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Time is real
 Posted: 09 October 2008 05:13 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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dougsmith - 08 October 2008 03:36 PM
wesmjohnson - 08 October 2008 12:59 PM

Hopefully, I am not out of order here except your post is from July and this is now October.  May I suggest that the proper dimension is length and that we humans have arranged aribtrairly into 3 orthogonal directions.  There are many other ways to describe space.  The other dimension is time.  So, for me, there are only 2 dimensions: space & time.

As I understand it, there are three orthogonal directions of space, and the time direction should be thought of as being orthogonal to all three of the previous. So there still are four dimensions or directions of spacetime.

Many people call the arbitrary division of space into three orthogonal directions - dimensions.  There is a difference between directions and dimensions.  We can easily divide space into any arbitrary set of coordinates with as many directions as we choose, the smallest set of which is three.  The purpose of the exercise is to uniquely identify any position in space.  It happens that the math works out easier when orthogonal coordinates are used.  Space and time are the two dimensions.  We live in a world of space and move about in it and can identify our positions uniquely by whatever sort of reference frame we choose.  As a result we have difficulty describing the relationship between space and time.  It is unlikely that time is orthogonal with space.  Orthogonality is an arbitrary but useful construct.  Space and time are subject to warping in accelerating reference frames.  Any angle between them is likely to warp as well and no longer be orthogonal.  Well, that really depends on your reference frame.  But the point is that the natural world seldom conforms with our efforts to divide it up arbitrarily.

The laws of nature determine what we can and cannot do in both space and time.  In space we can only travel below the speed of light and in time we can only go one way.

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 Posted: 09 October 2008 08:33 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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ciceronianus - 08 October 2008 03:05 PM

If it makes a noise , what noise does it make?
Say I’m wired up to hear a loud bang and you are wired up to hear a high pitched squeak, obviously the (objective) noise it makes, can’t be the noise either of us experience and if the noise isn’t of the type we experience, what the heck is it?
This question persists because there is a problem here that needs explaining, it’s not semantic games.

A noise we did not experience?  A noise we might have experienced, had we been able to do so?  Is your definition of “noise” such that it is necessarily something that we must experience?

Obviously, I don’t know what the problem is that requires explaining, but would like to know.

Hi Ciceronianus,

When we experience hearing a noise, we are conscious of brain activity, which some how sounds like noise to us. So if brain scientists were to watch our brains while we are hearing noises, there would be brain activity which somehow corresponds to or is the noise we hear.

What we don’t hear is anything external to our brains.

If there is something external to our brains which our brain activity corresponds to, it can’t be noise like . This is because we could be wired up in many different ways so that we heared different noises in the same external cirumstances and none of these noises could be objectively the right noise.

Stephen

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 Posted: 09 October 2008 12:21 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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StephenLawrence - 09 October 2008 08:33 AM

When we experience hearing a noise, we are conscious of brain activity, which some how sounds like noise to us. So if brain scientists were to watch our brains while we are hearing noises, there would be brain activity which somehow corresponds to or is the noise we hear.

What we don’t hear is anything external to our brains.

If there is something external to our brains which our brain activity corresponds to, it can’t be noise like . This is because we could be wired up in many different ways so that we heared different noises in the same external cirumstances and none of these noises could be objectively the right noise.

Stephen

What? (pun intended!!)

Stephen, are you saying that sounds only exist in our brains?

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 Posted: 09 October 2008 12:47 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Shawn - 09 October 2008 12:21 PM
StephenLawrence - 09 October 2008 08:33 AM

When we experience hearing a noise, we are conscious of brain activity, which some how sounds like noise to us. So if brain scientists were to watch our brains while we are hearing noises, there would be brain activity which somehow corresponds to or is the noise we hear.

What we don’t hear is anything external to our brains.

If there is something external to our brains which our brain activity corresponds to, it can’t be noise like . This is because we could be wired up in many different ways so that we heared different noises in the same external cirumstances and none of these noises could be objectively the right noise.

Stephen

What? (pun intended!!)

Stephen, are you saying that sounds only exist in our brains?

Hi Shawn,

What I’m saying is if sound exists outside our brain, it can’t sound like anything. If that means sound only exists in our brains, then the answer to your question is yes.

I would have thought this was obvious and uncontroversal.

Stephen

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 Posted: 09 October 2008 01:29 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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StephenLawrence - 09 October 2008 12:47 PM

What I’m saying is if sound exists outside our brain, it can’t sound like anything. If that means sound only exists in our brains, then the answer to your question is yes.

I would have thought this was obvious and uncontroversal.

Depends what you mean by “sound”. (The same is true for any sensory information, BTW). If by “sound” you mean a certain qualitative impression or “quale” (pl. “qualia”) then yes, sounds only exist in our brain. If by “sound” you mean vibrational waves in the medium of air, then sounds do not exist in our brain; they are external phenomena which are interpreted by our brain.

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 Posted: 09 October 2008 01:45 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Before the first ear evolved, the universe was a very quiet place.

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 Posted: 09 October 2008 01:56 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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No controversy Stephen; I’m just trying to understand. It’s not obvious (to me at least!) but I must say it is intriguing….

I agree with Doug that sound exists with or without a mechanism to “hear” it. Science shows this quite conclusively. I am deaf in one ear, but I would swear to you that I “hear” stuff in that ear. It’s almost ‘sensation-like’. I’d be curious to know whether completely deaf people have a similar ‘sensation’ of sound….

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 Posted: 09 October 2008 01:58 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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George - 09 October 2008 01:45 PM

Before the first ear evolved, the universe was a very quiet place.

I think so George.

Stephen

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 Posted: 09 October 2008 03:22 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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Thank you for the explanation, Stephen.  I think I see your point.  Perhaps it would be more correct to say that a tree falling does not make a noise if nobody is around, but produces phenomena which would have caused a noise had someone been around.

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 Posted: 09 October 2008 04:53 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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dougsmith - 21 July 2008 01:09 AM

Quite so. Time is just another dimension like the three of space. That’s Einstein’s result and it agrees with a reading of McTaggart that accepts the C series. The illusion is that of some sort of “specialness” to the present.

I thought it was interesting that in a recent skeptics guide to the universe episode the fact that humans have a sense of cause and effect was taken as something distinctive compared to animals, who may note that “if I do A, then B happens” but not understand that A causes B.

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 Posted: 09 October 2008 06:14 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Jackson - 09 October 2008 04:53 PM

I thought it was interesting that in a recent skeptics guide to the universe episode the fact that humans have a sense of cause and effect was taken as something distinctive compared to animals, who may note that “if I do A, then B happens” but not understand that A causes B.

Yes, I heard the same claim. I was wondering where it came from. Why not think that animals have a grasp of causality? For example, even chickens (not particularly brilliant animals) can apparently be trained to play tic-tac-toe by giving them food rewards. One way of understanding operant conditioning is that the animals are learning what causes food to appear in the right place.

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 Posted: 09 October 2008 07:02 PM [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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George - 09 October 2008 01:45 PM

Before the first ear evolved, the universe was a very quiet place.

Then how did the ear evolve,if it was so quiet?

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 Posted: 10 October 2008 04:45 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Shawn - 09 October 2008 01:56 PM

No controversy Stephen; I’m just trying to understand. It’s not obvious (to me at least!) but I must say it is intriguing….

I agree with Doug that sound exists with or without a mechanism to “hear” it. Science shows this quite conclusively. I am deaf in one ear, but I would swear to you that I “hear” stuff in that ear. It’s almost ‘sensation-like’. I’d be curious to know whether completely deaf people have a similar ‘sensation’ of sound….

I also agree with Doug and note again that the question is semantic or definitional.  It simply depends on your definition of “noise.”  If you define it as requiring a hearing organ then “noise” exists only as an interpretation of the input by a brain.  But that is circular reasoning.  With that definition the universe was a quite place at one time.  If however you understand that vibrations affect living organisms that do not have hearing organs you are faced with a conundrum.  In fact vibrations in the air and soil and water affect the denizens of those media without the benefit of their possessing hearing organs.

Shawn, you surely feel the vibrations through senses other than your ears.  Vibrations are felt through our bones and our other senses.  Does anyone recall the “Bone Phone”, a device for transmitting music directly to the bones in our head?  I suspect that we could feel vibrations, “niose”, through nose hair.  We can see vibrations on the surface of water and feel it when submerged (my US Navy submarine and scuba diving experience).  Do you recall the scene in ‘Jurassic Park’ where there were “waves” (Bessel Functions) in a coffee cup?  Clearly “noise” was detected through that media.  As a former Electronics Technician in the US Navy we called the background interference in RADAR signals “noise” although no hearing was required.

The universe is and has been a very noisy place if one defines noise as vibrations through any media including space. I like this broader and more scientific definition.  Consider looking at Wikipedia using the term “noise.”

[ Edited: 10 October 2008 04:48 AM by wesmjohnson ]
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 Posted: 10 October 2008 06:45 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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VYAZMA - 09 October 2008 07:02 PM
George - 09 October 2008 01:45 PM

Before the first ear evolved, the universe was a very quiet place.

Then how did the ear evolve,if it was so quiet?

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 Posted: 10 October 2008 06:49 AM [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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VYAZMA - 09 October 2008 07:02 PM

Then how did the ear evolve,if it was so quiet?

Excellent, really excellent question, VYAZMA.

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