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Author Topic: Do thoughts move faster than light?  (Read 10192 times)

Offline yamo

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Do thoughts move faster than light?
« on: 27/09/2010 06:41:45 »
Think of the Sun.  Think of the earth.  Your thoughts have moved from the sun to the earth faster than light.  No?
« Last Edit: 28/09/2010 09:35:14 by chris »


 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #1 on: 27/09/2010 06:56:23 »
No. My thoughts are still inside my head.
 

Offline tommya300

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Re: Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #2 on: 27/09/2010 08:30:10 »
All human body functions that are performed is caused by some kind of chemical reaction.
Signal to response time is due to some sort of chemical and electrical function.
What chemical reaction is as fast as the speed of light?
Can you build a cube, where all the sides and diagnal measurements, are all equal?
 

Offline lightarrow

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Re: Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #3 on: 27/09/2010 15:55:20 »
No. My thoughts are still inside my head.
hmmmm...
I would agree to this statement, but how do we now, in the lack of a definition of "thought"?
 

Offline LeeE

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Re: Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #4 on: 27/09/2010 18:14:26 »
The highest measured nerve impulse speeds are around 120 m/s, but these are only found in muscle control and feedback nerves.  The fastest 'thinking' type impulses are much slower and typically around 20-30 m/s, so the fastest 'speed of thought' is about 67 mph.

http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2002/DavidParizh.shtml
 

Offline kenhikage

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Re: Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #5 on: 28/09/2010 07:40:09 »
Think of the Sun.  Think of the earth.  Your thoughts have moved from the sun to the earth faster than light.  No?
My thoughts moved quickly in your example, but you are comparing light going an AU to electro-chemical reactions going a far shorter distance.  :-\
 

Offline chris

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Re: Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #6 on: 28/09/2010 09:34:18 »
No; if we assume that "thoughts" correspond to signals exchanged between clusters of nerve cells in the process known as neurotransmission, which includes propagation of an action potential along a nerve cell at up to 120 ms-1 and then the secretion of a neurotransmitter chemical to influence another "target" nerve cell, this process takes tens of milliseconds. Therefore "thoughts" occur with a considerable delay before they are formed. In fact, electrical studies on the human brain show that we are living in a world that is up to a 1/3rd of a second behind what's really happening. In other words, when a stimulus finally reaches a person's visual consciousness it could actually have happened up to 1/3rd of a second previously... quite a mind boggling concept really.

Chris
 

Offline syhprum

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Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #7 on: 28/09/2010 13:14:18 »
I notice my mental system seems to have some pre fetch system, when I accidental knock something from the meter high table when I am working or cooking I can normally move my foot into its path quickly enough to break its fall but if it is something like a knife or scissors that might damage my foot I have time to decide not to place my foot in its path.
Considering the speed of nerve impulses it would seem that I do not have time to make a decision but it never fails. 
 

Offline Geezer

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Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #8 on: 28/09/2010 20:02:07 »
Intrigued by Syphrums observations, I decided to calculate how long it might take a knife to fall off his table and impale his foot. My initial calculation determined that it would take about four seconds. However, that didn't seem quite right, and a quick bit of empirical study confirmed my suspicion.

I checked my arithmetic again and, remarkably, discovered an error. I think the more accurate estimate is more like 0.45 seconds.

Now, as Syphrum attests, he is (when he's not been at the cooking sherry) able to get said foot out of the path of impending doom, so, for easy math we will assume Syphrum's eyeballs are two meters above floor level.

That would mean his nerves must communicate a signal from brain to foot at a speed of no less than 4.44 m/s  --- I think.
 

Offline LeeE

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Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #9 on: 28/09/2010 20:30:02 »
Re Syhprum trying to impale his foot: like I said earlier, the impulses to and from the muscles can travel at up to 120 m/s but the conscious thoughts happening in his brain concerning what he will actually do with his foot are a lot slower, but still considerably faster than 4.44 m/s.  This does leave enough time to consciously decide what to do and then act upon it.

Iirc, typical reaction times i.e. consciously acting upon a signal, for healthy pre-middle aged people are around 0.2 seconds.  Some people can react in about 0.15 seconds though.
 

Offline Geezer

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Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #10 on: 28/09/2010 20:45:18 »
Re Syhprum trying to impale his foot: like I said earlier, the impulses to and from the muscles can travel at up to 120 m/s but the conscious thoughts happening in his brain concerning what he will actually do with his foot are a lot slower, but still considerably faster than 4.44 m/s.  This does leave enough time to consciously decide what to do and then act upon it.

Iirc, typical reaction times i.e. consciously acting upon a signal, for healthy pre-middle aged people are around 0.2 seconds.  Some people can react in about 0.15 seconds though.

Well, I did say no less than 4.44 m/s  ;D

I thought it would be interesting to see how long he's got. As it turns out, about a half second should be plenty of time which seems to agree with Syphrums observations.
 

Offline chris

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Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #11 on: 29/09/2010 08:52:17 »
Movements that occur under conscious control are very slow, owing to the amount of cognitive processing that must occur. But automatic, reflex and trained reactive movements - like playing tennis, countering a fall or sticking your foot under a falling object, do not occur at a conscious visually-guided neurological level. Instead these actions are executed through a more primitive, very fast, motor pathway. This uses a map of the body in 3d speace relative to the visual world to "know" where to place body parts in relation to other events occurring in the 3d world around you. Hence the tennis player's racket gets in front of the ball even though the ball is moving far too fast for the player to have consciously processed the movement.

Chris
 

Offline syhprum

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Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #12 on: 29/09/2010 09:17:27 »
Thank you Chris for a formal explanation of what I had in mind when I spoke of pre-fetch i.e a trained reflex, I knew I did not have enough
time to make a reasoned assessment of the action required.
Of course some reasoning time is required to determine whether it is a fragile object to be saved or a dangerous object to be avoided but perhaps I have something like a stored lookup table (to use computer terminology).
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #13 on: 29/09/2010 16:07:57 »
As an electronics engineer you quickly learn to avoid the "catching a falling hot soldering iron" reflex the smell of burning flesh tells you it's not a good idea.  The pain comes later!
 

Offline Geezer

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Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #14 on: 29/09/2010 16:51:10 »
My dad fell into the trap of using his foot to prevent a plate glass sliding door from hitting the floor in his chemist shop. He managed to nick an artery in the process! Fortunately, the dotor's surgery was right above his shop.

A further irony was that my dad could not stand the sight of blood!
« Last Edit: 29/09/2010 21:42:43 by Geezer »
 

Offline Geezer

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Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #15 on: 30/09/2010 20:02:37 »
BTW, human reaction times are usually measured in "ohnoseconds".

An ohnosecond is the time it takes for your brain to register that your finger just hit SEND on an email about your boss that accidentally included your boss on distribution.

Ohnoseconds are related to another important metric, the CEU, or Career Ending Unit. One interesting thing about CEUs is that they are very easy to add, but almost impossible to subtract.

(Sorry for the second post.)
 

Offline LeeE

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Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #16 on: 01/10/2010 00:27:51 »
BTW, human reaction times are usually measured in "ohnoseconds".

An ohnosecond is the time it takes for your brain to register that your finger just hit SEND on an email about your boss that accidentally included your boss on distribution.

Ohnoseconds are related to another important metric, the CEU, or Career Ending Unit. One interesting thing about CEUs is that they are very easy to add, but almost impossible to subtract.

:D
 

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Do thoughts move faster than light?
« Reply #16 on: 01/10/2010 00:27:51 »

 

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