Mathematicians discover pattern in prime numbers

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The uncertainty of science: Mathematicians have discovered that, among the first billion prime numbers, there is a peculiar uneven distribution that is not random to the last digit of each prime.

[I]f the sequence were truly random, then a prime with 1 as its last digit should be followed by another prime ending in 1 one-quarter of the time. That’s because after the number 5, there are only four possibilities — 1, 3, 7 and 9 — for prime last digits. And these are, on average, equally represented among all primes, according to a theorem proved around the end of the nineteenth century, one of the results that underpin much of our understanding of the distribution of prime numbers. (Another is the prime number theorem, which quantifies how much rarer the primes become as numbers get larger.)

Instead, Lemke Oliver and Soundararajan saw that in the first billion primes, a 1 is followed by a 1 about 18% of the time, by a 3 or a 7 each 30% of the time, and by a 9 22% of the time. They found similar results when they started with primes that ended in 3, 7 or 9: variation, but with repeated last digits the least common. The bias persists but slowly decreases as numbers get larger.

As the article notes, this pattern does not appear to have any practical use, though it definitely fascinates everyone who hears about.


  • Wayne

    Way Cool!

    Slightly tangential, but extremely interesting & touches on Prime’s:
    Professor Tony Mann,
    “When Logic is Illogical” Gresham College Math’s Lectures:

    –the descriptor Blurb:
    “That there are infinitely many prime numbers or that four colours suffice to colour any map so that adjacent regions are differently coloured, are statements which have been rigorously proved so that there can be no doubt about their truth. Mathematics, uniquely amongst human activities, is grounded on absolute truth, or so it has seemed to generations of mathematicians. But what happens when there appears to be contradictions in the logic on which mathematics is based?”

  • Jwing

    That’s funny because I was taught that the number one is not prime because in order for a number to be prime, it must have only factors of itself and the number one. The number one does not fit that strict definition of a prime number….for what it’s worth.

  • Wayne


    Good point. I think however, the strict definition is “whole number greater than 1.”
    I’ve seen it written both ways & have been taught differing definitions. (But then again Math is not my bag, it is however “fascinating!”)

  • Dick Eagleson

    I wonder if this result is simply a base-dependent artifact. Given that 2 is the only even prime, the prime numbers of value 3 or greater will all, of necessity have last digits of 1, 3, 7 or 9 (numbers with 5 or zero as a last digit are all divisible, in base 10, by 5, so 5 itself is the only base-10 prime divisible by 5). If primes are expressed in binary, however, the pattern detected disappears entirely as the last digit of every binary prime (except 10 – i.e., the binary equivalent of decimal 2) is simply 1. It seems mathematicians might do well to investigate whether or not patterns comparable to that found for base 10 exist in the distribution of prime last digits for other number bases – hexadecimal, for example. There may well be a meta-pattern of which the specific pattern noted for base 10 numbers is simply a particular case.

  • Wow! This is good stuff! It appears the last digits of prime numbers in large populations tend to follow the normal curve. While not truly random, the result is consistent with the observed characteristics in other large populations. Of more interest is the is the Hardy – Littlewood Conjecture mentioned in the article. The Conjecture describes a density function for prime distribution, and uses an inverse natural log function as a basis for the integration. This would suggest that the distribution of primes (and their last digits) isn’t as random as maybe we’ve thought. While unproven, the Conjecture is consistent with the results reported in the paper.

    I believe Mr. Eagleson may be correct in his supposition that number base probably doesn’t make a difference in the abstract. Binary is probably the trivial case, but I suspect that the observed results will hold up whatever the counting base.

  • Wayne

    Blair– interesting blog btw!
    This is way out of my realm—(obviously given the babbling evident in my prior post ref AI & the game GO!) But it is, way-cool.

    Is this type of work with prime’s related to Simon Newcomb or Frank Benford’s work??

    I’m thinking (?!) as it relates to digits of randomly chosen numbers from Nature or “accounting” & their statistical distribution??

  • Cotour

    I am going to throw this out there on this story panel related to mathematics. This is a question that I formulated when I was much, much younger and the answer seems to change as I think about it more. Its either a ridiculous question or at least an interesting question for nerds with possible interesting implications like this prime number discovery.

    Q: Does mathematics exist in the universe to be discovered by man or is it purely a construct and an extension of the human mind?

    *I generally simply define mathematics as describing two or more objects in space.*

    The nature of the universe exists, we over time are observing, describing and measuring it in an attempt at understanding it, we call that physics. (How much more is left to describe? I suspect a lot, what are the limits of our ability to perceive it?) We use mathematics to symbolically weigh and describe it, is that purely a function of the human mind?

    Any real super nerds, like I said, may find this ridiculous or possibly interesting.

    I would be interested in (if anyone finds it an interesting question) anyone’s thoughts on the subject.

  • Wayne


    Great pondering’s!… Excellent.
    (I’m sick of Trump, no offense–this is far more interesting but less immediately/practically, “serious,” as such)

    Your asking a question that is that the core of a lot of “stuff,” Philosophy, Physics, and Math’s.

    Personally– I am a “super-nerd” as it relates to Cosmology & Physics (& “Psychology!”) . Not so much a “math whiz” as such but it’s all interrelated, & I’m trying hard to get a grip on it all.
    [Har– I can finally recognize the scribblings on the white-boards on Big Bang Theory!]

    tangent– my “millennial” friends tell me “being a Nerd” is considered a compliment these days!!

    –Really enjoy Dr. Penrose, and his Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, myself. (and his love of over-head projectors! HAR) The whole Penrose-tiling’s ‘thang, as well, is amazing stuff.
    [ he’s working (in part) on bridging “Consciousness” with Quantum Mechanical processes,as well as his Cosmology theories.] ((Jeez hope he lives to be “105” at a minimum!!))

    –Not into String Theory so much, but enjoy Dr. Leonard Susskind at Stanford. (and his love of blackboards over PowerPoint presentations.)
    –he has 130+ of his lectures on line. Complete video of all his “Physics for Old People” as he jokingly describes it. (He does the night-class “thang at Stanford.)

    I’ve pushed this before, but check out practically anything from “Gresham College Lectures” Math’s &/or Cosmology. ( at YouTube) Very enlightening and very viewer-friendly but not dumbed-down!

    Ok! Cool! HAR– your back up to being my “90% ally!” with this Awesome Question
    (I’m smiling!!)

  • Cotour

    I would have never thought you to be a “super nerd” from your writings (HAR :)

    (sarcasm alert for Edward)

    I will assume that you are thinking about substantively commenting on my question in the future.

  • Wayne


    HAR— good one!

    Yes, will substantively comment on your actual question, later…. it’s a HEAVY topic & I type (keyboard) with 2 fingers, (about 20 words a minute) give me some time. (or it all sounds like pure- babbling) (Babble-On Garth!)
    Can’t compose-on-the-fly, as brilliantly as I once could. (HAR)

    (HAR— my whole life >> Poster-Child for Tangents!) >>In real-life, I’m great Fun at Parties! (although sadly, I no longer have my wife handy to give me the “shut up & listen” Signal. She kept in check, quite well!))

  • wayne

    Cotour posted a question for discussion:
    [“Q: Does mathematics exist in the universe to be discovered by man or is it purely a construct and an extension of the human mind?”]

    Definitely not a Mathematician myself & would love to hear input from someone who is such.
    –After contemplating my answer to the question & distilling it into the fewest thought-fragments I’m able, I would answer as such:

    I fully believe the relationships that exist in Nature between “mass” & “energy” are “universal” in the literal sense that they exist “everywhere.”**
    Mankind’s* understanding of the relationships (of which we are aware presently) I believe is a symbolic construct (broadly “Math’s”), made by Man, within the constraints of our Biology, to enable us to manipulate and “universalize” those concepts in order to gain a better understanding of them & how they may apply to “things” in Reality presently, as well as “stuff” of which we have as not yet gained a fuller or more complete knowledge.
    The question itself touches upon concepts of “ideal” or “abstract” Universal Concepts.
    Math’s, much like Language is an “emergent property” rather than a “thing” which exists independently in the World.
    –In other words, if humans didn’t exist, the (small t) fundamental relationships between mater & energy would still exist, we just wouldn’t be here to discover them or construct symbolic logic systems to explain them to ourselves.
    –Some questions and/or the ability to “know” & answer them, I also believe, will be forever out of our reach.
    –The biggie being– WHY does anything exist in the first place. (For me, I would direct anyone to the book by Kurt Vonnegut, “Slaughterhouse 5,” in brief, “Why you Billy Pilgrim? why anyone? Everything has always existed, always is existing, and will always exist in the future.

    * includes Girls of course, it would be infinitely more boring & fatal to the species, without them!
    ** I would propose this is “true” everywhere except at Big Bang & Black Hole conditions. Our ability to symbolically comprehend those condition-states remains lacking in fundamental constructs.

  • Edward

    Thanks for the sarcasm alert, although your smiling laugh gave it away. I would not have recognized it otherwise, but then I wouldn’t have commented on it, either.

    Your question (“Does mathematics exist in the universe to be discovered by man or is it purely a construct and an extension of the human mind?”) is kind of bizarre, and I would not have expected anyone but a human to come up with it. My (now deceased) cat certainly had no concept of mathematics or counting. He would just realize that there was a lot of food in his dish, not much food in his dish or nothing in his dish (he behaved differently for each realization*). Thus it is only an advanced, thinking mind that can count that comes up with mathematics.

    So, is math discovered — having existed for all eternity and we just happened to notice it — or was it invented — having never existed until someone decided to trade something for more than one of someone else’s things?

    The people that I know consider mathematics to be a tool from which we create models in order to make sense of the world around us. As a tool, it would have to have been invented, not something that the universe left lying around for us to find. I like that definition, so I am sticking with that answer.

    On the other hand.
    The concept of “i” (square root of -1) is rather interesting. It is a concept that has no physical meaning, according to our tool, mathematics. It is useful as part of our tool in order to explain certain observed physical phenomena. This could suggest that the impossible concept of i may actually exist in the universe as something other than a phenomenon that makes up part of physical reality. And — and! — if it does exist in the universe, then it was left lying around by the universe for us to stumble across. Thus, because the concept is strictly mathematical in nature, it would mean that mathematics most definitely *is* a discovery, not an invention, that the universe left lying around for us to find, so I am sticking with that answer.

    Did I just prove the existence of God?

    In college, I came across this bit of graffiti: “e^(i*PI) +1 = 0, therefore God exists.” This is a completely bizarre identity, and it includes a large number of mathematical fundamentals, from the basic concept of the number “one” to the impossibility of “i”.
    “e to any power isnt supposed to be a negative number”
    (This link is *so* much better than Wikipedia’s entry, because it assumes you aren’t a mathemetician — I am not, and now I know why.)

    For a while, in college, I was trying to start a new church, based upon this graffiti and the impossible identity that it represents. In retrospect, I should have tried harder.

    * There is a book that explores the origin of the universe: “A Universe from Nothing: Why is there something rather than nothing” which asks why the universe exists. Of course, the flippant answer is that if there were nothing, then we would not be here to ask the question, so it is obvious that there is something because we are here to ask the question. No one would *ever* even think to ask the question, “Why is there nothing rather than something,” because he would not be there to ask the question.

    My cat, however, would look at an empty food dish and look at me as if to ask “why is there nothing instead of something?”

  • wayne

    Would expand my previous answer slightly:

    I’m a big fan of Conformal Cyclic Cosmology (Penrose) myself– it appears to be very elegant & may offer insight into what-came-before the Big Bang.
    I’m pretty well versed on how the Big Bang lead to Galaxies, Suns, Planets, Earth, etc., and my comment on “Everything has always existed….” goes more toward the philosophical end of the whole deal, rather than the actual process’s whereby primordial particle-soup evolves into Hydrogen & photons, and then eventually to us.
    Concept’s such as “Math” or “Physics,” are, as I mentioned (hopefully!) discovered by Man as emergent-order’s, which we create symbolic logic, ourselves, to understand. They exist independently of Us. (

    Short answer: “It’s purely a Construct, and not a “thing” in Nature itself.”
    – We are ‘simply” “discovering fundamental relationships,” [between 2 or more objects/energy, in Space] rather than willing it into existence, so to speak.

    Complex Topic– tried to be as brief as could, with the fewest explanatory devices.

  • wayne

    Interesting answer. Thanks for pondering.

    Are you referring to Lawrence Krauss? (I’ve watched a good dozen of his presentations/lectures.)

    –You might really enjoy Dr. Penrose as well…His public presentations are amazingly user-friendly & you don’t need a lot of Math to understand them.

    Tangent Alert—
    –Personally, I’m fascinated with my Cat. (If they had Thumbs, they might be running the world!) Ever wondered what your Cat would sound like, if they could speak English? I do! HAR— no, seriously… but it is humorous as well.

  • Cotour

    Edward, those are some fine and reasonable thoughts on the subject, also thank you for considering me a “human”.

    Your cat analogy brings me to my next thoughts related to the subject, Human beings live in two realities, our Biological / DNA reality (like your cat) and a second based in our intellectual reality. Two very different and distinct realities. We can “see” or understand a cats perspective, but a cat can never “see” or understand how a human being creates their perspective.


    The nature of coincidence in our universe, possibly related to the Mathematics question. Coincidence being the prime reason reason that we exist in this particular universe at all? Do we see glimpses of this coincidence law of nature when someone wins a lottery? There are many “glimpses” these are just a few.

    Are all of these unusual characteristics of our universe indicators of something “MORE”, rather than “NOTHING”?

  • Cotour

    Wayne: Thank you for your thoughts.

    I really do not know if there is a “correct ” answer. As you think about things like this and you are able to become more and more objective and divorce yourself from your subjective perspective you can come to a conclusion that both are true at the same time, and / or that there is more rather than nothing.

    Light is both a wave and a particle?

  • Wayne

    Don’t know what the “correct” answer is myself, it’s just what I think.

    Not saying there is “nothing,” there is EVERYTHING! and that’s pretty darn Fantastical all by itself!

    (personally– don’t really believe in “mystical” type things, maybe a Deist in the lurch (Natures “God”) but for me– everything is matter & energy– and again that’s pretty darn FANTASTIC! It’s AMAZING, it’s INCREDIBLE!)

    –Human beings posses the ability to be introspective– that is amazing!

    The wave/particle thing is not so much a “duality” (in a classical philosophy sense)— it behaves both as a wave & as a particle… just depends on how we measure it… (which is entirely fascinating all by itself, that it posses two different Forms, and we are able to figure that out….)

    I’ll have to ponder more on your Cat & Coincidence questions.
    Mine is meowing at me as I type– very distracting. Time to go for our nightly walk. (he’s leash trained, but that’s about it as far as “training” –he’s a CAT!)

  • Wayne

    Cotour opined: (in part)
    “Human beings live in two realities, our Biological / DNA reality (like your cat) and a second based in our intellectual reality.”

    I’d have to counter-differ slightly/moderately, with you on that-
    -That’s more of a linguistic-construct difference, without a clear distinction. “Reality” exists independent of one’s perception of “it.”
    There is a difference between “seeing” & “perceiving” “reality.”

    My Cat & I basically “see” similar “things” but we have vastly different perceptions of them, and attach vastly different “meanings” to them.

    You touch on some very interesting Philosophical concepts. I’ll have to pull out my History of Psychology text and explore further. I’m way rusty on anything prior to 1900 or so.

    Humans have been pondering just such questions you raise, for a very long time.

    Personally– I’m in the Behavioral Realm, where one’s Brain is one’s Mind, we make no distinction, nor do we discount, but we have no ability to study Mental States per se, we only focus on behavior– that which is measurable. We try to avoid mentalistic inferences as prime-causes, as it does away with explanatory-fictions.
    Tangentially– the big divide in Psychology use to be between those more in the Philosophical Realm & those more in the Physics/Science Realm.

    Hmmm… I shall ponder further…

    Briefly– as to coincidence. I would look toward statistical analysis to determine if “random events” are actually random, & what factors may or may not be in play, that are not intuitively evident.
    Quick example: in a sample of roughly 40-50 people, 2 of those people will have the same birthday.
    It’s often used in a classroom setting to get people thinking about what goes into probability , that is not overtly obvious. It’s pure probability, but it’s not intuitive. Humans don’t “do-probability” very well in our ordinary lives, rather we rely on “rules of thumb.”
    Great thread–
    Good thoughts by all!

  • wayne

    Very interesting thoughts!
    –just watched a Math lecture about imaginary-numbers not too long ago.

    There’s a psych joke about Cat’s & Behaviorism; punch line is along the lines of;
    “They are very pattern-oriented but unfortunately “once” is the pattern.”
    -Referring to the difficulty (challenge) of training Cats. (It can be done, but “only if they allow you to.” (smile sarcasm alert!)

    Might have some more comments but I’ll have to compose off-line & think about it all a bit more.

    Great thread.

  • Cotour

    As far as the two realities go, I actually mean two very different realities.

    The cat “sees”, acts and reacts and does what a cat does based ONLY in their Biological / DNA reality, Humans actually exist in two realities, their Biological / DNA reality and this has to do with basic survival, reproduction, aggression, desire, jealousy, love, hate etc., PLUS they exist in their second Intellectual reality, purely a function of the human mind. The Intellectual reality has to do with the structure of complex cultures, the development of high technologies, mathematics, language / complex communication etc, etc, etc. Its is very deep and complex and creates the perception that that second reality is in actuality the real and only reality.

    This second reality is as real as the first but it is a construct of mind, something I call immersion, essentially you can not see the forest for the trees. Human beings tend to naturally train themselves to believe that the second reality is the only reality and that they are not connected with the first. Is it possible to disconnect from the Biological / DNA reality? No, its is our foundation of existence itself.

    So the question for me: “Does mathematics exist to be discovered by human beings or is it a function of the human mind?” becomes circular as you look deep into who and what we are, and what we are is an expression of the universe itself. But there is a general everyday human intellectual perception that we exist separate and apart form our Biological / DNA foundation. This is a human only fantasy of reality.

  • Cotour

    I find this story is a good example of an aspect of demonstrating the differences between the two realities:

    “”The definition of ‘alive’ may even evolve to mean, ‘as long as your essential personal information continues to be organized and accessible”

    This is in no way a part of a cats reality, but it is a humans.

  • wayne

    Respectfully counter differ with your bifurcation of “reality.” (That which exists in space & time.)
    Objective “reality” exists whether humans or cats perceive it or not.

  • Cotour

    That which exists in space and time, exists in space and time.

    However we are talking about individual class’s of life forms existing within that space and time and their abilities to individually perceive that reality and make sense of it to the different degrees that their DNA allows them to perceive and make sense of it.

    A cat will never have this conversation about these concepts, because it is a cat.

  • Edward

    Wayne wrote at: March 15, 2016 at 5:16 pm: “Are you referring to Lawrence Krauss?”

    That’s the one.

    Wayne also wrote: “Ever wondered what your Cat would sound like, if they could speak English?”

    Oh, the nagging! As for ruling the world (as though they don’t already), it is certain that *they* created YouTube just to have a place to share their many, many cat videos, which they have cleverly coaxed humans into making.

    Cotour wrote at: March 15, 2016 at 5:41 pm: “thank you for considering me a “human”.”

    You’re welcome, but I brought up the human part so that I could distinguish us from less-thinking, non-mathematical animals, such as my cat. After all, my cat wouldn’t have cared about prime numbers, much less patterns in them (whether or not he had thumbs).

    “The nature of coincidence in our universe, possibly related to the Mathematics question. Coincidence being the prime reason reason that we exist in this particular universe at all?”

    I am not as fond of coincidence hypotheses. We note the coincidences that we see, and that makes them seem special, but there are a whole lot of people in this world, and that makes for a lot of potential coincidences. Smaller towns make some of the video’s coincidences — repeated interactions — even more common, as there are not as many different people to interact with.

    In order for us to note coincidences, we have to exist, which requires a universe to exist in, but that it is this universe requires no coincidence at all. It is similar to the question of why there is something rather than nothing. If you weren’t discussing coincidences with me, you would be discussing them with somebody else, thus, as with the non-coincidence of the universe, there is no coincidence that it is me you are discussing it with — you would exist in some universe and you would be discussing it with someone else in that universe.

    Wave vs. particle behavior is dependent upon the “rules” of our universe. As in Asimov’s book “The God’s Themselves,” the universe would be a different place and work very differently if physics worked differently, such as the Strong Force being a little weaker.

    As for cat perceptions and training:
    I trained that cat of mine to “tap” at a window rather than meow at the door, and I likewise trained him to sit at his food dish instead of meow at it. It could never have occurred to him that I might be deaf (I am not), because not being able to hear was a concept outside of his reality. He merely came to realize that certain behaviors were rewarded and others were not.

  • Cotour

    Maybe in another universe Pi = 3, there is no prime number correlation and there is no coincidence and therefore, there is no life.

    Lets not limit coincidence to human interactions, before humans or any other complex life forms existed maybe there were only opportunities for coincidence to bring together the components of life (in this universe), and therefore there is life.

    Yes, the cat is a cat is a cat. It is formed through its DNA as a cat, it perceives the world as a cat, it thinks like a cat. A human is formed through its DNA as a human and perceives the world as a human, BUT also considers how the cat perceives the world as a cat. The cat never ever does that.

    Unless I am wrong and the cats and they did create Youtube in order to watch themselves on video, and that throws my entire concept out the window!

  • Wayne

    Lawrence Krauss– enjoy his Cosmology explanations. Can’t recall if he’s into string theory or what, but I have seen a few versions of his “Something from Nothing” lectures.
    (I’m a Roger Penrose guy– I find his theories oh-so elegant, I can follow them, and the Math & Geometry appear valid. He also address’s the problem of Entropy straight on, which some other variants of Cosmology tend to gloss over.)

    HAR– like your Cat allusions. — ( “How do we know they aren’t running the world?”) I always kept Dogs, but wife was allergic & we grew to enjoy our Cat’s quite a bit– less upkeep, so to speak, slightly more independent (indifferent! HAR) and sorta more… “elegant.” My Guy is used to going outside (leashed) 2 hours/day and Winter in Michigan is hard on him, tends to go stir-crazy right about now (March) from not getting outside enough. He has me wrapped around his front paw,– getting older so I tend to indulge him. When my wife was alive– she controlled the Cat like a drill sergeant, now the Cat controls me!

    –Coincidence: I am in your camp on this one. I know enough about Statistics & randomness to know that what appears to be an “amazing coincidence ” is not, in actuality.

    Cotour– interesting tidbits. I can see already, we fundamentally disagree on some key things, but no problem. You’re totally into the realm of Philosophy rather than Physics or “Science.”

    Tangent– (discuss!) (HAR)

    Leibniz:– He was convinced the Universe & everything in it, was composed of ‘Geometrical Point Entities’ he called “Monads.” An interesting view and not totally-completely, off base. (as he applied it to behavior– didn’t pass the test of history, but a whacky loveable guy!)
    Bishop Berkeley — “esse est percipi” “To exist is to be perceived.” (Very Sartre-esque. A view I do not hold myself. If you try to read his “Being & Nothingness,” you’ll get clinically-depressed. HAR)
    Wilhelm Wundt: credited with merging Physiology & Physics, into the discipline of Psychology. There should be a Holiday named after him!
    Freud– he’s revered as a “pioneering individual,” in the Biz, but nobody actually believes any of that Fluff anymore.. (except over-educated $300/hour “Therapists.” Whom practically nobody respects at “street-level.”

    Again– I’ll blatantly shill for anything from “Gresham College Lectures” just plug that into the YouTube search box, for hours of fascinating British knowledge.

  • Cotour

    Q: Can statistics be influenced by intent?

    For example, could I sit in front of some kind of random number generator or random event generator and through thought or intent influence the result?

    And if that is possible might that indicate that coincidence is not always actually explained by statistics?

  • Wayne

    (yeah, you & I definitely differ on some fundamental stuff!) (smile!)
    again–no problem.

    I’ll way in with a statement of fact:

    “No,” you can’t do what you describe.
    You could “intend” to try, but you would not succeed. (You could pick a random match, but it would be random & not through any “intent” on your part.)
    Therefore: your 2nd question proceeds from a false statement & disproves its premise.
    (-Initial Question, is in the realm of “mysticism.”)

  • Wayne

    that should be “weigh in”

  • Cotour

    You do realize that that question is a set up question, don’t you?

    Your confidence in what you believe is the black and white of rock solid “science” shows an inflexibility and inability to be objective, apparently you have a belief that everything that can be known is known.

    Does that sound logical or reasonable to you? There is nothing that lies around the edges of the rules of science that might accommodate my question?

    More later.

  • I now understand why Wayne got a little bit irritated with you in a previous thread. Nothing Wayne said in his previous comment came even close to suggesting that his beliefs in science and objective reality “shows an inflexibility and inability to be objective” or especially that he has “a belief that everything that can be known is known.” Such statements by you suggest you are merely using what he writes as an excuse to insult him.

    I do not like that.

    You asked “Could I sit in front of some kind of random number generator or random event generator and through thought or intent influence the result? And if that is possible might that indicate that coincidence is not always actually explained by statistics?”

    He quite reasonably said no, you would not succeed if you tried. And he is right. Numerous ESP advocates have tried this exact experiment, including a variation of this by astronaut Edgar Mitchell on his journey to the Moon, and have routinely failed. The numbers remain random. You cannot influence them out of randomness, merely by your intent. Just because you think it might be possible “around the edges of science” will not make it so. Nor telling you these facts about this proven reality suggest I am inflexible or think everything that is known can be known. There are some things that are known, and to make believe those facts might not be true is a mistake.

    Anyway, consider this a warning. The debates you have are great and most intriguing, and I generally like them, but when you lower yourself to insult you risk ending them here, and not in a way that you (or I) would prefer..

  • Wayne

    Cotour wrote, in part:

    “You do realize that that question is a set up question, don’t you?”

    No, I did not realize you were trying to set me up. I thought you actually wanted some input.
    I am extremely well-versed in my own profession & slightly well-versed in any number of other topics I find extraordinarily interesting, such as Cosmology, Physics, Math’s, and Philosophy. Other topics, I am completely aware– other people are vastly more well-versed than I ever could be, but I do know just-enough to carry on a conversion with those folks, on a relatively high level.
    –I don’t worship at the alter of “Science,” if anything it only serves to inform me of how little we actually know in the grand scheme. To think otherwise, “would be the pretense of knowledge.”
    Fortunately for me, I didn’t read your post last night, or I’d have taken the bait, (apparently, ‘again’ ) & have been completed banned by Mr. Z. today, for mercilessly, ceaselessly, verbally attacking you.

  • Cotour

    Posting here is like a therapy for me, I enjoy the subject matter and the challenge to communicate my thoughts, opinions and writing style in a more and more refined and comprehensive way. Part of the challenge is to partake in complex conversations with people who I consider of a much higher caliber than most and I assume that they are all adults, grown men and women.

    I have to assume that by your statements above, (although I have made you personally uncomfortable with my technique), that you think that I bring more worth while content and comments to your web site than not, and that is my sincere intention. And if that be true I consider that a high compliment because I know that you have a very high standards for writing, content and decorum.

    My conversations with Wayne have been a bit contentious at times but we are generally on the same page, and I truly personally like him. My intent is not to insult as you have characterized it but to confront someone with their own words and logic, as I confront you with your own words and logic, as I expect you to confront me with mine. You may not like the technique and I will dial it back to accommodate your standards but confrontation like competition raises the bar and forces deeper thinking IMO, although it can be uncomfortable to witness or experience. I try to be thoughtful about what I write and I usually take great care before I push the post button.

    Back to the subject at hand, because I am busy today I will be gathering my counter argument and post it later.

  • Dial it back. I insist. You haven’t been “confronting” people, you have been sometimes insulting and sanctimonious. I say this because I truly want you to continue posting here, but I also want the atmosphere here to be intelligent, civilized, and thoughtful. This technique you describe is not what I consider any of those things.

  • Wayne

    I’ll weigh in briefly, as my name was referenced:
    (I’m a guest here, if I cross any lines I would expect to be called on it. “I’m already on “probation,” he said with a large smile.)

    I generally appreciate your comments, & as well, have a belief we are mostly “in the same book” if not on the same page, at times. (other times, we aren’t even in the same building.)
    — We do however, obviously differ on some fundamental-stuff.
    -I’m persuadable on a huge number of topics, others– not so much, & fewer still, just not at all. (as I suspect you are as well.)

    Mentioned elsewhere in other threads, “60% of all communication” is non-verbal & in this forum in particular, we are all the “mercy of our keyboards.”
    I’ll endeavor to “keep a grip” on mine.
    – Can’t, nor wish to, “change you,” all I can do is try to control how I respond, to you.
    (it can be tedious at times & I’m apparently not the only one to sense that, on occasion.)

    On an infinitely lighter note:
    You (Cotour, indeed–anyone) may find some great thoughts on “coincidence,” & a dozen other extraordinarily interesting related Math’s problems, as they apply to real-life.

    “Bedfords Very Strange Law”

    ( Dr. John D. Barrow; Professor of Geometry & other Mathematical Science’s, Gresham College.)

    The Professor is an extremely good lecturer, I find his delivery superb, & he is able to impart his expert knowledge on truly complex topics, in a highly understandable manner, without “dumbing them down.” (which I personally, greatly appreciate in this type of subject matter.)
    –I’m at a loss to detect any “agenda” or bent he may personally have– just darn good information…

  • Edward

    Wayne wrote at: March 16, 2016 at 6:17 pm: “she controlled the Cat like a drill sergeant, now the Cat controls me!”

    I know what you mean. I thought myself pretty clever for “trainning” my cat, only to realize that I felt that I needed to respond to his trained actions in order for the training to stick; therefore I was still his slave.

    Cotour wrote at: March 16, 2016 at 6:50 pm:
    “Q: Can statistics be influenced by intent? For example, could I sit in front of some kind of random number generator or random event generator and through thought or intent influence the result? And if that is possible might that indicate that coincidence is not always actually explained by statistics?”

    At the risk of falling into the unnecessary “gotcha” trap:
    First, you need to read He is a statistician who likes to explain that statistics does *not* find cause (among other misunderstandings about statistics). Statistics does not “explain” but describes.

    Second, Randomness is also misunderstood. Random just means that a cause cannot be determined. If you throw a pair of dice, they will come up with a seemingly random number, but if you repeat all the conditions exactly (orientation, location, velocity, and spin of the dice at release; gravity; the surfaces they bounce on; etc.), they will come up with the same number. So when someone asks, “What are the chances of *that* happening?” the answer literally is 100%.

    Even — and especially — computer random number generators are based upon a pattern, and some possible numbers (from 0 to 1, in increments determined by the precision of the computer or language) may never come up, while others may come up more than once before the pattern repeats. A friend of mine, while writing a computer game, wondered how to get the random number generator to create different games, since the pattern is the same for any seed, and I recommended he use the clock, for the seed. The seed seemed random, and the different seeds generated different patterns that set up the map, and cetera, differently each time, but they were still not random.

    Although this *did* influence the result — by intention — it was still not predictable and seemed random. Or I should say: was random by the definition of the word.

    In the late 1970s, I played a computer game called “Star Trek.” It asked for a seed, and if I used the same seed number, it would generate the same initial conditions time after time. Once again, this influenced the result — by intention.

    Third, science is not so black and white. Physics may be, as it is mostly describable by mathematics, but there is more than the physical sciences. (Subatomic physics and quantum mechanics start getting into unpredictability and start to seem random. Reaction and decay rates for large quantities are predictable, but for individual molecules and atoms it seems random. Etc.)

    In physics, if you poke some billiard balls the same way, the resulting behavior will be the same for each one, just as it was for the dice. The answer is predictable each time, and the answer can be determined using math. This is why it is called a hard science.

    In psychology, if you poke some people the same way, the resulting behavior will be different for each one. The answer is far less predictable, and the answer cannot be determined using math. It is called a soft science.

    Medicine is similar. We perform experiments in order to discover drugs, treatments, and surgeries that work — but they only work often enough to make them worthwhile trying on a specific patient. This is the science of medicine.

    Specific patients react differently to the same drugs, treatments, and surgeries. Penicillin may stop an infection, but some patients have allergic reactions. Heart transplants may give new energy to patients, but some patients’ bodies react by rejecting the new organ. Unlike the billiard ball, we cannot know in advance the exact reaction of individual patients. It is not black or white for all patients, it can also be shades of gray. Doctors try what they believe to be the most likely treatment, and move on to the next, if the previous did not work well. This is the art of medicine.

    There is a non-random cause for all of these reactions, but we cannot find them, so the reactions seem unpredictable and random.

    Like design engineering*, psychology and medicine are both an art and a science.

    Fortunately, rocketry works on predictable scientific principles, and when problems arise (seemingly at random), causes and solutions can be found that will work every time. It is geometric logic, as Captain Queeg once said.

    * The art of design is that giving the same requirements to three different engineers will get you three very different designs. However, giving a design for analysis to three different engineers, you should get similar answers from all three (assumptions, therefore result, may vary — the assumptions being based upon experience, therefore they may also seem random).

  • wayne

    GREAT comments! Very thoughtful & complete-thoughts!!

    Slightly, ever so, differ on Psychology as a “soft-science.” While I would absolutely agree it’s placed within the “Social Science’s” umbrella, and is far from “exact,” (oh boy is it not!) it depends on which Branch you look at.
    I’m in the “Behaviorism” limb of the whole Enterprise; our greatest Goal is to be respected as a hard science, along with Physiology, Physics, and Biology.
    (tangent- the school I attended, was one of THE nationwide center’s for Behavioral Study & Analysis. The Department shared a building with the Biology, Physiology, and Math’s Departments. Where as, what “we” called the “soft sciences,” –they were safely tucked away in another building to do whatever it was they did. (He said with a confident smile!)
    -Economics suffers from their desire to be “just like” Physics, where-as I always thought it was a natural ally of Behavioral Psychology & indeed “Behavioral Economics” has developed into a branch of Economics in general, which is “more like Physic’s” and less like “sociology.”

    (Using complex formula’s, algorithm’s, and graph’s, lends a degree of “scientism” to any study, but does not necessarily make it so. Hayek, Mises, Friedman, Bastiat, & other’s, would all be welcome & feel right at home in a Behavioral Psychology setting. We don’t discount “internal events,” or “motivation,” but we have few tools by which to study them using the scientific-method of theory & repeatable experiments, so we don’t appeal to internal-events as the Prime cause of “stuff.” “By your fruits, shall ye be known.” hence we study what people actually do, rather than what we “think” they do.)

    Minor point, but very near & dear to my heart! (“We,” Behaviorism- get a bad wrap in general, because Left wing Social Planners have done a great job of co-opting our methods to their own devious ends & maybe 1/2 the Faculty, Academics, & what-not who have infiltrated “us” are raging Collectivist Oligarchical Statists at heart, much to my chagrin.

    Good job with your Cat! I always had a rule about treating my Daughter or the Cat, like a test-subject & actively manipulating them, even for their own good. (akin to a surgeon not operating on their own family members– just “too close” to be objective.) My wife however (a Geologist) could just give that LOOK to our Daughter or the Cat, and they both “knew” what she meant. (very mentalistic description but everyone “gets that” in ordinary conversation.) (I’m not one of those pretentious s-o-b’s, I live in the World just like everyone else and have grown to be more eclectic in my methods & interactions, rather than the arrogant person nobody wants to invite to Party’s!)
    My Cat is getting old so I indulge him– He has me so trained, it’s scary! (smile)
    That being said– they are very trainable when young. My Guy is leash trained & that was good-enough for me. And… He can’t open the cat-food or get into the Pantry, by himself!!
    –Like I said– “If they had opposable-thumbs, we’d be working for them!”

    Random number tables & generators– very interesting stuff!
    Rocketry– yes, very “engineering” and Newtonian-physics dependent. I for one appreciate the “slide-rule” Guys (and Girls) who can figure this stuff out & make it all work!

    Yo– you have any good Engineer Jokes? My wife always told a good one about “The Physicist, the Engineer, and the Geologist were on a plane…”

    –While I did not attend Gresham College in the UK., [I shill for them at every opportunity)
    I very pleased to share with anyone– they redesigned their website recently & it’s now completely user-friendly & they focus on their (“1,900+”) Lectures, in a very intuitive, searchable, manner.
    Skip their YouTube stuff & go directly to them! Material as recent as a week ago is now easily obtained without struggle!

  • wayne

    “I proved with quantum geometric physiological certainty, that a 2nd key to the strawberry stash was indeed somewhere on the ship. At which point I turned hard aft & promptly drove over our own drag line…”

    HAR–“Queeg…” “old yellow stain” (??)

  • Cotour

    This conversation for me started in earnest with this comment below by Wayne, and what I took as an absolute statement about science as having the answers to all and every question that has ever been asked. I have a problem with absolute statements, there are in general very few that can be sustained. Science alone at this point in time does not fully explain our universe and or / the nature of reality.

    Respectfully counter differ with your bifurcation of “reality.” (That which exists in space & time.)
    Objective “reality” exists whether humans or cats perceive it or not.

    My contention is that there are in fact two realities, lets call the tactile reality that we exist in and walk through and experience capitol “R” *Reality. And lets call the sensory and processing result of our physical brain taking in and interpreting that capitol “R” *Reality, internal lower case “r” reality. In addition to our physical brain and its machinations interpreting capitol “R” *Reality there is “Mind” and along with “Mind” comes “Intellect”. That’s why I say humans live in two worlds, our biological / DNA *Reality and our internal “intellectualized” reality.

    Lets call Mind and Intellect in this context one in the same in as far as they are linked and their linkage and development varies in degrees for our purposes from 0….to….100. 0.1…being the lowest numerical classification of forms of life (Ameba, Bacteria etc.) that do what they do in surviving within the *Reality that they find themselves immersed. There is no appreciable or measurable mind or intellect, they are immersed in their biological / DNA and they are alive. And at the 100 (plus ?) mark you have the perfect synthesis of biological / DNA, mind and intellect which is able to perfectly and completely perceive and manipulate *Reality.

    (Given the apparent age of the universe @ 13.7 Billion years and given that the age of our solar system / earth is a mere 4 Billion or so years I must IMO reasonably assume that human beings are potentially not the highest representation of the synthesis of biology / DNA, mind and intellect.)

    In the cat example lets say that the cat, like the human, are both immersed in their primary biological / DNA *Reality (upper case), and the cat operates at a certain level of mind and intellect (lower case) reality which creates the parameters of its ability to perceive and manipulate that *Reality in which it finds itself immersed. Lets call the normal level of operation for a cat at the number 25. On our scale the numbers 26 marks the point at which higher thinking animals, monkeys, apes, cetaceans etc. leave behind lower thinking animals in the complexity of their relationships and ability to perceive and manipulate their *Reality, but they are still primarily immersed in their biological / DNA, they are stuck there, they are what they are and can never be more. Lets say that this higher mode of operation for these classifications of animals goes to the number 40 for the most sophisticated of these lower animals.

    Then you have the human being, which although is also immersed in their biology / DNA, just like all other life forms, but they leave behind all other life forms beginning at level 41 and essentially step off into this fully realized lower case intellectualized reality where the level of complexity of their cultures and relationships and their ability to understand and manipulate *Reality through high technology creates a lower case reality within (mind and intellect) that feels like there is only a lower case reality that they walk through that is totally disconnected from their biological / DNA roots.

    And lets say that this intellectualized level of operation goes from 41 to the number 90 in sophistication, with another 10 increments allocated for what may be those older and more developed life forms that may, or may not exist in this universe. These 10 unallocated increments on the upper end of our scale however may in fact need to be many orders of magnitude higher related to the existence of those potentially much older life forms.
    (?, unknown and may be unknowable by us)

    This generally fleshes out my making a distinction related to biology / DNA, perception and the two realities. Your reading this right now and you are intellectually under the operational impression that you are separate and apart from your biology / DNA, you are not, you are intellectualizing your existence and your reality.

    Edward made a very helpful distinction in the conversation that characterized science as being “hard” and “soft”. Hard being disciplines like mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology etc., push here and get these results, and Soft being psychology (sorry Wayne, that’s as lofty of a classification as your going to get), psychiatry, economics, sociology, medicine etc., push here and get varying results and possibly unknown results.

    My “unnecessary gotcha trap” question about the potential to influence random events through thought, and coincidence was characterized as “mystical” thinking (I am not a mystical thinker, I try to objectively observe and ask questions related to my observations and may propose possible answers or may ask further questions), while it is a controversial subject that is not formally recognized by the “hard” or “soft” sciences there appears to be some indication that at some level some kind of effect can be measured to the point that it may be worth while to continue investigations to better understand whether it does or does not in fact exist.

    In summary because this is getting crazy long, we live in a complex universe and to exclude as being possible explanations that lie outside of the norm when it is reasonable to state that we do not know how everything in it works or why it works demonstrates an inflexibility or sorts. And I understand why there are tight and well established parameters that define “science”.

    When “science” can explain:

    1. Examples of highly unlikely coincidence, some events IMO can not be so easily explained away purely by randomness or statistics. Is the universe only the result of a “hard” equation?
    2. What are UFO’s? These have been observed and described for thousands, maybe tens of thousands of years. Are they all the collective delusions of the ignorant?
    3. Reincarnation? There are very interesting documented examples of young children that speak of things and events that they can have no reasonable knowledge of.
    4. Quantum entanglement?
    5. The location of the 90 plus percent of the rest of the universe?
    6. What was before the Big Bang? (and I do not mean the TV show).
    7. What exactly is consciousness?

    When science can describe what these listed things, and the many more that are not listed are and how and why they exist and operate and why then we can all stop asking questions, until then the edges seem where the more interesting questions and answers lie. JGL

  • Wayne

    Lots-o-stuff! (smile!)
    Rather than try to deal with every one of your premises, I’ll just address your list of questions.

    1) Newtonian Physics is far from random. Quantum Mechanics has elements of being “random,” at the individual particle level, hence we have Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle, which only applies to certain aspects of quantum-mechanics & not as whole.
    Physical Constants– such as Planck-length, the Fine Structure Constant, The Speed of Light, the spin of an electron, Mass (or lack thereof) of Particles, etc. Are known to a high degree of certainty.

    2) UFO’s are by definition “unidentified flying objects.” In other words, “they could be anything,” which does not imply they are “something in particular.”

    3) Reincarnation– a religious belief. Not appropriate for Scientific investigation. It implies a Soul, which is a Religious Belief.

    4) Quantum entanglement: I would refer you to Dr. Leonard Susskind’s Physics Lectures, specifically; his “Quantum Entanglement” lectures 1 through 10. Fascinating stuff but heavy on the Math. Just plug in “Dr. Leonard Susskind Quantum Entanglement,” at YouTube. (I’ve watched them twice & am still struggling with the Math. (Concepts are well developed, if you’re asking “why,” we do not know, but we do know how it manifests. Many people & Corporations are actively developing “Quantum Computing,” which will be a great tool in furthering our knowledge on a wide variety of topics.

    5) “Dark Matter,” We are not sure, what exactly, it is composed of, but its influence- via gravity-is evident. Good candidates include Particle(s) we are not yet able to produce on Earth. (Large Hadron Collider is not powerful enough.)
    I would refer you to “The Standard Model” of physics, in it’s entirety.

    6) Before the Big Bang:
    — I’m a Dr. Roger Penrose guy, his “Conformal Cyclic Cosmology” theories postulate we exist in a perpetual cycle, each of which, he calls “eons.” (an extremely LONG time!)
    –You might find this very appealing. It’s very elegant & the Geometry & Physics address the problem of Entropy. (Which some theories of Cosmology gloss over. seriously– watch this! Fascinating & he is very good at explaining it.)
    “Conformal Cyclic Cosmology”
    –Others, postulate String-Theory, The Multiverse, etc., all however, use as their basis, aspects of our Fundamental knowledge of Matter, Energy, Space, and Time.

    7) Consciousness: Is defined as: “the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings.” –A Noun that refers to “internal mental-states.”
    (Dr. Penrose believes “consciousness” is an intersection of sorts, of quantum-states & biological structures. seriously– at YouTube, search “Consciousness & the Foundations of Physics, Penrose. Fascinating!)

    You & I are, just not in the same City, as it concerns 99% of your postulates. And most may be in direct contradiction with known facts. (More in the realm of Philosophy.)

    >No problem at my end with what you believe or propose. We will however, just have to agree to disagree on most of them.
    — I do appreciate, you spent some considerable time, explaining from where you come, as it concerns these questions. Some things are objective “facts,” while others are purely Philosophical and/or Religious in nature.

    Strongly recommend you check out the Penrose link above & highly recommend Dr. Susskind’s Lectures which will give you a firm grasp of the fundamental’s of Physics & Cosmology, no matter which “side” you are on.

    –one last thing: I do not believe I said you “were mystical,” I said you were “.. entering into the Realm of Mysticism,” as it concerned whatever point on which we were disagreeing. at the time.

    Always interesting! We just do not agree, and that’s ok.!
    (I actually “missed you” the past 1-2 days! Your absence was noted–I’m not trying to shut you down or make you think what I think.)
    Take care!

  • Wayne

    “Before the Beginning & Beyond Eternity”

    Highly recommend!

    ” In his IST Lecture on May 21, 2015, Sir Roger Penrose was talking about “Before the Beginning and Beyond Eternity”, stating his recent cosmological theory that our current perception of the history of our universe is merely one phase (an “aeon”) of an infinite succession of similar aeons.”

  • Wayne

    Handy Playlist for Dr. Susskind’s “Quantum Entanglement” lectures:

  • Wayne

    One last one:

    “Are we ready for a new Revolution in Physics”
    Dr. Penrose, Public Lecture: Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

  • Cotour

    Agree or disagree, the conversation will forge ahead.

    My basic position is while science goes a long, long way to explain it all, it does not, it can not at this moment in time explain it all. Thank you for appreciating my effort (although it apparently mostly failed) it took most of the day to bang out.

    Me? Missing? Believe it or not I actually have to get some other work related things accomplished during the day other then posting my thoughts (and my (formerly) occasional insulting, sideways sarcastic digs) here.

    “shut me down”?

    I have said before, I take none of this personally and I am very comfortable and confident sharing my positions, opinions and analysis, and I endeavor to back them up as best as I can. And I expect to be forcefully challenged, as anyone should expect to be forcefully challenged by me when there is disagreement.

    All the best.

  • Wayne


    No problemo with me.

    Science doesn’t explain everything, that’s not my position. It does explain a large portion of what we do know, and illustrates to us, everything else, which we do not know.

    I’m semi retired & “telecommute” — practically everything I do these days as to work, is on-line, except ironically, pick up my check & staff-meeting’s.
    .. so while it might appear I’m glued to this site at times, I only have it running in the background, most of the time.

    Again– appreciate your efforts, (it’s hard to bang out complex thoughts, I get that) we just don’t agree on some major things.
    (as long as we agree on “enough” you’re still my 80-99% ally!)
    Best wishes to you as well!

  • Cotour

    Let me end with this, which I believe that we can fully agree on:

    Truth lies in mathematics and physics, not in the words of men.

    I think that this personal conclusion and axiom is a solid foundation from which to launch all other conversations about any subject. And we move on.

  • Edward

    Whew!, Cotour. What an essay.

    I think it can be summed up as metaphysics — the study of the nature of reality or being. I think that I try to avoid getting that deep into it, as I fear I may learn that we are all just a mass dream of an even higher being, and we will all disappear in a puff of non-smoke when he wakes up.

    On the other hand, if we are just the stuff that dreams are made of, then maybe I can stop paying the mortgage.

  • Wayne

    Edward wrote:
    [I think it can be summed up as metaphysics.]
    –Exactly the word for which I was searching. That about sums it up.
    >>Experiencing cracks in the Matrix? — The “Must Pay Your Mortgage” sub-routine, is on hardware, so it always runs!! (HA) They never let you, not pay!
    Tangent- a most (most) excellent S-F story that touches on “metaphysics.” :

    “The Lathe of Heaven” by Ursula LeGuin

    PBS did an utterly fantastic version in the ’80’s & another one was remade in the 2000’s.

    “To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high attainment. Those who cannot do it, will be destroyed, on the lathe of heaven.– Chuang Tzu ”
    In brief– the main character, George, discovers his dreams actually alter physical reality. A Psychiatrist gets ahold of him & starts having George do all this “active/effective-dreaming” ‘thang, in an attempt to make the world “perfect.”
    >>Things start going rapidly downhill after that–every change the psychiatrist makes up, creates unintended consequences for the whole world.

    Spoiler Alert: LeGuin gives it away on the first page, but it’s very subtle, just a few sentences– George was actually killed in a nuclear exchange, and the last thing he dreamed, before he died, was that the nuclear war did not happen & he was still alive.

  • Cotour

    Edward, how can you avoid “getting that deep into it” ?

    I will make an analogy here to the politics of the day. Believe only the agenda that is sold by the political class and you only see and understand the sheerest top layer of what they are selling, and they like it that way. Endeavor to look deeper, where they ban you from looking because its uncomfortable for all involved and then you begin to understand what is actually going on.

    Understanding the mathematics and the physics is certainly important and it is truly the only place where there is black and white truth, but to resolve to not look further because its not as safe, comfortable and reassuring as it is in the mathematics and physics is concerning to me.

    You seem to get what my general point is here but Wayne does not, which is fine. The conversation will go on.

  • Wayne

    Cotour opined in part:

    [“…..but to resolve to not look further because its not as safe, comfortable and reassuring as it is in the mathematics and physics is concerning to me.”]
    My response to that would be:
    >>>>>>”I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is, that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”
    –J. B. S. Haldane–
    [“You seem to get what my general point is here but Wayne does not, which is fine.]

    My response to that would be:
    >>>>>>The law that entropy always increases, holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. — If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the Universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations — then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. –If it is found to be contradicted by Observation — well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes.
    —But if your Theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.”
    Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington

    I do indeed, get your general point Cotour,

    >>>> “I can give you no hope, there is nothing for it, but to collapse in deepest humiliation.”

  • Cotour

    Pardon me Wayne, rethinking that sentence what I should have said was :

    “You, Edward, seem to make the distinction and room for, which is my point, between the two “realities”, but Wayne does not, which is fine. He seems to see himself only moored to the physical world reality where physics is the one and only measure and perspective.

    Although this quote below show’s that he may be thinking about it a bit further.

    “Now my own suspicion is, that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” J. B. S. Haldane

    I would be interested in a direct Wayne quote manifested purely from the Wayne brain, based solely on the Wayne life experience distillate conclusion. What is this all about?

  • Wayne

    I think this thread is about done.

    “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.”
    George Orwell

  • Edward

    Cotour wrote: “Edward, how can you avoid “getting that deep into it” ? … but to resolve to not look further because its not as safe, comfortable and reassuring as it is in the mathematics and physics is concerning to me.”

    Well, actually, I identify as a major deity*. This allows me to accept reality as I see it, with little further need for investigation. Life is much simpler, now that I know all that can be known**, am the smartest person on the planet***, and go through life feeling satisfied with what I know to be right and true****.

    I just cannot get too excited that there is a greater meaning to life, the universe, and everything***** than meets the cerebral cortex, or whether reality is really real. Every time someone comes up with some sort of answer, someone else comes along with another answer. Which is the right answer, and why shouldn’t forty-two be the right answer?

    It is like coffee: first it is bad for us, then it is good for us, then it is bad for us, then … I cannot keep track of whether it is good or bad for us today (last I heard, it is good for us again, but that was last week). There is always a different answer coming along. Who knows, the guy with the sign that the end of the world is coming could be right, but I can’t figure out whether I want to be there when it ends — it could be fun or it could be zombies (I can’t quite make up my deity-mind as to which or when or how).

    After all, the world literally began when I came into existence, and will literally end when I cease to exist. Unless I turn out to be Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

    Since I cannot actually “know” the answer, it is not worth an extreme effort to pursue it. And any answer that I create myself — or read from someone else — is no worse than any other.

    * Really, it’s true. Even in high school I started answering the phone “You have reached the residence of God.” My mother wanted me to stop doing this, which happened shortly after one woman’s voice on the line said “Oh,” and she hung up. Apparently, meeting an actual major deity can be very intimidating — and your mother can get sicced on you — so I don’t make a big deal out of it in person, anymore.

    However, now that society is starting to learn to deal with peoples’ actual identities, instead of what looks like an obvious reality, I am feeling much more free to express my inner deity identity. My seemingly over-inflated ego is actually justified.

    Worship and tithes are always welcome.

    ** Except that I keep learning new things. Go figure.

    *** Except that I keep meeting people who are smarter. Go figure.

    **** This one is correct. I *am* satisfied, despite having learned long ago that everything that I know is wrong. Which could be yet another reason not to get too wrapped up in knowing the true natures of “being” and “reality.”

    ***** Douglas Adams may have taught me to not take it too seriously.

  • Wayne

    “We’re always, by the way, in Fundamental Physics, always trying to investigate those things in which we don’t understand the conclusions. After we’ve checked them enough, we’re okay.”
    — Richard P. Feynman

  • Cotour

    Funny, two high IQ nerds with a sense of humor, but can not detect sarcasm.

    I always thought that was some kind of an urban legend.

  • Wayne

    “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

    [incorrectly attributed as a sign Albert Einstein had hanging in his office at Princeton, but
    rightly attributed to William Bruce Cameron’s 1963 Text: “Informal Sociology: A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking”]

  • Cotour

    I like that axiom. It really is difficult to come to a balanced theory of everything, both in physics and in human relations. One day one perspective can be true and the next another, depending on the perspective / concerns of the day.

    Strategy OVER Morality today, and Morality OVER Strategy tomorrow.

    I listened to some interesting interviews today that gave me some more in depth political insight that I am digesting in order to collate them with my general view of the world we live in. I will be sharing it in the future.

  • Wayne

    “If I could explain it to the average person, I wouldn’t have been worth the Nobel Prize.” Richard P. Feynman
    ( He was however, very good at explaining it, to the average person!)

    Dr. Feynman playing Bongo’s:

  • Wayne

    “Fritz Zwicky: The Father of Dark Matter”
    – Professor Ian Morison Gresham College
    3 minute excerpt clip

    >Language alert<
    Wherein Morison references Zwicky's favorite insult.

  • Wayne

    Can I suggest we transfer “politics” to a newer thread?
    Mr. Z will undoubtedly post a new political-themed thread & we can pick up there. These long threads get complicated for me to follow.
    –Personally, I simplified my life greatly about 6 months ago & just stopped watching my “formerly-favorite-cable-news-channel.”
    If I want to watch Trump or Cruz, I go to C-Span & get it all “straight from the horse’s mouth,” as it were. (zero commercials, contrived conflict, or punditry!)
    >>>Catch you on the flipside!

  • Edward

    Cotour wrote: “Funny, two high IQ nerds with a sense of humor, but can not detect sarcasm. I always thought that was some kind of an urban legend.”

    I think it is part of what the character Sheldon is based upon, in “The Big Bang Theory.” Dr. Feynman playing Bongos being yet another part.

    Also, sarcasm is harder to detect in written text. But I have a friend who used to raise his left hand when he was being sarcastic so that I would get it.

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