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August 27, 2016

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Setting Time Aright: The Public Panel Video [refresh]
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FQXi Administrator Zeeya Merali wrote on Sep. 25, 2011 @ 15:57 GMT
Those who weren’t at the Tycho Brahe Planetarium in Copenhagen for the Setting Time Aright meeting last month can now watch the video of public panel discussion on “Understanding How Time Works, From Cosmology to Cognition.” The panelists were Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist at Arizona State University, philosopher Tim Maudlin, from New York University, computer scientist (and “refugee physicist”) Raissa D’Souza at UC Davis, and neuroscientist David Eagleman from the Baylor College of Medicine. The discussion was moderated by physics writer, author and SciAm blogger, Jennifer Ouellette.

If you don’t have an hour to spare to watch the whole thing, below I’ve noted the position of various highlights that you can jump to. I’ve tried to credit the questions to those that asked them, where possible, because you can’t see the questioners on the video -- but if I have left you off, then let me know.

The first fifteen minutes or so introduces the speakers and some of the main problems with our understanding of time in physics, computer science and neuroscience: Does time flow? Can we understand time if we are embedded in it, like a fish trying to describe water? Does it make sense to say that a Gods-eye-view would look at the block universe from without? How is time related to complexity?

The floor was then opened to questions from the audience:

16:50 New Scientist’s Rowan Hooper, via the magic of the interweb, asked whether time could have more than one dimension, noting that some physicists, such as Itzhak Bars, are currently looking into this. Could a second time dimension give meaning to the otherwise trivial statement that time flows at a rate of one second per second?

20:44 How does time work in a computer? Are we part of a computer simulation? Do we live in the Matrix? Paul Davis put forward a *reductio ad absurdum* argument against the cosmological multiverse in terms of simulated universes here, which goes something like: Simulated universes would be cheaper to construct than real ones, therefore, if we are in a cosmological multiverse with lots of other advanced lifeforms, and we are just arbitrary observers, then the chances are that others would have simulated a bunch of universes and we are more likely to be living in a fake universe than a real one. OK, within that simulation, we have concluded that we live in a cosmological multiverse, but that conclusion has no foundation because it is based on the examination of fake physical laws and we cannot conclude anything about the nature of reality based upon them.

24:33 George Musser, from Scientific American, asked how our temporal perception of the world operates when we play music or go dancing, adding that when he plays music as part of a band, he feels like “part of superorganism.” In his response, David Eagleman ponders whether the energetic rewards felt by the brain on correctly predicting rhythm are related to the ways that people get pumped up to go to war.

26:25 A question from UCT cosmologist, George Ellis, “Could time be circular?” provokes a slight argument between Paul Davis and Raissa D’Souza about whether you would experience a different reality on your second time round the time-loop. Tim Maudlin steps in to sort things out.

31:37: Oxford University’s David Wallace places the debate over the existence of time in context in terms of the history of science, noting that there is a tendency to first believe that everyday concepts are fundamental (for example, solidity), then swing to the other extreme arguing they do not exist at all (arguing that solid objects are an illusion, following the discovery of electrons and atoms), until finally “coming to our senses” and settling on a compromise view that the concept does exist, although it is not fundamental. Will that happen with time?

33:58: A question from Joy Christian of Oxford University: Can we begin to imagine finding a theory of everything in physics, if we cannot even include the flow of time in our equations? (This question does not make Paul Davies or Tim Maudlin happy.)

39:22 Why does time seem to slow when your life is in danger? What is the origin of “StairMaster time,” where an hour of repetitive exercise seems like an eternity? David Eagleman explains that whether you perceive an event to have taken a long or a short time, depends on _when_ you are looking at it. During an exciting activity -- compared say, with when you are sitting on an airplane -- you don’t have time to pay attention to the clock, so “time flies when you’re having fun.” But you also lay down a lot of new memories during this fun activity, so when you look back at it at a later date, the interesting activity seems to have taken up a longer, more significant portion of your life than, say, the boring plane journey that in hindsight seems to have passed in a flash because you laid down no novel memories during it.

Eagleman also touches on the question of the perceived flow of time in emergency situations, but he doesn’t talk about it in much detail here, though he did earlier in the day, so I’ll add a bit more about that now. Eagleman’s team carried out tests to check whether time really does slow when you are in a life-threatening situation by throwing (willing) students off a 150-ft tower, along with a special wristwatch that flickers random digits at them. That flicker rate is just too fast for them to perceive the digits in normal circumstances. Since people in life-threatening situations claim that they can see the world in slow motion “like Neo in the Matrix,” the idea is that while falling, they should be able to read these normally imperceptible digits. However, it turns out that they can’t. (Though one wonders if looking at digits on their wrist would be a priority in that situation.) The conclusion is that people aren’t actually seeing in slow motion. That means although you do have a distorted idea of duration, it’s not like watching a movie that’s been slowed down by stretching out the film. And, in fact, when you ask people who have been in car crashes more detailed questions, such as “did you notice sound being stretched out, with people's voiiiiices beeeeeing dissssstoooooorted?” they will say no.

41:51: Following on from the idea that duration and flicker rate are dealt with separately by the brain, bioengineer Malcolm MacIver asks whether the way that we understand each other's behavior will change as we get a better understanding of how time is fragmented in the mind and David Eagleman talks about how time is “metasensory.”

44:49: Raissa D’Souza talks about how you might be able to apply the theory of phase transitions from physics to evolution (the Cambrian explosion) or to discussion of the multiverse (where new universes budding off would mark a transition), in response to a question by Nick Pritzker.

49:40: To wrap-up, having spent almost an hour chatting together, do the panelists, despite their different backgrounds, see points of commonality with each other?

this post has been edited by the forum administrator

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Joy Christian wrote on Sep. 25, 2011 @ 16:28 GMT
Hi Zeeya,

The 33.58 question was from me, not TP.



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FQXi Administrator Zeeya Merali replied on Sep. 25, 2011 @ 16:41 GMT
Oops, corrected! Thanks.

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Sep. 25, 2011 @ 16:58 GMT
Were the following de facto rejections of the relativistic concept of time discussed at the meeting?

"It is still not clear who is right, says John Norton, a philosopher based at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Norton is hesitant to express it, but his instinct - and the consensus in physics - seems to be that space and time exist on their own. The trouble with this idea, though, is that it doesn't sit well with relativity, which describes space-time as a malleable fabric whose geometry can be changed by the gravity of stars, planets and matter."

Craig Callender in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: "Einstein mounted the next assault by doing away with the idea of absolute simultaneity. According to his special theory of relativity, what events are happening at the same time depends on how fast you are going. The true arena of events is not time or space, but their union: spacetime. Two observers moving at different velocities disagree on when and where an event occurs, but they agree on its spacetime location. Space and time are secondary concepts that, as mathematician Hermann Minkowski, who had been one of Einstein's university professors, famously declared, "are doomed to fade away into mere shadows." And things only get worse in 1915 with Einstein's general theory of relativity..."

"Many physicists argue that time is an illusion. Lee Smolin begs to differ. (...) Smolin wishes to hold on to the reality of time. But to do so, he must overcome a major hurdle: General and special relativity seem to imply the opposite. In the classical Newtonian view, physics operated according to the ticking of an invisible universal clock. But Einstein threw out that master clock when, in his theory of special relativity, he argued that no two events are truly simultaneous unless they are causally related. If simultaneity - the notion of "now" - is relative, the universal clock must be a fiction, and time itself a proxy for the movement and change of objects in the universe. Time is literally written out of the equation. Although he has spent much of his career exploring the facets of a "timeless" universe, Smolin has become convinced that this is "deeply wrong," he says."

Pentcho Valev

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John Merryman wrote on Sep. 26, 2011 @ 02:15 GMT

I suppose I'll post this here for your sake, as only a few others seem to see any significance in it, but I think the main problem with understanding time is the perception of the present as somehow in motion along a time vector from past to future. The physical reality is what exists. As it changes configuration, it is the events which go future to past. The earth doesn't travel the fourth dimension from yesterday to tomorrow. Tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth rotates.

Much as we view the sun moving across the sky from east to west, when the reality is that the ground under our feet is rotating west to east.

Time is far more closely related to temperature, than space. Both are measures of activity. One the level of activity, the other the rate of change.

If, for whatever reason, be it relativistic effects, or being in a car accident, the degree of activity increases, then the rate of change speeds up.

In a car accident, since our own internal clock doesn't speed up, there is the sense of time slowing.

When we are bored and time seems stuck in the mud, it is because there is insufficient external change to occupy our mind. It is dragging us down, not leaving us behind.

We don't have to worry about multiworlds, because it is the collapse of future probabilities, in the present, which creates those events receding into the past. Rather than movement from a determined past into a probabilistic future branching off into multiple realities.

As for the notion of time being a vector from past to future, it is said that some cultures view the past as being in front of the observer and the future as being behind, because both what is in front of us and what is past are known, while what is behind us and the future are hidden. Rather than our conventional assumption of the future being what's in front of us and the past behind us.

I think it is this dichotomy of whether we are moving through time, or time is moving through us, which needs to be worked out first. Then we can start worrying about the other relativistic distortions of perception and form and change.

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Georgina Parry replied on Sep. 26, 2011 @ 10:22 GMT
John, All,

Julian Barbour talked in his time essay about the necessity of things moving in step (temporally) rather than by same amounts of movement. He gave the example of the different lengths of second hand on a clock. The longer hand would move more than a shorter hand but both hands would move in step. I have just thought that that ties in with what I was saying about temperature and how things with more energy would move more than things with less energy but it wouldn't alter their rate of passage through time. So that the thing with more energy is taking a bigger step through space but is still temporally "in step" with those parts taking smaller steps through space.

If there are only spatial positions that can be differently occupied simultaneously, and no other time or space to be in then, there is no choice but to march in step. Nothing can get ahead in time or left behind in time because there is no other time or space-time for an object to be in, only the uni-temporal space.

That does not give a static unchanging quantum universe as imagined by Julian Barbour but one only ever continually changing and becoming. Not persisting unchanged in a fixed form.

Julian wrote "As Ernst Mach said (1883)

It is utterly beyond our power to measure the changes of things by time ... time is an abstraction at which we arrive by means of the changes of things; made because we are not restricted to any one definite measure, all being interconnected.

Einstein, an admirer, quoted this passage in his obituary of Mach, calling it a gem."

I can see why Einstein liked it, his own interpretation of it's meaning fitted well with his ideas; but I think Einstein understood it to mean something quite different from what Mach was intending to say. I hope that the descriptions and analogy of Object Universal change I have recently given are more in keeping with Mach's intention.

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Zeeya replied on Sep. 26, 2011 @ 10:47 GMT
John, thanks for the message -- plenty to think about. What you say about different cultural perception of the past and future is fascinating. It makes a lot of sense. Do you know which cultures?

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Joy Christian replied on Sep. 26, 2011 @ 11:20 GMT

You observe: " is said that some cultures view the past as being in front of the observer and the future as being behind, because both what is in front of us and what is past are known, while what is behind us and the future are hidden. Rather than our conventional assumption of the future being what's in front of us and the past behind us."

Perhaps this is not as profound an observation as it may appear at first sight. The arrow of temporal becoming---if it is an objective feature of the world---clearly cannot depend on the cultural perceptions. What your observation then means is that in some cultures one walks forward with this arrow, whereas in other cultures one walks backwards with this arrow. That is interesting, but....


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T H Ray wrote on Sep. 26, 2011 @ 12:31 GMT
The replies to Joy Christian's question about the flow of time somewhat skirted the issue. While the participants agreed that an assumed asymmetry of spacetime may create the illusion of flow, there seems to be consensus for the orthodoxy that time is not physically real, and therefore that one is safe in extrapolating discrete probabilistic interpretations of quantum phenomena to the classical...

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John Merryman replied on Sep. 26, 2011 @ 17:28 GMT

Would you agree that while the sound wave of that shot expanded physically, the source of it receded temporally? This may describe a four dimensional geometry, but wouldn't it be physically impossible for that initial shot to continue to exist, because the energy expended was what reached your ear? Such that it is necessary for the event of the actual shot to vanish, in order for you to hear it?

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T H Ray replied on Sep. 26, 2011 @ 18:14 GMT

No. You've forgotten to consider the conservation laws.


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John Merryman replied on Sep. 26, 2011 @ 20:13 GMT

I thought that's what I was defending??? Since the amount of energy doesn't change, old states/configurations vanish in order for new ones to come into being. The energy manifests what is present. The changing configurations are what come into being and are replaced.

Block time and multiworlds are what don't take conservation of energy into account.

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Olivier Fabian wrote on Sep. 26, 2011 @ 13:13 GMT
As John said, time is an illusion as temperature is a illusion.

It is a convenient way we found to represent, and talk about, some aspect of reality. It is convenient to represent time as a dimension to calculate speeds, displacements, process durations, etc. It does not mean that time really is a dimension. If it were, we would be stuck with this infinite line existing before our big-bang started and still going on after it will be ended. Or worse, we would need to introduce a second "time dimension" to curve up our time line on itself, getting some kind of forever repeating time loop.

I see time as a pulsation which started when our big-bang started and will cease to exist when the last particule will disappear.

In a more global description, I would say we do not live in a space-time continuum.

We live in a space granularity where things move around not further than one space quantum at each beat of what we call "time".

And this calls for a new definition of the speed limit : c is the speed of something moving from one space quantum to the next at each pulsation of our universe.

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John Merryman replied on Sep. 26, 2011 @ 17:30 GMT

I like to think of it as effect, rather than illusion. On the scale of cause and effect, time and temperature are far more fundamental than humanity.

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Olivier Fabian replied on Sep. 26, 2011 @ 18:10 GMT

I mean "illusion" as in "human invented way of representing something real that we cannot directly perceive".

Temperature is a way to represent the quantity of heat in an object. The reality being the speed of molecules in the fluid or the vibration of atoms in the solid.

In a similar way, "real" time has nothing to do with some linear segmentation scaled in arbitrary units. A more appropriate way of representing time could be the frequency of the pulsation. But the reality of that pulsation is not something we can perceive.

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John Merryman replied on Sep. 26, 2011 @ 20:08 GMT

A pulsation is motion and that's what time measures, just like temperature measures the level of energy being generated by those molecules. Suppose we were to derive a form of clock, or phase change from those molecules? Maybe it wouldn't be as perfectly regular as the pulsation of a cesium atom, but it might be as regular as the rotation of the earth and that's a viable form of time measurement.

It seems that you are saying that time can only be an extremely regular action, but there are all number of regular and irregular actions and they combine into an overall effect of configuration change.

Temperature does have some very distinct parameters of motion, such as absolute zero. From which we can derive a fair number of standard scales and make very precise measurements.

The only difference is we understand temperature is a scalar measure of quantitive activity, but think of time as some underlaying dimension. What if it's just a measurement of change?

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James Putnam wrote on Sep. 27, 2011 @ 21:01 GMT
My essay from the Nature-of-Time Contest presented a universally constant measure of time. Such a standard is as close as one can come to proving the absoluteness of time.


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Lev Goldfarb wrote on Oct. 1, 2011 @ 17:12 GMT

"33:58: A question from Joy Christian of Oxford University: Can we begin to imagine finding a theory of everything in physics, if we cannot even include the flow of time in our equations? (This question does not make Paul Davies or Tim Maudlin happy.)"

Your observation seems quite obvious, but, unfortunately, not to a vast majority of physicists, who, as Paul Davies remarked in his reply, follow the party line: the current math. and physics dictates how we *should* understand time. The latter is true to the following extent: we must rely on the basic formal language we have It appears that Tim Maudlin misunderstands the situation: if, as he suggested, it were "relatively easy" to introduce the direction of time in mathematics, physicists would have done it a long time ago.

As I argue in my book "Redoing Our Mathematics and Science", one cannot accommodate the flow of time within the conventional (spatial) math. setting: you need radically different, structural, math.

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Joy Christian replied on Oct. 1, 2011 @ 17:45 GMT

Not necessarily. Here is a physical theory that not only captures but compels the flow of time within physics using perfectly ordinary mathematics. One does not need new mathematics to capture the flow of time within physics. All one needs to do is to be a bit more imaginative. I doubt, however, that either Paul Davies or Tim Maudlin is adventures enough to study my paper.


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Author Frank Martin DiMeglio replied on Oct. 1, 2011 @ 17:51 GMT
The ultimate understanding of time includes and involves instantaneity. The ultimate and truly fundamental/complete understanding of physics fundamentally and truly incorporates and includes instantaneity.

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Oct. 1, 2011 @ 18:37 GMT

From a quick perusal of your paper, I'm afraid, I failed to see how your treatment of *time* (and I do mean TIME itself) differs from the conventional: I still see the conventional one-dimensional time.

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Author Frank Martin DiMeglio wrote on Oct. 2, 2011 @ 19:21 GMT
To demonstrate invisible and visible space equivalently unifies physics.

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Ralph Frost replied on Oct. 5, 2011 @ 00:23 GMT

Regarding your big question: "The big question in physics is how unconscious and conscious experience are necessarily interactive, combined, and unified in a fundamental/global/universal fashion", please consider the following six paragraphs...

In order to get energy to think, experiment and do abstract math and communicate, etc., if you remember your biology and/or...

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Georgina Parry replied on Oct. 5, 2011 @ 06:01 GMT

In reply to James Putnam replied on Oct. 4, 2011 @ 16:47 GMT I don't think theoretical physics has given the entire theory of how intelligent life has arisen either.

However the universe might not have sprung beginning to end in space-time from a singularity. If, at the foundational level of reality, it is an ongoing process of change, actions and reactions, giving changes that form the environmental variables stopping, constraining and allowing certain paths of development (applying to both organic and inorganic substance), then there can be complexity at all scales as change spreads through the system and structures and arrangements can form as patterns in space.

There can also be selection by the environment of patterns with a selection advantage over other patterns.It might be for an inorganic substance that the most robust forms survive and the more fragile disintegrate because of the physical forces applied by the environment, or some are compatible with the chemical environment being non reactive and others are not so change chemically into something else, for example.

There can, within that complexity, be formation of self replicating chemicals, forming the basic genetic code. There can be be development as a response to the environment, through constraints to, or alteration to growth and development and epigenetic changes.

For living things there is selection of phenotypes with a selection advantage (whether the advantage is produced as a result of genotype, epigenetic effect or direct environmental affects (such as abundant food) and those exhibiting advantageous behavior such as avoiding poisons or good fortune of being in the right place at the right time. [The subject of selection has been much studied.] That gives evolution as the genes of selected individuals are reproduced.

Intelligence, the ability to comprehend and respond appropriately, corresponds with survival and reproductive success. It will give selection advantage and therefore seems likely to be something that will selected and might increase in a population.

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Paul Reed replied on Oct. 5, 2011 @ 13:12 GMT

This existence that we are aware of, could be all sorts of things. It could just be a function of sensory detection/consciousness. In other words, it only exists because organisms are aware of it. We will just never know. The corollary of that is to investigate what we can know and how we know it. And the role of physics is......unfortunately, we (and all other organisms capable of detection), just 'get in the way'. That is, if there was a detection system that could circumvent us, and the information media, then physics would have no problems.


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Georgina Parry wrote on Oct. 3, 2011 @ 04:40 GMT

Thank you for sharing the video of the discussion on time. I hope it has brought the important problem of time some more attention.I think the question how is complexity related to time is an interesting one.

Related to that question is my recent description of mixing of coffee and cream with James. It seems that two things going on; the coffee is moving as a whole and also there are different rates of change occurring simultaneously in different parts of the coffee, which gives mixing and development of greater space filling of the pattern on the surface of the coffee.

So there seems to be more energy /or change/ or activity in some parts than others which is giving more disorder in some parts than others and more pattern as a result. That increasing pattern density does not apply to all parts of the coffee but movement of the whole coffee does apply to all parts.

So it seems to me that complexity is not tied just to passage of time but the energy or amount of change in a region.There are different rates of change occurring simultaneously in different parts of the coffee. The whole coffee stays together in time, so the rate of change of any part is not giving the passage of time -but the change of the whole coffee together is linked to passage of time. The coffee might be regarded as an analogy for the Object universe at the foundational level.

I have speculated that pattern density could be foundational variable that might also be a measure of energy (change) within a separation between two objects (or a distance).

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Georgina Parry replied on Oct. 4, 2011 @ 02:09 GMT
I am not convinced that it is necessary to imagine the Object universe as mortal in the same way as its parts. If two colours of paint are mixed, at first there is a pattern , then the pattern becomes more complex, then it gets really messed up, and then it becomes a uniform colour. So maximum pattern density or space filling by the pattern leads to equilibrium or seeming uniformity. Wow. Add another colour and you can do the same thing again the more energy put into making it chaotic and messed up the quicker it becomes uniform. Two kinds of order become disorder and then become order again. What about oil emulsion. Mix it up into smooth paint then leave it in the can and it separates out into layers again. Mix it up again and watch it separate again. There is erosion but always hand in hand with deposition. It is only a one way process if seen as an isolated part of the integrated whole. Small disturbances can build into large and large disturbances dissipate. It appears to be a balanced collection of feedback cycles not one way entropy.

There are two kinds of change the sequential change, or reiteration and the changes due to forces , which can result from and give alterations of separation and orientation. The continuous sequential kind appears to us as passage of time and also complexity through repeated iteration of the same pattern, generated by the same unaltered force/s acting upon substance :the other kind of change -as energy- and can result from application of additional forces, and the disturbance by forces that are discontinuous or sudden or applied to a part of the pattern only. Which causes alteration of the self similar pattern into something less ordered with greater pattern density. Pattern density appears linked to amount of energy input and self similarity to unchanging inputs giving reiteration of same pattern.

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John Merryman replied on Oct. 4, 2011 @ 03:20 GMT

That's what always gets me about the argument for entropy. It only applies to a closed set in the first place. In an infinite context, conservation of energy would apply. Any energy being lost in one situation is energy gained in another.

Expansion of energy and contraction of mass are balanced. Inflation is used to say this is only because the inflated universe is so large that the visible part only appears flat.

If redshift is a function of distance and not recession, then that cosmic background radiation emanating from the edges of the visible universe isn't the afterglow of the singularity, but radiation that has simply dropped way down the spectrum, because it has traveled so far.

So every point in space is being covered by radiation from over 13.7 billion lightyears away and everything inbetween.

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Paul Reed replied on Oct. 4, 2011 @ 09:08 GMT
But John, we are in a closed system. We cannot transcend ourselves. What we think is happening may be completely wrong, but that is all we have. And we set a limit and determine it in the sense that we are aware of it. I am not saying this applies to entrophy specifically, though in respect of 'arrow of time' or whatever, I personally would not bother with it.

Put another way, there is nothing wrong with something appearing to work as a function of the explanation. If it is the right answer. Because we live in a definitive reality.


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Anonymous wrote on Oct. 3, 2011 @ 06:21 GMT


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Joseph Baker wrote on Oct. 5, 2011 @ 11:41 GMT
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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 22:52 GMT

Your post 6/10 01.09

Your question: “The question is: What is the cause capable of giving birth to intelligent life?"

I will leave the "intelligent" part for later... and I will stick with life itself...

Imagine sunlight shaking molecules in water, some chemical reactions happen but stop when sundown comes. But if some structure contains these molecules and others that have accumulated some energy, then, the system works in the absence of the sun and continue after sundown. I think that life was, at first, just about making it through the night. Just about maintaining integrity in the absence of the main source of energy. So, life was about having sort of batteries to maintain the structure until the next sunrise. This is where sugars, starch and oils became accumulators used to stretch the effect of the sun through the night. Just that, was already life; to live for a while without the sun. To go from one day = one life to many days .. one and same life.

Life was, at first, just about being still there in the morning....


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James Putnam replied on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 23:05 GMT
Dear Marcel-Marie,

Your reference to Georgina: "Your question: "You question: What is the cause capable of giving birth to intelligent life?"" was actually my question. Your reply appears to me to nothing to do with explaining the cause of intelligent life. It appears to me to be saying something common like: Look at all these processes and chemicals that we have seen in action. They are the cause of us.

Listing effects that are observed, whether or not they are correctly understood, does not address the issue of cause. It does not matter how long that list may grow, the cause must be identified for itself and it must be capable of predicting and explaining intelligent life. In any case, the practice of saying: Imagine it this way or that way is only about imagining for reasons that have nothing to do with explaining a real cause of intelligent life.


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James Putnam replied on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 23:56 GMT

You only get 'acquisition' for free from others who feel similarly to you. I expect discussion about cause and not effects. The effects are definitely needed for scientific learning, but, cause is not effects.

"Life was, at first, just about being still there in the morning.... "

Ok, poetry.


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Marcel-Marie LeBel replied on Oct. 14, 2011 @ 00:44 GMT

I still don't have the hang of this "reply to this thread" yet....

Life is an old recipe for surfing on entropy... O.k. A cause??

Scientific equations connect facts together. Science has nothing to do with causes as there are no place for it. A logical cause is a metaphysical thing. But natural metaphysics built as a truth system can surrender a logical cause. But you won't like it....

The cause for any spontaneous event is a differential in the rate of passage of time which translates as a higher probability of existence where time runs slower. Gravitation and all other fields of attraction ... cloud moving, waves rolling on the ocean etc. Because it is a logical cause, it is scale independant. ... galaxies moving, stars coalescing etc...

You can't ask high and low for a logical (metaphysical) cause from science. They are both worlds apart.

As for "intelligence" ... can you even start defining what it is??


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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Oct. 13, 2011 @ 23:40 GMT
Dear James,

As I stated, I was keeping the "intelligent" part for later... I will still leave it for later. I will stick with consciousness & memory. (I took the reference for the question from Paul Reed .. which of course is no excuse. Sorry!)

Memory is a survival based acquisition that allows the living entity to learn more from recollecting an event over, say, 10 minutes than it could from a split second event. That simple. For this recollection he needs to be "there" within the event or consciousness (difference between a recollection and the actual event)

May I point out that you missed out on the simplicity, poetry and beauty of my answer in my previous post.


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Paul Reed replied on Oct. 14, 2011 @ 15:08 GMT
James, no I think you were right about getting involved!! And neither should I!! But, Marcel, what is all this? This is not a Pyschology and Human Biology discussion site.


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James Putnam replied on Oct. 17, 2011 @ 16:02 GMT

"The words "cause" and "birth" do not call for a rational scientific or even metaphysical answer.

You want to talk about God??"

So you are sticking with that position. And I am sticking with mine. I will be keeping the words cause and birth and intelliget life in my question. Instead of God, I go with the empirical evidence versus theory. Pushing the real answers further away by repeatedly injecting God into your response accomplishes nohing to help scientific learning advance beyond mere proclamations that one knows something when one only thinks they can kind of see what might have led to intelligent life. The path must be established from cause to effect. That path does not exist. The problem is that the cause remains unknown and unshown.


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T H Ray replied on Oct. 17, 2011 @ 18:05 GMT
"The problem is that the cause remains unknown and unshown."

James, can cause be shown by any of your criteria? For example, you claim that the cause of intelligence remains unknown and unshown, yet intelligence is clearly shown as a product of biological evolution. So what can you mean by the term "cause" that makes it tractable to scientific treatment?


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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Oct. 17, 2011 @ 01:57 GMT
Paul, thanks for the info about using the Favorites to find my way back ...

I just tried to answer James's question. I am a biologist ...


I have reviewed the answers I have given you and they should have been more than enough. Then I read again your question:

“What is the cause capable of giving birth to intelligent life?”

The words “cause” and “birth” do not call for a rational scientific or even metaphysical answer.

You want to talk about God??


this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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James Putnam replied on Oct. 17, 2011 @ 02:50 GMT

No I will not accept that any answer by me that does not appear to be solidly within the mechanical interpretation of empirical evidence is in need of God talk. I am guided by empirical evidence. If the empirical evidence shows that it is impossible to get from physics theory to the nature of the universe as we experience it, then I say that that is so and I ask: Why is this gap pretended to be surmountable when it clearly is not.

My interest is not in religion, please do not put that lable on me. My interest is in avoiding pre-judgements that are unscientific. If you think that intelligence can be generated by dumbness, then please declare that to be your position and do not misrepresent my position.


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Paul Reed replied on Oct. 17, 2011 @ 09:34 GMT

I have just posted this elsewhere (Entropy, Constantinos 14/10 23.33), but have a think about this. I might not appear to be so, at first glance, but like James and several others on this site, I am only interested in the real world, not the metaphysical or the perceptual.

As we are aware of existence, it has to be assumed that our understanding of reality involves presuppositions and limitations. Because that awareness invokes the logical possibility of an alternative (ie ‘not-awareness’), which can never be resolved as we are unable to transcend our existence. This does not imply that the alternative exists, just the possibility of such. So, our knowledge can only ever be regarded as having validity based on an intrinsic perspective. Or put the other way around, from another, but unattainable, point of reference, it may be shown to be incorrect.

However, since this potential alternative will always be unknowable, other than recognising the logical possibility, it is essentially irrelevant to a scientific understanding of reality. What is more important is that this existential conundrum delineates how an objective analysis of reality can be formulated, by determining that our experience of existence is a valid, and necessary, closed system. Therefore, reality can only be all that which is potentially sensorially experienceable by any organism capable of effecting such a detection. And the goal of the scientific process is to investigate that, not conjecture about the unknowable.

This does not mean that assertions or beliefs, and their associated non-existent entities, should be dismissed. They often are significant, and hence, a proper, separate, analysis of what they constitute, their derivation and purpose, etc, is warranted. But they must not be reified and deemed to be reality. Neither does this cast aspersions on those who contemplate the ‘true’ nature of our existence, or one ‘beyond’ ours. It is just that such judgements are unverifiable, since there are no objective reference points, rules or method of proof available.

Furthermore, the logical possibility of an alternative means there is always the potential for an ‘extra-existential’ entity (usually referred to as a god, though it could be any manner of mechanism). So the possibility of a ‘god’ is an objective fact, given the nature of our experiential reality; though any assertion that it actually exists, or a denial of that possibility, is not.

© Paul Reed

10 June 2011

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Marcel-Marie LeBel replied on Oct. 17, 2011 @ 23:34 GMT
James, Paul,

You both go empirical this and empirical that... This is, as I explained it before, the limit of science.

If you are willing to stay in there ... need I remind you that there are already thousands of excellent scientists out there with the same mantra... and they are going nowhere? Why not explore that which they vowed not to touch and yet is all out there for grab. System rules, subject matter, logical proof etc. It is all there as a new field ready to be plowed!!!

Unless you already have a scientific career you need to secure by sticking to rank and file... I wonder. Why do you want to be like any of them when you can be free of their vows and do all the exploration they can’t? Who are you kidding?

And James, a good question is a careful description of the answer. Your question is too vague and no answer will fit.

What do you really want?


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Tommy Gilbertson wrote on Oct. 17, 2011 @ 12:37 GMT
Hello Zeeya:

The panel on time was very infomative. All four were very insightful. Thank you all! But as a semi-professional in the philosophy and physics fields, I have brushed up also against complex emergent systems arising from simple beginnings in research. While we agree on the statement that it is impossible to predict the emergent property ahead of time, hopefully you will agree that it is indeed describable as probablility. Which in an infinite number of cases, is the same thing (>99.999% certainty). So you sound like the best one to ask: when you personally come across some of these very deep physics connections, doesn't it honestly awe you and scare even a little, to know these things first? anywayz, good panel

fyi: conducting an experiment with many people, which is required to predict the results by the theory of Psychohistory (as defined in other work--the fundamental equation in another...), is currently impossible after the fact; or critical event. Luckily, this worldwide emergent property of the "strike" against angst is also an opportunity to model this as a PsychoHistorical experiment, as long as these three outcomes actually occur. We will reveal our calculations after the fact.

I) US Person Status Changed (a corporation can keep it's US Person worldwide business entity status on if they create jobs in the US, regardless of profit, effective immediately).

II) All student loans immediately abolished and paid in full.

III) Immediate prosecution of all Wall Street crime: at no cost to investors, freezing and equal proportion splittiing of the funds if found guilty.

IV) Tax the rich in in exactly the same proportions as all. Except US Persons, who are tax-free... will reveal more of this prepostrous set of final conditions, if PsychoHistory has a chance as a valid theory, in the exact spirit of Isaac Asimov's Foundation. eh, fqxi?

If we end up in that particular Universe, this reseacher in particular will no be surprised. I'll see you then! If not adiue, enjoy one of our 10^10 excellent Costumes.

What prompted this comment is news today which we hear that the iphone 4 or what have you is a mini-a.i. and can just follow voice commands. Even understands sarcasm. lol. lol? That's that new contextual search engine. Watson's babies, as it were. It begins... Yesterday, I posted on facebook that we ( R&D) were inventing universal translator widgets for a buck. The end will be a virtual bosonic string theory, with tachyons etc. etc. Cheapest dog and cat food in the world until november first. Then who knows what happens. Stock up, who's gonna feed the cat when we are off protesting Malaise? So what if it can walk thru walls...

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Wilhelmus de Wilde replied on Oct. 19, 2011 @ 15:19 GMT
Hi Tommy,

Good to hear from you again.

The most important thing for science (in my point of view) is to describe what happens, beside that scientists are writing endless books on the HOW they inerprete their observations with their own explanations, therefore they make use of mathematics (another invention of our consciousness) and then it becomes incomprehensible for the laymen, so science becomes like economy something that is conducted by a little group of man and women who are discussing their ideas. In the meantime it is indeed economy that is using the "workable" ideas of the scientists and sells it to the man in the street, selling means making profit, means stealing money from the buyer, the buyer who is only nececerry as a consumer, not as a human being with his needs of well being. These needs of well being are just interpreted as that he need more material stuff like I phones and pads, coca cola , chips, flat screen tv etc etc. But where is the original "happiness" of a human being ? Where are the moments that we stand still admiring a beautifull flower and hold our breath when we are looking at the stars without asking "how can I make profit with that?".

The new God that is Economy has his priests that are called share holders, these people are the most egoistic kind in our community, (they made profit , so picked from others) and like to make more profit without any compassion, if the atmosphere is infrom their point of view going down, then they all run to secure their profits and in this way as a matter of fact destroy the companys that they are part of and because of the fact that that they don't look further as their nose is long , destroy a whole world , beginning with the most vulnarable, and so I can go on.

Setting Time aright, might also mean let us change our human relations, forget if possible the most of our egoistic thoughts and lets practice science like it is done here on the FQXi site (no profit).

keep on thinking free


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Tommy Gilbertson replied on Oct. 20, 2011 @ 02:12 GMT
Wilhelmus! Hello; this Community is neat in the way our paths cross again. We are the movers and shakers in the silence. Ignored, but shouting regardless: elegance and beauty; symettry and Order. Pretty bold comment, W. I love it, and can't wait to hear Zeeya's reply! We've only spoken in Dutch, Wilhelmus, but this is same powerful prose above.

Also, I disagree on your point about...

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Tommy Gilbertson replied on Oct. 20, 2011 @ 02:22 GMT
Or maybe Zeeya can help us with this? I'm including Wilhelmus too: someone who is experienced in these matters fill our all of the necessary paperwork for us and we will sign the resultant Grant request from Darpa. Right now they are offering Grants for certain social-networking experiments that my website is already doing in an unfocusse way. But when I try to do it myself, I get to the point in the application process for DARPA where you must select your company as an "authorised vendor" or whatever. I need help making and "authorized vendor" or whathave you and could do all this off-line and not be typing this lol. Can you help? Money, it's what's for dinner! You've seen that Commercial, surely?

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Author Frank Martin DiMeglio wrote on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 00:20 GMT
See the black/inertial space where vision begins? See the space/earth at your feet where space/vision ends. Gravity, invisible and visible, is key to distance in/of space. Half gravity and half inertia is at the center of the body. The key is to show space as equally (and both) visible and invisible. (Note that vision begins invisibly inside the eye/body.)

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Author Frank Martin DiMeglio wrote on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 00:24 GMT
Space that is equally (and both) invisible and visible satisfies instantaneity.

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Author Frank Martin DiMeglio wrote on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 00:35 GMT
Ultimately, there is no escaping dreams, the center of the body, and our growth and development [in physics].

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Author Frank Martin DiMeglio wrote on Oct. 18, 2011 @ 00:39 GMT
This set up is for endless and inconclusive debate at The right questions and answers are either not asked/presented, or they are ignored. This is the way to make maximum money, however. Congratulations.

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Author Tommy Gilbertson wrote on Nov. 7, 2011 @ 01:50 GMT
Yes, I'm glancing over all the new developments in thought and conversation going on, but have decided to continue just to watch. I still have all the answers (and see some percolating up here and there, so some varying degrees of success). Also, I still resist the temptation to share freely 'everything'. So for now, I'm still working on my site's phase transition. It's still as inevitable as...

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ATG replied on Nov. 7, 2011 @ 02:02 GMT
Darn, wish we could edit these! As to number 4 above, a huge correction: the CMG is a diffuse energy suffusing space, but it is does not have (any) negative pressure, so it is definately not the cosmological constant. It's a freaky mistery still. Accellerating universal expansion. Yikes. Observations are harsh on Reality!

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[[ddlink]] wrote on Nov. 15, 2011 @ 07:20 GMT
ministry The protected watch is a Rolex yuan minimum estimated counters should Shenzhen Co Ltd Shenzhen Branch of China .

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