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Explaining Left and Right to an Alien...

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Jenny
932808.  Thu Aug 16, 2012 10:05 am Reply with quote

Ah now you're getting to the point!

 
gruff5
932880.  Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:58 pm Reply with quote

Kingroyboy wrote:
Sorry I'm being a pest now, but how to explain a spacial/relation concept without referring at all to space and dimension is just a silly question....

Quite agree, King, it's silly.

Now, trying to define left/right in words only (no pictures) - now that is interesting! I've been enjoying reading the discussion - please continue....

 
gruff5
933323.  Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:43 am Reply with quote

I wonder if those Aliens would get fat if they consumed one of our low-calorie sweetners? If they did, then we could say to them (on the assumption that they're Star Trek-like aliens - ie look just like us, except for a twiddle of skin here and there):

"Your preferred hand for tool-use is the opposite of ours"

See this link for explanation:

http://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2004/ch_4.html

 
Chimerageist
934891.  Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:58 am Reply with quote

Just thinking about a point that was raised about symmetry; if there was any possible concept behind direction, the only certainties of the concept, to me, are:
    1. ...that direction is proportional to a point of origin and point of contact, and
    2. ...that the terms 'left' and 'right' are in contrast 'symmetrical' or 'proportional'.
Even if there was a physical world to demonstrate the concept, unless symmetry is understood, 'left' and 'right' cannot be ultimately defined. For instance, if the only factors existent are the point of origin (you) and the point of contact (the subject), if symmetry exists in the subject as in humans (i.e. the placement of ears, which anatomically are inherently symmetrical, unless genetically diverse) then 'left' and 'right' can be defined by a change in the point of origin in contrast (speaking from the left relevant to the subject and reception of the change, and vice-versa). However, the fundamental understanding of physical awareness in relation to other physical forms must be determinable by the subject; otherwise, defining 'left' and 'right' has no value.

 
Jenny
934892.  Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:11 pm Reply with quote

Welcome to the QI forums, Chimerageist :-)

I think that was very much the point of the issue.

 
mckeonj
934949.  Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:58 pm Reply with quote

Can we ask the aliens to explain their symmetry?
Suppose they are trilateral, like Arthur C Clarke's Ramans?
Then our concept of left and right would be meaningless to them, except in the sense of rotation.

 
Strawberry
934951.  Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:12 pm Reply with quote

Welcome, Chimerageist.

 
Chimerageist
934997.  Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:29 am Reply with quote

Jenny wrote:
I think that was very much the point of the issue.


Could you clarify for me...did I say something meaningful or totally and shamefully obvious? I do not know how I should interpret this.

 
'yorz
934998.  Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:45 am Reply with quote

Hi Chimerageist ;-)

I think Jenny was gently pointing out that the import of your post had already been covered in the previous pages of this thread.

 
gruff5
935003.  Sat Aug 25, 2012 4:15 am Reply with quote

mckeonj wrote:
Can we ask the aliens to explain their symmetry?
Suppose they are trilateral, like Arthur C Clarke's Ramans?
Then our concept of left and right would be meaningless to them, except in the sense of rotation.

Granted, some humans (eg my sister) find the concept of left-vs-right difficult and need to remember which hand they write with to find "right".

But would it be meaningless to these Ramans? These Ramans may still build roads and give directions to each other along the lines of "take the 2nd turning on the left".

 
mckeonj
935016.  Sat Aug 25, 2012 6:20 am Reply with quote

Apparently the trilateral Ramans had three legs, and moved by rotating on vertical axis.
So, presuming their home planet orbited one sun, they should have a concept of 'clockwise', like ours, being the movement of the shadow of a stick which is mimicked by the hand of a mechanical clock. Thus, for a Raman, the '2nd turning on the left' would translate as 'the 2nd turning anticlockwise'.
Note that clockwise is opposite to the apparent movement of the sun; and that 'turning' is an unwise choice of word in this context.
[sigh]

 
gruff5
935045.  Sat Aug 25, 2012 10:09 am Reply with quote

is 'turning' an unwise choice? Are anticlockwise-and-clockwise simply equivalent concepts to left-and-right?

 
avery
936182.  Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:26 am Reply with quote

How would they know what is left or right when their head turns or eyes that moves 360.

Maybe aliens are looking for a mate to cross-breed from "left" to "rigth" LOL! :)


Last edited by avery on Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:12 pm; edited 2 times in total

 
gruff5
936195.  Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:01 pm Reply with quote

Saw in the current New Scientist magazine that astronomers have discovered (preliminarily) an excess of left-handed over right-handed turning spiral galaxies in the cosmos, located in certain viewing directions.

I can understand what a left-handed coiling snail shell is, but bit confused over a spiral galaxy as it is a planar shape - is it not? So, turning direction depends on which side the spiral is viewed from.

I guess they are being anti-Copernican and defining the galaxies' turning direction from our, the Milky Way's, perspective?

 
gruff5
938288.  Tue Sep 11, 2012 11:12 am Reply with quote

oh, BTW if an excess of left-handed turning galaxies is shown to exist thru the universe, that would imply that the whole universe has an angular momentum and must be turning.

I believe Kurt Godels model of time travel into the past used Einstein's (then fairly new) GR field equations and a rotating universe.

QI, no?

..... anyone??

 

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