May 06, 2007
Ascension in this show is some kind of magical activity where people turn into energy and become omniscient and nearly omnipotent. Apparently, once that happens the ascended beings have a lot of rules they follow, not the lest conspicuous of them is that they can't interfere with mortal people's affairs.
Anyway, Rodney (the guy who is 'evolving' who is also a scientist) just said:
Look, when you get down to it, even mental states are actually only physical states, are they not? I mean, the brain is just a chemical supercomputer.
Rodney takes a distinctly "non-mystical" approach to things and rejects all forms of "spirituality." So, he talks about how everything is quantifiable, including his "mental states."
I had to use the quotey marks because either the show doesn't mean the words in the way that I mean the words, or I don't even know what they mean, exactly.
The Stargate series take a rather confusing view of metaphysics, however. Just as they make statements that would imply a determined existence, they insist that becoming an ascended being requires more than simply physically evolving to the point where ascension can take place. You have to be mentally prepared for it.
There is a distinct mind-body dichotomy going on in this show.
Rodney's comment quoted above struck me, though. I'm still trying to integrate the arguments and conclusions from our recent discussion about the physical origins of mental phenomena.
I really like the elegance of the argument Ergo presented, but I am having trouble thinking of other situations where an entity has characteristics that are so dramatically different from its constituent elements.
But I think I've come up with one: Crystals.
Carbon is just one element that, when the atoms are arranged correctly, can be transparent or opaque. Maybe it's basic, but, but crystal lattices are a curiosity to me. Why can't all elements be arranged to that they're transparent in a solid state? (Can they?) In the Star Trek movie where they have to save the whales, they made transparent aluminum. Why not? I just don't understand how transparency works, but still. Not intuitive.
Yeah, so anyway, just musing over this some more...
I hate it when people say things like that. Science it just a method of measuring and comprehending the universe. There are many things in life that have yet to be understood by science... but to say that there are things that CAN'T be explained by science is arrogantly presumptuous. This kind of thinking shows an incredible lack of understanding in science, and a lack of trust in the scientific process itself. People who believe this sort of crap have, in my opinion, very tiny minds.
Time and time again I see characters make statements like that on television, and it pisses me off every time.
Posted by: Troy at May 06, 2007 01:38 PM (J76f0)
Posted by: Trey Givens at May 06, 2007 02:54 PM (798yk)
The optical properties of a crystal are a function of whether or not the material can absorb photons or not. I don't know how much science education you've had, so bare with me.
From quantum mechanics and experimental results, we know that the energy of electrons in a crystalline material is restricted to two "bands": if the electron is stuck to an atom, it is in the "valence band"; and if the electron is free to move about the crystal, it is in the "conduction band." When the crystal is exposed to light, the photons that make up the light have an energy that is proportional to their frequency (or equivalently, inverseley proportional to wavelength). If the photon energy is high enough, it can break the bond of valence electrons to their atoms, making them conduction electrons. This process results in the absorption of the photon. In other words, the crystal will be opaque to all photons of high enough energy.
Now, "high enough" is dictated by how much energy is required to free the electron from its binding atom. This is referred to as the "bandgap energy". Materials that are insulators have very high bandgap energies, and are thus unlikely to absorb visible light photons. Glass is a material in this catagory. Semiconductors, such as silicon, have moderate bandgap energies, which is the primary reason why they are used for electronic devices. Metals essentially have no bandgap, that is, nearly all electrons in a metal are already capable of conducting electricity.
Anyways, this is actually not the only reason that materials exhibit opacity, as you can readily identify by the existence of clear (non-conductive) plastic. But it's one source, and since I am an electrical engineer it is one I am familiar with!
Posted by: Justin at May 08, 2007 12:11 PM (KJbpZ)
All that said, I am familiar with valence levels in electrons and I've looked at the models of crystal lattices in the museum of natural history.
But yours is the best, most succinct explanation of transparency/opacity in crystals I've seen. Thank you!
The point of this example is to come up with something that has unexpected characteristics not exactly shared by its constituent parts. Atoms with their electrons all flying around and interacting with photons join together to form materials with the properties of transparency and opacity.
It's good that we understand how these work and I imagine that one day we'll understand how brains come to exhibit the characteristic of volition.
I just hope it's soon because I don't like it that we don't know how my brain works.
Posted by: Trey Givens at May 08, 2007 02:53 PM (798yk)
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