This thought experiment has echoes of QM physicist John Wheeler's famous diagram of an emergent eye looking at itself.
Consider a very extensive medium which may be either finite or infinite in expanse
and which is totally composed of a surface of bubbles of varying scale.
Phenomena in this media occur as displacements of combinations of these bubbles taking
on an array of geometric forms- lumps of bubbles if you like.
Consider a being composed of those same bubbles emerging from the bath just as other
Ignore for a moment the mechanism by which both phenomena and the being emerge from
the surface of the bath.
Ignore the issue of consciousness or other unknown qualities of the being.
Consider that neither the being nor other phenomena are ever completely separate
from the bath.
* What phenomena could such a being observe in this universe and to what detail?
*Can such a being identify its own boundaries?
*Is such a being able to observe the boundaries that exist between bubbles?
*Could such a being engaging in observation do so without changing the bath
itself and therefore its own make up and therefore in an infinite loop, how it observes
what it observes?
*If in reality the bubbles do not exist and phenomena appear as displacement/distortion of
a totally contiguous bath, is the being able to observe the difference between a
quantized reality and a totally continuous one?
Since you claim to be a student there, could you at least manage to spell 'Rensselaer' correctly?
Unless there really is a Rinsaler Polytechnic somewhere -- though I can't seem to find one. Even if you search in Google, it corrects 'Rinsaler' to 'Rensselaer'. So there isn't much excuse for the misspelling -- not to mention that I'd expect anyone to learn the correct spelling just in making out the admission applications.
Kids today ... what's to say? :-)
May we put the same question in the following way or not? What my little nail knows (observe) about the other nails and the finger on which it is attached? has it the capability to distinguish itself from the finger and observe the analogous boundaries?
Finally, what and how observes the part of a whole itself and the whole in which it belongs and to what extend?Μ.
Reply to Maria Xifara
1. Why not?
4. Nothing, unsuccessfully, and none.
Reply to Gary Merrill
Then this raises the question of how an observer who is physically contiguous with all objects
and phenomena (there is no last molecule to me and as dawkins states, i probably have some
of cromwell in my kidneys) able to discern true boundaries?
If the position of an electron is only a probability cloud, then ultimately so am I.
My efforts to use my swarm of electrons (instrumentally) to define the position boundary of another electron must yield probabilities just the bubble being in God's bathtub can only use it;s own
bubbles to probabilistically determine his own boundaries and other bubble objects.
I've seen more coherent responses from AI programs developed in the 70s.
Want to try again?
Reply to Gary Merrill
Please refrain from sarcasm. It does not help.
I created this as an abstract example but it draws from what is a fundamental problem that has been revisited in philosophy and physics over thousands of years namely the notion of discreteness and the limitations it imposes for us in measurement and reasoning.
The "bath tub" proposition is that as physical mechanisms composed of the same discrete fundamentals as the phenomena we wish to measure, there are both physical and logical limitations in the resolution we can impose (think HUP) on such measurement. If ultimately if I am quarks or barks or harks or whatever comes out of CERN, I am limited to quark resolution at least. As with boundaries of soap bubbles, a being made of such bubbles can only interact with its universe to that resolution. The question is what happens at the edge of that resolution.
More deeply, measurement is not just a matter of resolution but also of existence. The most fundamental measurement is whether something is discretely different from nothing or from other forms of discreteness. Whether something can be said to exist or not is *not* just a physical measurement problem but a logical one as well, since such objects can be not just particles
in existence or not, but representations of truth (or not) from a physical law.
QM in the end is a statistical representation based on ensembles of particles. It has nothing to say about the dynamics of an individual particle beyond a probabilistic account. The quantum will reflect from the glass pane or go through it according to a probability distribution and that is all that can be said. This is a fundamental consequence of basically running out of lower levels of information (i.e. a hidden variables interpretation that has been widely discounted via the Bell inequality).
In effect, reality becomes probabilistically blurred at the edges of measurable discreteness, but the issue is much deeper because physical laws themselves are also discrete. An example is for example EPR/Bell type experiments where locality, logic and hidden variables as discrete principles cannot be allowed to co-exist and something must be surrendered.
The question becomes can we ever know in advance or is there a logical means by which we could
know which of these principles/laws will prove untrue if they are physically tested in such a way that they simultaneously cannot be?
In this sense we are not measuring the existence of a discrete object but the simultaneous existence of discrete laws under physical circumstances that do not allow them to simultaneously operate.
Would discrete laws become probabilistic or operate differently if their discreteness i.e.
limits to operation/existence were tested as severely as we test/measure the existence of
fundamental physical objects?
We have done this empirically in the EPR case but given any formal system of physical laws, is there any way of knowing in advance which, if any of them would be suspended or smeared into a probabilistic understanding if they were subjected to such a test. In effect I'm saying if we devised an experiment where gravity, conservation of charge, momentum etc could not physically hold, could we predict in advance which would not and in what way?
My conjecture would be that even if such EPR experiments could be conducted- and note that EPR is really a clash of preferred principles (e.g. locality) rather than physical laws. then we would
have no ability to predict the outcome.
Steven Wolfram's work on random patterns generated by simple mathematical rules and Chaitin's work on randomness as well as Godel's incompleteness suggest that when our computational space is less than the complexity of the phenomena in hand- even highly rule governed ones- then
the phenomena is essentially observed to be random even though it may not be at a higher
Many of the most fundamental issues in Science revolve around the very nature of discreteness and what happens when we push its boundaries (no pun). As a species we have fudged our
way around it but it remains very problematic. Allegedly discrete objects become less discrete in double slit experiments, simultaneously discrete measurements of position and momentum have a fundamental limit, discrete propositions can be true but remain unprovable, discrete rules implemented on binary mechanisms fail to reproduce consciousness or even sensible language
and even if they could, according to Searle nothing in such rules or mechanisms understands language even if the system as a whole could.
We are a long way from bath tubs and bubbles but the essence of the problem is still there- a conscious observer composed of the same physical stuff as the stuff he is observing. What limits stem from this both in terms of physical and logical understanding of their universe?
This will be my last post in this thread. I offer it only on the off-hand chance that you really want to be taken seriously, though I have substantial doubt about this and no genuine evidence for it.
First, my remark was not intended to be sarcastic. Rather it was a statement of fact and a request for a better attempt from you in stating whatever problem concerns you. More of that below.
Let's look objectively at the properties of your postings and this thread. First, it is created by someone who has concealed his (or her) identity. I am always reluctant to engage such people on the web. In a forum such as this, I cannot see what justification or motivation there is for such concealment. Second, you claim to be an undergraduate student but list a bogus university affiliation (which still remains uncorrected). Do these facts speak to the cogency of your ideas? No, but they do speak to an issue of intellectual honesty and a lack of seriousness. If you want to be taken seriously, then act seriously. You'll notice that you have received no substantive responses to your posting. There is good reason for this: your postings simply don't merit it. More of that below. I confess that my only motivation for responding in the first place was that -- as an alumnus of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute -- I was alarmed at what appeared to be either (a) an embarrassing misspelling by a current student (unlikely), or (b) a rather crude attempt at suggesting an academic affiliation that is simply a fraud. Much better to list no affiliation at all rather than to misspell your own or to simply make one up.
So from the beginning what we have is a posting from someone who has taken pains to conceal his identity and who is either woefully careless or intentionally deceptive. Add to that the fact that your registration does not list an email address for you, or any other information that might make it possible to contact you directly -- which would have been my preferred approach rather than responding to a posting from what is essentially an anonymous source. I'm really happy to help out undergraduates particularly with issues in philosophy of which I may have some knowledge. But I do expect honesty and transparency at the same level that I (and any other serious student or professional) provide it. You have not met that criterion -- even now when provided with a second chance -- and so you can't expect to be taken seriously. When this site was created, I expressed to the administrators my concern that it could easily go the way of similar earlier attempts in attracting people who simply wanted a forum in which to express their own uninformed and incoherent babblings about some topic in philosophy that had attracted their interests. I'm surprised that more of that hasn't happened, but this case definitely seems to fit in that category. More stringent requirements and checking of identity in the registration process would go some way in avoiding similar incidents in the future.
Now to the content of your postings ... Briefly, they nowhere rise above the level of jargon-laden incoherent ramblings coupled with vague name-dropping, and at a level of generality that inhibits even rational speculation about what you might mean. But I suspect you may be well aware of this. If not, take them to one of your (alleged) professors and get some direct analysis and feedback -- since you're clearly not going to get that here. Or sit down and write a complete paper, post it on this site, and invite comments. This needs to include a clear and precise statement of the "problem" you allude to, exactly how it is a problem, and exactly what your proposal is for addressing it. Now THAT is something that I or others may be able to help you with, or something that at least we wouldn't feel we were wasting our time even in reading. But before you do that, I strongly suggest you add some details concerning your identity to your registration information, and remove or correct your claimed affiliation. That's an absolute prerequisite in my view.