Naked Science Forum

Non Life Sciences => Physics, Astronomy & Cosmology => Topic started by: nudephil on 17/06/2020 16:41:29

Title: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: nudephil on 17/06/2020 16:41:29
Someone by the name of 'Mr Sponge' has messaged in with this question:

Do our thoughts have mass?

Can anyone answer?
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: Bogie_smiles on 17/06/2020 17:42:58
Someone by the name of 'Mr Sponge' has messaged in with this question:

Do our thoughts have mass?

Can anyone answer?
We can speculate:
Let's speculate that thoughts emanate from the brain in the form of wave energy that traverses space.

If so, as thought energy waves intersect and overlap with existing wave energy already traversing space, i.e., other thought waves, gravitational waves, or other wave energy, then the density of the energy that occupies the points of space at those points of intersection would be elevated relative to the surrounding space (due to the wave energy convergences that could be referred to as high density spots). We could call those convergences "hints of mass"; and if that is the case, then thoughts could be construed as having a "hint of mass", perhaps?
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: Bill S on 17/06/2020 20:28:31
I don’t like the idea of “a hint of mass”, it sounds like neither one thing or another. I’ll stick with a mass of thoughts and try to make some sense of them.  :)

Mr Sponge might try reading Fred Alan Wolf’s “The Dreaming Universe” if he has not already done so.  This is not a recommendation, as I have read only a few bits, but I know from elsewhere that FAW is a bit unconventional.
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: chiralSPO on 17/06/2020 20:55:33
Without a good definition of "thought" I'm not sure we can answer the question.

That said, I propose that any definition of "thought" would have to lie on a spectrum between the most abstract, "concept" (which I think must be massless because physical manifestation is not a required aspect of a concept--ie what is the mass of the concept of 13?), and some more concrete neurobiological process (which would involve the motion of massive particles. Even if we discount the particles themselves as only "hardware" that supports the process, the motion itself would involve some tiny amount of relativistic mass.)

So the answer to this question will be somewhere between 0 mass and ever-so-slightly-more than 0 mass, depending on the definition of thought (and mass, if one were to require it to be proper, or rest mass).

(PS: this is post # 3333 for me!)
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: Bill S on 17/06/2020 22:03:53
Quote
So the answer to this question will be somewhere between 0 mass and ever-so-slightly-more than 0 mass,

Interpreting that as either "0 mass and ever-so-slightly-more than 0 mass" I'll not ask what could possibly come between the two. 

Seriously, though, there are a few things in #3 that merit consideration.
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: evan_au on 17/06/2020 23:06:14
Landauer's Principle calculates the minimum energy to change a bit of information. At room temperature, it's about 0.0175 eV.

We can assume that our thoughts result in changes to the state of neurones, which can be interpreted as a change in information. So there must be some minimum energy consumption due to our thoughts.

And, as Einstein showed, energy has an equivalent mass. So the energy consumed by your brain (around 12 Watts) must represent some tiny mass difference between what your brain consumes in the form of glucose and oxygen, and releases in the form of water and carbon dioxide...

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landauer%27s_principle
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: Colin2B on 17/06/2020 23:10:28
(PS: this is post # 3333 for me!)
Hey! Party time 🥁

Seriously though, I wouldn’t let this particular question weigh heavily on your mind  :D
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: chiralSPO on 18/06/2020 03:37:13
Landauer's Principle calculates the minimum energy to change a bit of information. At room temperature, it's about 0.0175 eV.
Well, I learned something new today. Thanks!

Seriously though, I wouldn’t let this particular question weigh heavily on your mind

heh heh heh

Interpreting that as either "0 mass and ever-so-slightly-more than 0 mass" I'll not ask what could possibly come between the two.

I think that would be a teeny-weeny itsy-bitsy bit more than 0...

Seriously, though, there are a few things in #3 that merit consideration.
Thanks!
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: PmbPhy on 18/06/2020 05:47:19
Someone by the name of 'Mr Sponge' has messaged in with this question:

Do our thoughts have mass?

Can anyone answer?
I'd hazard to suggest that this all depends on what it means to think. Perhaps different ways of thinking gives different values. E.g. There is energy changes in the human brain which are associated with different thought changes. This might be associated with changes in mass through the relation delta E = delta mc^2. However there may be different (alien?) brains for which this is not true.
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: Harri on 18/06/2020 10:49:21
I have just made a bara brith, speckled bread. The physical process of making the bread has mass, but surely the  thought process of making the bread has no mass? My thoughts result in action and it is these actions that have mass. If thought processes have mass then does that mean my dreams have mass?
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: Bill S on 18/06/2020 12:22:09
Just a few thoughts, some of which may already have been addressed.

1. Thought processes required energy.
2. Is this because thoughts are associated with brain activity which certainly requires energy?
3. Mental activity is specifically the activity of the mind, so might it be distinguished from activity of the brain?
4. There are two schools of thought here: monism and dualism.   
5. Monism holds that the mind does not exist as an entity that is in any way separate from the brain.
6. Dualism is the belief that the mind cannot be reduced merely to brain activity.
7. Dualism is often seen as implying the existence of a supernatural realm, but is that necessarily correct?
8. Are monism and dualism diametrically opposed, or are there shades of difference between the two?
9. Would these be akin to the shades of difference between death and life in the case of Schrodinger’s cat? 
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: PmbPhy on 18/06/2020 14:38:19
Just a few thoughts, some of which may already have been addressed.

1. Thought processes required energy.
Why is that? I myself believe that thought processes require changes of a state but I don't see how that means changes in energy level.

Quote
(to be deleted later
0 ....the min, so might it be distinguished from activity of the brain?
4. There are two schools of thought here: monism and dualism.   
5. Monism holds that the mind does not exist as an entity that is in any way separate from the brain.
6. Dualism is the belief that the mind cannot be reduced merely to brain activity.
7. Dualism is often seen as implying the existence of a supernatural realm, but is that necessarily correct?
8. Are monism and dualism diametrically opposed, or are there shades of difference between the two?
9. Would these be akin to the shades of difference between death and life in the case of Schrodinger’s cat? 

Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: Bill S on 18/06/2020 14:50:21
Quote from: Pete
  I myself believe that thought processes require changes of a state

What brings about the change of state?
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: chiralSPO on 18/06/2020 15:22:20
Why is that? I myself believe that thought processes require changes of a state but I don't see how that means changes in energy level.
Check out reply #5 in this thread, specifically:
Landauer's Principle calculates the minimum energy to change a bit of information. At room temperature, it's about 0.0175 eV.

We can assume that our thoughts result in changes to the state of neurones, which can be interpreted as a change in information. So there must be some minimum energy consumption due to our thoughts.
...
See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landauer%27s_principle
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: PmbPhy on 18/06/2020 20:18:07
Why is that? I myself believe that thought processes require changes of a state but I don't see how that means changes in energy level.
Check out reply #5 in this thread, specifically:
Landauer's Principle calculates the minimum energy to change a bit of information. At room temperature, it's about 0.0175 eV.

We can assume that our thoughts result in changes to the state of neurones, which can be interpreted as a change in information. So there must be some minimum energy consumption due to our thoughts.
...
See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landauer%27s_principle

I don't understand why you're associating thought with information. Please clarify for me. Thanks.
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: chiralSPO on 18/06/2020 21:22:36
I'm not equating thought and information. But I am assuming that any description of the physical process involved in the thought process must involve manipulation of information (even if it is useless information).

I am not claiming that this must be the case, but if we are considering thought as a physically describable process, then I think this has to be the case. I don't know how a dualist approach would handle energy/thought relationships, but I don't think the two approaches are compatible (I am not a dualist).

Is there another way you have thought of that allows thoughts to be physical processes that don't involve information?
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: Bill S on 19/06/2020 16:10:29
Quote from:  Chiral
So there must be some minimum energy consumption due to our thoughts.

That was the direction in which I was heading with #12, but I didn’t want to jump the gun.  Pete usually has good reasons for his beliefs. 

Quote
(I am not a dualist).


You’re in good company.  I can confidently say that in my years of hospital based MH work I never met a psychiatrist or surgeon who was a committed dualist.  (Duellists, perhaps!).  There were those who would mutter things like “There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio”, but that was as far as it went.
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: Bill S on 19/06/2020 18:39:37
Going back to #10; would anyone argue with combining points 1 & 2 as: Thought processes required energy, because thoughts are generated by brain activity which must require energy.
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: yor_on on 24/06/2020 18:56:00
No, the electro chemical processes have a mass / energy, but thoughts becomes a abstraction from those processes. Otherwise a brain would change weight when dead. Does information have a mass?
=

damn, actually a dead brain probably weight a little more than when it was 'doing heavy duty', as thoughts builds on the brain burning energy. Arguing this information then seems to become a 'negative' process, reducing the mass :)
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: Bored chemist on 25/06/2020 08:49:00
Presumably, ponderous thoughts and those with gravitas have more mass.
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: Bogie_smiles on 25/06/2020 14:09:25
Those are the times when we are doing some heavy thinking.
Title: Re: Do our thoughts have mass?
Post by: Bill S on 20/07/2020 17:09:43
https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/197917-thought-as-a-system

Could be some relevant thoughts here.