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Quark (2/13)



  1. Yay, verily, 'tis Satan calling... For it were God, then I would expect all those sounds, in different parts of the world, to sound similar and they don't. Everyone knows, God uses proprietary VSTs... and the Devil has the best tunes.
  2. I would have thought the definition of false dichotomy is enough, without the need for a super computer hypothesis. Or any hypothesis for that matter. A false dichotomy is where you declare an "all or nothing" state of affairs for the unknown, while ignoring all and any possibilities in between. How is declaring: "Either everything we can see, touch and feel is real or nothing is" not a false dichotomy? I didn't chastise him. I merely expressed slight disappointment. I appreciate what he meant but accepting that as an argument means we would have to assume The Matrix is real.
  3. He was in the water, so risked drowning. Would you hesitate to aid someone with a broken leg just because your company said it was outside of your 'zone'? What the hell are we becoming? If today's happy little story is anything to go by, I'm absolutely opposed to it. It's recently become of some concern in the UK, as it's already been proposed. I believe it should be resisted on all levels.
  4. Cloud computing. Is it potentially dangerous? At the risk of sounding somewhat Luddite, why did my alarm bells instantly start ringing when I first heard about The Cloud? Being of the generation who saw the very first home computers arrive, I'm naturally used to the hard solutions, where software resides on discs and later in USB sticks. I remember actually having to get my head around the concept of owning a hard drive. Now we're not just looking at a future where our files can be stored remotely - but soon, we'll be able to boot from a remote source - and have our software titles to hand on a shared resource. Is this set to depersonalise our computing experience in some way? I'm interested in your opinions. Obviously it makes a lot of sense as computer technology develops - perhaps from an ecological POV, while certainly from a convenience one. But how do you feel about cloud computing - the idea that one submits ones private documents and affairs to the aether, to be looked after in communal data banks? Is it an old fashioned desire to want to know precious things are safely stored in your office closet? I have to ask myself if am just the technological equivalent of the fool who stores his life-savings inside his mattress? How far away do you think we are from computers being sold without hard drives; just dumb processing terminals intended for 'public use'? For some reason, this whole idea makes me nervous, even though it makes technological sense in some ways. Imagine if the operating system itself requires a subscription or fair use policy. Could cloud computing pose an increased risk of government snooping and personal debt? Will a time come when the concept of 'owning a personal computer' becomes an outmoded concept? For the short term, do you think it is currently a safe option? I was looking at Dropbox this morning, wondering if I should take the plunge. Then it occurred to me, that if my computer is easy enough to exploit already, the implications for hackers and viruses could be immense? Onto the wider issue. Being a pessimist sometimes, I also can't help but wonder if it makes the idea of an EMP bomb redundant, when an entire civilisation's data is almost like a sitting duck. We're relying increasingly on data as a commodity these days, which means a future that seems to hold even more reliance for every day tasks. Everything from storing holiday snaps to supermarket logistics and food supply. It seems data is almost as crucial to our society and well-being as electricity itself. Being not a natural prophet of doom, my mind always looks for meaningful comparisons in places like water and electricity mains, for instance and ascertains that we have not yet all been killed off by a neighbouring tribe dropping a dead sheep in our water supply. However, I can almost envision future wars being fought using corrupt data instead of bullets. My other thought is that at some point, this will be a paid service. Don't keep up the payments and you basically lose your computer? Though presently, I'm concerned about my own, personal data. For instance, the audio computer I use in my recording studio never touches the internet. It is a closed system, with no outside interference of any kind. I control what files I share with other computers on my own premises. Just looking at how easy it is for a Windows computer to pick up a virus, even with security installed and running, makes me wonder if my data will be safe if I submit it to the 'cloud' at this point. Your thoughts?
  5. It is a false dichotomy, I'm just slightly disappointed you used science fiction to support your argument. I believe it's a philosophical question as hard to answer as whether God exists. Even if everything we're experiencing is an illusion, it's a pretty substantial one. Until we're presented with enough evidence of inconsistencies that are consistent with a super-computer hypothesis, then wouldn't that question be essentially meaningless?
  6. Where a case of human life rests in the balance. Just how is the loss of a human life good for any company unless you happen to be running a concentration camp or a private mercenary unit? Precisely why certain services should never be privatised. 'Douchebag' isn't a strong enough term. If I were late for work one morning because I'd stopped along the way to save someone's life, I'd expect my boss to understand.
  7. You make it hard for me and now I've run out of ideas. Intransigence must have it's limits for a believer, let alone a sceptic of New Age pseudo-science. I will get back to you with the mind-blowing truth as soon as my pyramid comes back, as it has currently been sent away for repairs.
  8. Why do we need to assume there had to be some, humongous some thing responsible for the existence of the Universe? By holding onto that precept, wouldn't we just be demonstrating our lack of comprehension of the no thing? Listen, buckle up, Jesus, Mohammed, Deli Lama... I've just taken my tablet for the day! Putting aside, for a moment, quantum fluctuations in a zero-point field - how much do you, I or any scientist alive, know about nothing? It's so illogical and so opposed to existence as we can perceive, that 'nothing' is almost inconceivable. I challenge you to sit and imagine nothing for an indeterminate amount of time. It manifests cancellations of all kinds on the most fundamental level of human thought. Even if your brain could genuinely think of nothing, it could only constitute a black, empty space, with silence - and that still equates to a something - merely by virtue of the occurrence of a contrast. You can falsify a state of nothing, because there is no known region of space where nothing exists, otherwise (assuming space is a thing) there would be no space. Yet you can't falsify it because you can't ever experience it. Nothing must be the singularly most falsifiable and non-falsifiable thing(?) in... existence...? Oh no... Doh! So given that we can't actually comprehend it - what is to say it couldn't have... existed... before everything else came into existence? Yeah, so this leads me to think, that if there ever was anything, anywhere near approaching the power of God - it would be nothing. I don't find God that hard to imagine. I do find 'nothing' very hard to imagine. The old adage: "Nothing comes of nothing" and the saying: "All this couldn't have come from nothing" I actually find harder to accept than that it did come from 'nothing'. To me, it makes perfect sense to say, if there was nothing to cause the Universe, then were no laws of physics to say it couldn't. Unless 'nothing' can be factored in to physics, in which case it suddenly becomes a something... if only a zero point field. A pseudo-nothing. Forgive me, but I find that very powerful. Much more powerful than any picture of God I could imagine. In my mind, he pops up looking like Slartybartfarst doing mad things for no apparent reason. Like something from Monty Python or Hitchhiker's Guide. And while we're talking about 'reasons' - why does there have to be a reason for anything? It's humans who apply reason, as part of our mechanism for understanding. Reason isn't a law of nature... is it? Consequence is; cause and effect; but it's only through reason that we are able to apply meaning to our existence. Just as without sight there is no light, only photons and energy emissions; and without ears there is no sound, only waves of vibration - without human reason, there is no meaning. There is nothing 'wonderful' without a mind to wonder. (Edit:) Then, since we ARE here, along with all our faculties, then reason, sight, sound and wonder must be included in the laws of nature...? Now I think I need to have a lie down...
  9. Please excuse my ignorance, as I know nothing about this subject and enjoy reading the discussions. It's just that I read somewhere that we're travelling through time at a certain rate (equivalent to the speed limit of the Universe - light speed?) and, according to some principle which states you can only move in one direction at once, before a change of direction through one axis is minused from the speed of your trajectory on the other axis, thus, as we travel through space, our velocity(?) through space is deducted from that of our speed(?) through time. Before anyone laughs, please note, the question marks are there to hopefully demonstrate I don't think we 'travel through time' at any 'speed' but some mathematical equivalent of that idea. If I've got ANY of that right (which I don't doubt I've made a complete mess of explaining) would it explain time dilation?
  10. I believe that God has been superceded by Heavy Metal. Replaced by Bruce Dickinson, to be precise.
  11. I don't know. What are they saying about each other? Firstly, quantum physicists are scientists; quantum physics being a branch of science. The misconception they're at loggerheads probably comes from the fact sub-atomic particles appear to flout the laws of ordinary physics. All this does is present a challenge (which some would argue scientists love anyway). Quantum mechanics seemed crazy to many traditional physicists on first blush but now the difficulty is more in uniting the two, rather than any outright disagreement between scientists themselves. Einstein might have said "God doesn't play dice..." but later on, I believe he conceded with something like "Maybe there's is something in it after all..." (sic) To the best of my knowledge, they don't speak badly of one another, so I would be inclined to label that as false. Secondly, it's not religion itself, but its advocates who disagree - and they do a fair amount of that between themselves. At the fundamental end of things - yes, we do see objections to science. Mainly where science disproves such quackery as 'Young Earth Creationism' hailing from both the extremist Christian and Islamic corners. Note, one does not have to be a scientist in order to critically evaluate the rationality of certain claims, much to the chagrin of the faithful. Just some modicum of common sense is often all it takes. Thirdly, we should also take into account the changing relationship between the church and scientists throughout the ages. In the past, the Church has swung from funding the work of certain scientists to vilifying and silencing them. Then there's the point, there is nothing to stop scientists believing in God, if they so wish. Sir Isaac Newton, for one, was a Christian and there is a significant percentage of modern day physicists who follow some form of religion. Obviously, the important thing is that in order to be effective investigators, they shouldn't allow personal beliefs to get in the way, such as making religious inferences from the findings. I take it you mean "Demote the existence of God"...? Well, actually, it's not strictly within the remit of science to either promote or demote God. You see, God, being supernatural, can't actually be classed as a scientific subject to begin with. Of course, if you take Lawrence Kraus or Richard Dawkins as well publicised examples, then you might be forgiven for thinking the whole of the scientific community is against religion... but that's not really the case, as I find it. Conversely, you can't expect any rational minded person to put up with some of the persecution endured by science teachers who have been threatened and bullied out of their jobs and communities in the radical sector of the U.S. Bible belt. Hope indeed! It's a classical mistake to say that without God, people automatically turn to hate and abuse. It's just not true. Its an old hackneyed argument that some radical believers use, in an effort to show how 'Godlessness' leads to sin. And it's also an hypocrisy, because certain religious institutions are well known for throwing bags of hate towards minority groups and The Roman Catholic Church has shown instances of child abuse. If school was difficult for someone, then wouldn't that possibly show a learning difficulty? Fine, so let's fill the gaps with myths and hocus pocus. That's sure to help them! What... you mean the same God who condemns homosexuals throughout his Holy book? The same God who never once spoke against slavery? Misogyny? No, I don't think there's much in that idea. Except the Church Of England seems to be easing up on a lot of so called 'sins' in recent times. Which just shows they know which side their bread is buttered. One look at the C.O.E.'s very reason for inception by Henry VIII speaks volumes! So scientists were involved in the processes which created the atom bomb. May I remind you, it was Christians who invented the ducking stool, the iron maiden, the boot, the rack and devised witch trials, which invariably ended with the burning of thousands of innocents...? Similarly, has not religion displaced hundreds of thousands of innocent lives? Still counting... As someone said, there are religious people with drug dependencies. By and large, I suppose it helps a lot of people to have something to believe in but this is by no means a hard and fast rule. Without doubt!!! As already mentioned - one perfect example is Pakistan and there have been others. But you also need to take into account the politics which go hand in hand with religion, turning it into a violent force. Islamic terrorists... suicide bombers... dirty bombers... disease and gas attacks... would they use a nuclear bomb if they could get hold of one? That's one theory I wouldn't like to put to the test. In fact, I think today, it's even MORE likely for some religiously crazed despot to think of using one than the average secularist who treasures their one and only chance at life. Er... yes. And...? Forgive me, but I fail to see the relevance of these questions to the original query. I couldn't agree more that anything can be used either for good or for bad. I'm not sure what you mean by 'anything intangible'...? Now you're getting into slightly more... tricky territory. Conspiracy theories are very fashionable at the moment. If you're unsure, my advice would be to research proven methods of determining the veracity of the claims. Familiarise yourself with terms such as Occams Razor and study the conspiracy to see if it's needlessly complicated or if pseudo-scientific terms are being coined in place of official ones. Study the material they want to show you in videos and determine their motives; ie: does it appear like they are wanting to sell you a book on religion or alternative science? While all the time remembering that the general public (especially in the U.S.A.) seem to be gripped by a growing trend of fear for national security and often would rather believe their own government is pulling all the strings, rather than that there could be a real threat from somewhere outside. Don't ask me why, but it's almost like some form of Stockholm syndrome in my humble opinion. Or maybe they feel safer the devil they know? A better question is: what would be the point of doing science if you had nothing to prove? In the case of astro-physics, there are many reasons, which range from space exploration to a life insurance policy for the human race over the next few thousand years. Take of it what you will, but one thing remains true - it's interesting, isn't it? Brian Cox said that we are living in a golden age of physics and space exploration, where we are on the brink of something that will really move the field forward in a huge way for subsequent generations. That should be reason enough, I would have thought. Ask an amateur astronomer why he sits on his back for hundreds of hours, observing the night sky. Something to talk about at his local astronomy group? Might get a star named after him one day... and how cool would that be? Sorry, I don't quite understand why you mention religion here... but all I can say is - ask a dedicated scientist what drives him/ her. Then I suggest you either sit tight or dive for cover. Science tells a story, more gripping and fascinating than any work of fiction. The story of our world, our Universe, our very existence. What better reward could you envisage... than discovery? Sure there is wealth & power involved in the industrial and political sectors. Not everyone is quite that innocent and honest. But that's human nature and a lot depends on what is being researched and why. No problem. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I hope you get something useful out of my reply. If not, thanks for reading anyway.
  12. I'm happy with the program because they include a sceptic. Unlike so many of the other paranormal shows, where they aren't given quite so much freedom to rain on the premise with well deserved levity. Other than that, it gives out great ideas for fiction. I like it, though this doesn't stop me falling asleep half way through.
  13. It doesn't need a mechanism. These things transcend ordinary mechanical things. Wheels and cogs etc. are just the inventions of man. Primitive contraptions. That's probably because there was a problem with his pyramid. Might not have been properly charged with energy. Or it could have been faulty and the energy could have escaped. Did anyone think to call in a pyramidologist to diagnose the fault? I suppose the humidity comes from the sweat left over from the slaves who built the pyramid. Fortean Times.
  14. Reincarnation is illogical for a wide range of reasons, including those which you've listed in your opening post - and which you've done well to mention. My first thought, when we start discussing cockroaches and beetles, is whether the concept could be an early attempt to describe evolution? Religion, being what it is, it doesn't seem too hard to imagine that such an idea could be converted/ individualised into a spiritual 'penalty system' to encourage morality and good behaviour. Does that make sense?
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