Saturday, 11 March 2017

Born to do Math 4 - 1,001 and the Box (Part 2)

In-Sight Publishing
Born to do Math 4 - 1,001 and the Box (Part 2)
Scott Douglas Jacobsen & Rick Rosner
March 11, 2017

[Beginning of recorded material]

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So they 3-dimensionally or 4-dimensionally ooze out, of a box, say? [Laughing] Where the box itself is oozing, probabilistically as a cloud?

Rick Rosner: You need 4 dimensions because that’s what the world is. If you detected the electron in the box at T=0, and T=1, T=2, T=3. You’ve got a reasonable probability that the electron has been trapped in the box. Though even that’s not 100%. It is based on the information that you’ve gathered. But let’s say you’ve tested that electron 400 times, and it has been in the box every time.

There’s still a non-zero chance that the electron won’t be in the box, even though it is a closed box, the next time you test it because electrons are incompletely, particles are incompletely, located in space and that electron’s wave function may find itself mostly out of the box to the point where if you tested, it wouldn’t be in the box. It would be out of the box the next time you test it, or the 3,000th time, or the 30 quadrillionth time you test it.

So numbers, we use them as if they are infinitely precise, but in the real world there’s a certain probability that what number you think applies to the number of things you’re looking at is wrong. It is certainly wrong if you look at the number of pigeons. If there’s a bunch of pigeons sitting on a light pole with 17 pigeons. You have, maybe, a 10 or 11% chance of being right. There’s a lot of uncertainty.

You haven’t counted them one-by-one. You’ve taken at quick glance. Other things can affect your certainty when looking at a group of things and then trying to characterize that with a number. There are probably more metaphysical dimensions to whether something can be described or how using integers to describe the numbers of things out in the world are subject to other metaphysical uncertainties.

But small metaphysical uncertainties because an apple is an apple. There’s a very small probability that it is somehow 2 apples because you don’t have perfect, precise information about everything out in the world. There’s a small chance that what you saw as one apple is really a different number of apples.

S: I should change the previous statement of mine from natural and whole numbers to integers. [Laughing] Please continue.

R: Things tend towards whole numbers. Like apples tend to come in units of one, it’s convenient for apples and for the world for things to exist as discrete objects in the world. And that’s due to, at the deepest level, the things that exist having to follow the rules of self-consistency or non-contradiction.

S: Are math and logic identical in this way?

R: I don’t know. Math and logic both rest on simple forms and manipulations of things that represent—numbers represent themselves. They represent unitary objects out in the world. But it all comes from the rules of non-contradiction. Something can’t both exist and not exist, at least in a well-formed world, in a macro world.

S: If the physics of the universe rest on the Law of Contradiction founded, and the Laws of Logic, by Aristotle, and various other things, and if the physics of human computation and other conscious beings that have information processing capacity rest on a similar physics because an isomorphism exists between the universe and conscious beings’ information processing capacity and computation, then the inability of the universe to have infinite precise knowledge about itself implies that our conceptions of infinity are themselves finite because we are small, finite systems in a bigger finite system.

R: You can use logic to bootstrap. We use numbers as you said, which are infinitely precise even though we don’t an infinite amount of precision in anything, but the logic that is involved with numbers allows us to pretend numbers are infinitely precise or do operations on numbers as if they are infinitely precise, and numbers pop up in math and in the world because they rest on simple, non-contradictory forms, and simple non-contradictory forms arise all over the place.

Because they are simple, and because they are non-contradictory, and being non-contradictory they are allowed to exist, which is a little bit hand-wavey. But that’s enough for this thing.

[End of recorded material]
Rick Rosner
American Television Writer
Rick Rosner
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
In-Sight Publishing
[1] Four format points for the session article:
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  2. Session article conducted, transcribed, edited, formatted, and published by Scott.
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  4. This session article has been edited for clarity and readability.
For further information on the formatting guidelines incorporated into this document, please see the following documents:
  1. American Psychological Association. (2010). Citation Guide: APA. Retrieved from
  2. Humble, A. (n.d.). Guide to Transcribing. Retrieved from
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