Tuesday, 7 April 2009

The Nature of Observation

I just watched this http://vimeo.com/2910103.
I began thinking about the subtlety and detail of everyday visual observation that is missed by the persistance of vision, the limit of the human vision system. So here are some random thoughts on the nature of scientific observation- in no particular order.

1) If we have 5 senses with which to experience the world then how should they best be used for the purpose of scientific observation?

2) What improvement in understanding can be afforded by the contribution of each sense in interpreting data? i.e. In which circumstances would it be better to hear voltages rather than see them on an oscilloscope?

3) What are the charateristics of each sense which would suit them to interpreting phenomina? Presumeably the nature of each facet of the human sensory system will naturally match up with interpreting the observations of real physical phenomina due to mathematical similarities of the oberseved and observing systems.

4) Are current sensing technologies well optimised to interface with our sensory systems?

5) What is the effectiveness of enhancing sensory accuracy compared to enhancing the means with which to comprehend by relating to the observations? Or are observations just numbers and constants in equations?

6) Does vision merely represent the highest information to data ratio with which humans can observe the world in most cases? Surely the brain is already optimised to reject 'useless' information for survival. What are the characteristics of this optimisation?
Surely for the best possible observation, the optimisation should be a according to the nature of the properties of the phenomia being observed and not a function of evolutionary specificity of the sensory system of the observer?

7) Is the efficiency for obtaining information about an event:
the useful information that can be obtained from the data about an event over total data obtained
rather than
the data which we have evolved to percieve to be useful over the total data obtained
i.e. are there any evolotionary limiting factors which prevent us from making full use of observations? How can these be overcome?

8) What additional insights could be made if our senses were enhanced or exploited to their fullest potential by appropriate presentation / encapsulation of data to make best use of each sense?

9) Is mathematical analysis the only way to make sense of data?

10) Can observation be improved to facillitate the earlier stages to prevent unecessary analysis?