Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What is the difference between Zeno's paradox and the Thompson lamp?

  1. Mar 7, 2003 #1

    Tom Mattson

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    What is the difference between Zeno's paradox and the Thompson lamp?

    In PF v2.0, Ontoplasma brought this up, and I thought it was worth having a look at. Let's go through some of these "supertasks" together.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spacetime-supertasks
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 17, 2003 #2
    [inte]?
     
  4. Mar 17, 2003 #3

    Tom Mattson

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Ben,

    Check out the link. It gives a concise definition of a supertask. In brief, it is a task that requires (or appears to require) an infinite number of tasks. Some of them (such as Zeno's paradox) are only superficially "supertasks" due to the fact that the infinite series has a finite sum. Others are represented by divergent series, and are thus truly impossible.

    The aim of this thread is to find a way to determine which are possible and which are not. The solution to the problem is mathematical, which is why I posted it here.

    I'll have more later.
     
  5. Mar 17, 2003 #4
    Would a bouncing ball be considered a candidate for a supertask?
     
  6. Mar 17, 2003 #5
    I don't quite see why not. But then, I'm not very sure...are there specific characteristics(or tricks) that help with identifying supertasks?
     
  7. Mar 18, 2003 #6

    Tom Mattson

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Supertask defined:
    "A supertask is an infinite sequence of actions or operations carried out in a finite interval of time."

    The writer is also careful about his definitions of action and operation, as they do not necessarily require the action of a person.

    But on to the immediate question:

    Depends. In principle, all motion qualifies, a la Zeno. However, if you are talking about the bouncing ball problem in which the ball rises to a height that is reduced by a factor r after each bounce and showing that it travels a finite distance, then no, that is not a supertask, as it requires an infinite amount of time.

    If you're still interested, print out the article I linked you to in the first post, and let's have a look at it.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: What is the difference between Zeno's paradox and the Thompson lamp?
  1. Zeno's paradoxes (Replies: 25)

  2. Zeno Paradox (Replies: 42)

Loading...