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  1. #1

    Reincarnation through the principle of plenitude

    I was thinking early, and I came up with a very strange idea that I've never heard of before(I'm sure there's a reason why), and I would like someone to help me figure out why it is wrong.

    So, there's 2 approaches to what a human being really is. There's vitalism, that there's something special that a soul is composed of that can't be measured, which makes a person who they really are. This is sometimes an idea held by people of faith, with varying examples of what happens to that "vitalness" when a person dies; some suggest that it is recycled through reincarnation.

    On the other hand, you have the purely empirical physicalist idea, that everything that exists is just matter. A person is the sum of the cells in their body. So I got this idea from a synthesis of physicalism, the principle of plenitude, and a simple education in physics(although these ideas seem a bit to axiomatic to be anything less than generalizations);

    Matter is never created and never destroyed.
    All matter that exists will always exist, but it can and will change forms.
    Since matter is never destroyed and will exist forever, it will be arranged in every possible form imaginable(Or at least the forms that it has previously been arranged in) an infinite number of times.
    Matter arranged itself in the pattern in the form that I am.
    Since matter will exist and change forms eternally, it will eventually be formed into the exact same form that I am right now, again.
    If a person is purely the sum of their matter, and the matter will create their form again, any given person will eventually be created again

    I apologize for not being succinct, I'm trying to be as specific as possible
    I certainly made a factual or logical mistake in there somewhere, and I'm trying to figure out where and if I can mend it or if I should throw the idea away.

    P.S.:This is not about religion at all, rather it is about the possibility of a different form of something somewhat akin to reincarnation existing in the natural world. I simply added an explanation of vitalism to add a little background.

  2. #2
    The two obvious flaws in your argument:
    Matter is never created and never destroyed.
    Contemporary big-bang cosmology allows for all matter and energy to come into existence at least once. Prior to the big bang we don't know what state (if any) matter/energy existed in. That's not death to your argument - you can argue that from Jan 1, 1970 matter is never created or destroyed and your idea is still sane.

    Since matter will exist and change forms eternally
    The second form isn't true. Contemporary views of the physical universe demand that enthalpy of a closed system must remain constant (and let's just assert the universe is a closed system) - it also demands that entropy must increase (or remain constant). Entropy is energy that is not available to do work. Work includes (for example) converting ice back to water, forming crystal latices, or shifting from one spin state to another. If energy not available to do work must always increase, and there is no source of energy, then eventually all energy must exist in a form that is useless for doing any work.

    That puts an upper limit on the age of the universe in which 'useful stuff' can happen. It's a long way away, but very much smaller than infinity. Your infinite series of people, places and things demands an infinite amount of time to form those infinite combinations when you starve it of infinite particles to make those arrangements.

    In the chance that the universe is infinite in extent then there's no reason to assume that all people must exist. Russell's paradox is a good example (the set of all sets containing itself). imagine a set of numbers written on paper: 01001000100001… the set is infinite, predictable, but impossible to write down even with infinite atoms to make ink. There's no need that you return to the original 01001… sequence.

    You caught me with 10m between classes so my responses is necessarily cut short and glosses over important issues. I hammered on the important physical science point but there is plenty theological (I hesitate to sue the phrase philosophical) arguments from which you can draw for support or counter arguments. Western philosophy isn't particularly interesting here - but the eastern religions are a gold mine.
    Last edited by evn; 2012-11-08 at 08:22 AM. Reason: fixed markup
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  3. #3
    The Insane Reeve's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skizo View Post
    I was thinking early, and I came up with a very strange idea that I've never heard of before(I'm sure there's a reason why), and I would like someone to help me figure out why it is wrong.

    So, there's 2 approaches to what a human being really is. There's vitalism, that there's something special that a soul is composed of that can't be measured, which makes a person who they really are. This is sometimes an idea held by people of faith, with varying examples of what happens to that "vitalness" when a person dies; some suggest that it is recycled through reincarnation.

    On the other hand, you have the purely empirical physicalist idea, that everything that exists is just matter. A person is the sum of the cells in their body. So I got this idea from a synthesis of physicalism, the principle of plenitude, and a simple education in physics(although these ideas seem a bit to axiomatic to be anything less than generalizations);

    Matter is never created and never destroyed.
    All matter that exists will always exist, but it can and will change forms.
    Since matter is never destroyed and will exist forever, it will be arranged in every possible form imaginable(Or at least the forms that it has previously been arranged in) an infinite number of times.
    Matter arranged itself in the pattern in the form that I am.
    Since matter will exist and change forms eternally, it will eventually be formed into the exact same form that I am right now, again.
    If a person is purely the sum of their matter, and the matter will create their form again, any given person will eventually be created again

    I apologize for not being succinct, I'm trying to be as specific as possible
    I certainly made a factual or logical mistake in there somewhere, and I'm trying to figure out where and if I can mend it or if I should throw the idea away.

    P.S.:This is not about religion at all, rather it is about the possibility of a different form of something somewhat akin to reincarnation existing in the natural world. I simply added an explanation of vitalism to add a little background.
    Matter can and is destroyed all the time. Or rather, it can change to energy.
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  4. #4
    Mechagnome Kuel's Avatar
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    I have believed this for quite a while, just never voiced it because I don't understand science that much. In my eyes, life is energy, energy cannot be destroyed and simply takes new forms. When I die, I may be reincarnated into the sound of a footstep or a nuclear explosion

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by evn View Post
    Contemporary views of the physical universe demand that enthalpy of a closed system must remain constant (and let's just assert the universe is a closed system) - it also demands that entropy must increase (or remain constant). Entropy is energy that is not available to do work. Work includes (for example) converting ice back to water, forming crystal latices, or shifting from one spin state to another. If energy not available to do work must always increase, and there is no source of energy, then eventually all energy must exist in a form that is useless for doing any work.
    this point in particular surprised me
    I had no idea! thank you

    The more you know ~

  6. #6
    "The beauty of the living thing is not the atoms that goes into it, but the way those atoms are put together"
    -Carl Sagan

    The earth is remarkable in that it holds life.

    The carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrgoen, sulphur, phosphous, calcium and many many many more elements that exist within a living organism occur in other forms all across the universe.

    The remarkable thing about humanity is that not only have these elements come together to produce life but they've also produced an intelligent consciousness, the elements in our bodies can effectly "learn" about themselves and this strange place we call the universe. You could say humanity is a way for the cosmos to know itself.

    Or... you could all go and watch the Kardashians on TV...

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Reeve View Post
    Matter can and is destroyed all the time. Or rather, it can change to energy.
    Don't forget that mass and energy are completely interchangeable (E=mc^2!). Matter isn't specific to something that has "mass." Which is I think what you were getting at in the second part of that statement.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by TradewindNQ View Post
    Don't forget that mass and energy are completely interchangeable (E=mc^2!). Matter isn't specific to something that has "mass." Which is I think what you were getting at in the second part of that statement.
    So, say, the photons making up a beam of light are considered matter?
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  9. #9
    LOAD"*",8,1 Fuzzzie's Avatar
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    The application of the laws of thermodynamics to life always works out. There is no evidence of extra energy upon death that wasn't present during life.

    We're just like ants, worms, wolves, lions, elephants and all the rest. There is no energy discrepancy from life to death. Everything is explained via thermodynamics and heat transfer.

  10. #10
    So, say, the photons making up a beam of light are considered matter?
    Photons have no rest mass. Matter is typically (always? my background is chemistry, not physics) defined as things that have resting mass and occupy space.
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  11. #11
    The Insane Catta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skizo View Post
    On the other hand, you have the purely empirical physicalist idea, that everything that exists is just matter. A person is the sum of the cells in their body. So I got this idea from a synthesis of physicalism, the principle of plenitude, and a simple education in physics(although these ideas seem a bit to axiomatic to be anything less than generalizations);
    I would say a human is the sum of the cells in the body but a person is the sum of their experiences.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by evn View Post
    Photons have no rest mass. Matter is typically (always? my background is chemistry, not physics) defined as things that have resting mass and occupy space.
    They would be, photons still have energy. Though there is still a lot of questions surrounding photons as they have both wave and particle behaviors and despite having no intrinsic mass, forces like gravity can still affect them.

    A lot of the skepticism and debate for and against comes from the fact the concept of matter was formed centuries before we even know what a photon was.

    This is mostly personal belief and my understanding of the topic...when I say they are, I should say I believe they are. I could be wrong and that the concept of matter ends at the Fermion level. Again rest mass vs intrinsic mass, photons are never at rest and while moving they do have mass.
    Last edited by Tradewind; 2012-11-08 at 07:32 AM.

  13. #13
    despite having no intrinsic mass, forces like gravity can still affect them.
    I'm not seeing the issue that you're trying to raise. I'm not asserting a photon cannot have mass at all - but that's a different question and not important for the question I was answering.
    Code:
    if: E^2 - p^2c^4 = m^2c^4
    and m=0 because photons have no rest mass then:
    E^2 -p^2c^4 = 0
    rearrange:
    E^2 = p^2c^4
    root:
    E = pc^2
    and solve for p:
    p=E/c^2
    If you're going to talk about the mass/energy of a photon then you can't use the simplified e=mc^2 version because that assumes no momentum (ie: a resting object) which makes no sense when we talk about a photon that is always moving at c.

    If a photon has energy then the right side term is non-zero and so it has mass. Photons do have energy and so even though they have no rest mass they do have some kind of mass (relativistic mass in this case). I see no contradiction here.

    If photons have no rest mass, and the definition of matter includes a requirement for rest mass, then photons are not matter. I don't see a contradiction here either.

    I'm also not sure what 'questions' you're bringing up by pointing out that gravity can effect photons: they have relativistic mass: why wouldn't they participate in gravitational interactions like every other system with mass? That's starting do drift off topic.
    Last edited by evn; 2012-11-08 at 08:16 AM. Reason: fixed markup
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  14. #14
    I am Murloc! ita's Avatar
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    Actually matter can be completely destroyed as well as created all the time. Not just transformed into energy. Take vacuum energy for example, which is already been proven that it works. If you can build a big enough vacuum energy generator to power a particle collider, you can actually create matter from nothing. Im still a bit unclear how it can be completely destroyed however:P
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by evn View Post
    I'm not seeing the issue that you're trying to raise. I'm not asserting a photon cannot have mass at all - but that's a different question and not important for the question I was answering.
    Code:
    if: E^2 - p^2c^4 = m^2c^4
    and m=0 because photons have no rest mass then:
    E^2 -p^2c^4 = 0
    rearrange:
    E^2 = p^2c^4
    root:
    E = pc^2
    and solve for p:
    p=E/c^2
    If you're going to talk about the mass/energy of a photon then you can't use the simplified e=mc^2 version because that assumes no momentum (ie: a resting object) which makes no sense when we talk about a photon that is always moving at c.

    If a photon has energy then the right side term is non-zero and so it has mass. Photons do have energy and so even though they have no rest mass they do have some kind of mass (relativistic mass in this case). I see no contradiction here.

    If photons have no rest mass, and the definition of matter includes a requirement for rest mass, then photons are not matter. I don't see a contradiction here either.

    I'm also not sure what 'questions' you're bringing up by pointing out that gravity can effect photons: they have relativistic mass: why wouldn't they participate in gravitational interactions like every other system with mass? That's starting do drift off topic.
    I'm not trying to raise any issues...merely explaining my position on why I think photons are matter. Previous quote got stripped I guess from the dude above asking if photons are matter. To which my short answer is, photons have energy and therefore an inertial mass. If we define matter as something that has mass, then a photon is matter.

    That said calculating and accounting for the rest mass of a photon seems self-defeating and largely irrelevant as photons are never "at rest." But I think you misunderstood the intention of my post and in a way we're talking about the same thing.

    Gravity is just a quick thought exercise, as you put it, a photon has relativistic/inertial mass and therefore susceptible to the effects of gravity.

    ---------- Post added 2012-11-08 at 01:36 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by ita View Post
    Actually matter can be completely destroyed as well as created all the time. Not just transformed into energy. Take vacuum energy for example, which is already been proven that it works. If you can build a big enough vacuum energy generator to power a particle collider, you can actually create matter from nothing. Im still a bit unclear how it can be completely destroyed however:P
    From my understanding that's "virtual particles" which aren't really particles at all. They're field ripples caused by the interaction of other particles, ie. two electrons passing by each other, or two photons. Specifically interacting with the electromagnetic field, that ripple either repelling or attracting (ie. electron<>electron or electron><positron). So it exists until the interaction is broken, but it's a disturbance not an actual "tangible" particle. Unless I'm missing something and you've got an example, would be interested to read it, though I think I know what you might be referring to it just escapes me but even in Quantum Mechanics energy conservation is a fact.
    Last edited by Tradewind; 2012-11-08 at 08:50 AM.

  16. #16
    Does that really work?

    First, define a person. Even if you managed to get someone genetically the same (clones, twins) their upbringing drastically effects personality. Two people genetically the same living in different ages and environments would end up different.

    Plus there's the complexity of genetics. For your genes to end up the same as You V2, your parents would would need to be about the same, and presumably so on and so forth. It's not as one dimensional as rolling a massive die and getting one number.

  17. #17
    Scarab Lord Howard Moon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by evn View Post
    TThe second form isn't true. Contemporary views of the physical universe demand that enthalpy of a closed system must remain constant (and let's just assert the universe is a closed system) - it also demands that entropy must increase (or remain constant). Entropy is energy that is not available to do work. Work includes (for example) converting ice back to water, forming crystal latices, or shifting from one spin state to another. If energy not available to do work must always increase, and there is no source of energy, then eventually all energy must exist in a form that is useless for doing any work.

    That puts an upper limit on the age of the universe in which 'useful stuff' can happen. It's a long way away, but very much smaller than infinity. Your infinite series of people, places and things demands an infinite amount of time to form those infinite combinations when you starve it of infinite particles to make those arrangements.
    Can you explain this in more layman terms? Are you saying that eventually the universe will run out of the energy which enables matter to change forms, at which point the universe will remain static and unchanged forever?
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  18. #18
    I am Murloc! ita's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TradewindNQ View Post
    From my understanding that's "virtual particles" which aren't really particles at all. They're field ripples caused by the interaction of other particles, ie. two electrons passing by each other, or two photons. Specifically interacting with the electromagnetic field, that ripple either repelling or attracting (ie. electron<>electron or electron><positron). So it exists until the interaction is broken, but it's a disturbance not an actual "tangible" particle. Unless I'm missing something and you've got an example, would be interested to read it, though I think I know what you might be referring to it just escapes me but even in Quantum Mechanics energy conservation is a fact.
    Yea but that doesnt even matter if they are virtual or not. What matters is they press the two plates together creating electrical current in a vacuum energy battery. It's been proven and it works. While the current is really weak and the plates would need to be massive for anything practical, it's still free energy, as in energy created from nothing. And my point is that it's possible to create new matter entirely using that energy, for example by using it to power particle colliders which can produce protons. So if it's possible to create it from nothing, it must be possible to destroy it completely as well.
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  19. #19
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    We are all stardust!


    Photons are bosons with 0 mass. We don't really talk about whether it is "matter" or not, we have more precise definitions for the classification of all the "stuff" in the universe.

    ---------- Post added 2012-11-08 at 03:00 PM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by ita View Post
    Yea but that doesnt even matter if they are virtual or not. What matters is they press the two plates together creating electrical current in a vacuum energy battery. It's been proven and it works. While the current is really weak and the plates would need to be massive for anything practical, it's still free energy, as in energy created from nothing. And my point is that it's possible to create new matter entirely using that energy, for example by using it to power particle colliders which can produce protons. So if it's possible to create it from nothing, it must be possible to destroy it completely as well.
    I'm not quite sure what you are talking about (do you have a link?) but manipulating electromagnetic fields (here, creating a current) doesn't mean you are creating energy.

  20. #20
    That's why you're actually the only thing in this universe. Just you, as all the matter. Think about it.

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