To those of you who may wonder what I’ve up to these days, here’s the latest.
About a year and a half ago I finished my depth psychology studies, reading every book Freud and many other major psyoanalysts had written. It got to a point where I wasn’t learning anything entirely new, and reading more was only “fine tuning” views I already well understood. I was reading a modern psychology book on suicidal people, and doing in-depth case studies, and then I thought, “This is neat, but I’ll have to come back to this later. I just don’t have time to read love letters of a suicial man to his ex-lover. There’s too many other things I’m wondering about.” So I decided I was done with psychology for the time being.
Now I’m picking up a study I left off a long time ago – matter, space, time, and the universe – and am currently studying physics, around 10 hours per day. It all started with me with some philosophical thoughts by Kant on space and time, and I just can’t leave them alone. “Can we know objects as they are in and of themselves, or are we always confined to sensory impressions?” I’ve been doing physics for the past year or so. In the beginning my math skills were pathetic. They had deterioriated to a sad state, since I had barely used anything above algebra since high school. I started seeing integrals, exponential functions, and trig functions, and was like … *sigh*, time to do all this math, all over again… So I went to a university bookstore and bought a lot of math books. It’s nice buying old, previous edition textbooks, that sell for like $1.50. 1/100th of the price! First I worked through a College Algebra book, and basically relearned everything (better actually). Then I worked through an Algebra and Trigonmetry book. Then a Calculus textbook. I’d work all the odd problems, and I would buy the teacher’s manuals for the books, so I could see the answers.
Now I’m currently studying mathematics that you find in “Advanced Calculus” textbooks, though the “Advanced” seems to be an arbitrary identifier, as sometimes the content in “Advanced” textbooks is also found in normal Calculus textbooks. The past week I’ve been working on Infinite Series. I love anything to do with infinity. Power series, Taylor and Maclaurin series, etc. Ever since I first saw Newton express the sine function as the sum of an infinite series, I was like… Wow! There’s one process to get an answer which requires an infinite sum, and if you go about it another way, you can do it by a finite method. That’s fascinating to me. I wonder if eventually they’ll come up with a way of expressing irrational numbers by a finite expression? Pie has infinite digits, but ONLY if you look at it this way! *devious facial expression* Square root of 2 is my bish! (I’ve been hanging around some nerds, lol) Woohoo, I volunteer that project!
For fun I’ve also been studying mathematical philosophy, by guys like Bertrand Russell, David Hilbert, Georg Cantor, Karl Weierstrass, Alfred North Whitehead, Gottlob Frege, etc. Everything went fine until I came to Cantor’s “transfinite” numbers. It’s not that I don’t “get” it, it’s just that I don’t think they’re right about what they’re describing. I think all philosophy (logic), mathematical philosophy, linguistics, and even depth psychology, are all pointing to a project that needs to be done: Understanding various brain processes and routines, and how the brain actually executes what we call “thought”.
Philosophy is at a point where they’ve boiled it all down to “mental objects”, and can go no further. Depth psychology is all about using our conscious level of “words” to link to various unconscious processes in our brains. Linguists are studying how words and language work, and are moving toward the same conclusions. Mathematical philospohy and set theory runs into the same problems. Set theory’s “classes” are very close to the same idea philosopher’s have in mind when they’re talking about “mental objects”. Mathematicians are just taking a more narrow field, and focusing on mental processes that take place when we count, think about numbers, how those numbers represent things in reality, relationships among numbers, operators such as greater than, less than, etc. When you study all these subjects in depth, and look at them all, they’re all converging to a common center.
When Cantor starts to get into “transfinite” numbers, I think he’s getting into various recurrent brain processes. “Infinity of infinities”. Attributing a reality to such things seems silly to me. I think it’s just a complex interrelationship between how our minds store symbols, neurons in our brains snapping together, etc. I don’t think any amount of philosophizing will move any of these subjects forward – only the painstaking task of figuring out how our brains chug information and produce “thought”.
Logic has had its day, and has run its course. It won’t take any of these subjects further. What needs to be done won’t be very fun, but if all we do is keep linking words together in circles, we’ll never move beyond the conscious level of thought, and be able to consciously “define” unconscious processes. That sounds kind of confusing, and I have a lot to do today, but basically, questions like, “How does the brain store memories”, thoughts of your girlfriend, memories of locations you’ve been, skills you’ve learned, etc. When I go into my kitchen I “know” there’s a table in there, and I can even tell you what that table looks like. I describe it to you with words. Those words “link” to this “unconscious” stuff in my brain. If the words “connect” to you, you’ll also be able to “understand” what my words mean, and some sort of information will flow through your brain, based on the words I say to you, and you’ll “know” about this table in my kitchen. Those information access routines have to be figured out, and how that information is stored in the brain. Speaking in words to one another and trying to figure this stuff out by “thinking” and philosophizing will only lead to circular definitions.
I’m not even sure how such information will even be communicated, but for the moment I’m not going to stress that. In the beginning I think it’ll be diagrams showing neurons linking together, electric currents, and other complex brain biology, and what states of “thought” are produced when such states happen. Considering the brain is super complex, this will be super difficult. Once that study is done, however, we’ll not only understand ourselves far more, but lower forms of life will make sense to us as well. Also, considering their brains evolved just like ours, we’ll see the same patterns running through their brains, and we’ll be able to tell what animals do, and do not understand, and even what they’re thinking about. The old philosophy of thinking of man as a “thinking” and “rational” being will be obsolete, and we’ll need to find something else to define life, and what seperates it from just dead matter, mindlessly following the course of fate.
I’m considering, possibly later in life, to devoting all my research energies to this cause. In everything I’ve been studying, it seems to be studies in that area which will lead to breakthroughs in understanding life, and who we are.
Pardon the tangent. Back to my current studies. In physics I got to a point where the math once again rose over my current skill level, so I’ve been studying vector calculus. I went to study Maxwell’s equations for electromagnetism, and found that Maxwell’s quite the mathematician, and likes to write in that language. Complex, abstract differential equations flow to him quite simply. 🙂
I’m not sure when I’ll finally fully understand electromagnetism, but I’m guessing I’ll have a firm grasp on a good deal of it within the next six months. This includes microwaves, light, x-rays, electricity, optics, etc. Considering I don’t have any professors pushing me around, rushing me through content, I’ve been taking time to think it all over, and have really been enjoying myself.
I’m completely finished studying mechanical physics, so once I finish electromagnetism in approximately six months, I’ll move on to the crazy stuff in quantum physics. I look forward to it, but from what I hear, it’s not very clean. It’s ground everyone’s still working on, so they haven’t figured out what’s going on completely. Studying quantum physics may lead me to change a lot of my views on things. I’ve heard it does that to people. The world seems so ordered on the large scale. If you drop an object, it falls, and always falls by the pull of gravity. The stars and planets flow in such nice patterns that you’d be a fool to discard the order. But when you study quantum physics, and move to the tiny tiny world of sub-atomic physics, things go crazy. As far as I understand, black holes are hard to grasp because such holes converge to a tiny part in space, and the large scale equations in physics start to give non-sensical answers when applied to “small” situations. If quantum physics and large scale physics (such as Einstein’s work) are not merged, black holes, and even the big bang, will never be understood. (With big bang theory, all the matter and energy converges into a smaller and smaller space (a super dense singularity), but eventually you get to a point where things are so small, macroscopic equations give nonsensical answers, like black hole physics.
As you can see, all my studies are getting me ready for hardcore research into astronomy and the universe. I’ll probably spend a long while studying stars, black holes, and anything related to space or the universe. I look forward to this! I hope “working” and making money doesn’t keep me from this for much longer.
I will probably dabble with some string theory. I still don’t know what to think of that subject, but maybe after studying more thoroughly electromagnetism and quantum physics, I’ll be better qualified to say whether or not string theory is worth my time.
While all this is going on, I’m reading one chapter per day from a really good biology textbook. I’ll be done with that in probably a month or two. There’s approximately 70 chapters in most textbooks, each around 20 pages long. Read a chapter per day and you’re done in around 2 months. My main study emphasis is origins of life (early evolution), criteria to define what life is, and what all life has in common. I read the other stuff, but there’s so many details of cell processes, etc., that are neat to know, but it just doesn’t “stick”. Too many details, and since I’m not creating medicines and curing diseases, I don’t really care about remembering all the details. Still nice to know hear though!
To top this off, once I finish electromagnetism, I’ll be studying electrical engineering, because there are a few inventions Greg and I need invented, to study some fields we’ve been wondering about. Explaining our reasoning to people would take too long, and we figure it’s just best that I build the devices we need. These devices will read in various energy fields which eminate from humans, and I’ll make the devices read in information and feed it into the computer, and “draw” these energy fields on screen. Should be interesting.
On a last note, funding for our latest project never happened. (Hooray for crappy U.S. economy scaring investors away). Greg and I have to fund this ourselves which means -> more time wasted pursuing money!!! In the meantime, we’re selling various information products online, and a lot of them seem promising to get the cash-flow we need to fund the software without jeopardizing either of our current finances. Hopefully I can get the money I need to build my lab somehow. Sometimes doing theoretical work bores me, and I just want to get my hands on something and start shooting lightning bolts across the room! I’m actually starting to have things I want to do, and equipment I need, before I can verify my theories. I hate wasting time with this “business” stuff I don’t care about.
Also, after reading this biology textbook, I wouldn’t mind having some sweet, high powered microscopes, and take a look at some of this stuff for myself.