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Nature From Zero

Surely you've heard this funny question: "if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?". This is an interesting idea to think about, because it leads to a paradox. But more than that, it leads to a deep phylosophic problem: how do things exist? For analyzing natural existence, we need to start completely from zero.

In relation to this precise question, we can say that a tree that falls in a lonely forest must make some sound when it falls, because we know that -we know by heart, with precision-, we know when something makes a noise. But the lack of a listening mean in the forest may turn any possible sound questionable. At least the event can be understood as sound waves, but not as sound. Some people may say that this seems to be a language paradox, but in fact it is not only about language. In fact, we can ask ourselves about the existence of the sound, without using the language. Kids -me included during childhood- may think that toys play alone when they are not in the room, an idea exploited by the Toy Story film. In short, we have not a tricky question here.

In order to understand how does things exist, we will start by a distant questioning. Can we isolate something completely?

Again, this seems to be completely trivial question. In order to address it, we will use an excellent tool: the general systems theory. This theory helps us simplifying things, and the best: it gets rid of all linguistic problems. On the systems theory a system -any thing- is just a set of parts working together. So, a cloud is just a cloud. Where are the limits of a cloud? We do not need limits, we think in terms of parts. Where are the limits of the parts? For the systems theory, parts are also systems, so they don't have visible limits as well. A mariage is two persons working together with an specific purpose. That means that any part that interacts with the rest of the cloud parts is itself part of the cloud. Any part of the mariage that works with and follows the same purpose is part of the mariage. As an additional consequence of using this approach, we get rid of time and space. A cloud, a mariage, an animal, some fire, an equation, they all come to be like corporeal ideas.

Here we have the first thought-provoking idea: things -or systems- require to exist inside us to exist in the world. The systems theory points in that direction. So, sound exists when we correlate it wieth a model in our brain. Oops, we are going too fast, let's slow down. Let's get back to our main topic. Now we'll explore the idea of isolation.

It is clear we use to think in terms of isolated stuff (a box, a lake, an idea, some birds). Ideas allow almost completely isolation of things (almost... but not complete! wait some seconds for the analysis of this awesome fact). So may believe that stuff is isolated. But real stuff may turn complex to isolate. The idea of isolation may be simple, but it may be not real. This can be explained with a mental experiment.

The theory of systems tells that any input to a system will be either stored inside the system or either expelled. Storing it causes the system to grow. But storage has a limit. The system breaks (dissipates) if it store an excess of contents. Well, this is easy to imagine with an air balloon. When air is injected, the balloon grows. When it is expelled, the balloon decreases in size. If too much air is blown, the balloon dissipates. Really easy. Following the systems theory, this should work with any content. Even... energy.

So, let's mentally inject heat energy to a rock. In our common world, rocks get hot and then their heat is quickly "eliminated", due to the rock is able to diffuse the energy to the air around it, to the things that surround it. Mmm... can a rock be isolated? Probably you will think a rock can be isolated by putting it into the empty space. Faux, false, falso, falsch. Empty space is empty of air, but it can spread a lot of energy types, including thermal energy. Space is said to have 2.7K (Kelvin degrees) -not absolute zero-, because that is the temperature caused by the uniform background radiation. So, even in space, there is an environmental climate, and things exchange temperature. So the question is, can we isolate a rock? Can we put it in a place where it keeps its temperature, not by sharing an average with the environment, but by not spreading it? Well, not in this universe.

It may be possible to isolate something in some other universe, where things cannot interact at all. That is, no light is exchanged between them, not any type of energy, not contact... nothing at all. But we really don't know it. What is absolute isolation? As far as I can imagine, isolation may look like a black hole.

This leads to the first conclusion: In this universe it is impossible to isolate something. In formal terms, it is impossible to prevent a system from having interaction with other systems. Despite in our mind we can isolate things, we cannot repeat that in the real world. In fact, an equation as f(x)=2x is a system that can be understood to be completely isolated from everything. If we add something to our example equation, like f(x)=2x+1, it just changes in isolation. There is nowhere the addition can escape to. Wait! Where did that factor came from???

An equation is a system that can accept an input and produce an output. It is similar to drawing a circle that represents a system, with one incoming row, "input", and an outgoing one, "output". If it is drawn alone, its inputs and outputs have no reason to be, and it becomes a black box. Impossible to show its interior, impossible to understand what it does.

Now, here comes the amazement. If a circular shape is drawn by any natural incident, it is not a system, it does not represent a system. The moment a person draws a circle that represents a system, it starts existing: because it interacts in several forms with the person who draws it. It can be observed (outputs a light signal that shows its shape, position, size, features) and it can be understood (the individual provides it of a representation). If the individual dissappears that instant, the system dissapears, to become a circle. Of course, a circle for me, the person who writes this, because I've created the idea. If any other sees that, may think that is the number zero, a simple circle or a balloon.

Now for the second conclusion. Things exist because we interact with them. If the person who interacts with them stops existing, or if they dissapear for some reason, they stop existing. Existence is interaction.

So, we provide existence to things, because we interact with them. That is almost the same subject of the movie The Matrix: the world appears to exist, but in fact, it is just a high-tech projection of an artificial world into the minds of people that are hibernating and being used as batteries. Things exist if -and when- we interact with them.

Therefore, atoms exist because we interact with them. People exist because we interact with them. We cannot understand the things we don't interact with, and they may not really exist. They may exist for other people that interacts with them. We just can understand the things we interact with. Maybe there are parallel universes, but we can't say it. Because we don't interact with them.

Maybe quantum physics can help us change our comprension of logic. For now, quantum physics seem to hold ilogic behaviors, that can be proved on experiments (like a particle dissapearing from one place and appearing instantly in a different place), or dual simultaneous behaviors. Probably we will find the correct logic to understand quantum logic only when we will be able to understand how to interact with the quamtum-scale universe. But it is almost sure that we will not understand it as long as we keep old ideas about existence and interaction.

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