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Re: Universal Constants

From: Jerry Han <jhan@c...>
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 1998 02:03:18 -0500
Subject: Re: Universal Constants

Brian Bell wrote:

> Hypothesis: There is no universal measurement.

Interesting ideas here....

> Every measurement is relative, that is is defined in comparison to
> something else.

That's the truth.  By definition, a definition has to have a frame of
reference.  (Gahh, that's twisted. (8-) )  Thus, there is no universal
frame of reference.

However, you can choose things so that your frame of references is as 
large as possible.

> Examples:
>   Weight/Mass. This can be based on the atomic weight of a hydrogen
> molecule. But could be based on the mass of an electron or quark just
> well. And if measurements are based on this small of a unit, it makes
> VERY unwieldy to work with large masses such as that of an armored
> vehicle.

That's really not a problem, because as soon as you define your base 
measurement, you can build a consistent measurement system on top of 
that e.g. going from grams (or pounds, if you insist (8-) ) to ton(nes).
And it works in a large scale, in that a hydrogen atom is going to be a
hydrogen atom anywhere in the Universe (assuming a) you buy the theory 
that laws of physics are wide scale, and b) you ignore nasty things like

>   Time: Time on earth is based on planetary rotation and orbit. If
> species developed on another planet the time would be different. Time
> based on change of energy states does not work because the time it
> is dependent on the amount of external energy. Time based on decay of
> particle will vary depending on what particle you choose

Use the Cesium clock standard - one TimeJerry is the amount of required 
for my reference material to vibrate x times (where x is a very large 

Then you can tackle the distance problem really easy.  One DistanceJerry
is the distance light covers in one TimeJerry.

>   Energy: Energy units are based on performing a specific task. That
> a calorie is an amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature a
> specific amount of water 1 degree at a specific altitude. As you can
> there are many factors involved. If you base it on electron energy
> states, Oscar's Razor comes into play. (Oscar's Razor states that you
> cannot tell both the energy state and position of an electron. This is
> because the act of observing an electron changes its state). Again,
> scaling up from subatomic to newtonian level presents a problem. *It
> be Oscam's Razor. My brain is fading now.

You can however express energy as E=mv^2, or mgh, or other ways that
avoid this problem.

> Corollary: Since there are no universal measurements, there is no
> for communication. You say math is a constant? Math is good for
> describing facts, but unless you have a consensus on the measurements,
> it is less useful for describing theory. And how do you describe
> democracy, freedom, ownership and other such concepts mathematically?

Wasn't this brought up in 'Contact?'  (I'm thinking of the book, not
the movie.)  Measurements can be handled as long as you can somehow let
the other people know what frame of reference you're using.  (The idea
of Voyager and the 12 Quasars comes to mind, if my memory is at all 

And as long as you establish the vocabulary, you can express the actual
definition of things like democracy, freedom, and ownership.  (Granted,
the actual implications may be beyond communication; but, on the flip
we have problems discussing it amongst ourselves.)

I should throw in a disclaimer that I was trained as an Applied 
Mathematician, so I believe most things in the Universe are open to 
measurement and analysis through mathematics.  

Apologies for the rambling (gotta love the midnight shift...)


Jerry Han -  CANOE Canada - -
  ***** Visit the Canadian Online Explorer! => *****
The opinions expressed are mine, and not necessarily those of CANOE
	 "Is there no escape from the words that plague me so?"

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