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  • Constraints of Perception and Cognition in Relativistic Physics - Unreal Blog
    superluminal motion in radio jets starting from the core region becomes a violation of SRT If it is a velocity that we have to deduce by considering LTT effects then we have to employ the extra ad hoc assumption that superluminality is forbidden These difficulties suggest that it may be better to disentangle the LTT effects from the rest of SRT Although not attempted in this paper the primary motivation for SRT namely the covariance of Maxwell s equations may be accomplished even without attributing LTT effects to the properties of space and time In this Section we will consider space and time as a part of the cognitive model created by the brain and illustrate that SRT applies to the cognitive model The absolute reality of which the SRT like space time is our perception does not have to obey the restrictions of SRT In particular objects are not restricted to subluminal speeds even though they may appear to us as if they are restricted to subluminal speeds in our perception of space and time If we disentangle LTT effects from the rest of SRT we can understand a wide array of phenomena as shown in this article SRT seeks a linear coordinate transformation between coordinate systems in motion with respect to each other We can trace the origin of linearity to a hidden assumption on the nature of space and time built into SRT as stated by Einstein 6 In the first place it is clear that the equations must be linear on account of the properties of homogeneity which we attribute to space and time Because of this assumption of linearity the original derivation of the transformation equations ignores the asymmetry between approaching and receding objects and concentrates on receding objects Both approaching and receding objects can be described by two coordinate systems that are always receding from each other For instance if a system K is moving with respect to another system k along the positive X axis of k then an object at rest in K at a positive x is approaching an observer at the origin of k Unlike SRT considerations based on LTT effects result in intrinsically different set of transformation laws for objects approaching an observer and those receding from him More generally the transformation depends on the angle between the velocity of the object and the observer s line of sight Since the transformation equations based on LTT effects treat approaching and receding objects asymmetrically they provide a natural solution to the twin paradox for instance 2 1 First Order Perceptual Effects For approaching and receding objects the relativistic effects are second order in speed and speed typically appears as The LTT effects on the other hand are first order in speed The first order effects have been studied in the last fifty years in terms of the appearance of a relativistically moving extended body 7 15 It has also been suggested that the relativistic Doppler effect can be considered the geometric mean 16 of more basic calculations The current belief is that the first order effects are an optical illusion to be taken out of our perception of reality Once these effects are taken out or deconvolved from the observations the real space and time are assumed to obey SRT Note that this assumption is impossible to verify because the deconvolution is an ill posed problem there are multiple solutions to the absolute reality that all result in the same perceptual picture Not all the solutions obey SRT The notion that it is the absolute reality that obeys SRT ushers in a deeper philosophical problem This notion is tantamount to insisting that space and time are in fact intuitions beyond sensory perception rather than a cognitive picture created by our brain out of the sensory inputs it receives A formal critique of the Kantian intuitions of space and time is beyond the scope of this article Here we take the position that it is our observed or perceived reality that obeys SRT and explore where it leads us In other words we assume that SRT is nothing but a formalization of the perceptual effects These effects are not first order in speed when the object is not directly approaching or receding from the observer as we will see later We will show in this article that a treatment of SRT as a perceptual effect will give us natural solution for astrophysical phenomena like gamma ray bursts and symmetric radio jets 2 2 Perception of Speed We first look at how the perception of motion is modulated by LTT effects As remarked earlier the transformation equations of SRT treat only objects receding from the observer For this reason we first consider a receding object flying away from the observer at a speed of the object depends on the real speed b as shown in Appendix A 1 1 2 Thus due to LTT effects an infinite real velocity gets mapped to an apparent velocity In other words no object can appear to travel faster than the speed of light entirely consistent with SRT Physically this apparent speed limit amounts to a mapping of to This mapping is most obvious in its consequences For instance it takes an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an object to an apparent speed because in reality we are accelerating it to an infinite speed This infinite energy requirement can also be viewed as the relativistic mass changing with speed reaching at Einstein explained this mapping as For velocities greater than that of light our deliberations become meaningless we shall however find in what follows that the velocity of light in our theory plays the part physically of an infinitely great velocity Thus for objects receding from the observer the effects of LTT are almost identical to the consequences of SRT in terms of the perception of speed 2 3 Time Dilation Time Dilation Figure 1 Comparison between light travel time LTT effects and the predictions

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  • Constraints of Perception and Cognition in Relativistic Physics - Page 2 of 2 - Unreal Blog
    second later The observer is far away on the right hand side O at infinite distance The dashed ellipse is the apparent boundary of the object as seen by the observer 4 4 Symmetric Radio Sources Figure 3 The radio jet and lobes in the hyperluminous radio galaxy Cygnus A The hotspots in the two lobes the core region and the jets are clearly visible Reproduced from an image courtesy of NRAO AUI Figure 4 The top panel a shows an object flying along at a constant superluminal speed The observer is at The object crosses the point of closest approach to at time The bottom panel b shows how the object is perceived by the observer at It first appears at then splits into two The two apparent objects seem to go away from each other along and as shown Figure 5 The apparent angular positions of an object traveling at different speeds at a distance of one million light years from us The angular positions in radians are plotted against the observer s time in years Figure 6 Time evolution of the redshift from a superluminal object It shows the redshifts expected from an object moving at at a distance of ten million light years from us The X axis is the observer s time in years Since the X axis scales with time it is also the redshift from an object at 116 light days ten million light seconds with the X axis representing in seconds 4 5 Redshifts of the Hotspots 4 6 Gamma Ray Bursts Share this Click to share on Reddit Opens in new window Click to share on Voat Opens in new window Click to share on Facebook Opens in new window Click to share on Twitter Opens in new window Click to

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  • cognitive neuroscience Archives - Unreal Blog
    endeavor It helps you see the links among seemingly unrelated fields such as cognitive neuroscience and special relativity Of what practical use is this knowledge I cannot tell you Then again of what practical use is life itself cognitive neuroscience life Philosophy philsophy of mind physical reality Physics Pirsig relativity space and time Articles and Essays Creative Philosophy Physics Constraints of Perception and Cognition in Relativistic Physics September 13 2008 manoj Cognitive neuroscience treats space and time as our brain s representation of our sensory inputs In this view our perceptual reality is only a distant and convenient mapping of the physical processes causing the sensory inputs Sound is a mapping of auditory inputs and space is a representation of visual inputs Any limitation in the chain of sensing has a specific manifestation on the cognitive representation that is our reality One physical limitation of our visual sensing is the finite speed of light which manifests itself as a basic property of our space time In this article we look at the consequences of the limited speed of our perception namely the speed of light and show that they are remarkably similar to the coordinate transformation in special relativity From this observation and inspired by the notion that space is merely a cognitive model created out of light signal inputs we examine the implications of treating special relativity theory as a formalism for describing the perceptual effects due to the finite speed of light Using this framework we show that we can unify and explain a wide array of seemingly unrelated astrophysical and cosmological phenomena Once we identify the manifestations of the limitations in our perception and cognitive representation we can understand the consequent constraints on our space and time leading to a new understanding of astrophysics and cosmology Key words cognitive neuroscience reality special relativity light travel time effect gamma rays bursts cosmic microwave background radiation 1 Introduction Our reality is a mental picture that our brain creates starting from our sensory inputs 1 Although this cognitive map is often assumed to be a faithful image of the physical causes behind the sensing process the causes themselves are entirely different from the perceptual experience of sensing The difference between the cognitive representation and their physical causes is not immediately obvious when we consider our primary sense of sight But we can appreciate the difference by looking at the olfactory and auditory senses because we can use our cognitive model based on sight in order to understand the workings of the lesser senses Odors which may appear to be a property of the air we breathe are in fact our brain s representation of the chemical signatures that our noses sense Similarly sound is not an intrinsic property of a vibrating body but our brain s mechanism to represent the pressure waves in the air that our ears sense Table I shows the chain from the physical causes of the sensory input to the final reality as the brain creates it Although the physical causes can be identified for the olfactory and auditory chains they are not easily discerned for visual process Since sight is the most powerful sense we possess we are obliged to accept our brain s representation of visual inputs as the fundamental reality While our visual reality provides an excellent framework for physical sciences it is important to realize that the reality itself is a model with potential physical or physiological limitations and distortions The tight integration between the physiology of perception and its representation in the brain was proven recently in a clever experiment using the tactile funneling illusion 2 This illusion results in a single tactile sensation at the focal point at the center of a stimulus pattern even though no stimulation is applied at that site In the experiment the brain activation region corresponded to the focal point where the sensation was perceived rather than the points where the stimuli were applied proving that the brain registered perceptions not the physical causes of the perceived reality In other words for the brain there is no difference between applying the pattern of the stimuli and applying only one stimulus at the center of the pattern The brain maps the sensory inputs to regions that correspond to their perception rather than the regions that physiologically correspond to the sensory stimuli Sense modality Physical cause Sensed signal Brain s model Olfactory Chemicals Chemical reactions Smells Auditory Vibrations Pressure waves Sounds Visual Unknown Light Space time reality Table I The brain s representation of different sensory inputs Odors are a representation of chemical compositions and concentration our nose senses Sounds are a mapping of the air pressure waves produced by a vibrating object In sight we do not know the physical reality our representation is space and possibly time The neurological localization of different aspects of reality has been established in neuroscience by lesion studies The perception of motion and the consequent basis of our sense of time for instance is so localized that a tiny lesion can erase it completely Cases of patients with such specific loss of a part of reality 1 illustrate the fact that our experience of reality every aspect of it is indeed a creation of the brain Space and time are aspects of the cognitive representation in our brain Space is a perceptual experience much like sound Comparisons between the auditory and visual modes of sensing can be useful in understanding the limitations of their representations in the brain One limitation is the input ranges of the sensory organs Ears are sensitive in the frequency range 20Hz 20kHz and eyes are limited to the visible spectrum Another limitation which may exist in specific individuals is an inadequate representation of the inputs Such a limitation can lead to tone deafness and color blindness for instance The speed of the sense modality also introduces an effect such as the time lag between seeing an event and hearing the corresponding sound For visual perception a consequence of the finite speed of light is called a Light Travel Time LTT effect LLT offers one possible interpretation for the observed superluminal motion in certain celestial objects 3 4 when an object approaches the observer at a shallow angle it may appear to move much faster than reality 5 due to LTT Other consequences of the LTT effects in our perception are remarkably similar to the coordinate transformation of the special relativity theory SRT These consequences include an apparent contraction of a receding object along its direction of motion and a time dilation effect Furthermore a receding object can never appear to be going faster than the speed of light even if its real speed is superluminal While SRT does not explicitly forbid it superluminality is understood to lead to time travel and the consequent violations of causality An apparent violation of causality is one of the consequences of LTT when the superluminal object is approaching the observer All these LTT effects are remarkably similar to effects predicted by SRT and are currently taken as confirmation that space time obeys SRT But instead space time may have a deeper structure that when filtered through LTT effects results in our perception that space time obeys SRT Once we accept the neuroscience view of reality as a representation of our sensory inputs we can understand why the speed of light figures so prominently in our physical theories The theories of physics are a description of reality Reality is created out of the readings from our senses especially our eyes They work at the speed of light Thus the sanctity accorded to the speed of light is a feature only of our reality not the absolute ultimate reality that our senses are striving to perceive When it comes to physics that describes phenomena well beyond our sensory ranges we really have to take into account the role that our perception and cognition play in seeing them The Universe as we see it is only a cognitive model created out of the photons falling on our retina or on the photo sensors of the Hubble telescope Because of the finite speed of the information carrier namely photons our perception is distorted in such a way as to give us the impression that space and time obey SRT They do but space and time are not the absolute reality Space and time are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live as Einstein himself put it Treating our perceived reality as our brain s representation of our visual inputs filtered through the LTT effect we will see that all the strange effects of the coordinate transformation in SRT can be understood as the manifestations of the finite speed of our senses in our space and time Furthermore we will show that this line of thinking leads to natural explanations for two classes of astrophysical phenomena Gamma Ray Bursts which are very brief but intense flashes of rays currently believed to emanate from cataclysmic stellar collapses and Radio Sources which are typically symmetric and seem associated with galactic cores currently considered manifestations of space time singularities or neutron stars These two astrophysical phenomena appear distinct and unrelated but they can be unified and explained using LTT effects This article presents such a unified quantitative model It will also show that the cognitive limitations to reality due to LTT effects can provide qualitative explanations for such cosmological features as the apparent expansion of the Universe and the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation CMBR Both these phenomena can be understood as related to our perception of superluminal objects It is the unification of these seemingly distinct phenomena at vastly different length and time scales along with its conceptual simplicity that we hold as the indicators of validity of this framework 2 Similarities between LTT Effects SRT The coordinate transformation derived in Einstein s original paper 6 is in part a manifestation of the LTT effects and the consequence of imposing the constancy of light speed in all inertial frames This is most obvious in the first thought experiment where observers moving with a rod find their clocks not synchronized due to the difference in LTT s along the length of the rod However in the current interpretation of SRT the coordinate transformation is considered a basic property of space and time One difficulty that arises from this formulation is that the definition of the relative velocity between the two inertial frames becomes ambiguous If it is the velocity of the moving frame as measured by the observer then the observed superluminal motion in radio jets starting from the core region becomes a violation of SRT If it is a velocity that we have to deduce by considering LTT effects then we have to employ the extra ad hoc assumption that superluminality is forbidden These difficulties suggest that it may be better to disentangle the LTT effects from the rest of SRT Although not attempted in this paper the primary motivation for SRT namely the covariance of Maxwell s equations may be accomplished even without attributing LTT effects to the properties of space and time In this Section we will consider space and time as a part of the cognitive model created by the brain and illustrate that SRT applies to the cognitive model The absolute reality of which the SRT like space time is our perception does not have to obey the restrictions of SRT In particular objects are not restricted to subluminal speeds even though they may appear to us as if they are restricted to subluminal speeds in our perception of space and time If we disentangle LTT effects from the rest of SRT we can understand a wide array of phenomena as shown in this article SRT seeks a linear coordinate transformation between coordinate systems in motion with respect to each other We can trace the origin of linearity to a hidden assumption on the nature of space and time built into SRT as stated by Einstein 6 In the first place it is clear that the equations must be linear on account of the properties of homogeneity which we attribute to space and time Because of this assumption of linearity the original derivation of the transformation equations ignores the asymmetry between approaching and receding objects and concentrates on receding objects Both approaching and receding objects can be described by two coordinate systems that are always receding from each other For instance if a system K is moving with respect to another system k along the positive X axis of k then an object at rest in K at a positive x is approaching an observer at the origin of k Unlike SRT considerations based on LTT effects result in intrinsically different set of transformation laws for objects approaching an observer and those receding from him More generally the transformation depends on the angle between the velocity of the object and the observer s line of sight Since the transformation equations based on LTT effects treat approaching and receding objects asymmetrically they provide a natural solution to the twin paradox for instance 2 1 First Order Perceptual Effects For approaching and receding objects the relativistic effects are second order in speed and speed typically appears as The LTT effects on the other hand are first order in speed The first order effects have been studied in the last fifty years in terms of the appearance of a relativistically moving extended body 7 15 It has also been suggested that the relativistic Doppler effect can be considered the geometric mean 16 of more basic calculations The current belief is that the first order effects are an optical illusion to be taken out of our perception of reality Once these effects are taken out or deconvolved from the observations the real space and time are assumed to obey SRT Note that this assumption is impossible to verify because the deconvolution is an ill posed problem there are multiple solutions to the absolute reality that all result in the same perceptual picture Not all the solutions obey SRT The notion that it is the absolute reality that obeys SRT ushers in a deeper philosophical problem This notion is tantamount to insisting that space and time are in fact intuitions beyond sensory perception rather than a cognitive picture created by our brain out of the sensory inputs it receives A formal critique of the Kantian intuitions of space and time is beyond the scope of this article Here we take the position that it is our observed or perceived reality that obeys SRT and explore where it leads us In other words we assume that SRT is nothing but a formalization of the perceptual effects These effects are not first order in speed when the object is not directly approaching or receding from the observer as we will see later We will show in this article that a treatment of SRT as a perceptual effect will give us natural solution for astrophysical phenomena like gamma ray bursts and symmetric radio jets 2 2 Perception of Speed We first look at how the perception of motion is modulated by LTT effects As remarked earlier the transformation equations of SRT treat only objects receding from the observer For this reason we first consider a receding object flying away from the observer at a speed of the object depends on the real speed b as shown in Appendix A 1 1 2 Thus due to LTT effects an infinite real velocity gets mapped to an apparent velocity In other words no object can appear to travel faster than the speed of light entirely consistent with SRT Physically this apparent speed limit amounts to a mapping of to This mapping is most obvious in its consequences For instance it takes an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an object to an apparent speed because in reality we are accelerating it to an infinite speed This infinite energy requirement can also be viewed as the relativistic mass changing with speed reaching at Einstein explained this mapping as For velocities greater than that of light our deliberations become meaningless we shall however find in what follows that the velocity of light in our theory plays the part physically of an infinitely great velocity Thus for objects receding from the observer the effects of LTT are almost identical to the consequences of SRT in terms of the perception of speed 2 3 Time Dilation Time Dilation Figure 1 Comparison between light travel time LTT effects and the predictions of the special theory of relativity SR The X axis is the apparent speed and the Y axis shows the relative time dilation or length contraction LTT effects influence the way time at the moving object is perceived Imagine an object receding from the observer at a constant rate As it moves away the successive photons emitted by the object take longer and longer to reach the observer because they are emitted at farther and farther away This travel time delay gives the observer the illusion that time is flowing slower for the moving object It can be easily shown see Appendix A 2 that the time interval observed is related to the real time interval as 3 for an object receding from the observer This observed time dilation is plotted in Fig 1 where it is compared to the time dilation predicted in SR Note that the time dilation due to LTT has a bigger magnitude than the one predicted in SR However the variation is similar with both time dilations tending to as the observed speed tends to 2 4 Length Contraction The length of an object in motion also appears different due to LTT effects It can be shown see Appendix A 3 that observed length as 4 for an object receding from the observer with an apparent speed of This equation also is plotted in Fig 1 Note

    Original URL path: http://www.thulasidas.com/tag/cognitive-neuroscience/ (2016-02-16)
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  • gamma rays Archives - Unreal Blog
    due to the difference in LTT s along the length of the rod However in the current interpretation of SRT the coordinate transformation is considered a basic property of space and time One difficulty that arises from this formulation is that the definition of the relative velocity between the two inertial frames becomes ambiguous If it is the velocity of the moving frame as measured by the observer then the observed superluminal motion in radio jets starting from the core region becomes a violation of SRT If it is a velocity that we have to deduce by considering LTT effects then we have to employ the extra ad hoc assumption that superluminality is forbidden These difficulties suggest that it may be better to disentangle the LTT effects from the rest of SRT Although not attempted in this paper the primary motivation for SRT namely the covariance of Maxwell s equations may be accomplished even without attributing LTT effects to the properties of space and time In this Section we will consider space and time as a part of the cognitive model created by the brain and illustrate that SRT applies to the cognitive model The absolute reality of which the SRT like space time is our perception does not have to obey the restrictions of SRT In particular objects are not restricted to subluminal speeds even though they may appear to us as if they are restricted to subluminal speeds in our perception of space and time If we disentangle LTT effects from the rest of SRT we can understand a wide array of phenomena as shown in this article SRT seeks a linear coordinate transformation between coordinate systems in motion with respect to each other We can trace the origin of linearity to a hidden assumption on the nature of space and time built into SRT as stated by Einstein 6 In the first place it is clear that the equations must be linear on account of the properties of homogeneity which we attribute to space and time Because of this assumption of linearity the original derivation of the transformation equations ignores the asymmetry between approaching and receding objects and concentrates on receding objects Both approaching and receding objects can be described by two coordinate systems that are always receding from each other For instance if a system K is moving with respect to another system k along the positive X axis of k then an object at rest in K at a positive x is approaching an observer at the origin of k Unlike SRT considerations based on LTT effects result in intrinsically different set of transformation laws for objects approaching an observer and those receding from him More generally the transformation depends on the angle between the velocity of the object and the observer s line of sight Since the transformation equations based on LTT effects treat approaching and receding objects asymmetrically they provide a natural solution to the twin paradox for instance 2 1 First Order Perceptual Effects For approaching and receding objects the relativistic effects are second order in speed and speed typically appears as The LTT effects on the other hand are first order in speed The first order effects have been studied in the last fifty years in terms of the appearance of a relativistically moving extended body 7 15 It has also been suggested that the relativistic Doppler effect can be considered the geometric mean 16 of more basic calculations The current belief is that the first order effects are an optical illusion to be taken out of our perception of reality Once these effects are taken out or deconvolved from the observations the real space and time are assumed to obey SRT Note that this assumption is impossible to verify because the deconvolution is an ill posed problem there are multiple solutions to the absolute reality that all result in the same perceptual picture Not all the solutions obey SRT The notion that it is the absolute reality that obeys SRT ushers in a deeper philosophical problem This notion is tantamount to insisting that space and time are in fact intuitions beyond sensory perception rather than a cognitive picture created by our brain out of the sensory inputs it receives A formal critique of the Kantian intuitions of space and time is beyond the scope of this article Here we take the position that it is our observed or perceived reality that obeys SRT and explore where it leads us In other words we assume that SRT is nothing but a formalization of the perceptual effects These effects are not first order in speed when the object is not directly approaching or receding from the observer as we will see later We will show in this article that a treatment of SRT as a perceptual effect will give us natural solution for astrophysical phenomena like gamma ray bursts and symmetric radio jets 2 2 Perception of Speed We first look at how the perception of motion is modulated by LTT effects As remarked earlier the transformation equations of SRT treat only objects receding from the observer For this reason we first consider a receding object flying away from the observer at a speed of the object depends on the real speed b as shown in Appendix A 1 1 2 Thus due to LTT effects an infinite real velocity gets mapped to an apparent velocity In other words no object can appear to travel faster than the speed of light entirely consistent with SRT Physically this apparent speed limit amounts to a mapping of to This mapping is most obvious in its consequences For instance it takes an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an object to an apparent speed because in reality we are accelerating it to an infinite speed This infinite energy requirement can also be viewed as the relativistic mass changing with speed reaching at Einstein explained this mapping as For velocities greater than that of light our

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  • symmetric radio sources Archives - Unreal Blog
    an upper middle class existence in Singapore which is rich by most global standards This journey most of which can be attributed to blind luck in terms of genetic accidents such as academic intelligence or other lucky breaks is an interesting one in its own right I think I should be able to put a humorous spin on it and blog it up some day Although it is silly to take credit for accidental glories of this kind I would be less than honest if I said I wasn t proud of it death gamma ray bursts life Somerset Maugham symmetric radio sources Articles and Essays Creative Philosophy Physics Constraints of Perception and Cognition in Relativistic Physics September 13 2008 manoj Cognitive neuroscience treats space and time as our brain s representation of our sensory inputs In this view our perceptual reality is only a distant and convenient mapping of the physical processes causing the sensory inputs Sound is a mapping of auditory inputs and space is a representation of visual inputs Any limitation in the chain of sensing has a specific manifestation on the cognitive representation that is our reality One physical limitation of our visual sensing is the finite speed of light which manifests itself as a basic property of our space time In this article we look at the consequences of the limited speed of our perception namely the speed of light and show that they are remarkably similar to the coordinate transformation in special relativity From this observation and inspired by the notion that space is merely a cognitive model created out of light signal inputs we examine the implications of treating special relativity theory as a formalism for describing the perceptual effects due to the finite speed of light Using this framework we show that we can unify and explain a wide array of seemingly unrelated astrophysical and cosmological phenomena Once we identify the manifestations of the limitations in our perception and cognitive representation we can understand the consequent constraints on our space and time leading to a new understanding of astrophysics and cosmology Key words cognitive neuroscience reality special relativity light travel time effect gamma rays bursts cosmic microwave background radiation 1 Introduction Our reality is a mental picture that our brain creates starting from our sensory inputs 1 Although this cognitive map is often assumed to be a faithful image of the physical causes behind the sensing process the causes themselves are entirely different from the perceptual experience of sensing The difference between the cognitive representation and their physical causes is not immediately obvious when we consider our primary sense of sight But we can appreciate the difference by looking at the olfactory and auditory senses because we can use our cognitive model based on sight in order to understand the workings of the lesser senses Odors which may appear to be a property of the air we breathe are in fact our brain s representation of the chemical signatures that our noses sense Similarly sound is not an intrinsic property of a vibrating body but our brain s mechanism to represent the pressure waves in the air that our ears sense Table I shows the chain from the physical causes of the sensory input to the final reality as the brain creates it Although the physical causes can be identified for the olfactory and auditory chains they are not easily discerned for visual process Since sight is the most powerful sense we possess we are obliged to accept our brain s representation of visual inputs as the fundamental reality While our visual reality provides an excellent framework for physical sciences it is important to realize that the reality itself is a model with potential physical or physiological limitations and distortions The tight integration between the physiology of perception and its representation in the brain was proven recently in a clever experiment using the tactile funneling illusion 2 This illusion results in a single tactile sensation at the focal point at the center of a stimulus pattern even though no stimulation is applied at that site In the experiment the brain activation region corresponded to the focal point where the sensation was perceived rather than the points where the stimuli were applied proving that the brain registered perceptions not the physical causes of the perceived reality In other words for the brain there is no difference between applying the pattern of the stimuli and applying only one stimulus at the center of the pattern The brain maps the sensory inputs to regions that correspond to their perception rather than the regions that physiologically correspond to the sensory stimuli Sense modality Physical cause Sensed signal Brain s model Olfactory Chemicals Chemical reactions Smells Auditory Vibrations Pressure waves Sounds Visual Unknown Light Space time reality Table I The brain s representation of different sensory inputs Odors are a representation of chemical compositions and concentration our nose senses Sounds are a mapping of the air pressure waves produced by a vibrating object In sight we do not know the physical reality our representation is space and possibly time The neurological localization of different aspects of reality has been established in neuroscience by lesion studies The perception of motion and the consequent basis of our sense of time for instance is so localized that a tiny lesion can erase it completely Cases of patients with such specific loss of a part of reality 1 illustrate the fact that our experience of reality every aspect of it is indeed a creation of the brain Space and time are aspects of the cognitive representation in our brain Space is a perceptual experience much like sound Comparisons between the auditory and visual modes of sensing can be useful in understanding the limitations of their representations in the brain One limitation is the input ranges of the sensory organs Ears are sensitive in the frequency range 20Hz 20kHz and eyes are limited to the visible spectrum Another limitation which may exist in specific individuals is an inadequate representation of the inputs Such a limitation can lead to tone deafness and color blindness for instance The speed of the sense modality also introduces an effect such as the time lag between seeing an event and hearing the corresponding sound For visual perception a consequence of the finite speed of light is called a Light Travel Time LTT effect LLT offers one possible interpretation for the observed superluminal motion in certain celestial objects 3 4 when an object approaches the observer at a shallow angle it may appear to move much faster than reality 5 due to LTT Other consequences of the LTT effects in our perception are remarkably similar to the coordinate transformation of the special relativity theory SRT These consequences include an apparent contraction of a receding object along its direction of motion and a time dilation effect Furthermore a receding object can never appear to be going faster than the speed of light even if its real speed is superluminal While SRT does not explicitly forbid it superluminality is understood to lead to time travel and the consequent violations of causality An apparent violation of causality is one of the consequences of LTT when the superluminal object is approaching the observer All these LTT effects are remarkably similar to effects predicted by SRT and are currently taken as confirmation that space time obeys SRT But instead space time may have a deeper structure that when filtered through LTT effects results in our perception that space time obeys SRT Once we accept the neuroscience view of reality as a representation of our sensory inputs we can understand why the speed of light figures so prominently in our physical theories The theories of physics are a description of reality Reality is created out of the readings from our senses especially our eyes They work at the speed of light Thus the sanctity accorded to the speed of light is a feature only of our reality not the absolute ultimate reality that our senses are striving to perceive When it comes to physics that describes phenomena well beyond our sensory ranges we really have to take into account the role that our perception and cognition play in seeing them The Universe as we see it is only a cognitive model created out of the photons falling on our retina or on the photo sensors of the Hubble telescope Because of the finite speed of the information carrier namely photons our perception is distorted in such a way as to give us the impression that space and time obey SRT They do but space and time are not the absolute reality Space and time are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live as Einstein himself put it Treating our perceived reality as our brain s representation of our visual inputs filtered through the LTT effect we will see that all the strange effects of the coordinate transformation in SRT can be understood as the manifestations of the finite speed of our senses in our space and time Furthermore we will show that this line of thinking leads to natural explanations for two classes of astrophysical phenomena Gamma Ray Bursts which are very brief but intense flashes of rays currently believed to emanate from cataclysmic stellar collapses and Radio Sources which are typically symmetric and seem associated with galactic cores currently considered manifestations of space time singularities or neutron stars These two astrophysical phenomena appear distinct and unrelated but they can be unified and explained using LTT effects This article presents such a unified quantitative model It will also show that the cognitive limitations to reality due to LTT effects can provide qualitative explanations for such cosmological features as the apparent expansion of the Universe and the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation CMBR Both these phenomena can be understood as related to our perception of superluminal objects It is the unification of these seemingly distinct phenomena at vastly different length and time scales along with its conceptual simplicity that we hold as the indicators of validity of this framework 2 Similarities between LTT Effects SRT The coordinate transformation derived in Einstein s original paper 6 is in part a manifestation of the LTT effects and the consequence of imposing the constancy of light speed in all inertial frames This is most obvious in the first thought experiment where observers moving with a rod find their clocks not synchronized due to the difference in LTT s along the length of the rod However in the current interpretation of SRT the coordinate transformation is considered a basic property of space and time One difficulty that arises from this formulation is that the definition of the relative velocity between the two inertial frames becomes ambiguous If it is the velocity of the moving frame as measured by the observer then the observed superluminal motion in radio jets starting from the core region becomes a violation of SRT If it is a velocity that we have to deduce by considering LTT effects then we have to employ the extra ad hoc assumption that superluminality is forbidden These difficulties suggest that it may be better to disentangle the LTT effects from the rest of SRT Although not attempted in this paper the primary motivation for SRT namely the covariance of Maxwell s equations may be accomplished even without attributing LTT effects to the properties of space and time In this Section we will consider space and time as a part of the cognitive model created by the brain and illustrate that SRT applies to the cognitive model The absolute reality of which the SRT like space time is our perception does not have to obey the restrictions of SRT In particular objects are not restricted to subluminal speeds even though they may appear to us as if they are restricted to subluminal speeds in our perception of space and time If we disentangle LTT effects from the rest of SRT we can understand a wide array of phenomena as shown in this article SRT seeks a linear coordinate transformation between coordinate systems in motion with respect to each other We can trace the origin of linearity to a hidden assumption on the nature of space and time built into SRT as stated by Einstein 6 In the first place it is clear that the equations must be linear on account of the properties of homogeneity which we attribute to space and time Because of this assumption of linearity the original derivation of the transformation equations ignores the asymmetry between approaching and receding objects and concentrates on receding objects Both approaching and receding objects can be described by two coordinate systems that are always receding from each other For instance if a system K is moving with respect to another system k along the positive X axis of k then an object at rest in K at a positive x is approaching an observer at the origin of k Unlike SRT considerations based on LTT effects result in intrinsically different set of transformation laws for objects approaching an observer and those receding from him More generally the transformation depends on the angle between the velocity of the object and the observer s line of sight Since the transformation equations based on LTT effects treat approaching and receding objects asymmetrically they provide a natural solution to the twin paradox for instance 2 1 First Order Perceptual Effects For approaching and receding objects the relativistic effects are second order in speed and speed typically appears as The LTT effects on the other hand are first order in speed The first order effects have been studied in the last fifty years in terms of the appearance of a relativistically moving extended body 7 15 It has also been suggested that the relativistic Doppler effect can be considered the geometric mean 16 of more basic calculations The current belief is that the first order effects are an optical illusion to be taken out of our perception of reality Once these effects are taken out or deconvolved from the observations the real space and time are assumed to obey SRT Note that this assumption is impossible to verify because the deconvolution is an ill posed problem there are multiple solutions to the absolute reality that all result in the same perceptual picture Not all the solutions obey SRT The notion that it is the absolute reality that obeys SRT ushers in a deeper philosophical problem This notion is tantamount to insisting that space and time are in fact intuitions beyond sensory perception rather than a cognitive picture created by our brain out of the sensory inputs it receives A formal critique of the Kantian intuitions of space and time is beyond the scope of this article Here we take the position that it is our observed or perceived reality that obeys SRT and explore where it leads us In other words we assume that SRT is nothing but a formalization of the perceptual effects These effects are not first order in speed when the object is not directly approaching or receding from the observer as we will see later We will show in this article that a treatment of SRT as a perceptual effect will give us natural solution for astrophysical phenomena like gamma ray bursts and symmetric radio jets 2 2 Perception of Speed We first look at how the perception of motion is modulated by LTT effects As remarked earlier the transformation equations of SRT treat only objects receding from the observer For this reason we first consider a receding object flying away from the observer at a speed of the object depends on the real speed b as shown in Appendix A 1 1 2 Thus due to LTT effects an infinite real velocity gets mapped to an apparent velocity In other words no object can appear to travel faster than the speed of light entirely consistent with SRT Physically this apparent speed limit amounts to a mapping of to This mapping is most obvious in its consequences For instance it takes an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an object to an apparent speed because in reality we are accelerating it to an infinite speed This infinite energy requirement can also be viewed as the relativistic mass changing with speed reaching at Einstein explained this mapping as For velocities greater than that of light our deliberations become meaningless we shall however find in what follows that the velocity of light in our theory plays the part physically of an infinitely great velocity Thus for objects receding from the observer the effects of LTT are almost identical to the consequences of SRT in terms of the perception of speed 2 3 Time Dilation Time Dilation Figure 1 Comparison between light travel time LTT effects and the predictions of the special theory of relativity SR The X axis is the apparent speed and the Y axis shows the relative time dilation or length contraction LTT effects influence the way time at the moving object is perceived Imagine an object receding from the observer at a constant rate As it moves away the successive photons emitted by the object take longer and longer to reach the observer because they are emitted at farther and farther away This travel time delay gives the observer the illusion that time is flowing slower for the moving object It can be easily shown see Appendix A 2 that the time interval observed is related to the real time interval as 3 for an object receding from the observer This observed time dilation is plotted in Fig 1 where it is compared to the time dilation predicted in SR Note that the time dilation due to LTT has a bigger magnitude than the one predicted in SR However the variation is similar with both time dilations tending to as the observed speed tends to 2 4

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  • The Unreal Universe - Seeing Light in Science and Spirituality - Unreal Blog
    The noumenal reality which holds the physical causes of our perception by contrast remains beyond our cognitive reach The ramifications of the two different philosophical stances described above are tremendous Since modern physics seems to embrace a non phenomenalistic view of space and time it finds itself at odds with that branch of philosophy This chasm between philosophy and physics has grown to such a degree that the Nobel prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg wondered in his book Dreams of a Final Theory why the contribution from philosophy to physics have been so surprisingly small It also prompts philosophers to make statements like Whether noumenal reality causes phenomenal reality or whether noumenal reality is independent of our sensing it or whether we sense noumenal reality the problem remains that the concept of noumenal reality is a totally redundant concept for the analysis of science One almost accidental difficulty in redefining the effects of the finite speed of light as the properties of space and time is that any effect that we do understand gets instantly relegated to the realm of optical illusions For instance the eight minute delay in seeing the sun because we readily understand it and disassociate from our perception using simple arithmetic is considered a mere optical illusion However the distortions in our perception of fast moving objects although originating from the same source are considered a property of space and time because they are more complex We have to come to terms with the fact that when it comes to seeing the universe there is no such thing as an optical illusion which is probably what Goethe pointed out when he said Optical illusion is optical truth The distinction or lack thereof between optical illusion and truth is one of the oldest debates in philosophy After all it is about the distinction between knowledge and reality Knowledge is considered our view about something that in reality is actually the case In other words knowledge is a reflection or a mental image of something external as shown in the figure below In this picture the black arrow represents the process of creating knowledge which includes perception cognitive activities and the exercise of pure reason This is the picture that physics has come to accept While acknowledging that our perception may be imperfect physics assumes that we can get closer and closer to the external reality through increasingly finer experimentation and more importantly through better theorization The Special and General Theories of Relativity are examples of brilliant applications of this view of reality where simple physical principles are relentlessly pursued using formidable machine of pure reason to their logically inevitable conclusions But there is another alternative view of knowledge and reality that has been around for a long time This is the view that regards perceived reality as an internal cognitive representation of our sensory inputs as illustrated below In this view knowledge and perceived reality are both internal cognitive constructs although we have come to think of them as separate What is external is not the reality as we perceive it but an unknowable entity giving rise to the physical causes behind sensory inputs In the illustration the first arrow represents the process of sensing and the second arrow represents the cognitive and logical reasoning steps In order to apply this view of reality and knowledge we have to guess the nature of the absolute reality unknowable as it is One possible candidate for the absolute reality is Newtonian mechanics which gives a reasonable prediction for our perceived reality To summarize when we try to handle the distortions due to perception we have two options or two possible philosophical stances One is to accept the distortions as part of our space and time as SR does The other option is to assume that there is a higher reality distinct from our sensed reality whose properties we can only conjecture In other words one option is to live with the distortion while the other is to propose educated guesses for the higher reality Neither of these options is particularly attractive But the guessing path is similar to the view accepted in phenomenalism It also leads naturally to how reality is viewed in cognitive neuroscience which studies the biological mechanisms behind cognition In my view the two options are not inherently distinct The philosophical stance of SR can be thought of as coming from a deep understanding that space is merely a phenomenal construct If the sense modality introduces distortions in the phenomenal picture we may argue that one sensible way of handling it is to redefine the properties of the phenomenal reality Role of Light in Our Reality From the perspective of cognitive neuroscience everything we see sense feel and think is the result of the neuronal interconnections in our brain and the tiny electrical signals in them This view must be right What else is there All our thoughts and worries knowledge and beliefs ego and reality life and death everything is merely neuronal firings in the one and half kilograms of gooey grey material that we call our brain There is nothing else Nothing In fact this view of reality in neuroscience is an exact echo of phenomenalism which considers everything a bundle of perception or mental constructs Space and time are also cognitive constructs in our brain like everything else They are mental pictures our brains concoct out of the sensory inputs that our senses receive Generated from our sensory perception and fabricated by our cognitive process the space time continuum is the arena of physics Of all our senses sight is by far the dominant one The sensory input to sight is light In a space created by the brain out of the light falling on our retinas or on the photo sensors of the Hubble telescope is it a surprise that nothing can travel faster than light This philosophical stance is the basis of my book The Unreal Universe which explores the common

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  • advaita Archives - Unreal Blog
    distinct The philosophical stance of SR can be thought of as coming from a deep understanding that space is merely a phenomenal construct If the sense modality introduces distortions in the phenomenal picture we may argue that one sensible way of handling it is to redefine the properties of the phenomenal reality Role of Light in Our Reality From the perspective of cognitive neuroscience everything we see sense feel and think is the result of the neuronal interconnections in our brain and the tiny electrical signals in them This view must be right What else is there All our thoughts and worries knowledge and beliefs ego and reality life and death everything is merely neuronal firings in the one and half kilograms of gooey grey material that we call our brain There is nothing else Nothing In fact this view of reality in neuroscience is an exact echo of phenomenalism which considers everything a bundle of perception or mental constructs Space and time are also cognitive constructs in our brain like everything else They are mental pictures our brains concoct out of the sensory inputs that our senses receive Generated from our sensory perception and fabricated by our cognitive process the space time continuum is the arena of physics Of all our senses sight is by far the dominant one The sensory input to sight is light In a space created by the brain out of the light falling on our retinas or on the photo sensors of the Hubble telescope is it a surprise that nothing can travel faster than light This philosophical stance is the basis of my book The Unreal Universe which explores the common threads binding physics and philosophy Such philosophical musings usually get a bad rap from us physicists To physicists philosophy is an entirely different field another silo of knowledge We need to change this belief and appreciate the overlap among different knowledge silos It is in this overlap that we can expect to find breakthroughs in human thought This philosophical grand standing may sound presumptuous and the veiled self admonition of physicists understandably unwelcome but I am holding a trump card Based on this philosophical stance I have come up with a radically new model for two astrophysical phenomena and published it in an article titled Are Radio Sources and Gamma Ray Bursts Luminal Booms in the well known International Journal of Modern Physics D in June 2007 This article which soon became one of the top accessed articles of the journal by Jan 2008 is a direct application of the view that the finite speed of light distorts the way we perceive motion Because of these distortions the way we see things is a far cry from the way they are We may be tempted to think that we can escape such perceptual constraints by using technological extensions to our senses such as radio telescopes electron microscopes or spectroscopic speed measurements After all these instruments do not have perception per se and should be immune to the human weaknesses we suffer from But these soulless instruments also measure our universe using information carriers limited to the speed of light We therefore cannot escape the basic constraints of our perception even when we use modern instruments In other words the Hubble telescope may see a billion light years farther than our naked eyes but what it sees is still a billion years older than what our eyes see Our reality whether technologically enhanced or built upon direct sensory inputs is the end result of our perceptual process To the extent that our long range perception is based on light and is therefore limited to its speed we get only a distorted picture of the universe Light in Philosophy and Spirituality The twist to this story of light and reality is that we seem to have known all this for a long time Classical philosophical schools seem to have thought along lines very similar to Einstein s thought experiment Once we appreciate the special place accorded to light in modern science we have to ask ourselves how different our universe would have been in the absence of light Of course light is only a label we attach to a sensory experience Therefore to be more accurate we have to ask a different question if we did not have any senses that responded to what we call light would that affect the form of the universe The immediate answer from any normal that is non philosophical person is that it is obvious If everybody is blind everybody is blind But the existence of the universe is independent of whether we can see it or not Is it though What does it mean to say the universe exists if we cannot sense it Ah the age old conundrum of the falling tree in a deserted forest Remember the universe is a cognitive construct or a mental representation of the light input to our eyes It is not out there but in the neurons of our brain as everything else is In the absence of light in our eyes there is no input to be represented ergo no universe If we had sensed the universe using modalities that operated at other speeds echolocation for instance it is those speeds that would have figured in the fundamental properties of space and time This is the inescapable conclusion from phenomenalism The role of light in creating our reality or universe is at the heart of Western religious thinking A universe devoid of light is not simply a world where you have switched off the lights It is indeed a universe devoid of itself a universe that doesn t exist It is in this context that we have to understand the wisdom behind the statement that the earth was without form and void until God caused light to be by saying Let there be light The Quran also says Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth which is mirrored in one of the ancient Hindu writings Lead me from darkness to light lead me from the unreal to the real The role of light in taking us from the unreal void the nothingness to a reality was indeed understood for a long long time Is it possible that the ancient saints and prophets knew things that we are only now beginning to uncover with all our supposed advances in knowledge I know I may be rushing in where angels fear to tread for reinterpreting the scriptures is a dangerous game Such foreign interpretations are seldom welcome in the theological circles But I seek refuge in the fact that I am looking for concurrence in the metaphysical views of spiritual philosophies without diminishing their mystical or theological value The parallels between the noumenal phenomenal distinction in phenomenalism and the Brahman Maya distinction in Advaita are hard to ignore This time tested wisdom on the nature of reality from the repertoire of spirituality is now reinvented in modern neuroscience which treats reality as a cognitive representation created by the brain The brain uses the sensory inputs memory consciousness and even language as ingredients in concocting our sense of reality This view of reality however is something physics is yet to come to terms with But to the extent that its arena space and time is a part of reality physics is not immune to philosophy As we push the boundaries of our knowledge further and further we are beginning to discover hitherto unsuspected and often surprising interconnections between different branches of human efforts In the final analysis how can the diverse domains of our knowledge be independent of each other when all our knowledge resides in our brain Knowledge is a cognitive representation of our experiences But then so is reality it is a cognitive representation of our sensory inputs It is a fallacy to think that knowledge is our internal representation of an external reality and therefore distinct from it Knowledge and reality are both internal cognitive constructs although we have come to think of them as separate Recognizing and making use of the interconnections among the different domains of human endeavour may be the catalyst for the next breakthrough in our collective wisdom that we have been waiting for advaita light travel time metaphysics perception phenomenalism Physics relativity scriptures universe unreality Articles and Essays Philosophy Physics The Philosophy of Special Relativity A Comparison between Indian and Western Interpretations August 6 2008 manoj 3 Comments Abstract The Western philosophical phenomenalism could be treated as a kind of philosophical basis of the special theory of relativity The perceptual limitations of our senses hold the key to the understanding of relativistic postulates The specialness of the speed of light in our phenomenal space and time is more a matter of our perceptual apparatus than an input postulate to the special theory of relativity The author believes that the parallels among the phenomenological Western spiritual and the Eastern Advaita interpretations of special relativity point to an exciting possibility of unifying the Eastern and Western schools of thought to some extent Editor Key Words Relativity Speed of Light Phenomenalism Advaita Introduction The philosophical basis of the special theory of relativity can be interpreted in terms of Western phenomenalism which views space and time are considered perceptual and cognitive constructs created out our sensory inputs From this perspective the special status of light and its speed can be understood through a phenomenological study of our senses and the perceptual limitations to our phenomenal notions of space and time A similar view is echoed in the Brahman Maya distinction in Advaita If we think of space and time as part of Maya we can partly understand the importance that the speed of light in our reality as enshrined in special relativity The central role of light in our reality is highlighted in the Bible as well These remarkable parallels among the phenomenological Western spiritual and the Advaita interpretations of special relativity point to an exciting possibility of unifying the Eastern and Western schools of thought to a certain degree Special Relativity Einstein unveiled his special theory of relativity 2 a little over a century ago In his theory he showed that space and time were not absolute entities They are entities relative to an observer An observer s space and time are related to those of another through the speed of light For instance nothing can travel faster than the speed of light In a moving system time flows slower and space contracts in accordance with equations involving the speed of light Light therefore enjoys a special status in our space and time This specialness of light in our reality is indelibly enshrined in the special theory of relativity Where does this specialness come from What is so special about light that its speed should figure in the basic structure of space and time and our reality This question has remained unanswered for over 100 years It also brings in the metaphysical aspects of space and time which form the basis of what we perceive as reality Noumenal Phenomenal and Brahman Maya Distinctions In the Advaita 3 view of reality what we perceive is merely an illusion Maya Advaita explicitly renounces the notion that the perceived reality is external or indeed real It teaches us that the phenomenal universe our conscious awareness of it and our bodily being are all an illusion or Maya They are not the true absolute reality The absolute reality existing in itself independent of us and our experiences is Brahman A similar view of reality is echoed in phenomenalism 4 which holds that space and time are not objective realities They are merely the medium of our perception In this view all the phenomena that happen in space and time are merely bundles of our perception Space and time are also cognitive constructs arising from perception Thus the reasons behind all the physical properties that we ascribe to space and time have to be sought in the sensory processes that create our perception whether we approach the issue from the Advaita or phenomenalism perspective This analysis of the importance of light in our reality naturally brings in the metaphysical aspects of space and time In Kant s view 5 space and time are pure forms of intuition They do not arise from our experience because our experiences presuppose the existence of space and time Thus we can represent space and time in the absence of objects but we cannot represent objects in the absence of space and time Kant s middle ground has the advantage of reconciling the views of Newton and Leibniz It can agree with Newton s view 6 that space is absolute and real for phenomenal objects open to scientific investigation It can also sit well with Leibniz s view 7 that space is not absolute and has an existence only in relation to objects by highlighting their relational nature not among objects in themselves noumenal objects but between observers and objects We can roughly equate the noumenal objects to forms in Brahman and our perception of them to Maya In this article we will use the terms noumenal reality absolute reality or physical reality interchangeably to describe the collection of noumenal objects their properties and interactions which are thought to be the underlying causes of our perception Similarly we will phenomenal reality perceived or sensed reality and perceptual reality to signify our reality as we perceive it As with Brahman causing Maya we assume that the phenomenal notions of space and time arise from noumenal causes 8 through our sensory and cognitive processes Note that this causality assumption is ad hoc there is no a priori reason for phenomenal reality to have a cause nor is causation a necessary feature of the noumenal reality Despite this difficulty we proceed from a naive model for the noumenal reality and show that through the process of perception we can derive a phenomenal reality that obeys the special theory of relativity This attempt to go from the phenomena space and time to the essence of what we experience a model for noumenal reality is roughly in line with Husserl s transcendental phenomenology 9 The deviation is that we are more interested in the manifestations of the model in the phenomenal reality itself rather than the validity of the model for the essence Through this study we show that the specialness of the speed of light in our phenomenal space and time is a consequence of our perceptual apparatus It doesn t have to be an input postulate to the special theory of relativity Perception and Phenomenal Reality The properties we ascribe to space and time such as the specialness of the speed of light can only be a part of our perceived reality or Maya in Advaita not of the underlying absolute reality Brahman If we think of space and time as aspects of our perceived reality arising from an unknowable Brahman through our sensory and cognitive processes we can find an explanation for the special distinction of the speed of light in the process and mechanism of our sensing Our thesis is that the reason for the specialness of light in our phenomenal notions of space and time is hidden in the process of our perception We therefore study how the noumenal objects around us generate our sensory signals and how we construct our phenomenal reality out of these signals in our brains The first part is already troublesome because noumenal objects by definition have no properties or interactions that we can study or understand These features of the noumenal reality are identical to the notion of Brahman in Advaita which highlights that the ultimate truth is Brahman the one beyond time space and causation Brahman is the material cause of the universe but it transcends the cosmos It transcends time it exists in the past present and future It transcends space it has no beginning middle and end It even transcends causality For that reason Brahman is incomprehensible to the human mind The way it manifests to us is through our sensory and cognitive processes This manifestation is Maya the illusion which in the phenomenalistic parlance corresponds to the phenomenal reality For our purpose in this article we describe our sensory and cognitive process and the creation of the phenomenal reality or Maya 10 as follows It starts with the noumenal objects or forms in Brahman which generate the inputs to our senses Our senses then process the signals and relay the processed electric data corresponding to them to our brain The brain creates a cognitive model a representation of the sensory inputs and presents it to our conscious awareness as reality which is our phenomenal world or Maya This description of how the phenomenal reality created ushers in a tricky philosophical question Who or what creates the phenomenal reality and where It is not created by our senses brain and mind because these are all objects or forms in the phenomenal reality The phenomenal reality cannot create itself It cannot be that the noumenal reality creates the phenomenal reality because in that case it would be inaccurate to assert the cognitive inaccessibility to the noumenal world This philosophical trouble is identical in Advaita as well Our senses brain and mind cannot create Maya because they are all part of Maya If Brahman created Maya it would have to be just as real This philosophical quandary can be circumvented in the following way We assume that all events and objects in Maya have a cause or form in Brahman or in the noumenal world Thus we postulate that our senses mind and body all have some unknown forms in Brahman or in the noumenal world and these forms create Maya in our conscious awareness ignoring the fact that our consciousness itself is an illusory manifestation in the phenomenal world This inconsistency is not material to our

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  • unreality Archives - Unreal Blog
    light to be by saying Let there be light The Quran also says Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth which is mirrored in one of the ancient Hindu writings Lead me from darkness to light lead me from the unreal to the real The role of light in taking us from the unreal void the nothingness to a reality was indeed understood for a long long time Is it possible that the ancient saints and prophets knew things that we are only now beginning to uncover with all our supposed advances in knowledge I know I may be rushing in where angels fear to tread for reinterpreting the scriptures is a dangerous game Such foreign interpretations are seldom welcome in the theological circles But I seek refuge in the fact that I am looking for concurrence in the metaphysical views of spiritual philosophies without diminishing their mystical or theological value The parallels between the noumenal phenomenal distinction in phenomenalism and the Brahman Maya distinction in Advaita are hard to ignore This time tested wisdom on the nature of reality from the repertoire of spirituality is now reinvented in modern neuroscience which treats reality as a cognitive representation created by the brain The brain uses the sensory inputs memory consciousness and even language as ingredients in concocting our sense of reality This view of reality however is something physics is yet to come to terms with But to the extent that its arena space and time is a part of reality physics is not immune to philosophy As we push the boundaries of our knowledge further and further we are beginning to discover hitherto unsuspected and often surprising interconnections between different branches of human efforts In the final analysis how can the diverse domains of our knowledge be independent of each other when all our knowledge resides in our brain Knowledge is a cognitive representation of our experiences But then so is reality it is a cognitive representation of our sensory inputs It is a fallacy to think that knowledge is our internal representation of an external reality and therefore distinct from it Knowledge and reality are both internal cognitive constructs although we have come to think of them as separate Recognizing and making use of the interconnections among the different domains of human endeavour may be the catalyst for the next breakthrough in our collective wisdom that we have been waiting for advaita light travel time metaphysics perception phenomenalism Physics relativity scriptures universe unreality Philosophy Physics Uncertainly Principle August 26 2008 manoj 1 Comment The uncertainty principle is the second thing in physics that has captured the public imagination The first one is It says something seemingly straightforward you can measure two complimentary properties of a system only to a certain precision For instance if you try to figure out where an electron is measure its position that is more and more precisely its speed becomes progressively more uncertain or the momentum measurement becomes imprecise Where does this principle come from Before we can ask that question we have to examine what the principle really says Here are a few possible interpretations Position and momentum of a particle are intrinsically interconnected As we measure the momentum more accurately the particle kind of spreads out as George Gamow s character Mr Tompkins puts it In other words it is just one of those things the way the world works When we measure the position we disturb the momentum Our measurement probes are too fat as it were As we increase the position accuracy by shining light of shorter wavelengths for instance we disturb the momentum more and more because shorter wavelength light has higher energy momentum Closely related to this interpretation is a view that the uncertainty principle is a perceptual limit We can also think of the uncertainly principle as a cognitive limit if we consider that a future theory might surpass such limits All right the last two interpretations are my own so we won t discuss them in detail here The first view is currently popular and is related to the so called Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics It is kind of like the closed statements of Hinduism Such is the nature of the Absolute for instance Accurate may be But of little practical use Let s ignore it for it is not too open to discussions The second interpretation is generally understood as an experimental difficulty But if the notion of the experimental setup is expanded to include the inevitable human observer we arrive at the third view of perceptual limitation In this view it is actually possible to derive the uncertainty principle Let s assume that we are using a beam of light of wavelength to observe the particle The precision in the position we can hope to achieve is of the order of In other words In quantum mechanics the momentum of each photon in the light beam is inversely proportional to the wavelength At least one photon is reflected by the particle so that we can see it So by the classical conservation law the momentum of the particle has to change by at least constant from what it was before the measurement Thus through perceptual arguments we get something similar to the Heisenberg uncertainty principle constant We can make this argument more rigorous and get an estimate of the value of the constant The resolution of a microscope is given by the empirical formula where is the numerical aperture which has a maximum value of one Thus the best spatial resolution is Each photon in the light beam has a momentum which is the uncertainty in the particle momentum So we get approximately an order of magnitude bigger than the quantum mechanical limit Through more rigorous statistical arguments related to the spatial resolution and the expected momentum transferred it may possible to derive the Heisenberg uncertainty principle through this line of reasoning If we consider the philosophical view that our reality is a cognitive model of our perceptual stimuli which is the only view that makes sense to me my fourth interpretation of the uncertainty principle being a cognitive limitation also holds a bit of water Reference The latter part of this post is an excerpt from my book The Unreal Universe copenhagen interpretation George Gamow Hinduism Physics quantum mechanics uncertainty principle unreality Articles and Essays Books Creative Philosophy Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance August 16 2008 manoj 4 Comments Once I had some doubts about my sanity After all if you find yourself questioning the realness of reality you have to wonder is it reality that is unreal or your sanity When I shared my concerns with this philosophically inclined friend of mine she reassured me Sanity is overrated After reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance I think she was right Perhaps she didn t go far enough may be insanity is way underrated Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance defines insanity as the process of stepping outside mythos mythos being the sum total of our combined knowledge passed down over the generations the commonsense that precedes logic If reality is not commonsense what is And doubting the realness of reality almost by definition is stepping outside the bounds of mythos So it fits my concerns were indeed well founded But a good fit is no guarantee of the rightness of a hypothesis as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance teaches us Given enough time we can always come up with a hypothesis that fits our observations The process of hypothesizing from observations and experiences is like trying to guess the nature of an object from the shadow it projects And a projection is precisely what our reality is a projection of unknown forms and processes into our sensory and cognitive space into our mythos and logos But here I may be pushing my own agenda rather than the theme of the book But it does fit doesn t it That is why I found myself muttering Exactly over and over during my three reads of the book and why I will read it many more times in the future Let s remind ourselves again a good fit says nothing about the rightness of a hypothesis One such reasonable hypothesis of ours is about continuity We all assume the continuity of our personality or selfhood which is a bit strange I know that I am the same person I was twenty years ago older certainly wiser perhaps but still the same person But from science I also know for a fact that every cell every atom and every little fundamental particle in my body now is different from what constituted my body then The potassium in the banana I ate two weeks ago is for instance what may be controlling the neuronal firing behind the thought process helping me write this essay But it is still me not the banana We all assume this continuity because it fits Losing this continuity of personality is a scary thought How scary it is is what Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance tells you As usual I m getting a bit ahead of myself Let s start at the beginning In order to write a decent review of this book it is necessary to summarize the story which is believed to be based on the author s life Like most great works of literature the story flows inwards and outwards Outwardly it is a story of a father and son Pirsig and Chris across the vast open spaces of America on a motorbike Inwardly it is a spiritual journey of self discovery and surprising realizations At an even deeper level it is a journey towards possible enlightenment rediscovered The story begins with Pirsig and Chris riding with John and Sylvia Right at the first unpretentious sentence I can see by my watch without taking my hand from the left grip of the cycle that it is eight thirty in the morning it hit me that this was no ordinary book the story is happening in the present tense It is here and now the underlying Zen ness flows from the first short opening line and never stops The story slowly develops into the alienation between Chris and his father The father comes across as a selfish bastard as one of my friends observed The explanation for this disconnect between the father and the son soon follows The narrator is not the father He has the father s body all right but the real father had his personality erased through involuntary shock treatments The doctor had reassured him that he had a new personality not that he was a new personality The subtle difference makes ample sense once we realize that he and his personality are not two And to those of us how believe in the continuity of things like self hood it is a very scary statement Personality is not something you have and wear like a suit or a dress it is what you are If it can change and you can get a new one what does it say about what you think you are In Pirsig s case the annihilation of the old personality was not perfect Besides Chris was tagging along waiting for that personality to wake up But awakening a personality is very different from waking a person up It means waking up all the associated thoughts and ideas insights and enlightenment And wake up it does in this story Phaedrus is back by the time we reach the last pages of the book What makes this book such a resounding success not merely in the market but as an intellectual endeavor are the notions and insights from Phaedrus that Pirsig manages to elicit Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is nothing short of a new way of looking at reality It is a battle for the minds yours and mine and those yet to come Such a battle was waged and won ages ago and the victors were not gracious and noble enough to let the defeated worldview survive They used a deadly dialectical knife and sliced up our worldview into an unwieldy duality The right schism according to Phaedrus and or Pirsig would have been a trinity The trinity managed to survive albeit feebly as a vanquished hero timid and self effacing We see it in the Bible for instance as the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit We see it Hinduism as its three main gods and in Vedanta a line of thought I am more at home with as Satyam Shivam Sundaram the Truth the Beauty The reason why I don t know what exactly Shivam means indicates how the battle for the future minds was won by the dualists It matters little that the experts in Vedanta and the Indian philosophical schools may know precisely what Shivam signifies I for one and the countless millions like me will never know it with the clarity with which we know the other two terms Sundaram and Satyam beauty and truth Maya and Brahman aesthetics and metaphysics mind and matter The dualists have so completely annihilated the third entity that it does not even make sense now to ask what it is They have won Phaedrus did ask the question and found the answer to be Quality something that sits in between mind and matter between a romantic and a classical understanding of the world Something that we have to and do experience before our intellect has a chance to process and analyze it Zen However in doing so Phaedrus steps outside our mythos and is hence insane If insanity is Zen then my old friend was right Sanity is way overrated Photo by MonsieurLui hypothesis insanity logic logos sanity selfhood unreality zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance Articles and Essays Philosophy Physics Perception Physics and the Role of Light in Philosophy May 1 2008 manoj Reality as we sense it is not quite real The stars we see in the night sky for instance are not really there They may have moved or even died by the time we get to see them This unreality is due to the time it takes for light from the distant stars and galaxies to reach us We know of this delay Even the sun that we know so well is already eight minutes old by the time we see it This fact does not seem to present particularly grave epistemological problems if we want to know what is going on at the sun now all we have to do is to wait for eight minutes We only have to correct for the distortions in our perception due to the finite speed of light before we can trust what we see The same phenomenon in seeing has a lesser known manifestation in the way we perceive moving objects Some heavenly bodies appear as though they are moving several times the speed of light whereas their real speed must be a lot less than that What is surprising and seldom highlighted is that when it comes to sensing motion we cannot back calculate in the same kind of way as we can to correct for the delay in observation of the sun If we see a celestial body moving at an improbably high speed we cannot calculate how fast or even in what direction it is really moving without first having to make certain further assumptions Einstein chose to resolve the problem by treating perception as distorted and inventing new fundamental properties in the arena of physics in the description of space and time One core idea of the Special Theory of Relativity is that the human notion of an orderly sequence of events in time needs to be abandoned In fact since it takes time for light from an event at a distant place to reach us and for us to become aware of it the concept of now no longer makes any sense for example when we speak of a sunspot appearing on the surface of the sun just at the moment that the astronomer was trying to photograph it Simultaneity is relative Einstein instead redefined simultaneity by using the instants in time we detect the event Detection as he defined it involves a round trip travel of light similar to radar detection We send out a signal travelling at the speed of light and wait for the reflection If the reflected pulse from two events reaches us at the same instant then they are simultaneous But another way of looking at it is simply to call two events simultaneous if the light from them reaches us at the same instant In other words we can use the light generated by the objects under observation rather than sending signals to them and looking at the reflection This difference may sound like a hair splitting technicality but it does make an enormous difference to the predictions we can make Einstein s choice results in a mathematical picture that has many desirable properties including that of making further theoretical development more elegant But then Einstein believed as a matter of faith it would seem that the rules governing the universe must be elegant However the other approach has an advantage when it comes to describing objects in motion Because of course we don t use radar to see the stars in motion we merely sense the light or other radiation coming from them Yet using this kind of sensory paradigm rather than radar like detection to describe the universe results in an uglier mathematical picture Einstein would not approve The mathematical difference spawns different philosophical stances which in turn percolate to the understanding of our physical picture of reality As an illustration suppose we observe through a radio telescope two objects in the sky with roughly the

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