Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Alternate Dimension


Everything said here is more of a thought experiment than what could happen in actuality. I do not at all keep up to date on anything having to do with time travel or quantum theory or any relating matter, so none of these statements are informed about popular thought.


Assume that we have a device, and this device has the ability to take a snapshot of all the elementary particles in the universe at that point in time, taking all possible factors into account. The snapshot would describe everything perfectly at the point in time, as the only difference between the present and the past are the particle arrangements. It can be assumed that every particle arrangement so far in the universe is unique given the assumption that the universe has always been expanding.

If the only difference between the present and the past are the arrangement of particles, it can be proposed that another device that is able to rearrange all particles into a particular state would be a method of going back to the past. The snapshot would be put to use in this instance and it would surely go back to the past.

There are many issues with this. The first being that neither of these devices could exist for obvious reasons. The second issue is that the time paradox in which a loop will occur. This is a common paradox brought up in every discussion on the matter.

There are two ways to get around that paradox, both involve a method of returning to the present. This could be done by taking the molecules from the past and forming the particle arranger in the past. There could also be the suggestion of creating new matter, but there is no reason to break another law. By altering the past, it would be possible to send anything back to the past, including people. Getting back to the present would be simple as there would have been a snapshot of the present taken at the moment of going to the past.

Alternate Dimension?

An odd issue with this is that it would not technically be going back to the past, but it would rather be going to an alternate dimension. By alternate dimension , I mean to say a particle arrange that could not exist in the current dimension. Everything still occurs with the same matter in the same space, it is just that the matter is occupying a space that was not possible in the current dimension. It is like if there was a race and the particle arranger put the last place runner in first. That would not be the same race as it would be impossible for the last place runner to occupy first place at that particular moment of time.

This is a difficult part for people to agree with as everything is the same except the runner, why would minor changes be considered an alternate dimension. The answer to this is that the minor changes could not exist in the previous dimension. Laying out a totally different particle arrangement, say organizing all molecules alphabetically would clearly be an alternate universe as that arrangement could not occur in the current universe, rather it is an altered universe. Just the same is true of minor changes.

Other Applications

This device wouldn't at all have to be used to change all particles, it can be reasoned that it could select just the particles belonging to earth. Some possible uses would be:

-Creating structures
-Bringing back people who died in an accident
-Bringing in resources from parts of the universe that don't matter
-Teleportation to anywhere
-Preventing the destruction of earth by returning dangers to a previous state
-A form of immortality
-Maintenance would be a thing of the past

Now of course the devices would have many dangerous uses and I will leave that up to your imagination.


Unless there is something I am not aware of, this would be a method of time travel, and it would be possible to travel to an altered past. The other applications are quite interesting. Of course this isn't talking about anything possible or real, yet it is still interesting to think about.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Murdering One for a Thousand

The Question

A common philosophical question that is proposed is "if murdering one person would saved a thousand people, would you kill that one person?". Assuming the lives are of equal worth, the common answer to this is "yes" as the amount of total lives saved by committing the murder would be nine hundred and ninety nine, while the amount of deaths caused by not committing the murder or would be nine hundred and ninety nine. It can certainly be reasoned that the question is really asking "if you had to, would you murder one person or a thousand?" as failing to murder the one would be murdering the nine hundred and ninety nine. The word "saved" comes in to distinguish as a device of semantics.

The true essence of the question is "do you value two people more than one person". That is the logical ending point of the question as it would make no sense to claim that one person is more valuable than two after claiming a thousand are more valuable than one. If one thousand are more valuable than one, then nine hundred and ninety nine is also, as well as nine hundred and ninety eight, and so on. For whatever reason the question often uses a large number like "1,000,000". Perhaps this is because a person is more quickly to agree to it as extremes are easier to work from. Yet no matter how large of a number you start with, the ending point is just the same: "do you value two people more than one person".

It must be assumed that you value these people equally. If the one person is someone you know and who is close to you, say your spouse, you are more likely to let the twp people die to save your spouse. The follow up question becomes, how about three, which goes to four, then to five, then to six. The question becomes "how many people would you let die to save your spouse". Essentially is becomes a game of figuring out how much you value a particular person, and how many people you'd murder to save that person.

Now it is important to realize that the aspect of murder in the question is rather unrelated to the essential question of "do you value two people more than one", as it does provide any role in the in that question. What it does do is it eliminates the answers "it is irrational to value people in such a way". The addition of force and circumstance changes the answer. It is also in a way making sure you really believe it as the real test of principals comes in dire situations.

Taking it Further

The question needs to be taken further as in its current state it is rather uninteresting and bare. Just asking if two lives are valued more than one life isn't at all satisfactory. The question also has no inherent ability to say anything about the real world, which wouldn't be an issue if there question wasn't applied in that state to the real world.

If you can save someone's life by raping someone else, is the rape justified? If not, how many lives must be saved in order for you to rape one person? If so, what if it would take more than one rape to save a person. How many rapes are worth that one person's life?

If you can save a thousand lives by torturing one person, is the torturing justified?

Logically you must accept the scenarios above if you accept the logic used to justify the general murder question. You can come up with any scenario no matter how irrational or unlikely and the negative action will always be justified so long as you accept that the end is superior to the means.

The logic breaks down to:

Action X will result in Y
Y is valued more than X
X is justified

Murdering one person will result in a thousand lives saved
A thousand lives saved is valued more than one person murdered
Murdering that one person is justified

Raping one person will result in saving one life
Saving one person's life is valued more than the rape of one other person
Raping that one person if justified

Torturing one person will result in saving thousands of lives
A thousand lives saved is valued more than torturing one person
Torturing that one person is justified

The Issue

The torture one comes up quite a bit, and many people simply reject the scenario on the basis that the rational that it isn't at all realistic. The primary reason to reject the scenario and the question in general is first premise, that X will result in Y. This implies complete certainty of the future, and the majority of the scenarios proposed are based on this fallacy. To make it obvious, this is what is really being proposed:

Torturing one person has a 100% chance of saving thousands of lives
A thousand lives saved is valued more than torturing one person
Torturing that one person is justified

To generalize the logic:

Action X has a C% chance of resulting in Y
Y is valued more than X
Y is more valued than the probability of failure
X is justified

The application of the logic works quite well with scientific matters as they tend to be quite predictable. Take the example below.

Quarantining someone with a very deadly and contagious disease has a C% chance of saving thousands of people from the disease
Thousands of people not being contaminated with the disease is more valued than quarantining someone with the plague
Quarantining someone with the disease is justified

C is likely very high, probably 95-100% and many people would agree with the statement. Though many people would likely agree wit the statement if C was 10% because potentially saving a thousand lives would be valued more than forcing one person into a quarantine.

What this means is that the potential lives saved are valued more than potentially committing a negative act for no reason when it was not needed. It is important to realize how the variables affect each other. The lower X is valued, the higher C must be. The higher Y is valued, the lower C must be.

Different Questions

Certainly adding a percentage to the question makes it far more interesting and less straight forward. Applying it to the case of murder.

Murdering one has C% chance of saving a thousand. What does C have to be to justify the murdering of the one?

The number of people saved can only be adjusted to form a more interesting question.

Murdering five hundred has a C% chance of saving a thousand. What does C have to be to justify murdering the five hundred?

That question is a bit difficult to answer, because if the probability is 50%, then there is a 50% chance you are murdering five hundred people for nothing. The probability of failure must be low enough to justify possibly murdering five hundred people. Most people will answer differently depending on the ratio of those saved to those killed. Then it gets into the world of:

Murdering five hundred has a C% chance of saving a hundred thousand.

Murdering five hundred has a C% chance of saving a hundred.

Murdering five hundred has a C% chance of saving one.

These scenarios illustrate how Y affects C. The same can be demonstrated with X.

Real World Application

An obvious barrier to real world application is that any elaborate scenario can be constructed in which the scenario dictates that Y will be one hundred percent. There is an obvious issue when it is possible to make impossible situations. To adjust for this, the probability of that scenario occurring which gets multiplied into C. This will make the question applicable to the real world as in any situation where the probability of the event occurring is 100%, the probability of the scenario takes over. Having a system that make it more applicable to the real world is important as it is often applied to the real world.

C = Probability of scenario * Probability of success

This allows for a logical assessment of many controversial issues such as the issue of torture. What is the probability that the person being tortured knows information that would save a thousand lives, what is the probability of the interrogator being able to get the information in time, and most importantly: what is the probability of an interrogator knowing that the person to be tortured has the information needed to save the thousand lives? Certainly these probability can't be measured, but they can be reasoned to be 0%. Because of this, most would not be in favor or the torture.

The ending logic that can be applied to the real world is:

Action X has a [N% of succeeding * I% chance of occurring]% chance of resulting in Y
Y is valued more than X
Y is more valued than the probability of failure
X is justified


This logic still works with scientific outcomes, especially in regard to yields, but the primary issue is that N and I are likely to be immeasurable in many circumstances. Because of this, the question ought to be evaluated with 0 and 100% and the worst outcome should be taken as the most realistic.

As far as the "do you value two people more than one", I cannot the answer question as I am not capable of valuing human life.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


The intent of this blog indicate is to primarily get my thoughts out there in a coherent manner. There isn't any intended focus, but it will likely deal less with personal matters and more with matters of philosophy and politics.

It is likely that I may be wrong on some statements, which is likely as humans are faulty and therefore I am faulty. It is also likely that people will disagree with me, which doesn't interest me unless the disagreement is backed up.