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Re: Landau letter, Re: Mathematica as a New Approach...

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  • Subject: [mg128003] Re: Landau letter, Re: Mathematica as a New Approach...
  • From: János Löbb <janos at>
  • Date: Sat, 8 Sep 2012 03:08:48 -0400 (EDT)
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The bit as the measuring unit of information is a human creation, just 
as the meter is for distance.  It is a human abstraction, to describe a 
physical attribute.  It is a "secondary" abstraction, made by humans, 
who themselves are built from "primary" abstractions called elementary 
particles.  Does not matter how hard do I look an elementary particle, 
or even a mountainy, I do not see just from the "outside" the 
intelligence that is capable to make this secondary abstraction.  Now a 
machine is a "tertiary" abstraction, and being so it is much more 
convoluted and complicated and  slower than a primary one, for example a 
simple molecule.  A computer, a machine does not have a connection to 
Information Ocean, like a human has, because it is not built from 
humans, but by humans.  So a machine is stuck at the secondary or 
tertiary abstraction level and till humans are not building that special 
parts - like a human brain -, for the machine to communicate to 
Information Ocean, the machine will never able to do more, just to build 
things starting with "n", - like numeric :-)  Telling otherwise the 
information in Information Ocean is not really that bit that we humans 
use to measure information content, just as distance is not really the 
same as the meter to measure it.  Probably we would run into similar 
difficulties with human perceivable information as we go down the scale 
as we had with distance as we approached the atomic scale.

On Sep 7, 2012, at 4:55 AM, John Doty wrote:

> On Thursday, September 6, 2012 2:19:40 AM UTC-6, Vince Virgilio wrote:
>> To borrow a pithy from Wheeler: It-from-Bit?
> That's a great example of how psychology drives the preferences of 
scientists and mathematicians. Dualism is a powerful psychological drive 
in human beings, but it gets little support from reality. Is it true 
that Pluto is a planet? That's a big deal to some people, but it matters 
little. "Planet" is the name of a simple (and rather shifty) story we 
tell about celestial objects. "Pluto" is the name of another story, but 
that's much more complex. The concrete reality behind the story is 
easier to find, and we can relate it to other stories (e.g. "methane"). 
Dualism is actually a barrier to real understanding here.
> The powerful instinct to dualism misleads in other ways. Many people 
have a superstitious faith in its elaboration, (two-valued) logic. But 
while logic is useful in elucidating the relationships between 
hypotheses, it cannot determine truth. Logic steps from falsehood to 
falsehood as easily as it steps from truth to truth.
> Then note that Boole believed his algebra (a further elaboration of 
dualism) to represent the "Laws of Thought". But we've constructed 
machines that can evaluate Boolean expressions trillions of times faster 
and more accurately than we humans can. Actual thought based on Boolean 
mechanism remains elusive. I thus think Boole's belief has been 
comprehensibly falsified.
> One might note that bits are decent raw material for some kinds of 
mathematical modeling. Still, they have unfortunate limitations. A newly 
synthesized simple molecule can find its "ground" configuration in 
picoseconds, while a highly complex binary supercomputer takes hours or 
days to compute the same thing. It thus seems unreasonable to think that 
bits are fundamental to anything physical.
> The gnurdiest fortune cookie fortune I ever saw read "Digital devices 
are composed of analog components." A fine piece of wisdom.
> Wheeler was an example of the kind of theoretical "physicist" who 
forgets that physics is fundamentally, well, physical. The mathematical 
stories we tell are not fundamental: in the end, they are only stories. 
The physical phenomena themselves are fundamental.
> But clearly, dualism is an expression of a very important cognitive 
mechanism for the practice of mathematics. So, while we might wish to 
dismiss it as a bad metal habit, that would surely be a mistake. Indeed, 
this message is full of dualism: while dualism isn't very true to how 
the world works, it seems essential to human communication. Can we, in 
mathematics and science education, learn to better exploit this 
mechanism while also teaching awareness of its profound difficulties?

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