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Robert Tulip
2008-Mar-07, 04:42 AM
http://www.economist.com/books/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10797614

Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration of the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel
By Michio Kaku
Doubleday; 352 pages; $26.95. Allen Lane; 20

Physics

Facts from fiction
Mar 6th 2008
From The Economist print edition

“WHEN a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.” So runs Arthur C. Clarke's first law of prediction. Michio Kaku's latest book, “Physics of the Impossible”, aims to explain exactly why some visions of the future may eventually be realised while others are likely to remain beyond the bounds of possibility. It concludes that there is little in science fiction that could not, in principle, be realised.

novaderrik
2008-Mar-09, 09:05 PM
you mean it's not about this guy:
http://www.penguin.com.au/covers-jpg/9781846462733.jpg
or this guy:
http://www.venturebroswiki.com/vbwiki/images/e/e4/Impossible.jpg

Noclevername
2008-Mar-09, 11:12 PM
Mr Kaku identifies just perpetual-motion machines and clairvoyance as being truly beyond the realm of possibility. If you posit that information could be carried by entaglement, Clairvoyance is technically compatible with hypothetical physics. So it can't, strictly speaking, be ruled as "impossible". Just in the shadowy "maybe/maybe not" realm of unproven exotics like wormholes and alternate universes.


Teleportation involves creating a copy while destroying the original. Some proposed teleportation scenarios involve creating a copy while destroying the original.



Science fiction often explores such questions; science falls silent at this point. Mr Kaku's work helps to fill a void. Since (from my limited knowledge of it, based mainly on this review) this book appears to actually fall into the science fiction category, it doesn't really.

Ilya
2008-Mar-10, 12:29 AM
The moral issues concerned with the use of futuristic technology also get a mention. Being able to read a person's thoughts using an implant, for example, raises the possibility of being able to write a person's thoughts for them.

Or for one's self. Off the top of my head I can think of at least two books, one SF the other fantasy, in which protagonists deliberately implant false memories into themselves -- because in certain situations they have to be able to lie with absolute conviction. And in both cases implanted memories are reversible -- each protagonist leaves a way to recover their real memories eventually.

Noclevername
2008-Mar-10, 03:59 AM
Being able to alter my thoughts intentionally would be a big improvement over anti-depressants and therapy.

01101001
2008-Mar-28, 05:17 PM
Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration of the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel
By Michio Kaku

Perhaps not the worst possible radio listening:

Coast to Coast AM (site (http://www.coasttocoastam.com/)), Friday night, March 28, Art Bell interviews Michio Kaku about Physics of the Impossible (http://www.coasttocoastam.com/shows/2008/03/28.html), exact time unannounced.

Jason
2008-Mar-28, 06:54 PM
But destroying one thing while creating an exact copy isn't really teleportation - it's just copying. The original is still destroyed.
It's like the Otherland series, in which a cabal of rich industrialists decide that they'll have immortality by copying their minds into a virtual world and then killing their physical bodies. Such a process won't make you immortal - your copy is the one who is going to live forever. You will still be dead.

sarongsong
2008-Mar-28, 07:12 PM
Quoting the entire article---novel. :(
Other reviews (http://www.google.com/search?client=opera&rls=en&q=review+%22physics+of+the+impossible%22&sourceid=opera&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8)

Van Rijn
2008-Mar-28, 09:46 PM
It's like the Otherland series, in which a cabal of rich industrialists decide that they'll have immortality by copying their minds into a virtual world and then killing their physical bodies. Such a process won't make you immortal - your copy is the one who is going to live forever. You will still be dead.

That depends on your definition of "you." See "pattern identity (http://www.everything2.net/e2node/Pattern%2520Identity%2520Theory)." I'd say that, yes, a continuation of "you" is still you.

Jason
2008-Mar-28, 10:57 PM
I don't think a copy is a continuation.

Van Rijn
2008-Mar-28, 11:26 PM
I think we're all copies. That is, we drink water, breathe air, process chemicals, and most of the chemicals that makes up a person at 30 weren't there when they were 15.

SkepticJ
2008-Mar-28, 11:39 PM
I don't think a copy is a continuation.

If the copy is identical, then what is it, but a continuation?

If you read a book, does it matter to you that it isn't the original word-file on the author's computer; or a stapled stack of papers, fresh from the typewriter?

tdvance
2008-Mar-29, 01:23 AM
regarding copying a person--may I plug...er, "recommend" Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind--which discusses fact, theory, and idle speculation about the mind, including "is the copy really you?".

The way I see it the copy is "another you" (so the song would be wrong in this case--there will be another you), but the you that is in the physical body will still have to deal with dying. The other you won't care!

There's an old riddle--if you replace a plank in a wooden ship, is it the same ship?

Ok...now that you're sure of that, if you replace one plank per day in the ship till every plank has been replaced, is it the same ship?

Ok...now that you're sure of that, if you now take all the old planks that had been removed from the ship, and reassemble them into another ship, which one is the original ship?

Ok...you think you have that down, so if instead, you took the first ship apart all at once, built a second identical ship with the new planks, then reassembled the old ship, now which one is the original ship? Why does the order in which you assemble/disassemble matter?

And a related puzzle--break a piece of chalk in half, you have two pieces...which was the original and which is the new piece, if any? Now, replace chalk with "splitting bacterium". Does a bacterium die upon reproduction? Or can there be, for bacteria, "another you"?

Todd

tdvance
2008-Mar-29, 01:25 AM
"If you read a book, does it matter to you that it isn't the original word-file on the author's computer; or a stapled stack of papers, fresh from the typewriter?"

The argument is that it would matter to the book :)

Jason
2008-Mar-29, 05:46 AM
I think we're all copies. That is, we drink water, breathe air, process chemicals, and most of the chemicals that makes up a person at 30 weren't there when they were 15.
True, but not all of the chemicals change at the same time.

Jason
2008-Mar-29, 05:48 AM
If the copy is identical, then what is it, but a continuation?A copy.


If you read a book, does it matter to you that it isn't the original word-file on the author's computer; or a stapled stack of papers, fresh from the typewriter?
A text is not a person. It's made to be transferred into different mediums (from the page to your mind) in the first place. It has no consciousness or self-awareness.

Van Rijn
2008-Mar-29, 06:36 AM
regarding copying a person--may I plug...er, "recommend" Penrose's The Emperor's New Mind--which discusses fact, theory, and idle speculation about the mind, including "is the copy really you?".

The way I see it the copy is "another you" (so the song would be wrong in this case--there will be another you), but the you that is in the physical body will still have to deal with dying. The other you won't care!


I would say that any identical "yous" are all "you" - no more and no less.



"If you read a book, does it matter to you that it isn't the original word-file on the author's computer; or a stapled stack of papers, fresh from the typewriter?"

The argument is that it would matter to the book :)

Ah, but what if the book (or person) has no way of knowing? Give a person anesthetic to knock them unconscious, then duplicate them. Have a machine randomly vaporize one of them, and make no record of it. A person wakes up. What does it matter to them where their molecules came from?

I'm not particularly interested in vaporizing people, but at the same time, I would consider everyone with the same pattern identity to be the same person. Of course, if there were several people that started with the same pattern identity, their different ongoing experiences would eventually cause them to diverge.

Van Rijn
2008-Mar-29, 06:51 AM
A copy.


A text is not a person. It's made to be transferred into different mediums (from the page to your mind) in the first place. It has no consciousness or self-awareness.

I'm often impressed about how little of ourselves we are actually aware of. Anyway, it only matters if there is something of a person's mind that cannot be transferred or duplicated.

Daffy
2008-Mar-29, 04:09 PM
I think I will enjoy this book. One of the conceits of every generation is that at last everything is more or less understood. Every generation has been wrong.

Disinfo Agent
2008-Mar-29, 04:48 PM
But destroying one thing while creating an exact copy isn't really teleportation - it's just copying. The original is still destroyed.
It's like the Otherland series, in which a cabal of rich industrialists decide that they'll have immortality by copying their minds into a virtual world and then killing their physical bodies.I've never seen that show. Who pays the electricity bills? Their heirs? Sounds like a bad idea to me. ;)

novaderrik
2008-Mar-29, 08:51 PM
what about in Star trek:TNG when they found that copy of Riker from when he got beamed off that planet 15 years before.. back when he was young and (presumably) had no beard.. but the copy (who thought that HE was the real Riker) had the exact same beard and the exact same haircut as the Riker we all knew and loved- well, his hair looked like he had just gotten out of bed, but he was trapped in a cave for 15 years, so that's understandable... later on, in an episode of Deep Space 9, we find out that the "new" Riker was the evil twin- complete with evil goatee...
so, umm, anyways, which one was the "real" Riker? the one that got trapped in the cave, or the one that made it back to his ship so he could stay at the position of first officer for the next 20 years?

SkepticJ
2008-Mar-30, 05:47 AM
A copy.

Hypothetical situation time.

Suppose that your wife, if you're married, or your girlfriend, if you're not--or their homosexual equivalent--are duplicated in Dr. Ectype's Super Duper Scientific Multiplicity Machine.

Upon exiting the machine, your original loved-one has a large, heavy piece of lab equipment fall on them.

Now, do you tell the copy to get lost, because she/he's just a copy, or do you carry on your life with the copy, because she/he's identical to the original person you love?

Noclevername
2008-Mar-30, 04:57 PM
Hypothetical situation time.

Suppose that your wife, if you're married, or your girlfriend, if you're not--or their homosexual equivalent--are duplicated in Dr. Ectype's Super Duper Scientific Multiplicity Machine.

Upon exiting the machine, your original loved-one has a large, heavy piece of lab equipment fall on them.

Now, do you tell the copy to get lost, because she/he's just a copy, or do you carry on your life with the copy, because she/he's identical to the original person you love?

Suppose the same heavy object fails to fall? Do you try do date both (if only!)? Do you dump one, and if so, which?

If I were copied and the original died, copy-me would mourn. If we both lived, we'd have separate lives. And of course, after we diverged, our experiences and viewpoints would begin to differ, so we'd be separate people anyway.

Jason
2008-Mar-30, 10:41 PM
Hypothetical situation time.

Suppose that your wife, if you're married, or your girlfriend, if you're not--or their homosexual equivalent--are duplicated in Dr. Ectype's Super Duper Scientific Multiplicity Machine.

Upon exiting the machine, your original loved-one has a large, heavy piece of lab equipment fall on them.

Now, do you tell the copy to get lost, because she/he's just a copy, or do you carry on your life with the copy, because she/he's identical to the original person you love?

I would mourn the death of my wife/girlfriend. Then, if the copy were interested in picking up where her original left off, we might work out our own relationship, but it would be a new relationship, not a continuation of the original. No matter what her memories, the new copy was not the same woman present in my earlier relationship.

Jason
2008-Mar-30, 10:45 PM
I've never seen that show. Who pays the electricity bills? Their heirs? Sounds like a bad idea to me. ;)It's actually a series of books written by Tad Williams. I don't think any have been filmed (yet).
The idea was that the new virtual personalities would legally be the same person, with control of their companies and assets. There would be no heirs.

SkepticJ
2008-Mar-31, 05:24 AM
I would mourn the death of my wife/girlfriend. Then, if the copy were interested in picking up where her original left off, we might work out our own relationship, but it would be a new relationship, not a continuation of the original. No matter what her memories, the new copy was not the same woman present in my earlier relationship.

Not the same physical collection of atoms, no, but the same otherwise. Would you consider divorcing your wife/ breaking up with your GF because she's made of atoms she wasn't ten years ago? Of course not.

How about after each time she goes to sleep? Her conscious mind, the her you love, after all, is inactive during those times. It's like she doesn't exist.

You love her personality; the product of her experiences, and to some extent her genes. Everything she was still exists. She still exists. We may just have to agree to disagree on this though.

Jason
2008-Mar-31, 03:43 PM
Not the same physical collection of atoms, no, but the same otherwise. Would you consider divorcing your wife/ breaking up with your GF because she's made of atoms she wasn't ten years ago? Of course not.

How about after each time she goes to sleep? Her conscious mind, the her you love, after all, is inactive during those times. It's like she doesn't exist.

You love her personality; the product of her experiences, and to some extent her genes. Everything she was still exists. She still exists. We may just have to agree to disagree on this though.
A slow replacement of atoms through natural processes is different from building an entirely new person from the same pattern.

A sleeping person still exists, even if they aren't conscious. It is not the same as the person ceasing to exist.

If I love a person, then I love shared experiences as well. The difference between my wife/girlfriend and a copy is that her memories of shared experiences are essentially false - we did not in fact share those experiences. If we had a child then the copy is not in fact the child's physical mother. She didn't even exist at the time.

If your grandfather gave you a copy of a book before his death, and that book was destroyed in a fire, getting a new copy of the same edition would not have the same sentimental value to you. Even though the text is exactly the same, it is not in fact the same book your grandfather gave you.

tdvance
2008-Mar-31, 06:32 PM
The movie "Solaris" (I've not read the book, don't know if it's similar)--

The "intelligent sun" creates a copy of the main characters' dead wife. Is she real or not? He was so disturbed he killed her by ejecting her in a space capsule with no fuel for return. Then the sun made another copy and he changed his mind and decided she *was* the real thing, till she found out he killed a past "her" and was a bit upset as a result.... it's a real problem: what would you do?

(ETA: PM from DisInfo Agent says should be "SEA" not "sun"--in the movie, it looked like a big blue sun, but maybe the special effects just made a water world too luminous...truly, the back cover of the book says "sea" not sun.)

Jason
2008-Mar-31, 08:18 PM
I've only read Solaris - I haven't caught either movie version yet.
In the book it's fairly clear (or at least it was to me) that though they have some memories of their original, the copies are not human. Rheya, in particular, drinks liquid oxygen without any harm. The "visitors" may only appear to be self-aware, having been built on the memories of the scientists, not their originals.

Noclevername
2008-Apr-01, 08:51 PM
A slow replacement of atoms through natural processes is different from building an entirely new person from the same pattern.


Please explain how. In both cases, the matter is different, the pattern is the same. So the two cases are different because...?

Jason
2008-Apr-01, 10:17 PM
Because there is a real continuation in a person's body slowly replacing their atoms and cells as they age. An unbroken progression, as it were.
Creating an exact copy from the same pattern is not a continuation of the original. It's the creation of a new individiual who very closely resembles the original.

Alasdhair
2008-Apr-02, 08:09 PM
So, to extend the hypothetical, were your significant other to enter a black box, inside which a transporter/copying device would either copy them under anaesthetic and destroy the original, or just anaesthetise them at random, do you think that when they came to, you could tell which had happened?

SkepticJ
2008-Apr-02, 09:16 PM
A slow replacement of atoms through natural processes is different from building an entirely new person from the same pattern.

True, but so what?

Another hypothetical: what if your loved one was hit on the head such that she lost a fraction of her memories? It's a sudden, abrupt change. Now, is she the same person? What if she doesn't even remember you?

Now, would you rather be with the original, who may not even know who you are, or a copy that is identical to her before she was hit on the head?


A sleeping person still exists, even if they aren't conscious. It is not the same as the person ceasing to exist.

A dead person exists, for a time. They'll just never be conscious again.


If I love a person, then I love shared experiences as well. The difference between my wife/girlfriend and a copy is that her memories of shared experiences are essentially false - we did not in fact share those experiences.

Sure you did, she just had a different body.


If we had a child then the copy is not in fact the child's physical mother. She didn't even exist at the time.

That's true, but so what? She could have been, if not for the temporal thing. She has the same DNA, memories etc. She loves the child. I guess stepparents aren't as good as the biological ones.


If your grandfather gave you a copy of a book before his death, and that book was destroyed in a fire, getting a new copy of the same edition would not have the same sentimental value to you. Even though the text is exactly the same, it is not in fact the same book your grandfather gave you.

What if your grandfather recorded a song for you onto a CD that he wrote and played. Do you have a greater sentimental attachment to the song file on the CD, or the one that you copied to your computer?

What if the original CD was destroyed in a fire, but the copy of the file still exists on your computer?

Jason
2008-Apr-02, 10:12 PM
So, to extend the hypothetical, were your significant other to enter a black box, inside which a transporter/copying device would either copy them under anaesthetic and destroy the original, or just anaesthetise them at random, do you think that when they came to, you could tell which had happened?
Whether I could tell or not is irrelevent to what actually happened.
Either she was killed and a flawless copy with false memories was substituted or the original was just anaesthetised and recovered.

Jason
2008-Apr-02, 10:23 PM
Another hypothetical: what if your loved one was hit on the head such that she lost a fraction of her memories? It's a sudden, abrupt change. Now, is she the same person? What if she doesn't even remember you?She's still the same person. And hopefully she'd recover her memory.


Now, would you rather be with the original, who may not even know who you are, or a copy that is identical to her before she was hit on the head?The original. Any commitments I've made were to the original, whether she remembers them or not (in fact I might be quite happy that she's forgotten certain things).


(Regarding shared past experiences) Sure you did (share the same expereinces), she just had a different body.She wasn't even there. The copy has false memories of an event that didn't occur to her because she didn't even exist at the time.


(Regarding a copy not being the physical mother of a child) That's true, but so what? She could have been, if not for the temporal thing.Could have been but was not.

She has the same DNA, memories etc. She loves the child. I guess stepparents aren't as good as the biological ones.I didn't say that. I said that no pre-existing physical relationship existed, despite the implanted memories of the copy. A new relationship could be built between a child and a copy of its mother.


What if your grandfather recorded a song for you onto a CD that he wrote and played. Do you have a greater sentimental attachment to the song file on the CD, or the one that you copied to your computer?The CD. The CD would be the actual object my grandfather created himself, something that he handled himself. The copy on the computer or any copies I burn on new CDs are just that - copies. They have less value than the original.


What if the original CD was destroyed in a fire, but the copy of the file still exists on your computer?I would be happy that I had preserved what I could, but saddened at the loss of the original.

Jason
2008-Apr-02, 10:36 PM
Why do people pay huge amounts of money for original works of art when prints are just as good or even better? Why do people pay money for memorabilia like the cape Christopher Reeve used while filming Superman or Hitler's lighter?

Because copies are not the same as the original.

mike alexander
2008-Apr-02, 10:37 PM
I just keep thinking that if my grandfather had recorded a song for me, it would have been on a wax cylinder.

Van Rijn
2008-Apr-02, 11:28 PM
She's still the same person. And hopefully she'd recover her memory.


We definitely have different philosophical viewpoints. I'd say that someone who lost (and can't recover) their memory is a different person. Just having the same body isn't enough.

In general, I'd say that enough changes in memory or personality (as with brain damage) means that the original person has ceased to exist.

Van Rijn
2008-Apr-02, 11:39 PM
Why do people pay huge amounts of money for original works of art when prints are just as good or even better? Why do people pay money for memorabilia like the cape Christopher Reeve used while filming Superman or Hitler's lighter?

Because copies are not the same as the original.

Some copies are the same as the original - hence, why I don't care which copy of a digital file I'm using.

SkepticJ
2008-Apr-03, 12:54 AM
Why do people pay huge amounts of money for original works of art when prints are just as good or even better?

If the work is still under copyright, copies of the work may be unavailable.

They want a work that the original artist created. Why? Perhaps just to have it--to own a piece of history.

Perhaps they have the same sentimental views as you do.


Why do people pay money for memorabilia like the cape Christopher Reeve used while filming Superman or Hitler's lighter?

Because copies are not the same as the original.

See above.

Jason
2008-Apr-03, 03:51 PM
We definitely have different philosophical viewpoints. I'd say that someone who lost (and can't recover) their memory is a different person. Just having the same body isn't enough.

In general, I'd say that enough changes in memory or personality (as with brain damage) means that the original person has ceased to exist.
People can change, and the change can be fundamental in nature, but the person doesn't cease to exist with such changes. Perhaps they have lost the characteristics that you liked the best, but they are a continuation of themselves regardless.

Jason
2008-Apr-03, 03:54 PM
Some copies are the same as the original - hence, why I don't care which copy of a digital file I'm using.People aren't digital files.

SkepticJ
2008-Apr-03, 07:34 PM
People can change, and the change can be fundamental in nature, but the person doesn't cease to exist with such changes. Perhaps they have lost the characteristics that you liked the best, but they are a continuation of themselves regardless.

If you set a barn on fire, the barn changes, turns to charred pieces of wood. Those charred pieces of wood are a continuation of the barn--they can't be anything but!--but the barn does not exist anymore.

Jason
2008-Apr-03, 08:28 PM
If you set a barn on fire, the barn changes, turns to charred pieces of wood. Those charred pieces of wood are a continuation of the barn--they can't be anything but!--but the barn does not exist anymore.The barn does continue to exist, it's just no longer useful to us as a barn.

SkepticJ
2008-Apr-03, 08:45 PM
The barn does continue to exist, it's just no longer useful to us as a barn.

I give up. This is the silliest thing I've read in a couple months, and have come to realize I'm wasting my time.

Jason
2008-Apr-03, 10:30 PM
You're confusing the concept barn with the actual physical object. Yes a burned wreck is no longer what most people would call a barn, but it was a barn, and the wreckage that remains is the same things that made up a barn.
Building a new barn to the same plan on the spot doesn't mean the old barn is still there.

Van Rijn
2008-Apr-03, 10:58 PM
People can change, and the change can be fundamental in nature, but the person doesn't cease to exist with such changes. Perhaps they have lost the characteristics that you liked the best, but they are a continuation of themselves regardless.

In your opinion. In my opinion, if there is sufficient memory loss or brain damage, the original person ceases to exist.

Van Rijn
2008-Apr-03, 10:59 PM
People aren't digital files.

The working assumption for the discussion was that humans could be replicated exactly, as with digital files.

sarongsong
2008-Apr-04, 02:05 AM
Michio on C-SPAN2's BookTV this week-end, April 5-7:
Michio Kaku talks about the advancements in science that could make several science-fiction technologies a possibility in the real world. Professor Kaku spoke at the Smithsonian's S. Dillon Ripley Center in Washington, DC.
(Saturday 8 AM and 8:15 PM, Monday 4 AM ET)

Jason
2008-Apr-04, 02:06 AM
I don't think exact replication = a continuation of the original. With people or digital files.

Ilya
2011-Nov-09, 05:03 PM
Or for one's self. Off the top of my head I can think of at least two books, one SF the other fantasy, in which protagonists deliberately implant false memories into themselves -- because in certain situations they have to be able to lie with absolute conviction. And in both cases implanted memories are reversible -- each protagonist leaves a way to recover their real memories eventually.
I decided to resurrect the thread because my original post had too little information for anyone to make anything of. So here is more detail (a.k.a. SPOILERS!):






















The SF book is "Absolution Gap" by Alastair Reynolds. Nine-year old Aura embarks on a multi-year espionage mission, and her memory alteration is drastic and overarching -- she believes herself to be Rashmika Els, born on Hela. "Rashmika" is very smart, and when she grows up she has compulsion to go on a journey she rationalizes as search for "her" borther, but in reality is Aura's infiltration/spy mission. Eventually she recovers her original memories.

The fantasy is "War of the Spider Queen" series. Dark elf archmage Gromph Baern has devised a contingency plan in case he is ever captured by a mind-reader (illithid, as it happens). The plan depends on Gromph himslef not knowing what the plan is, lest the mind-reader would know it too. Gromph remembers what he believes is the plan, and does he best not to think about it. He fails of course, and has few agonizing moments when he believes illithid has penetrated all his secrets -- when in reality illithid has just walked into a trap. With illithid dead, Gromph knows what he really did, but once again he cannot afford the luxury of remembering it. So Gromph resets the trap, repeates the procedure -- then blinks with no recall of last few hours, wondering how he got into his office and where did illithid corpse come from.

Aura/Rashmika's memory alterations are huge, but temporary. In Gromph's case they are minor, but perpetual.

publiusr
2011-Nov-14, 08:58 PM
Future tech here as well as what Michio imagines...
http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/eventType2.do?eventName=imagining_future

HenrikOlsen
2011-Nov-15, 04:27 AM
Wow! That's some bad soldering.