Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wolfram Alpha answers Kōan


According to the new fancy knowledge engine:

A tree falling in a forest with nobody around to hear it does not make a sound.

The sound of one hand clapping is silence.

Me thinks that the folks behind Wolfram have a great sense of humor.

What is a Koan?


(via Bits & Pieces )


Warren said...

Ah, but a long wide ocean inlet can be surround by a forest with no one around. A tree on the edge of such a forest can fall into the water, thereby making (reaching) the sound (water).


And if a person instantaneously arrived in the forest AFTER the tree had fallen, BUT BEFORE the vibrations traveling at the speed of sound had passed their location, they would hear the sound of the tree hitting the ground... Evidence that the tree had in fact made a sound when no one was around.

Take that. *smile*

cool link, by the way...

TomboCheck said...

Warren - Thanks for the response, didn't expect much on this post. :)

On your first answer I would ask what difference the tree hitting water vs. the ground would make? No matter what medium it strikes there are vibrational waves that radiate out to the area surrounding the tree.
In either case the fact remains that those waves are not being picked up by the ears of a person (or theoretically any being). And if they are not perceived in any way, shape, or form by a being then we must question whether they exist at all. You dig?

Your second answer creates a more perplexing question than it answers: How does a person instantaneously arrive somewhere?

Did they get pooped out of a white hole just in time to hear but not see a tree fall? If so, they probably have bigger things on their mind than the sound of a tree falling... like the fact that they have one hell of a headache. :-D

Warren said...

a sound definition... :)

sound (sound) n. 1. A long relatively wide body of water , larger than a strait or a channel, connecting larger bodies of water. 2. A long, wide ocean inlet. 3. The air bladder of of a fish.


My second position is that there is still a sound to be picked up after the tree has fallen if one gets there fast enough. We've got about 5 seconds to get to a location 1 mile away from the (now fallen) tree before its sound reaches us, yet we see no falling tree...

True it might help to use a Perigrine falcon coming out of 200 mph stoop into a forest surrounded by cliffs so the sound is still echoing...

fun stuff...

Melissa said...

I'm smirking over here. Hehe. Good find. And your little chat with Warren has me giggling as well...

TomboCheck said...

HOLY SHIT that is some funny stuff! Totally didn't get it as I've never seen sound defined as such.

And on the second - well the question doesn't ask whether a person sees the tree fall. It asks if there is nobody around to HEAR it, does it make a sound. So I'd say they have you there.

TomboCheck said...

Melissa - I cannot claim the find for myself. There are people far geekier than I putzing around on Wolfram. :)

And I love good thought-provoking conversation. It's even better than a game of chess. Yeah, total freakin' geek here.

Warren said...

The tree does make a sound and nobody does hear it, but no one else believes his story.
Back to the dictionary... :^)

nobody -- 1) No person; no one. 2) A person of no importance or influence "a nobody".

TomboCheck said...

touche sir, touche.