Tag Archives: Philosophie

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?

Dans 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, par exemple. 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, irrévocable, 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. Ici, 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, par exemple, 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. Bien sûr, 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 aussi. I believe that the greatest fear of a normal human being is the fear of death. Après tout, 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. Heureusement, 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. Après tout, 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?

Perception, Physique et le rôle de la lumière dans la philosophie

Réalité, comme nous le sentons, est pas tout à fait réel. Les étoiles que nous voyons dans le ciel de nuit, par exemple, ne sont pas vraiment là. Ils ont déménagé ou sont même morts au moment où nous arrivons à les voir. Cette irréalité est dû au temps que met la lumière des étoiles et des galaxies lointaines nous rejoindre. Nous savons de ce retard.

Même le soleil que nous connaissons si bien, c'est déjà huit minutes vieux au moment où nous voyons. Ce fait ne semble pas présenter de problèmes épistémologiques particulièrement graves – si nous voulons savoir ce qui se passe sur le soleil maintenant, tout ce que nous avons à faire est d'attendre huit minutes. Nous n'avons qu'à «correcte’ les distorsions dans notre perception en raison de la vitesse finie de la lumière avant que nous pouvons faire confiance à ce que nous voyons. Le même phénomène en voyant a une manifestation moins connu dans la façon dont nous percevons les objets en mouvement. Certains corps célestes apparaissent comme si elles se déplacent plusieurs fois la vitesse de la lumière, alors que leur «vrai’ vitesse doit être beaucoup moins que ce que.

Ce qui est surprenant (et rarement mis en évidence) est que quand il s'agit de détecter le mouvement, nous ne pouvons pas rétro-calculer dans le même genre de façon que nous pouvons pour corriger le retard dans l'observation du soleil. Si nous voyons un corps céleste se déplaçant à une vitesse incroyablement élevée, nous ne pouvons pas calculer à quelle vitesse ou même dans quelle direction il est «vraiment’ déplacer sans avoir à apporter certaines autres hypothèses.

Einstein a choisi de résoudre le problème en traitant perception déformée et inventer de nouvelles propriétés fondamentales dans le domaine de la physique – dans la description de l'espace et du temps. Une idée de base de la théorie de la relativité est que la notion humaine d'une séquence ordonnée d'événements dans le temps doit être abandonné. En fait, car il faut du temps pour la lumière d'un événement à un endroit éloigné de nous rejoindre, et pour nous de prendre conscience de ce, le concept de 'maintenant’ pas plus de sens, par exemple, lorsque nous parlons d'une tache solaire apparaissant à la surface du soleil juste au moment où l'astronome essayait de photographier. Simultanéité est relative.

Einstein a redéfini la place simultanéité en utilisant les instants dans le temps nous détectons l'événement. Détection, comme il l'a défini, implique un aller-retour Voyage de lumière semblable à la détection radar. Nous envoyons un signal voyageant à la vitesse de la lumière, et attendre pour la réflexion. Si l'impulsion réfléchie par deux événements nous parvient au même instant, puis ils sont simultanés. Mais une autre façon de voir les choses est tout simplement d'appeler deux événements «simultanée’ si leur lumière nous parvient au même instant. En d'autres termes, nous pouvons utiliser la lumière générée par les objets sous observation plutôt que d'envoyer des signaux à eux et à la recherche à la réflexion.

Cette différence peut sembler un détail technique arguties, mais cela fait une énorme différence pour les prévisions que nous pouvons faire. Le choix d'Einstein en résulte une image mathématique qui possède de nombreuses propriétés souhaitables, y compris celui de faire le développement théorique plus élégant. Mais alors, Einstein croyait, comme une question de foi, il semblerait, que les règles qui régissent l'univers doivent être «élégant.’ Cependant, l'autre approche a un avantage quand il s'agit de décrire les objets en mouvement. Parce que, bien sûr, nous n'utilisons pas de radar pour voir les étoiles en mouvement; nous sentons simplement la lumière (ou un autre rayonnement) provenant de leur. Pourtant, l'utilisation de ce type de paradigme sensorielle, plutôt que de «détection de type radar,’ pour décrire les résultats de l'univers dans une image mathématique plus laid. Einstein ne serait pas approuver!

La différence mathématique engendre différentes positions philosophiques, qui à son tour percoler à la compréhension de notre image physique de la réalité. A titre d'illustration, supposons que nous observons, à travers un télescope radio, deux objets dans le ciel, avec à peu près la même forme, la taille et les propriétés. La seule chose que nous savons avec certitude, c'est que les ondes radio à partir de ces deux points différents dans le ciel nous parviennent au même instant dans le temps. Nous ne pouvons que deviner quand les vagues ont commencé leurs voyages.

Si nous supposons (comme nous le faisons régulièrement) que les vagues ont commencé le voyage à peu près au même moment dans le temps, nous nous retrouvons avec une photo de deux «réel’ lobes symétriques plus ou moins la façon dont les voir. Mais il est un autre, possibilité qui est différent et que les ondes proviennent d'un même objet (qui est en mouvement) à deux instants différents dans le temps, atteindre le télescope, au même instant. Cette possibilité serait en outre expliquer certaines propriétés spectrales et temporelles de ces sources radio symétriques. Alors laquelle de ces deux images devrions nous considérer comme réel? Deux objets symétriques telles que nous les voyons ou un objet se déplaçant dans une manière de nous donner cette impression? Est-ce vraiment important que l'on est «réel»? Le réel ne de’ quoi que ce soit dans ce contexte signifie?

Relativité restreinte donne une réponse sans ambiguïté à cette question. Les mathématiques exclut la possibilité d'un seul objet en mouvement dans une telle façon que pour imiter deux objets. Essentiellement, ce que nous voyons est ce qui existe. Encore, si nous définissons les événements par ce que nous percevons, la seule position philosophique qui fait sens est celle qui se déconnecte de la réalité détecté des causes se trouvent derrière ce qui est détectée.

Ce décalage n'est pas rare dans les écoles philosophiques de la pensée. Phénoménalisme, par exemple, Considère que l'espace et le temps ne sont pas des réalités objectives. Ils ne sont que le support de notre perception. Tous les phénomènes qui se produisent dans l'espace et le temps sont regroupe simplement de notre perception. En d'autres termes, espace et le temps sont des constructions cognitives découlant de la perception. Ainsi, toutes les propriétés physiques que nous attribuons à l'espace et le temps ne peuvent s'appliquer à la réalité phénoménale (la réalité des «choses-dans-le-monde’ comme nous le sentons. La réalité sous-jacente (qui détient les causes physiques de notre perception), en revanche, reste hors de notre portée cognitive.

Pourtant, il ya un gouffre entre les points de vue de la philosophie et de la physique moderne. Pas pour rien que le physicien prix Nobel, Steven Weinberg, se demander, dans ses rêves de livres d'une théorie finale, pourquoi la contribution de la philosophie à la physique avait été si étonnamment faible. C'est peut-être parce que la physique n'a pas encore de se réconcilier avec le fait que quand il s'agit de voir l'univers, il n'y a pas une telle chose comme une illusion d'optique – qui est probablement ce que Goethe a voulu dire quand il a dit, 'Illusion optique est la vérité optique.’

La distinction (ou l'absence de) entre illusion d'optique et de la vérité est une des plus anciennes débats en philosophie. Après tout, il s'agit de la distinction entre la connaissance et la réalité. La connaissance est considérée comme notre point de vue à propos de quelque chose qui, en réalité, est «effectivement le cas.’ En d'autres termes, la connaissance est une réflexion, ou une image mentale de quelque chose d'extérieur, comme représenté sur la figure ci-dessous.

ExternalToBrain

Dans cette image, la flèche noire représente le processus de création de connaissances, qui comprend la perception, activités cognitives, et l'exercice de la raison pure. Telle est l'image que la physique a fini par accepter. Tout en reconnaissant que notre perception peut être imparfaite, physique suppose que nous pouvons nous rapprocher et plus proche de la réalité extérieure à travers l'expérimentation de plus en plus fine, et, plus important encore, grâce à une meilleure théorisation. Les théories spéciales et de la relativité générale sont des exemples d'applications brillantes de ce point de vue de la réalité où les principes physiques simples sont poursuivis sans relâche à l'aide formidable machine de la raison pure de leurs conclusions logiquement inévitables.

Mais il est un autre, autre point de vue de la connaissance et de la réalité qui a été autour depuis longtemps. C'est le point de vue que ce qui concerne la réalité perçue comme une représentation cognitive interne de nos entrées sensorielles, comme cela est illustré ci-dessous.

AbsolutelToBrain

Dans ce point de vue, connaissance et la réalité perçue sont deux constructions cognitives internes, bien que nous en sommes venus à les considérer comme séparé. Ce qui est externe n'est pas la réalité telle que nous la percevons, mais une entité inconnaissable donnant lieu à des causes physiques à l'origine des entrées sensorielles. Dans l'illustration, la première flèche représente le processus de détection, et la seconde flèche représente les étapes cognitives et logiques de raisonnement. Afin d'appliquer cette vision de la réalité et de la connaissance, nous devons deviner la nature de la réalité absolue, inconnaissable comme il est. Un candidat possible à la réalité absolue est la mécanique newtonienne, qui donne une prévision raisonnable pour notre réalité perçue.

Pour résumer, quand nous essayons de traiter les distorsions dues à la perception, nous avons deux options, ou deux positions philosophiques possibles. La première consiste à accepter les distorsions dans le cadre de notre espace et le temps, comme la relativité restreinte ne. L'autre option consiste à supposer qu'il existe un «supérieur’ réalité distincte de notre réalité détectée, dont les propriétés nous ne pouvons conjecture. En d'autres termes, une option est de vivre avec la distorsion, tandis que l'autre est de proposer des suppositions éclairées pour la réalité supérieure. Aucun de ces choix est particulièrement attrayant. Mais le chemin est similaire à deviner le point de vue accepté dans phénoménalisme. Elle conduit aussi naturellement à la façon dont la réalité est perçue en neurosciences cognitives, qui étudie les mécanismes biologiques à l'origine de la cognition.

La torsion de cette histoire de la lumière et la réalité est que nous semblons avoir connu tout cela pendant une longue période. Le rôle de la lumière dans la création de notre réalité ou l'univers est au cœur de la pensée religieuse occidentale. Un univers dépourvu de lumière n'est pas simplement un monde où vous avez éteint les lumières. Il est en effet un univers dépourvu de lui-même, un univers qui n'existe pas. C'est dans ce contexte que nous devons comprendre la sagesse derrière l'affirmation que «la terre était sans forme, et non avenu’ jusqu'à ce que Dieu a fait la lumière soit, en disant: «Que la lumière soit.’

Le Coran dit aussi, «Allah est la lumière des cieux et de la terre,’ qui se reflète dans l'un des anciens écrits hindous: «Conduis-moi de l'obscurité à la lumière, Conduis-moi de l'irréel au réel.’ Le rôle de la lumière en nous tenant du vide irréel (le néant) à une réalité a été bien compris depuis longtemps, longtemps. Est-il possible que les saints et les prophètes anciens savaient des choses que nous commençons seulement maintenant à découvrir avec tous nos progrès supposés de connaissances?

Il ya des parallèles entre la distinction noumène-phénoménale de Kant et les phénoménistes plus tard, et la distinction Brahman-Maya en Advaita. Sagesse de la nature de la réalité du répertoire de la spiritualité se réinvente en neurosciences modernes, qui traite la réalité comme une représentation cognitive créée par le cerveau. Le cerveau utilise les entrées sensorielles, mémoire, conscience, et même langue comme ingrédients dans concocter notre sens de la réalité. Ce point de vue de la réalité, cependant, est quelque chose de physique est toujours incapable de venir à bout. Mais dans la mesure où son arène (l'espace et le temps) est une partie de la réalité, la physique n'est pas à l'abri de la philosophie.

En fait, comme nous poussons les limites de nos connaissances de plus en plus, nous découvrons interconnexions insoupçonnés et souvent surprenantes entre les différentes branches d'efforts humains. Encore, la façon dont les divers domaines de la connaissance peuvent être indépendants les uns des autres si toute connaissance est subjective? Si la connaissance est simplement la représentation cognitive de nos expériences? Mais alors, c'est le sophisme moderne de penser que la connaissance est notre représentation interne d'une réalité extérieure, et donc distincte de lui. Plutôt, reconnaissant et en utilisant des interconnexions entre les différents domaines de l'activité humaine peut être la condition sine qua non pour la prochaine étape dans le développement de notre sagesse collective.

Boîte: Train d'EinsteinL'un des célèbres expériences de pensée d'Einstein illustre la nécessité de repenser ce que nous entendons par des événements simultanés. Il décrit un train à grande vitesse se précipitant le long d'une voie rectiligne passé une petite station comme un homme se tient sur le quai de la gare regarder accélérer par. À son grand étonnement, que le train lui passe, deux éclairs frappent la piste suivante à chaque extrémité du train! (Idéalement, pour les enquêteurs plus tard, ils laissent des traces de brûlure à la fois dans le train et sur le terrain.)

Pour l'homme, il semble que les deux boulons de foudre, exactement au même moment,. Plus tard, les marques sur le terrain par la voie ferrée révèlent que les endroits où la foudre a frappé étaient exactement à égale distance de l'. Depuis lors, les éclairs se sont rendus à la même distance vers lui, et depuis leur apparition à l'homme pour arriver exactement au même moment,, il n'a aucune raison de ne pas conclure que les éclairs ont frappé exactement au même moment,. Ils étaient simultanée.

Cependant, suppose un peu plus tard, l'homme rencontre une passagère, qui se trouvait assis dans la voiture-bar, exactement au centre du train, et la recherche par la fenêtre au moment où les éclairs ont frappé. Ce passager lui dit qu'elle a vu le premier boulon de foudre a frappé le sol près du moteur à l'avant du train peu avant de savoir quand le second a touché le sol à côté de la voiture de bagages à l'arrière du train.

L'effet n'a rien à voir avec la distance la lumière a dû voyager, à la fois la femme et l'homme sont à égale distance entre les deux points que le coup de foudre. Pourtant, ils ont observé le déroulement des événements tout à fait différemment.

Ce désaccord de la chronologie des événements est inévitable, Einstein dit, que la femme est en effet le déplacement vers le point où le flash de foudre a frappé près du moteur -et à partir du point où le flash d'alléger frapper à côté de la voiture de bagages. Dans la petite quantité de temps qu'il faut pour les rayons lumineux d'atteindre la dame, parce que le train se déplace, la distance du premier flash doit se rendre à ses psys, et la distance que le second flash doit voyager grandit.

Ce fait ne peut être remarqué dans le cas des trains et des avions, mais quand il s'agit de distances cosmologiques, simultanéité n'a vraiment pas de sens. Par exemple, l'explosion de deux supernovae lointaines, considérée comme simultanée de notre point sur la terre de vue, apparaîtra à se produire dans des combinaisons différentes de temps d'autres perspectives.

Dans la relativité: Le spécial et Théorie (1920), Einstein a mis de cette façon:

«Toute référence au corps (coordonner système) a son propre temps particulier; sauf si on nous dit la référence du corps à laquelle la déclaration de temps se réfère, il n'y a pas de sens dans une déclaration de l'heure de l'événement.’

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