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Is Reality Digital or Analog?

 
 
Wolfgang Weisselberg
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      08-08-2011
rwalker <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> I don't disagree with what you say, but "analog" and "digital" are not
> the correct terms for describing reality. Discrete quanta are not
> digital in the sense that a computer is digital.


Binary. Most (but not all) digital computers are binary.

Discrete quanta are not usually binary.


> And the macroscopic
> world is not "analog" in he sense that a photograph or an analog
> computer are analog.


Of course, there are many fine examples of analog computers
(including, for example, the fire control computers on the Iowa
class battleships).

The macroscopic world uses smooth, stepless values (with a
certain accuracy) to represent the state of the underlying,
discrete world.

> At the ultimate microscopic level, all existence
> is quantum, but that is not the equivalent of "digital" as the term is
> normally used. The quanta, however, become indiscrete at the
> macroscopic level.


I suspect that they don't become indiscrete but rather that
our instruments are not fine grained enough in many cases.
We can see the discrete states e.g. in photography at high
ISO values, and the effect of discrete states in photon noise.
(Another is the randomness of radioactive decay.)

Additionally, we can use statistical tools on larger numbers,
and it works.


> I think we're arguing semantics more than actual underlying
> principles.


True. We probably do.

-Wolfgang
 
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