact proven is the obvious and trivial result that the A, B, C, D that we measured are not all simultaneous values from a single particle pair. Duh, we measured them from different particle pairs, why would any sane scientist expect properties measured on different particle pairs to all belong to the same pair in fist place? Maybe if we use statistics we can try to obscure the fact that we measured the wrong outcomes and therefore can not legitimately use them in our original inequality.
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby FrediFizzx » Sun Mar 16, 2014 9:24 pm

minkwe wrote:To appreciate one particularly troubling insanity in modern physics, consider the so called "experimental evidence" that realism is "untenable".

Just another case of Nature tricking us; or actually we are tricking ourselves. Or better... the people that believe that there is experimental evidence that realism is untenable are tricking themselves. Simply by not paying attention to all the options available to us.

To the rest of what you say about the particle pairs and observables, it seems to me that it is insanely hilarious not just funny or insane. But I am hoping not everyone actually believes it even though there seems to be at least one person we know that does. I like your link. :-)
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby gill1109 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:38 am

I am not aware of any incontrovertible experimental evidence that realism is untenable.

The first loophole free Bell type experiment is still perhaps five years ahead of us.

When it is done, we may (according to Bell) logically choose to reject either locality, or realism, or no-conspiracy.

But for the time being (and maybe forever: cf. Bell's fifth position) we may hold on to all three.
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby gill1109 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:42 am

minkwe wrote:We set out assuming that a single particle pair has simultaneous values for 4 observables A, B, C, D.

This assumption can be safely made when we are talking about computer simuations of local hidden variables models:

A(a, lambda), A(a', lambda), B(b, lambda) and B(b', lambda) are all simultaneously defined, whether or not the programmer has explicitly calculated all of them, or only some of them, in his or her code.

If you are simulating a CHSH-style experimenter, then the random setting choices by Alice and Bob do randomly select to observe either A(a, lambda) or A(a', lambda); and either B(b, lambda) or B(b', lambda).

Statistics (without lies or damned lies) can reliably be used to estimate the mean value of, say, A(a, lambda) x B(b, lambda), even though this product has only been observed on a random subsample of one quarter of the particle pairs.

de Raedt, Hess and Michielsen use the statistical ideas of Larsson and Gill to develop their coincidence loophole event based simulation models. Similarly, Giullaume Adenier is presently using the same statistical ideas to investigate the reliability of various quantum cryptographic schemes. The point is that if a quantum cryptogrpaphic scheme can be simulated by local hidden variables, then it is not secure at all. So the limits of computer simulation of quantum entanglement is a very important and well-studied topic.

Apparently, Minkwe thinks that de Raedt and Adenier are now insane. A curious development.
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby Joy Christian » Mon Mar 17, 2014 1:02 pm

minkwe wrote:Duh, we measured them from different particle pairs, why would any sane scientist expect properties measured on different particle pairs to all belong to the same pair in first place?

Hear, hear.

In this world there is no voodoo, no non-reality, no non-locality, no indeterminism, no conspiracy, no loss of freedom, no backward causation, and no many "words".

But there surely are lies, damned lies, and statistics. Not to mention colossal insanity.
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby minkwe » Mon Mar 17, 2014 3:45 pm

FrediFizzx wrote:But I am hoping not everyone actually believes it even though there seems to be at least one person we know that does. I like your link. :-)

I hope you are right and only a few believe it. But I'm afraid those few are in high enough places to cause enough nuisance for the young aspiring physicist that the truly smart may avoid theoretical physics altogether. And then we'll have negative selection. We've had 50 years of negative selection already (actually more like 90, if you consider that it all began with Bohr and not Bell). Unfortunately the end is not yet in sight.

ET Jaynes, who immediately spotted one of the problems with Bell's analysis was similarly anguished about the state of modern physics:
http://bayes.wustl.edu/etj/articles/backward.look.pdf
But after all, how can one build rationally from a theory whose basic principles are in this condition: Present quantum theory uses relativistic wave equations, but tries to solve them with propagators that -- quite aside from the divergences -- violate relativity by failing to vanish outside the light-cone, and run backward in time! What can this possibly mean?
On a more elementary level, present quantum theory claims on the one hand that local microevents have no physical causes, only probability laws; but at the same time admits (from the EPR paradox) instantaneous action at a distance! Today we have in full flower the blatant, spooky contradictions that Einstein foresaw and warned us about 60 years ago, and there is no way to reason logically from them. This mysticism must be replaced by a physical interpretation that restores the possibility of thinking rationally about the world.
We see the effects of this in the fact that today, a large portion of research in theoretical physics has been reduced to wheel-spinning; random fiddling with the mathematics of the old theory, without giving a thought to its physical foundations. One would think that the folly of this might have been learned from the example of Einstein; yet his repeated warnings go unheeded even as his worst fears are realized before our eyes.
I believe the answer to this must be that our present formalism contains two different things. It represents in part properties of the real world, in part our information about
the world; but all scrambled up so that we do not see how to disentangle them.
...
David Hestenes thinks that his reformulation of the Dirac equation accomplishes this separation into the subjective and objective features of the theory; in our view this is an attractive possibility
...

Interesting isn't it. This is why Joy's work is so important, it is the first serious attempt to restore sanity.

Jaynes said something else I think we should all heed: (checkout the section on "Dealing with Critics", page 272 onwards)
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby FrediFizzx » Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:28 pm

I like this part,

"Therefore, to anyone who has new ideas of a currently unconventional kind, I want to
give this advice, in the strongest possible terms: Do not allow yourself to be discouraged
or deflected from your course by negative criticisms -- particularly those that were invented
for the sole purpose of discouraging you -- unless they exhibit some clear and specific error
of reasoning or conflict with experiment. Unless they can do this, your critics are almost
certainly wrong, but to reply by trying to show exactly where and why they are wrong
would be wasted effort which would not convince your critics and would only keep you
from the far more important, constructive things that you might have accomplished in the
same time. Let others deal with them; if you allow your enemies to direct your work, then
they have won after all."
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby gill1109 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:08 am

minkwe wrote:ET Jaynes, who immediately spotted one of the problems with Bell's analysis, ...

This is what Caroline Thompson (a very sane statistician) wrote about Jaynes:
A. F. Kracklauer (private communication) argues that Bell “misused the chain rule” of probability theory. [To me, his arguments amount to evidence that he has not understood the role of hidden variables.] E. T. Jaynes argues that Bell should have used Bayesian methods. See his article: “Clearing up the mysteries (the original goal)”, pp. 1-27 of Maximum Entropy and Bayesian Methods, J. Skilling, Editor, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Holland (1989), http://bayes.wustl.edu/etj/articles/cmystery.pdf
[Much as I admire Jaynes, he is wrong here. Indeed, his simple example of balls in a “Bernouilli urn” is not appropriate, since in the real experiments we effectively have sampling with replacement, not without.]

Footnote 15 at:
http://freespace.virgin.net/ch.thompson1/Papers/The%20Record/TheRecord.htm

Notice that Jaynes does recommend to take account of substantive criticism:
Do not allow yourself to be discouraged or deflected from your course by negative criticisms ... unless they exhibit some clear and specific error
of reasoning or conflict with experiment

Of course, one needs to keep an open mind, in particular, open to the possibility that one might be wrong, or one will not be able to see clear and specific errors or conflicts with experiment, however forcibly people try to point them out to you. Tunnel-vision.

Insanity in science: recent events on this forum remind me of the mentality of the crowds in Ukraine. There is a lot of jeering and shouting. High emotions. Topics are suddenly closed. People have their "last word" on a subject, say someone else is an idiot, and storm out, slamming the door shut behind them. No-one responds to substantive remarks; for instance, no-one responds to:
http://www.sciphysicsforums.com/spfbb1/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=34#p964
or to:
http://www.sciphysicsforums.com/spfbb1/viewtopic.php?f=21&t=34#p963

People criticise a paper and accuse its author of dishonesty, cheating, lying, ... but refuse to say yes or no to the question: is the main (mathematical) theorem of that paper a true or false mathematical theorem?
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby minkwe » Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:09 am

Sane eh?
a very sane statistician) wrote ... “Bernouilli urn” is not appropriate, since in the real experiments we effectively have sampling with replacement, not without.

Demonstrates my point exactly, and I like Caroline Thompson. She obviously did not understand Jaynes. She had good company.

BTW, it is insanity to expect people to constantly respond to insults and misrepresentations, it gets tiring. If scientists want dialog (rather than monologue) they should be willing to listen, understand and then either agree or disagree constructively. Virtual stalking doesn't help either.
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby gill1109 » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:13 am

minkwe wrote:it is insanity to expect people to constantly respond to insults and misrepresentations, it gets tiring. If scientists want dialog (rather than monologue) they should be willing to listen, understand and then either agree or disagree constructively.

My two points exactly. So there are at least two things, about which we are all in total agreement!

Dialogue: do you agree with the proof of my theorem? I'm assuming that you understand its statement. I understand that you have some problems with the assumptions, but please let's postpone discussion of the assumptions for a moment.

If you don't understand the statement of the theorem, do just tell me, so that I can try to explain.

The mathematical methods here have been succesfully used in recent years by de Raedt, Hess and Michielsen; and by Giullaume Adenier. Caroline Thompson already understood them well. Phil Pearle put the main ideas on the table back in 1970. I honestly believe there are ideas here which can be useful to anyone who wants to build simulation models of local hidden variables models for EPR-B type experiments.

This I can also explain, but it seems to me sensible to structure the discussion and to break it into small pieces. Let's first just look at a small piece of pure mathematics. When looking at that piece of mathematics, we accept the assumptions of the theorem. They are just given, more or less abstract assumptions. Something like: "consider a triangle ABC in the plane". Making deductions from these assumptions, does not imply commitment to any particular position with regard to physics.

We need to understand the statement of the theorem, and we might like to look at its proof. If it seems OK, we could investigate whether or not it could have any relevance to performance issues of a computer program like epr-simple. I know that your prior opinion is "no". My prior opinion is "yes". So we have an opportunity for growth of knowledge.
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby minkwe » Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:36 pm

Dialogue: do you agree with the proof of my theorem? ....
As I've already explained in the appropriate thread, I'm not interested in continuing that discussion with you especially since we already agreed to cease the discussion between us:
minkwe wrote:And since you say my claims (1) to (12) above are "nonsense", feel free to ignore them.. There is no point continuing this discussion then.

gill1109 wrote:Good idea. Discussion closed.

When I say discussion closed, I mean it. Your thread is still open, and anyone else who is interested can participate and you can dialogue with them and explain to your heart's content why your theorem is great.

To me it is insane to pursue and pressure with the intent to elicit a response from someone you describe as "refusing to learn mathematics", "having tunnel vision", "unable to see evidence", "blinded by prior beliefs", "refuses to think", "completely incoherent", "full of self-contradictions", "should concentrate on writing nice computer programs [instead of discussing mathematics]", "can't read mathematics", "writes absolute nonsense", etc, etc.. To mirror Groucho Marx, I don't want to discuss with people who will discuss with people like that.
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby gill1109 » Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:26 am

minkwe wrote:To me it is insane to pursue and pressure with the intent to elicit a response from someone you describe as "refusing to learn mathematics", "having tunnel vision", "unable to see evidence", "blinded by prior beliefs", "refuses to think", "completely incoherent", "full of self-contradictions", "should concentrate on writing nice computer programs [instead of discussing mathematics]", "can't read mathematics", "writes absolute nonsense", etc, etc.. To mirror Groucho Marx, I don't want to discuss with people who will discuss with people like that.


Unlike Groucho Marx, I do like to discuss with anyone, especially with people who strongly disagree with me, because that gives me the greatest opportunity for learning. Learning mistakes, maybe discovering new ways to communicate.

Obviously, I shall not quote the multitude of similar comments on my work made earlier than mine, by the poster of the last item on this thread. I am sure that the impression I got from his writings was deceptive and I'm sorry I was provoked to impolite responses. I sincerely believe that everyone active on this forum is perfectly capable of discussing mathematical limits of computer simulations of local hidden variables models.

So it remains a mystery to me whether someone who wrote such (in my opinion misplaced) criticism of my work ever actually understood the statement of the theorem. The same mystery why Fred Diether and Joy Christian, to name a couple of persons, consistently refused to give a straight answer to the question, whether or not they agreed with the theorem. You can agree with Pythagoras' theorem without committing yourself to some particular view on quantum foundations! This suggests to me that such people have misunderstood some basic issues. I recall a similar breakdown in communication with Karl Hess and Walter Phillip (RIP), and with Al Kraklauer. There are many people who get stuck at this point. Often, they are stuck in misperceptions or misreadings of other people's work.

If only we could get over this initial hurdle, we would be in a good position to restart a positive dialogue. Just like my friends and acquaintances Hans de Raedt and Guillaume Adenier did, I believe many people would profit greatly from what they would learn. So what are they scared of? This is what I call insanity in physics.
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby minkwe » Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:46 am

gill1109 wrote:So it remains a mystery to me whether someone who wrote such (in my opinion misplaced) criticism of my work ever actually understood the statement of the theorem.

They've stated their criticism of your work, you've stated your opinion about their criticism. Everyone else can judge based on the arguments on both sides. If you feel you haven't presented your argument clearly enough, nothing prevents you from presenting it in more clearly, independently of what your critics say.

The same mystery why Fred Diether and Joy Christian, to name a couple of persons, consistently refused to give a straight answer to the question, whether or not they agreed with the theorem. You can agree with Pythagoras' theorem without committing yourself to some particular view on quantum foundations!

The only mystery is the continuous insistence that others take an abstract rabbit trail with zero relevance to what they are interested in, i.e. the foundations of quantum physics and local realistic models of performable experiments. This suggests to me that you have misunderstood why those abstract theorems are not relevant to the systems those people are interested in, as they have told you many times already.

I recall a similar breakdown in communication with Karl Hess and Walter Phillip (RIP), and with Al Kraklauer.

Not surprising to me at all, given my recent experience.

Just like my friends and acquaintances Hans de Raedt and Guillaume Adenier did

I would be very surprised if Hans and Guillaume agree that your theorem is relevant to the foundations of physics or any performable EPR-type experiment. In fact, I've communicated personally with one of them (I won't say which) and know for a fact that he does not agree with your characterization.

In any case, the following statements are all true:
- Your theorem can be true even if you are the only one who believes it
- Your theorem can be true and yet have no relevance to physics
- Physicists do not care whether a theorem which has no relevance to physics is true or false
- Just because someone is not interested in your theorem does not mean they are afraid of anything
- Just because someone is fed-up discussing with you does not mean they are afraid of anything
- You can present your theorem clearly on this forum whether or not specific people agree or not to specific axioms.
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby Joy Christian » Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:31 am

minkwe wrote:
gill1109 wrote:The same mystery why Fred Diether and Joy Christian, to name a couple of persons, consistently refused to give a straight answer to the question, whether or not they agreed with the theorem. You can agree with Pythagoras' theorem without committing yourself to some particular view on quantum foundations!

The only mystery is the continuous insistence that others take an abstract rabbit trail with zero relevance to what they are interested in, i.e. the foundations of quantum physics and local realistic models of performable experiments. This suggests to me that you have misunderstood why those abstract theorems are not relevant to the systems those people are interested in, as they have told you many times already.


I want to endorse this statement by minkwe so that gill1109 does not dismiss it as merely minkwe's opinion. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement by minkwe.
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby Mikko » Thu Mar 20, 2014 1:30 am

minkwe wrote:therefore the realism assumption is false

If the realism assumption is false and the opposite assumption is insane, how can one make any physics?
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby minkwe » Thu Mar 20, 2014 7:22 am

Mikko wrote:
minkwe wrote: So we conclude with straight faces that therefore A, B, C, D do not simultaneously exist therefore the realism assumption is false

If the realism assumption is false and the opposite assumption is insane, how can one make any physics?

It's all an illusion, local realism is alive and well. The same people who proclaim the demise of realism believe in it deep down.
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby gill1109 » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:15 am

minkwe wrote:The only mystery is the continuous insistence that others take an abstract rabbit trail with zero relevance to what they are interested in, i.e. the foundations of quantum physics and local realistic models of performable experiments. This suggests to me that you have misunderstood why those abstract theorems are not relevant to the systems those people are interested in, as they have told you many times already.


So everyone here is happy to agree that my theorem could well be true. They just think it is irrelevant to physics.

I think they are wrong. My theorem is about computer simulations of local realistic models of performable experiments.

I ask such people to read section 9 of the paper where I show that it has relevance to a computer simulation (like Minkwe's "epr-simple") of a local hidden variables theory. I construct explicitly simultaneously values of the observables A, B, C, D, call them a, b, c, d, such that if Alice had chosen to measure A, she would see the value a, while if she had chosen to measure B, she would see the value b. Similary for Bob on the other side, who chooses either to measure C or D.

Counterfactual definiteness is a meaningful and true property of such a simulation experiment.

Are computer simulation experiments relevant to physics? If so, then mathematical-logical deductions of necessary properties of such simulations can be relevant to physics too.
Last edited by gill1109 on Fri Mar 21, 2014 1:04 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby gill1109 » Fri Mar 21, 2014 12:23 am

minkwe wrote:The only mystery is the continuous insistence that others take an abstract rabbit trail with zero relevance to what they are interested in, i.e. the foundations of quantum physics and local realistic models of performable experiments. This suggests to me that you have misunderstood why those abstract theorems are not relevant to the systems those people are interested in, as they have told you many times already.


No, I have tried to explain many times why this is not an abstract rabbit trail at all. But since some participants are convinced a priori it is an abstract rabbit trail, they don't bother to investigate where it leads, and hence they do not find the pot of gold at the end of the trail.

Which de Raedt and Adenier did both find!

Regarding Adenier: take a look at http://arxiv.org/abs/1102.3366, "Multiple-Photon Absorption Attack on Entanglement-Based Quantum Key Distribution Protocols", by Guillaume Adenier, Irina Basieva, Andrei Yu. Khrennikov, Masanori Ohya, Noboru Watanabe, who cite and use results from the papers of Pearle, Larsson, Garg and Mermin.

Regarding de Raedt: note the words "Recalling that the dichotomic character of the variables was essential for the derivation of the Boole inequalities, it is unlikely that similar inequalities hold for the raw data Eq. (126), for an exception see Ref. 58" which is J. A. Larsson and R. D. Gill, Europhys. Lett. 67, 707 (2004). This quotation comes from the paper "Extended Boole-Bell Inequalities Applicable to Quantum Theory", H. De Raedt, K. Hess, and K. Michielsen; Journal of Computational and Theoretical Nanoscience, Volume 8, Number 6, June 2011, pp. 1011-1039(29).

Note: I am not talking about metaphysics here. I am talking about the mathematical analysis of computational algorithms. De Raedt and Minkwe are both interested in computer simulations of physical systems. Hence they could in principle both benefit from insight gained by a mathematical analysis of the algorithms they are using. Adenier is also interested in this, because he is interested in potential attacks on quantum cryptography using classical simulation of quantum correlations. This has always been one of Larsson's main interests. De Raedt's results are perfectly consistent with those of Larsson and Gill and others. We have been saying for years that quantum correlations can be simulated in local realistic ways through use of the detection and the coincidence loopholes. We have shown exactly how far one can go. What is the top of the envelope. De Raedt is operating inside the envelope.

So far, all real experiments have been "inside the envelope", they do not definitively prove anything. That's why experimenters are currently excited that their pot of gold is perhaps finally within reach. See "Quantum mechanics braces for the ultimate test" by Zeeya Merali, Science 18 March 2011: Vol. 331 no. 6023 pp. 1380-1382
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby gill1109 » Fri Mar 21, 2014 4:11 am

Regarding the possible insanity of non-realism, anyone who thinks that rejecting "counterfactual definiteness" is insane, is quite free to do so. They have three or four other logical alternatives:

(1) non-locality,
(2) super-determinism aka conspiracy,
(3) a successful loohole free experiment will never be done

There are two conceivable reasons for (3), namely

(3a) because quantum mechanics is wrong or
(3b) because it is right

This last option is called "Bell's fifth position" and has been advanced by Santos and others (see Santos' paper "Bell ́s theorem and the experiments: Increasing empirical support to local realism?", http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0410193). The idea is that the uncertainty relations of QM could prevent one from being able to arrange simultaneously both the required time and space separation of measurements of two components of a bipartite system and the required joint entangled state of those two components.

So if one finds "realism" insane, one still has four other good alternatives.

However, in five years, if the definitive experiment has been gotten done in the meantime, one will just have two alternatives left: non-locality and super-determinism. In my opinion, super-determinism would be the insane choice. Non-locality is not attractive. Counterfactual definiteness is not so difficult to let go of! Though it does run counter to all our physical intuition. But our physical intuition is our "embodied cognition" deeply ingrained by evolution into our thought processes. (aka "systems of core knowledge". Every effect has a cause).
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Re: The insanity of non-realism

Postby FrediFizzx » Fri Mar 21, 2014 5:27 pm

Joy Christian's model says that a loophole free experiment is possible and probably will be done eventually. Mainly because we "don't care about any stinkin' loopholes." LOL! Loopholes have nothing to do with Joy's framework.
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