Levels of abstraction

Beyond the Edges

The color seen by the birds, the polarization seen by the bees, and the sound wave images seen by the bats were beyond comprehension to the prehistoric cave man. Magic! They are barely comprehensible to modern man.  But modern man, too, sometimes senses intrusions into his awareness from beyond his abilities to see into the world of abstractions.  He might even think that to be "abstract," something must be "not real."
The abstract patterns in the way that charged particles behaved (atoms and molecules are full of charged particles) didn't mesh properly. They didn't mesh at all!  They were, in fact, a mish-mash. 

A Swiss patent examiner made a mesh out of the messy mish-mash.  And, incidentally, demonstrated that there is deep, shadowy magic underlying human experience.  It is magic utterly beyond human experience or understanding, in any kind of completeness.  Energy (the modern meaning) is somehow the same thing as "mass," which is the property of matter that resists being pushed around.  Weird!

It's not that one can be "converted to" the other, as many who do not really see those abstract patterns frequently mistakenly mis-state.  It's that they are "merely different expressions of the same thing," as that Swiss patent examiner stated it.

Nor was that the end of the magic.  A couple of decades later, a group working in Cøpenhagen, Denmark discovered that energy and time (also position and momentum...and one other pair of abstractions) are inseverable parts of something within that magic world beyond human comprehension.

What is that something?  Who knows?  It lies in the deep shadows of the magical world outside of human perceptions, of even our mathematical "perceptions of the abstract."  We do know that it is closely related to that probability which could give nourishment and rest to the hungry and fatigued cave man.  In Boltzmann's equation, S = k lnW, the quantity "W" is the quantity of that shadowy abstraction.

And so we progress along . . . 
.  .  .  often imagining wondrous things, such as making our dreams come true just by wishing them so.  Technology feeds us pleasures free from work, and science teases us with its mysteries.   We might look at the abstract evidence that time and energy are entwined and inseverable aspects of some mysterious whole, and then mistakenly mis-state it as evidence that we can alter our world just by the way we think about it.  For so it just might seem .  .  . if we look no deeper than the cave man looked while imagining his neighbor's deer in his own storage pit, and the women of the people from the other side of the mountain cooking and serving that deer for him.

BRING   ME   ANOTHER   BEER!!  .  .  .  Damn useless women!Magic appealed to but not understood is a trap for the beast that cannot learn, cannot understand, cannot search for those deeper, abstract patterns.

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