Physical Reality, by: A. R. Tresh
1.3 The Mind
Depicting reality is the raison díetre of the mind. As a system, the mind is effectively an interface between a user and the surroundings. In many ways, it resembles the personal computer in accessing the world of the internet. Through the mind, a conscious being can connect to the physical world to perceive its own existence and the physical existence of everything else around it. It can learn and may contribute until it is time to log off.
Definitions of the mind vary with differing perceptions of its functions, nature and its association with consciousness. However, from a purely physical perspective, we need only concern ourselves with the mind as a data processing system. Thus, the mind may be defined as a system which is programmed to acquire and process data and to store, retrieve and display information. It incorporates sensory elements, signal modulators, a logic based processor, information storage and retrieval apparatus, an output medium and not least a power source. The nature of the medium in which the information is displayed is irrelevant for the purpose of this definition. However, the format in which the information is displayed must be specifically tailored for the user. The implication of not doing so renders the mind a useless system.
If we consider the example of a computer as a mind system, then naturally users who are accustomed to a certain type of output format can find it cumbersome or even impossible to understand information presented in a different format. Similarly, the computer itself can not process information in a format, which it has not been designed to run. Therefore, signal input into the processor requires modulation in order to conform to the standard of the processor and signal output from the processor requires demodulation to conform to the standard of the output medium and the language of the user. We shall refer to modulation and demodulation of the input and output signals as signal transformation.
A userís reliance on the information provided by a mind system is dependent on the degree of confidence which the user places in the system. In the absence of confidence, the decision making ability of the user is impaired or perhaps totally diminished. Confidence in the system develops through experience of the consistency between its input and output. In the case of the human mind, the input is signals from the physical surrounding and the output is human perception of what lies behind those signals. Any apparent inconsistency places a doubt on the ability of the system Ė either in its software or hardware capability or in both. Considering the mind as a data processing system, there are a number of factors, which can affect a userís ability to relate output information to the data input. Those factors are:
1. Limitations of the mind
2. The logic of the processor
3. Signal speed
4. Signal interference
5. Signal transformation
Although these factors do not inhibit human understanding of reality, they can slow it down, distort it or even invert it. We shall now briefly consider the influence of those factors on perception.
1.3.1 Limitations of the mind
Limitations of the mind are inherent in the sensory elements and in the processor. The limitation of the senses relate to the range of signal frequencies which they can detect. On the other hand, the limitations of the processor relate to processing speed and restricted parallel processing capability. Limitations of the processor are apparent in the inability of the mind to process events that take place at high speed, those involving large number of variables and those which induce secondary effects in the surroundings. Such events are considered complex and their behaviour is perceived as chaotic. Although those limitations influence our perception and hence our comprehension of physical reality, they are nonetheless important in that they enable us to enjoy more meaningful lives.
1.3.2 The logic of the processor
Unlike computer systems, a biological mind system develops its software along with its hardware, so that the logic is effectively imprinted on the hardware throughout the system. That is not to say that logic in the mind can not be altered, but the process is not simple. The logic developed by the processor in the human mind often inhibits interpretation of observation beyond the developed logic in the processor. Thus, if the developed logic is based on the correct perception, it facilitates the understanding of new observations. If on the other had the logic is based on misperception, it causes ambiguities and at times bewilderment. When the drive to understand becomes overwhelming, it is often the case that rather than reviewing the logic on which old concepts are based, a new logic is developed in order to avoid tampering with established logic. This leads to further misunderstanding as different logics can not be reconciled, because reality is one, while the room for misunderstanding is infinite. We shall have a little more to say on this subject in chapter 6.0.
1.3.3 Signal speed
A classic example of misperception resulting from signal speed is that of thunder and lightening. Although the event which lies behind the two phenomena is one, at least two different signals are generated because the event affects two different media. Misperception can also be caused by the speed of signals in a single medium. One such example of signal speed affecting perception is that of the speed of light. It took mankind from inception until the twentieth century when Albert Einstein coherently formulated his theory of Special Relativity, before the effect of signal speed on the perception of events and time was realised.
1.3.4 Signal interference
It is a well know fact that physical reality at the quantum level is no more than particle interaction. However, the exact nature of those particles remains mysterious, and so do most of the phenomena associated with them. Of course, the brain does not process actual entities and events. It only processes signals reaching its structure. If those signals happen to suffer interference on the way to the brain, either externally or internally within the nervous system, the brain does not filter out the interference. Instead it treats it as part of the signals it processes, because interference itself is signals. As such, the reality behind signals subject to different levels of interference is perceived as being different.
Clearly, the interference suffered by a signal from a source is due to signals from other sources which induce signals in the same medium. However, electromagnetic waves, which include visible light and which provide us with the signals that enable us to interact with the physical world, have long been accepted by many physicists not to require a medium to travel through. Consequently, it has been assumed that sound waves, for example, do not require more than molecular matter as a medium in which to propagate. However, considering the likely clearance between atoms in a gaseous state, it is unlikely that in the absence of a more primary medium, sound waves could travel through thin air alone. In the next chapter we shall introduce a quantum medium, through which electromagnetic waves propagate and which supports all other forms of signals. However, before we move on to that, let us consider how light signals are likely to reach the brain.
1.3.5 Signal transformation
Signal transformation in the brain ensures that a conscious mind identifies events in the surrounding with utmost precision. If consciousness is made to deal directly with input signals, the chances are very few, if any creatures would have opted to survive on the planet.
Eyesight was once thought of as an optical system in the sense that light forms an image on the retina, and that the image is picked up by the brain. In reality, it is not the image which the brain picks up. Rather, it is what lies behind the image, which the brain detects. Changes in vibration levels of subatomic particles are transmitted to the brain, through the optical nerve system as impulse waves. The detected signal frequencies through a multi-channel nerve system are transformed by the brain and relayed to consciousness. Particles do not actually travel into the eye or from the eye to the brain. Only their momentum is transferred. In fact the signals follow two different routes to the brain. By comparing the frequencies and time delay between the two routes, the brain is able, through experience, to assess distances and control the lenses. Hence focusing and the 3-dimensional effect are achieved. We know that such fine frequencies can not be transmitted by molecular matter with such precision at the speed of light. Neither can electrons in an electric current fulfil that task. However, in a medium of homogeneous particles at the quantum level, the transfer of momentum makes sense, for such medium can faithfully transfer frequencies through molecular structure, while its particles remain almost stationary. The same principle applies to all of our senses. In reality, all there is outside, and even inside a conscious brain is particle interaction. The particles themselves have no colour and make no sound. They have no taste, neither smell nor texture. All these qualities are the result of signal transformation by the mind.
Of course, one may counter argue that the argument for the existence of a medium in the Universe has been tried and tested, but did not lead very far. However, human failure to detect such medium stems from misperception of the reality of space, matter, energy and time. It seems that the limitation of the mind has played a significant role in our inability to detect the structure supporting physical reality. Since the limit of our senses to interact with the surroundings are the signal carriers, namely, photons, then naturally anything less than a photon would be impossible to detect directly. Therefore, inference is the only means available to us to fully understand physical reality.
Updated July 17, 2011