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

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Posted by daViper on August 6, 1999 19:55:32 UTC

Thank you for your most eloquent reply. I appreciate someone taking the time to respond in such a detailed manner.

I do think you MAY have missed my point a little, or at least in some cases misinterpreted what I was trying to say. Maybe I did not express myself clearly enough which led to this, so if I may, I’d like to capture a couple of points here and go over them again. It’s all in good clean fun anyway right? say...

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. :::::::::::::::::::: I’m not saying it does. In fact I said decimal mathematics is totally unnecessary as a methodology for arriving at the answers (values) that we do. Of course you are correct here, but I don’t recall saying otherwise.

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. ::::::::::::::::::::::: The “natural” part comes from the ten finger body evolution as a speculation by biologists as to why we use base 10 as a math method. It may be right, it may not be. Either way, the REASON we use base 10 is irrelevant to my point that we DO use it in a vastly more prolific manner than any other.

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. :::::::::::::: I think you are making my point for me here.

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 ;) ::::::::::::::::::::::: Sorry, compilers and function libraries may make it easier for the higher level language software developer who works in Visual Basic, Foxpro, Java, and HTML to write code that does not itself have to deal with manipulating the conversion required to store decimal numbers in binary format maintaining the integrity of the decimal point and the degree of accuracy, but the people who write the compilers, interpreters, and assemblers do. It still has to be done AT SOME LEVEL whether the ‘90’s application programmer has to deal with it or not. (By the way, “The Commodore” was one of my favorite heroes and I had the pleasure of attending 3 of her lectures. I used to have a Bulldog I named after her.)


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? :::::::::::::::::::::::::::: I agree here with you also but it still would not alter the fact that binary representation, in and of itself, is the ONE math base that ANY civilization could use for cross communication with another. Whether THEY would use it to develop computers is not an issue to my overall point. It is probably the only math base you could make this “universiality” statement about however. It's why we put it on the Voyager spacecraft and sent it as a signal from Arecebo.

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?). ::::::::::::::::::::::: Now we’re getting to it. I’ll admit my statement is loaded and even contains a couple of phrases designed to give the reader some latitude in presumption. I’m not really declaring that TIME does not exist, I’m hypothesizing that our concept of it is skewed by behaviour patterns we imposed on ourselves long ago. Just like decimal math. (I believe my original statement is “Time, as we perceive it….”.

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) :::::::::::::: Agreed. 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! ::::::::::::::::::: Also agreed.

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... :::::::::::::::::::::::::: This person called “Science=Religion” brought this one up. I just decided to hop onto his clever point and analysis and run with it a little.

Please allow me a final clarification point. My real feeling in all this has to do with the speculation about time travel which is put forth so much these days.

What I truly do NOT believe is that the “past” or the “future” actually exist as viable states one can travel to. The PROCESS of time is of course real, and cause and effect is it’s symptom. (Let’s stay out of Quantum Theory for the moment). But…..

We’ve begun to speak of the past or the future as actual physical states of existence when in reality, it can only EVER be “right now”.

My original dissertation is aimed at the folly of thinking that going to “the past” or “the future” as if they are genuine tangibles, is the issue.

We can expand this to discussions on Relativity and Quantum Theory if you want, but I think that’s another post in itself.

Again, thank you for your time in this.


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