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Maths/philosophy question - equation for 'tomorrow never comes'

  1. Nov 11, 2014 #1
    I'm not a mathematician, so I apologise in advance if my question expressed ignorance. I want to have an equation for the notion of perpetual deferral. My example is of someone who is addicted to smoking [or wants to go on a diet] and their modus operandi is ‘I’ll quit tomorrow’…‘this is the last time’ etc. So I need some way of expressing this. i.e. Addiction = ‘the last time’ + 1…ad infinitum [1 being an additional ‘last time’]

    If anyone who understands this stuff a little better than myself I would very much appreciate your assistance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 11, 2014 #2
    I don't understand why you'd need to express that mathematically. The sequence of planned quitting times is 1, 2, 3, 4...and diverges to infinity. Or recursively, you have the sequence defined by, [itex]a_{n+1} = a_n + 1, a_0 = 1[/itex]. That's an awfully indirect way to just say "start counting at zero and don't stop", though.
  4. Nov 12, 2014 #3


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    Quitting will happen when tomorrow becomes today, so the time ##t## of quitting is the smallest solution of the equation $$t+1=t.$$ The smallest solution of this equation is $$t=\aleph_0,$$ the lowest infinite cardinal.

    Who said that the Cantor's transfinite arithmetic is useless? :D
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  5. Nov 18, 2014 #4
    The largest being the largest infinity in the infinite set of infinities? :p
  6. Dec 9, 2014 #5


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    Shouldn't the solution be t=ω?

    Possibly t=ω+1 ?!
  7. Dec 11, 2014 #6


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    No, because ##\omega+1\neq\omega##, while ##\aleph_0+1=\aleph_0##. It's about difference between ordinal and cardinal infinite numbers.
  8. Dec 11, 2014 #7
    One could calculate the probability of electron synapses in the brain firing in a particular order determining an action. Then one could calculate the probability that the electron synapses firing in the frontal lobe of the brain will cause the action of not smoking. Thought means the order of electron synapses causing action. I'm leaving a lot of premises out, but it's a start.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2014
  9. Dec 11, 2014 #8
    @Namkceis Hah, I like that. If you wanna do it correctly you'd need a LOT of data (all causally connected data?), as well as very precise (exact?) physical models.
    Question is if it'd at that point give us a probability or exact binary answer?
    Also, would simulating that even be theoretically possible without it itself just being the thing happineng?
  10. Dec 11, 2014 #9
    Many of the initial experiments about free will were primarily done in the mid-80s. A subject is seated in a chair, and they have this task: to flex the wrist whenever they want. The subject is watching a fast clock; there is a dot on the clock that makes a complete revolution in less than three seconds. The subject is hooked up to two machines. One is measuring EEG (Electrical Conductivity on the Scalp) and the other measures the muscle bursts of the wrist using an Electro-Miogram. So they are supposed to flex whenever they want, watch this rapidly revolving spot on the clock, and then after they flex they are supposed to indicate where the spot was on the clock when they first became aware of their urge, intention, decision, to flex. They indicate it by moving a cursor to that spot on the clock. Benjamin Libet was the first one to do these studies.

    When these subjects are regularly reminded to be spontaneous and not to plan in advance when to flex what you see is that (well it's five-hundred fifty milli-seconds) so about a half a second before the muscle burst you get a marked change it electrical conductivity on the scalp. So you get this ramping up effect. So that's about half a second before the muscle burst. On average subjects say they first became aware of this urge decision or intention at about two-hundred millli-seconds before the muscle burst. So when you average out all the responses they make by moving the cursor it's about two-hundred and six.

    Taking Libet's (determinist) claim that the brain acts about 550 milli-seconds before one becomes "aware" they are moving their hand AND the generalization that people do not become aware 550 milli-seconds before ALL kinetic actions then one could ask what combination of EEG wave and Electro-Miogram wave will produce what action? Does this make any sense?! Any more information could be helpful.
  11. Dec 15, 2014 #10


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    Namkeics, that's all interesting, but where is the equation?
  12. Dec 15, 2014 #11
    Maths and philosophy dont go together , Maths comes from the brain, philosophy comes from the mind. I believe people don't change, for eg :- i am just gonna keep saying 'people dont change'.
    Talking about alcoholics, i think you should ask danger's opinion on this one.
  13. Dec 15, 2014 #12
    I don't know. I don't understand how amplitude fits into all this. This is all I could think of.

    t = 1 / (x1 / x2)

    x2 = [1/2 Hz, 100 Hz] = all possible brain waves
    x1 = [1/2 Hz, 8 Hz] = subconscious brain waves
    t = (0.0000 sec, 0.0025 sec] = maximum amount of time before "kinetic action" occurs

    If anyone would like to enlighten me, please feel free. I would like to know a better way to calculate this.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2014
  14. Dec 15, 2014 #13


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