Evolving Perception

Why do we see what we see? It is clear that what we perceive is not the truth – the world is certainly not contained in three dimensions and the book you think is there is not really there. Our perception and our intuition is oriented in a certain way, diverging from the truth. We cannot, for instance, intuitively grasp the slowing down of time when moving very fast (though we can do the math) like we can judge the width of a box or how far we can jump.

I think this has to do the way we evolved. Our ancestors were not required to do complex mathematics in their head in order to survive – understanding the wave nature of particles was obviously not as important as figuring the path to the nearest stream. We evolved the way we needed to evolve. Our perception and our intuition evolved in a way so we could make more practical sense of the universe. We evolved to understand classical mechanics, because that was what nature decreed.

Perhaps, someday, when we take up space travel seriously (though I’m not sure if that day would come, and our race won’t perish long before) we’ll need to evolve such counter-intuitive intuitions to continue to survive. All of us would be Einsteins then, and we’ll find the curvature of space-time as natural as a ball bouncing off a wall.

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