Theorized Solution to Zeno's Paradox
Lynd e-mailed me the other day in response to my complaint that "Why hasn't anybody solved Zeno's Paradox." This is an exerpt of what he had to say...
Lynds' solution to the Achilles and the tortoise paradox, submitted to Philosophy of Science, helped explain the work. A tortoise challenges Achilles, the swift Greek warrior, to a race, gets a 10m head start, and says Achilles can never pass him. When Achilles has run 10m, the tortoise has moved a further metre. When Achilles has covered that metre, the tortoise has moved 10cm...and so on. It is impossible for Achilles to pass him. The paradox is that in reality, Achilles would easily do so. A similar paradox, called the Dichotomy, stipulates that you can never reach your goal, as in order to get there, you must firstly travel half of the distance. But once you've done that, you must still traverse half the remaining distance, and half again, and so on. What's more, you can't even get started, as to travel a certain distance, you must firstly travel half of that distance, and so on.
According to both ancient and present day physics, objects in motion have determined relative positions. Indeed, the physics of motion from Zeno to Newton and through to today take this assumption as given. Lynds says that the paradoxes arose because people assumed wrongly that objects in motion had determined positions at any instant in time, thus freezing the bodies motion static at that instant and enabling the impossible situation of the paradoxes to be derived. "There's no such thing as an instant in time or present moment in nature. It's something entirely subjective that we project onto the world around us. That is, it's the outcome of brain function and consciousness."
Rather than the historical mathematical proof provided in the 19th century of summing an infinite series of numbers to provide a finite whole, or in the case of another paradox called the Arrow, usually thought to be solved through functional mathematics and Weierstrass' "at-at" theory, Lynds' solution to all of the paradoxes lay in the realisation of the absence of an instant in time underlying a bodies motion and that its position was constantly changing over time and never determined. He comments, "With some thought it should become clear that no matter how small the time interval, or how slowly an object moves during that interval, it is still in motion and it's position is constantly changing, so it can't have a determined relative position at any time, whether during a interval, however small, or at an instant. Indeed, if it did, it couldn't be in motion."