The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Can we really imagine the vastness of it all ?  (Read 3389 times)

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Can we really imagine the vastness of it all ?
« on: 27/09/2006 03:48:07 »
Greetings Everybody.

*Mods: I'm not too sure if this should be in the science thread or not, I'll let you decide and please change as necessary.*

I seem to be quite contemplative of late.

Though we can represent the vastness of the Universe do you think that we still can not truly comprehend the enormity of it all ?..that we ...as just mere humans just do not have the capacity to imagine such a thing ?....despite our ability to represent the distances with symbols ! ?


*So is this a post about the vastness of the universe or the capacity of the human mind to understand our own reasoning of it ?*

Men are the same as women, just inside out !


 

Offline Karen W.

  • Moderator
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *****
  • Posts: 31653
  • Thanked: 5 times
  • "come fly with me"
    • View Profile
Re: Can we really imagine the vastness of it all ?
« Reply #1 on: 27/09/2006 06:02:20 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep

Greetings Everybody.

*Mods: I'm not too sure if this should be in the science thread or not, I'll let you decide and please change as necessary.*

I seem to be quite contemplative of late.

Though we can represent the vastness of the Universe do you think that we still can not truly comprehend the enormity of it all ?..that we ...as just mere humans just do not have the capacity to imagine such a thing ?....despite our ability to represent the distances with symbols ! ?


*So is this a post about the vastness of the universe or the capacity of the human mind to understand our own reasoning of it ?*

Men are the same as women, just inside out !




:)I think you should use the later of the two for what the post is about as you stated clearly that " Though we can represent the vastness of the Universe"


I believe we do not have but a trickle of an idea of the vastness of the universe and all of its gorious secrets.. It is truely awe inspiriring to wonder about!


Karen
 

another_someone

  • Guest
Re: Can we really imagine the vastness of it all ?
« Reply #2 on: 27/09/2006 11:36:09 »
Vast in what sense.

All things are relative.  In comparison to a single electron, we ourselves are vast.  We do not have the capacity to imagine the relationship of an electron to a human being, so we equally cannot imagine the relationship of a human being to the entirity of the universe.  We tend to relate like with like, so we try to imagine how one electron relates to another electron, how one human being relates to another human being, and how a universe may relate to its like (the slight problem is that the issue of multiverses is still highly contentious, so for the most part we cannot talk about how a universe compares to another universe, but we can at least look at the large scale functioning of a universe in the same way as we would look at how the organs of a human body interact to allow the totality of a human to function).

What you seem to be asking is whether we can relate the smallest things that exist to the totality of everything that exists (i.e. the entire universe).  Clearly, we not only cannot, but then even at much smaller levels our ability to relate the constituent parts of something to the larger composite breaks down.  Even in human populations, no-one really can relate a single human being to an entire nation; so when we try and understand the dynamics of an entire nation, we use abstract statistical methods (e.g. national economic models, population epidemiology studies) to model the totality of the population in a very impersonal way where individual humans beings become lost in the abstraction of large scale statistics.



George
 

Offline neilep

  • Withdrawnmist
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 20602
  • Thanked: 8 times
    • View Profile
Re: Can we really imagine the vastness of it all ?
« Reply #3 on: 27/09/2006 15:24:39 »
THANK YOU KAREN MAM...your answer is succinct and concise...

Now I have to deal with GEORGE !! LOL !!:D;)

LOL...sorry...(how sad am I that I must giggle like this ?)

THANK YOU GEORGE......well..seeing as we're all human (though there clearly are one or two exceptions here !!lol)..I will choose to answer your first question.... In the sense that we are humans, from a humans perspective as that is what I am  lol...(*lifts up flap of skin and reads ' 100% human 100% biodegrdabale Please Recycle ! *please note this model comes with a defective sense of humour hence the bargain price !!*)...Sheesh !!


So what you are saying george is despite our use of abstract statitstical methods...we can only understand a representation of the facts. Some scales are just so huge that we just do not have the capability to adequately understand them right now.

So it seems we are very able to imagine something that we can not understand !!..and yet we can discuss it !

Men are the same as women, just inside out !
 

Offline Karen W.

  • Moderator
  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *****
  • Posts: 31653
  • Thanked: 5 times
  • "come fly with me"
    • View Profile
Re: Can we really imagine the vastness of it all ?
« Reply #4 on: 28/09/2006 08:50:00 »
Yes those are good points Sirs!  The discussion alone is always very entertaining and opens up so many avenues of Ideas and thoughts about all that is around and beyond us!!

Karen
 

another_someone

  • Guest
Re: Can we really imagine the vastness of it all ?
« Reply #5 on: 28/09/2006 12:29:39 »
quote:
Originally posted by neilep
So what you are saying george is despite our use of abstract statitstical methods...we can only understand a representation of the facts. Some scales are just so huge that we just do not have the capability to adequately understand them right now.



Not quite as simple as that.  What I am saying is that we can only understand things insofar as we compare like with like, and whether very large, or very small, or just very different, we have trouble simultaneously relating things that are very different in nature.

Since the Universe is very different to a human being, in scale and in nature, we cannot compare a human the Universe, any more than we would compare a banana to a sky scraper.

The use of abstract statistical methods is a way of our being able to deal with the totality of large things.  Even on a smaller scale, although we may not realise it, we still only deal with statistical behaviour (the most extreme case of this being in quantum physics).  Even when one deals with everyday things like temperature, temperature is only a statistical measure insofar as it is the measure of the average energy of the atoms and molecules within a substance, and each individual atom and molecule will have an energy that is slightly different from every other atom or molecule, but we deal with the totality by simply taking the average.  When we deal with the temperature of a bulk object, we do not think about the energy of each component part of it, because the two are at such very different scales that we cannot manage so very different scales at once.



George
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Can we really imagine the vastness of it all ?
« Reply #5 on: 28/09/2006 12:29:39 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums