1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Unperceivable Properties Of Physics

  1. Aug 19, 2012 #1
    What If there are other properties of physics we can not percieve due to a limited amount of senses. What if these are properties which are essential to the understanding of the structure of physics.

    Like a blind person has no way of knowing what a sunrise looks like. Where we are able to see we have an extra sense of perception. The only reason a blind person knows of sight is because we inform them.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 19, 2012 #2
    This has kept me up nights... Well not really, but it does get me thinking often.
     
  4. Aug 20, 2012 #3

    sophiecentaur

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Our physiological senses are very poor indeed. If we restricted our Physics investigations just to what we can sense directly then our Science would be very limited. We are not aware of magnetism, radio waves, Nuclear radiation (until we fry) and many others which have needed 'instrumentation' to be developed before we could investigate them. We cannot appreciate properties such as permeability, permittivity, EM fields (except visible light and heat) but our instruments make us aware of them.

    We are "blind" to many things but did not need to be 'told about them' in order to find out about them.
     
  5. Aug 20, 2012 #4
    More spatial dimensions than the usual 3+1 and splitting realities have been proposed in the past. Plus unobservable dark matter and energy. Philosophically, there could potentially be a solution to some outstanding conceptual problems in physics in these venues.
     
  6. Aug 20, 2012 #5

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    If X interacts with anything known then by definition it is observable and in theory measurable. As has been pointed out something can be completely invisible to our natural senses but we still observe the effects of these. To investigate we methodically invent instruments capable of sensing these phenomenon and presenting the information in a manner observable to us.

    To use an analogy a blind person might not see a sunrise but they will feel the heat, sense the movement throughout the day, observe through other senses changes in the environment (birds singing for example). In theory they could invent better methods and instruments capable of rendering a sun rise in a manner that they can easily perceive and thus comprehend.
     
  7. Aug 20, 2012 #6

    phinds

    User Avatar
    Gold Member
    2016 Award

    What makes you think dark matter and dark energy are "unobservable" ??? How do you think we found out about them if we did not observe them? We don't see them with our eyes, but we observer the results of their existence. Do you suggest that everything that sophiecentaur listed is "unobservable" in any meaningful sense? If you want to make, or support, a point, specious arguments don't help.
     
  8. Aug 20, 2012 #7


    You need to get up to date, we have not found out about dark matter yet(it's speculative and unproven as of today). As for you other arguments, they were based on a false belief and an apparent misunderstanding of what i said.
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012
  9. Aug 20, 2012 #8
    The title of this thread seems to be at odds with the OP's meaning. If a phenomenon is unperceivable, as in the title, then it it is the province of religion or philosophy, not physics. If it is perceivable, but not directly by the senses, as in the body of the OP, then we have phind's example and there is no problem to speak of. If the OP is asking whether blind people are children of a lesser physics, then the question is silly. If the OP means a phenomenon which is perceivable, but as yet unperceived, then, in my opinion, this topic is overly speculative for PF. Can the OP help us out here by telling us what was actually meant?
     
  10. Aug 20, 2012 #9
    Adding to that. For eg. the blind person could make a gadget that has a solar cell and it produces audio sounds with loudness equal to intensity of sound and frequency proportional to color/frequency of light.
    If exposed to our environment, there are various objects emitting various colors, so the gadget will produce mixture of various frequency sounds with various intensity. Of course, it could be hard to comprehend the output at first, but It can be eventually learned.
     
  11. Aug 20, 2012 #10

    sophiecentaur

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    There are things that are obviously observable because they are observed by our senses. There are things that are observable because our Science has predicted them and we have invented methods to observe them. Then there may be things that we have no inkling about; we haven't even imagined them so we haven't invented experiments to observe them. We cannot 'know' they are not there. This stuff is off limits of PF, I think.
     
  12. Aug 20, 2012 #11
    Is the moon there when no one is looking? I couldn't care less. It has absolutely no impact on life whatsoever. Are there invisible and undetectable fairies sitting on our shoulders? I could not care less. As Socrates noted, "True wisdom is knowing you don't know". Accepting that you don't know is the path to gaining knowledge of what you can know.
     
  13. Aug 20, 2012 #12

    lisab

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Bolded text: +1. If it can't be measured in any way, it's not physics.

    OP: please be sure you're quite familiar with the rules before directing this thread into metaphysics.
     
  14. Aug 20, 2012 #13

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    You are mistaken here. We may not know what they are, but they are certainly observable! Dark matter and dark energy do not fall under "unperceivable" properties, because of the fact that we detected their presence! In fact, the physics of dark matter and dark energy allows us to design tests to detect them even more and try to figure out what they are.

    Zz.
     
  15. Aug 20, 2012 #14

    ZapperZ

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2016 Award

    You are missing the point. Read the OP very carefully. He/she is asking about things that is outside of what we can detect, BY ANY MEANS!

    The FACT that we have detected something incomplete from what we describe (i.e. dark matter and the extra gravitational pull that can't be accounted for) is a DETECTION! I can also detect vacancies, even though there is nothing there! This is not what is being asked by the OP!

    Zz.
     
  16. Aug 20, 2012 #15
    It seems to me this is exactly the position we're already in with respect to quanta. The impossibility of directly observing how they interact is analogous to lacking a sense to perceive them. What happens in that case, we learn from the history of Quantum Physics, is that people take whatever indirect evidence they can gather and subject it to the math of probability.
     
  17. Aug 20, 2012 #16

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    If there are properties of nature that we cannot observe directly or indirectly, even in principle, then we are screwed. There would be no way to do experiments or observations to decide which theories are correct. In such a case, the scientific method simply doesn't work anymore because these are not empirical properties.
     
  18. Aug 20, 2012 #17
    The moon has absolutely no impact on life whatsoever? You really think that?
     
  19. Aug 20, 2012 #18

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I doubt you should take his statement literally.
     
  20. Aug 21, 2012 #19

    I appologize if my question was unclear. I only used the blind person as an example to relate what I wanted to say because I found it very difficult to find the words to describe a question about something that we might, if such a thing exists, be unaware of, due to a lack of ability to sense and percieve it. And would we even be able to determine if any number of these such things do exists, which might be a critical part of the structure of physics.

    Oh and definitely not too serious to joke.

    Aren't physics and philosohy "together" as one at all times, except when broken down into letters, words,numbers and symbols only so we can communicate what we perceive, with one another. I see how this is related" to philosophy, but in my opinion physics can be summed up with; observations, measurements, comparisons, and communication, which are only done with the use of our senses. Senses are essential in physics, and all else. I am simply exploring if it is possible to prove more "senses" could exist. -I am truly sorry to have directed a thread to the wrong forum, and I will check with PF next time to assure proper directing.

    Measurements are compared physical quantities. All senses are measureable. Comparing physical quantities would be the only way we would be able to discover the unknown sense(s). Any sense discovered, if able to be and done, would be measurable.

    And this subject might be "beyond" PF, but I was simply posting this topic for a good disussion which might help progress the study of physics, and/or help me understand more about physics. I dont need, or expect an answer. So, all thoughts and opinions are, of course, welcome.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2012
  21. Aug 21, 2012 #20

    Ryan_m_b

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Have you read comments 5 and 9? A blind person could percieve a sunrise by observing the effects of the sunrise and designing instruments to investigate.
    Science is an application of specific philosophy, your question here is a philosophy of science question.
    As has been pointed out this is not the case. Our senses might not be able to detect X but they could detect the effects of X and by being inventive we could design instruments capable of detecting and investigating X.
    Human beings have a limited number of senses, we don't need more to investigate when we can build devices that can detect things we can't.
    You've lost me. I thought you wanted to know about unsensed phenomenon, not unknown senses?
    Undetectable phenomenon are unfallsifiable and therefore unscientific. As per the PF rules any discussion that overly speculates on these is not allowed. You may not need an answer but you've recieved several good ones already.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook