You probably heard this thought experiment as a child, I know I use to ponder it, but with a total lack of understanding of the realities of CONSCIOUSNESS and MIND (not “brain).  This question can be logically approached with a very “satisfying answer”, so here we go.

We know that what we “perceive” as “sound” is actually “pressure waves” in the air around us.  So does that mean that pressure waves “are” sound?  Of course they are not.  Pressure waves are a physical phenomenon.  Sound is only perceived when those pressure waves are converted in the cochlea of the ear into “nerve impulses” that are transmitted in the brain and are EXPERIENCED by MIND as “sounds”.

In physics, there is no such measurable thing as sound, sure you can measure “wavelength” and “Amplitude” of the pressure wave, but those are not sound.  Likewise there is no such thing as “color” in the physical world either, there is only “frequencies [wavelengths] of photons [light]”.  In fact what our minds interpret as colors is only a minute portion of the frequency range found in the electromagnetic spectrum as with pressure waves in air our minds only interpret as sound the frequencies between 20-20,000 cycles per second.  Seriously, when was the last time you looked at your microwave and saw a “color”, the thought is ridiculous, or when you passed through the x-ray machine at the airport or your dentist’s of Dr.’s office? Sound and Color only happen in “PERCEPTION” of physical events,,, the physical events themselves have no such characteristic that exist prior to their interpretation.

If you want to take it a mind blowing step beyond that, modern physics (now 100 years old) shows that there is NO TREE or PRESSURE WAVES or anything “PHYSICAL” until a “CONSCIOUS MIND” experiences it.  The Quantum Erasure Experiment seems to prove this beyond any shadow of a doubt. (BTW – this is the perfect way to see if an AI has “consciousness”).

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Responses

  1. Smitty

    Is man really the center of the universe? Come on dude, there’s plenty of other sentient beings out there living in the woods who run away from the trees when they fall to avoid getting crushed. Sure, you can call a falling tree a pressure wave if you want. And that’s pretty obvious by all the detritus that gets thrown around when it hits ground. But it gets too far outside the bounds of reason to suggest that a falling tree that hits something solid don’t make noise. Physics be damned, look at the reality of it. Anyway, if physics is only 100 years old then trees got that licked. I’ve seen plenty of trees over 500 years.

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    1. TRUTH(@i-am) Post author

      By NO MEANS is “man the center of the universe”…. CONSCIOUSNESS (not necessarily human) is the FOUNDATION of the Universe.

      Sound only happens in an EXPERIENCER aka an OBSERVER,,,, if now one experiences (or animal or other conscious form) the “pressure waves” then that is all they are ,,, pressure waves,,,, a falling tree creates pressure waves,,, a MIND aka an EXPERIENCER turns the pressure waves into the PERCEPTION of “SOUND”.

      2 different things:
      SENSATIONS and
      PERCEPTIONS

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      1. Smitty

        Sure, sensations and perceptions are different. No argument there. Feelings are also something different. I’m prescribing all that to a sentient being relationship. Not sure if you are too.
        Energy is the foundation of the universe, not consciousness. Caps does not change that. Our true spirit is energy, as also is a rock’s. But I get the feeling you’ve never stood by when a 6′ diameter tree hits the ground. It’s a freaking geologic event. The ground bucks and heaves, a puny human bean ‘observer’ might even get air born for a spell. More than just pressure waves at work. However, earthquakes might be simply ‘pressure waves’ in your book and inaudible to the human ear also. And maybe a truck passing on a gravel road, spitting rocks at you. But hey, maybe what we’re having here is a failure to communicate, and are using different ‘definitions’ for these words we use. Maybe you could define the words ‘Sound’, ‘Pressure wave’, ‘Mind’, and ‘Perception’. Just so we can compare notes on exactly what Reality is.
        Cheers mate!

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        1. TRUTH(@i-am) Post author

          Yes, those pressure waves (from a tree or earthquake or of any type) are energy. Truck spiting rocks is energy too, kinetic energy, not pressure waves.

          Sound is an experience, requires a sentient being, it is the result of processing the physical (meaning measurable) energy. One’s experience of sound is only subjectively measurable, energy is objectively measurable.

          “Pressure Wave” is type of propagating energy.

          MIND is what is having an “experience” – what thinks it is “awake”. Mind is not tangible or measurable.

          Perception is what happens inside of MIND, it is the interpretation of the sensed “energy”, it is NOT objective, it is Subjective (dependent on the subject having the experience).

          Here is one of the newest and most advanced theories in Physics, called Emergence Theory, its very interesting:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v9eTvlLi-s

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          1. Smitty

            Cool, I like your definitions. By your definition of sound I believe you just made my point, ie. that when a tree falls my subjective experience of the sound created from the physical energy of the tree falling is noisy. Glad we got that figured out!

            Where you at with wind? Not flatulence specifically, more like a storm at sea? Or heaven forbid, in the forest?

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            1. TRUTH(@i-am) Post author

              yes, when the tree falls in the woods you have a subjective experience of “noise”,,,, but if there is no “subject” there (you or other conscious thing) then there is no “noise”.

              “Storm” is a subjective interpretation of the level of wind. The energy level of wind (flatulence or otherwise) is measurable,,, but whether or not one finds it disturbing or “too strong” (odor included) is purely subjective, aand not an objective measurable “thing”, like the wind or the amount of methane in a fart are measurable.

              ROTFLMAO

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  2. Jake McCormick

    Good choice of topic. I Was actually having a conversation with a friend of mine, about this question, based on sound waves and vibrations. i think we came to the conclusion that no there is no sound if no one or device there to translate the vibration.

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    1. TRUTH(@i-am) Post author

      It is something a lot of people don’t think about, especially because the current school systems and society in general are so focused on the MATERIAL WORLD (as explained by Newton) and the acquisition of material possessions (often to define one’s self — incorrectly I might add).

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  3. Nicky Havey

    The classic “If a tree falls and no-one is around to hear it, does it make a sound” question 🙂 Well written post and agree with what you said – studied physics for a good few years at school and this question was asked back then. Sound is the human perception of waves of air particles (pressure waves as you called it) that are detected by the ear or felt by the body if those wave frequencies are low enough enough (like a bassline from a big hitting track in a festival).

    As these waves of particles have to be perceived by a living being with ears for it to be called “sound”, then if there is no-one around to hear it, it makes no sound by that definition.

    Still cool to talk about but as a great physicist said – “Life (and the Universe) is a lot easier to understand when you think of it in terms of frequencies”.

    Enjoyed reading your post- keep them coming!

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  4. tryx066

    Very nice! You were right; I like this stuff! 🙂

    The fact that sound and color are just interpretations by a conscious mind is further indicated by people with “synesthesia”; such a mind, even in a deaf person, can see sounds as colored light…

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