If Rex can give us his guide to Gravitational Waves – a very impressive performance I have to say, then I can dust off an old document from my days at the ANU law school – in the late 1980s.
Concept Split: Shockwaves
Shock waves spread from the policy making community through to world stock markets today as two senior researchers from the ANU philosophy (Special Corporate Projects – Rhetoric) Division claimed to have split the concept.
“The twentieth century began with the splitting of the atom. How appropriate that it should end with the splitting of the concept” said one of the elated researchers.
More Work to do
“This is the culmination of many years effort for us but there is lots more work to do. It is only the beginning” said the other ebullient researcher who declined “at this early stage” to give his/her name.
After five years fronting funding authorities and incurring the hostility of senior colleagues the researchers’ persistence appears to have paid off.
We played a hunch
“We played a hunch” said one researcher.
The researchers accelerated two human subjects towards each other at velocities approaching the speed of light. According to the researchers, the extra-ordinariness of the situation this produced was sufficient to ensure that the two subjects had exactly the same thing on their mind at the time of impact.
The claim was verified by a panel of three academics who were permitted ‘observer status’. “The two experimental subjects looked very upset just before impact” confirmed a spokesperson for the panel who also declined to be named.
“That was the whole point” said the researchers.
“So long as we could be sure that the two subjects had the same sort of ‘thing’ on their minds, there was a pretty fair chance that that ‘thing’ would be a concept. And it would be on both of the experimental subjects’ minds at the critical moment of impact”.
Ironically, analysis of the experimental data tends to suggest that the common concept was “help”!
“That was pretty much as expected, but it could have been any concept – such as ‘shrimp salad’ or ‘oyster cocktail'” quipped the researchers dipping into a light lunch.
Tight Experimental Design
Experimental design was further tightened by ensuring that both subjects were extensively trained in public relations.
One researcher commented that this ensured that the “total cogital activity did not exceed one concept between the two collidants”.
The experimental subjects were also identical twins. “Once we appreciated the need for tight experimental controls it appeared that the ‘main chance’ the only ‘viable window of opportunity’ was monozygotic half-wits”.
“The public relations officers used in the experiment actually turned out to be quite clever. But how could we have known something like that without the benefit of hindsight?” the researchers stressed. “We have no regrets”.
One in a million shot.
“It was a one in a million shot.” said the researchers in a remark which appears to refer to the relatively violent manner with which experimental subjects were recruited.
It was their procedure rather than their scientific objectives which incurred the ire of the researchers’ colleagues and superiors.
“Our superiors objected because the money used to construct the accelerators could have been used for more pressing practical problems such as library facilities for undergraduates. And there was hostility from our colleagues because of the noise and inconvenience of having people accelerated to near speed of light velocities in the departmental corridors”.
“The funding authorities were suspicious from the start” said the researchers. “But they were only doing their job.”
“It wasn’t easy for anyone, especially those colleagues who worked near the corner of the corridors where the debris from the practice runs tended to gather” said one researcher. The researchers praised the patience and forbearance of all associated with the project, either voluntarily or against their will.
“The scientific and philosophical community have been waiting for something like this result for years. For the last two thousand years at least, humankind has been limited to using concepts in its thinking. It has never been totally satisfactory as events like Parliamentary Democracy and World War Two would appear to indicate”.
“Paradoxical as it may seem, one could say that World War II happened because humanity had split the atom but had not yet split the concept”.
Three Fundamental sub-concepts.
“Our result shows what scientists have always believed to be true – namely that concepts are made of sub-conceptual constituents. So far we have identified three fundamental sub-constituents, each observed to be present for approximately .125 nano-seconds immediately after impact.
At this early stage, it appears that those constituents include what the researchers refer to as ‘nano-notions’ and ‘itsy-bitsy ideas’.
“It was fairly obvious that within the concept there would have to be something like the ‘nano-notion’. And ‘itsy-bitsy ideas’ are one of those enigmas of science which, like Newton’s gravity, seem obvious once pointed out. Who has not had an ‘itsy-bitsy idea’? But the other constituents were more of a surprise” said the researchers.
The third sub-conceptual constituent appears to be a material particle which is something of a surprise and is sure to cause a major re-assessment of the so-called ‘mind/body’ dichotomy first formulated in its most rigorous form by French masseur Rene Descartes.
“The strangest thing of all is that these particles all take the form of extremely small, little Honda Accords. It is certainly something of a surprise to us but at least it explains why those Honda Accords are such popular little devils in the car market”, said the researchers.
“Where the other sub-conceptual constituents left vapour trails of their all too brief existence, in our detection chamber, the Hondas left tiny skid marks. That was the clue!”
A New Era
“This experiment marks the dawn of the age of sub-conceptual thought, an idea so new it is it is not easy to imagine what it might be” effused the researchers.