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Our tax dollars now tell us that Star Trek's "transporters" are not possible.

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Jack Briggs, Feb 10, 2005.

  1. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    "I find your lack of Faith disturbing" (in my Darth Vader voice). This raises an interesting proposition. At what point in our history would we be able to make satisfactory claims? Do we have to visit every galaxy in the universe before we can establish natural laws? Do we have to travel in time before we can validate the Big Bang?

    Usually the people leading the scientific argument for a certain point of view offer some observation data or mathematical proof to support their proposition or the error in the proposition they are protesting. I haven't seen this done for any of the exotic alternate theories proposed. "I think therefore I am" is a great philosophical idea but doesn't practically work out in science. An idea with no basis in mathematics or observational data is not science it is science fiction (with the emphasis on fiction [​IMG] ).

    If the accuser can use intuition but the accused must submit universal facts there is no way the accused can positively resolve the discussion. Science is not like the law. In science you are guilty until proven innocent. Without offering an alternate theory based in some sort of fact, not continuing intuition, I don't see how the discussion can ever be resolved.

    Cheers,

    Kenneth
     
  2. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Not knowing everything about the universe is not the same as not knowing anything about the universe. If there were no universal truths, no law of nature on which we could depend, there would be virtually no technology. But because there are universal truths, because there are laws of nature on which we can always depend, we have cell phones, laser pointers, steam engines, and fizzy drinks. And these things never, ever fail because the laws on nature on which they depend let us down. The four forces of nature and all their consequences (electromagnetic spectrum, nuclear interactions with stars, elements in nature, etc.) are observed to be true in every galaxy we've ever looked at. This is as universal as truth gets, and unless you can identify a phenomenon that you're attempting to explain by introducing the hypothesis that laws of nature are not universal, your hypothesis has absolutely no merit whatsoever.

    Personally, I think we know a great deal about the universe. There are very few observed phenomena for which we don't have a standing theory, and we are at a time when we are discovering what the universe will and will not allow even without the ability to actually do everything allowable. In other words, our knowledge presently exceeds our ability to take advantage of all the things we know. I believe we are at the cusp of a transition period where we will begin to put our knowledge of the universe to greater use as we harness more energy. Singularity-powered X-ray lasers, wormholes, even time portals are outside our reach not for lack of knowledge, but because of our current inability to harness the energy required to build such structures. We understand how these things would work if we could only build them.

    Transporter technology, however, is something that is so far “out there”, that we don't know how it would work, even if we could harness the energy to build it. I think my method would work best (as opposed to Kenneth's lousy methods [​IMG]), but even my method presupposes that we can build a device like a “quantum probability wave generator” – a device that we have no idea whether the universe will allow. We know we need to vary quantum probabilities, but we don't know how it can be done, or even if the universe will allow us to do so. This necessarily puts my suggested transporter technology in the realm of magic since it is an idea unsupported by observations in nature. As such, I have no problem declaring that my method of building a transporter is impossible. It's an elegant idea, though. But so is antigravity, and I don't see any data or observations in nature to support that, either (at least at non-intergalactic distances).
     
  3. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    "You talkin' to me, you must be talkin' to me; caus' ain't no one else here." [​IMG]

    Seriously, Quantum Mechanics are just a big black box to me (too long hair for my little BSME [​IMG] ). Kind of a BFM approach (Black something Magic, if you know what I mean [​IMG] ). So I figured I'd already covered them when I offered magic as a solution :p)

    Besides, I'd be as nervous as a certain Enterprise doctor when I'm letting a supercomputer put my molecules back together. If I have to rely on a quadrillion lottery numbers coming up simultaneously, I think I'll just take the stairs [​IMG]

    Kenneth
     
  4. Brad Porter

    Brad Porter Screenwriter

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    Actually, my preferred approach to the transporter idea would be to produce an exact copy of the transported object and then to keep or destroy the original. As far as my recreated self was concerned, it would feel like I had actually transported since even the minutest details of my brain's electrochemical structure would have been duplicated. As for my copied self, I could go on about my business while my clone was off somewhere else acting exactly as I would. All of the data used to reconstruct me could be stored off somewhere so that I could be "resurrected" in that exact state at any time or place in the future.

    This technology could be used for transporting animals (including people) around the planet because the constituent chemicals are pretty cheap and abundant around here and our data transfer capability is always improving. It would be more difficult to do this somewhere else like Mars because the replicator and all of the necessary elements would need to be transported to the remote site using the old-fashioned system.

    I like this technology because it is so much more useful for manufacturing things, even though it doesn't actually transport anything. Now you just have to figure out how to make an ultra mega super high-fidelity copy of a person without killing them and also how to construct a functioning person out of some disassembled vats of goo. Unless of course you subscribe to some sort of a "human soul" premise - in which case you'll need to spend your time training to hunt and kill my zombiefied clones all over the solar system. Mwuhahahahahaha! [​IMG]

    Brad
     
  5. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Kenneth, yeah, you heard me! Though I must confess that quantum mechanics does have a striking resemblance to BFM.

    Brad, that's just so distasteful. I'd have to go hunt my own replicants down and kill them all. Of course, I'd be doing it purely out of self defense, because they'd be hunting me down, trying to kill me. Never mind that they'd also be acting in self-defense -- the point is, we'd all be hunting each other down, trying to kill each other, because that's just what I would do to defend myself, and I couldn't expect my replicants to act any differently.

    I can see it now:
    Replicate bananas and pentiums all you want, but once you start replicating people, we'll quickly end up like the Krell.
     
  6. Steeve Bergeron

    Steeve Bergeron Cinematographer

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    Are you saying that we've pretty much seen everything the universe as to offer? I hardly think so. I think we'll see things that we never thought possible when we'll be able to explore the universe. If we don't exterminate ourselves before that time comes, of course.
     
  7. RobertR

    RobertR Executive Producer

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    Care to give an example?
     
  8. Steeve Bergeron

    Steeve Bergeron Cinematographer

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    How about God? How about the human soul?
     
  9. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    Steve,

    You really like to tempt the thread lock genie don't you [​IMG]

    Would you really want a scientific explanation for those two examples?

    Do you have more corporeal things you would like science to prove?

    Kenneth
     
  10. RobertR

    RobertR Executive Producer

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    Can you please confine your examples to things that are objectively observed, without getting into threadlock territory?
     
  11. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Both of these are phenomena that cannot be seen or measured and are therefore outside the application of the scientific method. They don't exist in the work of science. If you think scientists should be open to believing in such things, then I have good news for you: They already are! But if you want scientists to begin formulating theories to explain phenomena that cannot be seen or measured, then that's simply not going to happen.
     
  12. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    Because as Brian noted, our science has changed since the Renaissance. Prior to the last few hundred years many of our scientific "facts" were based on philosophy and not observational data. The Sun and planets revolved around the Earth because WE were the center of the Universe (Ptolomy), the heavens were perfect and unchanging because that was where the devine resided, and you could bleed a person to make them healthy since it was evil spirits that make one ill.

    Since then we have changed our approach. Now an idea must be based on some observable phenomenon or a physical/mathematical derivation. We now use the entire observable spectrum (that we are aware of) to validate our conclusions; from the short (Gamma rays, X-rays, Ultraviolet rays), to the medium (visible light), to the long (infra-red and radio). We have made changes our existing knowledge since that time but we haven't generally rewrote the book as we did in the transition to modern science. Einstein didn't invalidate Newton, he simply showed that Newton's equations were simplifications that worked in a very specific environment. Einstein didn't invalidate inertia, he simply indicated that it changes as your velocity increases.

    So, because of that it is possible (in fact probable) that our knowledge will change and continue to grow. However, unless your supposition that the Universe is fundamentally different in other locations is true (a fact not supported by the Electromagnetic spectrum we can currently observe) we shouldn't see fundamental rewrites of our science as we have done prior to the Renaissance.

    Kenneth
     
  13. Steeve Bergeron

    Steeve Bergeron Cinematographer

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    If physical laws are the same everywhere in the universe, then I agree with your statement.
     
  14. RobertR

    RobertR Executive Producer

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    And they were completely inapplicable, because they don't involve anything objectively observed for science to "explain". Stay on the subject at hand--your speculation that we may observe changes in physical laws elsewhere. There is zero basis for that claim.
     
  15. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    You know I think the line they used from the analysis of the Vinland map on Nova a couple of weeks ago might be appropriate to this discussion. One of the labs said,

    "Science deals in Fact not truth. We present the facts and you construct your own truth."

    I think ultimately that is probably a key point to the discussion that can't be resolved at this time. For example:

    Fact: There are immense gravity wells in the Universe, some located where stars used to be. These appear to consume large amounts of matter (judging from the energy we detect coming from them).

    Truth: They probably are black holes. But they could also be the giant super dense star consuming space spider (although I suspect far less likely [​IMG] ).

    Fact: Residual radiation and motion of the detectable universe indicates that there was a massive explosion of matter from a central location.

    Truth: This is probably the Big Bang. However, with that kind of a beginning it could also be compatible with several philosophical alternatives. We will probably never know for sure on this one.

    Rather than debating which facts are true at this time (facts tend to sort themselves out in their own time as new information and techniques become available) the only debate should be on the truth, which ultimately belongs to each persons own interpretation of the facts. How's that for a cop out? [​IMG]

    Cheers,

    Kenneth
     
  16. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    With this statement, I can see that we’ll never agree. If a phenomenon cannot be observed, then what good does it do us to presume it exists? Absolutely nothing can be gained by totally making something up that has never been seen in nature, presuming it exists, and then formulating theories to explain it that can never be tested. If the phenomenon you want to explore has never been observed to exist in nature, then why do you want to explore it? What difference can it possibly make whether it exists or not? If it’s never been observed, then it may as well not exist, because either way it has absolutely no impact on us whatsoever since we can’t even see it. Therefore, it doesn’t exist, certainly for the purpose of learning anything new about the universe. Observation comes first, then speculation. Come back to me when your speculation is intended to explain something you’ve actually observed.

    I think there’s a fundamental misunderstanding here of what science does. Why are we here? What is the ultimate purpose of intelligent life? These are questions that have no more to do with science than they have to do with gymnastics. Yet I never see anyone accusing gymnasts of being arrogant or closed-minded for refusing to acknowledge these questions in their work simply because they have nothing to do with back flips. Why is it always the scientists who are picked on for ignoring subjects that have nothing to do with their work? Why do so many people feel that scientists have an obligation to explain, explore, or even acknowledge subjects that are completely outside the scope of their work?

    The “science-way or the highway” characterization is simple projection. It’s not the scientists who insist that their work product is the only means of understanding the universe. Rather, it is those who fail to understand what science does who insist that science should change its method to address their pet concerns and satisfy their own fancy.

    Go pick on the gymnast, mathematician, or investment banker for not explaining the human soul with somersaults, equations, or investment strategies. Be sure to point out their arrogance if they refuse to address or even acknowledge this subject in their work. See what kind of response you get from them.
     
  17. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    GAAAAHH! I actually intended my previous post to be humorous, but on re-reading it, I think it comes across as a bit heavy-handed. I even left out a joke I intended to make about the "Mad Scientist" vs. the "Mad Gymnast." Drat.

    This discussion has been nothing if not thrilling, and I'm very grateful, Steeve, for your participation. Please don't feel that I'm picking on you, because it's Kenneth I'm really picking on. [​IMG] I've learned a lot here, and the one notion on which we disagree is excellent fodder for enlightened discussion.

    Of course, being a Mad Scientist myself, I tend to be rather set in my ways. (Well, okay, truth be told, I'm not really a Mad Scientist. I'm just a Crackpot Scientist. But I am due for a promotion soon.)
     
  18. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    You better watch out or I'll arrange for you to research the giant super dense star eating space spider :p)

    Seriously I think the key question of the debate is:

    "What didn't we know, and when didn't we know it?" [​IMG]

    Kenneth
     
  19. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    ....w...will it befriend a pig and be voiced by Debbie Reynolds?
     
  20. Steeve Bergeron

    Steeve Bergeron Cinematographer

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    I like that quote.

    Here's a quote that pretty much sums up what I think:

    "It's quite conceivable that the universe doesn't run along lines which are in tune with human intuition. The universe... might be chaotic, completely irrational on the whole, but, here and there, there might be pockets of rationality - rather like oases of order within some infinity of chaos... So it is quite possible that things are not only strange, but much stranger than we could ever imagine." - John Barrow, physicist.

    I could not have said it any better. I completely agree with him.
     

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