TED Conversations

Cameron Robert

This conversation is closed.

A deceptively simple question: What is, was, and will always be impossible to occur?

I'm having difficulty answering this question with any certainty.

At first glance, most people would agree that some things are impossible.
But then have a difficult time giving an example.

The imagination allows us to think of something seemingly "impossible" and then in the next thought, to think of a way that it might be possible.

Is this a true reflection of reality?
Might nothing be impossible?

Impassable numbers such as the speed of light and absolute zero are not as absolute as they were once considered to be.

This type of thinking leads to the suggestion that all endeavors will eventually succeed and that any idea put forth at one point was, or will be valid.

Dare I say, might a god exist, just not yet?
Can any of this be true?

As a caveat, this question does not concern labels.
It is impossible for a triangle to have 4 sides, but it is possible for a triangle to be modified in such a way that it now possess 4 sides. The label of triangle is no longer appropriate, but it was never meant to be binding in the first place.


Closing Statement from Cameron Robert

This conversation has come to an end and I thank everyone that took the time to participate.
We certainly did cover a lot of territory.

I think the take away message here is that nothing should be assumed.
At one time or another, we (all) assumed something that wasn't true.

In order to overcome this, we needed the help of another perspective.
Indeed, I started this conversation on TED to seek out this very thing.

Although I have not come across anything that I am convinced is impossible, another interesting question has arose.
As proposed by LaMar Alexander, it is impossible (for humans) to know what is impossible.

This may be true. But why might it be true?

Is it impossible because our minds are limited?
Is it impossible because impossible doesn't exist?

Are we unable to find the destination or does the destination not exist?

Either way,
I think it is interesting to think about the limits of the human mind and how those limitations might be overcome.
And also to consider that minds greater than ours might exist, conceiving of what is just outside of our reach.

Until then, think about it.

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    May 24 2013: sorry for the slow response Cameron. This question boggles my mind..A straightforward answer is that reality means everything that appears to our five senses - everything that we can see, smell, touch and so forth.
    However, Are we are part of a cosmic hologram? Do we exist in an infinity of parallel worlds? I do not believe we will ever agree on a universal definition.
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      May 24 2013: Wouldn't we if we uncovered the correct one?
      One day someone might find proof that we are in a hologram, then it would be difficult to not accept that definition.
      I don't think that the nature of reality is so elusive that it will never be explained.

      What if only a few people survived a mass extinction?
      Might the small number of people alive make this task easier?
      If it is able to be made easier, then it was able to be done in the first place.

      This question is really trying to define what the limits of our reality are (if there are any).
      Although history might tell us differently, I don't think that it is impossible for humans to all agree in the future.

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