36 votes

What's a question you genuinely don't know the answer to?

It can be philosophical or academic. Simple or complex. Broad or specific.

No parameters other than the fact that you genuinely don't know the answer.

86 comments

  1. [7]
    moocow1452
    Link
    If you had a ray gun that compels people to make more moral and ethical decisions, are you a superhero or a super villain?

    If you had a ray gun that compels people to make more moral and ethical decisions, are you a superhero or a super villain?

    22 votes
    1. [4]
      Eylrid
      Link Parent
      Shoot yourself with it before deciding whether to use it on anyone else.

      Shoot yourself with it before deciding whether to use it on anyone else.

      32 votes
      1. [3]
        moocow1452
        Link Parent
        Pretty sure that would tip the scales to Supervillainy. If it was a lab accident, could go either or.

        Pretty sure that would tip the scales to Supervillainy. If it was a lab accident, could go either or.

        2 votes
        1. [2]
          Eylrid
          Link Parent
          How would it tip it to supervillainy? Using the gun on yourself first would mean that you would use it on others if and only if that's the moral thing to do.

          How would it tip it to supervillainy? Using the gun on yourself first would mean that you would use it on others if and only if that's the moral thing to do.

          5 votes
          1. moocow1452
            Link Parent
            Under comic book logic, almost everyone that tests their science projects on themselves turn villainous. Because it's a ray gun, it might be considered an experimental prototype, and therefore...

            Under comic book logic, almost everyone that tests their science projects on themselves turn villainous. Because it's a ray gun, it might be considered an experimental prototype, and therefore "equipment" rather than "super science," but I'm not taking chances. Plus I'm pretty sure this is exactly how MODOK started.

            2 votes
    2. moocow1452
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Similarly, would Thanos had been as evil if he had snapped his fingers and made everyone fall into a cursed, indefinite sleep where they were far more content and satisfied than they would have...

      Similarly, would Thanos had been as evil if he had snapped his fingers and made everyone fall into a cursed, indefinite sleep where they were far more content and satisfied than they would have been otherwise?

      Edit to refine.

      6 votes
    3. Emerald_Knight
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I suppose that would depend on your frame of reference. Morality can differ largely depending on the observing culture. Even in western cultures there are the many variations of the trolly problem...

      I suppose that would depend on your frame of reference. Morality can differ largely depending on the observing culture. Even in western cultures there are the many variations of the trolly problem that more or less illustrate that the boundaries of morality are fuzzy and change depending upon which values you place a higher priority on.

      For example, do you choose to save the 10 old people who will probably die within the next few years at the expense of the life of a single kid, or do you allow them all to die? Is youth the greater value? The number of lives? Contributions to society?

      In your case the values under consideration are free will vs. collective good vs. perceptions of what the collective good is, and that might not even be everything to consider.

      In short, you don't have an answer because no objective answer exists. Unless a higher power exists and has a decision to share on the matter, the question will remain objectively unanswered.

      5 votes
  2. [9]
    Sahasrahla
    Link
    What's the smallest positive integer that yields no results on Google? Some numbers in the 10 billion range like 10030521010 (for now) don't have any results but maybe there's something much...

    What's the smallest positive integer that yields no results on Google? Some numbers in the 10 billion range like 10030521010 (for now) don't have any results but maybe there's something much smaller that's somehow escaped being put online.

    18 votes
    1. [3]
      Elronnd
      Link Parent
      I went just two down--10030521008 doesn't have any results either.

      I went just two down--10030521008 doesn't have any results either.

      4 votes
      1. Chrozera
        Link Parent
        I tried a few down from that 10030521004 and got 1 result...

        I tried a few down from that 10030521004 and got 1 result...

        1 vote
      2. apoctr
        Link Parent
        There's plenty of result-less numbers in the billions range from what I can tell - for example 10,014,986,321 if you want an even smaller one. The tricky part is finding numbers < 1(0) billion....

        There's plenty of result-less numbers in the billions range from what I can tell - for example 10,014,986,321 if you want an even smaller one. The tricky part is finding numbers < 1(0) billion. Closest I got was 801,908,033 (1 result) before giving up.

    2. [2]
      nsz
      Link Parent
      And in a wonderful twist, all these numbers will get invalidated as this very thread becomes the search result.

      And in a wonderful twist, all these numbers will get invalidated as this very thread becomes the search result.

      4 votes
      1. Sahasrahla
        Link Parent
        As unlikely as it is I enjoy the thought of someone typing a random number into Google and finding as the only result a comment on this thread saying that number has no results. (And how far into...

        As unlikely as it is I enjoy the thought of someone typing a random number into Google and finding as the only result a comment on this thread saying that number has no results. (And how far into the future could someone do that? If someone 300 years from now does a search will they be able to find many results from today? Unrelated, but I love the thought that hundreds or even thousands of years from now bored grad students will be combing through ancient Reddit or Tildes threads to try to learn about people of this day and how we thought.)

        4 votes
    3. [3]
      skullkid2424
      Link Parent
      This would make an interesting, though relatively simple, programming challenge. This stackoverflow answer gives a good guide to doing a programmatic google search in python. What it doesn't...

      This would make an interesting, though relatively simple, programming challenge.

      This stackoverflow answer gives a good guide to doing a programmatic google search in python. What it doesn't mention is that there are limits to using that api. 100 queries per day for free, and then $5 for each 1000 queries after that up to 10,000. That isn't really feasible for something of this magnitude.

      Alternatively one could use a browser emulator to actually search on google and grab the total results from the html. Its going to be a lot slower than an API, but in theory won't hit limits.

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        khang06
        Link Parent
        doesn't google force a captcha if it detects many searches in a short amount of time from a specific ip?

        doesn't google force a captcha if it detects many searches in a short amount of time from a specific ip?

        2 votes
        1. skullkid2424
          Link Parent
          I would imagine so. Theres definitely problems with trying to programmatically emulate the browser that would prevent it from working well. The API is probably the best option. Assuming you pay...

          I would imagine so. Theres definitely problems with trying to programmatically emulate the browser that would prevent it from working well.

          The API is probably the best option. Assuming you pay for 10,000 queries per day, you'd want quite a few optimizations. Perhaps theres an easy way to see what numbers have wikipedia pages and eliminate them.

          1 vote
  3. [4]
    tunneljumper
    Link
    I don't know the answer to this because I was thinking about it on the way back from work just now, and haven't really had time to read up on it: How much do we actually know about past cultures...

    I don't know the answer to this because I was thinking about it on the way back from work just now, and haven't really had time to read up on it:

    How much do we actually know about past cultures vs. how much of it is retconned? The thought originally came to me when I was thinking about Mexican food (I was hungry), and I started to wonder how many of those traditional dishes were actually meat- and-cheese-based, and how much of our understanding of it has been changed because of Tex-Mex/Americanization of the cuisine.

    17 votes
    1. [2]
      balooga
      Link Parent
      I suspect that a large amount of "history" is more akin to fan fiction: a ledger of recorded dates and surviving artifacts, with large gaps filled in by projection and speculation, massaged into a...

      I suspect that a large amount of "history" is more akin to fan fiction: a ledger of recorded dates and surviving artifacts, with large gaps filled in by projection and speculation, massaged into a narrative and then heavily mythologized by various interests for compounding political reasons. The further back in time you look, the more distorted the picture becomes.

      It's useful, but I question if it's even remotely as accurate as we pretend.

      11 votes
      1. Omnicrola
        Link Parent
        I think you're right to an extent. There's a lot of history that can be verified, especially things that leave artifacts. Rome existed and fell, plauges happened, things where discovered. The...

        I think you're right to an extent. There's a lot of history that can be verified, especially things that leave artifacts. Rome existed and fell, plauges happened, things where discovered.

        The devil is in the details though. Ascribing motivations to people without direct first hand accounts is sketchy. Details only described by a single source can be inaccurate or just made up.

        6 votes
    2. krg
      Link Parent
      Well, pre-Spanish there was no cheese and the main meat was turkey...as far as I know. But... the Spanish influence has been a factor for 500 years. That is, shit changes. What we know can't help...

      Well, pre-Spanish there was no cheese and the main meat was turkey...as far as I know. But... the Spanish influence has been a factor for 500 years. That is, shit changes.

      What we know can't help but be filtered by our own biases and preconceptions. There's even even a term for it.

      1 vote
  4. [13]
    Whom
    Link
    If life is moving from momentary joy to momentary joy and a quest for the next one and contentment is accepting that cycle / investing yourself in that quest, what is to be done when that joy...

    If life is moving from momentary joy to momentary joy and a quest for the next one and contentment is accepting that cycle / investing yourself in that quest, what is to be done when that joy dries up?

    I've accepted that long-term fulfillment is more or less an illusion and a really harmful one at that, but I'm still left with this question. I'm not so much concerned with how that might feel a bit meaningless or hollow, though I understand struggling with that.

    9 votes
    1. [5]
      Emerald_Knight
      Link Parent
      One thing that I grappled with for quite a while and eventually had to accept is that life has no inherent meaning or purpose to it. Rather than being constrained by some concept of "fate" or...

      One thing that I grappled with for quite a while and eventually had to accept is that life has no inherent meaning or purpose to it. Rather than being constrained by some concept of "fate" or "destiny", you're free to pursue whatever meaning or purpose you want to give to your own life.

      On the one hand, it's somewhat distressing to think that your actions are ultimately pointless in the grand scheme of things. On the other, it's empowering to know that you're not expected by the universe to achieve any specific goal and that whatever impact you have on the lives of others is the result of your own choices. That also means that life isn't necessarily about seeking out joy. After all, there are people who dedicate their entire lives to causes that aren't particularly joyful, but still give them a sense of meaning.

      Life is what you make of it. Pursue relationships with others, discover new hobbies, experience new places and things, find a cause you feel strongly about, mentor people... enjoy the journey as much as you can while it lasts and try to focus less on the destination and more on the stops along the way.

      8 votes
      1. [4]
        Whom
        Link Parent
        The thing is, my question comes after accepting there's no inherent purpose or meaning to life and you've gotta make it. If you've reasoned yourself to that point but can't make anything out of...

        The thing is, my question comes after accepting there's no inherent purpose or meaning to life and you've gotta make it. If you've reasoned yourself to that point but can't make anything out of it...are you just fucked?

        There isn't a promise that if you do this one thing you'll be fulfilled and happy forever, you've moved past that...it's all at your feet and if nothing sparks....????

        3 votes
        1. [3]
          Emerald_Knight
          Link Parent
          There's certainly a non-zero chance that you could be one of those people whose brains are simply hardwired to not find long-term enjoyment. That being said, I'd say the chance of that is...

          There's certainly a non-zero chance that you could be one of those people whose brains are simply hardwired to not find long-term enjoyment. That being said, I'd say the chance of that is exceedingly slim.

          There are a number of factors that might come into play here, however:

          • Perhaps your life circumstances impede on your ability to enjoy things. I would liken it to walking against flowing, chest-high water--the fact that you're not able to make any significant progress doesn't mean you're not capable of walking, it just means that the water is getting in the way. In the same way, your life circumstances may make it difficult to find fulfillment even with things that would otherwise be fulfilling. Excess stress in particular can result in serious burnout. Addressing those circumstances is essential.

          • It's possible that you don't know yourself quite as much as you believe. There are potentially many things that you would enjoy that you've never had the chance to be exposed to. It may be necessary for you to have a period of self-discovery and determine what you want out of life.

          • Mindset is huge. This isn't an easy one to overcome, but having the right mindset matters quite a bit. Much like detaching yourself from a single job application in favor of sending out many, knowing that most will likely not result in an offer, is the healthiest way to approach a job search, it's important to reset your expectations about trying new things. By not looking for that next "this one thing", and instead trying a lot of different things out of curiosity and to see if any of them are worth continuing to pursue, you set the expectation for yourself that sifting through is just a part of the process and you can treat each "failed" attempt as a learning opportunity.

          • Mental health could play a part. If you're suffering from depression, then you're going to have a hell of a hard time both finding things to enjoy and sustaining that enjoyment long-term. This also plays into the points regarding life circumstances and mindset, as these can easily result in depression as well.

          I would wager that there are some aspects about yourself or your life that you're either unaware of or simply haven't addressed, and that that's the reason you're having difficulty sustaining enjoyment long-term. That's not necessarily your own fault as it could be the result of circumstances that aren't easy to overcome (e.g. struggling financially), but it's something to consider.

          4 votes
          1. [2]
            ascii
            Link Parent
            The question I genuinely don't know the answer to is: "Chemical imbalances" is the universally accepted answer, but it's remarkably difficult to find evidence for that claim. Does an imbalance of...

            The question I genuinely don't know the answer to is:

            What causes depression?

            "Chemical imbalances" is the universally accepted answer, but it's remarkably difficult to find evidence for that claim.

            Does an imbalance of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine or serotonin cause depression, or does depression cause a shift in neurotransmitters?

            Certainly many people have benefitted from mood-altering pharmaceuticals, but are the drugs treating the cause or just alleviating some symptoms?

            I suspect there's a deeper root cause for the epidemic of depression and other mental disorders in society. Maybe it's the modern understanding that life has no inherent purpose.

            Or maybe the modern "freedom" for every individual to figure out their own beliefs, their own religion, their own occupation, morality and purpose, free from traditions or institutions, is too much for many of us.

            1 vote
            1. Emerald_Knight
              Link Parent
              Think of the brain as a combination of hardware and software. Sometimes software acts up and causes us to think differently as a result. Often the fix is to troubleshoot (e.g. therapy), sometimes...

              Think of the brain as a combination of hardware and software. Sometimes software acts up and causes us to think differently as a result. Often the fix is to troubleshoot (e.g. therapy), sometimes we need to take more drastic measures like changing some variables directly (e.g. using medication), and frequently both approaches are used together.

              Sometimes the problem is hardware, though. Occasionally you end up with some processors that, for whatever reason, trigger the buggy paths when the normal paths are triggered, like there's some kind of cross-wiring going on. In those cases it's usually a lot of trial and error as you try to find a way to suppress the buggy paths. If you're lucky, maybe you manage to shut off those buggy paths while leaving the good paths untouched, or maybe you get really lucky and manage to fix the cross-wiring issue altogether.

              The worst problems, of course, are when the issues are in both hardware and software, as it's often difficult to disentangle the two and figure out which one you're affecting or if what appears to be a negative result is actually a positive one for e.g. the hardware while the software needs to be updated to match.

              Brains are fucking complicated and all it takes is weird paths of execution for the electrical signals to follow to cause depression. And because the combination of hardware and software is unique to each individual, the exact causes and steps for reproduction and eventual repair differ on a case by case basis. There are some frequent causes and common fixes to try, but ultimately it's a matter of trial and error to see what works with your versions of the hardware and software.

              1 vote
    2. [5]
      Comment deleted by author
      Link Parent
      1. [3]
        Gaywallet
        Link Parent
        There are plenty of things they can do after retiring. They could train the next world champion. They could spread their love of boxing to as many people as possible. They could write about what...

        There are plenty of things they can do after retiring. They could train the next world champion. They could spread their love of boxing to as many people as possible. They could write about what they learned from boxing that's helped them in life. They could use their fame from boxing to garner attention to something they find important, such as a cause or a charity. They could use the money they made from boxing to affect change in the world or work on something that inspires them but is not profitable. They could use their money to travel and explore the world and learn and pursue whatever they wish.

        There's almost infinite things that anyone can do in their life - why must life be the pursuit of a single goal?

        9 votes
        1. [2]
          balooga
          Link Parent
          I think it's matter of self-identity. Do you view yourself as "a boxer?" Then you have nothing left when you can no longer box. But if you view yourself as "a person who boxes" (and you hold...

          I think it's matter of self-identity.

          Do you view yourself as "a boxer?" Then you have nothing left when you can no longer box. But if you view yourself as "a person who boxes" (and you hold loosely onto the activity of boxing) you have limitless possibilities when that well runs dry.

          4 votes
          1. Omnicrola
            Link Parent
            The key realization is to understand that identity changes as a person goes through life, and that nobody is a single "thing". That boxer? Before they where a boxer they where a student. Before...

            The key realization is to understand that identity changes as a person goes through life, and that nobody is a single "thing".

            That boxer? Before they where a boxer they where a student. Before that they where a kid who loved sailboats. While they where a boxer maybe they also became a parent, or an uncle.

            Sometimes we can choose when a part of our identity changes (graduate, retire, marry, get hired). Sometimes we cannot (fired, divorced, someone close dying). The question is not "what am I without ___". The question is "what do I choose to be next". Parts of previous identities carry forward, but people always change, always.

            7 votes
      2. tunneljumper
        Link Parent
        If you haven't already, you should watch the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Broke.

        If you haven't already, you should watch the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Broke.

        1 vote
    3. [3]
      Gaywallet
      Link Parent
      You find something new that inspires you or brings you joy. Why do you think long-term fulfillment is an illusion?

      You find something new that inspires you or brings you joy.

      Why do you think long-term fulfillment is an illusion?

      3 votes
      1. [2]
        Whom
        Link Parent
        Isn't that a pretty limited thing to be able to achieve? Mental illness or a shitty situation can get in the way of that really quick. It pulls away the empowerment of that notion and makes it a...

        Isn't that a pretty limited thing to be able to achieve? Mental illness or a shitty situation can get in the way of that really quick. It pulls away the empowerment of that notion and makes it a prison.

        I think there's a reason it's a common religious thing to either tie happiness into something you won't see a payoff for until you're dead or to learn to get close with your suffering and stop worrying about pleasures. I can't make myself believe all that, I fully believe happiness is finding another thing to occupy you for a while. But when you can't take your lack of it and pull it into something bigger and you can't find the next thing...do you just suffer until you're done living?

        With long-term fulfillment I don't want to get into my full justification but to me simple observation works. No person I know who is happy (or happier / more content than me, I guess) just did something and is now just feeling good no matter what. They constantly do new things and find joy in each of those. It's never just doing one thing and done.

        1 vote
        1. Gaywallet
          Link Parent
          So it seems like you don't take issue with finding fulfillment, you just take issue with fulfillment coming from a single objective or goal? If that's the case I absolutely agree - life is...

          So it seems like you don't take issue with finding fulfillment, you just take issue with fulfillment coming from a single objective or goal? If that's the case I absolutely agree - life is complicated and dynamic and distilling it down to one thing would be dismissive of the beautiful complexity of life.

  5. [6]
    Happy_Shredder
    Link
    Why is there more matter than antimatter? Is Hawkings "time started with the big bang" interpretation the best? What does a periodic table for condensed matter look like? What's the most scalable...

    Why is there more matter than antimatter? Is Hawkings "time started with the big bang" interpretation the best? What does a periodic table for condensed matter look like? What's the most scalable approach for carbon sequestration? How do we resolve the measurement problem?

    I have many questions; we live in such a weird and interesting universe.

    8 votes
    1. [5]
      Hypersapien
      Link Parent
      What if there are equal amounts of matter and antimatter, just not evenly distributed? Maybe some parts of the universe had more matter, and other parts had more antimatter, just because of random...

      What if there are equal amounts of matter and antimatter, just not evenly distributed? Maybe some parts of the universe had more matter, and other parts had more antimatter, just because of random chance. And we live in one of the matter pockets.

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        teaearlgraycold
        Link Parent
        IIRC the spectrums of stars can indicate if they are made of antimatter. Everything we observe doesn't have an antimatter spectrum. That could be a result of us only seeing a small fraction of the...

        IIRC the spectrums of stars can indicate if they are made of antimatter. Everything we observe doesn't have an antimatter spectrum.

        That could be a result of us only seeing a small fraction of the universe, though.

        5 votes
        1. Hypersapien
          Link Parent
          Yeah. I can imagine the entire 13.5B-light-year-radius sphere that we live in could conceivably be one big matter pocket.

          Yeah. I can imagine the entire 13.5B-light-year-radius sphere that we live in could conceivably be one big matter pocket.

          1 vote
      2. spctrvl
        Link Parent
        You'd get distinctive emissions on the boundaries between the matter and antimatter pockets from particles and antiparticles annihilating, which we haven't seen. I guess the antimatter regions...

        You'd get distinctive emissions on the boundaries between the matter and antimatter pockets from particles and antiparticles annihilating, which we haven't seen. I guess the antimatter regions could be outside the part of the universe we can observe, but I don't think that's something we could really prove one way or the other.

        3 votes
      3. Happy_Shredder
        Link Parent
        How then was matter and antimatter separated in the early universe? Why do we see no regions of recombination?

        How then was matter and antimatter separated in the early universe? Why do we see no regions of recombination?

  6. [5]
    DonQuixote
    Link
    At one point in history, it was considered impossible (and not really useful) to take the square root of a negative number. Other examples exist in history. What is the next impossible...

    At one point in history, it was considered impossible (and not really useful) to take the square root of a negative number. Other examples exist in history. What is the next impossible mathematical operation that will be discovered to be in fact possible and even useful?

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      nothis
      Link Parent
      Nit-picky, but isn't it technically still "impossible" to take the square root of a negative number? We just invented a placeholder for "this is the result of sqrt(-1)", pop that in wherever we'd...

      Nit-picky, but isn't it technically still "impossible" to take the square root of a negative number? We just invented a placeholder for "this is the result of sqrt(-1)", pop that in wherever we'd use an actual number until, hopefully, the rest of the equation provides something useful. We can't really use i. Same with irrational numbers which are basically just "trust us, this leads somewhere, for now let's use an estimate" but we'll never actually know what pi really looks like.

      8 votes
      1. stu2b50
        Link Parent
        That assumes that there is some underlying "true" math that we try to recover, like in a natural science. But there isn't. Math is completely human made, and its properties are determined and...

        That assumes that there is some underlying "true" math that we try to recover, like in a natural science.

        But there isn't. Math is completely human made, and its properties are determined and derived from axioms.

        So with imaginery numbers, their name is somewhat misleading. You can't take the square root of negative numbers not because there's some inherent property in the universe that says so, but because when you do so it changes the properties of the system of numbers you are using. For that matter, the complex numbers actually do function fairly well. But you can 100% take the square root of negative numbers, because that's something humans define.

        Maybe a more useful example is dividing by 0. It's often something people say is "impossible". But it's not "impossible" so much as not useful. You CAN create a system of numbers where division by 0 is valid. The extended real number line and Riemann sphere are examples of this. But, when you do so the set of numbers you are using are no longer rings let alone fields, which is pretty bad, since it means that many useful properties like associativity are no longer valid.


        Also, we 100% know what irrational numbers are. We know PI with 100% accuracy and precision. The fact that there is no finite or repeating decimal representation doesn't mean we don't know the number.

        12 votes
    2. [2]
      stu2b50
      Link Parent
      What if I told you we "discovered" a way to divide by 0? That's not too hard. Just set x/0 = infinity. Then you have the Projective Extended Real Number Line...

      What if I told you we "discovered" a way to divide by 0? That's not too hard. Just set x/0 = infinity. Then you have the Projective Extended Real Number Line (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Projectively_extended_real_line). Now, you probably don't want to do anything under this set since it's not even close to a field.

      Mathematical operations can't be "impossible", because humans define the results of mathematical operations. You can always make something equal something. It just may result in something not very useful.

      8 votes
      1. BashCrandiboot
        Link Parent
        I have hated math my whole life but you people are blowing my mind right now.

        I have hated math my whole life but you people are blowing my mind right now.

        3 votes
  7. [5]
    ainar-g
    Link
    I would really like to know if my seemingly ever-present loneliness is a result of something wrong with me, or just a severe case of bad luck. Sometimes I feel like people just feel something...

    I would really like to know if my seemingly ever-present loneliness is a result of something wrong with me, or just a severe case of bad luck. Sometimes I feel like people just feel something uneasy about me and tend to stay away unless they really have to interact. I've had several people who I thought were my friends just break all contact with me. And I wonder, if there is a reason, or it's just chaos being chaos.

    8 votes
    1. Omnicrola
      Link Parent
      As a person who sees a therapist, I suggest seeing a therapist. All you can control is you, and even that takes practice and help.

      As a person who sees a therapist, I suggest seeing a therapist. All you can control is you, and even that takes practice and help.

      10 votes
    2. spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      I've struggled with some of the same questions, so regardless of what the answer is, you're not alone in wondering it.

      I've struggled with some of the same questions, so regardless of what the answer is, you're not alone in wondering it.

      4 votes
    3. Gaywallet
      Link Parent
      I would suggest seeing a therapist if it is within your means. I see two issues here - one you are making assumptions about how other people feel about you which is generally not a good idea, and...

      I would suggest seeing a therapist if it is within your means. I see two issues here - one you are making assumptions about how other people feel about you which is generally not a good idea, and two these assumptions are negative in nature indicating an unhealthy state of low self esteem or sense of self worth.

      If it's not within your means, I would suggest looking into books on CBT or DBT. Something focused on a non-professional to learn positive reflection and thought patterns.

      2 votes
    4. DonQuixote
      Link Parent
      I developed depression years ago, but lately realized it's existential depression. You can google it, basically it's the depression that comes from most of our modern concepts of meaninglessness....

      I developed depression years ago, but lately realized it's existential depression. You can google it, basically it's the depression that comes from most of our modern concepts of meaninglessness. Of course, my case is diagnosed and treated medically, but reading Yuval Harari and others has made me aware that our belief systems have an incredibly strong influence on our emotions.

      To me it sounds like your loneliness is a rational response to our modern belief systems and the resulting negation and invalidation of other belief systems. That makes me feel like it's our choice, at least to some extent.

      2 votes
  8. [3]
    determinism
    Link
    If my consciousness is an emergent property of my brain (which is composed of a finite set logical components spread out through space), why does my experience seem "temporally fluid" and...

    If my consciousness is an emergent property of my brain (which is composed of a finite set logical components spread out through space), why does my experience seem "temporally fluid" and "spatially singular" instead of discrete and distributed? I guess that's two questions, the first might be obvious in that I can't notice gaps in my own experience. I took a class in college called "Philosophy of Cognitive Science" and the professor seemed to have it all figured out, he was comfortable arguing that "consciousness is an illusion". Here I am a decade later, still unable to grasp it.

    Another similar question I have (which I can't personally answer but other people have). Apparently the universe is non-deterministic but causality is preserved in quantum mechanics. My physics professor explained it a few times and the conversation ended with me saying I would think about it, ten years later and I still can't feel comfortable with it.

    6 votes
    1. CALICO
      Link Parent
      You might be interested in the Orch OR theory of consciousness, championed by Sir Roger Penrose. The idea is that the microtubules in our neurons are sufficient to collapse quantum wavefunction,...

      You might be interested in the Orch OR theory of consciousness, championed by Sir Roger Penrose. The idea is that the microtubules in our neurons are sufficient to collapse quantum wavefunction, and that's the basis for our conscious experience. It may also provide an avenue to unify quantum mechanics with classical mechanics, consciousness being as a bridge between the two.

      3 votes
    2. gpl
      Link Parent
      In QM, time evolution is given by the Schrodinger equation, which is completely, 100% deterministic. If you give me a quantum state at time t1, I can unequivocally tell you the state at a future...

      In QM, time evolution is given by the Schrodinger equation, which is completely, 100% deterministic. If you give me a quantum state at time t1, I can unequivocally tell you the state at a future time t2. The measurement process and subsequent "wave-function collapse", if you subscribe to a collapse interpretation, is probabilistic, but there are interpretations which preserve determinism fully. The most popular such interpretation is probably the "Many World's Interpretation", where the wavefunction is taken as the fundamental object and as its evolution is deterministic, so too is the theory.

      1 vote
  9. [7]
    markh
    Link
    What is the universe expanding into?

    What is the universe expanding into?

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      Happy_Shredder
      Link Parent
      If you've heard it before it may sound trite, but the universe expands into nothing. There's no need to invoke some embedding space for the universe to expand into; general relativity gives a...

      If you've heard it before it may sound trite, but the universe expands into nothing. There's no need to invoke some embedding space for the universe to expand into; general relativity gives a model in which the universe just gets bigger, putting more space between us and distant galaxies.

      3 votes
      1. mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Natural languages allow us to refer to things that do not exist. So, in a sense, nothingness has ontological nature: we know that it negates existence and all that existence entails. Well, for it...

        Natural languages allow us to refer to things that do not exist. So, in a sense, nothingness has ontological nature: we know that it negates existence and all that existence entails. Well, for it to be something, nothingness must possess at least one property - that which differentiates it from the things that are. And something that possesses attributes is, by definition, existent (at least as possibility- see possible world semantics). Therefore, nothingness is something.

        5 votes
    2. [4]
      Omnicrola
      Link Parent
      It doesn't expand into anything in the way that you're likely thinking of it. I'll try to find the really good askscience thread I learned this in, but the universe has no boundary, it is...

      It doesn't expand into anything in the way that you're likely thinking of it. I'll try to find the really good askscience thread I learned this in, but the universe has no boundary, it is infinite. The common graphic used to show the Big Bang is misleading in this sense. The universe is expanding, but it is not getting bigger by it's boundary getting larger, because there is no boundary.

      Here's the really crazy part. The universe is expanding, so in each cubic meter of space, everything gets pulled apart by a certain amount of meters per hour. This speed is cumulative the longer the distance is. So two objects 10 meters apart will become pulled apart 10x faster than 2 objects 1 meter apart. At most scales this is really really slow, and easily countered by gravity and nuclear forces. However at galactic scales, it's significant. I don't remember the math, but there is a distance from Earth beyond which we will never be able to observe, because the distance is so great that (relative to us) the expansion of the universe is causing any observable objects to travel faster than light.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        Happy_Shredder
        Link Parent
        As a touch of technical detail: the universe is filled with a dark energy field constant in space and time. This field contributes a fixed amount to the curvature of the universe, and its...

        As a touch of technical detail: the universe is filled with a dark energy field constant in space and time. This field contributes a fixed amount to the curvature of the universe, and its expansion. So expansion is constant. Consider a far galaxy, x metres away. After some time t the galaxy will have moved twice as far away 2x. After another time t the galaxy will have moved twice as far again i.e. 4x. So the expansion of the universe means exponential expansion.

        Whether or not the universe is infinite is debatable. But there is certainly a limit to how much universe we can see. This is because light has a finite speed and the universe expands so very distant objects are just too far away for their light to ever reach us. The calculation is straightforward but you need to know how much stuff is in the universe and the curvature. Works out to be a radius about 20 billion light years (more than the age of the universe suggests, because expansion).

        2 votes
        1. Omnicrola
          Link Parent
          Thanks, I was trying to recall the details of a post I read at least 3-4 years ago, so the details where kind of fuzzy. I just remember being wow'd by the idea of what space itself expanding...

          Thanks, I was trying to recall the details of a post I read at least 3-4 years ago, so the details where kind of fuzzy. I just remember being wow'd by the idea of what space itself expanding actually ment when you scaled up to inter-galactic distances.

          1 vote
      2. markh
        Link Parent
        Thank you for the explanation, but I don’t think this is something I’ll ever really understand. I’ve heard many explanations, they just all make my head hurt when I try to envision them.

        Thank you for the explanation, but I don’t think this is something I’ll ever really understand. I’ve heard many explanations, they just all make my head hurt when I try to envision them.

  10. [4]
    RapidEyeMovement
    Link
    Why does the internet/social media, which at first blush appears to give everyone an equal voice. In practice, "The Crazies" voice gets amplified.

    Why does the internet/social media, which at first blush appears to give everyone an equal voice. In practice, "The Crazies" voice gets amplified.

    5 votes
  11. [5]
    thejumpingbulldog
    Link
    This is going to sound really stupid, but I guess my wonder is why is it when we ride on a fast moving object that is open to the wind, why do we get colder? Like if we are having a higher volume...

    This is going to sound really stupid, but I guess my wonder is why is it when we ride on a fast moving object that is open to the wind, why do we get colder? Like if we are having a higher volume of molecules hitting us and thereby receiving more energy from the particles and generating more friction by hitting these particles, then why does the wind in my car feel colder than just standing outside? An extension of this would be does a melting ice cream in a car receive more energy while the car is parked or while the car is moving with the windows down? And if so does it even have any effect on how fast it melts? (I suspect it doesn't.)

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      Jimmy
      Link Parent
      My understanding is that the moving air absorbs some energy and then takes it away. Picture a hot boulder at the bottom of a river. If the river is flowing, the boulder cools faster than if the...

      My understanding is that the moving air absorbs some energy and then takes it away. Picture a hot boulder at the bottom of a river. If the river is flowing, the boulder cools faster than if the water is still. This is because in a flowing river, the heat absorbed by the water is removed, and the temperature differential remains high rather than evening out.

      5 votes
      1. thejumpingbulldog
        Link Parent
        Honestly that was a really good analogy. Thanks!

        Honestly that was a really good analogy. Thanks!

        1 vote
    2. spit-evil-olive-tips
      Link Parent
      Not a stupid question at all! Questions like this are the essence of the scientific method. You're making a prediction based on things you already know, the observations you're making don't line...

      Not a stupid question at all! Questions like this are the essence of the scientific method. You're making a prediction based on things you already know, the observations you're making don't line up with your prediction, so it's time to come up with a theory that explains your observations better.

      For a real life experiment you can try, take a metal baking sheet and hold it in front of a fan.

      Does the sheet get hot due to friction of the air hitting it? Nope. Maybe a tiny bit, but it's not noticeable.

      Next, stand in front of the same fan. You probably feel colder, and definitely not warmer due to air friction.

      And then, take a shower, and right after jumping out of the shower, stand in front of the fan. You'll probably feel very cold.

      3 votes
    3. papasquat
      Link Parent
      When you're standing still, your body heats the air molecules around you. The system of you and the room you're in tries to get to equilibrium. Your body is cooled by the air around you, and the...

      When you're standing still, your body heats the air molecules around you. The system of you and the room you're in tries to get to equilibrium. Your body is cooled by the air around you, and the air around you is warmed by your body. When wind is blowing, that bubble of warm air around your body is being displaced constantly and replaced by new air that was at the temperature the air was before your body was in the system. At a certain speed, the friction from the air would definitely negate this effect and you'd start getting hotter, but the heat would probably be the least of your concerns at that point.

      If you weren't a human being constantly radiating heat, and generally above the temperature of the air around you, this would work differently though. If you were an object exactly the same temperature as the air around you, and there was no external source warming you up (ie; the sun), the wind speed would indeed only heat you up, never cool you down.

      3 votes
  12. [5]
    gergir
    Link
    I have no way of knowing how old I am. Earlier this year I was told that my birthcertificate was predated for an altogether valid reason, but there's no-one left to enlighten me as to the real...

    I have no way of knowing how old I am. Earlier this year I was told that my birthcertificate was predated for an altogether valid reason, but there's no-one left to enlighten me as to the real date. This wasn't in a 1st-world country though, so no need to worry about yours! A capable sportsmedecine professional kindly offered to make an estimate based on teeth, bones, nose, development, etc. Perhaps there's better ways, but I don't want to be dissected...

    4 votes
    1. [2]
      gpl
      Link Parent
      Do you have a rough idea of how much it was predated? Is this a couple of years or a few weeks, for example? I've never heard of this happening so I'm genuinely curious.

      Do you have a rough idea of how much it was predated? Is this a couple of years or a few weeks, for example? I've never heard of this happening so I'm genuinely curious.

      4 votes
      1. gergir
        Link Parent
        The provisional estimate is about 1-1.5y off. But I practise gymnastics and some light athletics, and that may influence things. I was born in a pretty dangerous country where my father did...

        The provisional estimate is about 1-1.5y off. But I practise gymnastics and some light athletics, and that may influence things.

        I was born in a pretty dangerous country where my father did something for the government, and he had the possibility to squeeze me into the last agebracket that would still benefit from additional security guarantees to non-ethnic natives. Just in case something happened to him and my mother. Which then it did before they could set things straight with me. The family solicitors told me. They'd never heard of a similar case either since WW2.

        5 votes
    2. [2]
      Enoch
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Wow.. But why the nose? Is it radioactive.? E: nm I get it.

      Wow.. But why the nose? Is it radioactive.?
      E: nm I get it.

      1 vote
      1. gergir
        Link Parent
        The nose doesn't take its final shape before a certain age and even then keeps growing, he said.

        The nose doesn't take its final shape before a certain age and even then keeps growing, he said.

        2 votes
  13. [5]
    DataWraith
    Link
    Am I dreaming right now? If so, how deeply nested are the dream-worlds inside each other? There are some tests that can tell you whether you are dreaming, such as being able to still breathe while...

    Am I dreaming right now? If so, how deeply nested are the dream-worlds inside each other?

    There are some tests that can tell you whether you are dreaming, such as being able to still breathe while pinching your nose, or having seven fingers, or the numbers on the alarm clock changing randomly whenever you glance away, but being awake according to these tests does not rule out an even bigger, 'outer' (dream-)container.

    It'd be pretty awesome to figure out how to 'jail-break' reality the same way you break free from the shackles of what's physically possible inside of a lucid dream...

    3 votes
    1. [2]
      Happy_Shredder
      Link Parent
      If you can't tell if you're dreaming, does it matter? When the dream is indistinguishable from reality, and when an embedding reality has no effect on the dream, is the dream not essentially real?

      If you can't tell if you're dreaming, does it matter? When the dream is indistinguishable from reality, and when an embedding reality has no effect on the dream, is the dream not essentially real?

      3 votes
      1. DataWraith
        Link Parent
        That is the fascinating question: is the dream really indistinguishable from the outermost reality? Or are there seams that show it is not entirely real? Where would you look for them? I also...

        That is the fascinating question: is the dream really indistinguishable from the outermost reality? Or are there seams that show it is not entirely real? Where would you look for them?

        I also disagree that the embedding reality would have no influence over the dream -- if an ambulance with sirens is passing outside your window while you sleep (but does not quite wake you up), your dream might incorporate the sound into its own narrative. Or maybe Morpheus shows up from outside and tells you about The Matrix.

        My use of the word jail-break was intentional; I was thinking of Super Mario World. If Mario was a conscious being, his world would be real to him. But because the world is not real and is instead running on a compute substrate governed by (imperfect) code, it is possible through controller inputs alone (i.e. his actions in the world) to completely reprogram the game. Granted, these controller inputs were found from outside of the game, but while unlikely, it is perhaps not impossible to find them through experimentation and science within the game itself.

        3 votes
    2. [2]
      Staross
      Link Parent
      I find this one peculiar; each time I'm able to ask the question I can easily tell whether I'm dreaming or not. The only reason you sometimes can't tell you are dreaming while sleeping is that you...

      I find this one peculiar; each time I'm able to ask the question I can easily tell whether I'm dreaming or not. The only reason you sometimes can't tell you are dreaming while sleeping is that you are not conscious enough; you can't even ask yourself the question.

      3 votes
      1. DataWraith
        Link Parent
        It's quite mind-bending to actually ask yourself whether you are dreaming inside a dream and then realize "Oh wow, I AM dreaming". I do recall some instances where I asked myself whether I was...

        It's quite mind-bending to actually ask yourself whether you are dreaming inside a dream and then realize "Oh wow, I AM dreaming". I do recall some instances where I asked myself whether I was dreaming, but dismissed the idea only to kick myself when I woke up. If it is too easy to tell whether you are dreaming normally, you may start assuming you are always awake when you ask the question, and then end up not having a lucid dream.

        It is true that lack of awareness in night-time dreams stems from not being conscious enough, but that does not necessarily hold for all kinds of enclosing "dream worlds" (e.g. The Matrix).
        There is actually nothing that prevents reality as we know it from being computed by a computer program (given a sufficiently powerful computer) -- I found this paper from Jürgen Schmidhuber illuminating on this point.

        1 vote
  14. [2]
    TheJorro
    Link
    Am I doing this right?

    Am I doing this right?

    3 votes
    1. moocow1452
      Link Parent
      No, but neither is anyone else.

      No, but neither is anyone else.

      2 votes
  15. [4]
    elcuello
    Link
    What does "I'm proud of you" really mean? I've always had a difficult time with that phrase and the word "proud" itself. How does someone else pride reflect on me?

    What does "I'm proud of you" really mean? I've always had a difficult time with that phrase and the word "proud" itself. How does someone else pride reflect on me?

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      moocow1452
      Link Parent
      It kind of implies ownership over someone else's achievements, or that you are invested in someone's accomplishments, but for your own benefit. Obviously the colloquial saying means none of that,...

      It kind of implies ownership over someone else's achievements, or that you are invested in someone's accomplishments, but for your own benefit. Obviously the colloquial saying means none of that, but there is that baggage for some people, and "I'm Proud for You" has been catching on.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        elcuello
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        What is the colloquial meaning then? I get the investment in someone's accomplishments but for your own benefit? How's that? Is that in line with the ownership? I think what I'm getting at is that...

        What is the colloquial meaning then? I get the investment in someone's accomplishments but for your own benefit? How's that? Is that in line with the ownership? I think what I'm getting at is that the pride seems to reflect your own needs and feelings and not the one your saying it too and isn't that kind of the opposite of what most people think it means?

        Edit: What I'm getting at is that taking pride in someone else might be more selfish than most people seem to believe.

        1 vote
        1. moocow1452
          Link Parent
          If you want to give someone verbal recognition and affirmation of their efforts, telling them "I'm proud of you" is a well recognized way to do so, but the phrase has implications outside of that...

          If you want to give someone verbal recognition and affirmation of their efforts, telling them "I'm proud of you" is a well recognized way to do so, but the phrase has implications outside of that particular meaning, re: ownership of pride. Maybe a better alternative is "Good Job, you put an awful lot of work into this," but word economy is a thing.

  16. AugustusFerdinand
    Link
    The process and equations to correctly apply a turbocharger or supercharger compressor map to a rotary engine.

    The process and equations to correctly apply a turbocharger or supercharger compressor map to a rotary engine.

    1 vote