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Everything posted by Tensorman

  1. The new font looks ugly on my screen, uneven, with thick and thin lines, which makes it difficult to read. Fortunately the theme "IP board" brought back the old crisp and sharp font, so I've no complaint. But I just wonder why the other font looks so ugly on my screen (I've seen the same effect on some other sites). Has it something to do with the resolution (1920 * 1200) that I use?
  2. I find those bulging silicon balloons a horrible sight, I can't understand that there are really men who find those attractive, it's so obvious fake. It's something different if the woman is completely flatchested or has those long and hanging breasts with nipples pointing downward. In such cases a modest implant and/or lift may be an improvement. But natural breasts are always sagging more or less, unless you're a young girl. That's part of their charm, als long as they're not going too low.
  3. "wasn't exactly sad news" is a classic example of litotes. It's dripping with sarcasm, I'm sure no other interpretation was meant.
  4. I think Rand would have been horrified by the cheap remark by Binswanger. It's one thing to give a critical evaluation of the life of a person who has just passed away, but quite another thing to be a jerk saying that he's glad that that person is dead, at least when it doesn't concern some mass murderer or a similar criminal. Someone like Lindsay Perigo, who hasn't been Barbara's friend for many years (to put it mildly) at least gave a decent reaction on his site.
  5. That something contradicts "known facts" doesn't mean that it is a logical contradiction. It can mean that our knowledge so far was not complete: what seemed to us to be incontrovertible facts, were not. So it seemed to us for centuries that time was a universal variable, for everyone the same. Now we know that this is not true, see the twin paradox, which breaks a law that we thought to be an incontrovertible truth. A famous statement by Arthur C. Clarke is "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", the fact that something looks to us like magic doesn't mean that it is a contradiction, something impossible. A God who could use the most advanced technology you can imagine, could very well do things that would look like pure magic to us. A logical contradiction would be for example a triangle with 4 angles or a married bachelor, there is no way that these could exist, but the fact that a known law is shown to be violated in some cases is not a logical contradiction. You cannot disprove the existence of God by pure logic.
  6. You cannot logically disprove the existence of God. At most you can show that some interpretations or attributes of "God" are selfcontradictory, for example the attribute of omnipotence. But such contradictions are easily evaded, in the case of omnipotence by claiming that God may not be literally omnipotent, but at least very, very powerful in what he can do. There are many different interpretations of the concept "God", from an irascible old man with a beard, inspired by the stories in the bible (a jealous God!), to the vague general God of Spinoza or the God of the deists. The only valid argument against the existence of God is the fact that there is no evidence for it. What is usually brought up as "evidence" is not worth of serious consideration: texts written a few thousand years ago, personal "revelations" or inevitable gaps in our scientific knowledge for which it's claimed that the only possible "explanation" is "God did it" ("The God of the gaps"). Pointing out contradictions in the bible is not a logical disproof of the existence of God, it's merely showing the weakness of biblical arguments for the existence of God.
  7. That's a silly rationalization, trying to fit music into the category of "selective re-creation of reality" by bringing up subjective associations by the listener, totally unintended by the composer. Rachmaninoff did not write a selective re-creation of reality in the form of a space opera, that's your subjective association, that's the essential difference! Anyone can have memories and associations with almost any kind of stimulus, including abstract paintings, but for example also with clouds or street noise or a particular odor or taste (Proust!). So following you reasoning not only abstract paintings, but also clouds, noise and odors are examples of art. Subjective associations are irrelevant to the enjoyment and judgment of art. So can a musical person enjoy music in its own terms, without having recourse to some accompanying story or pictures. Music is not a selective recreation of reality.
  8. This is true in the sense that perfect circles don't exist in the physical world, they're a mathematical abstraction. But when you say "there are only natural numbers in the universe", that would also mean that the number 1/3 doesn't exist in the universe (what is 1/3 of a hydrogen atom?), but that doesn't mean that it is irrational! In the same way an exact square doesn't exist in the physical universe. Mathematical terms like "irrational", "imaginary", "transcendental" have nothing to do with the supposed "existence" or "non-existence" of such numbers. In that sense a "real" number is certainly not more "real" than an "irrational" number! However, those terms don't have any physical meaning, they are abstract concepts that have an exact meaning on the basis of mathematical axioms. In that sense they all do exist, just like geometrical constructs like squares and circles. You shouldn't confuse mathematics with physics, even if the first is used extensively in the second.
  9. Neither are we aware of existence in terms of musical sounds. Music - with a few exceptions - doesn't depict entities. Is it therefore not art?
  10. Genesis 3:4: “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So for Eve it became a question of God's word against the serpent's word. The lessen she eventually learnt was "don't trust serpents" and "you'd better believe God", but without any prior knowledge of good and evil and no information or experience about the reliability of the serpent's word against the word of God, there couldn't be anything morally wrong in her choice.
  11. Bernard d'Espagnat (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernard_d'Espagnat) comes to mind.
  12. It has an enormous amount of solid experimental evidence. Your computer, phone, dvd player and all other modern electronic gadgets can only exist thanks to tha application of quantum mechanics. Nope. The famous Schrödinger cat paradox was a thought experiment by Schrödinger in the early years of quantum theory to describe the difficulty of the transition from QM in the microscopic domain to classical physics in the macroscopic domain. It was at the time not clear why the superposition of quantum states in the atomic realm disappeared for large objects (like cats), it seemed that only the fact of observation by a conscious observer destroyed the superposition, which gave rise to weird speculations about the importance of observing by a consciousness. However, this problem has already been solved long ago. The observer is not necessary, it is the phenomenon of decoherence, due to the interaction of the quantum system with the environment, that explains that there can be no superposition of an alive and a dead cat. The cat is dead or alive long before anyone looks into the box, just as classical physics predicts. Experiments have shown that superposition of states can exist for relatively large molecules like fullerenes, but these are still far from macroscopic objects, for which any superposition decoheres in extremely short times. It seems however that many popular accounts of QM are still decades behind the facts.
  13. Costella has now withdrawn his criticism, the link is the same one: http://johncostella.webs.com/neutrino-blunder.pdf
  14. "Emotions are produced by man’s premises, held consciously or subconsciously, explicitly or implicitly." (The Virtue of Selfishness) "Your subconscious is like a computer—more complex a computer than men can build—and its main function is the integration of your ideas. Who programs it? Your conscious mind. If you default, if you don’t reach any firm convictions, your subconscious is programmed by chance—and you deliver yourself into the power of ideas you do not know you have accepted. But one way or the other, your computer gives you print-outs, daily and hourly, in the form of emotions—which are lightning-like estimates of the things around you, calculated according to your values." ("Philosophy: Who Needs It")
  15. In fact Rand did not limit her notion of "tabula rasa" to the idea that people are not born with any conceptual notion (which would be a rather uninteresting and trivial claim anyway - except perhaps some believers in reincarnation nobody thinks that people are born with knowledge what a table is, or a house, or philosophy): In other words: Rand claims that people are also born without emotions, as these in her opinion are the result of programming by the conscious mind. While this may be true in some cases, there is now overwhelming evidence that this is in general just false. And if we use Rand's own definition of values ("Value" is that which one acts to gain and/or keep), a baby does have value judgments, even if it doesn't have a conscious concept yet of what it values.
  16. And that slowing down of the motion of all processes is exactly what "time dilation" means, as time can only be defined in terms of physical processes. But there is nothing "somehow" about it, read Einstein's article from 1905 to see how he simply and elegantly explains this phenomenon. That is correct, but that's also what the theory of relativity says.
  17. Time is defined on the basis of periodic phenomena. For many centuries periodic astronomical events like the movement of the Earth were used as a basis for the definition of time, but this standard was due to all kinds of small perturbations less regular in comparison with such elementary physical phenomena like the oscillation of a light wave with a given wavelength, so that this is the basis of the modern definition of time. Any definition must refer to some physical phenomenon - the check with reality - otherwise you're just really engaging in a "floating abstraction". On the contrary, this process is understood perfectly. It follows directly from Einstein's postulate (together with a few elementary assumptions) that the speed of light is constant and independent of the motion of the observer. Einstein's theory still stands firm after a century, having been experimentally confirmed with great accuracy countless times, that is the check with reality. That's very simple. Dimension is a mathematical concept, which uses a ordered set of coordinates. When you compare two such sets, there is nothing impossible in a dilation or contraction of one set with regard to the other one. Mathematics is all about abstractions, but there is nothing "floating" about it. Dimensions higher than 3 do have many, many physical referents. Thanks to theories that use such higher dimensions we have been able to create modern technology, from atomic bombs to lasers, electronics and computers, check with reality!
  18. And that "something" is called time dilation. Time is that what a clock indicates. If clocks are slowing down time is dilating. With "clocks" I mean of course here not just some bad clocks, but all possible clocks, i.e. all physical, chemical and biological processes (some of those processes that are regular of character, e.g. a harmonic oscillator, can be used for constructing practical clocks). Therefore the twin traveling through space is in fact aging slower than his brother on Earth and could in principle survive him by 1000 years or more. Time is indeed a dimension with physical referents. By all definitions of time, the time for the traveling twin is running slower than for his brother on Earth, that's a fact that cannot be denied. And time dilation is just another word for the slowing down of time.
  19. It may seem trivial to say that we travel through time just as time passes, but it's not quite as simple as that, as the twin paradox shows. The twin who returns after a journey through space with high speed (comparable to the speed of light) will for example find that his brother has aged more than himself or possibly died a hundred/thousand... years ago. In the reference frame of the Earth the twins "travel through time" with different "speeds". From the viewpoint of the twin who remains on Earth, the other twin travels really into the future: he can return on Earth at a time which he would never experience as a living being when he'd stayed at home. Whether one can travel backwards in time is of course a different question, but that can't be trivially disproved from your armchair. The grandfather paradox can be avoided, so that isn't a definitive argument. Furthermore we (the non-timetravelers) wouldn't detect anything strange - everything would behave normally with the usual causal effects, only the timetraveler himself might experience a change in the history as he knows it. That makes the argument circular: we've never seen that history can change, but we could only see that if we knew how we could travel backwards in time. The fact that we don't know how to do something isn't the same as knowing that it can't be done in principle. An argument is that as far as we know we've never met a time traveler, but neither that is a definite proof. Suppose the possibility of time travel will be discovered in 10000 years. How likely will it be that they will time travel to our period? Who knows what the people (perhaps half or complete robots) at that time want to do or can do? There might be much more interesting periods they will want to visit, or perhaps it turns out to be increasingly more difficult to travel the further you go backwards in time, so that our period is off-limits. That said, I should state for the record that I think it's very unlikely that traveling backwards in time is possible, as our current knowledge of physics doesn't give any indication in that direction (there are some theoretical possibilities, but these seem to have no practical solution), but the question isn't as trivial as often is suggested.
  20. You cannot just disprove the possibility of time travel by some kind of linguistic analysis. The word "travel" is used here in a metaphorical sense, just as we use it when we say that we travel through our memory, through a program etc. Similar for the word "road" which doesn't always have to mean a physical path. Therefore the argument is worthless. You should address the claim itself, how it is defined, not the words we happen use to express this notion.
  21. Exactly, there isn't a shred of evidence for that. Moreover, it would be extremely unlikely that she would make the same error twice, giving another person a blank cheque to speak in her name.
  22. Rand did no such thing. Peikoff inherited her estate. That doesn't make him the "owner" of her philosophy (whatever that may mean).
  23. Ah yes, a billion flies can't be wrong... I think Facebook is childish nonsense for teenagers. Sometimes I get an invitation to become a facebook "friend", which I find quite annoying, I'll choose my friends myself, and I don't want to share pictures and other personal data with people on the Internet, only with a few good friends, and I don't need Facebook for that. For me privacy is quite important, and despite all the pooh-poohing and so-called safeguards you give up every privacy on Facebook.
  24. There is no contradiction. If sound is defined as a particular perception (definition , then of course it can only exist if someone perceives it. The point is that more than one definition is possible, a word can have several different meanings. As I said before, I suspect that is a more historical definition, from the time that people were indeed ignorant of the nature of sound. Later the concept of sound was extended to the physical mechanism that caused that perception, but that doesn't necessarily imply that the older definition is no longer valid, only because we now also have definition c). Another example: "space" is originally meant as that extent that we perceive around us, where every point can be characterized by 3 coordinates. Later this concept was extended in mathematics and in physics to other dimensions, infinite dimensions, abstract spaces etc. These different definitions are used side by side, there is no question that one is wrong and the other one correct.
  25. Of course it is a trivial matter of definition. Take for example the Merriam-Webster dictionary: Definition of SOUND a : a particular auditory impression : tone b : the sensation perceived by the sense of hearing c : mechanical radiant energy that is transmitted by longitudinal pressure waves in a material medium (as air) and is the objective cause of hearing. If you use definition b, there is no sound of the falling tree, but if you use definition c, there is. Originally the word sound would probably have had only the meaning b, but when people learned to understand the physical characteristics of sound waves, the same term was used for the physical phenomenon. Compare with "light". Will the light from a new star only become light when it reaches the retina of a human being so that he perceives that star after say a million years (supposed that there will be humans around then)? That seems to me a rather silly viewpoint. We call the visual sensation "light", but also the physical phenomenon of photons. Why should it be different for sound?
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