Is there a sixth sense? Of course! And a seventh, eight, ninth, tenth, etc. Aside from the 'basics'(sight, hearing etc), there's radar (as used by bats), and the electromagnetic-field sense that many species use for navigation, to give just two out of many possible examples.
But in each case, the same thing is being sensed. It's as if there's only one object in the universe! Consider the sense of touch.
All of the sensations of touch relate to one and the same object. Everything from the touch of velvet to the sharpness of razor blades, the wetness of a kiss, the feeling of sand on the soles of the feet: all of these sensations and more are provided by one and the same object in each case, the electron.
All material objects are made of atoms arranged in molecules. The "outside surface" of a molecule is an electron, in motion. Furthermore, all electrons are identical, so to touch water and to touch a burning coal in effect means to touch the same thing: electrons!
Now electrons are pretty simple beasts: charge and spin are two of just a handful of attributes required to fully describe an electron. Every electron in the universe can stand-in for the next: they're indistinguishable from each other.
And yet somehow utmost simplicity gives rise to infinite complexity: Every one of the large number of "touch-sensations" that we experience, all our "touchy/feely" knowledge of the material world, from the pain of fire to the softness of velvet, the sharpness of razor blades, the prickliness of an unshaved beard: all these sensations are given by electrons, only electrons, and nothing but electrons.
The experience is so different in each case. And yet, in each case the same thing is being touched/felt/experienced.
Isn't it amazing that such (apparent) complexity can emerge from such (apparent) simplicity.
In fact, electrons are so simple and so similar to each other that there is a weird theory that says there's actually only one electron in the entire Universe, and it moves very fast. Every electron is identical to the next. They all carry the same charge (negative) and mass. So they all might as well be the one particle. (Likewise for photons, protons and other sub-atomic particles (though it gets complicated with quarks)).
Imagine 100 million little spheres, identical in every respect: same size, weight, texture etc. All the spheres are made of exactly the same imaginary stuff: spherium. Now imagine that 100 trillion people touch multiple spheres multiple times. And every time someone touches a sphere, they get a different feeling.
For example, Winnie touches a sphere: it feels soft. A second later it feels hard. Jo touches a sphere, it feels wet. At the same time, Alex touches the same sphere, but for Alex it feels dry. Jack touches a sphere, it feels cold and dusty. Rose touches a sphere, it feels hot and sweaty.
Clearly, spherium has amazing properties, including the property of producing an infinite number of different sense-experiences relating to touch.
What I want to know is how one thing can feel like an infinite number of things/qualities. I've always believed / been taught that nothing is free.
The Universe is the ultimate free lunch, contradicting the philosophers' "ex nihilo nihil fit" ("out of nothing comes nothing"). The lunch is free in two profound ways.
- It's free in the sense of logical necessity: According to Leibniz and some other weird old dead guys, the fact that anything including the universe exists at all (rather than nothing) is inexplicable, ie it hasn't been paid for.
- It's free in the sense that ordinary matter doesn't have to be paid for. Subatomic particles of all types "wink" in and out of existence all of the time, emerging from nothing (the fecund vacuum) and vanishing back into nothing but only if their existence is of so short a timeframe that overall, the cosmic books remain balanced.
Humans use a lot more senses than just the senses that are part of our biological equipment. For example, we use:
- machines to provide us with a sonar sense similar to that of bats
- mchines to provide us with a radar sense, similar to that of some creatures (I don't know which, but I assume they exist!)
- machines (eg tape measures) to enable us to sense distance
- lasers to access data inaccessible to our biological equipment
- machines to provide us with a "Doppler-effect" sense, which involves perceiving how far away a moving object is, and how fast it's travelling
- thermometers to sense heat
- motion-sensors to sense motion (some animals have this as part of their biological equipment)
- gravity to sense how "heavy" an object is (I don't know how this works but I speculate that it's about how much energy / muscle action is required to lift an object?).
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