Thursday, November 13, 2008


"Up to the twentieth century, "reality" was everything humans could touch, smell, see, and hear. Since the initial publication of the chart of the electromagnetic spectrum ... humans have learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear is less than one-millionth of reality. Ninety-nine percent of all that is going to affect our tomorrows is being developed by humans using instruments and working in ranges of reality that are nonhumanly sensible." Buckminster Fuller


Erik said...

We've been using 'tools' for hundreds of millions of years that are only an abstraction of reality.

Our hands sense the wispy outer electron shell of atoms; this wispy outer shell therefore defines our physical reality.

As a more specific example, our skin senses temperature. Temperature is an average of the speed of trillions of particles bombarding against us at any moment.

Too much data is evolutionary disadvantageous ... a larger brain is needed to translate, and that brain will make decisions too slowly.

Our brain therefore translates (and simplifies) realty into analog data. This analog data gives us a very different view of the world, but allows us enough data to make informed decisions. (Ex: knowing how hot or cold it is, and reacting appropriately).

If our brain provided us 'temperature information' in the form of a trillion collisions against our skin per second, our conscious mind would have no idea how to process all the data.

So our sense of touch, our most essential means of understanding the world, is limited to a rough average of collisions with the outer electron shell of our atoms against the outer electron shell of other atoms.

So yes ... our tools are growing more abstract over time, but they also provide a means of seeing beyond the abstraction of our own central nervous system.

Filip T. said...

I have always like the simplicity of this quote:

"Men honor what lies within the sphere of their knowledge, but do not realize how dependent they are on what lies beyond it.

~ Chuang-tse"

Curt said...

Hi Filip,

Thank you for sharing that quote.



I learned alot from your response. For example, through the help I now know what analog means.

Thank you.

Erik said...


"analog data is actually more accurate than digital data"

It's actually a bit more complex than this if you start describing it in quantum mechanical terms :)