Paradoxes – Timestamps
00:00 – Hello and welcome
01:26 – Factoids
06:44 – What are paradoxes?
17:25 – The Bootstrap Paradox
23:57 – Time travel paradoxes
31:37 – How Interstellar helped black hole research
33:40 – The paradox of choice in our society
37:03 – The Fermi Paradox – are we alone in the universe?
47:26 – When would aliens contact us and what would they make of our society?
54:30 – Ending and Outro
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This week on the Conduct Science Podcast this description is false! Tom and Mitch take a look at paradoxes, one’s we see in everyday life, ones that took over 2,000 years to figure out and many that still perplex us to this day! From time travel and the Bootstrap Paradox to the statistical likelihood but no evidence for alien life in the Fermi Paradox, join us on The Conduct Science Podcast! Music by: Joakim Karud – https://soundcloud.com/joakimkarud.
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Tom: Hello ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Conduct Science Podcast, where today everything we say from this point forward is true and false and neither. You decide. If you want to check out all the latest goings on, you can head to conductscience.com you can find us on Facebook and Twitter by searching @conductscience. If you want to just get in touch, ask a question, suggest a guest, suggest the topic, anything. Use the #ConductScience. I am your host, Tom Jenks and on such a complex topic as this. I needed someone really smart to help me. Luckily joining me as usual is the Lord and Sire of the podcast, Mr Genius, 147 Mitchell Gatting. [Laughter].
Mitch: [Laughter]. Never going to go. It’s never going to, it’s never going to go that is.
Tom: And if you want to know the reference to that, listen to last week’s episode. [Laughter]. Today’s topic is paradoxes and I’m not sure why we keep doing this to ourselves, raising ourselves to this really intellectual level. But uh, yeah, paradoxes it is as usual I kind of, well, we’ve got some factoids to just to, to go for it. But it was so hard to find facts on paradoxes. So it just kind of…
Mitch: Yeah, agreed.
Tom: …just giving you snippets of paradox is I guess, my first one is the Napkin Ring Problem. Have you heard of this?
Mitch: I haven’t heard of this.
Tom: So if you take a sphere, like a ball of any size and you take the core out, you are left with like a, a shape called a Napkin ring because that’s just exactly what it looks like.
Mitch: Or a donut.
Tom: So, yeah or, or donut. So if any two napkin rings or donuts have the same height, they will always have the same volume regardless of the spheres that they were taken from. So if you do this to an orange and you do this to the earth, as long as they’re the same height, they will have the same volume. And it’s slightly paradoxical in the fact that, well at first it kind of defies our logical reasoning.
Mitch: Yeah, what’s it? A veridical. If I’m not mistaken we’ll get to that in a bit. What that word means.
Tom: We shall indeed. Yup. My next is the ship of Theseus. I’m pretty sure most people have heard of this one. If you have like a ship, like a wooden ship, imagine Greek ancient Greek times or something and over its life you have to repair it. Eventually you will have replaced every single plank of wood and all of the sales and everything. Is it still the same ship or is it completely new ship? And if you kept all the original pieces and built an identical one, which one would you call the original
Mitch: The uh, to bring this back into a reference, a media reference. The vicar of Dibley, this was one of the things.
Tom: Oh yeah?
Mitch: Where he’s got, uh, the, um, the, the slightly slow farmer. He’s got a broom, right? “I’ve had this brrom for 25 years” and she’s like “oh have you? That’s lasted long” and he’s like “well I’ve replaced the handle and I’ve replaced the brush” and she’s just like “that’s not the same brush then is it?” And it’s like not the same broom.
Tom: Yeah. Well it’s a valid, like what would you say? Would you class that as the same, same brush?
Mitch: No, as soon as you take one piece of it, it’s like off for the broom instance. Like as soon as you take, I think it was like more than 50% off, which would either be the handle or the like the actual brush itself. It’s no longer the first brush.
Tom: What about the ship then?
Mitch: I would say the 50% still still resides. Say if you took 49% of the ship off and replaced it, it would still be the same ship. But then if you touched the other 51% then no longer becomes the ship it once was.
Tom: I guess is hard, isn’t it? Because with a ship less so more so than a broom, you have a sentimental value and over a longer period of time you don’t notice it changing. I guess it’s the same with like people, you know, our, our cells die and regenerate every seven years or something. Say technically every seven years you’ll no longer who you were completely. But then we are, so does that sense of self come must only come from our mind? All that sentimental value, I guess.
Mitch: Full ghost in the machine kind of thing going on.
Tom: Yeah. That’s good film.
Mitch: It’s also a theory by Kant.
Tom: Oh yeah?
Mitch: Yeah. [Laughter].
Tom: Well. This is why the pop culture references you see.
Mitch: Uh, the, the idea that one’s consciousness is that is somewhere else and that we are just plumbed into it. A bit like the Matrix. It’s one of the things. So the conscious, which is elsewhere is actually just driving our bodies.
Tom: Makes Sense. Makes Sense. Do you have any kind of factoids or whatever we’re calling this section of this show? To throw in?
Mitch: Um, well, I know I was doing some reading, uh, Achilles and the tortoise came up, which is from Zeno which will go into they, uh, but it’s much to do with the, the tortoise and the hair came from this, uh, is paradox and it’s to do with who’d win in a race between a tortoise and a hare.
Mitch: But in the original instead of a hare it’s Achilles. Now, I kind of enjoyed reading up on like tortoise and hare things and like different, uh, sort of versions of it is what the kind of the point was in the end. Like, uh, so slow and steady wins the race is normally one that people go for. Bone-headedness. But there was a Irish writer in 1915 that he wrote a better version, which I really like because it’s like a kind of like a slightly morbid take on it is the race was to determine and um, who is the quicker animal? Obviously that’s the original. But then after that, that was a great forest fire. And then because everyone deemed that the tortoise was the faster animal, they um, sent him as the messenger to warn all the other animals in the forest. And they subsequently they subsequently died in the forest burnt down because the wrong person was chosen for the wrong job based on like one situation. [Laughter]. That’s much, much better.
Tom: You have any, any others before we head on to maybe what a paradox is?
Mitch: No no, that’s the only like real fact.
Tom: I like that. Um, so I guess we haven’t done in a few episodes is what is the topic we’re talking about? So paradoxes, and this one I thought was going to be quite hard, but it was actually a lot simpler than I originally anticipated. So “para-” is Latin for distant from and “-dox” comes from Doxa for our opinion to translate as distinct from our opinion. The dictionary is says a seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true. Did you come up with anything different?
Mitch: But that’s one type thoug isn’t it? The dictionary definition is one type of paradox.
Tom: Yeah and this is exactly the problem that I found when researching it. So I guess if you guys haven’t heard in 1961 I philosopher and logician, I’m going to absolutely butcher this name so I apologize. Willem van Orman Quine described that there were three types of paradoxes. The first one is falsidical and he defined this as something that packs a surprize, but is seen as a false alarm when we solve the underlying fallacy and I think Zenos dichotomy paradox, the achilles and the tortoise works well for this one.
Mitch: Yes it is correct.
Tom: Do you want me to head into that a little bit? Do you want to explain just a bit more about how it works?
Mitch: Yeah. So the Achilles versus the tortoise paradox is that Achilles challenged the tortoise? I don’t know how, what situation they’re at when they’re on a beach and they were like, you know what mate? Let’s have a race. And he agrees to give the toss headstart of about 500 meters. And then when they try and catch up, oh this is pretty, this, or they’ll try to get my head around it so I explained it correctly. It’s not easy. So as he catches up, he’s actually catching up to the point where the tortoise used to be. So he’ll never truly catch up to the tortoise itself because he’ll always be moving ahead.
Tom: Yeah. So Zeno was trying to mathematically explain movement, right? Say he’s, he was like, if it takes Achilles a finite amount of time to reach where the tortoise was, that 500 meter distance, by the time he gets there, that tortoise would have moved forward a little bit. So it takes Achilles another finite amount of time to move to where the tortoise was, in which case in that time the taught his would have moved again. And it kind of goes on like that. Is that correct?
Mitch: Yeah. So it goes, so when the, um, when Achilles gets to that point, the tortoise sort of moved, is there a 0.5 meters. And then when he gets to that point, um, the toys I sort of moved 0.25 meters ahead. Then when Achilles gets that point, he’ll then be 0.125 head and so on and so forth in to infinite. And then so mathematically they couldn’t prove this of why Achilles will never be, why Achilles will never catch the tortoise. And it wasn’t until I think like 2,500 years later when calculus got invented that they could then prove it. By the time it was a falsidical argument because it was something that seemed really obvious, but there was mathematically they couldn’t prove why.
Tom: Yeah. It was something that like, uh, they were like, okay, we know this, that people can move and we know that Achilles will overtake the tortoise at some point. And the thing you mentioned about being infinite is very important, isn’t it? Because they can infinitely catch Achilles up to the tortoise and make that tortoise move. So that’s why. But at that point, until you correctly, as you said, until they discovered calculus, they didn’t realize that an infinite amount of numbers can add up to a finite number.
Mitch: Yeah, and normally this called convergence series and the easy way to think about conversion series is if you every step forward to take, if it’s half of the, like the previous distance, you’ll never get like do a a hundred meter race because you’ll never finish because you’re infinitely becoming smaller and blah, blah, blah, blah. So it’s like a half plus a third plus a quarter, so on and so forth. But with convergent series. They, it just adds up to one.
Tom: Yeah, and a good way to visualize that is say if you had a cake, right, its got a finite volume of say 100% you cut that cake in half and then you cut one of the halves and half one of the halves and half, as you said, making that convergence series, you’re still going to have the same volume no matter how many pieces you have. The volume. Yeah. You’ll never lose or gain volume.
Mitch: if you like go small, you’ll always be able to cut a slice of cake he had as well.
Tom: Yeah, exactly.
Mitch: That’s the idea. You’d be able to get if you went down to like nanometers and we’re cutting like one atoms of cake off. I real world, I think that’s what would happen. [Laughter].
Tom: [Laughter]. So the next kind is, I mean before I looked at any of this, I had just like, oh paradox is a paradox. I had no clue there was different kinds. So the next kind is Veridical and he explained this, Quine described this as it packs a surprise, but the surprise quickly dissipates itself as we ponder the proof. Did you have a good example for this or?
Mitch: The example that I’ve seen in the past is um, sort of prizes under three cups.
Tom: Yeah. It’s like the Monty Hall Paradox.
Mitch: Yeah. The Monty Hall paradox, which well, Monty Hall paradox uses behind doors, like a game show, like behind door number one behind them two and three by the, this the simpler one I saw was if you had something under a cup and you’ve got to pick a cup. Would you, would you switch? Or do you keep the same one? And statistically and all that sort of jazz, what would you choose?
Tom: It took me a while to wrap my head around how it might be okay to explain this without confusing everyone because I know people, lots of people have heard it. So it’s basically imagine like a game show, which they’ve stopped doing now precisely because of this reason. If you have three doors behind, one of them is a sports car and two of them is a goat. You choose one door. Say I choose door number one, the host will open and one of the other doors and show me there’s a goat behind it. And then they’ll offer, do you want to stick with your door or do you want to switch to the other door? And in your head at that moment you’re like, well, it’s 50/50 it doesn’t, you know, my odds are the same. But actually you should always swap because when you pick that original door, it was the 33% chance. 33.3 recurring chance that you were, you had the right door. Which means the 66% chance was in the other two doors, but then he shows you it’s not in one of them. So the 66% remains on that one door you haven’t picked. So statistically you should always switch and as soon as they realized that they, they stopped the, this kind of game show mechanic.
Mitch: Yeah. The Cup version is a bit simpler in the explanation as if you have three cups and there’s only one chance of winning on one statistically you’re more likely to pick the incorrect cup first. So you, you’re better off mentally picking your cup and then switching to another cup and you’re more likely to get it right. And I thought this, this sounded completely like a load of rubbish until there’s a video of statistician. This statistician proved this to an onlooker, he had out like a glass table. We have toy cars under like 50a row of 50 cups, three cups in a row. He had a two of them and he says, well, I’m going to do it my way. Where I’ll change. And you just pick your first one and we’ll see who has as many cars when we finish. And they went along the the 50 row by the end of it, he had twice as many cars listed. Yeah. He picked it and then changed it because obviously you’re more likely to get it the first choice.
Tom: Yeah. And you can all say, you can also do this online just by searching like Monty Hall simulation or something. Uh, I know the mathwarehouse.com does one, and I’ll [inaudible] if you’re listening on our site, I’ll put a link down to that below. But yeah, it really does work. You can run like 500 simulations and every time I did it, it came out at this 33% staying with the same door and 66% when you swap. And it really is, uh, yeah, accurate. The last type of paradox thenn is Antinomy and I don’t know if I’m pronouncing any of these right, but this is the traditional kind of paradox that cannot be true and also cannot be false. So I think a good example of this is like the grandfather paradox, which I believe I remember from another episode being one of your favorite? Or have I miss errr?
Tom: Okay. I thought it was, I’ve written that down and that one’s on me that’s my cross to bear.
Mitch: It’s the grandfather is very close to my favorite one,
Tom: I’ll kinda just go and explain. So the grandfather paradox is if I went back in time to kill my grandfather, it means one of my parents was never born, which means I was never born, which means I was never there to kill my grandfather, which means my parent was born and then I was born to then go back. So yeah, it just doesn’t work. And this is something that will always stay as an antinomy paradox. But then when you look at falsidical and veridical paradoxes, those are just antinomies to those who don’t have the answer yet. And they become falsidical or veridical once we kind of uncover the, the, the truth or the fallacy underlying them. And I think as we kind of just showed with the falsidical, Zeno of Elea’s dichotomy paradox is that they’re very useful in us making sense of our world and making sure that we know everything because we couldn’t mathematically explain why Achilles caught up to the tortoise. We knew for two and a half thousand years we were missing something until we discovered calculus. So it’s a very good way of making sure we know what’s going on, I guess. And I guess there’s, have you heard of the Faint Young Sun Paradox?
Mitch: I have, yes.
Tom: So that’s basically 4 billion years ago. We estimate that the sun was too small to keep us from being a icy planet, but looking at our geology, geology, and geography and all of that, it says that that wasn’t the case. So that is a Antinomy of today and falsidical of tomorrow to put it as poetically as I can. Uh, have you got any paradoxes you’d like to speak about in particular?
Mitch: Yes. The one my fav.
Tom: Yeah, go for it.
Mitch: Is the bootstrap paradox.
Tom: Ah, yes, of course.
Mitch: Yeah. Go for it. I think I’ve mentioned this in a, another episode, but the first time I heard this about the paradox was a doctor who episode and it’s about a musician, a time traveler who hears a piece of music that he very much enjoys. So he goes back in time to experience the music live. But when he gets to say he can’t find the artist or any of the artists music so scared to that this music will never get published. He then writes the music and then produces it under that artist’s name. Now in this situation who actually wrote the music because he wouldn’t have known the song if he hadn’t wrote it. But if he hadn’t wrote it, it wouldn’t have heard it the first time.
Tom: It’s difficult, isn’t it? I think I looked at this a like the kind of the, the definition says that this piece of information or objects, whatever it is, the origin is no longer discernible. You can literally cannot tell where a comes from. But I don’t know, did they, cause in the doctor who episode it was to do with Beethoven, right?
Mitch: Uh, yeah, he gives the example of Beethoven.
Tom: Okay. Did they was it an episode about that or did he just like kind of give that example in the show?
Mitch: It was just, it was just an example. I think the episode itself was about not knowing and questioning things. If I remember correctly.
Tom: I was going to ask if they came to a conclusion of that episode or?
Mitch: No, no. That episode was about, um, all about fearing things actually about where deep rooted fear because it was, it’s to do with a, he creates a Bootstrap paradox for himself to fear things under the bed. Um, and throughout time he causes the irrational fear to things under the bed because someone goes back in time. And then to comfort someone, they grab that ankle by accident even though they’re under the bed. Then it gets perpetuated through. It’s quite good there. There are some, some sort of issues with this, this paradox and some solutions. Uh, the problem with this paradox mainly is it breaks our concept of time being linear as it you make a loop. Then there’ll always be a loop in that specific point in time. A theory to combat that is that the multiuniverse theory. So there’s more than just one of our universes. There’s infinite and when you create that loop initially you’re not looping back into our universe, you’re looping back into a different universe.
Tom: Yeah. And this is the universe like self correcting isn’t it? And uh, it’s like a theory of that, right? If I’ve got that right for the, for the universe to self correct it, it creates this alternate timeline where what originally happened happens stays on one and your new one from you going back, this is where you go off.
Mitch: The university itself is that there already is all these infinite universes and you’re just hopping into a new one. I’m not sure about correction. I’m sure it is one just stop time breaking itself. They could, they could fix, but he’s multi universities. There’s infinite and then you just hopping into a different one kind of just before and then it isn’t a fact. It’s like if it like come end game, the new, I say new, the last Avengers film, that’s kind of what they did is they hopped into a different universe. So they didn’t create this loop. Because if they went back and well that’s a perfect paradox because they couldn’t go back into their own timeline and take it because they wouldn’t get to the same point as Thanos] getting the stones. So they had to go into, yeah.
Tom: Had to go into an alternate one to get the stones. But then even by doing that, they triggered the second Thanos.
Mitch: No, no, I’m getting that incorrect.
Mitch: Yeah, no, they specifically have to put them back at the end to not cause the issue was Hulk. Talked to the lady from Dr Strange and she showed him like if you do this, your fracture and we’ll all die but you’ll be fine. So yeah, pressure. The second problem with this theory is that it breaks the second law of thermodynamics.
Tom: Entropy? And the Arrow of Time?
New Speaker: Yes in any enclosed system. The integral system will either remain constant or increase, which is as the second law of thermodynamics. But if he took a book, say round with you and that book was causing this loop, say the instructions of how to create a time machine, that book will eventually wear out and then cease to exist. Which means that the entropy is decreasing in that system.
Tom: Is it? Because if the book wears out, it’s broken down into its constituent atoms and the entropy is thus increasing?
Mitch: Hmm. No, because there were, because it would be a an enclosed system.
Tom: Ah, okay. I see.
Mitch: Like, it doesn’t just keep, keep going. It’d be then a new system where nothing is in. That brings into some Sci-Fi like what happens with time travel. If you took something back in time, does it go back to his original state? Because say that you in that loop, you’re in that, that, that, that um, bootstrap loop. And you eventually got to the point where the book no longer existed with the loop just finish? Like what would happen? Or would the loop never have happened to begin with.
Tom: The book I guess is going in its own… Are you saying like the book is acting as a gin particle is trapped in that loop?
Mitch: Yeah. So the time traveler is taking it back, putting it back and then going home again and then say that then he’s giving it to his younger self to that, okay, he’s going back and then he’s building it and it’s going back.
Tom: So it’s the same item.
Mitch: Yeah, the same item that keeps getting game put put back.
Tom: Okay. That makes sense.
Mitch: So what happens when the, when the book breaks? If it breaks the end point?
Tom: What if you transcribed it? And you created a new, I guess replacement particle for the same to fit the slot?
Mitch: Yeah you’d create a new, a new loop on the same existing principle. Um, but yeah, the idea is like if it breaks the book breaks when he gives it back to the person, he can no longer be at the time machine because he hasn’t, so the loop never existed.
Tom: Yeah. Mind bendy. I had one about close time loops since we are kind of on that anyway, just to I guess lay out fully what might happen in that kind of scenario. If you’re here in the president of point a and you go back in time somewhere, call it point B and then you come back to point a because you’re traveling time traveling while the you a day or a year ago isn’t, we’ll call this version two of you. That version of you is going to get to point a and travel back to point B and then you as you, as you said, the, there’ll be this time loop caused where there’s one version of you going back, because there’s two instances of you, you, there’s one also going forward who hasn’t experienced it yet. So if you were the first one to do that, you’d kind of be trapping yourself or yourselves forever even though you’s only experience at once. And it also calls up a second paradox, which is the paradox of freedom. If you were to go from point A to point B is probably statistical that you are not the first version of you to do it, but rather any number on an infinite scale. So did you make that decision or did the first person version of you make it for all of you? Do you actually have that choice or is it a fixed point in time where you have to do it?
Mitch: Yeah. The illusion of freewill also comes into the bootstrap and it kind of like in that specific period of the loop, you kind of can’t have free will cause the, if you did and he did something differently, you’d break the loop. So as the, every action within that loop is fixed. Like it has to happen in that, in that situation. Because if it didn’t, then the loop wouldn’t happen. So for it to loop to actually happen, they would have to happen in that order. So there’ll be no free will.
Tom: So it presumes that um, the past is fixed or that certain events in the past are fixed?
Mitch: Those certain events caused by that person for that period, he’s looping would would be fixed.
Tom: Okay. That makes sense.
Mitch: Because if they weren’t fixed and need something else than that, it wouldn’t happen. So they would have to be like, you wouldn’t get any choice in them while you would get choice because the choices, the free will, the choices led up to that situation. You could argue that from an observer, they don’t look like free. Well the second time he’s gone through. But to him that always his own choices, but because the loop is identical in all situations, they would be freewill to him.
Tom: And I guess they would, even if the infinite parallel universe is theory is a thing, they would also be an infinite amount of universities where he doesn’t do it. Right. So you’d say, okay, is he making a choice? But by that same paradigm you’d say that he isn’t because all choices are being made and he’s just at the end of the current branch of infinite choices. I guess. One of my favorite time travel paradox is, okay, I realized I do really sound like a nerd sometimes because [Laughter].
Mitch: [Laughter]. So Tom what’s you favourite paradox? “well, well, well, well”
Tom: Because I’m not even telling my favorite paradox. I’m saying my favorite subsection of paradox, my favorite time travel paradox has to be predestination paradox purely because it starts off half the Sci-fi movies ever that have time travel in them, namely Terminator, which you’ve seen I hope?
Mitch: Uh, yes….
Tom: Uh, last week you didn’t know who Isaac Asimov was. Ah
Mitch: No I have, I have, I have seen the older terminates but not the new one I CBA.
Tom: Okay, that’s fair. But you see the very first terminator. He goes back in time to kill Sarah Connor to stop John Conner being the resistance leader in the future, but him going back to stop or change that actually caused it in the first place. And this is what’s called a predestination paradox and it is my favorite just because of the terminator. I think terminator two is the best one changed my mind. Um, for time travel paradox. I think that’s all I’ve got down. If you’ve got anything else?
Mitch: Um, looper you’re gonna if you’re gonna mention time travel paradoxes and time travel movies. Looper is always a great one.
Tom: And the concept of that was absolutely fantastic actually. I really enjoyed that. That’s Bruce Willis, isn’t it?
Mitch: Uh, yeah, it is.
Tom: Yeah. Tha’s absolutely fantastic film.
Mitch: Oh, who plays the younger version?
Tom: Is it, ah, Joe? No. Joseph Gordon Levitt?
Mitch: Uh, I think you are correct. Yeah, Joseph Gordon Levitt.
Tom: Uh, I’m gonna, I don’t know how I pulled that out at the top of my head, but, I’ll take it.
Mitch: Um, yeah at see that they, that was performed uh, to perfection.
Tom: Yeah. That was really, really good film. I haven’t seen in a while actually,
Mitch: But the way they, he stopped the loop is that he made the choice to change it. So you can actually argue that he used the multiuniverse theory because he spoiler alert. If you haven’t seen it came out in 2012 it’s many, many years old. He in the end shoots himself so his older self can’t come back to create the super bad guy. That is what they elude to is that this young kid is the super bad guy and that his old, his older self is coming back to kill the the super bad guy. But in doing so creates the super bad guy because he starts killing children and that child scared because his mother gets killed and then he becomes a super bad guy. So to stop his older self coming back and like he shoots himself in the chest and then his older self just drops to the floor. Oh no, he didn’t drop the floor. He just vanishes, doesn’t he?
Tom: Yes, I think so.
Mitch: He instantly vanishes because there’s a bit earlier on in the film where, so they closed their loops by killing themselves. So eventually when their contract runs out, that older self will be sent back and the younger self will kill them and that means they have a closed loop. So that gets over these paradoxes. So they obviously they’ve thought about the paradoxes in this film and to get over it they’ve been like, okay, if you send the old person back to, and the young person kills them, that ends it. But one of them gets away. So to get the older person back in is they kidnapped the younger person and start like carving things on their arm. So they all get the scars. They can see like where to go. That bit is incredibly morbid because they started cutting off limbs and then he just like his leg disappears and he starts limping. And he collapses. That kind of gets over some of these paradoxes like that happens.
Tom: And it’s very interesting to see because it’s, it is sciifi I guess even though there is like, you know, scientists do think about this but it’s very interesting to see the creative aspect and how they will take our knowledge into consideration and how they kind of try and combat that. It’s very interesting.
Mitch: It’s the same with, not to mention my favorite film of all time but interstellar. Best film ever made. They do a loop of that as well.
Tom: Yeah they do. That was really good. That was really well done.
Mitch: Then that goes into like the multiuniverse of all the different versions of her in her room and then he like flicks the, the um, what’s it called? The watch hand to do the binary.
Tom: No, I like very good. Very, very well done.
Mitch: Didn’t realize I watched a, a CGI breakdown. This is a tangent. Sorry. Apologies is to do a science though to do, cause they drove into a black hole. I should’ve done this in science episode. Just realized this now cause they fly into a black hole at one point and to get the CGI correct for it, they asked a physicist to create the equation of the mass for them to put into a simulation engine. So what you see in the movie is actually mathematically simulated what it probably would look like when they were flying up to it. And that’s just the disc with the, the top disc over it. I mean it’s like, I’m like, you see a planet like a black planet with the light run the edge and then a ring round it. And they might have mathematically worked out why it looks like that, but they didn’t realize it was going to look like that until they put it in the simulation. And they were like, well why does it look like that? And they looked at the math of man, oh no it would look like that because the light’s being bent round from the other side. So black holes do, I’ll just discs. But they look circular with the desks around them because they’re bending the light from the other side of the discs round the front and the bottom edges. Which a lot of people like that, that mind bends them sometimes.
Tom: It’s almost like when you send a spaceship around the moon to get gravitational sling, it does that with light. It bends the light around black hole for the, the light that you see has just been bent around and keeps coming towards you. It was never in it.
Mitch: Yeah. So it’s like when they fly along the disc, the disc looks like it’s going up. It’s not actually going up. It, they are just going straight. It’s just being the lights being bent round it so much that it looks like it’s going up. Ah, just,
Tom: That’s very cool.
Mitch: They also published two research papers.
Tom: Oh really?
Mitch: Because of what they found out. Yeah. Because of the sort of the information that they produced from it and what it looked like. They helped the field.
Tom: That’s really cool. Wow. Factoid. See that can be one at the top.
Tom: No, no I was joing. One of the paradoxes I want to talk about is less like fantastical and just a bit more like relating to our lives that we don’t really like, I came across a ted talk called the paradox of choice. Very good title. Go, go look at it. I’ll link it again on the site if you’re listening here. Um, and basically our governments will want everyone to grow economically. Obviously they just want economic growth to happen. For this to happen they think freedom is the way to do it. Freedom for people to explore what they want to do, to be happy to do all these things. So to give people more freedom, they should have more choices. Right? But is that good? And the general consensus is no, and I’ll explain why.
Tom: So firstly a can cause choice paralysis. And this happens to me all the time. It’s like someone asked me, where do I want to go? I don’t have a clue. There is so many options and I don’t end up picking and my girlfriend hates me for it. Fair enough. [Laughter]. So it was basically like this, they did actual research on there. So in the u s I know what happens if your with an employer they’ll, they’ll give you the options to invest in like adjacent companies and they’ll match your investment. And they used to give, you know, like three to five choices and there was like a really high joining rate and people would get around $5,000 extra a year from it. Now they give them like 10 to 15 and there’s a really low participation rate because there’s so many options, people don’t know what to do. So people are missing out on about $5,000 a year through choice paralysis. There’s also like an inbuilt regret on whatever decision you make. So say I went to Tesco’s or Sainsbury’s or Walmart, if you’re in America and I wanted some ketchup or mayonnaise, whatever. And there’s 20 different types to choose from. Like okay, I don’t really know, I’m just gonna pick one if it’s not perfect or not up to my expectations is very easy for me to imagine. Having picked another one that is. So my regret from that decision subtracts from the pleasure of the decision that I did make, even if it was possibly the best one or a good one. And it’s easier for me to imagine the lost benefits of the choices I didn’t make compared to the benefits that I gained from the choice that I did. So, and that’s not a thing with fewer choices. If you’ve got fewer choices, you’re like, okay, well this is the only choice that was so it was good enough and you’re happy with it. So more choices reduces the satisfaction of the choices that you do make. And lastly is the escalation of expectation with lots of options. You presume that there will be a perfect one for you somewhere. If I go and find I don’t know some trousers and jeans, we know they don’t always fit that well, but with 50 different choices, I’m like, okay, there’s going to be one here that fits me perfectly. So your expectation skyrockets and inevitably there isn’t one that fits you perfectly. So you end up kind of disappointed. And we normally blame ourselves because we’re like, I could’ve made a different decision. I could have made my life this bit better. So at the end of the day, objectively we are doing better as a society, but we are feeling much, much worse about it. So that’s the kind of the paradox of our society or the paradox of choice, which I thought was very interesting and not that much removed from what we think of as a paradox.
Tom: Alright. Time for my favorite paradox then.
Mitch: Okay, here we go.
Tom: Here we go. Ah, have you heard of the Fermi paradox?
Mitch: I have, yes.
Tom: Yeah. Okay. So, okay. You’ll be able to join in. Good.
Tom: No, I just want to be talking at the mic for another twen-. I’d already got another Dolphin rant. Basically our last episode. So Enrico Fermi is an Italian-American physicist who is widely known for creating the first nuclear reactor. Uh, people either love him or hate him for that. And basically he said, if we, if we look at the Milky Way and of all of the trillions of planets that there are in the habitable zone, if only 0.1% of those planets had life on them, over 1 million planets would have life just in our galaxy. Now, the Milky Way is 13 billion years old and 11 billion years ago, the first planets formed and the Earth only formed 4 billion years ago. So with such a high chance of these other planets being around for such a long time and having the ability to develop life and sophistic sophisticated civilizations, [Laughter]. Sophistic
Mitch: [Laughter]. We’re sophistic.
Tom: Mr a IQ of 147 over there. Sophistic.
Mitch: [Laughter]. So-phis-this-stick amirite?
Tom: [Laughter]. Basically. It will the chance of there being white and we see anything, and this is the Fermi paradox, because if only one space fairing civilization evolved, it would take them 2 million years to colonize the whole galaxy. And obviously the galaxy has been around for 13 billion. So why don’t we see anything and do do you have any idea why?
Mitch: Uh, mate, not gonna lie. I’ve got 24 reasons why.
Tom: Oh, go on. Right. Pick a select few.
Mitch: Select few?
Mitch: Um, okay. Just give me one second to search for a select a few.
Tom: Alright, I’ll uh, I’ll name a couple whilst you’re selecting? So maybe we are too primitive. Imagine I was trying to send someone a message on their phone, but all I had was a Morse code machine. Like it would make you feel alone. Maybe we are trying to be communed with, but we just don’t have the technology to reciprocate or acknowledge it even.
Mitch: The zoo hypothesis.
Tom: Oh, I do like this one. Yeah.
Mitch: So Earth is deliberately not being contacted and is purposefully, purposefully isolated from the rest. Um, which is a bit like the uh, the Star Trek, um, sort of principles that we talked about that they’re not, cause they’re so far advanced, they’re not allowed to intervene with the way that we’re developing because it would change. The natural growth of Earth.
Tom: And this kind of links on to civilization types. Do you know the Kardashev scale?
Tom: Okay. So Kardashev was a Russian physicist and astronomer and he basically invented a scale. He said that the Kardashev scale is a method of measuring civilizations and their level of technological advancement based on the amount of energy they can harness. So a type one civilization is able to harness all of the energy available on its planet. A type two civilization can harness all of the energy of its home star by using something like a Dyson sphere or something like that, which I think we mentioned a couple of times. A type three civilization can control the energy within its whole galaxy and to us they would probably be something godlike. And if you are interested to know kind of what we are, we are a 0.73 and they think we might reach type one in the next 200 years if things carry on the way they are. So what you were saying about us being a zoo maybe or not being or being too primitive is type two or type three civilizations are monitoring us. Maybe, maybe we we’re a project, maybe they don’t interfere yet until we can actually expand upon the, the universe ourselves.
Mitch: Very closely related is the planetarium hypothesis. Which is concerning if, if anything is like that.
Tom: Can you explain a bit?
Mitch: So it’s a bit like it’s based off like zoo hypothesis that the fact that the Earth and the Sun and everything like as far as we’ve got so far is just in this sphere that is just being like by by itself and that the rest of the stars are being projected onto like a planetarium. So planetarium is where you, where you get the projection, you project it onto like a sphere above you so you can see the stars. It’d be like reverse planetarium where we are in like a gray ball of nothing. With just like gravity and then all the rest of the stars are being projected onto this sphere as a test to see what you know, we would do, okay.
Tom: Yeah, I was going to say if we could, if it was like a projection, we should be able to pick that up. But if it is say a type three or type two civilization, we probably wouldn’t be able to yet.
Mitch: No we like the, it’d be too advanced. Yeah.
Tom: That’s interesting. Yeah. All the things we want answers to but we’ll never will. Well not in our lifetime. One of the ones that is kind of sucks but would be interesting and I think as many movies about this, a 2001 kind of falls into this realm I guess. If you look at Earth nintitit… English, 99% of all species have gone extinct that have all been alive throughout the history of the Earth. So maybe civilizations expand to a few systems and something happens. They, they, they die out, they go extinct. So maybe when we get somewhere will we find mass alien ruins? And that will be amazing, if not both terrifying at the same time. One of the, I think the main ideas and that was, so we’re not rounding out this for too long, is the, the filters, have you heard about the, the filter?
Mitch: The great filter?
Tom: Yeah. So there’s the, there’s the minimal filters and then there’s the great filter. So the minimal filter is basically like what a filter is. A is a barrier that is considered hard for life to overcome. So molecules forming together to create self-replicating matter. These then coming together to use energy and form more complex beings, then big brains and then society, all of these lead to higher complexity. So these are obviously kind of barriers that are presumed to be quite hard for the life has to overcome to get to where even we are. So the great filter then is, as you correctly said, is since we see nothing out there and statistically there should be, there is something preventing it, one defining filter maybe that is impossible for most civilizations to pass now it could be one that we’ve already been through. Like one of the ones I just mentioned. It could be that though one of those is the great filter, but it could be that the great filter is still in front of us and we have no, no clue what it is and we haven’t faced it yet. And that’s, I guess the scary part because if, say on Mars, they find form of life, it indicates that the filter is in front of us, not behind us. So whilst we do want to find life, we also don’t, so they were like they, they’re trying to hypothesize what this could be because if it is in front of us, because if we find life on other planets we’re like okay, life must be abundant. And if life’s abundant than it is probably not that they’ve gone through that, that the great filter is probably not one of the barriers we’ve already been through. So technically it would make it worse. So they were like, okay, it’s got to be something that’s so obvious that all civilizations discover it, but so dangerous that it kills them all. So what do you think is their answer? What do you think they think the great barrier could be?
Mitch: I don’t really know. Surely there must be something super dangerous.
Tom: They think it’s. technology.
Mitch: Yeah. Or intelligence itself is dangerous. If that makes sense? Like the old, the old hubris problem. Of the “Oh we’re really smart? We’ll never die out.” And then we have what we’re having now where we are polluting and then the planet we are living on dies before we can get to that stage. And that is a common occurrence with all intelligent species.
Mitch: And that’s the great, the great, the great barrier. Technically that would be global warming or the, the reasons leading up to global warming, which then would go hand in hand with technology.
Tom: Yeah, definitely. Or even like nuclear war, maybe some civilizations maybe don’t make it past that.
Mitch: So you could argue would be self-awareness to a higher echelon of intelligence.
Tom: Yeah. So maybe there are some planets that never develop a higher consciousness maybe and thus survive because they’re like.
Mitch: We are currently not there as seen by, you know, pollution and destroying everything in this world. [Laughter].
Tom: [Laughter]. Well done humans you’re doing there. So if as the case, maybe there are I guess two other options. We are the last alive, we’re the last civilization alive or we are the first somehow. And I mean may, maybe we are alone and we see no evidence, no signals, no response, no signs of any other kind of life. And on the Kurzgesagt channel, they did a video on this and they said something that’s I think very, very poetic, very, very nice to say. So if we are alone, it is our kind of duty, our responsibility to ensure that we continue because if we are the only ones, the last or the first life could be gone forever. And when you put it in that perspective, you realize kind of what we’re doing here is really stupid. Really stupid.
Mitch: [Laughter]. If we, uh, if we are the first, then we’re setting a bad example and running the risk of there never being any more. And if we’re the last, well we’re dooming intelligent life by self-destructing our planet.
Tom: Yeah. Tragic.
Mitch: I will laugh or be great if we colonize Mars and then like that’s the trigger event for colonizing another planet to break like the sort of, like the alien blackout. So they’re like, oh, they finally ticked the box for colonizing other planets. Lets go say hello and then you know, blow Elon Musk’s mind.
Tom: Yeah, that’d be, that’d be amazing. Well maybe terraforming could be. What do you reckon the, if you were an alien species looking at us as a side project [Laughter]. What would your barrier be for then saying hello if you’re looking, what do we have to do before you presented yourself?
Mitch: I would say they would have to be multiple check. Like there’ll be a checklist. With multiple points on it and not having just like one thing because that’s, I don’t think that’d be good. A, would be interplanetary travel.
Tom: On, on what level? Do you know what I mean? Because like is it just sending a rocket that can go there once or more like the SpaceX Starship kind of thing?
Mitch: The SpaceX starship. Because if they, if you’re at that point you’re at, um, sort of risk of accidentally running into other aliens and then accidentally maybe being hostile because you know, your a noob space varying race. So to combat that they would have to then intervene and be like, Nah, Bro, it’s all good. Don’t worry, we’re here. We’ve been there for ages.
Tom: And I guess with the spaceship aspect of it, it’d be so early that we wouldn’t have equipped it with missiles. You know what I mean? So you’d have to step in early.
Mitch: [Laughter]. Well you say that. I’d also have to be like, uh, no civil war or wars on their planet first. They’ve gotten over the egotism of like they’re united as a race.
Tom: Yeah. So, you’d have like a planetary wide government?
Mitch: Yeah. Uh, like, um,Star Command. Yeah. I think those would be my two. The two main things maybe like responsibility towards the environment. Like they’ve shown themselves responsible, so they’re not just going to go to like not parasitic in nature. You see in a lot of sci-fi movies, like the bad guys are the parasites that go to other planets, reap all their resources and move on. I think you would have to not show that you are capable of being sustainable by your own means via like solar and stuff.
Tom: So like if we went to Mars and terraformed it and didn’t just make a big mass.
Mitch: Yeah. So if we didn’t go to Mars, didn’t terraform it, but we created like a reusable and recyclable sort of like ecosystem where we’re not just using the stuff, but we are also giving back.
Tom: Yeah. Okay. If like we did die out for example, and maybe either, we colonize the stars and they, they lost earth and they came back or another alien civilization found earth and they found our ruins. What do you think would be the hardest thing for them to figure out? Because like we looked back at the ancient Greeks and we think we have an idea of what’s going on, what they did, but maybe we didn’t, you know what I mean? So say in a thousand if they were looking back at the ruins today, what do you think would be the hardest thing for them to figure out? Would they have an accurate representation of?
Mitch: Um, it would have to be something to do with us physically I think.
Tom: Yeah. Okay. That’s a good one.
Mitch: Cause they wouldn’t have the concept of like us as a walking talking why we did decisions as like the things, cause I’m sure we look at animals and the like the same way. That makes sense. No that doesn’t work. Like, like how animals would look at last us and be like I’ve got no idea what I’m doing that or why they go no it’s that metal beast and getting in. It’d be like a dog. A dog’s opinion of a human. Like the aliens would have like the same but of higher intelligence. It’s like why are they doing this? Why are they doing this for fun? Like doing things for fun that are don’t benefit humans at all. You can argue even like, arguing like playing video games. Why are they playing video games. It does nothing for them mentally. It doesn’t further them, but they’re just doing it. Why?
Tom: Yeah. I saw a meme the other day of like, oh, I think that’s just a drawing of like wolves or dogs looking at humans on jogging and he was like, hello, Apex Predator, why are you running? What are you running after? Just running around the park and circles and just really didn’t understand what was going on. So that fits well. Yeah, I was thinking about this cause I, I came across the question and I was like, I don’t have a clue because if our technology is so primitive, it might be something, as you say, like playing video games, watching TV. I think soaps, they just wouldn’t, not as in like what you wash yourself with, but as in Emmerdale and Eastenders, I mean, no offense to anyone who does enjoy that, but to an advance civilization. I mean, they might look at that and go, what is this about?
Mitch: Yeah, I don’t even understand that. So, you know..
Tom: Well I mean with an IQ as high as yours mate…. [Laughter].
Mitch: Brilliant [Laughter]. [Large sigh].
Tom: I don’t know. I was trying to figure it out like sport. Would that be like a universal thing? I guess it completely depends on the physiology of the alien race as well.
Mitch: Yeah. Also if they’re like, I’m sure that it can be like some races out there that wouldn’t even think of intro into like interplanetary travel. Like say you had a, like a, uh, a, a race that was purely based on water. Do you reckon they would ever even attempt to like go out with, they wouldn’t need to?
Tom: Well, uh, water is one of the most abundant molecules in the universe, so it, it might do well for them to do that. It might be even easier really. They can just go find an asteroid, take them ice off it, carry on.
Mitch: I’ll see that. I see that I see that.
Tom: But yeah, I don’t know. I guess it really depends on the way the, the society and as you were saying earlier, is the intelligence a hindrance or is it a, uh, a good thing? And I guess we’re still figuring that out on this planet.
Mitch: This took a very left swing at paradoxes mate.
Tom: Ah, well I did well. We were coming up to the hour. I was like, well you know, these interesting questions I’d uh, I’d come across, I wanted to get your perspective on them but okay. Bringing it back to paradoxes, I don’t actually have anything else written down. Uh, do you?
Tom: All right. Okay. So not bringing it back to the paradoxes then thank you all for listening and it’s a, I found it really enjoyable to record and study even. It was very interesting if not slightly mind hurting, but yeah. So if you guys want to check out all the latest goings on, you can head to conductscience.com. You can find us on Facebook and Twitter by searching @conductscience. If you want to suggest a guest, ask a question, suggest a topic, anything like that, just get in touch. Please use the #ConductScience. Yesterday I uploaded an Under the Microscope with Derek Edward’s. Very interesting conversation entrepreneur, and I’m really excited to share that with you guys. Tomorrow on Friday, I will be releasing The Method Section on bad science. We cover everything, including anti-vaxxers in that one. So that will be controversial. So keep an eye out for that. Next week we will be covering morality where it comes from, objectivity, subjectivity, all of the good stuff. But thank you very much for joining. That is all we have time for this week. So we’ll see you guys A-next time!
Mitch: Ciao for now.