Tag Archives: Filosofie

1984

All great books have one thing in common. They present deep philosophical inquiries, often clad in superb story lines. Or is it just my proclivity to see philosophy where none exists?

In 1984, the immediate story is of a completely totalitarian regime. Inwardly, 1984 is also about ethics and politics. It doesn’t end there, but goes into nested philosophical inquiries about how everything is eventually connected to metaphysics. It naturally ends up in solipsism, not merely in the material, metaphysical sense, but also in a spiritual, socio-psychological sense where the only hope, the only desired outcome of life, becomes death.

I think I may be giving away too much of my impressions in the first paragraph. Let’s take it step by step. We all know that totalitarianism is bad. It is a bad political system, we believe. The badness of totalitarianism can present itself at different levels of our social existence.

At the lowest level, it can be a control over our physical movements, physical freedom, and restrictions on what you can or cannot do. Try voting against a certain African “president” and you get beaten up, byvoorbeeld. Try leaving certain countries, you get shot.

At a higher level, totalitarianism can be about financial freedom. Think of those in the developed world who have to juggle three jobs just to put food on the table. At a progressively subtler level, totalitarianism is about control of information. Example: media conglomerates filtering and coloring all the news and information we receive.

At the highest level, totalitarianism is a fight for your mind, your soul, and your spiritual existence. 1984 presents a dystopia where totalitarianism is complete, onherroeplik, and existing at all levels from physical to spiritual.

Another book of the same dystopian kind is The Handmaid’s Tale, where a feminist’s nightmare of a world is portrayed. Hier, the focus is on religious extremism, and the social and sexual subjugation brought about by it. But the portrayal of the world gone hopelessly totalitarian is similar to 1984.

Also portraying a dark dystopia is V for Vendentta, with torture and terrorism thrown in. This work is probably inspired by 1984, I have to look it up.

It is the philosophical points in 1984 that make it the classic it is. The past, byvoorbeeld, is a matter of convention. If everybody believes (or is forced to believe) that events took place in a certain way, then that is the past. History is written by the victors. Knowing that, how can you trust the greatness of the victors or the evil in the vanquished? Assume for a second that Hitler had actually won the Second World War. Do you think we would’ve still thought of him as evil? I think we would probably think of him as the father of the modern world or something. Natuurlik, we would be having this conversation (if we were allowed to exist and have conversations at all) in German.

Even at a personal level, the past is not as immutable as it seems. Truth is relative. Lies repeated often enough become truth. All these points are describe well in 1984, first from Winston’s point of view and later, in the philosophically sophisticated discourses of O’Brien. In a world existing in our own brain, where the phenomenal reality as we see it is far from the physical one, morality does lose a bit of its glamor. Metaphysics can erode on ethics. Solipsism can annihilate it.

A review, especially one in a blog, doesn’t have to be conventional. So let me boldly outline my criticisms of 1984 asook. I believe that the greatest fear of a normal human being is the fear of death. Na alles, the purpose of life is merely to live a little longer. Everything that our biological faculties do stem from the desire to exist a little longer.

Based on this belief of mine, I find certain events in 1984 a bit incongruous. Why is it that Winston and Julia don’t fear death, but still fear the telescreens and gestapo-like police? Perhaps the fear of pain overrides the fear of death. What do I know, I have never been tortured.

But even the fear of pain can be understood in terms of the ultimate fear. Pain is a messenger of bodily harm, ergo of possible death. But fear of rats?! Perhaps irrational phobias, existing at a sub-cognitive, almost physical, layer may be stronger than everything else. But I cannot help feeling that there is something amiss, something contrived, in the incarceration and torture parts of 1984.

May be Orwell didn’t know how to portray spiritual persecution. Gelukkig, none of us knows. So such techniques as rats and betrayal were employed to bring about the hideousness of the process. This part of the book leaves me a bit dissatisfied. Na alles, our protagonists knew full well what they were getting into, and what the final outcome would be. If they knew their spirit would be broken, then why leave it out there to be broken?

Persepsie, Fisika en die rol van die lig in die filosofie

Werklikheid, as ons voel dit, is nie heeltemal ware. Die sterre sien ons in die nag lug, byvoorbeeld, is nie regtig daar. Hulle kan verskuif het of selfs dood teen die tyd wat ons kry om dit te sien. Dit onwerklikheid is te danke aan die tyd wat dit neem vir die lig uit die verre sterre en sterrestelsels om ons te bereik. Ons weet van die vertraging.

Selfs die son wat ons so goed ken, is reeds agt minute oud teen die tyd dat ons dit sien. Hierdie feit blyk nie veral graf epistemologiese probleme te bied – As ons wil weet wat aangaan op die son nou, Al wat ons moet doen, is om te wag vir agt minute. Ons het net na 'korrekte’ vir die ondergang van ons persepsie as gevolg van die beperkte spoed van lig voordat ons kan vertrou wat ons sien. Dieselfde verskynsel in die sien van 'n minder bekende verskynsel in die manier waarop ons waarneem bewegende voorwerpe. Sommige hemelse liggame lyk asof hulle beweeg 'n paar keer die spoed van lig, terwyl hulle 'n ware’ spoed moet 'n baie minder as dit wees.

Wat is verbasend (en selde uitgelig) is dat wanneer dit kom mosie sensing, ons kan nie terug-bereken in dieselfde soort manier as wat ons kan te stel vir die vertraging in die waarneming van die son. As ons 'n hemelse liggaam beweeg teen 'n hoë spoed onwaarskynlike, Ons kan nie bereken hoe vinnig of selfs in watter rigting dit is 'regtig’ beweeg sonder om eers sekere verdere aannames te maak.

Einstein het verkies om die probleem op te los deur die behandeling van persepsie as verwring en die uitvind van nuwe fundamentele eienskappe in die arena van fisika – in die beskrywing van ruimte en tyd. Een kern idee van die spesiale relatiwiteitsteorie is dat die menslike idee van 'n ordelike verloop van gebeure in tyd moet laat vaar word. In werklikheid, want dit neem tyd vir die lig van 'n gebeurtenis op 'n afgeleë plek om ons te bereik, en vir ons om bewus te wees van dit geword, die konsep van 'nou’ nie meer sin maak, byvoorbeeld, wanneer ons praat van 'n sonvlek wat op die oppervlak van die son net op die oomblik dat die sterrekundige is probeer om dit af te neem. Gelyktydigheid is relatief.

Einstein plaas geherdefinieer gelyktydigheid deur die gebruik van die oomblikke in die tyd wat ons ontdek die geval. Opsporing, as hy dit gedefinieer, behels 'n ronde-reis reis van die lig soortgelyk aan radar opsporing. Ons stuur 'n sein uit wat teen die spoed van lig, en wag vir die besinning. As die weerspieël pols van twee gebeurtenisse bereik ons ​​op dieselfde oomblik, dan is hulle gelyktydige. Maar 'n ander manier van kyk na dit is eenvoudig te noem twee gebeurtenisse 'gelyktydige’ As die lig van hulle bereik ons ​​op dieselfde oomblik. Met ander woorde, ons kan die lig wat deur die voorwerpe onder waarneming gebruik eerder as om seine na hulle en kyk na die besinning.

Hierdie verskil kan klink soos 'n muggezifterij tegniese, maar dit maak 'n groot verskil aan die voorspellings wat ons kan maak. Einstein se keuse lei tot 'n wiskundige prentjie wat baie wenslik eienskappe, insluitend dié van die maak van verdere teoretiese ontwikkeling meer elegante. Maar dan, Einstein het geglo, as 'n saak van geloof wil dit voorkom asof, dat die reëls van die heelal moet wees 'n elegante.’ Egter, die ander benadering het 'n voordeel wanneer dit kom by die beskrywing van voorwerpe in beweging. Omdat, natuurlik, ons radar gebruik nie die sterre in beweging te sien; ons bloot die lig voel (of ander bestraling) kom van hulle. Tog gebruik van hierdie soort sensoriese paradigma, eerder as 'n radar-agtige opsporing,’ die heelal resultate in 'n leliker wiskundige prentjie te beskryf. Einstein sou goedkeur nie!

Die wiskundige verskil toegevoeg verskillende filosofiese standpunte, wat op sy beurt deur sien tot die begrip van ons fisiese beeld van die werklikheid. As 'n illustrasie, veronderstel ons waarneem, deur 'n radio-teleskoop, twee voorwerpe in die lug, met min of meer dieselfde vorm, grootte en eienskappe. Die enigste ding wat ons weet vir seker is, is dat die radio golwe uit hierdie twee verskillende punte in die lug bereik ons ​​op dieselfde tydstip. Ons kan net raai wanneer die golwe het begin om hul reis.

As ons aanvaar (as ons gereeld doen) dat die golwe begin die reis ongeveer op dieselfde tydstip, ons uiteindelik met 'n foto van twee 'n ware’ simmetriese lobbe meer of minder die pad sien hulle. Maar daar is nog 'n, verskillende moontlikheid en dit is dat die golwe ontstaan ​​uit dieselfde voorwerp (wat in beweging) op twee verskillende oomblikke in tyd, die bereik van die teleskoop op dieselfde oomblik. Hierdie moontlikheid sal ook nog 'n paar spektrale en temporale eienskappe van sodanige simmetriese radio te verduidelik. So wat van hierdie twee foto's moet ons as werklike? Twee simmetriese voorwerpe as ons sien hulle of een voorwerp beweeg in so 'n manier om ons te gee wat die indruk? Is dit regtig saak watter een is die 'regte'? Is 'n ware’ iets beteken in hierdie konteks?

Spesiale Relatiwiteit gee 'n ondubbelsinnige antwoord op hierdie vraag. Die wiskunde reëls uit die moontlikheid van 'n enkele voorwerp wat in so 'n manier as twee voorwerpe na te boots. Wese, wat ons sien is wat daar buite. Tog, As ons gebeure definieer deur wat ons sien, die enigste filosofiese standpunt wat sin maak, is die een wat koppel die Deteksie werklikheid van die oorsake lê agter dit wat waargeneem.

Dit verbreek is nie ongewoon in filosofiese denkrigtings. Phenomenalism, byvoorbeeld, is van mening dat ruimte en tyd is nie objektiewe werklikhede. Hulle is bloot die medium van ons persepsie. Al die verskynsels wat in die ruimte en tyd gebeur is bloot bundels van ons persepsie. Met ander woorde, ruimte en tyd is kognitiewe konstrukte wat voortspruit uit persepsie. So, al die fisiese eienskappe wat ons toeskryf aan die ruimte en tyd kan net van toepassing op die fenomenale werklikheid (die werklikheid van 'dinge-in-die-wêreld’ as ons voel dit. Die onderliggende werklikheid (wat die besit van die fisiese oorsake van ons persepsie), teenstelling, bly buite ons kognitiewe bereik.

Tog is daar 'n kloof tussen die standpunte van die filosofie en die moderne fisika. Nie vir niks het die Nobelprys wen fisikus, Steven Weinberg, wonder, in sy boek Dreams van 'n teorie, waarom die bydrae van filosofie fisika was so verrassend klein. Miskien is dit omdat die fisika het nog om vrede te maak met die feit dat wanneer dit kom by die sien van die heelal, Daar is nie so iets soos 'n optiese illusie – wat is waarskynlik wat Goethe bedoel het toe hy gesê, Optiese illusie is optiese waarheid.’

Die onderskeid (of die gebrek daaraan) tussen optiese illusie en waarheid is een van die oudste debatte in die filosofie. Na alles, dit is oor die onderskeid tussen kennis en die werklikheid. Kennis word beskou as ons siening oor iets wat, in werklikheid, is 'werklik die geval is.’ Met ander woorde, kennis is 'n weerspieëling, of 'n geestelike beeld van iets eksterne, soos getoon in die figuur hieronder.

ExternalToBrain

In hierdie foto, die swart pyl stel die proses van die skep van kennis, Dit sluit persepsie, kognitiewe aktiwiteite, en die uitoefening van suiwer rede. Dit is die prentjie wat die fisika het gekom om te aanvaar. Hy erken dat ons persepsie onvolmaakte mag wees, fisika aanvaar dat ons kan kry deur middel van toenemend fyner eksperimentering nader en nader aan die eksterne werklikheid, en, meer belangrik, deur beter teoretisering. Die Spesiale en Algemene Teorieë van Relatiwiteit is voorbeelde van briljante aansoeke van hierdie siening van die werklikheid waar eenvoudige fisiese beginsels meedoënloos agtervolg gebruik formidabele masjien van suiwer rede om hul logies onvermydelik gevolgtrekkings.

Maar daar is nog 'n, alternatiewe siening van kennis en werklikheid wat reeds vir 'n lang tyd. Dit is die mening dat met betrekking tot vermeende werklikheid as 'n interne kognitiewe verteenwoordiging van ons sensoriese insette, soos hieronder geïllustreer.

AbsolutelToBrain

In hierdie siening, kennis en beskou die werklikheid is beide interne kognitiewe konstrukte, Hoewel ons het gekom om te dink van hulle as afsonderlike. Wat is eksterne is nie die werklikheid soos ons dit sien, maar 'n onkenbare entiteit wat aanleiding gee tot die fisiese oorsake agter sensoriese insette. In die illustrasie, die eerste pyl stel die proses van waarneming, en die tweede pyl verteenwoordig die kognitiewe en logiese redenasie stappe. Ten einde hierdie siening van die werklikheid en kennis toe te pas, ons het die aard van die absolute werklikheid te dink, onkenbare soos dit is. Een moontlike kandidaat vir die absolute realiteit is Newton-meganika, Dit gee 'n redelike voorspelling vir ons beskou die werklikheid.

Om op te som, wanneer ons probeer om die ondergang te danke aan persepsie te hanteer, het ons twee opsies, of twee moontlike filosofiese standpunte. Een daarvan is die ondergang as deel van ons tyd en ruimte te aanvaar, as Spesiale Relatiwiteit doen. Die ander opsie is om te aanvaar dat daar 'n "hoër’ werklikheid te onderskei van ons Deteksie werklikheid, wie se eiendom kan ons net vermoede. Met ander woorde, een opsie is met die ondergang te leef, terwyl die ander is opgevoede raaiskote te stel vir die hoër werklikheid. Nie een van hierdie keuses is besonder aantreklik. Maar die raai pad is soortgelyk aan die oog in phenomenalism aanvaar. Dit lei ook natuurlik hoe die werklikheid beskou word in kognitiewe neurowetenskap, wat die studie van die biologiese meganismes agter kognisie.

Die kinkel in hierdie storie van die lig en die werklikheid is dat dit lyk asof ons al hierdie het bekend vir 'n lang tyd. Die rol van die lig in die skep van ons werklikheid of heelal is in die hart van die Wes-godsdienstige denke. 'N heelal sonder lig is nie net 'n wêreld waar jy hom het die ligte af. Dit is inderdaad 'n heelal sonder self, 'n heelal wat nie bestaan ​​nie. Dit is in hierdie konteks dat ons die wysheid agter die stelling dat 'die aarde was woes te verstaan, en nietig’ totdat God veroorsaak lig te wees, deur te sê: "Laat daar lig wees.’

Die Koran sê ook, "Allah is die lig van die hemel en die aarde,’ wat weerspieël word in een van die ou Hindoe geskrifte: 'Lei my van die duisternis tot die lig, lei my uit die onwerklik om die werklike.’ Die rol van die lig in die neem van ons van die onwerklik leemte (die niks) 'n werklikheid is inderdaad vir 'n lang verstaan, lang tyd. Is dit moontlik dat die antieke heiliges en profete geweet dinge wat ons nou eers begin te ontbloot met al ons veronderstel vooruitgang in kennis?

Daar is ooreenkomste tussen die noumenal-fenomenale onderskeid van Kant en die phenomenalists later, en die Brahmaan-Maya onderskeid in Advaita. Wysheid van die aard van die werklikheid van die repertoire van spiritualiteit is herontdek in die moderne neuro, wat behandel werklikheid as 'n kognitiewe verteenwoordiging wat deur die brein. Die brein gebruik die sensoriese insette, geheue, bewussyn, en selfs taal as bestanddele in concocting ons sin van die werklikheid. Hierdie siening van die werklikheid, egter, is iets fisika is nog nie in staat om te kom met. Maar tot die mate wat die arena (ruimte en tyd) is 'n deel van die werklikheid, fisika is nie immuun teen die filosofie.

In werklikheid, as ons druk op die grense van ons kennis verder, ons ontdek tot dusver ongekende en dikwels verrassende verbindings tussen die verskillende takke van die menslike pogings. Tog, hoe kan die diverse domeine van ons kennis onafhanklik te wees van mekaar as alle kennis is subjektiewe? As kennis bloot die kognitiewe verteenwoordiging van ons ervarings? Maar dan, dit is die moderne wanbegrip om te dink dat die kennis is ons interne voorstelling van 'n eksterne werklikheid, en dus apart van dit. In plaas daarvan, erkenning en die gebruik van die interkonneksies tussen die verskillende gebiede van die menslike strewe om mag die noodsaaklike voorvereiste vir die volgende fase in die ontwikkeling van ons kollektiewe wysheid.

Box: Einstein se TreinEen van Einstein se beroemde gedagte-eksperimente illustreer die behoefte om te dink oor wat ons bedoel met gelyktydige gebeure. Dit beskryf 'n hoë-spoed trein gedruis in 'n reguit baan verby 'n klein stasie as 'n man staan ​​op die stasie platform kyk dit spoed deur. Tot sy verbasing, as die trein verby hom, twee bliksemschichten slaan die spoor langs weerskante van die trein! (Gerieflik, vir later navorsers, hulle punte brande op die trein en op die grond verlaat.)

Aan die man, blyk dit dat die twee bliksemschichten slaan op presies dieselfde oomblik. Later, die merke op die grond deur die treinspoor onthul dat die plekke waar die weerlig getref was presies ewe ver van hom. Sedertdien het die bliksemschichten gereis dieselfde afstand na hom, en aangesien hulle aan die mens verskyn om te gebeur op presies dieselfde oomblik, Hy het geen rede om nie tot die gevolgtrekking dat die bliksemschichten getref op presies dieselfde oomblik. Hulle was gelyktydige.

Egter, veronderstel 'n bietjie later, die man aan 'n dame passasier wat gebeur te wees in die buffet motor gesit, presies in die middel van die trein, en kyk by die venster uit by die tyd van die bliksemschichten getref. Dit passasier hom vertel dat sy gesien het die eerste weerlig bout die grond getref het naby die enjin aan die voorkant van die trein effens voor wanneer die tweede een op die grond getref langs die bagasie motor aan die agterkant van die trein.

Die effek het niks te doen met die afstand wat die lig moes reis, as beide die vrou en die man was ewe ver tussen die twee punte wat die weerlig getref. Maar hulle het waargeneem die volgorde van gebeure heeltemal anders.

Hierdie meningsverskil van die tydsberekening van die gebeure is onvermydelik, Einstein sê, as die vrou is in effek op pad na die punt waar die flits van die weerlig getref naby die enjin -en weg van die punt waar die flits van die weerlig getref langs die bagasie motor. In die klein hoeveelheid van die tyd neem om dit vir die ligstrale die dame te bereik, omdat die trein beweeg, die afstand wat die eerste flits moet reis om haar krimp, en die afstand wat die tweede flits moet reis groei.

Hierdie feit kan nie opgemerk word in die geval van die treine en vliegtuie, maar wanneer dit kom by die kosmologiese afstande, gelyktydigheid regtig nie sin maak nie. Byvoorbeeld, die ontploffing van twee verre supernovas, gesien as gelyktydige uit ons uitkykpunt op die aarde, sal verskyn om plaas te vind in verskillende tyd kombinasies van ander perspektiewe.

In Relatiwiteit: Die Spesiale en Algemene teorie (1920), Einstein het dit op hierdie manier:

"Elke verwysing liggaam (koördineer stelsel) het sy eie spesifieke tyd; tensy ons word vertel dat die verwysing-liggaam wat die verklaring van die tyd verwys, Daar is geen sin in 'n verklaring van die tyd van 'n gebeurtenis.’

The Story So Far …

In the early sixties, Santa Kumari Amma decided to move to the High Ranges. She had recently started working with KSEB which was building a hydro-electric project there.The place was generically called the High Ranges, even though the ranges weren’t all that high. People told her that the rough and tough High Ranges were no place for a country girl like her, but she wanted to go anyways, prompted mainly by the fact that there was some project allowance involved and she could use any little bit that came her way. Her family was quite poor. She came from a small village called Murani (near a larger village called Mallappalli.)

Around the same time B. Thulasidas (better known as Appu) also came to the High Ranges. His familty wasn’t all that poor and he didn’t really need the extra money. But he thought, hey rowdy place anyway, what the heck? Well, to make a long story short, they fell in love and decided to get married. This was some time in September 1962. A year later Sandya was born in Nov 63. And a little over another year and I came to be! (This whole stroy, by the way, is taking place in the state of Kerala in India. Well, that sentence was added just to put the links there, just in case you are interested.) There is a gorgeous hill resort called Munnar (meaning three rivers) where my parents were employed at that time and that’s where I was born.

 [casual picture] Just before 1970, they (and me, which makes it we I guess) moved to Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala. I lived in Trivandrum till I was 17. Lots of things happened in those years, but since this post is still (and always will be) work in progress, I can’t tell you all about it now.

In 1983, I moved to Madras, to do my BTech in Electronics and Communication at IIT, Madras. (They call the IITs the MIT of India, only much harder to get in. In my batch, there were about 75,000 students competing for about 2000 places. I was ranked 63 among them. I’m quite smart academically, you see.) And as you can imagine, lots of things happened in those four years as well. But despite all that, I graduated in August 1987 and got my BTech degree.

In 1987, after finishing my BTech, I did what most IITians are supposed to do. I moved to the states. Upstate New York was my destination. I joined the Physics Department of Syracuse University to do my PhD in High Energy Physics. And boy, did a lot of things happen during those 6 years! Half of those 6 years were spent at Cornell University in Ithaca.

That was in Aug. 1987. Then in 1993 Sept, the prestigious French national research organization ( CNRS – “Centre national de la recherche scientifique”) hired me. I moved to France to continue my research work at ALEPH, CERN. My destination in France was the provencal city of Marseilles. My home institute was “Centre de Physique des Particules de Marseille” or CPPM. Of course, I didn’t speak a word of French, but that didn’t bother me much. (Before going to the US in 1987, I didn’t speak much English/Americanese either.)

End of 1995, on the 29th of Dec, I got married to Kavita. In early 1996, Kavita also moved to France. Kavita wasn’t too happy in France because she felt she could do much more in Singapore. She was right. Kavita is now an accomplished entrepreneur with two boutiques in Singapore and more business ideas than is good for her. She has won many awards and is a minor celebrity with the Singapore media. [Wedding picture]

In 1998, I got a good offer from what is now the Institute for Infocomm Research and we decided to move to Singapore. Among the various personal reasons for the move, I should mention that the smell of racisim in the Marseilles air was one. Although every individual I personally met in France was great, I always had a nagging feeling that every one I did not meet wanted me out of there. This feeling was further confirmed by the immigration clerks at the Marignane airport constantly asking me to “Mettez-vous a cote, monsieur” and occassionally murmuring “les francais d’abord.”  [Anita Smiles]

A week after I moved to Singapore, on the 24rth of July 1998, Anita was born. Incredibly cute and happy, Anita rearranged our priorities and put things in perspective. Five years later, on the 2nd of May 2003, Neil was born. He proved to be even more full of smiles.  [Neil Smiles more!]

In Singapore, I worked on a lot of various body-based measurements generating several patents and papers. Towards the end of my career with A-Star, I worked on brain signals, worrying about how to make sense of them and make them talk directly to a computer. This research direction influenced my thinking tremendously, though not in a way my employer would’ve liked. I started thinking about the role of perception in our world view and, consequently, in the theories of physics. I also realized how these ideas were not isolated musings, but were atriculated in various schools of philosophy. This line of thinking eventually ended up in my book, The Unreal Universe.

Towards the second half of 2005, I decided to chuck research and get into quantitative finance, which is an ideal domain for a cash-strapped physicist. It turned out that I had some skills and aptitudes that were mutually lucrative to my employers and myself. My first job was as the head of the quantitative analyst team at OCBC, a regional bank in Singapore. This middle office job, involving risk management and curtailing ebullient traders, gave me a thorough overview of pricing models and, perhaps more importantly, perfect understanding of the conflict-driven implementation of the risk appetite of the bank.

 [Dad] Later on, in 2007, I moved to Standard Chartered Bank, as a senior quantitative professional taking care of their in-house trading platform, which further enhanced my "big picture" outlook and inspired me to write Principles of Quantitative Development. I am rather well recognized in my field, and as a regular columnist for the Wilmott Magazine, I have published several articles on a variety of topics related to quants and quantitative finance, which is probably why John Wiley & Sons Ltd. asked me to write this book.

Despite these professional successes, on the personal front, 2008 has been a year of sadness. I lost my father on the 22nd of October. The death of a parent is a rude wake-up call. It brings about feelings of loss and pain that are hard to understand, and impossible to communicate. And for those of us with little gift of easy self-expression, they linger for longer than they perhaps should.

Unreal Time

Farsight wrote:Time is a velocity-dependent subjective measure of event succession rather than something fundamental – the events mark the time, the time doesn’t mark the events. This means the stuff out there is space rather than space-time, and is an “aether” veiled by subjective time.

I like your definition of time. It is close to my own view that time is “unreal.” It is possible to treat space as real and space-time as something different, as you do. This calls for some careful thought. I will outline my thinking in this post and illustrate it with an example, if my friends don’t pull me out for lunch before I can finish. :)

The first question we need to ask ourselves is why space and time seem coupled? The answer is actually too simple to spot, and it is in your definition of time. Space and time mix through our concept of velocity and our brain’s ability to sense motion. There is an even deeper connection, which is that space is a cognitive representation of the photons inputs to our eyes, but we will get to it later.

Let’s assume for a second that we had a sixth sense that operated at an infinite speed. That is, if star explodes at a million light years from us, we can sense it immediately. We will see it only after a million years, but we sense it instantly. I know, it is a violation of SR, cannot happen and all that, but stay with me for a second. Now, a little bit of thinking will convince you that the space that we sense using this hypothetical sixth sense is Newtonian. Here, space and time can be completely decoupled, absolute time can be defined etc. Starting from this space, we can actually work out how we will see it using light and our eyes, knowing that the speed of light is what it is. It will turn out, clearly, that we seen events with a delay. That is a first order (or static) effect. The second order effect is the way we perceive objects in motion. It turns out that we will see a time dilation and a length contraction (for objects receding from us.)

Let me illustrate it a little further using echolocation. Assume that you are a blind bat. You sense your space using sonar pings. Can you sense a supersonic object? If it is coming towards you, by the time the reflected ping reaches you, it has gone past you. If it is going away from you, your pings can never catch up. In other words, faster than sound travel is “forbidden.” If you make one more assumption – the speed of the pings is the same for all bats regardless of their state of motion – you derive a special relativity for bats where the speed of sound is the fundamental property of space and time!

We have to dig a little deeper and appreciate that space is no more real than time. Space is a cognitive construct created out of our sensory inputs. If the sense modality (light for us, sound for bats) has a finite speed, that speed will become a fundamental property of the resultant space. And space and time will be coupled through the speed of the sense modality.

This, of course, is only my own humble interpretation of SR. I wanted to post this on a new thread, but I get the feeling that people are a little too attached to their own views in this forum to be able to listen.

Leo wrote:Minkowski spacetime is one interpretation of the Lorentz transforms, but other interpretations, the original Lorentz-Poincaré Relativity or modernized versions of it with a wave model of matter (LaFreniere or Close or many others), work in a perfectly euclidean 3D space.

So we end up with process slowdown and matter contraction, but NO time dilation or space contraction. The transforms are the same though. So why does one interpretation lead to tensor metric while the others don’t? Or do they all? I lack the theoretical background to answer the question.

Hi Leo,

If you define LT as a velocity dependent deformation of an object in motion, then you can make the transformation a function of time. There won’t be any warping and complications of metric tensors and stuff. Actually what I did in my book is something along those lines (though not quite), as you know.

The trouble arises when the transformation matrix is a function of the vector is transforming. So, if you define LT as a matrix operation in a 4-D space-time, you can no longer make it a function of time through acceleration any more than you can make it a function of position (as in a velocity field, for instance.) The space-time warping is a mathematical necessity. Because of it, you lose coordinates, and the tools that we learn in our undergraduate years are no longer powerful enough to handle the problem.

The Unreal Universe — Discussion with Gibran

Hi again,You raise a lot of interesting questions. Let me try to answer them one by one.

You’re saying that our observations of an object moving away from us would look identical in either an SR or Galilean context, and therefore this is not a good test for SR.

What I’m saying is slightly different. The coordinate transformation in SR is derived considering only receding objects and sensing it using radar-like round trip light travel time. It is then assumed that the transformation laws thus derived apply to all objects. Because the round trip light travel is used, the transformation works for approaching objects as well, but not for things moving in other directions. But SR assumes that the transformation is a property of space and time and asserts that it applies to all moving (inertial) frames of reference regardless of direction.

We have to go a little deeper and ask ourselves what that statement means, what it means to talk about the properties of space. We cannot think of a space independent of our perception. Physicists are typically not happy with this starting point of mine. They think of space as something that exists independent of our sensing it. And they insist that SR applies to this independently existing space. I beg to differ. I consider space as a cognitive construct based on our perceptual inputs. There is an underlying reality that is the cause of our perception of space. It may be nothing like space, but let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the underlying reality is like Galilean space-time. How would be perceive it, given that we perceive it using light (one-way travel of light, not two-way as SR assumes)? It turns out that our perceptual space would have time dilation and length contraction and all other effect predicted by SR. So my thesis is that the underlying reality obeys Galilean space-time and our perceptual space obeys something like SR. (It is possible that if I assume that our perception uses two-way light travel, I may get SR-like transformation. I haven’t done it because it seems obvious to me that we perceive a star, for instance, by sensing the light from it rather than flashing a light at it.)

This thesis doesn’t sit well with physicists, and indeed with most people. They mistake “perceptual effects” to be something like optical illusions. My point is more like space itself is an illusion. If you look at the night sky, you know that the stars you see are not “real” in the sense that they are not there when you are looking at them. This is simply because the information carrier, namely light, has a finite speed. If the star under observation is in motion, our perception of its motion is distorted for the same reason. SR is an attempt to formalize our perception of motion. Since motion and speed are concepts that mix space and time, SR has to operate on “space-time continuum.” Since SR is based on perceptual effects, it requires an observer and describes motion as he perceives it.

But are you actually saying that not a single experiment has been done with objects moving in any other direction than farther away? And what about experiments on time dilation where astronauts go into space and return with clocks showing less elapsed time than ones that stayed on the ground? Doesn’t this support the ideas inherent in SR?

Experiments are always interpreted in the light of a theory. It is always a model based interpretation. I know that this is not a convincing argument for you, so let me give you an example. Scientists have observed superluminal motion in certain celestial objects. They measure the angular speed of the celestial object, and they have some estimate of its distance from us, so they can estimate the speed. If we didn’t have SR, there would be nothing remarkable about this observation of superluminality. Since we do have SR, one has to find an “explanation” for this. The explanation is this: when an object approaches us at a shallow angle, it can appear to come in quite a bit faster than its real speed. Thus the “real” speed is subluminal while the “apparent” speed may be superluminal. This interpretation of the observation, in my view, breaks the philosophical grounding of SR that it is a description of the motion as it appears to the observer.

Now, there are other observations of where almost symmetric ejecta are seen on opposing jets in symmetric celestial objects. The angular speeds may indicate superluminality in both the jets if the distance of the object is sufficiently large. Since the jets are assumed to be back-to-back, if one jet is approaching us (thereby giving us the illusion of superluminality), the other jet has bet receding and can never appear superluminal, unless, of course, the underlying motion is superluminal. The interpretation of this observation is that the distance of the object is limited by the “fact” that real motion cannot be superluminal. This is what I mean by experiments being open to theory or model based interpretations.

In the case of moving clocks being slower, it is never a pure SR experiment because you cannot find space without gravity. Besides, one clock has to be accelerated or decelerated and GR applies. Otherwise, the age-old twin paradox would apply.

I know there have been some experiments done to support Einstein’s theories, like the bending of light due to gravity, but are you saying that all of them can be consistently re-interpreted according to your theory? If this is so, it’s dam surprising! I mean, no offense to you – you’re obviously a very bright individual, and you know much more about this stuff than I do, but I’d have to question how something like this slipped right through physicists’ fingers for 100 years.

These are gravity related questions and fall under GR. My “theory” doesn’t try to reinterpret GR or gravity at all. I put theory in inverted quotes because, to me, it is a rather obvious observation that there is a distinction between what we see and the underlying causes of our perception. The algebra involved is fairly simple by physics standards.

Supposing you’re right in that space and time are actually Galilean, and that the effects of SR are artifacts of our perception. How then are the results of the Michelson-Morley experiments explained? I’m sorry if you did explain it in your book, but it must have flown right over my head. Or are we leaving this as a mystery, an anomaly for future theorists to figure out?

I haven’t completely explained MMX, more or less leaving it as a mystery. I think the explanation hinges on how light is reflected off a moving mirror, which I pointed out in the book. Suppose the mirror is moving away from the light source at a speed of v in our frame of reference. Light strikes it at a speed of c-v. What is the speed of the reflected light? If the laws of reflection should hold (it’s not immediately obvious that they should), then the reflected light has to have a speed of c-v as well. This may explain why MMX gives null result. I haven’t worked out the whole thing though. I will, once I quit my day job and dedicate my life to full-time thinking. :-)

My idea is not a replacement theory for all of Einstein’s theories. It’s merely a reinterpretation of one part of SR. Since the rest of Einstein’s edifice is built on this coordinate transformation part, I’m sure there will be some reinterpretation of the rest of SR and GR also based on my idea. Again, this is a project for later. My reinterpretation is not an attempt to prove Einstein’s theories wrong; I merely want to point out that they apply to reality as we perceive it.

Overall, it was worth the $5 I payed. Thanks for the good read. Don’t take my questions as an assault on your proposal – I’m honestly in the dark about these things and I absolutely crave light (he he). If you could kindly answer them in your spare time, I’d love to share more ideas with you. It’s good to find a fellow thinker to bounce cool ideas like this off of. I’ll PM you again once I’m fully done the book. Again, it was a very satisfying read.

Thanks! I’m glad that you like my ideas and my writing. I don’t mind criticism at all. Hope I have answered most of your questions. If not, or if you want to disagree with my answers, feel free to write back. Always a pleasure to chat about these things even if we don’t agree with each other.

– Best regards,
– Manoj

Discussion on the Daily Mail (UK)

On the Daily Mail forum, one participant (called “whats-in-a-name”) started talking about The Unreal Universe on July 15, 2006. It was attacked fairly viciously on the forum. I happened to see it during a Web search and decided to step in and defend it.

15 July, 2006

Posted by: whats-in-a-name on 15/07/06 at 09:28 AM

Ah, Kek, you’ve given me a further reason to be distracted from what I should be doing- and I can tell you that this is more interesting at the moment.I’ve been trying to formulate some ideas and there’s one coming- but I’ll have to give it to you in bits.I don’t want to delve into pseudoscience or take the woo-ish road that says that you can explain everything with quantum theory, but try starting here: http://theunrealuniverse.com/phys.shtml

The “Journal Article” link at the bottom touches on some of the points that we discussed elsewhere. It goes slightly off-topic, but you might also find the “Philosophy” link at the top left interesting.

Posted by: patopreto on 15/07/06 at 06:17 PM

Regarding that web site wian.One does not need to ead past this sentence –

The theories of physics are a description of reality. Reality is created out of the readings from our senses. Knowing that our senses all work using light as an intermediary, is it a surprise that the speed of light is of fundamental importance in our reality?

to realise that tis web site is complete ignorant hokum. I stopped at that point.

16 July, 2006

Posted by: whats-in-a-name on 16/07/06 at 09:04 AM

I’ve just been back to read that bit more carefully. I don’t know why the writer phrased it like that but surely what he meant was:(i) “Our perception of what is real is created out of the readings from our senses.” I think that most physicists wouldn’t argue with that would they? At the quantum level reality as we understand it doesn’t exist; you can only say that particles have more of a tendency to exist in one place or state than another.(ii) The information that we pick up from optical or radio telescopes, gamma-ray detectors and the like, shows the state of distant objects as they were in the past, owing to the transit time of the radiation. Delving deeper into space therefore enables us to look further back into the history of the universe.It’s an unusual way to express the point, I agree, but it doesn’t devalue the other information on there. In particular there are links to other papers that go into rather more detail, but I wanted to start with something that offered a more general view.

I get the impression that your study of physics is rather more advanced than mine- as I’ve said previously I’m only an amateur, though I’ve probably taken my interest a bit further than most. I’m happy to be corrected if any of my reasoning is flawed, though what I’ve said so far s quite basic stuff.

The ideas that I’m trying to express in response to Keka’s challenge are my own and again, I’m quite prepared to have you or anyone else knock them down. I’m still formulating my thoughts and I wanted to start by considering the model that physicists use of the nature of matter, going down to the grainy structure of spacetime at the Plank distance and quantum uncertainty.

I’ll have to come back to this in a day or two, but meanwhile if you or anyone else wants to offer an opposing view, please do.

Posted by: patopreto on 16/07/06 at 10:52 AM

I don’t know why the writer phrased it like that but surely what he meant was:

I think the write is quit clear! WIAN – you have re-written what he says to mean something different.

The writer is quite clear – “Once we accept that space and time are a part of the cognitive model created by the brain, and that special relativity applies to the cognitive model, we can ponder over the physical causes behind the model, the absolute reality itself.”

Blah Blah Blah!

The writer, Manoj Thulasidas, is an employee of OCBC bank in Singapore and self-described “amateur philosopher”. What is he writes appears to be nothing more than a religiously influenced solipsistic philosophy. Solipsism is interesting as a philosophical standpoint but quickly falls apart. If Manoj can start his arguments from such shaky grounds without explanation, then I really have no other course to take than to accept his descriptions of himself as “amateur”.

Maybe back to MEQUACK!

What is Real? Discussions with Ranga.

This post is a long email discussion I had with my friend Ranga. The topic was the unreality of reality of things and how this notion can be applied in physics.

Going through the debate again, I feel that Ranga considers himself better-versed in the matters of philosophy than I am. I do too, I consider him better read than me. But I feel that his assumption (that I didn’t know so much that I should be talking about such things) may have biased his opinion and blinded him to some of the genuinely new things (in my opinion, of course) I had to say. Nonetheless, I think there are quite a few interesting points that came out during the debate that may be of general interest. I have edited and formatted the debate for readability.

It is true that many bright people have pondered over the things I talk about in this blog and in my book. And they have articulated their thoughts in their works, probably better than I have in mine. Although it is always a good idea to go through the existing writings to “clear my head” (as one of my reviewers suggested while recommending David Humes), such wide reading creates an inherent risk. It is not so much the time it will take to read and understand the writings and the associated opportunity cost in thinking; it is also the fact that everything you read gets assimilated in you and your opinions become influenced by these brilliant thinkers. While that may be a good thing, I look at it as though it may actually be detrimental to original thought. Taken to the extreme, such blind assimilation may result in your opinions becoming mere regurgitation of these classical schools of thought.

Besides, as Hermann Hesse implies in Siddhartha, wisdom cannot be taught. It has to be generated from within.

Ranga’s words are colored Green (or Blue when quoted for the second time).

Mine are in White (or Purple when quoted for the second time).

Mon, May 21, 2007 at 8:07 PM.

I’m, to different extents, familiar with the distinction philosophers and scientists make in terms of phenomenal and physical realities – from the works of Upanishads, to the Advaitas/Dvaitas, to the Noumenon/Phenomenon of Schopenhauer, and the block Universe of Special Relativity, and even the recent theories in physics (Kaluza and Klein). The insight that what we perceive is not necessarily what “is”, existed in a variety of ways from a long time. However, such insights were not readily embraced and incorporated in all sciences. There is a enormous literature on this in neuroscience and social sciences. So, it is indeed very good that you have attempted to bring this in to physics – by recollecting our previous discussion on this, by reading through your introduction to the book in the website and understanding the tilt of your paper (could not find it in the journal – has it been accepted?). To suggest that there could be superluminal motion and to explain known phenomena such as GRBs through a quirk (?) in our perception (even in the physical instruments) is bold and needs careful attention by others in the field. One should always ask questions to cross “perceived” boundaries – in this case of course the speed of light.

However, it is quite inaccurate and superficial (in my opinion) to think that there is some “absolute” reality beyond the “reality” we encounter. While it is important to know that there are multiple realities for different individuals in us, and even different organisms, depending on senses and intellect, it is equally important to ask what reality is after all when there is no perception. If it cannot be accessed by any means, what is it anyway? Is there such a thing at all? Is Absolute Reality in the movement of planets, stars and galaxies without organisms in them? Who perceives them as such when there is nobody to perceive? What form do they take? Is there form? In applying philosophy (which I read just as deeper and bolder questions) to science (which I read as a serious attempt to answer those questions), you cannot be half-way in your methods, drawing imaginary boundaries that some questions are too philosophical or too theological for now.

While your book (the summary at least) seems to bring home an important point (at least to those who have not thought in this direction) that the reality we perceive is dependent on the medium/mode (light in some cases) and the instrument (sense organ and brain) we use for perceiving, it seems to leave behind a superficial idea that there is Absolute Reality when you remove these perceptual errors. Are they perceptual errors – aren’t perceptual instruments and perceptions themselves part of reality itself? To suggest that there is some other reality beyond the sum of all our perceptions is philosophically equally erroneous as suggesting that what we perceive is the only reality.

All the same, the question about reality or the lack of it has not been well incorporated into the physical sciences and I wish you the best in this regard.

Cheers
Ranga