2008-09-20

The Infinite Book

John Barrow introduced me to Thompson's Lamp in his The Infinite Book, and I've been asking everyone I meet about it.

Katherine said, 'It's a divergent infinite series, so the question doesn't have an answer'. I was impressed!

My brother and Jonathan both came up with practical objections, my brother saying, 'You'd fuse the light!'.

Bill said, 'You can't do an infinite number of things in a finite time, so it could never happen'.

[Correction from bill: '.....if time is infinitely divisible, then you never reach the end point (1 minute), so the issues never arises. ......']

My answer was to say that the universe is digital, so there aren't an infinite number of states the universe can be in.

What do you think?

Btw, the rest of the book is equally thought provoking. Recommended. Interesting parallels with Freedom Evolves.

4 comments:

  1. NO NO NO NO NO!!! What I said was......

    .....if time is infinitely divisible, then you never reach the end point (1 minute), so the issues never arises. ......

    I wish I could phrase that answer in a more techy way (like Katherine did), but, well I can't!

    As to if time is infinitely divisible or not, Tony I look forward to continuing that discussion with you. I laugh in the face of your digital universe theory!

    Bill

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  2. After reading the Wikipedia intro I immediately thought in terms of 1s and 0s and that made me think of Fuzzy Logic. Surely at two minutes the lamp is in the process of being swiched on or off and therefore in a third state? I don't quite understand where the massively important state of Flux fits into your digital universe?

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  3. You're the first person I've asked that has come up with this mid-point idea.

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  4. Think about when you change your mind about something. Even taking into account that there is specific time at which certain neurons fire in your brain you still couldn't come up with a definitive (digital) split between the yes/no (on/off) choice. There is some point at which the decision is not one or the other, but either.

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