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Everything posted by mmiguel

  1. I think everything you said above is reasonable, and you aren't really attacking the points I made which I find important. The last paragraph... when does causality end is a very good point. To me it's pretty much the same as asking: why does the universe exist? What caused the universe to exist? Maybe that was the one thing without a cause... although that would be pretty weird.... Maybe we are wrong about the big bang - maybe it wasn't the beginning, maybe the universe has circularly expanded and compressed back to a singularity and big-banged ad-infinitum in the past and will continue to do so in the future. I have no answer for this, and I'm pretty sure no one else does either. I'm pretty sure I will end before the universe does.... so by the time this ever happens, I suppose it won't matter to me haha. No scientific theory I know explains why the big bang happened..... so I don't feel that bad for not being able to answer the question . That was a fun conversation, although the three gods might be irritated with us for dropping them out of the spotlight. Have a good night.
  2. A captain hires a crew for his ship, "The Flying Scotsman" and sets out to sail for a voyage to last many years across the seven seas. As the years pass, The Flying Scotsman succumbs to wear and tear: In the Atlantic ocean, the ship's mast is blown away by a storm, and it is replaced in the Caribbean. In the Pacific ocean, the ship runs aground and the hull is severely damaged. Fortunately, they are able to hire natives to aid in the repairs. ...etc After 8 long years, the captain looks at his beloved "Scotsman", and thinks fondly of how it has served him, he has a realization: over the course of this grand adventure, every piece of The Flying Scotsman has been replaced due to wear and tear. The captain begins to feel uncomfortable.... if I'm standing on different wood.... aren't I standing on a different ship? Question: Is it the same ship? The captain fainted from philosophical exhaustion.
  3. Don't have too much time to continue this chit chat tonight. Hidden variable interpretations are only disproven for local effects, not non-local. Now that you bring up relativity ---> QM itself is inconsistent with general relativity, but you make them sound like they come hand in hand and imply one another. I know that particles can't be modeled as billiard balls at the micro-scale, I was just trying to use a simpler-than-real-life example of billiard balls to show that complexity on it's own can induce apparent randomness such as Brownian motion - even without the complexity of QM/Relativity adding to the mix. I say position and momentum as characteristics "do not fit" for every waveform and you say they do. Let's look at a simple case: one spatial dimension (X-axis), one time dimension (Y-axis), and one wave amplitude dimension (Z-axis). Let's say the waveform we are interested has amplitude z= f(x,y). Let's consider the frequency-localized case: z = f(x,y) = cos(k*x-w*t) for some constants k, and w. This is a traveling wave which exists over all of space and time. Tell me, what is the position of this wave in space-time? I'm looking for a single x and y value that you can say is the "position" of the wave. I think you will find it hard to answer this since position here is not well-defined. What is the velocity of this wave in space-time? That one's easy: it's w/k Let's consider the spatio-temporal localized case: z = f(x,y) = DiracDelta(x-a)*DiracDelta(y-b) (In case you are not familiar - I will not assume - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirac_delta) This is essentially something that is zero-in amplitude at all points in space-time except for one. It "pops" into existence at one point in space at one point in time and then is never heard of again. Tell me, what is the velocity of such a wave? The position is easy! The position is (x=a,y=b). All other waveforms are mixtures of combinations of aspects of these extreme cases. Some waveforms are closer to the (position making sense, velocity not making sense) case, and some waveforms are closer to the (velocity making sense, position not making sense) case. What Heisenberg says, is that no matter where you are in this spectrum, one thing is clear - uncertainty in position and velocity (or momentum) follows some rule. This is expected, since position and velocity are not really natural properties of waveforms in general, they are merely properties that may make sense for some waveforms, but not all. As position starts to make less, sense, velocity starts to make more sense or vice-versa. When position makes no sense at all, it's because the concept doesn't even apply to the waveform e.g. cosine case above. I understand wave-particle duality, what I'm saying is that "position" and "momentum" come from the concept of a particle, and they are not suitable for every waveform. If waves are more real than particles then we shouldn't even care about the particle concepts.... The reaction I expect from saying this is that.... well you can't get rid of the particle aspect... they call it a wave-particle duality for a reason. That reason is that certain interactions between seemingly different wave objects seem to only occur in discrete "packets"... eg. energy transfer and stuff like that. The wave particle duality seems to be a peace-making of unlike concepts.... perhaps this is and indication that the theory is incomplete. I would expect that all theories are incomplete to some extent, so it's no jab at QM to say such a thing. Do we really need particles to exist in order to explain discrete energy transfer? Could there be another mechanism? Perhaps we should redefine our view of the concept of a particle to exactly describe these discrete phenomena we are seeing, and no more and no less. This means removing all of the traditional concepts associated with particles from our minds except for those associated with this discrete phenomena. Would position and velocity fall into that category? Perhaps we just need to let science do it's thing for a little while longer, but until then, what you believe about things like determinism come down to a choice.
  4. Yes, many accept that interpretation, but not all, Einstein and Bohr has some famous debates about this. I do not disrespect any who believe that, I just don't believe it. I have read Feynman's QED, and I think it is a wonderful theory, and useful. But use of the theory to model the world does not require an interpretation that non-determinism is a fundamental reality. Brownian motion is a perfect example of complexity being mistaken for true randomness. A billiards player may predict the path of a ball that he hits with another ball that he hits with a stick. Now add billions of balls, make them not constrained to two dimensions, and take away any other simplifying assumptions that a college or highschool physics problem might allow a student to assume in modeling such a scenario, and now no one can predict anything, because there is too much information to practically process. We can give up on trying to predict the micro-scale evolution of the state of such a system and instead focus on aggregate properties: e.g. averages, frequencies, etc.... We characterize such systems based on how it is practical and convenient (and feasible) for us to do. If knowledge were not an issue, processing were not an issue (including time to process), and you were given an isolated system (assume so for now), and a set of micro-scale characteristics that each component of such a system has always been observed to obey, i.e. you are given all of the information of a current state of a system plus how these characteristics behave with time ----- what is to stop such a prediction from being possible? Heisenberg? Heisenberg didn't remove information -> he just noted some difficulties in apply classical ideas such as position and momentum to things that are modeled as waves. A plane wave may have a well defined velocity, but has amplitude in an infinite plane throughout all of space. A localized wave packet in space-time on the other hand may have a well defined position, but if you look at its Fourier transform, it has amplitude components across all wavelength and frequencies (making it meaningless to interpret the velocity of such a thing) - this is hard to visualize for those not familiar with it, but something like a dirac delta impulse can be treated as an infinitesimally scaled sum of an infinite number of cosines, with different relative amplitudes, at all real frequencies that may exist. It just so happens that if you were to add all those things together, they would destructively interfere everywhere except for one point, at which they all constructively interfere into something with "infinite-looking" amplitude, but finite energy. This is of course not possible, and all real impulses and bursts are things that are simply closer to this ideal, than the opposite (which is a cosine). Anyway - the inability to apply these particle characteristics to different extremes of waves is true for all waves. If you go to the beach and watch the waves, and ask about the position and velocity of each ripple, and we find that it is hard to apply such concepts to something which doesn't really fit. It may fit for some waves, but it won't for extreme cases. Does that mean that there is something crazy, random, and non-deterministic about the wave? Even identifying something as an object (which can obviously be done for particles) may not make sense for some waves. If two ripples collide and super-impose, are they considered one object in that moment? Who is to even judge what is an object or what isn't? I might point at a still pond and say look at that awesome wave packet with zero amplitude, or look at those two waves which are identical in all ways except they have reverse amplitudes, or I might say there are no wave objects moving through the pond at all. This is all red-herring about whether or not nature itself is causal and deterministic. Other times, I see people using chaos theory as a proof for randomness, and I never really understood what was so special about the big conclusion behind it. This ties into your Brownian motion question. Chaos theory books say: a butterly's wing flapping could cause a hurricane somewhere else in the world. I see this and say.... well yeah... it could... since nothing explicitly forbids this in the universe (that we know of haha).... what's the big deal? I must be missing the point. Anyway, I agree that this is true. The ultimate conclusion that I draw about this topic, is that you cannot fully predict the future state of a system by considering only isolated parts of it, you need to know all the information in the system in order to predict with certainty. You may make the greatest weather prediction device ever, but did you account for all those flapping butterfly wings? What about things bigger than butterfly's like jumbo jets? What about the gravity of nearby planets? What about the gravity of the Andromeda galaxy? No weather person is likely to worry much about these things, and that is reasonable, since it is more practical, given their incomplete knowledge of the universe, to pursue other, more obvious factors might affect the weather. Chaos theory seems to be the gotcha saying, well... don't forget that you don't really know everything that could possibly affect the weather. Why this isn't obvious to everyone in the world confuses me. Anyway, given the amount of information that exists in the universe, and the amount of information our little tiny minds (in comparison) can process, it's no surprise that apparent randomness exists. Here is a challenge: Find something that implies the existence of true randomness, that cannot be explained as a consequence of apparent randomness due to the complexity of the universe and lack of knowledge. You keep saying feather instead of father, which seems less abstract to me, and in my mind loses the point of what I was trying to say in the example in the first place. I suppose it isn't really less abstract though, I mean if I step into a more objective perspective... so it's a moot point. Question making sense ---- to me that meant a meaningful answer can be inferred ---- to you that meant that it can be successfully parsed such that what is wanted by the asker is understood. It's so easy to miscommunicate.
  5. LoL, It's fun to read about others finding holes and exploits in people's wishes.
  6. Well... it's almost like each response is a new riddle.
  7. As for the video, curr3nt and Rob_Gandy already made the main points about not accounting for non-extreme cases, and not accounting for the possibility that interventions will fail. I would also add the need to account for the possibility that environmental destruction through pollution and whatnot might not be the factor that ultimately determines when humanity devolves into a mess of savages barely able to survive. World War III, comet collisions, and alien invasions might all happen first. In fact, excessive pollution might be just the thing that kills off a mutating multidrug-resistant bacteria before it fully evolves and spreads to cause a plague that makes the Black Death look like a case of the sniffles.
  8. Awesome! I was looking for an example of this in religion, but couldn't find it -- didn't know the right search term.
  9. The advisor said the probability was 15%.
  10. I was talking about when it leads to loss of sleep. Heisenberg: There exists info we cannot have <---> equivalent to saying omniscience cannot exist, and no predictions are certain; Completely agree, and all I was saying earlier that I believe that lack of information is the source of all things that we label as being random. I don't have any issues with Heisenberg or any results of QM verified by experiment. It's more of the interpretations that some apply to it. I don't think any of the actual scientific results contradict my philosophy, but some (not all) interpretations of QM do. I suppose in the end, it is a choice. I wasn't trying to point out those questions weren't yes-no questions, but rather that they are unanswerable since they are asking about concrete properties of abstract objects that don't actually exist (and do not include specifications for those properties within their definitions - there is no weight requirement for being a Father for example). Questions like that don't really make sense, and that is exactly why they are unanswerable. There are a myriad of questions you could ask that don't make sense (and are unanswerable), but they aren't useful to the point of the puzzle, which was to flex your logic muscles.
  11. -Assume this takes place in the real world, no magic, wizardry or other funny business exists- King Rashunal rules over the kingdom of Logicia with a level head. He is well known for using logic and data for making important decisions, and never makes a decision with his gut. One day, the king's most trusted advisor, Ethos, who has never been wrong before in consultation to the king approaches the king. "I have come bearing a most ominous warning!" exclaims Ethos. "It has been revealed to me, by discerning the relative positions of the celestial bodies, that a plague, a million-fold worse than the great plague of 100 years ago may fall upon this city if immediate preventative action is not taken." "The precision of my instruments indicate that if no action is taken, disaster will occur with probability 15%." Knowing nothing of the stars, and remembering the many difficult decisions that Ethos has guided him through before, listens patiently. Ethos continues: "The alignment of Jupiter and Saturn tell me that the only way to prevent this tragedy is for the King to encircle the entire capital city 5 times, hopping on one foot, in a bunny costume, while the townsfolk pelt him with fruits..... and also 20,000 pieces of silver are given to me, ... and a statue should be erected with a great plaque that says Ethos,... the savior of Logicia.". King Rashunal then speaks: "We are a people of analysis! We will consider all options and make the most reasonable decision! Court historians, scribes, calculators, economists, men and women of learning, provide to me an estimate of the costs the kingdom shall incur if the great plague were to resurface if and we do nothing, and also the costs of implementing this preventative action". For two days, the men and women of learning in the court make estimates of costs incurred due to loss of life and cattle from the plague, costs incurred due morale and threats of enemy invasion to the weak image of the kingdom from the shamed King in his bunny suit, .... and many other such costs. In the end, the King is presented with the following information: If the great plague resurfaces at a million-fold, then the costs to the kingdom would be -10,000,000 pieces of silver. If Ethos' preventative plan is implemented, then the costs to the kingdom due to the plan will be -100,000 pieces of silver. If the preventative plan is implemented, we expect there to be no plague. The King then draws a 2x2 box with columns corresponding to whether the plan is taken or not, and rows corresponding to whether the disaster will occur or not. He populates each cell with the corresponding cost. Realizing he cannot control which row the kingdom might end up in, Rashunal focuses on the columns, and calculates the expected value of cost across each column. By his reasoning,if taking preventative action, the kingdom can expect to lose 100,000 pieces of silver with certainty. With no action, the expected value is a loss of 1,500,000 pieces of silver (considering both whether the plague does or does not occur). The king knows what he must do... Question: What went wrong here, and how can one defend in general from this type of problem if it were more subtle (yeah the bunny suit is overkill). Now, what do you think about this - is this the same breed of argument, or do you think the problem is not of logical nature? Before anyone sends any angry posts - I'm only interested in the logical validity of the argument in the video, not trying to debate the underlying topic. I'm not asserting that anything in the video is as ridiculous as Ethos' proposal.
  12. Stubborness is unhealthy for both of us. Here is how I am not contradicting myself: Random, as I used it, is a single word that represents two concepts, that in order for successful communication in a conversation where we are splitting hairs, we should distinguish. True Randomness = What I don't think exists - an effect without a cause completely determining it Apparent Randomness = What we as humans superstitiously attribute to things that we cannot make sense of due to lack of information and understanding about it. In the puzzle, every time I mentioned Randomness, I basically meant apparent randomness. This is consistent with the other Gods being able to predict what Random is doing. Apparent randomness arises from lack of information (which is not a problem for the omniscient --- I won't argue here about whether or not omniscience is feasible, since that would start getting religious). Anyway, let's assume you are not omniscient. If that is the case, I can tell you that a coin flip is random (which of course, we should all interpret as apparent randomness), and this is not inconsistent with the non-existence of true randomness. We are ignorant to the complete list of all the factors that could cause a coin to land one way or another. In our ignorance, we give up trying to characterize and predict it's behavior, and we say ...."it's just random". In our debate, I sometimes switched to talking about true randomness. It may have been confusing then, but hopefully we have now cleared up any ambiguity. Anyway, the bottom line is that what I said does not contradict itself, I just used bad communication practice by using the same word for two different things without qualifying. Well-formed yes-no question - Is there an official definition for that? I assumed there wasn't (it was free for me to claim) and claimed that phrase as meaning basically, a question that can be evaluated as true or false. Maybe I didn't clearly express that. You have a different idea about what that phrase means.... In the end it doesn't matter - what I was trying to say is that stuff like that ain't allowed. I copied the original question from George Boolos - blame him for the ambiguity haha
  13. Zap* Done. Nothing happens and you regret that you didn't gain anything from your wish. I wish to always be in control of any situation (any situation external to my own thought process - since genie can't control my mind).
  14. Paragraph 1 Hmmm... I've never been totally convinced that quantum mechanics is a proof for the existence of true randomness.... I'm a determinist. I think that pretty much everything we call random, is really just complexity/lack of knowledge in disguise. I think the question is philosophical, and not really provable by physics. The fact that QM predictions are consistent with experiment means that those phenomena are well modeled by a probabilistic model, and all would agree that such a model is useful and definitely a good thing. Consistency with experiment does not imply to me that reality itself is random. Is it possible for anyone to say with certainty that there is no possible way that QM could be replaced by a deterministic theory that takes into account some further layer of complexity or requires measurements beyond what we are currently capable of performing? I think science in general has ignored that as being in the realm of philosophy (why) instead of the characterization of nature (how). Anyways - if randomness doesn't exist, and we do live a deterministic universe, and everything that appears random to us can be explained by our lack of knowledge, -If that were true- then the gods can predict what Random will do at any given point in time. This may come down to a difference in belief in something which is not as of yet provable, so I may respectfully agree to disagree. Paragraph 2 Agree, so this is a question which is not answerable due to ambiguity. I still consider this a not well-formed question. If I ask you, what is the color of the animal's fur? - you can't answer because you don't know what animal I'm talking about. I suppose something with omniscience could in that case figure out what you were talking about. But that's not really the end of the conundrum - because you could deliberately ask a question about no specific object, but rather an abstract object. What is the weight of a father? Either way - it is not a well-formed yes-no question. To not let you get away with answering the riddle too easily - I made up the rule that if you ask a non-well formed question, any god may essentially answer randomly i.e. you won't get anything useful out of them. (Lol - this is not inconsistent with me not believing in true randomness... Here, I colloquially use the word random to mean that you can not know for sure how they will behave, and you never will be able to unless you are omniscient). Paragraph/Line 3: Yeah you're right. It's been a long day.
  15. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UpGueBDAPiI
  16. I'll just put the 3rd Hint puzzle here just because
  17. I'll just put the 3rd Hint puzzle here just because
  18. How will you choose such a random number? Will you roll some dice? What if they know how the dice will happen to land when you decide to roll them? What if you decide to throw away the first roll and roll a second time --- what if they know how the dice will land at the second time? What if for each of your possible choices, they know how every coin flip, dice roll, wheel spin, etc will turn out based on having tons of information, the laws of physics, and assuming we live in a world of causes and effects. Your number can only be 0, 1 or 2 though, since you get 3 questions, and you need to save one question to ask about the sky. I think trying to find questions that cannot be answered is not that helpful to finding the logical solution to the overall puzzle - but you are doing a good job thinking of possible paths of thought.
  19. Correct-a-mundo. Here is Hint Puzzle 2:
  20. Since that is a topic of interest for many posters, I guess I need to make something up here. If you ask any god a non-well-formed question which cannot be evaluated as either true or false in the eyes of omniscience... then there is no rule that you may rely on regarding how they will answer. It's up to them. Example: Is the sentence "this sentence is a lie" a true statement? The gods may answer however they choose in that case (they all act like random). The OP still applies for well-formed yes-no questions.
  21. This is not a paradox, it is a strategy that utilizes the fact that random is random . Could we really distinguish between someone whose policy is to randomly select yes or no to each yes-no question against someone whose policy is to randomly select to be truthful or false, and then correspondingly select yes or no to each yes-no question?
  22. There is a logical solution.
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