Jump to content

Photo

The Speed of Thought

thought speed of thought speed of light

  • Please log in to reply
47 replies to this topic

#1
Pagafyr

Pagafyr

    Adventurer, Gamer, Want to be a Member of the Explorers Guild.

  • Premium Member
  • 3,028 posts

Thought travels.

 

I've read that Light is the fastest method of travel. 

 

Then does thought travels fastest on beams of light?

 

Thus do our thoughts travel as fast as light allows?

 

Do we seem to be able to slow our thoughts?



#2
Striker879

Striker879

    YAOF ... just what the world needed

  • Premium Member
  • 10,625 posts

What if thought travels faster than the speed of light?

 

When Einstein was doing his best to debunk the whole field of quantum physics he actually discovered something. Einstein was the one who discovered the math for what he termed "spooky" entanglement at a distance. Not all that long ago it was experimental proven to be true.

 

So electrons come in two flavours that are characterized by their spin. They can have a state called up spin or down spin. Quantum physics says that until you observe the electron it can be either spin, but once you observe it the electron will snap out of it's quantum state and have either up or down spin. Now if you take two electrons and put them into a state called entangled (which does pretty well exactly like the word implies ... what affects one has an affect on the other) and then separate the two electron by any distance (i.e. across the country or across the universe ... OK the experiment couldn't test that one but the math is the same) when you observe one of the entangled pair (thus locking it into either an up or down spin) the other entangled electron will snap into the opposite spin at exactly the same instant.

 

I've not heard anything about ideas on how that is achieved (the moving of the entangled state at faster than light speed) but I postulate whether or not thought between two "entangled" individuals could operate the same way. Perhaps we won't know that answer until we understand what (if anything) those extra dimensions required by string theory bring to the game.



#3
Perraine

Perraine

    Oh hoho hooohhh, Oh hoho hoohhh

  • Premium Member
  • 2,960 posts

Ahh, 'tis the EPR paradox of which you speak. I've seen some people try to debunk it, and some that say, it doesn't matter, because you cannot send pre-determined messages, due to the fact that the particles are in a superpostion of states before measurement and thus it's random, but ... That simply ignores or "hides" the fact that information IS still being sent FTL.

 

The same goes with the incompatibility between Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, simply because those two theories are almost never used in the same situation. But they DO cross over, and then ... Chaos ensues.

 

I don't believe "thought" is FTL, ( well, as far as we know so far) because it's a purely electro-chemical process - the firing of neurons - So that thought would (in theory) travel AT the speed of light not FTL.

 

As for "slowing down" (or speeding up thought) It's important to remember that we don't "consciously" perceive things in real time. Every thing that we "think" about or see, or react too actually, happened nanoseconds before hand, and our "unconscious" brains determine what we should "think" about and what we should ignore. So sometimes it WILL seem like time (or thought) has changed speed.



#4
Pagafyr

Pagafyr

    Adventurer, Gamer, Want to be a Member of the Explorers Guild.

  • Premium Member
  • 3,028 posts

I read about that.  Back when I became interested in physics I didn't realize how fascinating that was at first.

 

One day I walked into a bookstore, I saw a book with a Jaguar on the cover.  I thought it was about Jaguars.  The title was strange, but familiar in a way.  Probably because I had studied some of what you shared.

 

I took it back to the house.  I began to read and realized it wasn't about Jaguars.  Even though I realized it wasn't about the mysterious animal I kept reading it.

 

Quark and the Jaguar by Murry Gell-Mann.  I learned from that much more about physics and saw nature in a new light I liked.  Life got so much better.

 

I found myself looking at the world in ways I could not explain to myself, but I could see a part here, a part there, and some spaces with shade which were not clear enough to see without a little flashlight to help.  I could see outer space and the stars.  Assuredly as they are when I first gazed up at them during my youth.  With a bit more of awareness I saw how darkness became important.  Not total darkness, shades of it, blended in with the scene that gave the other items that were bright brilliantly colorful and so on what they had.

 

I'm still not mentally enlightened enough to fully comprehend what I have read on the topic.  I am having a better time of grasping the meanings as I progress though.  So please, add a link to book or a website where I may find that my minds light begins to get brightened enough to realize the full potential.



#5
Pagafyr

Pagafyr

    Adventurer, Gamer, Want to be a Member of the Explorers Guild.

  • Premium Member
  • 3,028 posts

The speed of thought though.  Strange that with light optic fibers it seems we can imitate light speed and now send messages across a fiber optic line.  Can the speed of a thought spoken over a fiber optic fiber via a computer Voip phone be tested for speed of how fast our words traveled?

 

I recall stuff about how fast we think compared to how fast some of us can speak words or write text with tools such as typewriters.



#6
Pagafyr

Pagafyr

    Adventurer, Gamer, Want to be a Member of the Explorers Guild.

  • Premium Member
  • 3,028 posts

If we are truly light like the movie Kpax suggested the person was, are we traveling as fast as light and unaware of it because we don't bother to note it.  Like once we learn a skill we just do it without thinking?



#7
Perraine

Perraine

    Oh hoho hooohhh, Oh hoho hoohhh

  • Premium Member
  • 2,960 posts

Well, technically, everything we view is seen at the speed of light. Sight is nothing more than our eyes (or our skin/body tissue in the case of Ultraviolet, Infra-red and Microwaves) reacting chemically to photons. What we "see" is simply light reflected from an object, but remember that light only travels at it's famous 186,000 miles, approximately,  per sec in a vacuum. It slows down considerably as soon as it hits something or passes through something.

 

As for "VOIP" or any signal travelling over fibre optic cable, remember it's not actually a "voice" recording, but simply digital data ( i.e. 1's and 0's) and that information can travel at "light speed" (the actual speed of which will be determined by the quality of the cable itself).

 

 

If you are just beginning your journey I might suggest a few books:

 

For a really fun and easy to follow introduction you could perhaps try "Strange Universe" by Bob Berman - It has almost no "technical" stuff, but it does explain MANY fascinating things.

 

"The Elegant Universe" by Brian Greene. - This book starts off fairly painlessly, but it does get quite "heavy" as the chapters go on. It's also more about the development of String Theory, however it touches upon many subjects.

 

I also liked "The Disappearing Spoon" by Sam Kean - This one is mostly about Chemistry and the Periodic Table, but it does cover virtually every scientific field in the process, and is a very enlightening read.

 

I wouldn't recommend anything by Lawrence Krauss. As brilliant and amazing a physicist as he is, I tend to find his views very "narrow", even condescending of other fields and other nationalities.



#8
Striker879

Striker879

    YAOF ... just what the world needed

  • Premium Member
  • 10,625 posts

Ahh, 'tis the EPR paradox of which you speak. I've seen some people try to debunk it, and some that say, it doesn't matter, because you cannot send pre-determined messages, due to the fact that the particles are in a superpostion of states before measurement and thus it's random, but ... That simply ignores or "hides" the fact that information IS still being sent FTL.

 

The same goes with the incompatibility between Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, simply because those two theories are almost never used in the same situation. But they DO cross over, and then ... Chaos ensues.

 

I don't believe "thought" is FTL, ( well, as far as we know so far) because it's a purely electro-chemical process - the firing of neurons - So that thought would (in theory) travel AT the speed of light not FTL.

 

As for "slowing down" (or speeding up thought) It's important to remember that we don't "consciously" perceive things in real time. Every thing that we "think" about or see, or react too actually, happened nanoseconds before hand, and our "unconscious" brains determine what we should "think" about and what we should ignore. So sometimes it WILL seem like time (or thought) has changed speed.

 

You have opened a fascinating window there for me Perraine. I have never before considered the temporal implications of our "experience" (given that we "exist" as this on going narrative within us somewhere ... our head perhaps). So following your logic (which I certainly agree with) we are always living in the past, reacting to things that have already happened.

 

Your observation regarding Brian Greene's work is also spot on ... I spent a lot of time jumping back to the appendix as I made my way through The Elegant Universe and then later The Fabric of the Cosmos. They are still on my recommending reading list. I'll be looking into some of the other suggestions you and Paga have offered ... been far too long since I last sat down to a good non-fiction read with book rather than screen in hand.



#9
Shadowheart328

Shadowheart328

    Enthusiast

  • Premium Member
  • 236 posts

It depends on how you're viewing it. 

From a purely scientific standpoint nothing is faster than light (as far as we are aware) hence the whole E = mc2 formula. At the end of the day, thoughts are just the result of electric signals between neurons which I believe the fastest recorded was about 120 m/s (and I'm not even sure those are the ones we use for thought). This is much, much slower than the speed of light. Granted we are talking about light in a vacuum, but even if that weren't the case, our brain and the nerves in it don't work in a vacuum either, and is still slower than light. In fact I'm pretty sure our thoughts are actually slower than the speed of sound. Now this is all assuming we are talking about the process of thinking, (the firing off of electrical signals between neurons) thoughts themselves are immaterial and thus don't 'move'.

From a philosophical perspective though it can be argued that thoughts are faster than light. The most common argument I've heard for that in some of my college classes, was that you can imagine yourself on the moon or some distant planet, and be there faster than it would take light to travel there. However, this isn't really thought's being faster than light, more than it is you painting a picture in your head, you're thoughts aren't moving to that distant planet or moon so they still aren't faster than light.

As for slowing down our thoughts, again it goes down to whether or not you are talking about scientifically (physically) or philosophically. In which case scientifically I don't believe we can, but philosophically, it's a tossup. 

Source: Math and Computer Science major, with physics minor (So not an authority on the field of physics, but I have basic knowledge to carry a conversation haha)



#10
HeyYou

HeyYou

    Resident poster

  • Supporter
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 9,544 posts

It depends on how you're viewing it. 

From a purely scientific standpoint nothing is faster than light (as far as we are aware) hence the whole E = mc2 formula. At the end of the day, thoughts are just the result of electric signals between neurons which I believe the fastest recorded was about 120 m/s (and I'm not even sure those are the ones we use for thought). This is much, much slower than the speed of light. Granted we are talking about light in a vacuum, but even if that weren't the case, our brain and the nerves in it don't work in a vacuum either, and is still slower than light. In fact I'm pretty sure our thoughts are actually slower than the speed of sound. Now this is all assuming we are talking about the process of thinking, (the firing off of electrical signals between neurons) thoughts themselves are immaterial and thus don't 'move'.

From a philosophical perspective though it can be argued that thoughts are faster than light. The most common argument I've heard for that in some of my college classes, was that you can imagine yourself on the moon or some distant planet, and be there faster than it would take light to travel there. However, this isn't really thought's being faster than light, more than it is you painting a picture in your head, you're thoughts aren't moving to that distant planet or moon so they still aren't faster than light.

As for slowing down our thoughts, again it goes down to whether or not you are talking about scientifically (physically) or philosophically. In which case scientifically I don't believe we can, but philosophically, it's a tossup. 

Source: Math and Computer Science major, with physics minor (So not an authority on the field of physics, but I have basic knowledge to carry a conversation haha)

Tachyons travel faster than light. :D







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: thought, speed of thought, speed of light

Page loaded in: 1.072 seconds