PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

by Michio Kaku

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:15 am

We are the oddballs of the universe. We inhabit an unusual piece of real estate, where temperatures, densities, and velocities are quite mild. However, in the “real universe,” temperatures can be blisteringly hot in the center of stars, or numbingly cold in outer space, and subatomic particles zipping through space regularly travel near lightspeed. In other words, our common sense evolved in a highly unusual, obscure part of the universe, Earth; it is not surprising that our common sense fails to grasp the true universe. The problem lies not in relativity but in assuming that our common sense represents reality.”


Does our common sense hold us back from exploring or understanding a different reality than the one we see all around us?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
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Re: PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby gemini » Tue Feb 24, 2009 2:16 pm

Yes, I think so. Sometimes subjects like infinity, and is there a beginning or not, take a bit of re-adjustment of our "down to earth" common sense thinking. That ability to take that leap seems to separate us from those far thinking scientists. I was fascinated by just how different our little piece of real estate, " the earth", is from the reat of the Universe. It being so unlike the rest of the Universe, able to sustain life, is one of those subjects that is hard for our common sense to comprehend.
Last edited by gemini on Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:20 pm

Thanks for starting us off, gemini. I think humans have always been a bit egocentric about our little piece of the universe. It hasn't been that long ago (in a cosmic sense anyway) that we believed we were the center of the universe! It's easier to believe and understand something you can see with your own eyes sometimes. I find it very interesting and exciting that there are those who let their common sense go by the wayside and think outside the box as it were.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby nebraska » Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:34 pm

I think that "common sense" applies to my every day life - getting behind the wheel of my car, doing laundry, watching my granddaughter play basketball - those are things that make up my reality. It makes me a little crazy to look at things around me and wonder if they really are made up of subatomic strings. :perplexed: The idea of all the extremes of outer space or that in a million and a half years there is a one in so many billion chances that something might happen doesn't seem important to my daily life. The fact that there are scientists who spend their days thinking outside the box makes many of the conveniences of my "real" life possible, but I would make a terrible theoretical physicist

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Re: PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby bluebird » Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:41 pm

When I picked up my copy of PW at BN, several of my grandkids were with me... the oldest (10) asked what I was buying... I told him Parallel Worlds. Then, of course, he wanted to know what that meant... I explained in a rather simple way that it was about other worlds... that while we were living here on Earth that there could be other worlds, other universes, maybe many of them...
Then ensued a delightful conversation with him (and his twin brothers, 8, and sister, 6) discussing aliens and space creatures.... :) Of course, it took a lot of convincing when I told them that the "aliens" would think WE were the strange ones!! It took quite a bit to convince them that we were not necessarily the "right" ones and the others "wrong." I think they've watched too many Star Wars movies.
;-) :lol:
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Re: PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby gemini » Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:07 pm

bluebird wrote:When I picked up my copy of PW at BN, several of my grandkids were with me... the oldest (10) asked what I was buying... I told him Parallel Worlds. Then, of course, he wanted to know what that meant... I explained in a rather simple way that it was about other worlds... that while we were living here on Earth that there could be other worlds, other universes, maybe many of them...
Then ensued a delightful conversation with him (and his twin brothers, 8, and sister, 6) discussing aliens and space creatures.... :) Of course, it took a lot of convincing when I told them that the "aliens" would think WE were the strange ones!! It took quite a bit to convince them that we were not necessarily the "right" ones and the others "wrong." I think they've watched too many Star Wars movies.
;-) :lol:

I like kids and their outlook on things. It's too bad we don't keep some of that when we grow up. I thought star trek did a lot to show acceptance of all sorts of beings. Of course they were usually humonoid in shape with extra ears, eyes or funny shaped heads. :lol: Your grandchildren sound adorable but they, like us, have that earth way of thinking from being raised here with too many space movies of us defending the planet from those "others".
"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." Will Rogers



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Re: PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby Liz » Tue Feb 24, 2009 5:45 pm

bluebird wrote: I think they've watched too many Star Wars movies.
;-) :lol:

That bar scene in the first Star Wars movie would do it. :lol: Love that scene….and the music. Cute story, Bluebird!


I didn’t really think of it as “common sense”—just our personal vision of what our reality is. And each individual’s reality is different, depending on one’s beliefs and experiences.

I think a scientist can be restricted by his belief that everything that is real has to be concrete and unquestionable or provable…..like math.

On the other hand, many scientists have pushed beyond this barrier to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before. :grin: This is because they have the curiosity to discover why things work the way they do. But this could be because they want a “common sense” explanation for everything…..a theory of everything, as it were.

I don’t let my common sense rule me. I am very open to all scenarios. And I don’t necessarily believe all scientific findings. And that could be because I am egocentric and fearful. But I am also curious. I think if I was more mathematically and scientifically inclined, I would love to do scientific research. I just don’t have the brain to comprehend it. That is my stumbling block--along with fear--not my common sense.



gemini wrote:I was fascinated by just how different our little piece of real estate, " the earth", is from the reat of the Universe. It being so unlike the rest of the Universe, able to sustain life, is one of those subjects that is hard for our common sense to comprehend.

I was fascinated by his explanation on this too, gemini. It boggles the mind how everything has to be in perfect balance for it to exist.
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Re: PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby suec » Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:34 pm

His comment really stood out for me: I like the way he explains it in such an accessible way. I certainly found myself agreeing with this point when later on in the book, he writes about the universe as a hologram or something! :perplexed: I also think his comment that "the problem lies in... assuming that our common sense represents reality" can be applied to a lot of other scenarios in life.
Liz I liked your interpretation of common sense being just our personal vision of what reality is.
While some people are bound by their perceptions, I do think that some of these scientists have demonstrated that they are not necessarily. They may want to be able to experiment and prove, but it still takes a leap of the mind sometimes.
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Re: PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby Theresa » Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:15 pm

The problem lies not in relativity but in assuming that our common sense represents reality.

I was a bit puzzled by this statement when I read it -- just because we're on the oddball planet doesn't mean that it's not reality or part of the "real" universe.

I guess our shortfall can be that we just don't think big enough, to look beyond the reality that we see around us. It takes not only the science that Dr Kaku talks about, but I think it also takes a heaping dose of faith to believe in things that can't be seen or proven, like strings and superstrings...and all those other strange made-up names that are in this book.

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Re: PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:32 pm

I guess according to the book what we see represents our reality while there are several other realities happening at the same time all around us. We are only a part of "reality". I think my head hurts... :headache:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby nebraska » Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:42 pm

I hope this doesn't go beyond the scope of this question, but one of the most surprising things about the book, for me, was how much of this is somebody's theory and how little of it is proven fact. So is it really reality?

As for each of us perceiving our own situation as the true reality, you don't have to go to outer space to experience prejudice or arrogance. I think we all tend to believe that our own experience is normal and everything else is "less than."

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Re: PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby fansmom » Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:12 pm

nebraska wrote:I hope this doesn't go beyond the scope of this question, but one of the most surprising things about the book, for me, was how much of this is somebody's theory and how little of it is proven fact. So is it really reality?
I'm with you, Nebraska. I wonder how much of it will seem dated/silly/ridiculous in fifty years.
nebraska wrote:As for each of us perceiving our own situation as the true reality, you don't have to go to outer space to experience prejudice or arrogance. I think we all tend to believe that our own experience is normal and everything else is "less than."
I remember a quote I read a long time ago: Normal is what we think people are until we get to know them better.

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Re: PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby Theresa » Wed Feb 25, 2009 11:17 pm

"Reality, what a concept!"

~ Robin Williams

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Re: PW Question #2 ~ Oddballs

Unread postby Liz » Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:22 am

Theresa and fansmom, those are perfect quotes! :cool:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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