# Infinite Knowledge, or not?

1. Mar 3, 2005

### Problem+Solve=Reason

Knowledge is the solutions to problems, whether they be mathematical, scientific, or practical.

When I look at science or math for instance, I see a rat race. We always seem to be chasing down solutions to our problems or just for the fun of it. Yet everytime we think we have found that perfect solution another problem comes about and wipes out our great solution.

Well we ever find the solution or solutions to everthing, or will we keep chasing that imaginary treasure at the road?

2. Mar 3, 2005

Staff Emeritus
"The sphere of knowledge, as it expands, necessarily touches the unknown at larger and larger surfaces". So it was told to me a long time ago. Gee, how boring it would be if everything were known!

3. Mar 3, 2005

### saltydog

I once saw a study of extreme magnification of the Mandelbrot Set in an attempt to find a filigree connecting embedded sets (these filigrees theoretically exists). They magnified it trillions of times and each time they magnified the set, the filigree eventually got smaller nearer to the child-set and vanished under scrutiny. I think the universe is a lot like the Mandelbrot Set: No matter how deep you look, there is always something deeper still. The universe appears to have infinite regression (no largest large or smallest small). That translates to limitless knowledge. It could however just appear that way to us because of our limited perceptions.

Oh yea, I find comfort in knowing that no matter how many equations me or anyone else solves, there will always exists equations yet unsolved.

Last edited: Mar 3, 2005
4. Mar 3, 2005

### HallsofIvy

Staff Emeritus
Why do you say "rat race"? Chasing something down "just for fun" might be a race, but not a "rat race".

5. Mar 4, 2005

### Problem+Solve=Reason

Well, if there really isn't an end to knowledge we are racing after a finish that does not excised.

I could picture it as a bunch of mice racing on a tred mill. Even though they may think they are close to the end, that end will never come.

Last edited: Mar 4, 2005
6. Mar 4, 2005

### sneez

Hey everybody,

nice topic i have been thinking about latelty. If knowledge is infinite do our brains have a limit of knowledge they can acquire and/or retain? If knowledge (memory) is stored in physical (neurons, RNA) medium in a brain than should there be a limit of what one can "know"? I know that we do not use but 1% of our brain capacity but hypothetically.........

7. Mar 4, 2005

### jackle

The reason our society requires specialist skills is because we require more ability than any individual can have. I think this indicates that at least some individuals are operating near their full potential.

This is science fiction at present, but even if we were able to physically add to our brains or consciousness by interfacing with technology or growing extensions in test tubes and adding them on, I think there would always be a limit to our capabilities. The best bet might be to somehow interface with a vastly superior life form, or perhaps even a creature with much larger brains like whales.

8. Mar 4, 2005

### Problem+Solve=Reason

I believe that our brains limit the amount of knowledge we can obtain. For intstance, if we had ALL knowledge about one thing we simply could not logically fit these pieces of knowledge together. We only obtain knowledge when we see it as being logical, so we really aren't getting all the knowledge that is possible. We can't even think COMPLETELY logical about one thing as we are now. Instead we divide a, for instance, chair into it's mathematical qualities, geometric qualities, physical qualities, yet we can not fuse them all into one.

I would say that the best way to obtain totally foreign knowledge about a subject that we already have knowledge on would be to meet a higher form of life. However, it would either drive us literally crazy, or more likely we would just reject their knowledge as non-sense (especially if we couldn't see it in practice).

9. Mar 10, 2005

### Icheb

And unless you can prove otherwise, this is due to limited time, not due to humans not being capable of knowing everything there is known.

10. Mar 11, 2005

### HallsofIvy

Staff Emeritus
"a bunch of mice racing on a tread mill" are not getting anywhere. It doesn't matter that there is no finish- as long as you are going somewhere. That's what life is all about- the "neverending journey".

11. Mar 11, 2005

### jackle

I accept that time is a factor in how long we have to learn "everything" but I think this shows further that we can't know everything. If humans could know everything, would there really be any need for doctors and lawyers etc? Wouldn't all doctors be lawyers as well as doctors, and be just as knowlegable in their wider field? If so in principle, obviously this could apply to all knowlege based specialisms. Would we need them at all if we could know everything for ourselves?

Last edited: Mar 11, 2005
12. Mar 11, 2005

### Icheb

There wouldn't be any need for doctors and lawyers if people lived 10.000 years, could therefore learn it all themself and if everyone were intelligent enough to actually do it. Since this doesn't happen, the limitating factor is time and not capability.

To respond to your edited post:
You most likely answered your own question.

Last edited: Mar 11, 2005
13. Mar 11, 2005

### jackle

I have forgotten most the physics I learnt in my degree just 10 years ago. I'm not senile. What about loosing capability?

14. Mar 14, 2005

### Icebreaker

An episode of Futurama comes to mind in which THE FLYING BRAINS attempts to learn everything there is to know about the universe, then proceeds to destroy it so no new knowledge is created.

15. Mar 15, 2005

### Problem+Solve=Reason

I see it as imagined shapes. The the number of shpaes that can be imagined is infinate, yet every new shape encompases a different property.

16. Mar 15, 2005

### sneez

i have a question and i hope ill state it right this time. Since we know that our brain is composed of certain number of neurons and we know (more or less) that new knowledge is store in the rna in the brain. We have set physical limit of how much information can be stored in the brain. (Kinda like RAM in computers or HD). If there is infinite knowledge to be acquired about universe how even if we wanted to and had all the time can we do it? Can we grow our brains to infinity? ( :) )

Hope its clear where im comming from with this....

17. Mar 15, 2005

Staff Emeritus
Sure, this is clear. I think that some of the forward thinkers envision us uploading our minds into some future kind of computer and thus enhancing our memory capacity. Then if we could keep upgrading to bigger capacity at the same rate that new information was discovered, and could keep that up forever, we would be able to store all the information that had been discovered up to any particular time, whatever time you cared to specify. You might not be able to memorize all the digits of pi, but you could , by some point in future history. learn all of them out to the googlepexed* one, and the next year, with double the memory our another googleplex digits.

* Googleplex = $$10^{10^{100}}$$

18. Mar 15, 2005

### Problem+Solve=Reason

I've never heard that we store knowledge as rna in the neurons. Can you give me some reference material on that?

19. Mar 18, 2005

### jackle

I think there is some evidence that our brains don't actually remember everything we are able to know. There is some trickery going on. The brain seems to calculate missing information and this is shown when sometimes the brain gets it wrong.

So for the digits of pi example, a long time in the future (if brain technology ever existed) we could perhaps store a subconscious algorithm that generates the digits of pi and give it a small over-writable buffer to store them in. If the process was fast enough it would recall very quickly (although googlepexes would still remain a BIG problem for a very long time in the future)

20. Mar 18, 2005

### Icebreaker

For all math purposes, $$\pi = \pi$$. No need to memorize all those digits!