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Author Topic: What defines where one entity begins and another ends?  (Read 2007 times)

Offline Matthew Scherf

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Matthew Scherf  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Hi Chris,
 
I'm a newbielink:http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/podcasts/ [nonactive], thanks for making it so entertaining and interesting.  I'm writing from Australia.
 
I have a question which is rather abstract, but hopefully you and the team will be able to help me understand.
 
Clearly when I look around me in the real world I see matter separated into distinct entities.  I am distinct from the chair I am sitting on, for example.  But at an atomic level, what defines where one entity begins and another one ends?  If all matter is essentially sub-atomic particles orbiting a nucleus, isn't the universe and everything it contains just one huge atomic soup? It seems to me that at an quantum level, the chair and I are really one and the same, and so is the atmosphere that I walk around in, which is connected to everything else, which by extension means that all matter is really one and the same.  Which makes my brain explode.
 
Help!  This has been driving me crazy for the past week and I would really love someone to clarify this for my simple mind.  I hope I managed to pose the question in an intelligible fashion.
 
Regards,

Matt Scherf

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 14/05/2010 06:30:02 by _system »


 

Offline Vern

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What defines where one entity begins and another ends?
« Reply #1 on: 14/05/2010 06:49:51 »
I have pondered this for too long to remember. Nobody will agree with my conclusions, but I have concluded that all entities are really very much connected. All of reality is really just changes in electric and magnetic amplitude in space.

It is a very simplistic view, but it is one that is impossible to find any evidence that precludes it. I am not the originator of the concept. Others of the faith have traced it all the way back to Newton. I suspect it originated with James Clerk Maxwell. It can be stated in on sentence. That sentence is:

The final irreducible constituent of all physical reality is the electromagnetic field.
 

Offline Ron Hughes

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What defines where one entity begins and another ends?
« Reply #2 on: 14/05/2010 15:57:03 »
Vern, that quote is the biggest statement ever made in science. It is a shame that mainstream science does not listen.
 

Offline Vern

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What defines where one entity begins and another ends?
« Reply #3 on: 14/05/2010 18:45:01 »
The notion does explain a lot of things we puzzle over.
 

Offline LeeE

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What defines where one entity begins and another ends?
« Reply #4 on: 14/05/2010 21:23:03 »
It seems to me that at an quantum level, the chair and I are really one and the same

It's not so much that you and the chair are one and the same, for it is you who wrote the question and not the chair, but where both you and the chair both start and end is not so clear cut.

The particles that make up both you and the chair can be though of as extending from the Big Bang to the 'ends' of space-time but the probability of finding those particles where you're nominally located is much greater than finding them elsewhere because the degree of probability is not linear over distance but inversely proportional to it.  As you look further and further away from your nominal location there is less and less chance of find your particles there.  To a degree, both you and the chair, and everything else in the universe, share different regions of space-time, albeit to different degrees of probability.

You could think of it in terms of you being 99.999...9% sitting on your chair, here on Earth, whilst simultaneously being 0.000...1% 93 million miles away in the center of the Sun.  Similarly, the Sun is 99.999...9% 93 million miles away, but it is also 0.000...1% where you are.
 

Offline Matthew Scherf

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What defines where one entity begins and another ends?
« Reply #5 on: 19/05/2010 01:32:07 »
Thanks for your replies :)
 

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What defines where one entity begins and another ends?
« Reply #5 on: 19/05/2010 01:32:07 »

 

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