"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"

Science says no. The experience of sound is an interpretation of air pressure variations detected by sensory organs and created by the brain. Consciousness parses data then generates noise and harmony. Sound is one framework among others for understanding the universe.

In the East, it is said you have to be better attuned to yourself in order to better enjoy the music.

Also, good morning.


the forest is full of non-humyn people who hear the tree fall, no? ;)

@glyph Of course, and they all hear and make their own music :) It's probably a very anthropocentric quote in most contexts, but the concept of consciousness can't be limited to humans.

Also, I guess an actual forest with no being to "hear" a tree fall can't exist, it would be an impossibly dead place.

@ice science assumes that if you do the same thing, you get the same result, and that theories are checked by falsifying them.

Something as hard to measure, hard to define, mercurial, subjective and personal as experiencing sensations are at best at the edges of science. Something you might try to say something about using those theories.

So science would prefer to refer to sound, the physical phenomenon first, rather than the thing it can't say things easily about.

@ice for light we have light, the physical thing, a picture, which talks about a picture is formed and "a sight" implying someone/-thing experiences it.

Though language can be pretty contextual..

@jasper @ice I feel like science is also all about being precise in your definitions, so answering that question would start with "for this article, we define 'making a sound' as meaning xxx" - arguably rendering the question uninteresting/trivial before you even get to the 'actual science' part.

@raboof @jasper I'd recommend checking the biocentric universe theory developed by Robert Lanza. He's written three books on the topic, which is way more than I can cram in a toot :)

@ice @raboof i am too lazy for that, see this article

Science doesn't "need" to answer questions about consciousness/experiencing/etc about which it indeed does not have an answer. I think he is searching for a religion.

Also he seems confused, equation general relativity with _much_ more speculative theories. GR is seen in various ways ) suppose if he is confused the way above he might not distinguish between weak-field and strong field tests.

@ice @raboof also, for instance Newton can perfectly well answer the Zeno arrow paradox... So what if you can divide the distances in half, it divides the times in half too, it all adds up to the same time however you dice it..

I don't think he really understands QM enough to claim to have the answer to the interpretation problem.

@jasper @raboof He’s not confused. His views are well-documented and based on the works of Schrodinger and Wheeler, among many others, and he collaborates with astronomers and physicists. His two other books deal with the criticisms of this 2009 article and go beyond his initial publication from 2007. His theory is controversial and may have its flaws, but it also has supporters among scientists. I wouldn’t dismiss it so quickly.

@ice @raboof oof that link i gave you is pretty long.. (tho it's comment listing is really long too, if you're looking at the scroll bar) Not reading it in entirety i guess.. Can't blame you if you don't!..

@raboof @ice think it's more like mathematicians who'd do that. They define things up the hilt.

For physical vibrations, physicists would probably just throw the word sound at it, especially if it has a audible or higher frequency. If they use equations for it, they'll probably mention the medium, like air/materials?..

@jasper @ice ah, might be my CS background shining through then :D

@ice It’s a zen koan - it’s intention isn’t necessarily to answer the question literally but to use it generate the space in your mind that happens when you try to imagine a sound nobody hears.

Another one is trying to imagine the sound of one hand clapping, and another is how your face looked before you were born.

One I like is to ask, what can I see behind my own head? It’s not that I want to get a mirror and actually look, it’s that I want to create a “nothing” in my mind.

@freedcreative I know :) And sure, koans should be appreciated for their initial purpose. Here, this one was explored in the context of a book that deals with perception and consciousness, mainly stating that consciousness creates the universe instead of emerging from it. Oddly enough, this biocentric universe theory has a lot in common with Eastern philosophy, and using this koan isn't as far-stretched as it may seem.

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