What is Real? Discussions with Ranga.

Thu, May 24, 2007 at 4:00 PM

For the next couple of days I’m a bit busy and so I would like to jot down some quick thoughts on the below. I would wait for your longer email, especially interested in answers to some of my questions.

I will reply in detail later, but want to respond to a couple of points. One is about how to prove that there is no light barrier in AR. As you rightly pointed out, I can’t. In my view, I don’t think one needs to prove it. Let me put it this way — suppose we lived in box. One fine morning, we find an arc from one wall to another. Then one bright handsome guy (me 🙂 comes up with the notion that the arc is a part of a big circle outside the box. There is no way to prove it because we cannot see outside the box. Besides, it may simply be wrong. But the notion is consistent with the arc. If there are other measurements (such as the observed travel time of an object disappearing at one wall and reappearing at the other end being consistent with the perimeter of the circle), we can have some confidence on the notion. This is roughly where I am. I have an explanation why the speed of light appears in our perception of motion, and I have some other observations (GRBs, radio jets etc) that are consistent with the explanation.

This “out-of-the-box” analogy is a good one for guestimating things that we cannot measure and prove directly. Only – only if the box is within our perceptual world itself. If the box is “the” perceptual world, we are back again to the problem!

The speed limitation “seems” to exist in our perception (as science stands now). This speed limit may even be overthrown (the superluminal evidence). If it is not, it is perhaps because of the dynamics of our perceptual interactions, or because of the nature of the entity itself. Who knows EM or light exists outside of our perceptual world. To assume that it does is “pre-supposing” the nature of the AR and weakening your own description of it. That’s why I said you have to reflect more on this.

Even the postulate that AR is undifferentiated is weaking the original definition of AR. It comes because of our urge to explain it somehow. It could be manyfold more differentiated than our PR. Who knows? Or it may be “hoosbitted” (a new word, actually comes from Kannada – let me know if you are interested in the meaning 🙂 the nature of which nobody knows. Or it may be just our PR and nothing else!

I think your main point in the book (although I have not read it, already I have the essence through this discussion – you would have written your strongest arguments already) is that many phenomenons in our world, including the speed of light, could be explained by the quirk of our perception. Period.

It is already a good point for me. It can explain certain things like GRBs in a new light, perhaps, and that is where you should focus, in my opinion. This is the point I have been making for quite sometime now 🙂 Of course, you may disagree with this.

Now about whose PR I am talking about, it is the PR that is created by light. Specifically, the perception of motion as measured using light. About the presence of other senses that don’t seem to rely on light — all the interactions that we are capable of sensing are of electromagnetic variety. And photon is the mediating boson for EM interactions in QED. So it can be argued that we sense only EM matter using photon. I have quite a bit more about it in my book.

This is a good point why light is important to us as it is part of the EM spectrum. However, PR that is created by light in different beings could still be different, because the PR is created by also the sense organs and the brain whose varied limitations and features in different species can result in different PRs.

Secondly, tactile, olfactory and auditory sensations although can be argued to be fundamentally based on EM (there are also non EM interactions here), do not use the visible part of the EM spectrum as vision does. So, how much the speed of EM limit affects them and how important it is to the PR created by these organs has to be discussed, at least before jumping to sweeping conclusions.

About the blind man’s sense of space, the answer lies in the role of language in creating our reality. Language serves to normalize our separate perceptual realities. In order to appreciate its role fully, we have to find someone who didn’t have a language for sometime and then acquired it. Like Helen Keller. I went into it in some detail in the book. My point is, if you had a bunch of isolated blind people (as a blind civilization with its own language), I don’t think they will have a cognitive representation of space. Again, another assertion that cannot be tested or verified.

A person who is blind and who didn’t have a language would still be able to reach out and touch things, feel them and carry out his functions. Studies on blind sight are extremely insightful in this regard. So, it does not mean that language is necessary for spatial processing. Cognitive representation of space does not need language, and please don’t write that in your book 🙂 And another thing is, while imagining a thought experiment it helps to make it as simple as possible, otherwise you may make an experiment to just prove your point and not see any other.

Language helps us to communicate certain things interchangeably across senses: you would find many anecdotes in the paper I sent you about blind people.

Coming back to the need to validate my “model” for AR — we have a pretty good idea of how our senses work at a macro level. I mean, when we look at a star a million light years away, we know that what we are seeing is what happened a million years ago. This time delay is a first order effect of the finite speed of light. A second order effect is the manifestation of the finite speed of light in our perception of motion. We cannot deconvolute out this manifestation from our perception of motion (one reason why the PR->AR mapping is one to many). However, given a model, we can certainly verify whether it is consistent with our PR.

So, I have made my point about this, and I shall rest it. Whatever model you propose, you can neither verify nor falsify. It cannot be a scientific theory but it can be a metaphysical, philosophical or whatever you want it to be. Our belief system, by the way, are not always scientific theories – least of them, I think.

Just like verifiability, falsifiability is also a required feature of a theory. I do list a couple of features of GRBs and radio jets that, if observed, would prove that my theory is wrong.

This is good, and this is what is required.

The reason for light to be special in my explanation is not my physicist’s preference in terms of mass-energy equation (the validity of which, I’m slightly skeptical of right now :). It is just because space is the representation of our sight sense. > Much like sound is a product of hearing — an analogy I go into in some length in the book. When we see things moving in our space representation, our brain’s assumption is that the speed of light is infinite. The deconvolution I was talking about (modeling AR from PR) is an effort to imagine a space where the speed of light is really infinity. You then apply the finite speed and work out how our perception will be distorted due to this finite speed. SR (the coordinate transformation part) is really a mapping of the speed of light to infinity. Again, a notion I illustrate in the book.

As talked about space is a representation of sight and other organs too. For the convenience of a study, you can choose to study one aspect and that is sight. The rest of it that you explain applies to this world itself, but moving from SR to another theory.

I feel as though I’m rewriting my book in my emails to you, without the benefit of being able to present the ideas in a structured and convincing manner. You are going to have to read the book!

I have spent equal amount if not more of my time on this too, in writing something new every time, while you have been just repeating your book!

I don’t remember whether we have talked about observed superluminality? Another point I have to get into when I have some more time.

We have not yet, but it will be good to hear about this too. In writing a book, one cannot assume the reader’s knowledge in a field, so one has to explain everything in simple and direct ways. But, one cannot also assume reader’s ignorance in a field.



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