Re: The Pythagorean View and the Lamp

From: George Levy <>
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 2003 16:07:06 -0700

Dear everythingers

Reading Bruno Marchal's last email, I realized that it may contain the
answer that Norman seeks.

The answer I think is simply that the set of states for the lamp is
incomplete under the operation of turning the lamp on and off an
infinite number of times as described by Norman.
Just like the paradox of the square root of minus one was resolved by
adding a new type of quantity, i, we may resolve the Thompson problem by
adding a new state, ONF, which is neither ON or OFF but the result of
the infinite process. We now have a lamp capable of being in three
states: ON, OFF and ONF. No more paradox. We have also upgraded our
lamp. With this new lamp capable of being ONF we can do all kinds of
things. For example if reading a newspaper requires the lamp to be ON,
what could you do to with the newspaper with the lamp ONF? And if having
sex requires the lamp to be OFF what would you do with the lamp ONF?
This is something we should really worry about instead of worrying
about the lamp!

George Levy

Norman Samich wrote
I've been looking for an idiot savant to answer this question: Perhaps
you've heard of Thompson's Lamp. This is an ideal lamp, capable of
infinite switching speed and using electricity that travels at infinite
speed. At time zero it is on. After one minute it is turned off.
After 1/2 minute it is turned back on. After 1/4 minute it is turned
off. And so on, with each interval one-half the preceding interval.
Question: What is the status of the lamp at two minutes, on or off? (I
know the answer can't be calculated by conventional arithmetic. Yet the
clock runs, so there must be an answer. Is there any way of
calculating the answer?)

Bruno Marchal wrote:

> At 06:30 14/07/03 -0400, PaintedDevil wrote:
>> However - what mainly interests me is what reason one could have for not
>> taking the Pythagorean view, which does, after all, explain why the
>> universe
>> exists (or appears to exist).
> Perhaps because most people believe that the Pythagorean view
> has been refuted.
> Just consider the "little Pythagorean view" according to which
> -Every length can be measured by integers or ratio of integers
> This has been refuted by the Pythagorean themselves when they
> discovered that the square root of 2 *is* not given by any ratio of
> integers.
> It is the discovery of the irrational numbers, a long time ago.
> Now Pythagore could have "corrected" his doctrine with:
> -Every length can be measured by integers, ratio of integers or
> radical of integers.
> But this would have been refuted by Abel's discovery in 1824 that
> polynomial
> with degree greater than 4 can have solutions which cannot be
> described in
> term of ratio and radicals.
> Now Pythagore could have corrected his doctrine again with
> -Every length can be measured by polynomial's zeros.
> But then Pythagore would have been refuted by the discovery of the non
> algebraic numbers: the transcendant numbers like euler e, and PI.
> Perhaps at this stage Pythagore would begin to think his Pythagorean view
> could may be not work.
> And then he would have been destroyed by Cantor's discovery, who showed
> with his famous diagonalization, that the set of reals (the lengths)
> is not enumerable.
> But then Pythagore would perhaps have postulated the comp hypothesis,
> thinking that *algorithmic* real , which should be obviously
> enumerable, exist and are easily defined.
> Alas, the more subtle Post-Turing-Markov-Church-Kleene-Godel
> diagonalisation makes the algorithmic real not *algorithmically*
> enumerable.
> Surely at this stage Pythagore should abandon the Pythagorean view.
> Isn't it?
> NOT AT ALL. With *Church thesis* you can still say:
> -Every length can be measured by a FORTRAN program.
> Only you have a price to pay:
> FORTRAN programs will measure *much more* than "length", and an
> enumeration of the algorithmic reals, will enumerate the reals +
> other objects, and no theories at all will give you an algorithmic way to
> distinguish the reals from the other objects. That is, the price is
> incompleteness, randomness, unpredictability, etc.
> (Click on the diagonalisation posts in my URL where I explain this,
> with the notion of function (from N to N) in place of the reals).
> But that is nice (for a realist platonic), and this shows that
> Church thesis not only rehabilitates the little Pythagorean view (in term
> of length), but makes consistent the large Pythagorean view
> according to which:
> -everything emerges from the integers and their
> relations.
> And my PhD result shows that, with the comp hyp, the appearance of
> physics *should* emerge in the average memory of the consistent
> anticipating universal machine/program/number. And then I derived a
> theorem prover for the logic of the physical propositions from that, but
> for reason of inefficacy of that theorem prover I can still not
> decide if
> it gives really a quantum logic, or which one ...
> Other weakness, I have neither a semantics nor an axiomatic for that
> quantum logic, only a theorem prover, and a naive semantics in term
> of maximal consistent computational histories.
> I have written 2/3 of a paper which summarize the proof and I intend
> to submit it to some international journal (once finished ...).
> Sure, there exists other reasons to believe the Pythagorean view
> is coming back, like more direct astonishing relations between
> number theory and theoretical physics. Look at
> Bruno
Received on Wed Oct 22 2003 - 19:09:26 PDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:08 PST