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How do the particles know?

  1. Oct 11, 2014 #1
    I don't know if my question is stupid or something, but I'm going to ask anyway..Say, I am about to sit in a chair or I am about to drink some coffee and keeping in mind that everything is made of electrons, protons and neutrons, how does MY collective particles (Those electrons and protons that make me whole) understand that the other collective whole (that is of the chair) is a thing where I can sit? I mean to ask is that, how would a collective particles forming a subject know the similar collective particle forming another subject in front of it? I am asking it at a very minute atomic level.. Is my question making sense at all?
     
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  3. Oct 11, 2014 #2

    HallsofIvy

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    Ridding this of the image of electron, protons, and neutrons "knowing" anything, when one electron gets near another, since they have the same charge, they repel each other. When you sit in a chair, the electrons in the atoms making up the exterior of the chair repel the electrons in the atoms making up the exterior of your body. (Every atom consists of a central nucleus, made up of protons and neutrons, surrounded by a cloud of electrons. When two atoms come into "contact", it is the electron clouds interacting and repelling each other.)
     
  4. Oct 12, 2014 #3

    Drakkith

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    The particles know nothing themselves. The fact that you can recognize what a chair is and then make yourself sit it in it is a result of your brains capability to process information and control your body.
     
  5. Oct 12, 2014 #4

    Simon Bridge

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    The collective is an emergent phenomenon from many individual interactions.
    It only makes sense to other collective interactions such as "thinking" and "perception" so, the question makes no sense at the sub-atomic scale that you are asking on.

    On the scale you are talking about, the sort of agglomeration we are usually pleased to call a macroscopic object is well described as a kind-of fractal entity where there is no clear boundary between individuals. That kind of language is really hard to use in a sensible way though.

    YOu probably need to simplify your example to isolate the phsyical principles you want to examine.
     
  6. Oct 12, 2014 #5

    Matterwave

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    Sometimes the particles can get confused and weld together. This is called Cold-Welding: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_welding

    Quoting Feynman (found in the wikipedia article):
    But the others are of course right, the atoms and electrons and such do not actually "think", they just "do" according the principles of physics. What keeps them separated in normal circumstances is that different materials are made of different kinds of molecules which bond together in specific ways according to the distribution of electrons in them. Molecules that we are familiar with in every day life tend to be pretty stable from forming bonds spontaneously with other atoms and molecules, without some sort of heating or catalyst being present. Molecules that readily bond and react with other atoms and molecules are those volatile chemicals, such as acids, or highly flammable or corrosive materials, etc.
     
  7. Oct 12, 2014 #6
    Yes, that Is also one of the things that has been troubling me, That the human brain is also made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons. And yet, it can analyze things made up of the same core "elements" and fully recognize it as such.
    It seems as though there must be some huge undiscovered component to our being. How can we do the things that we do when we're all made up of these similar particles without something else helping it out? Probably I'm asking a huge stupid question which everyone knows already (not in a religious way) but sometimes I feel like it indirectly proves that there is something huge regarding our consciousness that hasn't been discovered yet. Am i stupid for asking this question? I have no study in science..I am just an artist who loves to draw imaginary stuff!
     
  8. Oct 12, 2014 #7

    Drakkith

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    The basic idea is that the cells in your brain are able to take an input signal and, by exciting other cells, give a certain output signal in a similar way that a calculator works. The obvious difference is that a calculator isn't made up of neurons, while your brain is. The sheer number of synapses (connections between neurons) allows the brain to process a huge amount of information all at once.

    See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain#Functions

    Note that research into how the brain works is still ongoing. It's likely we won't have a complete understanding for a very long time.
     
  9. Oct 12, 2014 #8

    Drakkith

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  10. Oct 12, 2014 #9

    Matterwave

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    A calculator is also different in that it doesn't "know" it is calculating anything. It's wiring and logic gates just fire in a pre-determined way, you put in a specific input, and the calculator gives a pre-determined output. The fact that we "know" that we are doing something and not acting entirely in a pre-programmed way is certainly not a easy topic! (And this is the topic I think the OP was referring to when he talked about our brains being able to "recognize" things). The mind-body problem is a deep one, but it is not really one for physics, at least not at the moment. Neuro-physics is developing every day, but I don't believe it has developed to the point where it might explain consciousness, at least not fully. But perhaps a neuro-physicist can chime in. :)
     
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