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post #91 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 01:07 AM
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I love physics. I read about it constantly actually. I've just in recent months read:

1. Quantum Generations. A great, semi-schololarly coverage of the history of quantum theory
2. Uncertainty. A biography of Werner Hiesenburg
3. Great Physicists. A set of mini-bios of the most important physicists from Newton forward.
4. Understanding Relativity. A very good, not overly complex coverage of special relativity.
5. Hubble Wars. Covers the building and creation of the Hubble, and all of the wierd politics involved.
6. Build the Atomic Bomb. Richard Rhode's excellent history of the bomb project.

And I have a lot of other really good ones in my library that I re-read occasionally. In particular I would recommend:

1. Coming of Age in the Milky Way. Definitely recommended book by Timothy Ferris. So readable, and so educational. Also I have his "The Whole Shebang" which is also very good.

2. The previously mentioned "Black Holes and Time Warps" by Kip Thorne. Definitely very good, but probably a bit much for casual readers.

3. Genius. A biography of Richard Feyman. Very, very good.

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post #92 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 01:08 AM
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Oh, and yes, I've stared for hours at pretty pictures from the Hubble. I'm completely amazed by the world we live in. But I'm also pragamatic about what is likely to be possible and what is not.

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post #93 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 01:47 AM
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I'm sorry but there's just more which needs to be said.

To moore,

Quote:
we simply may be approaching a saturation point where we have learned, say, 80% of the physics there is to know. The usual response to this is that it's been said before like in the late 1800s, but there have been huge changes in the approach to science since then.

Are those to be the only "huge changes"? Just those changes which occurred in that one short span of 100 years? There will be no more. You're certain of that? Is that hypothesis testable (those are your words)?

I have to ask you both this. Is this thinking typical of most physicists and those who study physics? That it's about to all stop with what we know now? That we're close to answering all of the fundamental questions? That those answers won't give rise to any more fundamental questions? That it's like a movie entitled "Search For The Edge Of The Universe" and we're just about to THE END? That once this movie is in the can then no one will ever again propose an entirely new screenplay? With an entirely new plot? And with entirely new questions asked?

Again, do most physicists and astronomers think like this?

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post #94 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 11:04 AM
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Originally posted by RobertWood
Are those to be the only "huge changes"? Just those changes which occurred in that one short span of 100 years? There will be no more. You're certain of that? Is that hypothesis testable (those are your words)?

I'm by no means certain of that, that's why I said maybe. I don't even necessarily agree. And it's only a testable hypothesis to the extent that we can look back in another 100 years and know, but that's the realm in which this discussion exists.

Quote:
Is this thinking typical of most physicists and those who study physics? That we're close to answering all of the fundamental questions? That it's like a movie entitled "Search For The Edge Of The Universe" and we're just about to THE END? That once this movie is in the can then no one will ever again propose an entirely new screenplay? With an entirely new plot? And with entirely new questions asked?

I haven't done an official survey, but I'd say yes to most of the questions. What would the new screenplay be? That E=mc^3? F=m/a? It simply doesn't work. Now, I said physics for a reason, that being the most fundamental science. Even then, physics isn't done by a long shot. That last 20% might hold a lot of fascinating, mind-blowing stuff in it, and might take a long time to sort out, but it's really unlikely to uproot the first 80%.

It's not all about to stop tho. There is still a LOT of science out there to learn and a LOT of mystery in the universe. The whole issue of extraterrestrials has got to be one of the biggest discoveries on the far horizon. And within the physics we know, there is a lot of room for technological progress. Nothing forbids travelling to the edges of the universe in the physics we know, it would just take one heck of a ship and you'd be saying a permanent goodbye to anyone left behind.

I also want to emphatically say that scientists aren't 'of one mind' or dullards by a long shot. You can find articles exploring the possibilities of time travel in the best journals, (e.g. Physical Review). Many times, however, the results of these thought experiments, which took bright people months of work, can be summed up by the phrase "doesn't work in our universe". And I hope no one here seriously thinks that the scientific community could 'supress' someone who had discovered real time travel. Anyone who claims that is happening to him is a crank.

Still I like watching movies with time travel themes.

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post #95 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 11:55 AM
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"maybe"

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post #96 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 12:43 PM
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There are two possibilities. One is that we are closer to the final understanding of the basic nature of matter and energy, and the other is that we are closer to the beginning. Given that we have now explored down to the level of quarks, and that there is no reason to believe that they have any further internal structure, and appear to have been created very early in the big bang, leads many scientists to think that we are closer to the end than to the beginning.

Quantum electrodynamics, for instance, despite being a bit kludgy and everyone knowing that its not perfect, has been tested to a ridiculous level of certainty, more so than any other theory in history. It is the theory behind all this cool electronic stuff we have. Even if some new theory came along that moved it from say the 6th decimal place of accuracy to the 7th, it would be an intellectual achievement, but wouldn't make much practical difference to us, because the current theory is doing quite well thanks.

As said above a few times, the further exploration and application of the ramifications of that theory will create some amazingly cool stuff. But those will just be applications of the theory, not a fundamental revolution in how we understand electromagnetic radiation.

The big things, as I understand them, that need to be answered (and that would have some practical effect on us) are:

1. What is 'the field'? No one really knows. Its The Matrix. Its all around us, and permeates everything, and its what electromagnetism vibrates, but no one knows what it is. That's a big question, and answering that could have a revolutionary fallout. Or, it might not. It might be that we figure out what it is, but we never find a way to manipulate it, because perhaps its just our 3D view of a higher dimensional reality that impinges on ours. If we cannot ever get into or see into that higher dimension, then knowing it will be cool, but not of much practical difference to us.

2. What came before the big bang. This may never be answered. Physics cannot answer it, because the laws of physics are of this universe, and are not necessarily applicable outside of it. Even if we did answer it, its highly unlikely that that knowledge would do us much good, though it would be one of the coolest things ever discovered and whoever does it should get a lifetime's supply of Nobel prizes.

3. Quantum gravity (aka The Theory of Everything.) It may never happen. It may be that gravity really is just a warpage of space time as Einstein said, and not be quantized or mediated by a force carrying particle. Or it might, and that would definitely be worth a truck load of Nobel prizes as well. But its not evident that such a theory would have much practical effect. Like relativity, it might only be applicable in areas of super high density or at super high speeds, and no one believes that it will invalidate the rules of either quantum mechanics or relativity, but instead that it will just provide a way to translate between the two, whereas now they are two separate worlds (micro and macro.)


But even if none of these things were figured out, the advances in technology that will come just by completely exploiting what we know already will be unbelieveable, and more than dangerous enough probably.

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post #97 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 12:48 PM
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Oh, and I forgot a big one "Nuclear fussion". If I had to pick one thing that I thought would be the most important discovery that could be made in this century, this would be it. The availability of very cheap, practically inexhaustable, very safe, electrical energy would make more differences in our lives (for the better) than any of the things mentioned above. It would change life forever, and if you think that the dot com ramp up of the stock market was stellar, it would pale in comparison to what would happen if the energy content cost of a product was effectively a non-issue. It would be an unbelievable achievement, and equal to the discovery of electricity and penicillin in terms of its profound benefits to mankind.

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post #98 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 03:59 PM
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Thanks to you both for sharing some of your knowledge.
I hope this discussion has been as much fun for you as it was for me.

Bob
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post #99 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 05:54 PM
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Just one lingering thing that is nagging me.
Why was this comment made? Was that intended to offer further evidence that time travel will never happen? Or did I miss something?

Quote:
I hope no one here seriously thinks that the scientific community could 'supress' someone who had discovered real time travel. Anyone who claims that is happening to him is a crank.

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post #100 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 07:19 PM
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I can't help but laugh at some of the minor time anomalies that have already come to pass over the course of this tread! Wouldn't it be funny if we could all see ourselves typing away at the same...time.

So, even a mediocre film on the subject of time travel instigates wonderful thought and debate.

I think for all of us that live in the present time, time travel is a very important part of where we as a society are headed. Time and Travel are two very big constants in our daily lives...this applies to how we spend our "time" each day, and how we physically get from point A to point B each and every day.

As we think about travel in time, how might we actually move closer to it from fiction to fact? The obvious answers are technological breakthroughs in power sources...the ability to travel faster and faster through space. I can't help but think that this will ultimately tie into enormous improvements in mass transportation. I think the notion of being able to move/tavel through transportation devices is not out of the question one day...probably in ways we can not yet conceive.

Time travel as we are discussing it may never come to be, and displacement in time may very well become a reality. I imagine the technology necessary to travel long distances in space, and the amount of time that one might have to sacrifice in order to acheive it; i.e. The astronaut that leaves the earth for a mission and returns only having aged a few years, yet based upon displacement, 30 years or more may have passed by. This might necessitate a space program with travelers that are required to be single (unattached) for obvious reasons...or perhaps the need for travel in space as a group, be it family or friends...I know this is a bit far fetched, but I'm trying to point out how factual time travel into the future might occur.

Another, possibility might be that we may never be able to physically purge the time stream, yet we may figure out a way to view events that have already happened...this has actually already been going on for many years as we photograph and even simply view the visible solar system.

This takes me back to the film again...we need a much much better time travel epic...Peter Jackson are you reading?

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post #101 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 07:41 PM
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Which brings us to this question. Why are more thought provoking movies not being made? I would have had a different answer for that before reading this thread. One along the lines of most moviegoers not giving a rat's ass.
But it's evident from reading the the thoughts of those who have participated not only in this one thread, but in this message board in general, that there is a huge appetite for this. One that's not being satisfied. And I don't really have any elitist notions that we're much different from the movie going public at large.

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post #102 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 08:33 PM
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I think the notion of being able to move/tavel through transportation devices is not out of the question one day...probably in ways we can not yet conceive.

That would be an immensely dangerous technology. We've seen so many Star Trek episodes that people don't think about it. But if we could effectively do transporters, then it would mean that we can synthesize people from scratch, or make as many copies of someone as we want.

But its definitely one of those things that is very unlikely to happen. Though we are macro objects, we are composed of quantum bits and pieces. Those cannot be measured accurately, only statistically. So there is no way to precisely measure the state of a human body and recreate it somewhere else.

Also, what do you do with the body you just scanned? They gloss over this in Star Trek, but its a huge issue. You can't actually transmit the matter of the original person, even if you could precisely measure his/her state. You could only reproduce a copy of that recorded data on the other end. So do they kill the original one? In order to transmit the actual original content, you would have to convert it to energy, which would be very painful I can assume you.

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post #103 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 09:10 PM
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Not not be very pleasant to look at either. "The Fly" made me loose my cookies.
Although I recall one reviewer saying Jeff Goldblum "looks like an insect before the makeup".
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post #104 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 09:18 PM
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You can't actually transmit the matter of the original person, even if you could precisely measure his/her state. You could only reproduce a copy of that recorded data on the other end. So do they kill the original one?

Yes! I have wondered the same thing. On Star Trek, when they "beam up" and "beam down", they are committing suicide. They are not the same people, they are recreations of who/what these people were. Did you see The Sixth Day, with Arnold Schwarzenegger? The guy playing Steve Jobs (oops, I mean corporate CEO) met his own instant clone with reconstituted memory. I was completely shocked by that and realized that we can NEVER create another "I", just something that thinks it is. Anyway... you'll never get me to beam down, Scotty! I don't want to die and then have a doppleganger live its life thinking it is me. Yikes.
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post #105 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 09:50 PM
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I find this thread quite illogical and full of misinformation. Even a Vulcan child has a superior knowledge of physics compared to the participants here. Transporter technology uses gradient spectral equilibrium and the matter that is reconstituted is the same matter that was deconstituted on the other end. To put the matter in simple terms that you humans can understand, just as the heart of most species can stop for a period of time before death occurs, so matter can be deconstituted and reconstituted over a period of several nanoseconds without harm to the individual. And it does not hurt Mr. Roddey any more than a phosolythic injection.
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post #106 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by RobertWood
Just one lingering thing that is nagging me.
Why was this comment made? Was that intended to offer further evidence that time travel will never happen? Or did I miss something?

"I hope no one here seriously thinks that the scientific community could 'supress' someone who had discovered real time travel. Anyone who claims that is happening to him is a crank."


No, there's no further evidence in my comment, it's just one of those things that always pops up when you have some screwball claiming to have invented something fantastic. Like the famed 100mpg carburetor or chewing gum that lasts 10 hours, there's this myth that (1) the science/technology establishment has the power to stop a person from demonstrating their breakthru (which is laughable), and (2) has an interest counter to the discovery (what company wouldn't want to turn a profit?)

Even very destructive technologies, for which time travel may qualify, can't be 'suppressed', even when they come from within a highly secretive establishment. What keeps nuclear arms from being used willy nilly is careful control over sources of fissionable material. The principle is known the world over, and there have been clever, workable designs of bombs by high school students. It's the pandora's box or genie out of the bottle syndrome.

Anyway, it was kind of a tangent, sorry if it added confusion.

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post #107 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 10:34 PM
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Larry,

I really liked some of the ideas in the Sixth Day, including the one you mentioned.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Spoiler  
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

I check my eyelids every now and then for gold dots


There was a sci-fi story, I forget the name, where you could be 'uploaded' and your mind run in a computer, guaranteeing long life and a paradise of your own creation. Only, what do you do with the flesh-and-blood copy left behind? The procedure was to put the person to sleep, scan their brain, then ... lethal injection. People decide they are OK with this. Fun stuff.

Somebody pinch Spock on the neck.

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post #108 of 6222 Old 08-18-2002, 11:01 PM
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Transporter technology uses gradient spectral equilibrium and the matter that is reconstituted is the same matter that was deconstituted on the other end.

I knew I should read the insides of those stupid soda pop bottle tops.

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post #109 of 6222 Old 08-19-2002, 09:20 AM
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You guys are completely right about the molecule/human destruction and subsequent resequencing result. However, in science fiction (such as Star Trek) I always assumed that the technology allowed for individual molecules to stay in tact without destroying them. The big loophole obviously is that the technology was never explained...silly or not.

In practical terms (as we might pretend to understand the possible future applications of advanced travel) we might be able to conceive of a way in which we are able travel along points of light without every disturbing our molecules...in much the same way are bodies are excellerated to varying degress by any type of movement/propulsion.

It's crazy to imagine scrambling our dna, but not so hard to imagine being somehow "pushed" or possibly "projected" through space at unbelievable speeds similar to the way light travels.

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post #110 of 6222 Old 08-19-2002, 10:39 AM
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That's really thinking outside the 2002 box, Howie. I like it.

Let's just hope it's covered in that last 20% of all possible knowledge.
(or that it hasn't been ruled out by the first 80%)

Bob
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post #111 of 6222 Old 08-19-2002, 01:02 PM
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One interesting point, which most people never think about, but its obvious after its pointed out, is that light does not experience time. At the speed of light, time effectively stops for the traveler. Since light by definition (in a vacuum anyway) travels at the speed of light, photons never experience time. They just zip along until they are absorbed. Until then they are timeless so to speak.

Light does get slowed down when traveling through materials, but still its not a whole lot. BTW, the ratio of the speed of light in a vacuum to the speed of light through a material, defines that material's 'index of refraction', which controls how much the light gets bent when it passes from the air into the substance. This is the basis of IOR numbers for lenses and stuff, and why glasses cause your convergence to be off if you look through the edge of them and whatnot.

No one really knows why IOR causes light to bend though. Its a complete mystery. There's no obvious reason why slowing the light down causes it to bend instantly. There is some belief that it has to do with the 'minimum effort' principle, but no one really can fully explain it. Yet another way pick your Nobel prize, Mr. Feynman.

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post #112 of 6222 Old 08-19-2002, 01:11 PM
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If we think of travel in time in terms of moving actual mass, then does it not make sense that our eventual evolution as a species may be what actually allows travel via extreme light wave movement to take place.

As an optomist I would like to think that our future holds the end of disease and warfare, and quite possibly the evolution of our minds to the extent that our physical form becomes very secondary...this would open many new doors to types of travel that for now and the near future are completely impossible.

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post #113 of 6222 Old 08-19-2002, 01:39 PM
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Of course, it could go the completely opposite way, that if we reached that point of becoming pure thought, maybe we wouldn't even have any real desire to travel. If you are only a mind, and in your mind you can do anything you want, perhaps we would just completely 'vegetate', to the point that something with no body could do something like that :-)

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post #114 of 6222 Old 08-19-2002, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dean Roddey
I knew I should read the insides of those stupid soda pop bottle tops.

Until you said that I was going to offer to mind meld with you. It's probably best I didn't. With that chasm you humans call a brain, you might have sucked all the knowledge right out of me.

I have decided to endanger myself and mind meld with Robert Wood instead. At least I will have a clean slate to work with.
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post #115 of 6222 Old 08-19-2002, 02:37 PM
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Actually, the ability of humans to sucks things out of one another is one of our more endearing attributes.

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post #116 of 6222 Old 08-19-2002, 03:12 PM
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I'm getting sleepy, Spock. I think it's working.
I'm closing my eyes. Yes, I'm getting something. But what is that I'm seeing? Oh my God! It's Sulu and Uhura. And they're...
No, that's not it. But it is a person. Gosh, who is it? Wait a minute. I'm getting a name. Is it John? Yes, that's it. John de Lancie.
Am I warm, Spock?
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post #117 of 6222 Old 08-19-2002, 04:04 PM
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Yes. What a surprise!!
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post #118 of 6222 Old 08-19-2002, 07:18 PM
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Quote:


Originally posted by Dean Roddey


If we are 80% there, the next 20% is really going to be cool, but not likely to fundamentally change the other 80%.


WOW! 80% huh?

If we ( as a species) were taking a test to determine whether we were OMNISCIENT, we would pass with a B! doesn't that make us some kind of gods? Ok we are B-class gods.

One question though, how do we know how much we DON"T KNOW? how can we estimate that we only have 20% left to learn?

We haven't even finished exploring THIS planet yet.
In the context of the entire universe, we are babies that haven't even left our crib yet.
We don't even know what's on the surface of Mars!
Come to think of it, we haven't even figured out how our own minds work.

My guess ( and it is JUST A GUESS) is we probably know one twentieth of one percent.

Gus
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post #119 of 6222 Old 08-19-2002, 08:06 PM
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You probably missed the point, though we made it a couple of times, that we were refering specifically to an understanding of matter and energy, i.e. the fundamental questions of physics. That is a limited and targeted area of inquiry, into which we've burrowed quite deeply already.

But, as was said a number of times, that doesn't have anything to do with the many variations and consequences of what we already know. We don't know this earth completely yet, but nothing the learn about this earth is going to change our understanding of the fundamental building blocks of matter. We haven't begun to explore where electronics can go, but doing so isn't going to fundamentally change our understanding of quantum electrodynamics.

But within the narrow target that was being discussed, it is quite possible that we are 80% there. Some scientists, who are not egotistical idiots and not given to hyperbole, think that's quite possible. The fact of the 'matter' (pun intended) is that the fundamental nature of matter is probably not a bottomless pit with endless doors to open. The ramifications of the things that we learn on the way to the last door can go on and on and on, but that doesn't mean that the doors keep opening downward, just outward.

Dean Roddey
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post #120 of 6222 Old 08-19-2002, 08:48 PM
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Gus,

Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who! often comes to mind when I think of our place in the universe.

Howie
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