No Identities in Nature

William Westmiller writes:

In a message dated 2/15/2012 7:09:29 P.M. Pacific Standard Time,
noreply@blogger.com writes:

“...there are never two identical snowflakes...”

Totally a peripheral issue, but I don't think that's true.

The environmental variables are enormous, but the size and characteristics of snowflakes are always within concrete limits. Assuming a snowflake has some limited number of water molecules, which are naturally inclined to make hexagonal connections, there is a very small probability (larger among smaller flakes) that two are identical. See:

For small water crystal formations, which still qualify as snowflakes, duplicates (at least apparently) have been found:

"But in 1988, the scientist Nancy Knight (at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado) was studying wispy high altitude cirrus clouds. Her research plane was collecting snowflakes on a chilled glass slide that was coated with a sticky oil. She found two identical (under a microscope, at least) snowflakes in a Wisconsin snowstorm."

No response required. Just a novel investigation that I thought you might find interesting.

Thanks so much Bill.

The topic regarding identities in nature is critical to understanding univironmental determinism and neomechanics. In philosophy, the answer to the snowflake question distinguishes one as being either a determinist or an indeterminist. Your leanings in this regard are consistent with your belief in finity, freewill, and the god particle, which we have already discussed. The major claim of univironmental determinism is that what happens to a portion of the universe is determined by the infinite matter within and without. The Ninth Assumption of Science, relativism (All things have characteristics that make them similar to all other things as well as characteristics that make them dissimilar to all other things) gets right to the point. Whenever we examine any two portions of the universe (such as snowflakes) we may find many similarities indeed, but if we look in more detail, we invariably find some dissimilarities. This is, of course, because the universe is microcosmically (and macrocosmically) infinite. That is why “identical twins” and electrons (see UCT) are never really identical. True identities are only imaginary, abstractions that necessarily leave out dissimilar characteristics. Sloppy science will yield the same result.

I like your use of the words “apparently” and “under the microscope, at least).” It looks like we are making progress. It is a long trip from mainstream science, which still assumes finity just like the classical mechanists and the classical determinists. Once we assume infinity, everything changes. The consupponible Second Assumption of Science, causality, states that all effects have an infinite number of material causes. This could only happen in an infinitely subdividable universe. Every analysis that we make always has a plus or minus. No two analyses of anything can ever be identical. Nothing has a finite number of characteristics that would be necessary for identities and for causality to be finite, as claimed by classical mechanics and its mathematicians.

A little anecdote goes along with this subject. I once had a tussle with a Wikipedia author on the uniqueness of snowflakes. The author said that the probability of any two snowflakes being identical was on the order of 1 in 10125. This finite number was obtained by considering 100 characteristics. I claimed, of course, that the probability was not only low, it was zero. We edited back and forth for a few times. Guess who won that one? The entry has subsequently been edited to be only slightly more compliant with infinity:

“Although statistically possible, it is very unlikely for any two snowflakes to appear exactly alike due to the many changes in temperature and humidity the crystal experiences during its fall to earth.  …It is more likely that two snowflakes could become virtually identical if their environments were similar enough. Matching snow crystals were discovered in Wisconsin in 1988. The crystals were not flakes in the usual sense but rather hollow hexagonal prisms, with identical complex snowflakes considered impossible.”

Note the reliance on macrocosmic finity in the attempt to achieve “virtual” identity. In the last sentence, the author takes a swing at microcosmic finity in defending the Wisconsin mess and asserting that “rather” hollow prisms might be identical because of their lack of complexity. Of course, in our view, no portion of the universe “lacks complexity.” That is because every portion of the universe is microcosmically and macrocosmically infinite.


Westmiller said...

Glenn writes:
... Guess who won that one? The entry has subsequently been edited to be only slightly more compliant with infinity ...

Snowflakes were one example you used of infinite causation resulting in no two objects being identical.

Maybe we can agree that no two snowflakes are exactly identical, since the concept "two" requires that they be in different places. If they were in the same place, they would be one: literally the same snowflake. We might also agree that, since they are in different places, they are exposed to different environmental effects. I was merely pointing out some evidence that there are good reasons to believe that two snowflakes could have an identical shape.

In order to talk about snowflakes at all, we necessarily select a finite number of characteristics to identify them and distinguish them from ice crystals, ice cubes, or methane flakes. If we didn't have such definitions, we couldn't talk about snowflakes. Concepts are necessarily a classification of objects by a limited number of characteristics. We might define "snowflake" as:

"Atoms of H2O cooled to a solid, adhering to their planar surfaces in a hexahedral shape dictated by their atomic structure, usually while falling through a gaseous medium."

The point here is not what is a good or bad definition of the term "snowflake", but the fact that a finite set of characteristics are required to identify such an object as distinct from other objects. Of course, the concept is not the object itself, it is a mental abstraction of definitive characteristics observed in reality.

Those definitive characteristics are finite, both qualitatively and quantitatively. No one has ever observed a snowflake with a diameter over 8 centimeters, so the number of H20 atoms in a snowflake is limited. The possible shapes of those flakes are dictated by the fractal geometry of compounding H2O atoms in a frozen state. The Wiki estimate of 2 flakes in 10^125 being identical may be correct. If there are 10^125 snowflakes falling somewhere in the world every day, then it is likely that two identical shapes occur daily.

I will grant that the truth of that assertion probably isn't determinable by humans investigating every snowflake, but the probability is mathematically valid and the effect is determined by those factors.

That doesn't refute the proposition that there are an infinite number of influences on every object. The gravitational pull of the North Star has some tiny effect on how a snowflake falls. Chaotic atmospheric conditions all have effects on where it is formed and where it lands. But, the essential characteristics of "snowflake" are not dependent on those influences. The causative elements dictating its definitive shape and composition are finite, not infinite.

William Westmiller
PS: I was quoting others using the phrases "apparently" and "under the microscope".
PPS: I do not "believe" in the God Particle, as characterized by scientists. Matter IS mass, not a quality inherited from some a Higgs Boson.

Glenn Borchardt said...

Glad to see you gave up the Higgs as a finite particle. And like you, I also once thought of the idea of different space-time positions being responsible for the lack of identities in nature. However, with the assumption of infinity as being micro and macro, that is no longer necessary. No microcosm has a finite number of characteristics as promulgated by the mainstream. With matter being infinitely subdividable (as Aristotle assumed), no identical microcosms are possible. The most important point is the difference between idea and reality. Practically speaking, of course, we only can deal with a finite number of characteristics, just as we do with infinite universal causality. We should never fool ourselves that there actually are a finite number of characteristics like the Wikipedia writer did.

You mentioned that snowflakes have a limited range of sizes, thereby indicating that finity is involved. All microcosms, of course, have a limited range of sizes. That is because each exists within a macrocosm that contains supermicrocosms (other matter) that impact upon it, calling “finis” to its universal expansion. Every microcosm must conquer and defend territory for its continued existence. Univironmental determinism states that the limitations on any microcosm are a result of the interaction between the infinite matter in motion within and without.

You mentioned that you think that matter “is” mass. We might put that in a better light by considering how we measure mass. Matter has an infinite number of characteristics, and mass is only one of them. On Earth, we measure mass by the effect of gravitation on a microcosm—the resistance that a microcosm has to the supermicrocosms that collide with it during that process. So one could say that mass is not matter. Instead mass is a measurement of the amount of matter. In UD, we define matter as that which contains other matter ad infinitum. Perhaps you mean, contrary to Einstein and his “massless photon, that matter always has mass. I agree, although I don’t think of matter and mass as being one and the same.