Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ramblings - Deltas - Planck - Time

Change, change, change. President Obama built a legendary campaign around this notion. I've always been intrigued by change on many levels. Newton's entire calculus is based around the analysis of change of a function with respect to some attribute. Same with Newtonian laws of motion... its all really just an analysis of changes (deltas) in some position (x, y or z) with respect to a delta in time.

Delta this and delta that.... seems like all information is really just composed of deltas. When you compress information or compress an image full of colors...if the same color runs across a large segment of the photo you can simply represent that entire range of the same color (i.e. information) by specifying the color and the number of pixels that same color runs for (also known as run-length encoding)... which is why its compressible - because no new information exists within that range and can therefore be ignored -no deltas - nothing new to report.

Emotionally, humans also categorize the greatest achievements to the events that were performed with the largest distances (deltas) traversed to achieve the goal. Man on the moon, poor child becomes millionaire, etc. The human brain seems to have evolved to only detect deltas - it doesn't just blindly capture all sensory information in a given time, it does most of its magic on the relationship between deltas that exist in its environment within a given time context - an ingenious optimization if you believe there's only "useful information" in deltas.

So what are the smallest deltas possible? ... physicists categorize these indivisibly tiny units as Planck units. There are units of space(length) and time that are the smallest measurable units possible in our universe.

Planck length = approx. 1.616 x 10−35 meters
Planck time = approx. 1.616 x
10-43 seconds

If the premise regarding deltas is correct - that useful information is available only when things change - then I guess no useful information exists below these units... supposedly the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle dooms us to never measure anything smaller than this quantum of measurement. hmmmmm.... what does that mean?

ok... i'm seriously rambling ... later.

1 comment:

Sherwin said...

I with you on this. Change is everything. But then I think about a picture. That does not change, yet it can be quite noticeable and impactful. But maybe change is involved here as well. Maybe what is changing is our viewpoint (however small) that brings life to the still photo.

Hmmm... I need to ponder some more on this.