Philosophic Noodling (was Re: Internet Health)

Levi Pearson levipearson at gmail.com
Wed Oct 6 00:52:26 MDT 2010


On Wed, Oct 6, 2010 at 12:20 AM, Daniel C. <dcrookston at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 6, 2010 at 8:02 AM, Levi Pearson <levipearson at gmail.com> wrote:
>> In any case, time doesn't become "real" through aggregate measurement
>> in the same way that temperature does.
>
> “Time may be an approximate concept that emerges at large scales—a bit
> like the concept of ‘surface of the water,’ which makes sense
> macroscopically but which loses a precise sense at the level of the
> atoms.” - Carlo Rovelli, a physicist at the University of the
> Mediterranean in Marseille, France, from this article:
> http://discovermagazine.com/2007/jun/in-no-time

That's a pretty interesting article, but it's important to note that
if you consider time not to exist, you also have to consider that our
spatial dimensions don't exist either.  They're just emergent
properties of the underlying system that manifest at scale.  But this
is all highly speculative stuff, and far removed from the way that
temperature only exists as an aggregate measurement.

On a related note, Hawking has apparently given up the search for a
unifying "theory of everything" that describes the real fundamental
"stuff" that everything is made of.  He instead favors the idea that
the ultimate theory is actually a set of theories that only apply in
certain circumstances.  He compares this to the way that a given
Mercator projection of the globe is only accurate within a certain
range, and looking at different parts of the globe accurately requires
using different projections.

Anyway, the "reality" of things like space and time is largely a
philosophical question rather than a practical one, however
fascinating it may be.  They are objective things that we have tools
to work with that give us answers to our questions (of a physical
nature, at least) with a high degree of accuracy.  I was just pointing
out that the 'oddness' or whatever you want to call it of temperature
is very different from the 'oddness' of time.  And whether something
is "real" or not in some philosophical sense has almost no bearing on
whether that thing is useful or even calculable.  So any objection to
a concept like "internet health" due to it being "not real" is kind of
beside the point.

        --Levi


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