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Offline angst

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Perceptual trickery...?
« on: 04/02/2008 12:23:47 »
I'm not sure whether a) this is old ground that has been covered and I have just missed it, or perhaps b) just utterly insane but, I finally broke through to a 'revelation' that has been on the mental tip of my tongue for weeks now.

It relates to the question of particle vs wave. It has bugged me ever since being told, in science at school, that light behaves sometimes as a wave and sometimes as a particle and, when I asked the question...how can that be the answer seemed, to me, to be very........  unscientific. Essentially, and I have seen no different since, we are just to accept that it is so.

Recently I have been thinking about the nature of matter, as well as the nature of consciousness and our perception of time....

I have the inkling of an idea of the dichotomy of particle/wave behaviour. Particles, matter, mass are all constructs of our perception. They are not real in any greater way than how our brains are wired to perceive. In short, we perceive time in small, finite 'packets. Our pre-consious mind oscillates briefly within these 'packets'.

The true nature of our universe is that of energy, of differing wavelengths. We pass through time, and are only aware of it (the reason we describe it as a temporal dimension) by means of having it's structure broken up in our pre-consciousness. The other dimensions we perceieve through means of external senses, time is an internal insight.

The packets are just the right period that the wave of energies we know as matter are perceived as finite particles. And by such perception can we make sense of the universe around us. E=mc2, so m=E⁄c2 - in other words, mass is simply a vector of energy divided by time(and distance).

Is there perhaps something in this, or am I talking a load of twaddle?


 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Perceptual trickery...?
« Reply #1 on: 04/02/2008 13:28:26 »
It may be twaddle, but there's something nagging at the back of my tiny rodent brain that has twanged with relation to time dilation and velocity. I shall have to ponder this further.
 

another_someone

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Perceptual trickery...?
« Reply #2 on: 04/02/2008 13:30:36 »
Certainly there is a problem that any study of the universe is filtered through our ability to perceive it, but I don't see the wave/particle duality as itself a manifestation that one is less perceptual in nature than the other.

In both cases, we are merely using tools to predict what we will perceive. In neither case can we truly say that matter is a wave, a particle, or anything else.  What we can say is that we can create models that assume matter is a particle, or that matter is a wave, and these models give us accurate (within certain limitations) predictions of how we will perceive the universe at some certain time if some certain event is observed at present.  Whether matter is a wave (or even if matter even exists as a local entity), who can say; but we can say that if you see certain situations arise, and the assume matter is a wave, and make calculations upon the assumption, you can predict what situation you will see 10 seconds later, and lo and behold, when you look 10 seconds later, that is what you see.  In other situations, you can use a model that assumes matter is a particle, and make predictions based on that, and look again and see those predictions coming true.  Who can say what is reality (if any of them - maybe none of them are true reality), but they work as tools of prediction.
 

Offline angst

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Perceptual trickery...?
« Reply #3 on: 04/02/2008 13:55:52 »
It may be twaddle, but there's something nagging at the back of my tiny rodent brain that has twanged with relation to time dilation and velocity. I shall have to ponder this further.

I thought that, if true, this might have possible implications in how we form memories, on how we perceive time (and time dilation was one aspect I considered), and in fact, on the very nature of consciousness.
 

Offline angst

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Perceptual trickery...?
« Reply #4 on: 04/02/2008 14:11:13 »
Certainly there is a problem that any study of the universe is filtered through our ability to perceive it, but I don't see the wave/particle duality as itself a manifestation that one is less perceptual in nature than the other.

In both cases, we are merely using tools to predict what we will perceive. In neither case can we truly say that matter is a wave, a particle, or anything else.  What we can say is that we can create models that assume matter is a particle, or that matter is a wave, and these models give us accurate (within certain limitations) predictions of how we will perceive the universe at some certain time if some certain event is observed at present.  Whether matter is a wave (or even if matter even exists as a local entity), who can say; but we can say that if you see certain situations arise, and the assume matter is a wave, and make calculations upon the assumption, you can predict what situation you will see 10 seconds later, and lo and behold, when you look 10 seconds later, that is what you see.  In other situations, you can use a model that assumes matter is a particle, and make predictions based on that, and look again and see those predictions coming true.  Who can say what is reality (if any of them - maybe none of them are true reality), but they work as tools of prediction.

Perhaps you are right. But, let's say that there is something in what I say. Essentially, what it comes down to is that we are, and everything around us is, nothing more or less than 'patterns' of energy. Matter (the finite nature of particles, of mass) do not exist other than in our perception of the universe, by which means we make sense of the pattern of energy we are travelling through. IF (and I know it is a big, big IF) there is some truth to this, then we can approach an understanding of the universe outside of the constraints of our perceptions (and much of quantum physics is counter-intuitive to them).

Surely the impetus of science is to try and understand the reality of our (and our universe's) being/existence. To say that all things may merely be illusory, so therefore carry on as normal, when we might have a way of understanding that one of those models which we use is just a product of a perceptual 'trick', that there is a nature of being that transcends our simple perceptions, seems to accept that we can never know beyond those perceptions.
« Last Edit: 04/02/2008 14:40:49 by angst »
 

another_someone

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Perceptual trickery...?
« Reply #5 on: 04/02/2008 16:17:28 »
There are two issues.

Firstly, I cannot see how science can transcend perception.  It is not a question of whether it should, but how can it possibly do so?  If you have a notion how you can prove a theory to be consistent with a deeper reality than simply predicted observation (not what that theory might be, but how would you prove the theory to meet that criteria), I would be interested to understand how?

Until then, the question is not whether this or that is an illusion, but rather whether we have a better (in terms of giving better answers, or simpler to use) predictive tool than we had before.

The concepts you propose are not inherently (as far as I can see) predictive at all, so must be regarded merely as a framework on which one might place predictive theories.  This does not of itself make it wrong (paradigm shifts are often valuable), only that in the absence of a predictive capability, it remains a philosophical debate but not a scientific theory.

For the rest, you seem to have a number of philosophical concepts, and maybe it is me, and my own stupidity, but I am still trying to work out whether they fit into a conceptual whole (are all the concepts necessary for the conclusion you draw, or are some mere decoration)?

You talk about our pre-concious mind oscillating between states of time, yet how does this work when our perception of time is stretched or shrunk by artificial means (e.g. high speed photography that sees things faster than we can, or electronic measurement of actions taking very short durations of time)?  Does this mean that time is a concept that only exists for entities that have brains (e.g. earth worms do not perceive time, even though they may not be concious of it - or even bacteria - are all of these entities outside of time in some way)?

I am not against the notion that time is a facet of perception, but I do start getting nervous when it starts to appear that time is limited to human perception, and that machines or non-human animals are unaffected by this perception.

Certainly, you might argue (and inherently must argue) that machines are not concious of time, but nonetheless, if the supposed granularity of time is a facet of our conciousness of time, then machines should at least not be effected by that granularity.  Yet our perception of time does not change by the use of machines, so whatever effects the properties of time as we perceive it also effects the properties of time that we measure through machines - so it cannot all just be inside of our head - it must be a property of all observation of time, even an observation made by inanimate object.

Also, I am a bit concerned about your use of the word 'energy'.  This is a much overused word, and I am not always clear what people mean by it.  There are specific and very narrow scientific meanings (often meaning different things in different contexts), and a road philosophical meaning as being that which is capable of causing change.  On the other hand, it seems often simply to be used in a very vague sense of "an intangible something", without any particular properties being ascribed to it, and I am not sure if you are not using it in this sense.

I am not trying to shoot your idea down in flames, just trying to understand it better (possibly removing some bits that don't make sense to me in their present form, and see what is left).
« Last Edit: 04/02/2008 16:20:35 by another_someone »
 

Offline angst

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Perceptual trickery...?
« Reply #6 on: 05/02/2008 12:39:10 »
Perhaps I have not explained it well at all.

Does this mean that time is a concept that only exists for entities that have brains (e.g. earth worms do not perceive time, even though they may not be concious of it - or even bacteria - are all of these entities outside of time in some way)?

I don't suggest that anything is "outside of time" at all. Time is a dimension that we cannot perceive through our senses. We are all, everything is (as far as I can understand it, as far as I am suggesting) travelling through the dimension of time. Whether we could perceive it or not, we would still be travelling through it, we would still be subject to it. I wonder is an earthworm aware of time, does a bacteria perceive time? - In the way that we, conscious beings, perceive time? Are either consciously aware of time's passage?

Certainly, you might argue (and inherently must argue) that machines are not concious of time, but nonetheless, if the supposed granularity of time is a facet of our conciousness of time, then machines should at least not be effected by that granularity.  Yet our perception of time does not change by the use of machines, so whatever effects the properties of time as we perceive it also effects the properties of time that we measure through machines - so it cannot all just be inside of our head - it must be a property of all observation of time, even an observation made by inanimate object.

I had considered this. In terms of computers, they work in 'pulses' of data, digital on/off switches. They are also designed by man, built by man and are used to search for that which we can perceive, what we expect to perceive.

You talk about our pre-concious mind oscillating between states of time, yet how does this work when our perception of time is stretched or shrunk by artificial means (e.g. high speed photography that sees things faster than we can, or electronic measurement of actions taking very short durations of time)?

Here you give an example of how we discuss time in terms of small packets (one moment in time etc.), durations of time. Are we hardwired to think this way?

High speed photography is, by it's nature, a small period of time. It is designed to look for matter. Could we even build a device that could operate on the timelengths we're talking about?

Choose the right medium (spectroscopy) and we don't see a solid object, do we? What we see is that what we considered to be an 'object' of matter, actually behaves as if it is energy, with specific wavelengths.

Also, I am a bit concerned about your use of the word 'energy'.  This is a much overused word, and I am not always clear what people mean by it.  There are specific and very narrow scientific meanings (often meaning different things in different contexts), and a road philosophical meaning as being that which is capable of causing change.  On the other hand, it seems often simply to be used in a very vague sense of "an intangible something", without any particular properties being ascribed to it, and I am not sure if you are not using it in this sense.

I'm not sure what you mean by this (my ignorance, likely). I'm using the term energy to seperate the characteristic nature of what we see from that of matter (it's interesting that you use the term "an intangible something" - clearly related to the existence of matter). That it can be measured, certainly in terms of it's 'frequency', surely means that it is tangible.

Believe me, I'm not putting this forward as some cosmological, quasi-religious buffoonery -  there is no hidden agenda within this, I assure you.(I know this goes on far too much...., and perhaps you are suspicious of questions because of this). Nor am I saying it is right (and so questions are good, it is why I asked the questions in the first place).

Firstly, I cannot see how science can transcend perception.

By being counter-intuitive. (and perhaps what I mean to say is conceptual precepts, as opposed to perception, or as perception.)Eventually one would like to offer evidence of any idea put forward, a 'theory' untested and untestable is nothing more than philosophy after all. But what I meant by "transcend" in this instance is that, perhaps (and maybe this isn't the case) we confuse our understanding of the nature of the universe by being beholden to certain precepts. In this case, maybe the idea that matter exists as anything other thn a facet of our perception could be a stumbling block. We look for the building blocks of matter, for example. Perhaps if we were looking at how different interactions of energy react with each other, without considering it's nature as matter, we might begin to understand better the interactions that manifest themeselves as 'gravity', for example. By "ttranscend" I simply mean, that by our perception do we seek the answer by asking the wrong question?

If you have a notion how you can prove a theory to be consistent with a deeper reality than simply predicted observation (not what that theory might be, but how would you prove the theory to meet that criteria), I would be interested to understand how?

Yes, this is the crux of it, isn't it? I put forward simply an idea. How we can test it is another matter. Perhaps, we have already tested it  - to a certain extent. That we can ascertain a wavelength of 'matter' by use of spectroscopy is surely a sign that, outside of our perception, 'matter' has a very different property.

As to how to test it otherwise. I've often wondered how it is that within memory we can jumble up the order in which things occured. Memory can be subject to change, of course, it tends to be 'coloured' by the state of mind in which we access it. But I would have thought that if memory were to be good for one thing, especially if we perceived time as a constant flow, then chronology ought to be it. But, with the mind it is difficult to test 'perception'....

I'm open to suggestions, hence (as I said before) why I posed the questions here....
« Last Edit: 05/02/2008 13:53:30 by angst »
 

another_someone

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Perceptual trickery...?
« Reply #7 on: 05/02/2008 16:04:40 »
OK, I will not try and answer you point by point at present, because I am still trying to make some sense of what you are saying, but will try and address what I think you are trying to get at, and what I still find confusing.

One thing that made me nervous, and still makes me nervous, is you reference to a "pre-concious mind".  What you are suggesting in your later comments, if I am correct, is that all mechanical measure of time must measure discreet snapshots of time, but this is nothing to do with concious or pre-concious minds, and would be true if there is no mind at all (and is likely, even in humans, to be an issue in a peripheral senses before any sensual information even reaches our mind, pre-concious or otherwise).  Most of our senses measure change in stimulus rather than actual stimulus at an absolute level, so time is already a factor in their measurement.

Secondly, E=mc2 is not the total energy of a particle, it is the energy associated with the rest mass of a particle (i.e. if you stop a particle, so it has no relativistic mass, and no kinetic energy, then that is the energy that would be left in the particle).  This is particularly significant in the case of a photon, that has no rest mass, yet it does contain energy.  Nonetheless, the underlying assertion that time and energy are intertwined is not violated, since kinetic energy is also a function of time.  My own statement above, that energy is that which is capable of causing change, itself implies such a relationship, since change is a function of time.

That, in quantum physics, energy is a function of the wave nature of matter is accepted (more precisely, the DeBroglie wavelength is inversely proportional to the momentum of a particle); but this does not make it "waves of energy" (i.e. the energy is a consequence of the wave, not the constituent of the wave).  This is why I would like to understand better what you mean by "waves of energy"?

The notion that time is measured as snapshots at discrete intervals does not seem controversial (if one forgets issues such the "pre-concious mind", and refers equally to all measurement devices).  Clearly, if the measurement interval is too large, this will create artefacts in our measurement, but am I correct that you are implying that the very nature of matter is merely a manifestation of these artefacts?  On the other hand, you have tried to use the relationship between energy and time to show that matter cannot exist without time (I don't think I would disagree with you), but the matter/energy equations are not subject to the artefacts of measurement in this way.

In the broader sense of their being a minimum step of time that we are all subject to, this is the Plank time, and is 5.39121x10-44 seconds, which is far too small to manifest itself in ordinary measurement (on the other hand, any artefact that this short step interval would have would be equal for all measurement, so there is no problem as to why the artefacts seen to a measuring device that measures in nanoseconds is no different from that which measures in microseconds - since none are getting close to the Plank time limit).

Perhaps I have not explained it well at all.
Believe me, I'm not putting this forward as some cosmological, quasi-religious buffoonery -  there is no hidden agenda within this, I assure you.(I know this goes on far too much...., and perhaps you are suspicious of questions because of this). Nor am I saying it is right (and so questions are good, it is why I asked the questions in the first place).

I have a sceptical nature (which, to my mind, is a prerequisite for all scientific or philosophical enquiry), but if I really thought it was "quasi-religious buffoonery", I would not be bothering to reply.

I think you have painted your ideas with a very broad brush, and I am trying to understand the details, for at the end of the day, the devil is in the details.  Whether there is merit in your ideas or not will, to my mind, only become apparent when the finer details become clearer.

Firstly, I cannot see how science can transcend perception.

By being counter-intuitive. (and perhaps what I mean to say is conceptual precepts, as opposed to perception, or as perception.)Eventually one would like to offer evidence of any idea put forward, a 'theory' untested and untestable is nothing more than philosophy after all. But what I meant by "transcend" in this instance is that, perhaps (and maybe this isn't the case) we confuse our understanding of the nature of the universe by being beholden to certain precepts. In this case, maybe the idea that matter exists as anything other thn a facet of our perception could be a stumbling block. We look for the building blocks of matter, for example. Perhaps if we were looking at how different interactions of energy react with each other, without considering it's nature as matter, we might begin to understand better the interactions that manifest themeselves as 'gravity', for example. By "ttranscend" I simply mean, that by our perception do we seek the answer by asking the wrong question?

The argument that "we confuse our understanding of the nature of the universe by being beholden to certain precepts" is, to my mind, unavoidably true.  Any established theory rests upon what went before, and so inevitably carries baggage with it.  Even if we were to create a total paradigm shift, it is unavoidable that as an ever more sophisticated superstructure is placed upon the new foundations, so it will accumulate new baggage that will limit our view of how we see reality.

But the underlying problem with any theory remains also to construct an unambiguous language around the theory.  This is why I keep asking questions about what you mean by terms such as "energy", or even "matter"?  Both are concepts that can be used in slightly different ways in different contexts.  When one develops a mathematical model, one can arbitrarily use the terms to label mathematical entities (e.g. when we talk about E=mc2, we have a mathematical relationship to which we have given labels such as energy and mass to different parts of the equation, so at least within the context of the equation, the terms are unambiguous - but if one talks about energy in the context of thermodynamics, one can find one is talking about a slightly different concept of energy).

The concept of 'matter' on the other hand is rarely used with any mathematical rigour.  The only case where one can talk about 'matter' as having a definite meaning, is in contrast to anti-matter; yet in most other contexts, both matter and anti-matter are considered to be matter.  In the most general sense, matter is a term people apply to anything persistent that they are dealing with, but that is not a particularly rigorous definition of matter, and certainly not one that would comfortably be used when one wants to ask whether matter is real or not.

If you are trying to say that particulate matter does not exist, but is merely a manifestation of the wave nature of matter, then this is consistent with what quantum physics is trying to say; but it does not say that matter at all does not exist, and the waves are quantum waves, but not waves of energy (at least, not in the nomenclature they would use).  On the other hand, this has little to do with the quantisation of time.

On the other hand, there are various diverse theories in the realms of digital physics and digital philosophy where the quantisation of time is an integral part of the concepts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_philosophy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_physics

This are a diverse range of theories, none of them mainstream, and all of them very much in their infancy.  I am not suggesting any of them will match exactly what you are thinking of, but you might like to see ideas other people are thinking about.

As to how to test it otherwise. I've often wondered how it is that within memory we can jumble up the order in which things occured.

Maybe less common, but are we not also subject to optical illusions, and perceptual confusion in any of our senses (just think how acupuncture can confuse our bodies, but putting a needle in one part of our body, and blocking pain in another part of our body).

Memory can be subject to change, of course, it tends to be 'coloured' by the state of mind in which we access it. But I would have thought that if memory were to be good for one thing, especially if we perceived time as a constant flow, then chronology ought to be it.

The mind is not linear, and that is very much its strength.  Yes, judging chronology is important, but moving things out of sequence, and changing contexts, is also key to finding new patterns that would not be obvious if everything was kept strictly in place.  It is true that this carries a cost, that we can make mistakes, but it can also sometimes give us new insights through trying to juggle the juxtaposition of memories and ideas.

Then again, must of what the mind (or anything the body does) is not about trying to achieve perfect outcomes, but trying to achieve outcomes that are simply good enough.  Remember that science is a modern discipline, and the human mind has evolved over many millions of years (having been inherited from the minds of our pre-human ancestors), so the mind was not originally optimised as a tool of science.  For the task that early humans needed the mind for, it was good enough. (note that I am not saying that human minds are the same as our pre-human ancestors, only that they are based on the same underlying structures that were merely enhanced, but not fundamentally redesigned.)

I'm open to suggestions, hence (as I said before) why I posed the questions here....

That is what I had assumed.  As I said, while I am trying to challenge your ideas, I am not trying to shoot them down as such.
« Last Edit: 05/02/2008 16:15:11 by another_someone »
 

Offline angst

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Perceptual trickery...?
« Reply #8 on: 05/02/2008 18:51:30 »
One thing that made me nervous, and still makes me nervous, is you reference to a "pre-concious mind".  What you are suggesting in your later comments, if I am correct, is that all mechanical measure of time must measure discreet snapshots of time, but this is nothing to do with concious or pre-concious minds, and would be true if there is no mind at all (and is likely, even in humans, to be an issue in a peripheral senses before any sensual information even reaches our mind, pre-concious or otherwise). 

As with most of the misunderstandings here this is likely just a poor use of language in terms of framing a scientific idea. When I refer to the "pre-conscious mind" I simply mean at some level before we are conscious of it, and addressing "mind" to be a function of the brain, perhaps outside of a definition of mind as you understand it.

We understand the three 'physical' dimensions by means of information fed to our senses. Time we perceive on an entirely other basis. If, for instance we are placed into an entirely darkened and soundproofed room, we have no way of guaging the room's size (assuming we have not seen it before we enter). However, in this environment, without any signal to our senses as to it's passing, we are still aware that time is passing. How are we aware? If we were just passing through time entirely linearly then by what means are we aware of it?

To extend the analogy. If we were placed into a darkened and soundproofed room upon a moving platform, and that platform was moving silently in any direction at a constant speed, we would not be aware of that motion. If, on the other hand, the platform moved, then stopped, moved, then stopped we would become aware of our motion through space.

Is our perception of time based upon a similar principle?

That, in quantum physics, energy is a function of the wave nature of matter is accepted (more precisely, the DeBroglie wavelength is inversely proportional to the momentum of a particle); but this does not make it "waves of energy" (i.e. the energy is a consequence of the wave, not the constituent of the wave).  This is why I would like to understand better what you mean by "waves of energy"?

This is just, again, my poor use of language - I think. But here we see that matter, particles are referred to, and that the energy is a function of the wavelength of that matter, but what I'm suggesting is that particles don't exist except as a consequence of the way we have evolved such that we can make sense of the universe that we live in. Perhaps I might better explain that by saying that matter (such as it is) is in a constant state of flux (that is defined by its wave nature). In fact, all that I'm saying seems to be;

If you are trying to say that particulate matter does not exist, but is merely a manifestation of the wave nature of matter, then this is consistent with what quantum physics is trying to say; but it does not say that matter at all does not exist, and the waves are quantum waves, but not waves of energy (at least, not in the nomenclature they would use).  On the other hand, this has little to do with the quantisation of time.

except that I'm looking for a reason that we perceive matter as particulate.

On the other hand, there are various diverse theories in the realms of digital physics and digital philosophy where the quantisation of time is an integral part of the concepts.

Thanks for the links. These are interesting theories, but I'm not sure that they have anything to do with what I'm getting at here (I'd also suggest that they might be the wrong way round. That rather than looking at the idea that we are a part of a giant 'program' or computation, that such an idea might rather suggest that we design systems around our understanding of our universe - but that's a different debate).

I have a sceptical nature (which, to my mind, is a prerequisite for all scientific or philosophical enquiry),

Absolutely agree with you. I'm sceptical enough to understand that I could well be bamboozling myself. I'm not a scientist, I gave up my scientific education after sixth form and am trying to educate myself (the math is difficult....) as to the nature of quantum physics. As Carl Sagan says, though, to get to grips with these concepts people have trained for 15 years or more just to understand the mathematics involved. I'm not fool enough to think that after a few glances at various papers and equations I'm going to comprehend to any degree other than a merely interested layman.

but if I really thought it was "quasi-religious buffoonery", I would not be bothering to reply.

I'm glad to hear it, and you have put my mind at rest - as I say, I know that such can come across as ill-thought out (which likely in many ways this is) philosophical drivel, usually with some end "proof" of some bizarre belief or other.

The notion that time is measured as snapshots at discrete intervals does not seem controversial (if one forgets issues such the "pre-concious mind", and refers equally to all measurement devices).  Clearly, if the measurement interval is too large, this will create artefacts in our measurement, but am I correct that you are implying that the very nature of matter is merely a manifestation of these artefacts?

In terms of matter as I understand the word to be used, yes. Again, though, this may be down to a misunderstanding of the term(and also it's nature). You say;

you have tried to use the relationship between energy and time to show that matter cannot exist without time (I don't think I would disagree with you),

If we consider, for example, an electron hitting a sensor: Does the electron pass an amount of energy into the sensor, or does it pass an amount of mass? Does the electron actually have a mass, or is it's mass simply a factor of us holding the moment in place? (I'm not sure that even made complete sense to me, so I apologise in advance).

The mind is not linear, and that is very much its strength.  Yes, judging chronology is important, but moving things out of sequence, and changing contexts, is also key to finding new patterns that would not be obvious if everything was kept strictly in place.

Exactly. The mind is not linear, so why would we expect information to be dealt with linearly? The fact that we can move things out of sequence surely says something about how we store memory?



« Last Edit: 05/02/2008 18:54:18 by angst »
 

another_someone

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« Reply #9 on: 06/02/2008 03:08:05 »
As with most of the misunderstandings here this is likely just a poor use of language in terms of framing a scientific idea. When I refer to the "pre-conscious mind" I simply mean at some level before we are conscious of it, and addressing "mind" to be a function of the brain, perhaps outside of a definition of mind as you understand it.

I don't care whether it is mind, or it is brain; but my concern is that these days, most observations are made by machines, not by human beings - so whatever we perceive, must have sufficient reality for the machine to see it, even if what the machine sees is finally interpreted by our minds (excepting if we start to question the existence of the machine itself).

We understand the three 'physical' dimensions by means of information fed to our senses. Time we perceive on an entirely other basis. If, for instance we are placed into an entirely darkened and soundproofed room, we have no way of guaging the room's size (assuming we have not seen it before we enter). However, in this environment, without any signal to our senses as to it's passing, we are still aware that time is passing. How are we aware? If we were just passing through time entirely linearly then by what means are we aware of it?

The difference is not as great as you think.  Even sound is not an instantaneously measure, in that sound is a change in air pressure over time, yet sound is one of those senses you claim we detect instantaneously.

As for how we detect time, we have internal lots of internal oscillators of various kinds that we can use (I don't claim to know exactly which process is the primary means we use, and in fact, although no doubt there is one primary means, there are probably several secondary means - even our own heartbeat will provide a very crude mechanism, although I am certain we have some that are more stable).  In fact, even the simplest biological systems will often have some sort of internal clock, so it is not actually something one needs a brain in order to detect.

To extend the analogy. If we were placed into a darkened and soundproofed room upon a moving platform, and that platform was moving silently in any direction at a constant speed, we would not be aware of that motion. If, on the other hand, the platform moved, then stopped, moved, then stopped we would become aware of our motion through space.
Is our perception of time based upon a similar principle?

This is a physical, not a psychological or biological phenomenon.  The reason why we do not detect constant motion is because our primary motion detectors are within the inner ear, and behave like accelerometers.  If you put a pendulum inside a vehicle smoothly moving at constant speed, once the pendulum had settled down, after the initial acceleration, then the pendulum would not behave any different to if the vehicle was stationary, and you could not detect the difference.  If the vehicle accelerates (or decelerates), the pendulum would swing against the acceleration, so indicating that acceleration was taking place.  The internal workings of our inner ear are exactly the same as that pendulum.

On a broader context, the relativity of motion tells us that if you have two bodies at relative motion to each other, there is no way to tell which of those bodies is stationary, and which is in motion, since each would look to the other as if the other was in motion and it was itself stationary.  Ofcourse, if one body accelerates, then it is possible to say which body is accelerating, and which remains at constant speed.

This is just, again, my poor use of language - I think. But here we see that matter, particles are referred to, and that the energy is a function of the wavelength of that matter, but what I'm suggesting is that particles don't exist except as a consequence of the way we have evolved such that we can make sense of the universe that we live in. Perhaps I might better explain that by saying that matter (such as it is) is in a constant state of flux (that is defined by its wave nature). In fact, all that I'm saying seems to be;

If you are trying to say that particulate matter does not exist, but is merely a manifestation of the wave nature of matter, then this is consistent with what quantum physics is trying to say; but it does not say that matter at all does not exist, and the waves are quantum waves, but not waves of energy (at least, not in the nomenclature they would use).  On the other hand, this has little to do with the quantisation of time.

except that I'm looking for a reason that we perceive matter as particulate.

It is not an unreasonable question, but I am not sure about your answers.

To ask why we developed theories around particulate matter, you have to go back to the origin of those theories in classical physics.  Right up until the early years of the 20th century, most physics looked at the behaviour of the large scale world (how cannon balls flew, or how apples dropped), and in that context, it made sense to them to regard those apples and cannon balls as solid objects.  It then made sense to leverage what they knew about cannon balls and apples to apply to the smallest things they could imagine, i.e. atoms, and subatomic particles.  From the beginning there had been problems in fitting light into the notion of solid particles, and there had always been much debate as to whether light was composed of a solid stream of particles, or of non-particulate waves; but everything aside from light fitted very well.

It was only well into the 20th century that people started realising that even ordinary matter, when looked into at its deepest level, began to show the same ambiguities that light had always shown, and so they started to formulate models that allowed for that observed paradoxical behaviour.

That is why we have the models we have.  Now, the first question ofcourse is, how should we now treat cannon balls - do we regard them as something other than solid objects.  In a sense, strictly speaking it might make sense to do just that, but it would complicate trying to manage their equations of motion, and for most practical purposes, there is no need for that complication.  In fact, even a simple atom, anything larger than a hydrogen atom is extremely complex to fully calculate the quantum wave functions for, and as far as I know, it is not done, simply because the complexity is too great, and treating a carbon atom in a classical way (when one deals with the whole atom, not with each electron or proton) provides good enough answers at a manageable computational cost.

If we consider, for example, an electron hitting a sensor: Does the electron pass an amount of energy into the sensor, or does it pass an amount of mass? Does the electron actually have a mass, or is it's mass simply a factor of us holding the moment in place? (I'm not sure that even made complete sense to me, so I apologise in advance).

An electron has mass in the sense that we calculate its motion using equations that assume it has mass, and it abides by those calculations.  Beyond that, what is mass?  Mass is just a number we feed into an equation, and those equations work.

What happens when an electron is detected by a sensor depends on the nature of the sensor.

Some part of the kinetic energy of the electron will probably be transferred to the sensor.  If the electron does not actually lodge into the sensor, then it will not effect the mass of the sensor, but ofcourse, for some types of sensors, the electron could embed itself into the sensor, and so will effect the mass of the sensor.

Exactly. The mind is not linear, so why would we expect information to be dealt with linearly? The fact that we can move things out of sequence surely says something about how we store memory?

It tells us much about how we store memory, but to what extent this tells us anything about the fundamental nature of time, as measured by independent instrumentation, is another matter.
 

Offline angst

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Perceptual trickery...?
« Reply #10 on: 06/02/2008 12:38:38 »
I don't care whether it is mind, or it is brain; but my concern is that these days, most observations are made by machines, not by human beings - so whatever we perceive, must have sufficient reality for the machine to see it, even if what the machine sees is finally interpreted by our minds (excepting if we start to question the existence of the machine itself).

I think you are beginning to mix up the points here. What i am talking about here is how we, as conscious entities, are conscious of time. I am not suggesting that time does not exist, so clearly a machine will 'understand' the passage of time as we create it to. BUT, as I have already alluded to, we have used machines to perceive the world that we understand as particulate matter as something other.

The difference is not as great as you think.  Even sound is not an instantaneously measure, in that sound is a change in air pressure over time, yet sound is one of those senses you claim we detect instantaneously.

You might like to read what I wrote again, as I never, ever used the term instantaneous, nor does the term have any meaning in terms of what I was saying. I thought it would be clear from my explanation of the darkened and soundproofed room that we can detect (to a certain extent) distance by means of judging sounds - which take a period of time to reach our ears (and also lose energy as they travel). Of course it is not instantaneous.

This is a physical, not a psychological or biological phenomenon.  The reason why we do not detect constant motion is because our primary motion detectors are within the inner ear, and behave like accelerometers.  If you put a pendulum inside a vehicle smoothly moving at constant speed, once the pendulum had settled down, after the initial acceleration, then the pendulum would not behave any different to if the vehicle was stationary, and you could not detect the difference.  If the vehicle accelerates (or decelerates), the pendulum would swing against the acceleration, so indicating that acceleration was taking place.  The internal workings of our inner ear are exactly the same as that pendulum.

In terms of our physical movement through space, then yes, the tools used to convey our movement through that space is fed to us physically. I'm pretty certain that is what I said in my explanation. We sense acceleration by means of our physical senses, and by such can understand that we are moving through space. This is exactly what I was saying. As you rightly agree, without that, with purely constant motion and without physical cues to direct us thus, we would become unaware of our movement through physical space.

The dimension of time we do not perceive as a physical dimension, we cannot (well, hardly) move ourselves through that dimension. We perceive time other than physically. So what cues are we using to alert us to that constant 'motion'?

To ask why we developed theories around particulate matter, you have to go back to the origin of those theories in classical physics.  Right up until the early years of the 20th century, most physics looked at the behaviour of the large scale world (how cannon balls flew, or how apples dropped), and in that context, it made sense to them to regard those apples and cannon balls as solid objects.  It then made sense to leverage what they knew about cannon balls and apples to apply to the smallest things they could imagine, i.e. atoms, and subatomic particles.  From the beginning there had been problems in fitting light into the notion of solid particles, and there had always been much debate as to whether light was composed of a solid stream of particles, or of non-particulate waves; but everything aside from light fitted very well.

It was only well into the 20th century that people started realising that even ordinary matter, when looked into at its deepest level, began to show the same ambiguities that light had always shown, and so they started to formulate models that allowed for that observed paradoxical behaviour.

That is why we have the models we have.  Now, the first question ofcourse is, how should we now treat cannon balls - do we regard them as something other than solid objects.  In a sense, strictly speaking it might make sense to do just that, but it would complicate trying to manage their equations of motion, and for most practical purposes, there is no need for that complication.


You are quite right to say that for most practical purposes there is no need for that complication. But it is not the strictly practical that I am thinking of.

In a sense, strictly speaking it might very well make sense, might literally help us to make sense of some of the forces and counter-intuitive phenomena, if we treated 'matter' as something other than solid objects. I'd go further, and say that the very term 'matter' itself traps conceptual precepts into that very paradigm. Even in quantum physics, though the underlying thesis is that of matter as non particulate, the particulate nature is reverted to in order to try and understand it. It talks of particles being passed between greater particles. Perhaps, in order to really understand what is going on, we need to be looking to models that are far removed from our biologically pre-conceived notions of 'matter'.

An electron has mass in the sense that we calculate its motion using equations that assume it has mass, and it abides by those calculations.  Beyond that, what is mass?  Mass is just a number we feed into an equation, and those equations work.

And this is precisly my point. But it works only up to a point. Mass is just something we assume it has, and that because of our understanding of the universe that is trapped within our biologically pre-conceived mindset.

It tells us much about how we store memory, but to what extent this tells us anything about the fundamental nature of time, as measured by independent instrumentation, is another matter.

And how do we manufacture instrumentation that measures time? By what method do we record time? We set periods. We break time down, and by such action understand it's passage.
 

another_someone

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« Reply #11 on: 08/02/2008 01:28:09 »
I think you are beginning to mix up the points here. What i am talking about here is how we, as conscious entities, are conscious of time. I am not suggesting that time does not exist, so clearly a machine will 'understand' the passage of time as we create it to. BUT, as I have already alluded to, we have used machines to perceive the world that we understand as particulate matter as something other.

So are we looking for the nature of time, or the perception of time?

The impression I had earlier was that you were suggesting that time was nothing other than illusory perception.  Now you seem to be saying time is not illusory, but maybe our own perception of it gives us an unreal image of what time is?

This is not an implausible argument, but is just as plausible for everything else believe to be real, not only time.

You might like to read what I wrote again, as I never, ever used the term instantaneous, nor does the term have any meaning in terms of what I was saying. I thought it would be clear from my explanation of the darkened and soundproofed room that we can detect (to a certain extent) distance by means of judging sounds - which take a period of time to reach our ears (and also lose energy as they travel). Of course it is not instantaneous.

But that implies that the time we sense as a reference point is as real as the distance we perceive, since the two become interrelated.  If our sense of time is false, then automatically our sense of distance becomes compromised.  Or am I still misunderstanding how you regard time and our sense of time to be interlinked?

The dimension of time we do not perceive as a physical dimension, we cannot (well, hardly) move ourselves through that dimension. We perceive time other than physically. So what cues are we using to alert us to that constant 'motion'?

Our sense of constant motion (in the sense of motion appearing to be absolute) is itself illusiory.  If I stand next to another person, he and I both appear to be stationary, yet the Earth continues to spin on its axis, and rotate around the Sun, and the Sun rotate around the Milky Way, etc. - so, unless one is still arguing for a geocentric universe (something that most people stopped believing in some time after Copernicus suggested a heliocentric universe, and Galileo was attacked by the church for agreeing with him – although we now have moved even beyond the notion of a heliocentric universe).  The reality, our notion of velocity is purely local, and we judge something to be in constant motion if it appears to be in motion relative to most of the other things around us (without regard to the possibility that most of the other things around us may also be in motion relative to something else).

To ask why we developed theories around particulate matter, you have to go back to the origin of those theories in classical physics.  Right up until the early years of the 20th century, most physics looked at the behaviour of the large scale world (how cannon balls flew, or how apples dropped), and in that context, it made sense to them to regard those apples and cannon balls as solid objects.  It then made sense to leverage what they knew about cannon balls and apples to apply to the smallest things they could imagine, i.e. atoms, and subatomic particles.  From the beginning there had been problems in fitting light into the notion of solid particles, and there had always been much debate as to whether light was composed of a solid stream of particles, or of non-particulate waves; but everything aside from light fitted very well.

It was only well into the 20th century that people started realising that even ordinary matter, when looked into at its deepest level, began to show the same ambiguities that light had always shown, and so they started to formulate models that allowed for that observed paradoxical behaviour.

That is why we have the models we have.  Now, the first question ofcourse is, how should we now treat cannon balls - do we regard them as something other than solid objects.  In a sense, strictly speaking it might make sense to do just that, but it would complicate trying to manage their equations of motion, and for most practical purposes, there is no need for that complication.


You are quite right to say that for most practical purposes there is no need for that complication. But it is not the strictly practical that I am thinking of.

In a sense, strictly speaking it might very well make sense, might literally help us to make sense of some of the forces and counter-intuitive phenomena, if we treated 'matter' as something other than solid objects. I'd go further, and say that the very term 'matter' itself traps conceptual precepts into that very paradigm. Even in quantum physics, though the underlying thesis is that of matter as non particulate, the particulate nature is reverted to in order to try and understand it. It talks of particles being passed between greater particles. Perhaps, in order to really understand what is going on, we need to be looking to models that are far removed from our biologically pre-conceived notions of 'matter'.

The notion of a particle is a convenience, in that it allows us to set manageable boundaries upon what we are looking at.

Ofcourse, in the quantum world, particles are merely waves, and waves mix with other waves in a universal sea of waves.  On the other hand, if one wishes to look at the local behaviour of a wave, it makes sense to set boundaries upon what you are looking at, simply because it is not possible to view a boundless universe at one time.  We have the capability to compute what one or two waves are doing, but to try and look at the totality in one go is simply beyond any feasibility capability.   


An electron has mass in the sense that we calculate its motion using equations that assume it has mass, and it abides by those calculations.  Beyond that, what is mass?  Mass is just a number we feed into an equation, and those equations work.

And this is precisly my point. But it works only up to a point. Mass is just something we assume it has, and that because of our understanding of the universe that is trapped within our biologically pre-conceived mindset.

Why “biologically preconceived”?  Or, maybe, what is it that you think is “biologically preconceived”?

Mass itself is not something that is a biological necessity, but a tool we use to create a mathematical model of our environment.  It certainly may be argued that mathematics, as a language, as all language, is to some extent a function of our biology (to what extent biology and innate language is interlinked is much debated – is there some universal symbol set around which all the variety of human language is constructed, and then probably mathematics too is somehow dependent upon that same underlying symbol set and innate linguistic structure – but the matter is not without controversy).  But this would not merely effect one single parameter within the scientific model of our environment, but the entire scientific edifice.

And how do we manufacture instrumentation that measures time? By what method do we record time? We set periods. We break time down, and by such action understand it's passage.

No more or less so than we do for distance.

In fact, in the first instance, we do not actually break down either time or distance; but what we do is compare two different measurements, an unknown with a known.  So, we measure distance (in the old fashioned way, before we got into electronics) by using a known distance (e.g. the length of our thumb, or how far you can walk in a day) and compare it to the unknown distance.  We can then start to talk about multiple units of known distances (such as three thumb lengths).  We did exactly the same with time – we compared it to the known time of sunset to sunset, or the multiples of a heartbeat, or some other comparison.

Ofcourse, this tended to limit what we could measure to units, or fractions of units, of whatever we used as a standard for measurement; but there was no inherent sense of breaking something down to a set of fixed intervals, although the reference points we used would form natural fixed intervals.

Ofcourse, as we got more sophisticated, our reference points became more sophisticated, so where once we would just measure against the time of the Sun passing, we next measured against the swing of a pendulum, and then the oscillation of a crystal, and then the oscillation of radiation from an atomic source – but the principle remains the same – compare what we don't know to a known reference point.

Yes, the recording of time (as the recording of distance, or the recording of any other measurement) will be in fixed intervals, insofar as the limitations of our communications tends to be by using multiples (commonly integer multiples) of the reference values as a way of recording the value we are choosing to record.  This is a limitation of language, but not a limitation of our perception of reality.
 

Offline angst

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Perceptual trickery...?
« Reply #12 on: 08/02/2008 14:34:00 »
The impression I had earlier was that you were suggesting that time was nothing other than illusory perception.  Now you seem to be saying time is not illusory, but maybe our own perception of it gives us an unreal image of what time is?

I was at pains to stress that time is real, in that we are very much subject to it. It's not so much that our image of what time is that I am getting at, it is more how our perception of time is what amkes sense to us in our existence - and that this perception may on some level, hinder our understanding of the forces that affect that universe.

But that implies that the time we sense as a reference point is as real as the distance we perceive, since the two become interrelated.  If our sense of time is false, then automatically our sense of distance becomes compromised.  Or am I still misunderstanding how you regard time and our sense of time to be interlinked?

We live in a constantly shifting point in time, we are at the leading edge of time (which is why we can only move backwards in time, and why our movement within space is subject to Einstein's relativity - why our 'clock' runs slower relative to someone notionally(relatively) motionless.) I am suggesting that our perception of the world as particulate matter is due to the way we have evolved to sense time, which is by means of some internal method of breaking time down into 'packets'.

Our sense of constant motion (in the sense of motion appearing to be absolute) is itself illusiory.  If I stand next to another person, he and I both appear to be stationary, yet the Earth continues to spin on its axis, and rotate around the Sun, and the Sun rotate around the Milky Way, etc. - so, unless one is still arguing for a geocentric universe (something that most people stopped believing in some time after Copernicus suggested a heliocentric universe, and Galileo was attacked by the church for agreeing with him – although we now have moved even beyond the notion of a heliocentric universe).  The reality, our notion of velocity is purely local, and we judge something to be in constant motion if it appears to be in motion relative to most of the other things around us (without regard to the possibility that most of the other things around us may also be in motion relative to something else).

I wouldn't disagree with anything that you say here. In fact this seems to be arguing my point rather than against. If we were aware of time as a constant flow, if we were aware only that we existed within an 'instant' of time, one to the next , and that all else is in relative 'motion' with us within time, surely implies that there is some cue alerting us to that motion - which we would otherwise be unaware of. Indeed, the very fact that we remember, that we have memory, is evidence of an awareness of a previous position within time.

The notion of a particle is a convenience, in that it allows us to set manageable boundaries upon what we are looking at.

Indeed, but perhaps it also sets us boundaries beyond which we cannot see...., unless we can acknowledge such.

On the other hand, if one wishes to look at the local behaviour of a wave, it makes sense to set boundaries upon what you are looking at, simply because it is not possible to view a boundless universe at one time.  We have the capability to compute what one or two waves are doing, but to try and look at the totality in one go is simply beyond any feasibility capability.

Indeed, and perhaps this is exactly what I'm getting at. We revert to the 'comfort' of our perception. But perhaps we have to find a way of understanding those waves, without reverting to our notional paradigm, in order to be able to understand many of the forces which enact upon, and many of the reactions within, our universe.

Yes, the recording of time (as the recording of distance, or the recording of any other measurement) will be in fixed intervals, insofar as the limitations of our communications tends to be by using multiples (commonly integer multiples) of the reference values as a way of recording the value we are choosing to record.  This is a limitation of language, but not a limitation of our perception of reality.

But, if our understanding of time, if the paradigm with which we view time, is essentially created of that same technique (on a pre-conscious, biological level) and that that notional understanding ascribes our view of the universe (for instance, as particulate), isn't it important to understand that, and thereby judge our questions, and our reading of results, in that knowledge?
 

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Perceptual trickery...?
« Reply #13 on: 08/02/2008 18:27:31 »
We live in a constantly shifting point in time, we are at the leading edge of time (which is why we can only move backwards in time, and why our movement within space is subject to Einstein's relativity - why our 'clock' runs slower relative to someone notionally(relatively) motionless.) I am suggesting that our perception of the world as particulate matter is due to the way we have evolved to sense time, which is by means of some internal method of breaking time down into 'packets'.

It is debatable whether we can actually move backwards in time – but what I suspect you mean is that we can only see backwards in time, which is something else.

What you have yet to convince me of is that we do break down time any more than any other dimension.  This is the starting point from which you have drawn a distinction, but not one that I am at all convinced about.

In fact this seems to be arguing my point rather than against.

I am not trying to 'argue against' you, but to probe for weaknesses in your argument, which is not the same thing.

The notion of a particle is a convenience, in that it allows us to set manageable boundaries upon what we are looking at.

Indeed, but perhaps it also sets us boundaries beyond which we cannot see...., unless we can acknowledge such.

Not so much boundaries beyond which we cannot see, since we can see it all, but maybe boundaries that colour our vision, because we need to see each bit seperately.

On the other hand, if one wishes to look at the local behaviour of a wave, it makes sense to set boundaries upon what you are looking at, simply because it is not possible to view a boundless universe at one time.  We have the capability to compute what one or two waves are doing, but to try and look at the totality in one go is simply beyond any feasibility capability.

Indeed, and perhaps this is exactly what I'm getting at. We revert to the 'comfort' of our perception. But perhaps we have to find a way of understanding those waves, without reverting to our notional paradigm, in order to be able to understand many of the forces which enact upon, and many of the reactions within, our universe.

I don't understand what you mean by “find a way of understanding those waves”?

That is what quantum physics does, or seeks to do.

The problem is twofold:

Firstly, one needs to progress from where one is to where one is going; so you need the link between classical physics and quantum physics, otherwise one has to throw away all one knows in classical physics.  For instance, it would not make sense to try and drive a car using a quantum view of the road ahead – one uses the most sensible view one has, which relies on a classical experience of the world.  So, as soon as you do that, you have to either provide that link between how you drive a car and the quantum view, or you have to say that the quantum view is never applicable to anything to do with cars.  Yet, we use quantum physics to understand, and develop, solid state electronics that help us drive cars, so clearly we do need to develop the interface between a quantum view and a classical view of the world.

The second problem is about the wider issue of setting boundaries.  The fact is that we are a part of our universe (this is not a biological limitation, it is the limitation of any entity within our universe, whether biological or otherwise).  The universe contains a lot of information, and we, a small part of that universe, can only contain a very small amount of information.  It follows that, as you cannot contain a quart within a pint pot, so nothing that is a part of the universe can ever understand the whole of the universe, but can only hope to understand other parts of the universe, so it must somehow break the universe down into manageable chunks of information (whether you call that piece of information a particle, a wave, or something else, it can still only be a small part of the whole).  SO, yes, we can study waves, but those waves will still somehow have to be studied in isolation from the whole, because no constituent part of the universe is ever going to be capable to studying the whole of the universe at once.

Yes, the recording of time (as the recording of distance, or the recording of any other measurement) will be in fixed intervals, insofar as the limitations of our communications tends to be by using multiples (commonly integer multiples) of the reference values as a way of recording the value we are choosing to record.  This is a limitation of language, but not a limitation of our perception of reality.

But, if our understanding of time, if the paradigm with which we view time, is essentially created of that same technique (on a pre-conscious, biological level) and that that notional understanding ascribes our view of the universe (for instance, as particulate), isn't it important to understand that, and thereby judge our questions, and our reading of results, in that knowledge?

But you have yet to convince me that our understanding of time is any more particulate than our understanding of space (on the contrary, both historically and in contemporary terms, people are more comfortable with the idea that there is a granularity to space than that there is a granularity to time, although the relationship of space and time does provide us with both the Plank length and the Plank time as a minimal granularity for both time and space.

Until the 19th century, the very notion of an atom was just a philosophical concept.  The concept that there was a fundamental level at which matter could no longer be subdivided was proposed in India in the 6th century BC, and by the 5th century BC was being taught by Greek philosophers, but at no time did they consider there was an atomic concept of time, where time itself could not be further subdivided.
 

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