Groceries and theoretical physics

384-cr2oi6Groceries and theoretical physics
Amazed at the human body: Everyday stuff that’s practically theoretical physics complex:

I collecting groceries to bring to the house. Three large bottles of water with handles, opening up a bag and putting loose items in, opening up the bag, and putting things in while holding the bottles, configuring and reconfiguring the positions of my fingers clasped around the handles of each, shifting them around from one side to the other until I got the perfect configuration where I could shut the door with a loose elbow…

…and I thought to myself as I’m doing it, “How many calculations would it take to figure out that *this* is one of the optimum configurations of my fingers, hands, twists, elbows, shoulders, in relation to my body in relation to each of the items I’m carrying, and the steps I did to get there?

What I did was everyday. We all do it. Yet think how mathematically amazing it is if we tried to get the formula to calculate all of that.

I don’t think our brains do all of those calculations though. There’s a concept called Affordances, which makes a little more sense to me. It’s hard to grasp at first, but basically “things find themselves in the optimum configuration at any given moment given the circumstances they find themselves in”. In short, they do what they’re able given the situation and changing as it the situation changes.

Everyday theoretical physics level math.


Oh yes there’s definitely a kind of muscle memory, but consider the relationship between the organism, its capabilities, its task and the environment. That’s what affordances touches on. It goes beyond the organism and its neural activity and enters into a mindset where we might think of robotics that are using minimal computations to accomplish tasks.


Well, I think that’s part of it, but I think there might be a little more to it in the case of optimum fitting situations.

The ability to gauge size and “fittingness” is something we can do in our brains without physical objects present.

Granted, it’s something we have trouble with when we’re young – and some people never overcome it. [the famous experiment of gauging liquid volume is an example some people have trouble overcoming]…/Figure-1-Two…

Yet, one of the things that IQ tests famously measure is the ability to rotate objects in 3D in the brain.

Gauging how to move a couch through a doorway for example:

Some people can “see” how to rotate it just right so that it will fit, without even having had any experience moving.

Other people will forever break the frames around doors because they can never see it.

And inbetween the two extremes, some people learn through experience.

So I think likewise with using fingers/hands/wrists/elbows/shoulders along with loose groceries, putting in bags, putting the hatch of the car down.

Much of it can be attributed to learned skill of course.

At the same time, when did we learn it?

When we’re toddlers we carry our toys to and fro. We drop things. We pick them up. We want to bring EVERYTHING with us at that age.

Maybe the learning primarily takes place at that point. That would be the period of time that gets obscured by the age of 7 or 8, so that the same memories of when they were 3 yrs old that are available to an average 6 year old, are no longer available to the average 9 year old.

Amazing how in 2-3 years that there’s such a strong “forgetting curve”, although it’s not really forgetting, but “incorporating”. The event specifics may be fuzzy or difficult to recall, but the memories have been encoded in our emotional responses, our “automatic” muscle memories and such.

So, I think you’re right and at the same time, I think a lot of the encoding takes place extremely early.


Quite true. I’m not knocking the ability of grown adults to learn new skills: brain has tremendous plasticity. I’ve always had coordination issues from when I was young: they had special training for me when I was in that critical 1-4 yr old range to overcome most of it so that I was able to enter regular school without anything noticeable.

But I think consequently, I’m extra “conscious” of the positionings of my body. I can sit here and I know what my 3rd toe on my right foot feels like at the same time as my left eyebrow and the state of my intestines and how my eyelashes are touching my glasses while typing and thinking my thoughts and hearing a song playing in my head.

Nothing special about these things, but having a hyper-awareness of muscle position and nerves at every given moment of any day I think makes me appreciate the tremendous burden on babies and toddlers in learning how to use their bodies properly. My process had to be helped along, right into the 3.5/4 yr old range, when the first adult-recallable memories will stay behind firmly. [I have some from before that age but they’re more like dreams].

It takes a lot to ignore all the “input” from everywhere and it’s kind of annoying at times but I’m grateful overall.


Please do: I enjoy this kind of stuff smile emoticon I’m unfortunately excessively self-aware of my programming as it operates: the subroutine that monitors an overview of functions as they are happening is always displayed in the corner of my conscious thought.

So, while programmed, the status monitor is the thing I have to ignore a lot: the control panel to modify the automated systems is RIGHT THERE within reach and so, I often mess with it in real time, sometimes to my detriment.

For example, while speaking. I’m conscious of speaking as I’m speaking, conscious of muscle movements of my vocal chords, positioning of tongue, so much so that I barely can think *what* want to say, as my consciousness is wrapped up in the process of speaking itself, trying to get everything right.

I envy those for whom these processes can be ignored and allowed to operated “automatically” tongue emoticon

Had a stutter when I was little. 3rd grade, speech therapy. Learned how to consciously control mouth, tongue, throat, pause, think about positioning. It worked great to fix the stutter. Created a little “pause” in my consciousness, like an extra processing node of self-monitoring.

So, I suspect that little ‘nugget’ of extra processing space remains. Closest thing I can figure.


Weird example: As I walk, there’s something akin to “this guy” in my head. I’m aware of “me” as I’m moving, intentioning and all of that. But then there’s _this_ dude (something like that), which shows my center of gravity, the placement of my feet, the pressure I’m pushing down, the positioning of arms and hands.

Head positioning I have less of an awareness of but the rest is always there.

Kind of annoying because it’s hard to ignore sometimes. Center of gravity is like a nugget or floating ball in my middle somewhere that floats around and moves and my body kinda works around it.

[and your post just showed up so I’ll address that – here tongue emoticon ]

Well, you mention “where did these people get programmed?” and that’s the part where my way of thinking diverges:

I’m _too_ aware of programming attempts on me through the years, where my biases come from, although I discover forgotten ones all of the time, as I’m always on the search.

So, it’s hard for me to see “other people” as running _fully_ on automatic, but I can see when someone has acquired some habits that can easily vanish when they’re pointed out.


Oh I’ve encountered the way of thought your talking about. I mean, people _do_ run on automatic.

But de-automating isn’t difficult. It’s not de-programming to me, as I don’t care to change someone’s political views. They have their reasons, some rational and some irrational just as anybody and everybody has rational and irrational bits.

But you can tell if you’ve made their automated process manual again if they speak to you as a person. Even for a moment, if they can see you as a fellow human being (and you can tell by tone, choice of words and such, and that can be conveyed via text as well as any other means of communication), then you can see their self-awareness of their OWN processes and an awareness of yours.

To me, if I can reach that point even for a moment, I know I’m not taking to an automaton but to a human and that is one of my strongest biases of all: that we really ARE all human individuals and I make it a quest to find “that human” within the automated responses.

How they behave when I’m NOT around? That’s their business smile emoticon




Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

× 7 = forty nine

Leave a Reply