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You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

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  • You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

    This may not appeal to all viewers, but the Scientology thread made me recall reading this article, so I'm posting it in case anyone finds it interesting.

    The NYTimes had an interesting article on Tuesday on cosmology, specificially recent calculations that seem to lend more credit to what's called the Boltzmann Brain theory (or paradox), which, if true, "would mean that you yourself reading this article are more likely to be some momentary fluctuation in a field of matter and energy out in space than a person with a real past born through billions of years of evolution in an orderly star-spangled cosmos. Your memories and the world you think you see around you are illusions." The funny thing about the Boltzmann Brain is that no one, including most cosmologists, want to believe it. Do you?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/sc...scp=2&sq=brain

  • #2
    Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

    This is something that I had always sort of thought about myself, but I have never talked to anyone seriously about it. How can I even be sure anybody else, or even myself for that matter, exist? There's no way to tell. It's sort of a disconcerting feeling, but it is interesting to think about.
    "Ten soldiers wisely led will beat a hundred without a head."

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    • #3
      Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

      This reminds me of Descartes, and his work.

      "Cogito, Ergo Sum"
      --
      VI VI VI - the number of the beast

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      • #4
        Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

        After a cursory glance at the problem, it seems that the Boltzman Paradox is only a problem if you start with the assumption that the universe had to be self-creating : If the universe was able to pop into existence spontaneously with no outside influence, the same properties that gave rise to an entire universe (whatever they are) should be able to far more easily give rise to a small thing such as a brain, so there should be a lot more random brains than full universes.

        By contrast, if you assume the universe was created under the direction of an outside entity, the entire Boltzman paradox disappears completely. Randomly created brains and randomly created universes both have the same probability here : zero. So Christians don't have to worry about this phenomena at all.

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        • #5
          Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

          tl;dr

          It's more likely that the Boltzmann theory would seem more likely than an ephemerally ordered universe than it would actually be more likely.

          The problem is that Brain X should be able to remember a consistent future as well as a consistent past. However, aside from gypsies, déjà vu, and time travellers, Brains don't seem to know the future. Furthermore, the consistency problem arises when you try to move time in either direction, since if brains are randomly generated, Brain at time A is not temporally linked to Brain at time B that remembers what A considered to be Now. The only way to deal with this is to allow a stream of conciousness to be a randomly-walking path through time and space from brain instance to brain instance, each brain selected on the condition that its past is another's present.

          Which is managable, but meaningless because it still does't predict the future. And ultimately, that is what all human science is devoted to. Predicting the future so we can choose actions that let us manipulate the future.

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          • #6
            Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

            Originally posted by PanzerHans View Post
            This reminds me of Descartes, and his work.

            "Cogito, Ergo Sum"

            Interesting stuff...but you'd drive yourself crazy thinking too much on these lines. I think therefore I am. My humanity, and all it encompasses, has to be based on some kind of reality..now who's reality is another question I suppose.

            kudos Panzer...I was going to refer to "The Matrix" ...phooey on me. "Cogito, Ergo Sum"...I think therefore I am. Yes?
            sigpic
            |TG-1st|Grunt
            ARMA Admin (retired)
            Pathfinder-Spartan 5

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            • #7
              Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

              Originally posted by AMosely View Post
              This may not appeal to all viewers, but the Scientology thread made me recall reading this article, so I'm posting it in case anyone finds it interesting.

              The NYTimes had an interesting article on Tuesday on cosmology, specificially recent calculations that seem to lend more credit to what's called the Boltzmann Brain theory (or paradox), which, if true, "would mean that you yourself reading this article are more likely to be some momentary fluctuation in a field of matter and energy out in space than a person with a real past born through billions of years of evolution in an orderly star-spangled cosmos. Your memories and the world you think you see around you are illusions." The funny thing about the Boltzmann Brain is that no one, including most cosmologists, want to believe it. Do you?

              http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/15/sc...scp=2&sq=brain
              As long as Boltzmann and his brain keep suppling the beer and sex, I could really care less.
              I’m not racists, I have republican friends. Radio show host.
              - "The essence of tyranny is the denial of complexity". -Jacob Burkhardt
              - "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" - Emerson
              - "People should not be afraid of it's government, government should be afraid of it's People." - Line from V for Vendetta
              - If software were as unreliable as economic theory, there wouldn't be a plane made of anything other than paper that could get off the ground. Jim Fawcette
              - "Let me now state what seems to me the decisive objection to any conservatism which deserves to be called such. It is that by its very nature it cannot offer an alternative to the direction in which we are moving." -Friedrich Hayek
              - "Don't waist your time on me your already the voice inside my head." Blink 182 to my wife

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              • #8
                Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

                Originally posted by Grunt 70 View Post
                "Cogito, Ergo Sum"...I think therefore I am. Yes?
                Spot on.
                --
                VI VI VI - the number of the beast

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                • #9
                  Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

                  Originally posted by Kerostasis View Post
                  By contrast, if you assume the universe was created under the direction of an outside entity, the entire Boltzman paradox disappears completely. Randomly created brains and randomly created universes both have the same probability here : zero. So Christians don't have to worry about this phenomena at all.
                  Unless that outside entity you speak of is also a merely part of a Bolzmann brain, existing only as a figment of a low-entropy fluctuation in the cosmos. Remember - time itself, and therefore all matter in time, is relative.

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                  • #10
                    Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

                    Granted, if our universe was an intentionally created subset of a larger universe that was accidentally created, then the problem doesn't go away, it's just removed to a higher level. But that's not how Christian theology is generally interpreted anyway, so that's not really a problem. Christian theology holds that our universe is an intentionally created derivative of the Uncreated One, who Was before time itself -- an idea that is certainly confusing enough on its own, but doesn't suffer from the Boltzman paradox at all.

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                    • #11
                      Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

                      Originally posted by Kerostasis View Post
                      Granted, if our universe was an intentionally created subset of a larger universe that was accidentally created, then the problem doesn't go away, it's just removed to a higher level. But that's not how Christian theology is generally interpreted anyway, so that's not really a problem. Christian theology holds that our universe is an intentionally created derivative of the Uncreated One, who Was before time itself -- an idea that is certainly confusing enough on its own, but doesn't suffer from the Boltzman paradox at all.
                      Touche'!

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                      • #12
                        Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

                        I have thought about this issue before not knowing the name Boltzmann's Brain so thanks for that AMosely.

                        I have a problem/paradox that wasn't addressed in the article or the brief wikipedia write-up.

                        Scientists are making observations and calculations about the size of the universe, among other things. Based on this some conclude that the probability of being a freaky observer or Boltzmann Brain is infinitely higher than the probability of being a normal observer or human brain. However, if that is the case then all your memories are false. This includes the observations and calculations that were used to predict the likelihood of being a freaky observer!

                        edit: On second thought this might not be a paradox at all but it seems problematic.

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                        • #13
                          Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

                          I just think I live in the center of my own private universe, as do you all :).

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                          • #14
                            Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

                            Originally posted by RandomGuy View Post
                            I have thought about this issue before not knowing the name Boltzmann's Brain so thanks for that AMosely.

                            I have a problem/paradox that wasn't addressed in the article or the brief wikipedia write-up.

                            Scientists are making observations and calculations about the size of the universe, among other things. Based on this some conclude that the probability of being a freaky observer or Boltzmann Brain is infinitely higher than the probability of being a normal observer or human brain. However, if that is the case then all your memories are false. This includes the observations and calculations that were used to predict the likelihood of being a freaky observer!

                            edit: On second thought this might not be a paradox at all but it seems problematic.
                            I think that is the paradox. When science predicts that science doesn't exist, most people who ponder such things conclude that we're missing something.

                            Talk about working yourself out of a job.

                            I'm not sure how this affects the argument but I believe one of the statements in the article was incorrect. The arcticle says * that the universe's expansion is getting faster. This is not so. It would require an energy source from "outside" the universe to enter the universe or violate several physical laws about conservation of energy, etc. It is also not consistent with observation. Hubble's Law discusses how the further away stellar objects are the faster they are receding from us or racing toward us. Since distant light is old light, this tells us that the expansion is slowing.

                            My understanding of the question around dark matter is not about being some sort of magic energy pump to disintegrate the universe but instead astronomers and physicists attempt to determine how much dark matter there is in the universe. The estimated matter (ex-dark matter) is not sufficient to slow the universe's expansion, in which case it will eventually become dark and cold and utterly lifeless. If there is sufficient dark matter, gravity will eventually slow the expansion and begin a long contraction, which will end with an infinitely hot, dense, and utterly lifeless universe.

                            So live it up!

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                            • #15
                              Re: You are nothing : Boltzmann's Brain and Cosmic Entropy

                              Originally posted by leejo View Post
                              The arcticle says * that the universe's expansion is getting faster. This is not so. It would require an energy source from "outside" the universe to enter the universe or violate several physical laws about conservation of energy, etc. It is also not consistent with observation. Hubble's Law discusses how the further away stellar objects are the faster they are receding from us or racing toward us. Since distant light is old light, this tells us that the expansion is slowing.
                              See, the thing is, almost ALL of the galaxies observed are moving away from us, stretching out the wavelength of the light emitted from the stars (this is called a red-shift). And there is a theorized energy, dark energy as it's creatively called, is gravitationally repulsive, and is believed to take up about 75% of everything in the universe, due to observations of the light emmited by the big bang (which is still bouncing around as microwaves). Google WMAP, it's actually pretty interesting.

                              Yes, I read too much. :P

                              I'd actually prefer to think of myself like as a random fluctuation with not past, as if all the past was an illusion, i'd have made no mistakes, but technically still learnt from them. Plus it's just way more interesting to think that way.

                              P.S. my first post! yay!
                              sigpic

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