5 responses to “Physics and Mind”

  1. Herbert Dingle’s philosophical objection to Special Relativity’s twin paradox has been chronicled by the likes of Martin Gardiner and George Gamow, (“Humbert Pringle”) but as I am writing this, no one in physics and especially math ever really responded to Mr. Dingle’s objection in a way that did justice to his basic premise.

    Two twins A and B are in relative motion at relativistic velocities in opposite directions, which may be approaching or receding from each other respectively. ignore any acceleration (past, present, future) for the moment. If twin A could observe the time dilation (rate of the flow of time) of twin B, he would report that it appeared to be running slower. Twin B could report exactly the same effect on the time dilation of twin B.

    Without knowing how the twins initially accelerated and what happens next, there is literally no way to resolve this dilema. in other words:

    Time dilation of A > time dilation of B, AND
    Time dilation of B > time dilation of A.

    Both situations, according to Dingle, cannot be true AT THE SAME TIME.

    What was given as an explanation to Dingle, and which is still not satisfactory today, is that it is simultanaeity does not mean the same thing for twin A as it does for twin B.

    Be that as it may, the fact remains that if both twins accelerated together from the same initial frame of reference, by means of appropriate applied acceleration, you may arrange things according to three possible outcomes:

    1) twin A is older than B when they are reunited
    2) twin B is older than A when they are reunited, or
    3) the twins are reunited in a symmetrical accelerated manner, and have aged the same amount while apart

    There. That wasn’t so difficult, to explain, now was it? Relativity theory and its credibility is still intact as well as Mr. Dingle’s self respect. He was right in a way. Only a knowledge of their initial reference frames and the accelerations applied can resolve Dingle’s paradox.

    But the effect of this is much deeper and consequential to physics. Without pointing any fingers, there is a much better model of time in the offing than anything relativity ever suggested. I did not come by this idea easily nor by myself. I had the assistence of a model created by an unknown mathematician as talented in his own right as Grassmann evidently was. Many accepted ideas about relativity will require ammendment, and acceleration replacing position is just the beginning.

    There will be more about his idea in a forthcoming book we are writing. You won’t find it advertised anywhere yet. This is neither spam nor a promotion of what is to come. Stay tuned.

  2. Giulio Katis says:

    Given what we know, is it a logical possibility that waking consciousness evolved from dreaming? The thought experiment is that evolution selected for and shaped (reality’s ability to support) conscious capacities in the arena of dreaming, from which waking consciousness later developed by additionally incorporating sensory (input) and motor (output) feedback capabilities to develop real-time error-correction functions.

    There may be good reason why evolution would select for dreaming in unconscious animals: it creates an arena where the animal can train aspects of itself in a variety of virtual scenarios or simulations, giving rise to (initially unconscious) forms of creativity and subject-object and inside-outside dichotomies. Later, scenarios involving choice and branching could be added to test decision making capacities (the genesis of experienced time). As animals became more social, social interactions could be simulated requiring the need for different perspectives, different roles, different ‘selves’ to be generated and played out, including the need to manage multiple selves in context – creating the need for a perceived self. So, perhaps it was in the world of dreams that consciousness first expressed itself and evolved. From there, one could imagine an evolutionary advantage for a “scenario generation and testing capacity” to itself be used real-time in the live operations of the organism so that all the associated “dream machinery” could be directly used where it counts, and be optimally tuned. First this may have been expressed in the safer arena of playing, and later expanded to the rest of what has become waking life – adding a “lived” dimension to consciousness.

    Whether true or false, does the consideration of a hypothesis like this suggest any lines of enquiry? Two questions comes to mind: what type of thing is a “scenario generation and testing environment” in itself; and what broader theory could accommodate a relationship between such a thing with the matter described by physics? Concepts such as scenario generation, choice, decision making, perspectives and roles would seem to require a language closer to that of theoretical computer science and the mathematics of game theory than the concepts and calculi of geometry and physics. This suggests the need for a mathematical theory that encompasses both these aspects of reality and, critically, describes how they interact. So, before getting to the question of mind and matter itself, this line of thinking suggests we first consider how to (abstractly) make sense of the phenomenon of engineering where design and physics are bridged.

  3. Giulio Katis says:

    I wonder to what extent the lack of progress in the mind-matter debate has been driven by the exceptional success of digital computers.

    Though applications of software have developed in un-imagined ways, the development of computers have followed a narrow trajectory following the vision of Turing, von Neumann, and Newman (where behaviour can be specified by code that can be represented as bits and consumed by a ‘universal’ machine that can emulate the specified behaviour, being implemented electrically via registers and addresses etc). This has enabled software design to (by and large, but not always) ignore the physical properties of the devices used to implement their programs. In other words, modern day computers have encouraged a computational-physical schism. (I am not suggesting computation is all that a mind does, but it is a characteristic of mind, and it is a phenomenon that does not require physical space for its description.)

    Contrast this with a pioneering watch-maker: was he thinking about just the physical properties of the matter he was working with, or was he also thinking about interactions, cycles and the ‘computational’ properties of matter? Surely, both and, critically, how they relate.

    As biochemical, quantum and other non-digital computing devices are explored, we might find interesting examples where the physical and computational (or other dynamic logical) aspects of reality cannot be so strongly separated; and the explicit relationships between the symbolic and physical aspects of the world may become clearer.

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