Everything is digital

John K Clark (johnkc@well.com)
Sun, 8 Mar 1998 08:16:48 -0800 (PST)


>>Polarization is digital.

>Michael Lorrey <retroman@together.net>
>Do we have to go over this again?

looks like it.

>If this were so, John, when you put a polarization filter at a 1
>deg. angle to a vertically polarized light source, you would get no
>light through it. Since you don't then this isn't so.

But it is so, sometimes you get no light because the photon doesn't get
through the filter, in this case there is only a 1 degree angle difference so
it will probably pass through completely unharmed, but there is a .0346%
probability the filter will stop the photon because SIN^2(1) =.000346.

Regardless of how you set your polarization filter you will find that any
photon will always be at the exact same angle you set the filter and pass
through totally undiminished, OR it will be polarized at right angles to it
and be stopped entirely, there is no middle ground.

>Polarization is an x/y polar vector combination

You're talking about classical electromagnetic theory and useful
approximations when dealing with large numbers of photons like those in a
beam of light, I'm talking about Quantum mechanics and what actually happens
when a photon encounters a polarization filter.

>you are going to get the square root of -1 in there somewhere, which
>is hardly binary.

Then how is it possible that computer programs like Mathematica have
absolutely no trouble in dealing with the square root of -1, and just about
any other mathematical concept you care to name?

>If it weren't, and what you said was true, then we'd be able to tell
>by the polarization of light which way was absolutely up in the

Not so because as I said, you will always find a photon to be in one of two
states. You can make "up" be any direction you want because a photon will be
polarized in exactly the same direction you set your filter or exactly 90
degrees from it and it makes not the slightest difference what direction you

Incidentally, in 1957 it was found that there is an objective difference
between right and left, the law of conservation of parity is violated in weak
nuclear reactions.

>That being said, when people refer to the digital vs. analog
>dicho tomy, they really mean binary vs. analog.

If you're saying that a deep idea can not be communicated digitally unless
the base number used is large, I remind you that you just communicated that
idea over a line that has the smallest possible base, 2.

>When people think 'digital' they mean that they are thinking in
>terms of b&w, on/off, flip/flop, rather than the many shades of grey
>that most people prefer to muddy their thinking with.

Shakespeare is not noted for having a lot of shallow black and white
characters in his plays, yet every day his works are sent over digital wires,
the genetic code of living creatures too.

>This is why Mr. Jones objects to seeing AI's as 'human'since they
>will be much more logical and straightforward than humans, and will
>not be prone to the grey muddy thinking that he sees as the hallmark
>of 'human' intelligence.

Unfortunately humans don't have a monopoly on muddy thinking, I tried one of
the new translation programs the other day, I translated the sentence
"Jay Edgar Hoover was the director of the FBI" into German and then back into
English, it came back as "Jay Edgar vacuum cleaner was the director of the

John K Clark johnkc@well.com

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