$10,000 question: Is reality digital or analog?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Michael, Nov 2, 2010.

  1. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Hah OK... I would call that perception, but OK.

    I was only addressing the general idea of reality from traditional physics, since the philosophical interpretations are way too problematic (don't you think?) to qualify as "digital" or "analog".

    Sure. I wonder what the discrete vs continuous analog would be for this?
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  3. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    If we were taking about square waves, but I'm not sure how that applies to physical properties. You want to account for discrete properties - spin, charge, flavor and so on.

    One of the interesting properties of a wave, as you note, is harmonics. the integer harmonic series is an intrinsic property which sets up a quantum relationship arising from the continuum of the wave itself.
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
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  5. Emil Valued Senior Member

    Fourier decomposition not only applies to waves.
    I do not understand why properties like spin, charge, flavor and so on, you characterize them as discrete.
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  7. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Convolution with sinusoids usually imbues periodicity. You can window the operation, but generally not without difficulty and distortion. A square window introduces a sin(x)/x term in the spectrum, which leaves the "quantum" married to the "continuum".

    Because they do not span a continuum, such as the spectrum of visible color. They span discrete (and finite) states of existence for the affected particles.

    For example, there is no continuum of charge on a particle. It's just positive, neutral or negative and nothing more, no shades in between. That's all I meant by that.

    Don't get me wrong. I like your post since it can be used to show that the discrete properties are subsets of the continuous ones. I'm just saying that it would be exceedingly difficult to meaningfully decompose discrete states into Fourier components. In fact it's mind boggling. As a sidenote, I'd like to know what that even means (e.g. F{e[sup]-[/sup]} - or maybe I should say F{q} )...? Pretty weird, huh? The fringe folks might want to put that idea in their pipe and smoke it.

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  8. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    Is $10 000 digital or analog?
  9. Emil Valued Senior Member

    I understand you, but I'm not talking about particles. I'm talking about atoms.
    You know an experiment where the discontinuous property of a particle,
    are reflected on the atom which issued it or absorbed it?
    Discrete-time Fourier transform
  10. Emil Valued Senior Member

    Depends on the "observer".
    For some appears then disappears, so it is discreet. Others keep them under the pillow, so it is continuous.(although for some there are only imaginary )

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  11. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    You mean it is NOT continuous (analog) and it's NOT digital (discrete), but sinusoidal?
    I must admit I hear this for the first time. Does it mean universe is still some kind of simulation or not?
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  12. Gravage Registered Senior Member


    You said: "Out of body" experiences are caused, usually, by being the reality created in parietal brain. They are not physically real, but are real as it is only by or based on this directly experienced reality by which we INFER the physical world does exist."
    Sure, but I diagree with OBE experience, you're wrong they are definitely real, although you can explain almost everything when it comes to OBE and NDE, science cannot explain how people actually see what is doctor doing as well as see all those instruments and monitors surrounding them?
    This is not some hallucination of the brain created by anesthesia or anything else like drugs, people actually see what doctors are doing as well as what monitors are showing.
    This is why it's impossible to know if there is some kind of life after physical death of the body.
  13. Gravage Registered Senior Member

    Than reality is what digital, analog, or sinusoidal (whatever that means)? Does it mean universe is still some kind of simulation or not?
    Last edited: May 21, 2012
  14. Emil Valued Senior Member

    No, in my opinion it is continuous. Continues can be linear, sinusoidal, exponential ... etc...
    In my opinion it is not a simulation. (Unless if you are supporter of solipsism.)
  15. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Your text, now bold, is their claim and quite possibly their honest belief, but inconsistent with the physical laws one of which is valid detailed vision does not occur with the eyes closed so I would need testable proof, not a self report of something a doctor may have said, like: "The blood pressure is only 70 now." which could easily cause the patient to form an image (in his mind) of a gauge with needle pointing at 70. (It is hard for me not to form that image, just by writing this. What about you? Did you form a mental image of a gauge when reading?)

    Do you have a link to any well controlled reports of these miracles (knowledge not possible for the patient to have by regular means)? I agree that some people do recall things that were said while they were in a coma, etc. That is rare and strange, but no miracle.

    I claim OBE & NDE are experience created (as all experiences are) in the Real Time Simulation running in the parietal brain, and as the only direct knowledge humans have, in some sense, are more "real" than the physical world which is INFERRED to exist from these direct experiences (but may not exist as Bishop Berkeley argued logically and completely consistently that the physical world inferred does not actually exist more than 300 years ago).

    I have a Ph.D. in physics and believe the physical world does exist without any miracles (violations of physical laws, many of which are well known to man). For example, that there is an force* (gravity) between all mass pairs. Thus if someone´s OBE has their body "floating" just below the ceiling then I say (assuming they are not lying) that is part of their parietal created reality but not a physical reality that occurred as it would be a violation of the laws of gravity.

    It is interesting to understand why Bishop Berkeley thought the non-existing physical world that God was causing him to experience appeared to very consistently follow a set of physical laws. The good bishop noted that only if the physical world appeared to have seldom violated regular laws (rules of behavior) could God work miracles when he chose to. I.e. miracles, are by definition, violations of the physical laws and thus miracles could not happen if there were no physical laws, which are almost always consistently obeyed.

    Berkeley was very logical and intelligent and did not accept the reality of the physical world. - From where and how would all that mass come from? ** Many philosophers and others have tried to find a flaw in Berkeley´s logic or some how show that the physical world does indeed exist, but in more than 300 years none have! One famous attempt was a man who kicked a stone and said, with minor pain in his toe: "I demonstrate the world is real, thus!" but of course that, like all the other attacks on Berkeley´s POV proves nothing. - God gave him that experience of pain in his toe and the visual experience of the stone flying forward, etc. as at that time God did not want to make a miracle.

    * One can describe it as a mass warping of space, instead of a "force" if one likes a more modern POV, but either description results in the same attractive acceleration on objects free to move. (Like the two descriptions of 12 vs a dozen eggs - either is the same to the cook.)

    ** This question remains unanswered to this day but in modern terms the question becomes: "From where did all the energy of the "big bang" come from?" Berkeley had a logical correct answer, consistent with his Christian faith, but physicists, like me, do not.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2012
  16. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Did I miss something? I couldn't find any post in this thread where you were discussing atoms. Since Nov 2010 you've been talking about waves. (and sampling and transforms).

    You mean a discrete property, such as the energy levels of an electron? A photon of sufficient energy will bump the electron to a higher energy level. The electron will fall back and emit a photon of energy equivalent to the difference of the two energy levels. This could describe any number of phenomena or experiments. How about spectroscopy?

    If you notice, the DFT is a discrete approximation to the continuous Fourier transform. It only yields the same result on convergence after an infinite number of sum-of-product operations.

    I suppose the fringe folks ought to consider the simpler idea that this illustrates, namely, that continuity means: for any sufficiently small change of a parameter there must be some small change in the result. However, I would go back to what Crunchy said earlier: these are only representations.

    Getting back to atoms: suppose we energize an atom, knocking its outer electron up one level and then it falls back, emitting a photon. That electron can have only one of a finite number of energy levels, and so the photon too, which has only one of a finite number of frequencies. This illustrates a fundamental concept concerning quantization of parameters which the "digital" folks here mistakenly ascribe to the entire scope of reality.

    Notice the flaw in this. If the electron is liberated from its host atom (as in a cathode ray tube), it's not restricted to quantum energy levels. It now possesses the property of straight line travel (instead of confinement to the orbital) and can have any velocity within a continuum, thus any momentum or kinetic energy within a continuum of levels.
  17. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Certain properties of particles, like velocity, are continuous. (Note, if velocity were not continuous, acceleration would be problematic.)

    Other properties, like frequency, are continuous. The blackbody radiation, for example, spans a continuum of frequencies.

    There is no velocity (less that c) that is prohibited. There is no frequency that is prohibited. There is no requirement for either of these to be restricted to some integer series.

    So reality can't be discrete.

    As for reality as a simulation, that seems more like a question for Sister Morphine, the mind of Buddha, or Billy T's parietal lobe. I don't make any such presumption. Suppose reality just is what it is: mostly a continuum, plus a quantum world, plus a virtual world (not meaning a simulation), plus whatever creates the arrow of time, plus whatever bends time (and space and mass), plus whatever creates the continuum, quantum reality, virtual reality, relativity, entanglement &etc., etc., etc. In particular, suppose reality really includes a Big Bang that creates spacetime and therefore always was.

    As hard as it is to get my arms around all of that, there is at least "best evidence" to draw conclusions from, to trace the nature of reality. I just can't get my arms around the idea of simulation any more than I can get them around the idea of a Supreme Commander of the Universe who, no doubt, is at the joystick, fumbling for another quarter to stick into the slot before time's up. I'm all for legalization of pot, I just don't think it's the breakfast of realists.
  18. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Obviously, it's digital: it has one 1 and four 0.
  19. Emil Valued Senior Member

    If I have given the impression that I talked about waves, means I do not expressed myself sufficiently accurate.
    I am talking about reality.
    Maybe we should have to define what we understand under "reality".
    I noticed the atom, because it is the smallest unit, which preserves the property of matter.
    No, I asked if the atom can also disappear and appear.

    In reality could not be put in evidence any signal really discontinuous.
    All have a period of time (even if very small) between switching from state "0" to state "1". Switching between state "0" and "1" is continuous and not discontinuous. (The step function (unit step function) only exists in mathematics.)

    LOL... right.
  20. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Yes you should!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 21, 2012
  21. Emil Valued Senior Member

    I agree with you, Billy T.

    Continuous (analog) or discrete (digital) is a time dependent function .

    First question, if time itself is continuous or discrete?
    The second question if the existence of matter (until the level of atom) is continuous or discrete?
    The third question, whether subatomic particles are continuous or discrete?
    The fourth question if fields are continuous or discrete?
    The fifth question if whether there is discrete dynamical systems?

    I forgot something from "reality"?
  22. Aqueous Id flat Earth skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Yes, check your posts, you were talking about waves. You even gave a nice illustration of the Fourier decomposition of a square wave.
    How about actual existence. Billy T is referring to reality as personal experience.
    You mean the properties of the elements, of materials, or compounds? I'm not sure if I'd agree with that, but it depends on what you mean.
    You did? I didn't see that question. No, they don't.
    Not signals, states. Not discontinuous, discrete. Reality exhibits states of existence which are discrete or quantized, such as the several kinds of electric charge on particles or the finite kinds of atomic orbitals. Yet all of reality is not limited to this. Other properties fall within a continuum. Frequency (energy) amplitude (field strength) and phase of a wave (or velocity of a particle) are examples.

    Why? What is switching?
    I think you are confusing "continual" (e.g. periodic) with continuous (smoothly connected).
    And yet the energy levels of the atomic electron climb and descend discrete steps. There is no gradual change.
  23. Emil Valued Senior Member

    No,I'm not talking about waves.
    "In physics, a wave is a disturbance or oscillation that travels through spacetime..."
    I'm talking about signals
    "A signal as referred to in communication systems, signal processing, and electrical engineering "is a function that conveys information about the behavior or attributes of some phenomenon".[1] In the physical world, any quantity exhibiting variation in time or variation in space (such as an image) is potentially a signal that might provide information on the status of a physical system, or convey a message between observers, among other possibilities."


    "The atom is a basic unit of matter.."
    Not states,signals. A discrete signal is discontinuous. As I said:"The step function (unit step function) only exists in mathematics."

    "Because a binary bit can only have one of two different values, either 0 or 1, any physical medium capable of switching between two saturated states may be used to represent a bit."

    And so on...

    But we do not have the same opinion?
    Reality is not discrete but continuous.
    Last edited: May 22, 2012

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