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Think More, Act Less

All the answers you seek are within you.

There are limitations to what human beings can do, but there are no limitations to what we can achieve through the strength of our minds. What makes us different from the rest of the living forms is our intellectual prowess. The answers to the deepest questions of humanity will not be found in laboratories or in high speed particle accelerators. It is hidden in the depths of our own consciousness. Sure, we might need fancy gadgets to prove to our peers that we have found the answers. Because, without going through the same thought process themselves, the only way they will ‘get you’ is if you can ‘prove’ it. But they are not necessities in the pursuit of truth, they are only necessary to prove that you have won the pursuit of truth. Just like you don’t need the white string at the end of the race to win the race, but only to prove that you won the race. In our quest for answers, we should reflect more and act less.

Posted in Musings, Science on March 1, 2005


8 Responses

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  1. Reghu says

    //we should reflect more and act less

    Agreed. But the notion that the human mind is “limitless” (I know u dint say it!) is one concept I see almost everyone using. Granted we havent tapped its full potential, and that we have yet not built anything quite like it, nor figured out if conciousness is replicable… but still, the human mind is bound by:

    1. our perception: most notable when a lecturer talks about a 4th or 5th dimension… we are stuck in the same state a flat worm wud b if asked to think of a “3rd dimension”. we are not built to imagine that, no matter how hard we try, we cannot “visualise” it!

    2. our senses: can we “imagine” a colour other than the ones we see? but the colours we see are solely dependent on the wavelength of light that manages to get through to our surroundings. We cant imagine how “ultra violet” looks like, even though it is just another colour for beings who are capable of seeing it…

    3. brain’s physical limits: calculations/sec is a finite number (as far as I have read)… just that we have reached nowhere near the capabilities…!

    As a disclaimer… all of the above IMHO :)

  2. Surya says

    Reghu,

    I was thinking of (1) when I wrote this, so let me answer that first. The human mind IS capable of preceiving the higher dimensions. Thats possibly what the enlightment under the Bodhi tree was all about. And I my point was that, to understand the higher dimensions, the way to go is not just experimenting, but to reflect in solitude. And when I say solitude, I mean like the deerskin on a mountain top kind of solitude and the reflection that is possible only when all senses have been shut out. I think people have done it before us and so can we.

    2) I am not sure I would consider senses as part of the “mind”. The five senses are but windows to one’s innerself. A very debatable point, I agree, but I think perception of senses are separate from the capabilities of the mind. It is the means of input to the system, not the system itself.
    3) hmm..

    Cheers,
    Surya

  3. Reghu says

    there’s only one way of countering what you said about point 1… by calling it “wishful thinking”… or the never ending optimism that humans have…

    in other words… why is it that we have to eternally hope that there’s always room for more details? I have heard the stories of how first we thot molecules were the smallest entity, then we discovered atoms, then nowadays its quarks and such… and at this point almost everyone “believes” this is not the end, and we’d forever go further down… why?

    just because we cant understand higher dimensions (and add to that the idea that we think there might be others “better” than us), should we plainly conclude that its our personal limit, but not an absolute limit?!

    u might have heard of Godel’s incompleteness theorem… I like how Douglas Hofstadter explains these things… check out the last box at this link…

    coming back, I admit there is a lot we still dont know about ultra-dimensional perception etc… but that doesnt mean we can straightaway assume that its “possible”… your argument that it’s “possible” remains an assertion :)

  4. Naveen says

    Yes we can dream. That’s all that’s there to it, this post itself is a good example.

    The reason why science is successful is because experimentation is it’s main and infact only pillar. The very gadgets you deny the importance, are according to me central to experimentation, hence science, hence humanity.

    To me pursuit of truth is in itself a dream. For science there is no “truth”.

    Now about the 4th or 5th dimension incapicity of human mind. I think it’s a wrong lesson passed on by incomplete understanding, arguably of the teachers at the seconday schools.

    The dimension here is the dimension of vectors. Vectors are nothing but a group of numbers. Mathematicians grouped numbers and called them vectors and found some interesting patterns while playing around with them, which is what they do. Physicists then came along and found out that Force when represented by numbers grouped together could take care of the direction aspect of it.

    Well, you can group more than three numbers, so there definitely exists four dimensional and five dimensional vectors. But they don’t have any counterpart in directions.

    Later in quantum mechanics, physicists found another use, to represent the state, they needed vectors of infinite dimensions. But then again it has not got anything to do with direction.

  5. Surya says

    >>in other words… why is it that we have to eternally hope that there’s always room for more details? >>and at this point almost everyone “believes” this is not the end, and we’d forever go further down. why?
    ..because whatever details we have so far cant seem to explain everything we see around us. So, there is room for more knowledge, be it more details or just different knowledge. And for the same reason that we dont know so much, we believe that this is not the end.

    >>just because we cant understand higher dimensions (and add to that the idea that we think there might be others “better” than us), should we plainly conclude that its our personal limit, but not an absolute limit?!
    ..same reason. there are unexplained things. Between them having an explantaion and not having an explantaion, I believe the former. So its not an absolute limit. And hence it is a personal limit.

    >> u might have heard of Godel’s incompleteness theorem… I like how Douglas Hofstadter explains these things… check out the last box at this link.
    ..I have a whole lot of things to write abt Gödel’s theorem. Not that I am being presumptious that I am capable of comprehending it fully, but just that I have so many opinions ( questions, rather) abt it from what I have read, that it was gonna be the material for one of my future posts (just wanna make sure I have at least a few solid arguments before i get bashed up totally )So, watch out for that, and we will discuss that more later..coz i am sure u will have a lot to say then ;) Thanks for the link. Will make sure I read that too before I make my presumptious post.

    >> coming back, I admit there is a lot we still dont know about ultra-dimensional perception etc… but that doesnt mean we can straightaway assume that its “possible”… your argument that it’s “possible” remains an assertion :)
    ..my post was not to say that the ultra-dimensional preception is possible (tho I said so without a substantiation in the subsequent comment). May be we are totally off tangent when it comes to the concept of dimensions etc. Who knows. But the point is there is an answer (and that is my firm belief and I know I dont have have the white string to prove that yet coz we havent won the race, but I believe there will be a white string when we get there). And JUST experimentation is not good enough. If you look at the progress of science today, there is over-emphasis on experimentation and proof. And not enough reflection. Sometimes,you need to just reflect to find the right answers. The proof will follow, when u have all the pieces. Its like a jigsaw puzzle. Sometime you cant know if what what you have put together in so far for your jigsaw puzzle is right, until u finish the entire jigsaw. It takes vision, imagination and faith to go ahead. And not try to prove at every step that you have the right solution so far.

    ..Thanks for the comment, tho u made my poor brains slog.

  6. Surya says

    >> Yes we can dream. That’s all that’s there to it, this post itself is a good example.
    ..am not sure how this post is an example to the idea that the all we can do is dream. Is that what you meant?

    >> The reason why science is successful is because experimentation is it’s main and infact only pillar. The very gadgets you deny the importance, are according to me central to experimentation, hence science, hence humanity.
    ..I could agree that experimentation is central to science. But science is not necessarily central to humanity. How can you be so sure experimentation is the way to go for us to find the answers that humanity seeks? In the olden times, people used to have ‘visions’. We scoff at them now. What if in the unforseeable future, people scoff at our experimentation methodologies. Doesnt seem entirely impossible. A lot of the ancient Indian texts hint at solutions to questions that concern humanity at large. And the one central difference between our ancient methodologies, and say the Western science, was that the Western world had more ‘technology’, ‘more experimentaion’, and ‘more scientific methods’. The reasons could be political, but the world has more or less ‘chosen’ to proceed with the Wester schools, arguably also because they were thought to be better. But the point is there are different ways to arrive at the truth. Experimentation (and Science, if our definition of Science is too hung up on experimentation) may not be the most efficient, even if it MAY also eventually lead there. And given our overemphasis on this way and yet the lack of success, isnt it time we tried a different tack? May be we need a visionary to come up with a new path altogether. But I believe the age old method of reflection has not been fully explored. There is still potential there, and IMO, will be a more efficient way to the answers we seek! Einstein wrote his relativity theory paper from a tax office in Berlin, not his Princeton research lab.

    >> To me pursuit of truth is in itself a dream. For science there is no “truth”.
    ..A dream is the beginning. Add to it the faith that you will succeed and the perseverance to endure what comes your way, coupled with talent and a pinch of luck , you get to realisation of the dream.
    I disagree that there is no truth for science. If I interpret your statement correctly, let me ask – if we are not seeking the ‘truth’, what exactly is Science seeking. Untruthful answers?

    >>Now about the 4th or 5th dimension incapicity of human mind..:

    ..Dimensions in math are not the same as dimensions in Physics. And it is not fair to even compare them as such. I dont know who borrowed from who (Mathematicians and Physicists) and thats irrelvant. But when the string theory states there are dimensions N = 10, they are not referring to just a bunch of ten numbers together. TO borrow Reghu’s flatworm, lets say you put a flatworm in a flat prison. And you take it out and transfer it to another prison by lifting it up, none of the flatworm mathematicians, with their two dimensional mathematics, can explain it. But the flatworm Physicists who could understand the third dimension can find a unifying equation that can explain the flatworm’s breach of prison through ‘space’ as well as the flatworm breaking open the flatprison door and crawling to the adjacent flat prison. Anyways, dimensions need not represent directions like they do in Math (and hence they are not the same as dimensions of vectors). They can be temporal or they could represent energy or they could represent matter, or may be things we never thought of before.

    ..To clarify, my post is not a case for dimensions. Like in my previous comment, these explanations could eventually turn out to be off tangent. But for now, thats the best we have got and it seems to be the right direction, as far as we can see.

    ..Naveen, great to hear from u after a long time. Hope things are great in SG. And thanks for the comment. Cheers.

  7. Naveen says

    Hey, that’s a straight out response. Frank, great. This got to be long, your response to my comment touches two different aspects.

    First the scientific one.

    Dimensions:

    Why do we say we can’t understand 4th or 5th dimension? For me, it was because, 3 dimensions covered space, x, y and z axis, hence the fourth dimension did not make any sense. I couldn’t imagine it.

    >> Dimensions in math are not the
    >> same as dimensions in Physics.

    Why is that? Dimension is dimension of vectors, and it is the same vector in both maths and physics. Vectors is first a mathematical construct, which physicist use in theories. In mathematics vectors doesn’t mean anything, it is in physics that we attach meanings to mathematical constructs.

    To represent direction, vectors can be used. But vectors only upto 3 dimensions is used (x, y, z axes), because that is enough to explain the theory.

    In quantum mechanics (which i know a bit), and in string theory ( you said about N =10 dimension, I would think they are refering to dimension of vectors, I need to verify this) when they refer to dimensions greater that 3, they are refering to dimension of vectors.

    Thus vectors represent entirely different things, in three different theories in physics. The theories being, dynamics and related areas, quantum mechanics, string theory.

    So when one says, in quantum mechanics there are vectors of infinite dimensions, but I can’t imagine more than three dimensions, we are refering to completely different application of vectors in physics.

    I don’t know about the flatworm that you referred to. Will read about it.

    The second aspect, I will separate it out as another comment.

  8. Reghu says

    because whatever details we have so far cant seem to explain everything we see around us.Agreed there! but isnt that what Godel is trying to tell us? …that we might get to a point where we cannot explain everything we see around us… simply because what we “see” around is is what we are designed to percieve! (that we are part of the system we are trying to explain).

    stating that a mere “reflection” could provide us such answers is pure optimism…

    It is one step worse than the ongoing debates about whether a man-made machine can achieve self-awareness… atleast in the case of those machines, the physics is not what creates the hinderance! (Ok, I went on a tangent there, maybe a lil point got thru)…

    coming back… re-stating the assumption (“…that is my firm belief and I know I dont have have the white string to prove that yet…”) does not make it any more credible :D



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