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A Nice Idea

April 29, 2011

I woke up this morning, lying in bed, and I sat wondering how I wanted to spend my summer. Mostly I want to do research in various areas, which I’ve talked about in previous posts. I also slightly considered a Youtube channel, but decided it wasn’t that great of an idea. But today I think I just came up with an awesome idea. One thing I’ve been worried about is that if I were to die tomorrow, most of the thoughts running through my head would die with me. I don’t like that idea. Sometimes I blog about the basics of things I work on and research, but since I try to make the posts self-contained and rather short, I end up covering most of the topics only superficially at a very basic level. This got me thinking.

Then a sudden insight came to mind. I thought about creating one or two new sections to my site which would link to my “life work”. What does that mean? Here’s the gist of what I want to do. I want to create a new section along the top bar of my website. It will be called “Space-Time and the Mind”. When you click that section, you’ll be directed to a sort of “table of contents” – a “book” of mine that I never finish writing. It just keeps getting better and more detailed as my life goes on. I just keep adding to it maybe twice a week as I learn more and more. As I research out a topic in depth, I’ll take time and write out detailed thoughts on the topics, tying it together with everything else I know, all organized in this “table of contents” of links, with a paragraph describing it and how it ties into the “big picture”. Instead of blogging like I do now, my posts will be sections of this “super book”, section by section, chapter by chapter. They’ll be very detailed and won’t be self contained. Sure, I’ll keep a normal blog, and from time to time write about life and other thoughts. But I want to be able to write posts that are very detailed yet people won’t feel lost reading them. Those posts won’t be self-contained in themselves, but the “book” as a whole will be self-contained.

Another awesome thing this does for me is give me a direction for my posts and how I spend my time. My posts won’t be random, based on some news article I just read, and then ranting about it. They will all flow and connect together, constantly building this ever-growing masterwork on space, time, the universe, the mind/brain, and physics. I’ve been wanting my website to be more focused, and I think this will do the trick. When I think what I have to share that is truly valuable, it’s insights related to how the brain functions, mental operations, philosophy of mind, reflections on space and time, and things of that sort. At the end of the day, those are the things which interest me most of all as well.

When you click that “Space-Time and the Mind” link, you’ll notice that table of contents page ever growing, being filled in with new topics and links. Today I’m going to start working on a detailed outline of everything I’m wanting to put in there, but here’s a short gist of what I came up with while lying in bed.

The main idea behind this is to leave a “trail” for people so that they can understand my thoughts and why I’m doing what I’m doing. The first thing that needs to be discussed relates to past philosophers and their thoughts on space, time, and mental operation. I want to overview the thoughts of Plato, Aristotle, John Locke, Descartes, Berkeley, Kant, Hegel, Satre, William James, and some others, highlighting their contributions and reflections, giving you all the “gist” and direction. I want to talk about “ideas”, “mind”, space, time, consciousness, change, motion, eternity, the nature of numbers, how numbers can be assigned to space to form coordinate systems, and so on. After that, I want to offer my own perspective on these things, which will be the next area. It will be a subjective perspective which will be a combination of a computational perspective and modern neuroscience, going into detail of various brain areas, patient case studies, computer vision research (robotic vision), and so on. It will try to teach you what your brain is doing, how it gives a subjective sense of space/time, and how far we’ve been able to emulate these brain operations with things like computer vision, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

Next I want to tie this in with modern physics, which will be somewhere in this outline eventually. Though I’m fairly comfortable with Einstein’s relativity, quantum mechanics is still puzzling to me. I want to try to give people a detailed discussion of these things. I want to show a physicist’s conception of space and time, and show what relativity theory, particle physics, quantum mechanics, and string theory are saying about what space and time are. I’ll start with Newton, showing what insights he gave us. Next I’ll go to Einstein and his special and general theory of relativity. Then I’ll move to Bohr, Dirac, Schrodinger and other quantum physicists, telling about the strange problems we encounter once we move into the world of the very small, trying to give insights into how strange it all becomes and where the problems arise.

That’s the general idea anyway. I’m really liking this. It sounds like a huge project, but if I write one article/post for this book per week, over the period of five or six years I’ll have a HUGE book there. Then physicists and other scientists beginning the subject, searching the internet and such, will find that section and have a fantastic resource that not only offers original perspectives, but a great overview of everything. I’ll have a paved super-highway for them, showing how all of this stuff ties together and why it’s so interesting.

That also got me thinking that it’s about time to do a slight redesign of my website, as it hasn’t been updated since like 2006. I wanted to make a new graphic for the top which focused on physics, space, time, and the mind. I have some neat ideas for that, but I’ll have to surprise you all with it! Right now it shows a few of my favorite philosophers – Jean Paul Satre, Bertrand Russell, Immanuel Kant, and Sigmund Freud. It’s not a bad graphic, but I think it would be good to change it.

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