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December 28th, 2010 - Песец

Dec. 28th, 2010

04:43 pm - Regarding Objective Reality, E₈, and string theory (part I)

I should just pack it in and move to Blogspot.  This LiveJournal just isn't very furry.  Who am I kidding?  I don’t wear a fursuit, I rarely write furry stories, and the only fursonal drawing I ever bought got ruined during the move to Canada.  There is no place in this Fandom for “an anthropomorphized Homo erectus pretending to be a cat wearing a dogsuit”.  I never have any drama caused by my packmates’ unmentionably-disgusting fursonal habits.  And Wifey would have a fit if I ever did anything that SomethingAwful.com would consider *typical furry behaviour*.  No-sir-ree-bob, we run a prim & proper household here; there is absolutely no reason for Child Protective Services to impound our geeklets “for their own good”.  Well, yes, we do have open-air piles of corrosive dihydrogen monoxide crystals at our homestead, but that’s the government’s fault.  Why don’t they clean these things?  Get that DHMO off my lawn!  It was only a few weeks ago that a fellow down by Sarnia was enveloped by DHMO crystals and died.  There outta be a law!

So, um, Objective Reality.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I think that Objective Reality actually exists, but is beyond our ken.  We live in a Subjective Reality that corresponds to the real world (more or less, sometimes a lot less) but is always separate from it.  In contradistinction to Plato, who believed that the material world is merely a shadow of the Real World of Ideas, I believe that the objects in the universe are just exactly what they are, but our finite ideas about those objects are mere shadows of the infinite ideas that would truly describe Objective Reality.  Unfortunately for our egos, our ideas about our ideas are also mere shadows of the True meta-ideas about how the universe really works.  And so on, to infinity.  There is just no way to think our way out of our sub-reality and into the real world.

I like this religion because it allows me to dismiss out-of-paw some of the wacky ideas that are floating around the noösphere.  Anyone who thumps his Bible as “the complete Word of God” is obviously deluded, because the complete Word of God must be infinitely long and so cannot be captured by any book of limited pages.  There used to be a lot of well-respected physicists who thought that Newton’s F=ma was Reality, but of course it could only ever have been Approximation.  Today, there are probably some scientists who think that Einstein's F=ma ∕ √1−(v²/c²) is Reality, but we *know* that this too must be Approximation because it is a finite formula with only a few variables.  In Reality, everything in the universe depends on everything else for each of its properties.  For practical purposes we can safely ignore most things most of the time—but occasionally something that we thought could be ignored will turn out to have been critically important, such as the effect of Hurricane Katrina upon President W.’s war plans.  This is the conundrum of our existence: we must approximate because we cannot perceive Objective Reality, but “Reality bites” and so we cannot approximate without risk.

Another nice feature of this religion is that it explains the existence of Magic.  As a professional computer programmer, I could hardly profess my Faith in any clockwork-universe philosophy that rejects Magic.  How then could I explain what it is that I do all day?  Arthur Clark said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, which is sometimes paraphrased as "Magic is technology you don’t understand” (see Zekmalados’ comment here).  To connect this with Objective Reality, I claim that “Magic is useful activity based on approximations of the laws of physics that you don’t happen to know”.  Since the Real laws of physics are infinitely complicated, no one can know all of their useful approximations, so for each person there are things he can do that will be perceived by others as Magic.  With a little practice, you can learn to perceive your own activities as Magic even though you know the physics approximations that make them work.  Do you understand how the “quantum tunnelling” effect works?  You can use a cell phone anyway, but it’s Magic to you!

I’ll admit to a certain vanity in my thoughts about Magic.  I believe that I have more Magic in my right rear dewclaw than you could find in an entire conference room full of Harry Potter fans, but I realize that this belief is Approximation and some Potter fans actually do have the Talent.  Still, it is a useful thought because it helps me to feel superior to the Mundanes.

Regarding E₈ and string theory: Oh dear, this post is too long already.  Maybe I’ll get to those next time.  Meanwhile, here’s a random disconnected link to a certain author’s thoughts on similar subjects.

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