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Re: Time Travel?....To What Exactly? / OO-Universe

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Posted by HeadHurts/">HeadHurts on August 6, 1999 09:20:34 UTC

I'd like to take a crack at showing why I believe the decimal analogy is fatally flawed, and doesn't advance the idea that it's 'all in our minds' even an inch. I can't disprove your hypothesis that we only imagine this thing called time (which is what you *really* asked for), but I really have a problem some of the premises of your argument so here goes:

Firstly, representing a given number using a different base is both trivial and in no way changes the underlying, and understood, value of that number. All of the rules that work under one representation continue to hold true under any other - use of the decimal system does not constrain our understanding of mathematics in any way. Whether or not it is *natural* to prefer base ten for performing arithmatic operations is a question of no significance what-so-ever. It seems pretty *natural* (and simple) to switch between any representation once someone shows you how. If it where the case that switching the representation of a value to a different base somehow invalidated what we know about mathematics (like 1 + 2 = 3 but 10 + 01 11 - as in: oops, that law of addition stuff was only in my decimal thinking head), then the analogy with our perception of time (or lack of it) would be relevent.

The other thing I do not agree with is the statement that programmers (super-other-worldly-beings that they are) have to do all kinds of gyrations to deal with representing decimal values on a machine. Maybe Admiral Grace Hopper did when she was starting out, but today we use complilers and libraries that allow us to operate on a *slightly* higher level of abstraction most of the time. Declaring a 'float' or 'double' type and storing and manipulating a value represented as decimal really isn't all that large of a mental feat, and certainly doesn't change my fundimental perception of the universe ;)

SILICON BASED COMPUTING MACHINES ARE CONTRIVANCE OF HUMANS AND NOTHING ELSE! Mathematics is universal, a particular representation for numbers is not (not even binary). Once the limits of our basic physics research begin to constrain the speed of our silicon based computing machines (soon), we may well have to rethink this buisness of throwing lots of switches really fast as the only viable means of computing. If our computing 'hardware' where to become organic, would binary seem such a *universal* representation then? Would every other civilization develop their computing and communications technology the same way we have? Even if they didn't have sand on their home planet?

As far as time goes, it is so much a part of everything we know, feel and observe, that is is truely inconceivable that it is all just an illusion, and that everything happens all at once (or not at all?).

As far as coming up with a solid philosophical argument against the non-existance of time, I think time is so rooted in everything we know, or have ever known, that we don't have the tools to perform an analysis that is independent of time.

A statement can be true A statement can be false A statement cannot be both true and false (implicitly: AT THE SAME TIME)

Throw out time and it all breaks down. True and false are states of being, but without time, the whole concept of states is meaningless. There is no way to transition from one state to another, except instantly and continuously. If transitions between states occur instantly and continuously, then wouldn't that mean that all possible states occur at once? And if they do, then isn't that just really one state of being? How can you even begin to attack this problem? Statements like "If P then Q", no longer have any meaning - you can no longer test *if* anything - if P is true 'now', then it's always true, therefor so is Q - it's like a deterministic nightmare!

PS: As far as the question: Q: "When I create a Float with infinit decimal point, like 2/3 : WHEN (at what moment in time) is that number complete?"

A: It was *complete* the moment you decided to pick 2/3. There is nothing incomplete about 2/3. If your question is when will your attempt to approximate 2/3 and to store the result of that that approximation complete, that's simply a matter of the precision that you choose and how fast your computing machine operates (even if the 'machine' is you). Choose to continue the calculation of the approximation through an infinite number iterations? Well, that might take a while...

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