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The problem with scientifically testing for psychic abilities

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posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 12:56 AM
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Some people simply don't seem to understand that using psychic abilities is no more sure-fire than attempting a relationship with someone new.

When it works, it works. When it doesn't, it doesn't.

Wishing to subject these abilities to the scientific method of rigorous testing will only succeed in keeping oneself blind to their reality.

Personally, my abilities seem to work best when they volunteer information to me unbidden, rather than when I try to solicit them. And the times I have been able to use them deliberately have been spontaneous, without any expectations from me or others to distract the subtle focus that I need.

This might sound funny, but using these abilities is kind of like tuning in to sexual stimulation and orgasm. Expectations are detrimental to that too, and success is very much dependant on lack of distraction for most people.

Courting your abilities is like courting a woman: what success do you suspect you will have if you say to your girlfriend:

"My mates don't believe its possible to have sex with you, so this afternoon at 3.15pm, we are all going to get together so I can prove them wrong. Be there, and I'll undress you and sex you up while everyone's watching to make sure its real"... ?

Some girls might go for that, but not the kind you are courting when you seek to develop your abilities.
If I have learned anything, it is that such psychic development is all about intimacy. The ability to develop intimacy with yourself and your environment. As such, it is no surprise that there should be so many analogies to be drawn with interpersonal relationships!

U.




posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 01:14 AM
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I don't think there's necessarily a conflict between psychic phenomena and the scientific method per se.

Rather, most efforts to date seem limited or erroneous in terms of methodology and means.

How do you test for something you do not understand? Most experiments I have read about that failed were based on assumptions that, to me at least, seemed inherently flawed. One such assumption is that the phenomena are not variable and should thus be easily repeatable.

Without valid hypotheses to work with, the classic scientific method tends to fall short in the fields of the “unknown”. Failing to realize that will lead an otherwise brilliant researcher into folly.

I believe it is entirely possible to examine psychic phenomena using classic scientific methods, but such methods must be coupled with a recognition that we do not know all there is to know if there is to be any success at all.


[edit on 8/16/2004 by Majic]



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 01:32 AM
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Originally posted by Majic
[...]One such assumption is that the phenomena are not variable and should thus be easily repeatable.

Without valid hypotheses to work with, the classic scientific method tends to fall short in the fields of the “unknown”. Failing to realize that will lead an otherwise brilliant researcher into folly.


It seems to me we fundamentally agree, only my angle is that the classic Using the classic scientific method, a test is never done once, but several times to verify the first result was not a freak occurence. If the test cannot reproduce a positive over and over, the hypothesis is considered faulty.

A scientific hypothesis that allowed for a variable phenomenon would not be scientific, as science is generally understood by scientist today (hopefully that will change).

We are describing the frontier between hard science and the realms of psychology, symbology, language, emotions and spirituality. It is to be expected that science will retreat in terror from such borders, and try desperately not to lose itself in their vast and uncertain waters.

U.

[edit on 16-8-2004 by upuaut]



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 02:17 AM
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Even the most brilliant scientists are limited by their preconceptions. Isaac Newton was a genius's genius, but good luck getting him to accept the General Theory of Relativity in his day.

It is easy to lose sight of where we are, which is ever at The Beginning. Much has passed, yet so very much more remains ahead.

I think science will eventually catch up. Perhaps when it is truly understood that what the current body of science explains is vastly exceeded by what it cannot explain. Science is a noble pursuit, but is a lousy religion. Empiricism has its place, but relied upon too heavily becomes a prison of its own.

We're about due for a major paradigm shift in nuclear physics. "String Theory" is a precursor to this, but I don't think we've got it quite figured out yet. From my standpoint, "waves are the new wave". "Quanta" are another way of expressing "frequency".

There are no little ball bearings of matter in an atom, and all those "new particles" are nothing more than modal expressions of what might best be described as "standing waves" of energy.

Eliminating the false dichotomy between matter and energy will open new vistas to science when the truth -- that they are ever one and the same, and part of something greater -- finally is fully realized and incorporated into theory. Some folks seem to be getting close, but inertia is holding most theorists back, both literally and figuratively. They need to let go of what they have to take hold of what they might attain.

Mathematics is also due for some shaking up. The universe is not Base10, and if we can get past it, we may begin to see things in a whole new way -- less “irrationally”, if you get my drift.

But those are just my sophistic ramblings. The bottom line is that Science will, I pray, eventually catch up with Reality -- or more accurately, get closer to it. When it does, then “psychic phenomena” will start looking more “scientific”.



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 03:12 AM
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Originally posted by Majic
Mathematics is also due for some shaking up. The universe is not Base10, and if we can get past it, we may begin to see things in a whole new way -- less “irrationally”, if you get my drift.


Interesting you should mention that. I have often played around with this idea myself. Often times I'll experiment with the older methods once used such as base-60 or something like that looking for other patterns. Also methods dealing with Primes, Irrationals, Polynomial Numbers, etc.

The fact that I actually find this interesting enough to spend my free time doing it is almost as much of a mystery as some of the patterns and interesting things that can be found from doing it. Neither of which seem to be leading to any solid 'profound answers', other than 'how to entertain myself in a cheap and easy way'. I suppose it might help if I new exactly what it was I was looking for though, so I'll know it if and when I see it. Until then I guess I'll just have to enjoy it for 'the hunt' rather than 'the kill'.

Anyway, I was wondering if you have any ideas in this arena or any mathematical theories along these lines???

Perhaps some alternative ideas of how to explore/explain the universe and reality and physics and so forth in terms of number/geometry/etc.???

Is there a specific reason, in your opinion, why base-10 or current mathematic systems are faulty or at least in need of some refinement???



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 03:55 AM
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Originally posted by Majic
Even the most brilliant scientists are limited by their preconceptions. Isaac Newton was a genius's genius, but good luck getting him to accept the General Theory of Relativity in his day.

It is easy to lose sight of where we are, which is ever at The Beginning. Much has passed, yet so very much more remains ahead.

[...]


Beautifully articulated, and I agree with all of it


U.



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 03:58 AM
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Originally posted by mOjOm
Is there a specific reason, in your opinion, why base-10 or current mathematic systems are faulty or at least in need of some refinement???


Personally I do not see base 10 as inherently faulty. But our complete mental commitment to it is limiting...

U.



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 04:06 AM
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Originally posted by Majic
Mathematics is also due for some shaking up. The universe is not Base10, and if we can get past it, we may begin to see things in a whole new way -- less “irrationally”, if you get my drift.


Every mathematical relation is true in every number system, although you sometimes have to write the question. An example where you have to rewrite the question is this problem: "The three-digit numbers have the following form: abc. In 750, a = 7, b = 5 and c =0. Identify all three-digit numbers above 0 that have the following properties: a + b = 4 and b*c = 12."

To make this problem have the same solutions in every number system you need to write out the assumptions of the decimal system. "The three-digit numbers have the following form: abc." becomes "A group of numbers has the following form: a*100 + b*10 + c, where a, b and c are integers ranging from 0 to 9. If you now move to base2, you can replace 100, 10, 0 and 9 with their base2 equivalents and the solutions of the problem will be the same as in the base10 or the base60 systems.

The only way you can make pi appear rational in a number system is working in base(pi). The result is, however, that you make every number that's not a rational multiple of pi irrational. The same applies for other irrational numbers like sqrt(n) (where n is not a square of a rational number), e, the Erdos-Borwein constant or ζ(2n+1) (where n is an integer).

Now, about science not being able to handle variable phenomena, I can think of a scientific technique that will allow testing for variable phenomena. Set up measuring equipment every in your house. I don't know exactly what psi-ability' you're talking about, but let's assume the equipment can measure it. You don't have to perform a trick on command, but you can do whenever you want to. The equipment will be running for a week to a few years, depending on the frequency of the phenomena. The equipment is then left to run the same period with you in the house, but without you using any psi-ability. Then the equipment is left to run for the same period without you in the house. If the difference in the occurance of psi-phenomena is larger in the period that you tried to use psi-ability and if it is statiscally relevent, further research should be done with multiple households and maybe more controlled research in a laboratory.


Isaac Newton was a genius's genius, but good luck getting him to accept the General Theory of Relativity in his day.


Isaac Newton revolutionized mathematical analysis and was very intelligent. I think that if you gave him the time to learn the newer mathematical techniques required for general relativity, which are not terrible different, and you show him the empirical evidence, he will accept the theory.



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 04:33 AM
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Originally posted by amantine
Now, about science not being able to handle variable phenomena, I can think of a scientific technique that will allow testing for variable phenomena. Set up measuring equipment every in your house. I don't know exactly what psi-ability' you're talking about, but let's assume the equipment can measure it. You don't have to perform a trick on command, but you can do whenever you want to. The equipment will be running for a week to a few years, depending on the frequency of the phenomena. The equipment is then left to run the same period with you in the house, but without you using any psi-ability. Then the equipment is left to run for the same period without you in the house. If the difference in the occurance of psi-phenomena is larger in the period that you tried to use psi-ability and if it is statiscally relevent, further research should be done with multiple households and maybe more controlled research in a laboratory.


Hi Amantine,

I enjoyed your mathematical examples


Forgetting for a moment that the piece of equipment that could detect psychic energy in action does not exist: I don't think you have fully taken on board what is meant by variable phenomenon in ths case, and its true, noone has actually spelled it out so perhaps we shouldn't be expecting you to go psychic on us and guess


Psychic phenomena are as variable and capricious as men perceive women to be, or as capricious and changing as the weather in Wellington, New Zealand where I currently live.

When the word variable is used in relation to psychic abilities, it is on any number of levels:

a) Its availability varies from moment to moment ...
b) but also depending on the individual, it may not work at all when that particular individual TRIES to use the ability
c) The mind being adept at defining the limits of its own perceptual boundaries, an individual may have any number of psychologically developped obstacles to using her gift which would be impossible to control effectively for in the test environment. An example, if I associate windows with fear and guilt, the presence of windows in the house may close access to one or several of my abilities without my even knowing it, let alone the scientist conducting the experiment knowing it.

Perhaps you begin to see the nature of the problems we face in this matter?

I have a bit of a knack for psychometry. My experiences with it, when it has worked, have been quite astounding. But I have had a stretch in my life where it has repeatedly not worked. This happens to be in relation to a particular person: I played a game with her... we would give each other little gifts every day, but we had to hold them without knowing what they were, and try to read impressions from them. It NEVER worked with her, and I can only guess why.
With a former love, I played this game but once, and had an incredible 'hit' that left her slack-jawed and silent for the rest of the evening, the night she offered me my 25th birthday present.
My guess is that something was open with one that was closed with the other, but it may have nothing to do with the women, and everything to do with my mental state in those two seperate eras of my life...

What would your machine make of this unknown, and potentially unknowable amount of factors that impact on the success of psychic phenomena ?

Stay well,

U.

PS I forgot to add something important: I don't think the use of psychic abilities would actually trigger any kind of emanation detectable by a machine. In that sense, I am actually not one of those people that beleive psychic abilities are anything esoteric or special. I believe we are able to allow ourselves to access information more efficiently when we allow our minds to do so. There is theoretically nothing to prevent us from knowing everything there is to know in the universe: we are connected to it seamlessly, and every event reverberates through out it. The threshold of our discerning sensitivity is dictated only by the perceptual and inductive barriers we have created for ourselves through the simple act of living. This is my take... and certainly not doctrine of any sort.



[edit on 16-8-2004 by upuaut]

[edit on 16-8-2004 by upuaut]



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 04:54 AM
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I thought we meant by psi-phenomena things like telekinesis, pyrokinesis or ESP. These are measurable to some degree.

I don't think unmeasurable phenomena exist. If a phenomena can't affect anything in this world, it might as well not exist. If your mind can use a psi-ability it means there is at least one thing capable of influencing and being influenced by the phenomena (how else would you know you succeeded). That means we can at least use humans as measuring devices for psi-phenomena, but they are not reliable.

A machine would be a better sensor. Now it depends on your worldview to think if such a machine is possible. I think the mind is a direct consequence of the brain, which is a very reasonable opinion in light of current evidence. The mind has its base in matter. If we can identify what matter interacts with the phenomena we can construct a machine that does the same. It may be a very complicated machine that's almost the same as a human brain or it may be a very simple one.

But I think we should aim low and choose to research easily measurable phenomena first.



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 05:15 AM
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Originally posted by amantine
I thought we meant by psi-phenomena things like telekinesis, pyrokinesis or ESP. These are measurable to some degree.


I have no experience with the first two, and limited experience with the third...



I don't think unmeasurable phenomena exist. If a phenomena can't affect anything in this world, it might as well not exist. If your mind can use a psi-ability it means there is at least one thing capable of influencing and being influenced by the phenomena (how else would you know you succeeded). That means we can at least use humans as measuring devices for psi-phenomena, but they are not reliable.


That's a very rational position, and one I would tentatively share...
However, re-examine my model for psychometry. I postulate that when psychometry is used, the mind is able to read on a very basic level, the energy of an object or place, and receive information from it. When I am succesfully reading an object, I feel there is a merging with that object so that I know what it knows because I am what it is.

So following my interpretation of this process, what could a machine detect from this process that would differ from the emanations that occur when I read a clock, or a book? The answer is, quite possibly nothing at all...

However it was not my intention to claim a machine that detects what we perhaps misguidedly consider to be extra-sensory perception cannot be built. My initial point was simply to underline that as science currently exists, it is singularly ill-equipped to even begin to approach the subject.

The very premise of science is incompatible with the dynamics I believe to be at play in psychic phenomenon. While science requires defined descriminatory rules that classify various configurations of energy and their stages of transition, the act of using ESP requires a melding of identities, and the abandoning of such barriers between manifestations.
Science is a product of the human mind: an intellectualization built from the only intellectual building blocks we have as humans: direct experience. As such it seems at home when it is aimed, like a telescope, at that which we define as existing discretely from ourselves, but when it is aimed at our very core: the essence and composition of our direct experience, it becomes like a telescope trying to point itself at the grease of its own lubed mechanical tubes: quite ineffective.


U.



[edit on 16-8-2004 by upuaut]



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 09:04 AM
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I still don't see why when you are doing any sort of math it actually matters which base you do it in. Regardless of what sybol you use to signify a quantity, you are still talking about that same quantity...

so why does it actually matter if I use base 10 or base 350?
I wouldn't necessarily think the universe is in any base, aren't they just something we make up to try to classify something anyways?

I really don't think we could measure ESP to any degree until we not only understand what it is that causes it, but what causes certain people to recognize or ignore it.

I do not believe that consciously not using ESP would make any difference, there is something going on that some people are simply going to tune out.

From my experience, I want to say that there is some genetic factor that plays into how "in-tune" a person is, but it is not exclusively genetic either.
Almost like a receptor that certain people have turned off earlier than they knew about it, either by parenting being done to teach them their imaginary friends don't exist or through a failure to recognize it was there.

I would love to see research done to find a center in or near the body everyone "carries" with them that receives signals, sort of like an area of the brain but not necessarily a physical part. Maybe we could reach the recognition that the brain and it's activities are only a reflection of something bigger going on in some other plane or context that we aren't opening our eyes to.



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 09:21 AM
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Originally posted by blanketgirl
I still don't see why when you are doing any sort of math it actually matters which base you do it in. Regardless of what sybol you use to signify a quantity, you are still talking about that same quantity...

so why does it actually matter if I use base 10 or base 350?
I wouldn't necessarily think the universe is in any base, aren't they just something we make up to try to classify something anyways?


Well, that's exactly what I am saying. It doesn't matter what base your work in, if you ask your questions correctly.



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 10:22 AM
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Well, that's exactly what I am saying. It doesn't matter what base your work in, if you ask your questions correctly.


Okay. good then I don't feel like I'm missing something.

I actually mean that as a general question, but re-reading how I posted it wasn't very clear.

I am not a math person, so is there actual reason why some people would think it makes a huge difference? I don't mean to really contest or argue anything because my knowledge of math goes little beyond what I actually use to get through my days.
It is just my common sense sort of guess that it wouldn't change anything other than how you write it.



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 12:08 PM
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Originally posted by blanketgirl
I still don't see why when you are doing any sort of math it actually matters which base you do it in. Regardless of what sybol you use to signify a quantity, you are still talking about that same quantity...

so why does it actually matter if I use base 10 or base 350?
I wouldn't necessarily think the universe is in any base, aren't they just something we make up to try to classify something anyways?


You're correct in your reasoning, as is amantine in his examples and mathematical calculations. From a pure mathematical standpoint there isn't a difference other than the method of representing the value. What is important, at least as far as we are concerned, is that we understand the system which correctly fits the symbol and it's value.

For example:
Base10 would have the value of '11' as '10 + 1' while in binary or base2 the value of '11' is '3 or 2 + 1'.
Binary value for '11' would actually be '1011 or 8 + 2 + 1' which in Base10 would read as 'One Thousand Eleven'.

The point I was getting at, and I think Majic was getting at, has more to do with the limitations of correctly representing certain values.

For example
Base10)
What happens when we try to divide a whole into equal parts of seven?
As a fraction we have: 1/7, 2/7, 3/7, etc. with 7/7 equal to 1. So,
1/7 + 6/7 = 7/7 or 1 (No problem)
or
3/7 + 4/7 = 7/7 or 1 (Again, No Problem) But what about Base10 Decimal?

1/7 = .142857...
2/7 = .285714...
3/7 = .428571...
4/7 = .571428...
5/7 = .714285...
6/7 = .857142...
(Each is a repeating decimal of a six number series.)

So, using the same factional values as above: (1/7+6/7)
.142857... + .857142... = .999999... (OOPS. WHAT HAPPENED TO '1'???)
let's try,
.142857... x 7 = .999999... (Same Problem!!)

Now, obviously a repeating .9 forever is for all practical purposes the same as 1, however, the point of this is to show that limits do exists. In a theoretical/philosophical sense, if one was attempting to calculate or 'tune' the subtle measurements of the universe or life itself, using '.999...' instead of '1' it may in fact cause the entire collapse of the cosmos!! Since, as we've already stated, the value IS and must be exact, regardless of our symbol for it.

Same thing happens with Pi which we represent as 3.14159... (this time with a random decimal that never ends!!) For practical purposes 3.14 is fine but once again, it is not the True value and in this case depending on where we decide to stop approximating it the results can change the outcome in profound ways.

Hence, even with mathematics which is arguably mankind's most exact and precise tool for proving stability, reliability, repeatability, etc. to amazing accuracy, we are still forced into using 'Probabilities' even though 'Hard Science' is mainly dealing with 'Absolutes'.



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 12:19 PM
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Actually, it would be similar to testing for artistic ability (for instance.) Just as you might not be at top form as a musician or artist (or able to compose music) on one particular day .. and certainly not under pressure... there is some sort of product that can be measured and evaluated.

So... a recorded dream diary (online) that was later matched with events of the day (timestamped and so forth) would be one good test.

There are ways of testing these things, but they need to be set up correctly.



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 02:25 PM
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Do you then think of ESP as more an inherant part of the individual (like having a toe or not having the toe) than as something that could be present yet not recognized?

I have always thought that it was more something there whether or not we see it, some people will deny it so either not recognize or even have the ability, but it is an influence from a force outside the individual that some aren't able to recognize. Like if there was an energy all around you that you could choose to ignore or recognize.

That would make it more difficult to measure what you actually want to know about because you would need to look at not only the energy (and the surrounding circumstances) but also the person and their will (both conscious and subconscious) There would be so many factors involved that the data would appear completely random until you could find the links between them.

Of course then like art it there would be something to measure

the observer's choice as to whether the art was good would be like the interferance that could cause the varied accuracy of the psi. abilities.
(surrounding messages SHOULD make one answer correct, but due to some other force or judgement it was false, similar to an individual not enjoying a painting that another said was beautiful)


Originally posted by Byrd
Actually, it would be similar to testing for artistic ability (for instance.) Just as you might not be at top form as a musician or artist (or able to compose music) on one particular day .. and certainly not under pressure... there is some sort of product that can be measured and evaluated.

So... a recorded dream diary (online) that was later matched with events of the day (timestamped and so forth) would be one good test.

There are ways of testing these things, but they need to be set up correctly.



posted on Aug, 16 2004 @ 07:34 PM
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Originally posted by Byrd
Actually, it would be similar to testing for artistic ability (for instance.) Just as you might not be at top form as a musician or artist (or able to compose music) on one particular day .. and certainly not under pressure... there is some sort of product that can be measured and evaluated.

So... a recorded dream diary (online) that was later matched with events of the day (timestamped and so forth) would be one good test.

There are ways of testing these things, but they need to be set up correctly.


I agree, however it would not be test many scientists would touch with a ten foot pole.
How would you determine hits and misses? The evaluation of them would be very subjective...

The results would ultimately leave those who know psychic phenomenon to be a reality and those who doubt it... right where they started. This type of testing has been going on for decades, and it doesn't seem to convince those who don't want to be convinced


U.



posted on Aug, 17 2004 @ 01:00 AM
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Actually, IMO, the main barrier to scientific testing of psychic abilities is the complete inability to isolate the phenomena.

A Faraday cage can't block psi.....attempts really have not been made to find something that can! If you can't block psi, then you CANNOT isolate the experiment from outside influences.



posted on Aug, 17 2004 @ 05:15 PM
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Amantine’s posts, especially on mathematics, are excellent. I’ve been be-bopping around on some other threads, and pursuing some rather engrossing extra-curricular activities, but think it makes sense to drop in here to try to clarify where I’m coming from when I speak about paradigm shifts.

First off, I agree with Amantine that mathematics, as we understand it today, is one of mankind’s crowning intellectual achievements. The system is amazingly elegant and self-consistent to a degree that is not even approached by any other disciplines (at least, none that I know of), and has well earned its place as the foundation for modeling a vast range of human knowledge.

My claim that mathematics is “due for some shaking up” is not motivated by a dissatisfaction with “pure math”, but with “applied math”. In other words, within itself, there is no inherent flaw in current mathematical systems that I am aware of.

I also don’t think it is necessarily impossible or ill-advised to consider that a fundamental paradigm shift can be happily integrated with existing systems. People have introduced all sorts of novel ideas that are accepted in mathematics. As long as they are defined in rational ways, they are accepted with open arms.

Rather, my “indictment”, if it could really be called that, lies in the application of mathematics to our universe. In other words, how well the system of modeling conforms to the system being modeled. My reference to base10 is not necessarily a slap at base10 -- it works great.

But the means, when applied to the universe, is to me reminiscent of using Roman numerals to attempt to solve nth-order differential equations. Of course, we already make heavy use of symbols, such as greek letters, to represent variables of all sorts, so perhaps the distinction is moot.

Nonetheless, I get the impression that for studying natural phenomena (and perhaps supernatural phenomena), we might eventually find it necessary to devise a new way of counting. How such a system would be organized is unknown to me.

But that’s my sense of the matter: that we might need to find new ways of representing natural quantities to help facilitate modeling the universe in more intuitive ways. Make of that what you will.

This is not terribly different in notion than my criticism of the current state of quantum physics -- also made comfortably from my armchair of ignorance. This endless parade of “new particles” is, to me, a sign that we are approaching the limits of current conceptions of the nature of matter.

Speaking purely from intuition, rather than from the lab, I suspect that a more satisfactory model for matter and energy may be developed by considering the application of n-dimensional waveform models to the problem.

In the “modes and nodes” of multi-dimensional waves, I think we may find a more satisfactory way to understand the nature of matter, energy, and gravity, which, in my unlearned opinion, are all nothing more than different expressions of the same thing.

Whatever the nuts and bolts might be, I think we’ll be much better off trading in our quanta for frequencies or, if you prefer esoterica, “vibrations“.

When observation opposes theory, it's time to revisit theory.



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