Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

The Big Scale

December 10, 2014

Contemporary physics on the nature of reality and the vast array of discoveries and inventions that ensued over the past few hundred years have shaped an understanding of the world that has transformed the planet (for better or worse) and improved and lengthened the lives of countless inhabitants (It has no doubt been the source of immense destruction of which I am aware but I don’t want to waste too many words giving equal measure to “good and evil” in this particular post). It has been the source of an immense transformation of a species. But today, in the most modern moment possible, it is still glaringly false. The laws of everyday life don’t work the same as the laws observed in the everyday life of the matter deep inside us.

General relativity and quantum physics don’t sync up. How can this be? How can hundreds of years of careful measurement, countless observation, and the lives and collective effort of millions of people get the most basic rules of our existence so irreparably wrong?

Maybe the answer lies, or part thereof, in the foundations. The rules that are so intuitively simple that they were never questioned in the first place.

Maybe a part of the answer lies in the limiting and arbitrary practice of defining scale.

I don’t have a degree in physics, or chemistry or maths nor am I up to date with all the research going on in those fields. But I do have a brain. So I guess I’d like to class myself as a philosopher of sorts. Credibility aside, education aside and all ego aside I feel the human mind is inherently powerful in its current design to tackle seemingly incomprehensible problems and arrive at answers that at least deserve further speculation, if not hint at Truth. With introspection, a desire to learn, a curiosity of the unknown and a healthy dose of imagination these are some of my ideas of how the universe may be assembled and understood so that our predictions meet our observations. Maybe even discover something that is truly True.

The Chaotic Theory of Nature

Patterns of self replication across all scales.

Firstly, to try to solve any problem lets start at the basics. Words. We use words to describe the things we can interact with in the world. We name objects. We define properties and create values for phenomenon. Very intuitive. But by doing this, we are locking the complexity of nature to the human construction of scale. We are taking the form of matter within a certain size, attributing a definition for this object at this current size and locking it to a world of rules and systems. The apple will fall, the apple will taste like an apple. But as discoveries and experiment have helped us understand an apple is not really an apple. An apple could be described as a vast collection of cells, proteins, enzymes and processes that result in an organism that can reproduce and photosynthesise. Or we could call it a collection of molecules prey to entropy and the fundamental physical laws. The smaller we go down the harder it becomes to pin down exactly what an apple actually is. We merely move from biology to chemistry to particle physics to theoretical particle physics to philosophy, where surely it all ends.

So lets think on a completely different tangent for a moment before we fall too far down that rabbit hole. How can we free ourselves from these conceptual boundaries of how to accurately perceive reality and the universe around us? What are some concepts that can exist regardless of scale?

Shapes are an example. Numbers another. Values exist without scale. Values is a tricky word and it’s a placeholder until I can think of a better one but I would like values to be attributed to what I would describe as the “harmony within nature”(still no clearer). The values are the physical laws, like gravity and electromagnetism, but in this sense they exist as something more too. Attributing the word value rather than fundamental law helps keep a scaleless perspective on these pervasive forces. These values guide the physical movements of matter within the world. These movements just so happen to be responsible for this planet, the sun, the galaxies and all the life and things living in it too. These values are more than mathematical formulas that can predict scaleless physical phenomena; they have guided this collection of molecules to behave, to seek comfort, to eat, to live and almost most importantly: to think.

So we have shapes, numbers, and values in our cookpot of scalelessness. The next two on the list are time and probability. Time is a no-brainer but I would like to explain why I think probability is important. Brian Greene and Lawrence Krauss have a lot to say about Nothing and reading their work on the subject got me wondering. Like the Higgs field could there exist a probability field? We know of virtual particles and their almost impossibly tiny lifespans. Could it also be possible that these virtual particles are the result of a field of probability that when excited produce points of concentrated density that fluctuate to a probability of One.

(I’m just going to add that the next bit does have a point, mind the pun. It may be stretched out and I will probably write about the entirety of it within a few posts but for now humour me. This is going somewhere tangible, real, applicable to our observations of everyday life. For me thinking like this helped broaden my perspective, appreciation, insatiable curiosity and imagination on everything from a plume of smoke to the turbulent ripples in a flowing river.  Being aware of the world around us on a rational, emotional and philosophical perspective I believe helps me live a subjectively longer, more satisfying and more fulfilling life. )

So back to it. One being that within a particular boundary that point exists. It exists in a way that stands in contrast to the nothing that now surrounds it. As when there is nothing the only thing that can happen is that something can then within that nothing exist to define the boundary between the two. The only question is how the nothing produces time if itself is timeless. The probability of an event occurs without the boundary of time. The probability of me rolling a certain number on a die is not fixed to obey any constraints within time. It changes relative to the variables in the matter. Time affects matter, and matter affects the probability, but the probability itself exists timelessly. Flipping a coin will always have same probability, from the very beginning of universe to the very end.

So a timeless, spaceless, lawless void could exist if we can expand our mind to try to comprehend the idea of a dimension of probability. Its where numbers exist, it’s where the true nature of time exists (again with the tricky words. Try not to think of existing as living. More as being able to exert influence but not be tied to the causality of a matter filled universe). And it was there first. So my answer to the question raised long ago; how is it nothing can produce time? is that the nothing before the big bang was actually a dimensional field of probability, the probabilities can fluctuate and those fluctuations will at some point, at some place equal One, or the antithesis of no-thing, and thus defining the very nature of a thing and a place as the thing in the first place. Anyone who is familiar with the double slit experiment understands the probabilistic nature of the constituents of matter.

A field of probability can only do two things: fluctuate below the probability of a single point existing and fluctuate TO the probability of a single point existing. Nothing, or the empty space of the cosmic vacuum, exist as a field of probabilities whose locations do not fluctuate to the probability of one.

Phew. For now I will leave it there. If you’re reading this after reading that thank you for indulging me. And I shall continue to connect this idea to the marvellous beauty of the intricately vast universe around us.

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Is Gravity’s Effect on Time Perceptible?

November 28, 2014

The recent release of Interstellar has gotten a lot of people thinking heavily about gravity. And it’s about time! Yes maybe I’m just tagging linkable references in hopes of boosting my blog posts’ reach but I think the next idea is intriguing and want to hear what people think.

Gravity has an effect on time. The peculiarities of the fundamental force cause it to speed up or slow down the perception and ageing of an object relative to its strength. A recent clock has been made that is so sensitive it is failing to give an accurate “time” because the position of the clock relative to the earth causes it to tick at different rates, thanks to gravity. Other than this being a potentially incredible discovery into discovering the intricacies of gravity, this also tells us that time is sensitive.

As a subjective observer, how fast do you “feel” or “know” time is ticking. We all have the shared experience of a really stimulating and entertaining day as fast and a boring dreary one as slow. Our memories can be recalled irrespective of time. An entire day can be remembered in an instant, or we can drag out a faux pas and have it play for hours.

It may then not be so unimaginable to imagine that maybe our brains perception of time, the electrochemical signals travelling through neurons, may be sensitive to how fast we move and our generally relative gravity. Does a person sitting in a plane count his internal seconds ever so slightly slower than his grounded counterpart? Do two people sitting next to each other, over the course of a lifetime, ever so slightly feel as if they’ve lived longer than two people sitting apart?

Who knows. But they’re interesting questions nonetheless.