View Full Version : A puzzler....

Professor TailSpin
26th Jun 2001, 21:26
Had an interesting discusion with some of the guys in the office today, and one of the things we were debating was:

'If a tree fell in a forest, but nobody was around, would it make a sound?'

Many different opinions were put forward, but the best one, I think, was:

'Sound is the motion of air passing over the eardrum and if there is no-one there, then the tree does not make a sound when it falls'

Agree / Disagree with this? Enlighten me (I'm bored today at work!)

26th Jun 2001, 21:47

I think we've got enough threads on here already which boil down to arguing over the definition of a word.

Look at Ice-hole with his definition of 'decent'.

We all know what happens: the air molecules jiggle about and so on. If your eardrum is in the way then it wiggles too.

If you want to define 'sound' as the movement of the air then fine. If you want to define it as the perceived sensation also fine. All we are doing is discussing the meaning of a word.

We learn nothing of substance this way.

Ed Winchester
26th Jun 2001, 23:30

Are the moderator of Jet Blast? Lighten up - if the thread doesn't pull your chain, then ignore it - it'll soon disappear.

"We learn nothing of substance this way" - you are in the wrong place, chap. Perhaps you should go back to http://www.pompous.nob

Edited, 'cos I forgot about the question.

Prof, I reckon that if a tree falls down, then the air molecules are disturbed. Just because the vibrations are not perceived by a human ear, doesn't mean it didn't happen. Or something.

[This message has been edited by Ed Winchester (edited 26 June 2001).]

tony draper
26th Jun 2001, 23:51
I once witnessed a high altitude thermo nuke test.
We didn't hear a thing.

Well, beats the sh*t out of falling tree's. ;)

27th Jun 2001, 00:04
Ooo-er ! 'scuse me for having an opinion. http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/eek.gif

So is a leaf green if there's no one there to see it ?

27th Jun 2001, 00:14
Well, it seems a bit like Schroedinger's cat - the observer affects the experiment.

Not if they are a red or yellow leaf Grainger ;)

27th Jun 2001, 00:16
Darn good question! I always wondered; what colour is a carrot once the lights are turned out?

Send Clowns
27th Jun 2001, 00:18
Where do you find a forest with nothing around to hear? Humans are not the only creatures available!

'Me here at last on the ground, you in mid air'

27th Jun 2001, 00:19
Professor, Grainger, Hearingmen, Colourperceivers, and all, welcome to empirical philosophy. You tread a well-worn path. Your next step is to buy a popular edition of Bishop Berkeley's works. Look for "proofs of God". Enjoy.

tony draper
27th Jun 2001, 00:35
Isn't there some kind of pseudo scientific theory concerned with this type of thing, The Strong Anthropic Principle , something like that?.
I believe this states that sub atomic particles do not exist untill we start looking for them or that tree rings have no reallity untill we saw said tree down and look at them.
So we talkin monkeys create the universe we live in by observation.
Daft I calls it, ;)

27th Jun 2001, 00:40
What's been bugging me is that little light bulb inside the fridge.

You know, the one that comes on when you open the door and goes out when you shut the door.

...or does it ?

27th Jun 2001, 06:30
If you shoot a mime, do you have to use a silencer?

Capt Vegemite
27th Jun 2001, 07:54
Last night I played a blank tape full blast.The mime next door went nuts.

27th Jun 2001, 08:40
What about if you leave a tape recorder going and retire out of ear shot ?

What will it record ? Have you influenced the experiment? Did the sound not 'happen' until you played the recording ?

Do you except the principal that you need 'self-awareness' to percieve ? If so what am I watching that I recorded last night off the TV ? I wasnt there but something got taped. Or was it not taped until I pressed play ?

Does this thread exist if no one is looking ?


27th Jun 2001, 10:04
Carry on Scope, you're getting the hang of it. (Now how the hell did I imagine a username like that one?)

The real question is that if there is no-one there to hear it, can a tree fall?

Through difficulties to the cinema

27th Jun 2001, 10:05
It's all very simple.


27th Jun 2001, 14:04
Obviously, Icarus felt that no-one would hear him unless he shouted ;)

This begs the question why did the tree fall in the first place - did it jump or was it pushed?

27th Jun 2001, 18:53
Standing in the forest with your ears plugged and covered. The tree falls but you don't hear it. Question: Did the three fall? How come? You didn't hear it!! :) :)

Tricky Woo
27th Jun 2001, 19:13
Schroedinger used his 'Moggie in a Box' example as a way of conveying the strange quantum behavour of atomic/sub-atomic particles. He didn't see it a serious description of reality on the macro level. Unfortunately, a load of pseudo-philosophical nonsense has since arisen that probably causes Schroedinger to rotate, rapidly in his grave.

Serve him right.

27th Jun 2001, 20:39
I feel sorry for the poor s0d who has to open the box and find out...

If he's still alive, Mog's not going to be too pleased is he ? - so whoever opens the box is in for a serious slashing 50% of the time.

Or is that 50% of a serious slashing every time ??

27th Jun 2001, 22:01
"pseudo-philosophical nonsense"

Hmm.. I would say that the 'Many Worlds Theory' is the most credible theory to come from this thought experiment and it is an extremely logical explaination for great many things.

27th Jun 2001, 22:31
So now the poor s0d is guaranteed to get slashed every time - in one Universe or another.

You cruel bastard !