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Gee Whillickers

Crystals in Time may be possible (Yes, Really)

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Just as crystals are repeating patterns of atoms through space, a theoretical physicist has discovered that the same thing may be happening, or could happen, through the fourth dimension (time). An object that essentially loops repeatedly through time.

The implications of this idea are, of course, astounding.

I call dibs on the story idea.

Here's the link:

http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/338500/title/Crystals_may_be_possible_in_time_as_well_as_space

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Question from the peanut gallery: But, but, crystals grow over (through) time anyway. How is this different, other than a possible repeating pattern? Wait, growth crescent, decay descent, crystals can vibrate to send useful waves starting with a nice sine/cosine wave pattern.... Hmmm....

OK, interesting, but I'm not sure I understand yet. (Haven't read the article yet, either.)

I have this strange vision of sea monkeys now....

Tholians, anyone? Or do you like Hortas better?

(Not throwing peanuts and popcorn at you, though. I *like* science.)

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I wonder if the apparent oversight of the fact that the Earth does not return to the exact same place every 365 1/4 days will have an impact on the theory?

As I understand it, our solar system, like our galaxy, spirals through space, so that after any cycle (orbit) the Earth does not return to the same position in space, because the system has spiralled to a new position, even though it may still be relative to the other astronomical bodies.

Just wondering.

Philosophically, it is interesting to realise that 'what goes around, comes around' is subject to the same spiralling, which explains why, when whatever it is that comes around again, it is never quite the same as it was before.

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I wonder if the apparent oversight of the fact that the Earth does not return to the exact same place every 365 1/4 days will have an impact on the theory?

As I understand it, our solar system, like our galaxy, spirals through space, so that after any cycle (orbit) the Earth does not return to the same position in space, because the system has spiralled to a new position, even though it may still be relative to the other astronomical bodies.

Just wondering.

Philosophically, it is interesting to realise that 'what goes around, comes around' is subject to the same spiralling, which explains why, when whatever it is that comes around again, it is never quite the same as it was before.

The purpose, as I understand it, of the use of the earth's orbit was simply that of an anology, and in my opinion a poor one, of the writer of the article. You're correct Des, the galaxy itself spins, and the cluster of galaxies we're in has it's own motion relative to the universe, and on and on. In fact, it's important to remember that space itself is expanding. Now, this takes some mental effort to wrap your head around. When you hear about how the universe is expanding, it's not just that galaxies are moving away from each other through space, it's that space itself is expanding, becoming larger. There's a whole host of relativistic effects that come from this, because while all of these objects such as stars and galaxies are moving relative to each other in space, since space itself is also expanding, it means, for example, there will come a time when light from one end of the universe simply will not reach the other end, then eventually galaxies will be so far apart from each other that the effect will be as if they are traveling faster than light. They will be invisible to any poor onlookers in any given place. They will be truly, in every way it is possible to understand, completely alone. They will have no way at all to ever understand that those far flung galaxies even exist.

Now put this in reverse. Here we are, looking out at our galaxy, and ones beyond it. What if....

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Someone explain to me how, if the universe is expanding, what it's expanding into? If it's alreay the universe, the totality of everything, then expansion means it's creating new space. There seems to be a discontinuity of logic there.

C

You're trying to cram your idea of what space is into what it isn't, that's why this is so difficult.

You're correct. The expansion is, essentially, creating new space. However, there is no logical fallacy here, no contradiction, and no problem with the laws of physics. The idea that there needs to be something for it to expand into is the problem. That assumption contains the implicit idea that space exists outside of space for that new space to expand into. It doesn't. All of space is all of space. There isn't anything else (aside from possible multi-dimensional other universes as posited by quantum and string theory). Since there isn't anything else, there's no issue with needing "room" for space to expand into. It just is. It expands.

It's like this: We have evolved to understand how objects, space, time, etc, work in a very limited way. Simply because that's all we've needed to survive. Our very idea of time and space is essentially barely enough to keep us alive on the African Savannah and out of the way of Sabre Toothed Tigers. So when we learn there's more to the world than that, we naturally attempt to extend our assumptions of how everything works into that world. Unfortunately, we're wrong. It doesn't work like that. Even worse, since we didn't evolve a need to really "see" it fundamentally, it's really hard to wrap our heads around the idea. It's very much like trying to explain colour to someone blind from birth. We just don't have the right experiences. But, through the use of analogy, thought experiments, and rough approximations one is able to start to get an idea of how all this fits together. It's truly astounding, amazing, and mind-blowing stuff.

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I have always thought our definition of "universe" is limited by our incapacity to understand. Humans do have a finite capacity for thought. We are not far beyond the knowledge gained by our ancestors sitting around a fire and staring up at the stars in awe. Our evolution as a species involves only what happens to us here on the planet, it has nothing to do with what is out there.

In my opinion, most of our science is based only upon what we can see, and the rest is theoretical. Makes me embrace the idea of alien cultures who would have to have a greater knowledge just to reach us. In sci-fi they are always of greater intelligence, out to destroy our way of life or judge us incompetent. Perhaps they would be right. Let's hope we're around long enough to attract their attention.

If the universe was designed with a grand plan, what is our part in it? Was there an intelligence behind what we see? And if so, has it judged us to be unworthy of understanding? All we can do now is sit staring through our telescopes or throw small satellites into the limited space around us. That is hardly a means of reaching into our expanding universe, and at this rate, we will never know what is out there or if it has any limits. Perhaps that is part of the intelligent design.

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From Chris' and Gee's discussion points, I hope that there is a little more understanding and appreciation of Stanley Kubrick's genius in trying to expand our consciousness of ourselves in the universe, through his movie 2001: A space Odyssey. Admittedly, his movie is only art but in attempting to depict a possible scenario of our developing human awareness, he did pre-empt much of what Gee Whillickers reports to us, and with such clarity. Well done Gee.

Even though I say, "only art," it is important to realise that artistic endeavour is also a means for speculation when its intuitive communication is something more than just critical insight. Such works of art are capable of making us question ourselves philosophically, and they lead to people like Carl Sagan using facts to expand our view, if not our comprehension, of the cosmos as, like Gee says, "...truly astounding, amazing, and mind-blowing stuff."

On the other hand, there is also the thought, also hinted at in 2001, that "Something unknown is doing , we don't know what," that everything, 'just is'.

How wonderful is that?

Actually there is reason to think, as Socrates hinted, that we know more than we realise. -How very Zen!

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I have always thought our definition of "universe" is limited by our incapacity to understand. Humans do have a finite capacity for thought. We are not far beyond the knowledge gained by our ancestors sitting around a fire and staring up at the stars in awe. Our evolution as a species involves only what happens to us here on the planet, it has nothing to do with what is out there.

In my opinion, most of our science is based only upon what we can see, and the rest is theoretical. Makes me embrace the idea of alien cultures who would have to have a greater knowledge just to reach us. In sci-fi they are always of greater intelligence, out to destroy our way of life or judge us incompetent. Perhaps they would be right. Let's hope we're around long enough to attract their attention.

If the universe was designed with a grand plan, what is our part in it? Was there an intelligence behind what we see? And if so, has it judged us to be unworthy of understanding? All we can do now is sit staring through our telescopes or throw small satellites into the limited space around us. That is hardly a means of reaching into our expanding universe, and at this rate, we will never know what is out there or if it has any limits. Perhaps that is part of the intelligent design.

The fascinating part of being human though is that we can see beyond what we can see. Chris, you said, "most of our science is based only upon what we can see, and the rest is theoretical." Luckily for us, this isn't actually true, and evidenced by the fact that every time we flick a light switch we're pretty confident the light will turn on (unless the bulb is burnt out or whatever). Nobody can see electricity. But, thanks to inferred evidence, understanding of principles, and direct application of theoretical knowledge, we built this amazing infrastructure that works very, very well the vast majority of the time.

We have a couple of advantages that lets us learn things beyond those directly perceptible to our basic senses. The first one is, quite simply, math. Math is everything. It describes the universe. It's the universal language. Most of the really wild ideas in theoretical physics start out as nothing more than equations on a chalkboard before we start to see the real-world implications of those equations. Why are we lucky enough (at least some people) to be good at math as a species? Because it gave us a real nice survival advantage. People who could count and see and understand complex patterns, and use them to predict outcomes, could suddenly do wonderful things like figure out when to plant a seed in spring so there'd be food in the fall.

The second advantage is symbolic communication. Many species communicate. Most can only communicate concepts immediately tangible and present. We can communicate ideas, things intangible. Again, this gave us a decided survival advantage, like planning a hunt before we even saw any animals. Now, however, we can use those two traits, combine them, and create something much, much larger. An ability to understand concepts and ideas far, far beyond what our ancestors ever dreamed of.

You're right, we're barely smart enough to see. But the astounding thing is that we are. We're just over the hump. Just enough. In absolute terms, from the intelligence of, say, an amoeba to the intelligence of humans, we're really only a couple percentage points above a chimpanzee (excluding most politicians, who are no doubt several percentage points below). But oh, what that two percent has allowed us to accomplish. Imagine if we, (or another species, alien or not) were to become a percent or two smarter. What would happen then?

Theoretical doesn't mean intangible. It doesn't mean "guess" and it doesn't mean inapplicable to the real world. It means "knowledge of the whole," knowledge of the patterns, relationships, and, most important, the math the describes some area of knowledge. The theory of the internal combustion engine is still a "theory." That doesn't mean it isn't true. Cars work. In many sports, the players have to sit through boring chalk-talk about "theory" before they get out and practice. The coach knows though that the theory underlies everything else.

So, yes, while we're very limited in what we can do with our minds and what we can see beyond the earth, what little filters through gives us amazing glimpses of the whole. Then smart people can start to put together patterns, and figure out what must be going on, and the rest of us can be amazed.

Anyway, sorry for the long-winded rant. I got on a bit of a roll....

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Don't be sorry Gee, where else on the web would we find an inspiring dissertation on intelligence-perception theory, and its practical applications for human cognisance, if it wasn't for AwesomeDude?

What I find amazing is that even partial understanding can still be used to achieve practical and tangible results. Evolving understanding does not necessarily displace the older theories, but helps us to build on that understanding. For example, as a young cinema projectionist, I was taught that the 'persistence of vision' is the phenomenon of the eye by which an after-image is thought to persist for approximately one twenty-fifth of a second on the retina. -(Wiki) and that was all the working explanation that was needed to create the motion picture industry.

However it is not the full story, as the following expansion on the theory shows, in this report at Wiki, which I first came across even before the Internet: ( You don't have to fully comprehend the following discussion; I merely include it to show the basis, of a theory's constant evolution, as being useful, and constantly under revision.)

"The myth of persistence of vision is the mistaken belief that human perception of motion (brain centered) is the result of persistence of vision (eye centred). The myth was debunked in 1912 by Wertheimer[1] but persists in many citations in many classic and modern film-theory texts.[2][3][4] A more plausible theory to explain motion perception (at least on a descriptive level) are two distinct perceptual illusions: phi phenomenon and beta movement.

A visual form of memory known as iconic memory has been described as the cause of this phenomenon.[5] Although psychologists and physiologists have rejected the relevance of this theory to film viewership, film academics and theorists generally have not. Some scientists nowadays consider the entire theory a myth.[6]

"In contrasting persistence of vision theory with phi phenomena, a critical part of understanding that emerges with these visual perception phenomena is that the eye is not a camera. In other words vision is not as simple as light registering on a medium, since the brain has to make sense of the visual data the eye provides and construct a coherent picture of reality. Joseph Anderson and Barbara Fisher argue that the phi phenomena privileges a more constructionist approach to the cinema (David Bordwell, Noël Carroll, Kirsten Thompson), whereas the persistence of vision privileges a realist approach (André Bazin, Christian Metz, Jean-Louis Baudry).[6]

"The discovery of persistence of vision is attributed to the Roman poet Lucretius, although he only mentions it in connection with images seen in a dream.[7] In the modern era, some stroboscopic experiments performed by Peter Mark Roget in 1824 were also cited as the basis for the theory.[8]"

There is no need to understand the theory discussed in the quote, to be able to realise that we do evolve our understanding at different levels, and that understanding does reveal more about the workings of the universe in which we live. In the case of 'persistence of vision' theory, it has given us a way to communicate 'cognisant thought' in image (iconic) form, much like a painting can contain detail of insight into a person's psyche that cannot be captured in an ordinary snapshot photograph.

However the artist as cinematographer certainly can build on the concept of the painter's ability to reveal more than just a representation of a real subject. The two are in an evolving relationship, and this is my point; we evolve not only as a species, but also individually, and interactively in such mundane ordinariness as our day to day perceptions and how we apply them. This does lead us to a greater understanding of what Gee refers to as "Knowledge of the whole."

It's not only the universe that is expanding, our awareness and our knowledge of it is, too. When our consciousness of the universe ceases to expand, we become static, an idle curiosity at best, as extinct as the dinosaurs at worst. Or to paraphrase and humbly extend the Upanishads metaphysical philosophy, when we stop being the eye through which the universe sees itself, we become of little use to its purpose (whatever that is) unless that 'seeing' also means 'discovering'.

It isn't that simple, though, because we also have our own independent 'feedback system' in our capacity to initiate the direction of our own evolution, through our thoughts and considerations of life, as we 'know' it; as we have come, and as we are yet, to understand it. Our biggest danger is thinking we 'know' when we don't; of believing that to know that we don't know, is a sufficient answer to the enigma of life. Life unfolds around us, in us and because of us, whether we want it to or not, and to get back to the time crystals, if they exist, then those crystals must be diamond-like, because diamonds, like love, are forever.

:icon6:

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While phi phenomenon may explain our perception of movement, I still believe persistance of vision accounts best for our perception of smooth, continuous motion, which requires a regulated display rate of 24 still frames per second. This was easily demonstrated in the old days with a Movieola, where you could vary the display speed. Even though perceived movement resulted from running the film at speeds less that 24 fps, smoothness, i.e. 'continuity', was not properly seen at those slower speeds.

James

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Actually, the old 'silent' film frame rate of 16 frames per second (fps) was quite sufficient for smooth movement, but was increased to 24 fps to accommodate the speed necessary to deliver better sound quality for 'talkies', (sound on film) as well as solving the flickering image problem, which gave audiences a headache.

The jerkiness in the silent movies that we often see in those old films is due to the transfer from 16 fps, to 24 fps, not being converted properly, when the old silent movie is printed for 24 fps projection

At my last cinema, the projectors were fitted with D.C. motors, which allowed the projectionist to dial the correct frame rate, anything from 8 to 25 fps., and I can assure you that the resulting movement was quite smooth at anything over 16 fps. However, at the lower speeds, flicker becomes more noticeable on some scenes. Flicker is also emphasised if the screen image is too large due to our peripheral vision being more sensitive to flicker.

As the Wiki article says the real problem was the flicker rate and increasing that to 48 fps practically removed noticeable flicker for 24 fps. This was achieved by having two blades on the rotating shutter. During the time the master blade blocks the light from projecting the image, the film is advanced by one frame. Then the second blade blocks the light whilst the frame stays stationary, and the same frame is then projected a second time before the master blade comes back into position. This results in an effective flicker rate of 48 fps., even though the film is advanced at 24 fps.

Frame rates are particularly interesting. TODDAO (Michael Todd's version of 70mm) ran at 30 fps, which meant that the wagon wheels rotated in the correct direction. On 24 fps the rotation of the wheels is in reverse due to the film missing a segment of the wheel's rotation information, but it was generally accepted or not even noticed by the public.

Increasing the frame rate to 65 fps (Showscan) allows the image to be projected without the grain being visible because the speed is too great for it to be registered by the eye.

The important thing, to take away from the discussion on persistence of vision, is that it is merely an example, I used, to show how theories can change, evolve and expand, whilst still being serviceable for a given application. Theories are subject to the scientific method of investigation, and even though such investigation may validate a theory, it doesn't mean we have the whole answer, or even the correct one; we just have a working theory that allows practical applications to be realised.

(This is quite different to matters of faith which do not stand up to the scientific method of investigation because the belief cannot be tested and verified via the scientific method of repeatable demonstration. Please note that this doesn't invalidate the right to believe, it just means it can't be proven using the scientific method, but that is a different subject.)

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Very interesting discussion, both on more details of the technical side of movie projection than I ever knew, as well as the over-arching theme.

I agree with everything you're saying here, Des. That's it exactly. One of the best known examples of what you're saying is Newtonian physics. Newton figured out, hundreds of years ago, how bodies in space affected each other due to their motion and gravity, thus being able to predict with incredible accuracy where any given object would be days, months, years, or centuries from now.

We now know this wasn't exactly accurate. It was only a very small part of what is going on, and Newton's "billiard balls" theory was just a glimpse. However, it was a useful glimpse. A powerful glimpse. So powerful that we use his math today to figure out how to launch space probes across the solar system to other planets and moons. Just because he didn't have the whole picture didn't invalidate what he was doing. And, if we did find out parts were wrong, that's okay too. We'd use what we know worked, compare it to what didn't, and try and figure out where the problem was.

As soon as we rest on our laurels, we're finished. As soon as we think we "get it." That we know it all, that we've figured it all out, we're doomed. As a species, but also, I believe, as an individual. Life is learning. When we close our minds to that we have, in many ways, simply stopped living.

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... Life is learning. When we close our minds to that we have, in many ways, simply stopped living.

Amen to that. What is of particular interest to me is that, for an individual, learning can take place not only by moving forward to encounter new experience, but also by looking backward and re-examining and re-evaluating that which has already been experienced. It is not only novelty but also perspective that results in learning.

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Amen to that. What is of particular interest to me is that, for an individual, learning can take place not only by moving forward to encounter new experience, but also by looking backward and re-examining and re-evaluating that which has already been experienced. It is not only novelty but also perspective that results in learning.

Isn't it amazing how you can look back on an incident that occurred years ago and see things now that you didn't then? Happens all the time, and you realize you werern't nearly as smart as you thought you were at the time.

C

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As soon as we rest on our laurels, we're finished. As soon as we think we "get it." That we know it all, that we've figured it all out, we're doomed. As a species, but also, I believe, as an individual. Life is learning. When we close our minds to that we have, in many ways, simply stopped living.

I agree, Gee,

"Live as if you're going to die tomorrow, learn as if you're going to live forever. ~ Gandhi."

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