Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?

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Offline sandstone

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« on: 05/08/2010 04:47:02 »
Scientific discoveries during the 20th Century demonstrated that uncertainty is inherent in nature.  These discoveries led to a change in worldview.  Determinism was no longer the received view. 

The Einsteinian paradigm regards time as a fourth dimension of space.  Of note, Aristotle argued that, without change, there is no time.  So, it would seem, that time may be regarded as both a dimension of space and a dimension of change. 

In classical physics, the order of accuracy is a measure of uncertainty.  In behavioural statistics, the confidence interval is also a measure of uncertainty.  In quantum mechanics, the location of a quantum object may be highly uncertain, leading to the notion of "infinite uncertainty".  Is this a fifth dimension of space? 

Coming to terms with uncertainty has practical implications.
In strategic planning, in managing change, in managing risk and in forecasting the future, uncertainty is a common factor.  In business, competence in coping with uncertainty offers a competitive advantage.

From just these few observations, it is apparent that measures of uncertainty are being used, along with the other four dimensions, to describe phenomena and to conduct human affairs.  So it could be argued that uncertainty is being used as a fifth dimension in each case.

What is a dimension?  It is a measurement devise, not an alternative universe, or multiverse if you prefer. 

For uncertainty to gain acceptance as the fifth dimension, of equivalent status to space and time, it needs a simple form of measurement.  Although the mathematics of probability are well advanced, probability is not the simplest measure.  That mantle goes to possibility.  In any given situation, as possibilities increase, uncertainty increases in direct relation.  With some qualifications, acquiring information about possibilities tends to reduce uncertainty.  So, information may act as an inverse measure.  It may also help in the assessment of probability.

Proposition

Accepting uncertainty as a ubiquitous fifth dimension, ostensibly a dimension of change, raises the proposition of a paradigm shift from four-dimensional space-time to
five-dimensional space-change! 


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Offline darkmatterphilosopher

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #1 on: 05/08/2010 17:43:29 »
I see a dimension as more than just a measurement devise, but a way we measure the flow of space-time. How would this theory explain more about how space-time flows?

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Offline darkmatterphilosopher

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #2 on: 05/08/2010 21:29:15 »
It is possible it could be a second dimension of time. As space has 3 dimensions it could be possible for time to have multiple dimensions

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Offline darkmatterphilosopher

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #3 on: 05/08/2010 21:31:28 »
you may even be able to argue inevitability as a dimension of time

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Offline sandstone

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #4 on: 08/08/2010 14:35:21 »
Greetings Darkmatterphilosopher

Thank you for the replies.

Would you agree that a dimension is a mental construct used to analyse, describe and compare observed phenomena? 

It is true that dimensions are adapted to the nature of the phenomenon observed (e. g., nanoseconds, hours, cosmological decades). In doing so, there appears to be a relationship between the measure and the thing measured.  In that sense, I would agree that a dimension is more than just a measure.  It is a measure with specific meaning and application. 

I would agree also that time and uncertainty are closely related, especially in change processes. 

Who was it who said: You can never step into the same river twice?  As a simple example of space-time flow, although the river may look the same from one observation to the next, there are differences which may be hard to identify and predict.   

As a general principle, possibilities increase with time.  Accordingly, uncertainty may also be seen to increase with time, if you accept that possibility is the prime measure of uncertainty. 

Inevitability is interesting.  At the macroscopic level, we do observe that a set of processes within a given context may appear to have inevitable consequences, and this may be borne out by what actually occurs.  For example, a chess situation that leads to checkmate may be regarded as "forced" because there may be no effective counters to a series of moves that the winner may make. In this sense, inevitability is a form of psychological certainty arising from competence and confidence in playing the game.   

The difference between environmental, or physical, uncertainty and psychological uncertainty is subtle but crucial to understanding this aspect of existence.

A millennium ago, zero was concept in denial.  Western society did not include zero in its numbering system. It seems, that zero was introduced to Western society by Leonardo de Pisa (aka Fibonacci) around the close of the 12th Century common era.  What followed includes the Renaissance, the scientific revolution (assisted by the calculus) and the binary code. 

Is uncertainty also a concept in denial?  Recognising U=5D just might help us to come to terms with uncertainty in a more constructive way.  We live in a five-dimensional multiverse with a four-dimensional mindset, and we wonder why we have so many apparently insurmountable problems!

Regards, Sandstone.           

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Offline peppercorn

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #5 on: 08/08/2010 15:11:27 »
Would you agree that a dimension is a mental construct used to analyse, describe and compare observed phenomena?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimension

The use of dimensions by scientists, mathematicians or engineers have well defined rules about how they can or can't be used.
It only makes sense to say dimensions are only just a mental construct in the same way as any aspect of observed reality is just a mental construct (ie. an interpretation of the physical world through our senses).
There are some ideas that impossibly tightly looped higher dimensions could be explain how the (sort of) point-like particles we observe in our universe and it is possible that a better understanding of higher dimensional structures could explain why the universe appears fundamentally unpredictable at it's finest detail.  But to say uncertainty is a dimension has no useful meaning in physics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compactification_(physics)#Compactification_in_string_theory

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Offline sandstone

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #6 on: 09/08/2010 04:48:40 »
Uncertainty as a dimension has no useful meaning in physics!  Interesting?  So the order of accuracy has no useful meaning in classical physics; or infinte uncertainty in quantum mechanics?

Have you considered the work of Ilya Prigogine?  In 1997, he published "The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos and the New Laws of Nature".  New York: Simon & Schuster. 





.  Have you ever wondered why identification of the fifth dimension has proven so elusive? 


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Offline peppercorn

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #7 on: 09/08/2010 12:57:53 »
[/1]Uncertainty as a dimension has no useful meaning in physics! 
[/2]So the order of accuracy has no useful meaning in classical physics?
I believe these two statements are unequal.  Perhaps this is a failure in my semantic knowledge.

Have you considered the work of Ilya Prigogine?  In 1997, he published "The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos and the New Laws of Nature".  New York: Simon & Schuster.
Being unaware of his/her work, no. Maybe you could supply a link to this paper?

Have you ever wondered why identification of the fifth dimension has proven so elusive?
No more than the 6th, 7th, 8th.... th dimension.  That is, not at all.
« Last Edit: 09/08/2010 13:10:20 by peppercorn »

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Offline imatfaal

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #8 on: 09/08/2010 14:41:53 »
Ilya Prigogine - great philosopher and scientist - nobel autobiog here
There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.  John Von Neumann

At the surface, we may appear as intellects, helpful people, friendly staff or protectors of the interwebs. Deep down inside, we're all trolls. CaptainPanic @ sf.n

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Offline sandstone

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #9 on: 09/08/2010 16:53:02 »
The two statements are incompatible.  The first was a reiteration of Peppercorn's assertion.  The second is an example of uncertainty being used as a dimension. 

The following is a quote from Prigogine's "The End of Certainty": We need both equilibrium and non-equilibrium physics to describe the world around us....  the quantum theory of unstable dynamical systems with persistent interactions leads, as in classical systems, to a description that is both statistical and realistic.   In this new formulation, the basic quantity is no longer the wave function corresponding to a probability amplitude, but probability itself...  Probability is no longer a state of mind due to our ignorance, but the result of the laws of nature. 

In other words, nature is intrinsically uncertain!  In describing natural phenomena, measures of uncertainty are being used, along with measures of space and time.  Even so, there is a reluctance to accept U=5D.  Is this reluctance a matter of physics or a matter of psychology? 

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Offline peppercorn

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #10 on: 09/08/2010 17:57:30 »
The two statements are incompatible.  The first was a reiteration of Peppercorn's assertion.
True - my mistake.

The second is an example of uncertainty being used as a dimension.
Can you explain how?


Ilya Prigogine - great philosopher and scientist - nobel autobiog here
Thanks.  I will look at this more later on...
« Last Edit: 09/08/2010 17:59:04 by peppercorn »

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Offline sandstone

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #11 on: 09/08/2010 19:42:36 »
The order of accuracy is a qualifier of a measure. It indicates that the first measure is true within a given tolerance.  That tolerance though is a measure in itself.  It measures the degree of uncertainty associated with the original measure. 

Space-time is also a measure.  It arises from the vast reaches of space and the finite speed of light ~ 0.299792458 gigametres per second in a vacuum. Hence distance is measured in light-years.  At the everyday macroscopic level, light seems to travel at infinite speed. This is an illusion, but the difference is negligible in that context.  Consider the plight of the blind person.  Sound could be combined with time to provide a measure of distance
(e g., sound-seconds).  In timing athletic events prior to electronic timing, the timer would focus on the the puff of smoke from the starter's gun, not the report of the gun, because light travels much faster than sound. 

An axiom in management is that, if you can't measure it, you can't manage it.  The same applies to uncertainty.  As an inherent part of nature, we need to be able to measure it.  The moment we measure it, we recognise the measure as a dimension.  It's a bit like separating the map from the territory.  We use the map to navigate the territory, but the map is not the territory.  Similarly, a dimension is a human construct that helps us to comprehend and communicate about natural phenomena.  Space-time does the same thing, but there is a dimension missing.  Remember Einstein has been referred to as the 'last determinist'.  It is time to embrace a new paradigm.

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Offline peppercorn

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #12 on: 10/08/2010 14:54:25 »
Sandstone,

Tolerance is a limit to measurement not measurement in of itself. It has no meaning without knowing what is being measured and in what units.

Your example of the human eye effectively experiencing light's propagation instantaneously is a perfect example of the tolerance of a measuring system.  There appears to be some confusion between limits in measuring systems and quantum uncertainty.  The uncertainty principle has been proved to be a fundamental aspect of nature not an measuring issue.   Einstein was referred to as the last determinism precisely because he could never accept this inherent bluriness of nature at its finest grain.

We can indeed measure quantum uncertainty, but only in the same way as we can measure any unpredictable but probabilistic phenomenon.  That's to say it will most likely fall at the normal with an infinite number of samples describing the distribution curve.

I am unconvinced that there is a 'dimension' missing from the four of space-time.  There is a fundamental indeterminably in the precise conditions of any one particle moving through space-time, but this is not explained in any way by having an extra physical dimension.

I appreciate your point about a map being a interpretation of a real landscape - one that is inherently incomplete, but in fact all of scientific endevour (at it boundaries) is like a map (or a model).

Theoretical physics looses it's edge once people start believing they are looking at an ultimate truth.  Creating mathematical models that fit what our instrumentation reveals about the deepest realms of reality is the goal of empirical research.  Without some sort of basis in mathematics your idea is unlikely to carry any weight, as it can makes no quantifiable predictions against which observations can be tested.

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Offline sandstone

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #13 on: 10/08/2010 18:08:02 »
Greetings Peppercorn,

Let's take this point by point.

The 'tolerance' is given a value. In other words, it is being measured, even if that measure is only an estimate.

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle serves to demonstrate that uncertainty cannot be avoided.  It is inherent in nature.  That is an essential quality of a fifth dimension of similar order to space and time.

Probability is a measure of uncertainty.  The mathematics are well developed.

In a way, I agree with you that there is not a dimension missing FROM space-time.  The problem is that space-time is an inadequate paradigm because it does not include uncertainty as a dimension.  We need a new paradigm that does include it. 

The irony is that including uncertainty in a broader paradigm means that there is no ultimate truth or endpoint.
It was once considered that the atom might be a scientific endpoint, but how many subatomic particles have now been discovered?

Lawrence Bragg is quoted as saying: Science used to be called Natural Philosophy... The fun in science lies not in discovering facts, but in discovering new ways of thinking about them.

Regards, Sandstone.

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Offline peppercorn

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #14 on: 10/08/2010 19:07:54 »
Hello Sandstone,

The 'tolerance' ... is being measured, even if that measure is only an estimate.
Okay - explain in what units? I stand by:
Quote from: peppercorn
Tolerance is a limit to measurement not measurement in of itself. It has no meaning without knowing what is being measured and in what units.
i.e. We say 'x' is being measured to a tolerance of 'y'. The units of 'y' are non-dimensional [in the sense you seem to be confusing with s-t dimensions]. Knowing y tells one nothing about what x relates to.

Heisenberg's uncertainty principle serves to demonstrate that uncertainty cannot be avoided.  It is inherent in nature.
This was never in doubt & I inferred to it earlier.

[HUP] is an essential quality of a fifth dimension of similar order to space and time.
But you have not shown how space-time having a 5th dimension gives us a more complete model of observed reality.  Please do so - with maths if possible!

Probability is a measure of uncertainty.  The mathematics are well developed.
In a way, I agree with you that there is not a dimension missing FROM space-time.  The problem is that space-time is an inadequate paradigm because it does not include uncertainty as a dimension.  We need a new paradigm that does include it.
We do not, unless it explains something better that our current (incomplete) theories.  Again though, it makes no sense calling uncertainty a (spacial) dimension - it simply isn't.

The irony is that including uncertainty in a broader paradigm means that there is no ultimate truth or endpoint.
No one in science is claiming there has to be an end-point or ultimate truth. Science simply doesn't work by those definitions.
« Last Edit: 10/08/2010 19:12:44 by peppercorn »

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Offline Geezer

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #15 on: 10/08/2010 19:33:20 »
Ahem! Personally, I think uncertainty might simply be a consequence of "time jitter".
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force ćther.

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Offline sandstone

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« Reply #16 on: 11/08/2010 00:11:15 »
Greetings Peppercorn & Geezer.

Space-time is a concept conceived by a determinist.  Determinism is no longer the received view.  Given that, it is extraordinary that the space-time paradigm has held on so long.  Consider the following quote from marcel Neuts:

Although living with uncertainty is part of our existence, the idea that uncertainty could be quantified emerged only early in the 18th century...  Uncertainty, chance, statistical variability are but various names for the pervasive contingency that affects all human activity.

There are three measures of uncertainty.  Possibility is the prime measure.  Information about possibilities may act as an inverse measure and probability is a predictive measure.

Einstein himself used words to the effect that no problem can be solved by the mindset that created it.  He also said:

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.

The challenge we face is to let go of a paradigm we know so well and embrace one that is more inclusive of 20th and 21st Century observations, discovery and knowledge. 

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Offline peppercorn

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #17 on: 11/08/2010 02:03:51 »
Ahem! Personally, I think uncertainty might simply be a consequence of "time jitter".
Ooooo, tell us more about this 'time jitter', Geezer.
It could be the most illuminating so far in this thread!

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Offline Geezer

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« Reply #18 on: 11/08/2010 04:49:12 »
Ahem! Personally, I think uncertainty might simply be a consequence of "time jitter".
Ooooo, tell us more about this 'time jitter', Geezer.
It could be the most illuminating so far in this thread!

er, well [:P] it's probably baloney, but, if time were to be jittery at subatomic scales, it might account for the uncertainty we observe in the position of subatomic particles. For example, electrons might have quite specific positions relative to the time frame of an atom, but because we can't properly "synchronize" with that time frame, we can can only assign a probability of an electron being at a position.

That's about as far as this "theory" goes  [;D]
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force ćther.

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Offline JP

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« Reply #19 on: 11/08/2010 05:29:12 »
Ahem! Personally, I think uncertainty might simply be a consequence of "time jitter".
Ooooo, tell us more about this 'time jitter', Geezer.
It could be the most illuminating so far in this thread!

er, well [:P] it's probably baloney, but, if time were to be jittery at subatomic scales, it might account for the uncertainty we observe in the position of subatomic particles. For example, electrons might have quite specific positions relative to the time frame of an atom, but because we can't properly "synchronize" with that time frame, we can can only assign a probability of an electron being at a position.

That's about as far as this "theory" goes  [;D]

Actually, I suspect you're on to something that probably shows up in relativistic QM.  In nonrelativistic QM, space and time are separate entities, as are momentum and energy, so you get uncertainty relations between space and momentum and time and energy.  Relativity unifies space and time into a single entity, and energy and momentum into a single entity as well, so I bet there's a space-time / momentum-energy uncertainty relationship.

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Offline sandstone

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« Reply #20 on: 11/08/2010 06:12:30 »
When astronomers peer through giant telescopes into deep space, what they see at the time actually occurred a long time ago.  The state of cosmic phenomena at that time of observation is therefore uncertain.... and the longer the time taken for the visual information to travel to earth, the greater the uncertainty about the actual state of the phenomena.  

The future of the universe is uncertain with 'big chill' and 'big crunch' possibilities, among others.  

The 'big bang' it would seem was also a state of extreme uncertainty and, according to John Archibald Wheeler, of great concern to physicists, because at that singularity the laws of physics might no longer apply.  

According to Chown (1998) "If we discovered a fifth dimension, it would be the most important discovery since quantum theory.  Although string theory postulates 10 or more dimensions of extremely small size, they are not of the same order as space and time, which are actually separate dimensions. As mentioned earlier, the space-time link is a perceptual limitation due to the finite speed of light.  

The fifth dimension would need to be evident at microscopic, macroscopic and cosmic levels.  Of note, uncertainty meets those requirements.

"One of the most painful circumstances of recent advances in science is that each one of them makes us know less than we thought we did."  Bertrand Russell.  

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Offline peppercorn

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Is uncertainty the fifth dimension?
« Reply #21 on: 11/08/2010 17:39:59 »
So what evidence is there for a macroscopic fifth dimension, ie. not one wrapped up to a sub-atomic diameter?

And what has this theoretical additional dimension got to do with understanding the reasons behind the uncertainty principle?  Are you saying that we would loose all the fuzziness of individual particles if we were 'standing' in four dims of space?
If so I would say the idea has some aesthetic merit, but it would need a mathematically-consistent theory that could be tested against observations.

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Offline peppercorn

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« Reply #22 on: 11/08/2010 17:47:57 »
er, well [:P] it's probably baloney, but, if time were to be jittery at subatomic scales, it might account for the uncertainty we observe in the position of subatomic particles. For example, electrons might have quite specific positions relative to the time frame of an atom, but because we can't properly "synchronize" with that time frame, we can can only assign a probability of an electron being at a position.
That's about as far as this "theory" goes  [;D]
Right - good start - now go away and design me the experiment to prove it and write out the theory in no more than 200 words! And I want it in by Friday!  [>:(]

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Offline imatfaal

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« Reply #23 on: 11/08/2010 18:10:33 »
Surely movement in one spatial dimension can avoid any movement in another spatial dimension - we can move on the x axis and have y and z stay as zero.  to me this is fairly axiomatic for spatial dimensions.  you cannot give a value of x in terms of the y unit vector etc - but for every movement in the x axis there must be uncertainty (which is quantifiable).  it still strikes me that uncertainty is much clearer and works as a mathematical tool when considered within the standard 3 spatial dimensions.
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Offline Geezer

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« Reply #24 on: 11/08/2010 18:54:47 »
Surely movement in one spatial dimension can avoid any movement in another spatial dimension - we can move on the x axis and have y and z stay as zero.  to me this is fairly axiomatic for spatial dimensions.  you cannot give a value of x in terms of the y unit vector etc - but for every movement in the x axis there must be uncertainty (which is quantifiable).  it still strikes me that uncertainty is much clearer and works as a mathematical tool when considered within the standard 3 spatial dimensions.

It's really much simpler to conceptualize uncertainty if you assume that time is uncertain rather than position. However, I suspect it only works in certain cases.

It does not seem too weird to me to accept that time is the "culprit". Human experience tends to make us think of time as being very steady and constant, but there is plenty of evidence that it is anything but.
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force ćther.

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Offline sandstone

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« Reply #25 on: 11/08/2010 22:32:33 »
Greetings again Peppercorn,

Null hypotheses: 

1. Everything in your life today is certain.

2. So is everything in the life of everyone you know.

3. The future is entirely certain.

Regards, Sandstone.

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Offline sandstone

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« Reply #26 on: 12/08/2010 04:47:51 »
Greetings Geezer,

Thank you for that observation.  Uncertainty can exist in relation to time or space.  Indeed, as I'm sure you know, the uncertainty principle is based on the fact that it is impossible to measure the position and momentum of an atomic object accurately at the same time.  For example, the position of an electron may be measured using short wavelength radiation but, in doing so, the high energy imparted makes measurement of momentum more difficult.  If longer wavelength radiation is used, the energy imparted is less, making the meaurement of momentum more accurate, but the position of the electron is less easily determined.  Heisenberg was foced to conclude: We cannot know as a matter of principle the present in all its details.

In this analysis, five dimensions are evident ~ position (space), momentum (time and space) and uncertainty.   

It is also important to note that dimensions are not just about physics.  They relate to all life and phenomena, and in particular human behaviour, which has many scientific streams.  Could we even exist without space, time and uncertainty?

Until recently, religion played the role of 'managing' uncertainty for humankind.  The emergence of science based on evidence and critical analysis has removed much of the superstition from our thinking.  But the fact remains we still have to deal with the uncertainty in our lives and, for that reason alone, we need to come to terms with it in a more open and constructive manner.

Behavioural scientists have struggled with uncertainty because it is difficult for behavioural research to attain the level of precision available to the so-called hard sciences.  Quantum mechanics changed all that for physicists.  As Neils Bohr expressed it, with words to the effect that if you are not shocked by quantum mechanics, you don't understand it.

This topic is vitally important to human development and endeavour.  We need to let go of four-dimensional space-time and embrace five-dimensional space-change, where the dimensions of change are time and uncertainty.

Regards, Sandstone.

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Offline peppercorn

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« Reply #27 on: 12/08/2010 11:54:41 »
Greetings again Peppercorn,   Null hypotheses:   1. Everything in your life today is certain.   2. So is everything in the life of everyone you know.   3. The future is entirely certain.Regards, Sandstone.
Thanks  [???]  That's clarified everything  [:-\]

So what evidence is there for a macroscopic fifth dimension, ie. not one wrapped up to a sub-atomic diameter?

And what has this theoretical additional dimension got to do with understanding the reasons behind the uncertainty principle?  Are you saying that we would loose all the fuzziness of individual particles if we were 'standing' in four dims of space?
If so I would say the idea has some aesthetic merit, but it would need a mathematically-consistent theory that could be tested against observations.
Can you respond to these questions, please?  After all, what use is a 'new theory' without testable predictions?
« Last Edit: 12/08/2010 11:56:12 by peppercorn »

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Offline imatfaal

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« Reply #28 on: 12/08/2010 14:10:55 »
Sandstone - your knowledge of uncertainty seems a little weird for someone propounding a theory based upon it.  Uncertainty isn't merely a failure of accuracy in measurement as the heisenberg microscope gedankan might imply; it's the resolution of a mathematical commutivity paradox that is inherent in quantum mechanical matrices.  the precision may be limited but this is not a measuring inaccuracy but an essential quality of the particle.  it is not just that one cannot measure position/momentum accurately, it is that one cannot know these quantities to arbitrary accuracy.   Indeterminacy is hijacked by many social scientists and theorists to claim that the physical sciences are as subjective as any endeavour and have lost their rigour; this is just not the case.

You say that we need to embrace 5 dimension of space-time-uncertainty but you are yet to explain why; we need one unexplained observation that is understandable through the new theory.  I would also love to see your answers to peppercorns questions. 

There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.  John Von Neumann

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Offline sandstone

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« Reply #29 on: 12/08/2010 14:31:44 »
Peppercorn,

Thank you for persevering.  The evidence of uncertainty at the macroscopic level is overwhelming.  But it is not just about physics.  Our very lives require us to be conscious of space, time and uncertainty.  Indeed, without space, time and uncertainty, we would not exist.  

As I'm sure you realised, the intention of the null hypotheses was to invite you to disprove them and, in doing so, to find your own evidence.  

Any form of risk involves value, exposure and the uncertainty associated with that exposure.  In engineering, the elements of risk identified by engineers are hazard and probability, where probability is a measure of uncertainty.  In engineering design, allowance is made for contingencies.  

In human behaviour, the intensity of emotion depends on the degree of uncertainty associated with an emotion-evoking  stimulus.

The state of the economy is heavily influenced by uncertainty.  Tolerance of uncertainty is inversely related to perceived stakes and consequences.

As you would know, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle arises from the difficulties of attempting to measure the location and momentum of a quantum object at the same time.  Uncertainty is a consequence.  Have you looked at Capra's discussion on wave packets?

When you talk about prediction, you are acknowledging the presence of uncertainty.  The future is always uncertain. Prediction is one way to address it.  Identifying the possibilities in a given situation and having a contingency plan for each one is another, but keep an eye out for the 'black swans'.  

To quote Stephen Toulmin ('Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity', 1990):

... we need to balance the hope for certainty and clarity in theory with the impossibility of avoiding uncertainty and ambiguity in practice.



  




  

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Offline peppercorn

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« Reply #30 on: 12/08/2010 15:39:07 »
Peppercorn,

Thank you for persevering.  ....
[followed by a lot of avoidance and irrelevance]  

As imatfaal expresses I not the only one struggling with your constant tangential statements that fail to move the discussion forward.  I agree with him that you appear to have perverse view of what QM together with the Uncertainty Principle mean and even at what scale it applies.
You now appear to have shifted sideways (once again) into issues of understanding macroscale risks and your (wrong) ideas on their relevance to uncertainty in the very small.

Imatfaal has put the key issue more concisely than me, so I will ask (once more before I give up) in his words:
"You say that we need to embrace 5 dimension of space-time-uncertainty but you are yet to explain why; we need one unexplained observation that is understandable through the new theory."

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« Reply #31 on: 12/08/2010 19:48:22 »
Greetings Peppercorn,

The point is science is already using a five-dimensional paradigm, but is refusing to admit that it is. 

The fifth dimension is a concept in denial, which you have demonstrated with great vigour.  The last time this was done on such a grand scale was Western society's denial of zero, and we know what happened after it got past that perceptual block. 

Regards, Sandstone.

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« Reply #32 on: 13/08/2010 07:21:23 »
Surely movement in one spatial dimension can avoid any movement in another spatial dimension - we can move on the x axis and have y and z stay as zero.  to me this is fairly axiomatic for spatial dimensions.  you cannot give a value of x in terms of the y unit vector etc - but for every movement in the x axis there must be uncertainty (which is quantifiable).  it still strikes me that uncertainty is much clearer and works as a mathematical tool when considered within the standard 3 spatial dimensions.

Matthew, No problem with that except that the quantification of uncertainty is a measure and the point we seem to be struggling with is that in measuring uncertainty you are treating it as a dimension. 

Dynamic systems require five measures in order to provide adequate description.  Dimensions are the instruments of measurement, not the phenomena being measured.

In this context, you might appreciate a quote from Henry Margenau: 'The central recognition of the theory of relativity is that geometry... is a construct of the intellect.'  The Greek mathematicians had assumed that geometry WAS reality, not a mental construct of reality.  Philosophically, you could argue that geometry is a form of representational reality.  Similarly, the 'dimension' of uncertainty is a mental construct of the inability to attain precise measurement in four dimensions, due to the nature of Nature. 

This is not a scientific failing necessarily; rather it is a fact of life.  But it is not about to go away any time soon.  On the contrary, the evidence suggests it is here for the duration, and that in itself is uncertain.   

Mathematicians seem to grasp the concept of the fifth dimension more readily than others.  Your statement above is based on coordinate geometry.  Are we now talking semantics?

Regards, Sandstone.

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« Reply #33 on: 13/08/2010 08:49:30 »
Dynamic systems require five measures in order to provide adequate description. 

Can you tell me five measures that are sufficient to describe a spinless particle moving in a vacuum?

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« Reply #34 on: 13/08/2010 09:29:10 »
No JP, but a cursory look at the literature seems to suggest that corrections are involved, which might indicate that curved space-time does not quite do it.

A specific question of that nature suggests that you either have the answer or an informed view of what the answer should be.  How does that line up against the following statement?

"With the advent of quantum mechanics, we have come to recognize that events cannot be predicted with complete accuracy but that there is always a degree of uncertainty."

Stephen Hawking, 'A Brief History of Time'.

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« Reply #35 on: 13/08/2010 09:43:28 »
I do have an answer that does it in four measures: three components of momentum, and one of energy.  Then you have a plane wave describing the particle's state exactly*, which also includes its uncertainty relations.  What do you find wrong with this description?

*: When I say exactly, what I mean is that the state is determined to the fullest extent that quantum mechanics allows.  This automatically includes the uncertainty relations, since they're built into the rules of quantum mechanics.  That's exactly what Hawking's quote is saying--that quantum mechanics builds uncertainty into the laws of physics--not that uncertainty requires an additional measurement to be made.
« Last Edit: 13/08/2010 09:52:52 by JP »

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« Reply #36 on: 13/08/2010 12:16:25 »
Sandstone, I think the problem is that you are approaching this from a philosophical rather than scientific point of view.  No one here has argued that dimensions are not a construct - but part of the idea of dimensions is their independence from each other.  One dimension can uniquely determine any point on a line, two any point on a plane, three any point in our perceived space, four a point in space and time.  What I was saying above and you misconstrued is that we do not treat uncertainty as a dimension and we do not need to.  a dimension provides a unit base that cannot be provided in the other dimensions - uncertainty is not free from other dimensions it is ultimately bound with them. 

There are strict mathematical inequalities that bind the uncertainty (as a standard deviation) of the position of a quantum state, with the uncertainty of the momentum with a fraction of plancks constant (h bar over 2).  This is why i was trying to explain to you the simplified idea of the x unit vector and the y unit.  on a plane, any point, vector, or shape can be uniquely defined in terms of x-hat and y-hat; but no point off the plane (eg above or below the plane) can be defined in terms of x-hat and y-hat - for this we need to introduce the idea of the third dimension z-axis and z unit vector.  The different dimensions describe different qualities of an object.   uncertainty can be and is defined in terms of the current dimensional model  - I do not need a z unit vector to describe a point on the 2 dimensional xy plane and I do not need a new dimension to describe the uncertainty of a quantum state within the three spatial dimensions and the time dimension.

Matthew
There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.  John Von Neumann

At the surface, we may appear as intellects, helpful people, friendly staff or protectors of the interwebs. Deep down inside, we're all trolls. CaptainPanic @ sf.n

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Offline peppercorn

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« Reply #37 on: 13/08/2010 12:31:43 »
I can't believe I'm going to get on this round-a-bout again, but, well here-goes:

The point is science is already using a five-dimensional paradigm, but is refusing to admit that it is.
Where is it used (ref, please!)? It would be by far the smartest move you have made if you were to actually reference a paper explaining (or even rationally outlining) anything about what advantages 5-dim. space-time would offer the scientific community!

The fifth [dimensional space-time] is a concept in denial, which you have demonstrated with great vigour.
Only in the same way as 'in denial' about the concept of tooth fairy!

For pity's sake will you answer this or not?
You say that we need to embrace 5 dimension of space-time-uncertainty but you are yet to explain why; we need one unexplained observation that is understandable through the new theory.

Sandstone, I really would like remain involved in advancing this thread to some logical conclusion, but will not post again unless you can supplying a competent response (or reference - not another quote!) to at least one of the perfectly fair questions that people here have expressed.
« Last Edit: 13/08/2010 12:34:51 by peppercorn »

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« Reply #38 on: 13/08/2010 13:57:41 »
Peppercorn,

Thank you going round one more time, but I suspect we may have reached an impasse.

If this were just a case of presenting a new theory for testing, the questions might be plausible.  But actually what is being proposed here is much broader than that. 

Over the last century, it has become apparent that the scientific understanding of Nature has changed markedly.  The question is: Has scientific thought, or philosophy of science, kept pace?  Is the gap between new scientific discovery and the old scientific paradigm reaching breaking point?

The uncertainty chestnut is not just about measurement imprecision; it is about a new understanding of Nature. Hawking describes the progression rather well.   

Perhaps the simplest solution at this point might be to ask the philosophers of science to review advancements in scientific discovery with respect to the prevailing paradigm and see what adaptations, rather than adjustments, are required, to make the New Science more meaningful. 

Regards, Sandstone.

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Offline imatfaal

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« Reply #39 on: 13/08/2010 17:14:04 »
Sandy,  

the philosophy of science is not science; any judgment of science through philosophical tests is flawed.  science cannot exist without a tacit understanding of the meta-science by which science judges itself; but that discipline (at present peer review/ double blind controls/theory prediction confirmation etc) is not science per se.  the paradigm of science has changed from deterministic to a more probabalistic turn; but this is because the observations, scientific method, and the maths demands it.  your ideas are appealing and have a strangeness that works; but they also need mathematical rigour and observational evidence.  The reason Einstein's groundbreaking ideas were accepted was that they worked - they explained observations that previous theories couldnt, and led to predictions that were subsequently validated. 

In a sentence - what doesn't work at the moment which will do once we accept that uncertainty is the fifth dimension?  Please give a substantive answer and not just another vague quotation.

Matthew
There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.  John Von Neumann

At the surface, we may appear as intellects, helpful people, friendly staff or protectors of the interwebs. Deep down inside, we're all trolls. CaptainPanic @ sf.n

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« Reply #40 on: 13/08/2010 18:57:14 »
Matthew,

I appreciate the effort you have expended to explain this to me.  You acknowledge that the paradigm has changed, but you retain the old terminology.  Would it be fair to distinguish between the old and the new paradigms by now descibing them as 'deterministic space-time' and 'probabilistic space-time' respectively?

An independent review might be more objective than science reviewing itself.  But you say that philosophical tests are flawed.  So science can assess philosophical methods, but philosophy cannot assess scientific thought? 

Interesting!

Regards, 'Sandy'.

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Offline imatfaal

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« Reply #41 on: 13/08/2010 20:38:20 »
Sandy, I never said philosophy can be judged or deemed with or without merit by science - please re-read.  I said there is a separation - that philosophy cannot be used to assess correctness of science; I would also say that science has no place in assessing philosophical or artistic merit. 

You seem to be under the misapprehension that because the idea of strict mechanistic determinism has been transcended that the tools, mathematics, and terminology that under-pinned physics have been jettisoned.  This is simply not true.   Now more than ever before the technical detail that provides the foundation of physics is crucial; we have arrived at energies so high, particles so small, distances so profound that sometimes all we have left is the formal mathematics.

An independent review, by which I am forced to think you mean a non-mathematical, non-empirical, and non-technical discursive review is unfortunately worthless.  many more appealing formulations of physical laws can be posited in a hand-waving fashion - however consistency with reality needs application of mathematics and experimental evidence must have a bearing on the argument. 

Quote
In a sentence - what doesn't work at the moment which will do once we accept that uncertainty is the fifth dimension?  Please give a substantive answer and not just another vague quotation.

Matthew
There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.  John Von Neumann

At the surface, we may appear as intellects, helpful people, friendly staff or protectors of the interwebs. Deep down inside, we're all trolls. CaptainPanic @ sf.n

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Offline sandstone

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« Reply #42 on: 13/08/2010 23:14:20 »
Matthew,

There is no issue with the need for evidence and maths, but if the scientific paradigm has changed, why is that not reflected in a title change? 

It could provide a useful step in the shift from modernity to post-modernity. 

Regards, Sandstone.

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« Reply #43 on: 14/08/2010 18:45:59 »
It could provide a useful step in the shift from modernity to post-modernity. 


I vote we skip post-modernity and move on to post-post-modernity. Post-modernity is soooo passé don't you think?
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force ćther.

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Offline imatfaal

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« Reply #44 on: 14/08/2010 22:57:37 »
Sandstone
What you call physical theories does not impact on their validity - apart from perhaps leading to confusion amongst those who have scant real understanding; dark energy is a good example of a name that inspires crazy ideas.   

The fact that you are under the impression that modernity and post modernity have some form of connection with the turn away from mechanical determinism proves you know next to nothing about this subject.

Philosophy cannot sensibly review science (nor vice versa).  Whilst much of physics (and science in general) is often spoken of in vague and discursive terms; there is an underlying bedrock of seriously rigorous mathematics, nowhere more so than in quantum mechanics.  You cannot understand, comment sensibly upon, or truly interact with a new physical theory until you comprehend this fact and are willing to engage with the underlying tough equations.

Quote
In a sentence - what doesn't work at the moment which will do once we accept that uncertainty is the fifth dimension?


I have asked this a few times already - ready for an answer now

Matthew
There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.  John Von Neumann

At the surface, we may appear as intellects, helpful people, friendly staff or protectors of the interwebs. Deep down inside, we're all trolls. CaptainPanic @ sf.n

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Offline sandstone

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« Reply #45 on: 15/08/2010 08:17:44 »
Matthew,

1.  According to eminent scientists, QM theory relies heavily on the mathematics of probability.  Do you agree with them?

2.  Probability is a recognised measure of uncertainty.  Do you agree with that statement?

3.  The bone of contention is whether that measurement, or any other measure of uncertainty, constitutes a fifth dimension?

Accepting uncertainty as the fifth dimension may not change contemporary science in itself, but it may highlight the current worldview that uncertainty is an inherent part of Nature.  What is the most accurate description of the paradigm currently in use?   From your ealier comments it might be 'probabilistic space-time'.  However, I note that you avoided responding to a question on that at the time.

Why? What are you uncertain about?

Regards, Sandstone.

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Offline sandstone

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« Reply #46 on: 16/08/2010 15:23:21 »
Greetings Viewers,

Uncertainty has a profound influence on human behaviour. 

It is a critical life dimension.  We may not always find it comfortable, but try to imagine a life without uncertainty. 

There are many references in the literature to the search for certainty.  In understanding uncertainty, it is most important to draw a distinction between environmental and psychological uncertainty.  Attempts to create environmental certainty tend to inhibit creativity and freedom of action. The more promising avenue for seeking certainty is in terms of generating psychological certainty in its many forms. 

The Boyer Model of Integrated Scholarship advocates integration of knowledge across the disciplines.  The combination of physics and psychology poses an interesting challenge and, yet, if we are really to understand uncertainty that may be a challenge worth pursuing. 

It would help a great deal to appreciate the benefits of uncertainty, rather than see it as a scientific gremlin.
The frustrations that have been apparent in the dialogue to date are understandable. However, in the context of the question posed, getting down and dirty with the statistics of QM is irrelevant.  The hard work there has already been done. 

The question now is: What do the results really mean?   

The answer is to embrace the inherent uncertainty of Nature and work with it in a constructive manner.

Thank you for the opportunity to pose this question.

Clem Molloy (aka Sandstone).

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« Reply #47 on: 21/08/2010 08:06:37 »
I do have an answer that does it in four measures: three components of momentum, and one of energy.  Then you have a plane wave describing the particle's state exactly*, which also includes its uncertainty relations.  What do you find wrong with this description?

*: When I say exactly, what I mean is that the state is determined to the fullest extent that quantum mechanics allows.  This automatically includes the uncertainty relations, since they're built into the rules of quantum mechanics.  That's exactly what Hawking's quote is saying--that quantum mechanics builds uncertainty into the laws of physics--not that uncertainty requires an additional measurement to be made.

JP I have only just seen this reply.  Not sure why it did not come up before.

So you are saying that there are four dimensions plus a plane wave.  And the plane wave, which includes uncertainty relations, is not a fifth measure? 

With due respect that does not sound very convincing.  It has all the hallmarks of trying to provide adequate desciptors without challenging the 4D paradigm.  Just sweep uncertainty under the scientific carpet.

Little wonder some people are averse to having philosophers take a close look at scientific thought. 

Thank for the question and the explanation.

Regards, Clem.

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Offline imatfaal

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« Reply #48 on: 21/08/2010 12:41:01 »
Clem,

Your perceived instances of lack of knowledge and insight within the science community are understandable - they come from your lack of comprehension of the subject not from others refusal to accept change. 

Could you try answering a few questions?  How are you defining Dimension?  And how are you defining Uncertainty?  I ask because I have re-read your posts and it seems clear that you are using notions that I do recognize.  Please do not respond with another set of questions about my beliefs/definitions - I am fed up with the recursive nature of that form of argument, I have clearly explained why my definition of dimension and uncertainty would rule out your hypothesis.

Matthew
There’s no sense in being precise when you don’t even know what you’re talking about.  John Von Neumann

At the surface, we may appear as intellects, helpful people, friendly staff or protectors of the interwebs. Deep down inside, we're all trolls. CaptainPanic @ sf.n

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« Reply #49 on: 21/08/2010 13:53:20 »
Matthew,

It is fairly clear that we come from rather different orientations.  You are obviously determined to hold on to your point of view, which is your prerogative. 

The bottom line is that without space, time and uncertainty we would not exist.  They are critical life dimensions and they are measurable at all levels. 

The problem at the moment is that science has not given uncertainty the recognition it deserves and, accordingly, that inhibits understanding and adaptation.  Time will tell.

Regards, Clem.