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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

10 Famous Thought Experiments That Just Boggle Your Mind Part 4

Read Part 3: The Ticking Time Bomb

7. Einstein's Light Beam

According to his book Autobiographical Notes, Albert Einstein’s famous work on special relativity was inspired by a thought experiment he conducted when he was only 16 years old. He thought about chasing a beam of light as it traveled through space, and reasoned that if he were able to move next to it at the speed of light, he should be able to observe the light frozen in space as “an electromagnetic field at rest though spatially oscillating.” For Einstein, this thought experiment proved that for his imaginary observer “everything would have to happen according to the same laws as for an observer who, relative to the Earth, was at rest.”

The video below gives a good example of special relativity.

I can't think of how this relates to AI, but the lesson here is that simple thought experiments can lead to extraordinary findings. Therefore I'll keep running all kinds of thought experiments in my head like how properties of intelligence should remain the same regardless of what species is displaying intelligent behaviors.

Read Part 5: The Ship of Theseus


I love staring at the starry sky, because that lets me stare right into the past.