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How would you answer these questions! Options
Galad
Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 4:42:35 PM

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If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound?

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a noise?
shkiwi
Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 4:56:52 PM
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I would think for it to make a sound; you would need to be there to hear it.
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 6:02:33 PM

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Galad wrote:
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound?


1.
a. Vibrations transmitted through an elastic solid or a liquid or gas, with frequencies in the approximate range of 20 to 20,000 hertz, capable of being detected by human organs of hearing. (TFD)

answer: yes

Galad wrote:
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a noise?


1.
a. Sound or a sound that is loud, unpleasant, unexpected, or undesired.
b. Sound or a sound of any kind: The only noise was the wind in the pines.

answer: yes

Unless your a solipsist, then if "you" are not "there", there are no woods to begin with.
Galad
Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 7:12:50 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound?


a. Vibrations transmitted through an elastic solid or a liquid or gas, with frequencies in the approximate range of 20 to 20,000 hertz, capable of being detected by human organs of hearing. (TFD)

answer: yes



This answer should be no, since no human organs are present
Epiphileon
Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 7:35:51 PM

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Galad wrote:

a. Vibrations transmitted through an elastic solid or a liquid or gas, with frequencies in the approximate range of 20 to 20,000 hertz, capable of being detected by human organs of hearing. (TFD)

answer: yes

This answer should be no, since no human organs are present


capable of Take these two words out of the definition, and the answer would indeed be no. "Capable of being detected" does not necessitate detection.

Demosth
Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 10:33:55 PM
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If no one is around, how do we know that the tree even fell down? If no one was there to see or hear anything, it becomes hypothetical. You could just as easily ask:


If a monkey falls out of a tree and no one is around, does it make a sound? Is it wearing a cape and eating chocolate pretzels?

If a bomb falls on a house and no one is around, does it make a noise? Does the bomb ever explode, or is it a dud?


Answer: These are hypothetical questions. No one is around, so it's inconclusive due to a lack of witnesses.
Epiphileon
Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2009 5:34:02 AM

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Demosth wrote:
If no one is around, how do we know that the tree even fell down? If no one was there to see or hear anything, it becomes hypothetical.
Answer: These are hypothetical questions. No one is around, so it's inconclusive due to a lack of witnesses.


Hello Demosth, I am curious how you would support this notion, I would certainly like to know if I have been in error on this issue. It seems to me that your asserting the use of "if" makes the statement hypothetical, where I thought it was conditional. Since this is a question at the level of classical physics, Schroedinger's Cat does not apply. What leads to the conclusion of the question being hypothetical?
Joseph Glantz
Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2009 8:00:44 AM
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I would say that it definitely makes a sound. The fact that we don't hear it is irrelevant.
As an example/analogy if I don't watch the final four basketball tournament this weekend and Monday it doesn't mean that a champion won't be crowned on Monday night.
Raparee
Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2009 8:55:34 AM

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Sometimes, I wish this damned question would go away. It's rather like saying if I'm not up to see the sun rise, it didn't happen, yet if I am up after the sunrise (presuming, of course, that the sun did rise and we're not facing some armageddon...), I am seeing the aftermath of the sun having risen, as it is in the sky! Just because I wasn't there to see it actually happen doesn't mean it didn't happen. So if we go into the woods after the fact and see the tree is down, we know that somehow, the tree did in fact go from standing upright to being down on the ground. We can extrapolate from prior experiences (assuming we have them) and/or logic (assuming we have that...lots of assuming in these questions), that being near trees as they come crashing down that they do, indeed, make some form of audible sound. OUR being there is irrelevant, as we are not the only creatures that hear. Even deaf, you/creatures would feel the vibrations.

These questions aren't about the sound and whether or not it occurs, but on our perception of said events. Do we choose to believe that something doesn't exist because we are not there to witness it (in which case, I'd love to see this applied to the world's various religions) or do we choose to believe in what we know, have experienced, etc.?

And now I'm talking myself in circles and giving myself a headache.
kaliedel
Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2009 3:19:09 PM
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I've argued with friends and family over this question for years. The answer depends on how you define "sound," really, with the traditional answer always being that if it's not detected by human (or other animal) ears, then it's not technically a "sound."

However, I reject that answer fully. Whether or not there are ears there to receive them, sound waves are still produced when the tree falls. Perception doesn't always equal reality, and in this case, the sound exists independently of an ear.
Rhondish
Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2009 3:38:20 PM
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Sounds are an interpretation of vibrations.
The physics of sound and light are very similar.
People who are deaf, can feel the vibrations of sound at certain frequencies, in the same way a blind person can feel heat emitting from a powerful light source. It is the way the energy is recieved and interpreted.
So the answer is yes, it would still make noise.
Luftmarque
Posted: Thursday, April 2, 2009 3:44:57 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
Since this is a question at the level of classical physics, Schroedinger's Cat does not apply.

I don't know whether this is entirely true, or even whether the whole classical vs. quantum physics approach is a dead-end (I suspect and hope that it is). Recently read this Relational Quantum Mechanics which gave me a little hope that there could be a framework for getting out of the "what constitutes an observer?" bind that Penrose et al. keep wanting to put me in.
Andri
Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 11:43:54 AM
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If the issue is a philosophical one, questions like 'you need to have an ear to have a sound?' must be answered.

However, if the query is literally about the usage of the words sound/noise, I believe that the word 'sound' suits better in that sentence, because the word 'noise' has a negative sense for me(and consequently a human being is needed in order for the objective meaning of the word to operate).

So, it has to be a man in the woods trying to get some sleep while the tree is falling in order to use the word noise!
risadr
Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 1:34:49 PM
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Both are, essentially, the same question. In such, this has always been perplexing to me. If one is not present to witness the tree falling - and, therefore, to hear it's fall - then how is one to know that the tree fell in the first place?

It's all very philosophical...
fred
Posted: Tuesday, April 7, 2009 1:53:40 PM
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Does the tree or sound exist.
How does the observer change/manipulate the phenomona?
Does the phenomena change/manipulate the observer?

If so, what are the relationships and how does this relate to the meaning of words?
moniba
Posted: Sunday, April 12, 2009 9:40:45 AM
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There will MUST be sound of a fallen tree....it could nOt be noise unless UNTILL one hear that sound and feel unpleasant.
kaliedel
Posted: Monday, April 13, 2009 3:31:13 PM
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Like others have said, the question is more philosophical than literal. It's much like question of the "sound of one hand clapping;" though it's probably technically possible for some people, its purpose is more to challenge perception than anything else.
jackotis
Posted: Monday, April 13, 2009 10:24:33 PM
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I made a dumb mistake and, upon finding the error, slapped
my forehead. My co-worker said "The sound of one hand
clapping!"

Sorry to maunder off the topic.

-jomo
www.jackotis.com

Epiphileon
Posted: Tuesday, April 14, 2009 5:20:53 AM

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jackotis wrote:
I made a dumb mistake and, upon finding the error, slapped
my forehead. My co-worker said "The sound of one hand
clapping!"
Sorry to maunder off the topic.
-jomo
www.jackotis.com

No problem, but thank you for clarifying, and for "maunder", I had not come across that word before.
Demonrob
Posted: Thursday, April 16, 2009 6:33:23 PM
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Rhondish wrote:
Sounds are an interpretation of vibrations.
The physics of sound and light are very similar.
People who are deaf, can feel the vibrations of sound at certain frequencies, in the same way a blind person can feel heat emitting from a powerful light source. It is the way the energy is recieved and interpreted.
So the answer is yes, it would still make noise.


that's right is irrelevant if a "human organ" was around as someone wrote.
Vonne
Posted: Monday, April 20, 2009 7:05:08 AM
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Yes. If a solid tree fell down and hit the ground it does make a sound/noise regardless if anyone is there or not. Unless it occurred in some mythical land...maybe 'Wonderland'...where i think questions like these should be.

However, if it's sound versus noise I think it would depend on the intensity of what was heard. It would definitely make a sound but couldn't say if it made noise Whistle
fred
Posted: Monday, April 20, 2009 10:53:42 AM
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If the tree fell and no one was there to hear it, how do you know it fell?
If you gathered information about the fall by some other means, you have altered the reality of the situation by your observation.
So, if you did not alter the situation by any kind of observation, how do you know the tree fell?

If you force your observation, you may be forcing the tree to fall and forcing waves to be produced in the atmosphere that can be received by human ears.
Ian Pean
Posted: Friday, April 24, 2009 9:50:59 AM
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Well as far as I am concerned if a tree falls down in the woods does anyone care?
Luftmarque
Posted: Friday, April 24, 2009 12:28:43 PM

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This perennial philosophical chestnut turns on whether or not we want to call raw density vibrations in the air sound in the absence of a suitable ear for their reception. One usually takes either a physics or psychology point-of-view and both are reasonable. There is another phenomenon though which truly seems (IMHO) to be irreducibly relational—that of the rainbow. Even if there are water molecules in the air and the sun shining on them, you still need to add an observer (even if it's just an imaginary one) for a rainbow to "exist," yet a rainbow is as much a wave-like thing as sound (or is it?). Or I could just be all muddled about this. Perhaps we just need to up the ante—if an iPod plays Mozart through speakers in the woods and nobody hears it, does The Requiem exist?
Raparee
Posted: Friday, April 24, 2009 1:07:16 PM

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Luftmarque wrote:
Perhaps we just need to up the ante—if an iPod plays Mozart through speakers in the woods and nobody hears it, does The Requiem exist?

*cackles delightedly* I think I love you for this. Applause
fred
Posted: Friday, April 24, 2009 2:07:34 PM
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Luftmarque wrote:
does The Requiem exist?


As that performance, the hard copy, the idea, or does it matter?
kaliedel
Posted: Friday, April 24, 2009 4:19:44 PM
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Luftmarque wrote:
Perhaps we just need to up the ante—if an iPod plays Mozart through speakers in the woods and nobody hears it, does The Requiem exist?


Congratulations, you just made the board's head explode. Applause
Luftmarque
Posted: Saturday, April 25, 2009 10:37:33 PM

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Luftmarque wrote:
Perhaps we just need to up the ante—if an iPod plays Mozart through speakers in the woods and nobody hears it, does The Requiem exist?

Raparee wrote:
*cackles delightedly* I think I love you for this. Applause

kaliedel wrote:
Congratulations, you just made the board's head explode. Applause

Aw, shucks (blushes)

fred wrote:
As that performance, the hard copy, the idea, or does it matter?

This is a good extrapolation with complications! So, let's say performance and idea. I was thinking about this situation in terms of a stack, like the internet communications stack. I'll draw a picture, scan it, and add it to this note:

And here it is! This is about as confusing and complicated as I can make it, but I think it contains everything I think I know about the sound in the forest question (or maybe just everything I think I know full stop).





[image not available]

Kat
Posted: Saturday, June 6, 2009 11:01:16 AM
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Maundering off the topic once again;

If a dog barks in the forest, is he still a bad dog?
Romany
Posted: Sunday, June 14, 2009 8:58:33 PM
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Old topic. No-one here. But...just a thought:

A tree cannot make any sound at all, being an inanimate object. Any noise heard when this innanimate object collides with the ground is as a RESULT of the actual collision. The tree itself, strictly speaking, remains silent.
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