Narrow

Authors: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
What we can imagine as plausible is a narrow band in the middle of a much broader spectrum of what is actually possible. [O]ur eyes are built to cope with a narrow band of electromagnetic frequencies. [W]e can't see the rays outside the narrow light band, but we can do calculations about them, and we can build instruments to detect them. In the same way, we know that the scales of size and time extend in both directions far outside the realm of what we can visualize. Our minds can't cope with the large distances that astronomy deals in or with the small distances that atomic physics deals in, but we can represent those distances in mathematical symbols. Our minds can't imagine a time span as short as a picosecond, but we can do calculations about picoseconds, and we can build computers that can complete calculations within picoseconds. Our minds can't imagine a timespan as long as a million years, let alone the thousands of millions of years that geologists routinely compute. Just as our eyes can see only that narrow band of electromagnetic frequencies that natural selection equipped our ancestors to see, so our brains are built to cope with narrow bands of sizes and times. Presumably there was no need for our ancestors to cope with sizes and times outside the narrow range of everyday practicality, so our brains never evolved the capacity to imagine them. It is probably significant that our own body size of a few feet is roughly in the middle of the range of sizes we can imagine. And our own lifetime of a few decades is roughly in the middle of the range of times we can imagine.

Richard Dawkins
[W]e can calculate our way into regions of miraculous improbability far greater than we can imagine as plausible. Let's look at this matter of what we think is plausible. What we can imagine as plausible is a narrow band in the middle of a much broader spectrum of what is actually possible. Sometimes it is narrower than what is actually there. There is a good analogy with light. Our eyes are built to cope with a narrow band of electromagnetic frequencies (the ones we call light), somewhere in the middle of the spectrum from long radio waves at one end to short X-rays at the other. We can't see the rays outside the narrow light band, but we can do calculations about them, and we can build instruments to detect them. In the same way, we know that the scales of size and time extend in both directions far outside the realm of what we can visualize. Our minds can't cope with the large distances that astronomy deals in or with the small distances that atomic physics deals in, but we can represent those distances in mathematical symbols. Our minds can't imagine a time span as short as a picosecond, but we can do calculations about picoseconds, and we can build computers that can complete calculations within picoseconds. Our minds can't imagine a timespan as long as a million years, let alone the thousands of millions of years that geologists routinely compute. Just as our eyes can see only that narrow band of electromagnetic frequencies that natural selection equipped our ancestors to see, so our brains are built to cope with narrow bands of sizes and times. Presumably there was no need for our ancestors to cope with sizes and times outside the narrow range of everyday practicality, so our brains never evolved the capacity to imagine them. It is probably significant that our own body size of a few feet is roughly in the middle of the range of sizes we can imagine. And our own lifetime of a few decades is roughly in the middle of the range of times we can imagine.

Richard Dawkins
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in-narrow-gloomy-streets-keep-your-spirit-high-mehmet-murat-ildan
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when-you-tell-people-you-are-model-they-have-narrow-view-who-you-are-its-good-to-be-able-to-say-that-its-not-all-that-i-am
the-path-that-leads-to-happiness-is-so-narrow-that-two-can-not-walk-on-it-unless-they-become-one
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