# Weirdest/things that blew your mind when you learned them

## Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi, I figured I'd make a thread about this. What really blew your mind when you learned it or what continues to blow your mind when you think about it? I like learning really obscure mind blowing things so I figured I'd ask others about this to get some new ideas. For me it was things like uncountable/different "sizes" of infinity in real analysis, time relativity (it still blows my mind knowing most people go their entire lives not knowing time is not absolute) and currently things like fractional calculus. I think finding out you can take any order derivatives "Abusing" gamma functions and using certain integrals was ingenious. What is yours?

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Wrichik Basu
Gold Member
Quantum Mechanics.

berkeman
Mentor
To do unit conversions reliably, multiply by "1".

Klystron
Gold Member
Studying fractional dimensions and associated theories of Mandelbrot, Huasdorff, von Koch, Klein and Kaluza among others; never ceases to "blow my mind".

How non-linear differential equations explain our world, Catastrophe Theory as a mechanism for change, Strange Attractors for morphogenesis, and Emergence for origins. Termites really don't know what they're building. Nevertheless a marvelous clay cathedral emerges from the mud:*
\begin{align*} \frac{\partial P}{\partial t}&=k_1 C-P\\ \frac{\partial H}{\partial t}&=k_2 P-k_4 H+D_h \nabla^2 H\\ \frac{\partial C}{\partial t}&=\phi-k_1P+D_c C+\gamma \frac{\partial}{\partial r}\left(C\frac{\partial H}{\partial r}\right) \end{align*}

* From "Signs of Life" by Sole and Goodwin

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What really blew your mind when you learned it or what continues to blow your mind when you think about it?
Quantum Mechanics.
Same here.
Also, whenever I try to think of the stupendously large size of the Universe it blows my mind.

pinball1970
Gold Member
So many things to mention, atomic theory (11 years old) Evolution, when I actually got a grip of it.
Disease, I remember walking out of a lecture wondering how mankind has survived considering all the things that can go wrong with human body. Infectious, metabolic and degenerative.
If I say quantum mechanics, cosmology or relativity, it suggests i Know and understand enough to have my mind blown and I don't.
I know enough to know that when I finally get a grip of the details (if I ever do) my mind will be blown.
My mind is blown by reading about the guys that contributed, their intellect. Gauss, Euler, Dirac, Einstein, Feynman and the like.
More recently Graham's number.

phinds
Gold Member
2019 Award
...it still blows my mind knowing most people go their entire lives not knowing time is not absolute...
Why? For all practical purposes (day to day life), time IS absolute. The only place I can think of that it applies to day to day life is the inner workings of the GPS and and 99.999% of the populace doesn't care HOW that works, just THAT it works.

Why? For all practical purposes (day to day life), time IS absolute. The only place I can think of that it applies to day to day life is the inner workings of the GPS and and 99.999% of the populace doesn't care HOW that works, just THAT it works.
Mostly for my personal philosophy. To me such small differences in every day life matter. The fact that everything isn't perfectly synchronous in an absolute time. For example people see events happen at different times and don't realize it. Of course for all intents and purposes it may as well be absolute time. But it's not. I realized that even though it may as well be absolute, it truly is different. I want to fill my head with truths about reality, and in every day life reality is "fibbing" to you making you think time works one way when in fact it is different. That is why it blows my mind. You have to study thing like physics to learn the truth.

Evo
Mentor
When I was 5, during a hurricane and the power went out, I learned toilets weren't electric. I was amazed, I thought EVERYTHING was powered by electricity.

Evo
Mentor
For example people see events happen at different times and don't realize it.
Reference? I have no idea what you are talking about. When something happens, it happens. It doesn't "happen" now for me and then "happen" a moment later for you. If something is within eyesight of all parties, they will see it at the same time. Edit: from a human perspective.

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When I was 5, during a hurricane and the power went out, I learned toilets weren't electric.
That gave me the idea of a sneaky execution scheme:
1. Make a toilet seat of metal.
2. Make a toilet cap of metal (or whatever that thing is called you pull when to flush).
3. Connect the toilet to a nice, juicy power source.
4. Wait for target to need to go to toilet, and then enjoy the show.
Edit: On a second thought this probably should be modified, since people usually flush after they leave the seat... well, it was a nice idea anyway .

Evo
Wrichik Basu
Gold Member
When I was 5, during a hurricane and the power went out, I learned toilets weren't electric. I was amazed, I thought EVERYTHING was powered by electricity.
Just for your information, there are some toilets where you won't be able to flush if electricity is cut off. Thay have a host of other functions as well; you have to press buttons to activate the one you want.

Evo
Ibix
Reference?
Something like the so-called Andromeda paradox, I would guess. In relativity, different frames of reference can disagree about the timing and even the order of events when those events cannot have affected each other (i.e., when they are far enough apart that even light cannot cross the distance between the events in the time between the events).

The wikipedia article I linked philosophises more than I would, but it's a genuine part of relativity even if you are of the shut-up-and-calculate school of thought. The effect is completely negligible for every day distances and speeds, but understanding it is critically important for understanding special relativity.

OCR
I want to fill my head with truths about reality, and in every day life reality is "fibbing" to you making you think time works one way when in fact it is different.

Lol. . . here, fill your head with this post. . . #254 .

.

I was bewildered when I first saw a fluorescent 'blaze' orange camouflage jumpsuit for sale. It seemed to me that it was self-antithetical. Later I learned that deer see such safety camouflage about as we would see grey-green-brown.

Evo
Mentor
The effect is completely negligible for every day distances and speeds, but understanding it is critically important for understanding special relativity.
Exactly.
I was just wondering what he'd read that had him so upset, on a human scale of reference someone 5 feet or 5 yards away from an object, the difference in time the light from the object hit the two people would be of no consequence in them saying they saw it "at the same time".

Gödel's Incompleteness Theorems

How non-linear differential equations explain our world, Catastrophe Theory as a mechanism for change, Strange Attractors for morphogenesis, and Emergence for origins. Termites really don't know what they're building. Nevertheless a marvelous clay cathedral emerges from the mud:*
\begin{align*} \frac{\partial P}{\partial t}&=k_1 C-P\\ \frac{\partial H}{\partial t}&=k_2 P-k_4 H+D_h \nabla^2 H\\ \frac{\partial C}{\partial t}&=\phi-k_1P+D_c C+\gamma \frac{\partial}{\partial r}\left(C\frac{\partial H}{\partial r}\right) \end{align*}

* From "Signs of Life" by Sole and Goodwin
Is there a
Exactly.
I was just wondering what he'd read that had him so upset, on a human scale of reference someone 5 feet or 5 yards away from an object, the difference in time the light from the object hit the two people would be of no consequence in them saying they saw it "at the same time".
It's not that its no consequence its the fact that it IS different even if it is on an extremely small scale. What I'm talking about is that on our scale things seem one way as to make everyone naturally believe in things that they generalize to a global worldview of things that aren't necessarily true. It's not the fact that time is relative negligibly on small scales its the fact that it's possible FOR time to be relative and that I believe reality misleads you into thinking things like an absolute time that applies to everything. To me its like why didn't life make that clear from the beginning? Like I said it's more of philosophical issue to me. More of a qualitative aspect that effects my thinking than a quantitative one. It's the fact that some situations one person measures a time differently than from another persons perspective, even though the difference in time means nothing for every day life, there is a tiny "impurity" in it. Thats what I mean by qualitative instead of quantitative.

Evo
Mentor
It's not that its no consequence its the fact that it IS different even if it is on an extremely small scale. What I'm talking about is that on our scale things seem one way as to make everyone naturally believe in things that they generalize to a global worldview of things that aren't necessarily true. It's not the fact that time is relative negligibly on small scales its the fact that it's possible FOR time to be relative and that I believe reality misleads you into thinking things like an absolute time that applies to everything. To me its like why didn't life make that clear from the beginning? Like I said it's more of philosophical issue to me. More of a qualitative aspect that effects my thinking than a quantitative one. It's the fact that some situations one person measures a time differently than from another persons perspective, even though the difference in time means nothing for every day life, there is a tiny "impurity" in it. Thats what I mean by qualitative instead of quantitative.
But it's something people don't worry about, like digital pictures are made of tiny squares, movies are just a series of still pictures, our brains allow us to see the seemless picture image, or the seemless moving images, even though that's not what we're "really seeing". Definitely not something to get upset about as it pertains to daily life. Don't let it affect your "daily life thinking", keep that level of thinking for the lab/class.

pinball1970
Gold Member
But it's something people don't worry about, like digital pictures are made of tiny squares, movies are just a series of still pictures, our brains allow us to see the seemless picture image, or the seemless moving images, even though that's not what we're "really seeing". Definitely not something to get upset about as it pertains to daily life. Don't let it affect your "daily life thinking", keep that level of thinking for the lab/class.
I remember hearing about time dilation relating to astronauts and thinking 'what the hell are they talking about?'
I had no idea what a scientific theory was as opposed to speculation or hypothesis.
Close Encounters of the third kind reiterated that when the crew of flight got off the space ship.
'Einstein was right, they haven't aged at all.'
I remember thinking 'what? This is an actual thing!?'
I cannot remember asking teachers about it but I always wanted to investigate it and get to the details.
A physics undergraduate explained that, BB theory and element formation in stars 89/90 ish.
I looked at some of the maths later on but was mind was blown at different points.

Evo
RPinPA
Homework Helper
Big Bang theory ("Whoa! There was an actual beginning to the universe?"), and then learning about the COBE experiment observing and analyzing the tiny fluctuations in the cosmic background that I'd always learned was essentially uniform ("Whoa! We can actually see the FINGERPRINTS of the beginning of the universe?")

I think the story of the dinosaur-killer asteroid was pretty cool to live through as well. First there was a hypothesis that not too many people took seriously, but it had a clear prediction and falsification test (that there should be a layer of, if I recall correctly, iridium present in geological sediment of the same age around the world). And then the empirical evidence was found and the hypothesis went from dubious to accepted as common wisdom. And then the likely impact site was identified.

That moment when the hypothesis was confirmed, upending the existing theories of the death of the dinosaurs, was a very mind-blowing moment for me.

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But it's something people don't worry about, like digital pictures are made of tiny squares, movies are just a series of still pictures, our brains allow us to see the seemless picture image, or the seemless moving images, even though that's not what we're "really seeing". Definitely not something to get upset about as it pertains to daily life. Don't let it affect your "daily life thinking", keep that level of thinking for the lab/class.
I kindly disagree. I come from a heavy religous background and became agnostic. Think for example you take two different people and fix reference frames right behind there eyes. Depending on what they do in life their worlds are going to be different. Now to me I think "why would a perfect creator being perfect create a system where the worlds aren't perfectly synchronous". If you make a video game world for example you don't do this. What use could this possibly have? It's one of the reasons I became agnostic, because in a way everyone is kind of alone in their own unique world. They all look the same but qualitatively are not. I am not "upset" about this, but I find it intrigueing and take it into account when I think about reality.

berkeman
Mentor
Now to me I think "why would a perfect creator being perfect create a system where the worlds aren't perfectly synchronous".
Does the word "woo" have any special meaning in your life so far? Just asking...

phinds