'Running in' CD Players - Is this a misconception?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Lewisimo, Jan 29, 2009.

  1. Lewisimo

    Lewisimo
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    I recently bought an Arcam CD192 and I am led to believe it won't sound it's best until it's been properly ‘run in' – (around 70 hours or so of listening time according to what I've read). Can anyone tell me the science behind this, and what actually changes in the first few days of listening to it? I am not so sure I subscribe to this…I mean it makes sense in that the parts become ‘used' to operation, and it loosens up etc, much like a car engine, but is there actually a scientific reason for it or is it just a load of audiophile hogwash? Thanks!
     
  2. andy1249

    andy1249
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    You nailed it there :D

    To subscribe to that idea , you would have to believe that the data stream from the player changes during the first 70 hours of use , ....as you said yourself , Hogwash !!
     
  3. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe
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    Sorry, but I subscribe to that based upon my experience with a variety of kit. For example, my Naim CDP certainly changed during the first couple of weeks ownership.
    The type of reason that made some sense to me was burn in of the capacitors and other electronics that are in the chain from the transport to the analogue outputs.
    If you think about the crystalline structure of the semi-conductors, I've read that these will change during the initial period of serious use due to the current being pushed through them.
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to say that this is the actual reason, just what I've read, but it makes some sense, and I certainly believe that I've heard it.
     
  4. andy1249

    andy1249
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    Apologies , I jumped to the conclusion that most people these days would be using a digital interconnect and never gave the analog outs a thought.

    It makes no sense at all when your talking about digital interconnects , but with analog , it may well be a possibility.
     
  5. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe
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    Andy,

    As the OP had mentioned the Arcam CDP, I assumed that he was probably going to be using the analogue outputs.
    Having said that, I also believe that the sound of my SB+ changed during the first month of use, and that was only used as a digital transport. The burn in was with the PSU. Please don't ask me to explain why that would make such a difference, especially bearing in mind that it's only really supporting the clocks and similar.

    On of the key things I've really learned in the years of playing with kit is that we simply don't know how to measure all the things that affect sound from a system, and that the only way to be sure, is to listen for yourself.
     
  6. karkus30

    karkus30
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    God, if you have modified using Black gate capacitors you have little choice but burning them in........long winded and very frustrating (probably never go that route again, slightly inferior caps would be easier).
     
  7. andy1249

    andy1249
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    No offense guys , but Im an engineer and cant buy that , I spend my working life measuring all the things that affect sound and just about everything else and am absolutely positive they can be measured.
    These devices wouldnt exist otherwise.
    The design engineers dont just throw a load of parts together and hope for the best !
     
  8. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe
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    Now that's got me curious. I've got to ask, how do you measure the difference between say a Naim and an MF amplifier? They clearly sound different, but I've never seen a measurement showing why.
     
  9. ell-ess-dee

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    Total rubbish. All that changes is your ears getting used to the sound..


    This only applies to speakers..
     
  10. Clive197

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    Hi
    There is no scientific reason or explanation as to why audio products need to burn in (except speakers which when new are mechanicaly stiff and do need running in). I have spoken to a number of manufacturers including CABLE suppliers and they all to a man say that their products need to burn in.
    On using new kit for the first time out of the box, we will always run them in for 48hrs before putting them out for demo and I have heard some awful sounds which have become silken after this process.
    I cannot accept this is just my ears as I am listening to all different items daily. Therefor I must surmise that their is some truth in Burn-In even though as an experienced HiFi addict I am unable to offer any scientific explanation.
    I offer these thoughts not as argument but purely as in my experience.
    Regards
     
  11. Paul D

    Paul D
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    I'm relatively new to hi-fi as a hobby, although like most i've had various hi-fi's throughout the years.
    For the last eight years, i have been heavily involved in home cinema.
    During that time, various questions about "burning in" equipment and expensive cables kept coming up.
    Like most, i wasn't sure what was fiction and what was fact.
    This came to a head at one particular cinema/hi-fi show.
    The guy who organised it was showing off some "power leads".
    The hi-fi equipment used was as high end as it comes.(would make footballers wince!)
    There was over thirty hi-fi buffs surrounding me, as we did some back to back demoing.
    We were asked to raise our hands when the "power lead" was being used.
    After four playing loops, nobody had raised their hands.
    The guy then repeated his request just to make sure everybody was sure what to do!
    Again, nobody raised their hands.
    To makes things easier, he then decided to announce what cable was being used each time.
    This time the reaction was amazing.
    Well over half the people there started to comment on how much better the "power lead" sound was!!!:suicide:
    When i expressed my opinion that there was zero difference between the two, the general reply was that it was either because of my limited experience in hi-fi or my hearing was faulty...:rolleyes:

    Not happy with this, i started talking to the heads of several hi-fi companies.
    What came out of these conversations would surprise many.
    First to come up is the fact that in their testings, "power leads" made zero and i mean zero difference to the sound output.
    I say sound "output", because that is the whole point.
    They don't argue that the "power leads" may make a slight difference to the input.
    However, nothing they had tested could point to benefits or detriments.
    The first port of call in any high end gear is the power supply.
    This is where the money is spent, and is what makes all the difference.
    In a direct comment, one "President" said they would be over the moon and happy to supply these "power leads" as standard if they made even a fraction of a difference.
    Their view being that on a £5000-£10,000 amplifier, a £100-£500 "power lead" that actually improved the sound would be a bargain.
    Most of their R&D is spent trying to get rid of any nasties on the power supply.
    So unless they have done a **** poor job, no "power lead" or even line conditioners will not make any difference.

    Later on tonight i will tell you more on what was said about "running in" and cables and interconnects.
    Here things are not so clear cut, so i will be spending a little more time on this very subject.
    As mentioned at the start, i'm relatively new to this. This means i'm also unbiased and willing to learn.
    During this learning phase, i'm more than happy to share any information good or bad.
    My attitude to all of this is "if it works it works", "if it doesn't then maybe it's just me!".
    Will post later etc.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2009
  12. andy1249

    andy1249
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    What you are hearing is an electrical output , sent down cables to a pair of speakers . The speakers convert this to sound waves for you to hear.
    The output of any two amps can be captured and compared , any two amps can also be comprehensively tested for frequency response , bandwidth , cut off points and so on , and differences in these results between the two amps can and will be clearly seen.

    Which one sounds " better " though is always subjective , but the engineers aim is always to get the content off the media and too the speakers with as little distortion as possible, and distortion is easily measured.

    One of the main reasons for almost universal shift to digital is high noise immunity nature of the signal.
    Again its an electrical signal , however instead of it being an eletrical analog of the sound itself , it is an electrical representation of an encoded sound wave , and with digital all that matters is the code.

    When it comes to a digital interconnect , the bitstream from one piece of AV gear can be easily compared to another , if they are the same , then thats all there is to it and the results from both pieces of gear are identical full stop.

    With a CD player , there is a certain code on the disc , a certain bit ( binary digit ) stream that comes from the CD. Using a digital interconnect , if the bitstream matches whats on the CD then the CD's output is perfect.
    Given the nature of the equipment , no component " burn in " could possibly affect the outcome unless it completely failed , in which case the output breaks up catastrophically , there would be no point in time whereby subtle sound differences came into play.

    Im with ell-ess-dee on this one , if you think you are hearing burn in and you are using digital interconnects , then you are just getting used to a new system.

    When it comes to analog , Im prepared to give a little ground here , because every single point on the electrical representation of the sound wave matters and any change is likely to appear on the speaker output to some extent.

    New components electrical characteristics do change , and this will most likely show in the sound wave.
    Human hearing has a standard range , but this varies considerably with individuals and I wouldnt presume to say what some can hear and some cannot.
    There are definite limits to this though ,it only goes so far , and every piece of equipment has a limited range of frequencies it can reproduce.

    Some claims by audiophiles are clearly outside the capabilities of any piece of equipment and falls into the " mystical " category. Most of which is pure imagination.
    I can pretty much guarantee you that none of these mystics work as design engineers.
     
  13. Cable Monkey

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    Always follow the manufacturers suggestions. Some say it is necessary (Esoteric who have a large heavy transport with ceramic bearings on their better players). Some say it isn't. Most don't say anything. I personally will always give a new component or modified equipment a week before making that judgement call. That is (oddly enough) because of my electronics measurement background which allows for hardware to acclimatise before making any objective or subjective measurements or comparisons. It just levels the playing field IMO.
     
  14. karkus30

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    :rotfl: and you know what Einstein said about that dont you ?

    "Imagination is more important than knowledge." A.E.

    and Thomas Edison.

    "To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk" TE

    So maybe not all engineers but certainly a few well know physicists.

    "Sometimes you can explain a thing as an illusion, and sometimes an illusion is a thing, and it is you that is the illusion" Karkus30 electrical design engineer :hiya:
     
  15. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe
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    Funny you mention that, have a look at these links:
    ca intro
    The whole article is actually about viewpoints on computer audio (which is way off topic), but does cover some points related to this thread.

    Being more specific, here's a sub link:
    ca hansen

    and a quote from it:
    "This belongs in the "green pen" area. We know that differences exist. We can make hand-waving explanations as to why, but as far as I know, nobody has the "real" answer. Most of high end audio is like that. For example, why do cables sound different? I mean really sound different? Nobody knows, they just make up plausible sounding stories."

    That's written by Charles Hansen, designer at Ayre acoustics, i.e. one of the best high-end manufacturers out there.
    Would you consider Charles to be a reasonable person to quote from?
     
  16. andy1249

    andy1249
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    When you get to the high end , differences become minimum at best , in probably the worst case of diminishing returns you'll ever see. The more you spend in that bracket, the smaller the improvements get.
    So to differentiate , a lot of BS is deliberately spread.
    Designing AV gear is not magic, its a very well understood engineering discipline and that tosh above is whats called a sales tactic.

    A good tip , never ever ever, believe anything like that printed or written by someone who has a vested interest in one company.
    That should be obvious !

    And for the record , there are no stars in engineering , as much as I would like it to be otherwise , and as for peer respect , spouting anything like the above is sure to lose you it in this discipline.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2009
  17. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe
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    Cool way to debate the point. Firstly you infer that designers are worth listening to, then you discredit the well regarded one that I quote on the grounds of vested interest.
    I've got to ask, what's your vested interest?

    If what you were saying was true, i.e. that all digital products really were the same, then who in their right mind would bother with products like:
    - VRDS transports
    - clock mods from groups like Audiocom and Trichord
    If electrical items were the same, how would PS audio ever sell a power supply unit?

    Finally, I've got to ask, just what experience do you have with listening to high end gear like Esoteric, Audionote and similar?
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2009
  18. Paul D

    Paul D
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    OK part 2!

    So with "power leads" out of the way, what about "burning in"?
    The conversation then moved to this area, and there seems to be some truth to this.
    However, it does depend on what equipment you are talking about.
    Analogue and valve equipment can and does drift with use.
    Two of the guys i spoke too said that most of their newer/modern equipment is designed to make allowance for components to "settle in".
    But it was pointed out that it would almost be impossible for anybody to actually hear the differences, and even then it would be subjective if this actually helped the sound.
    The tolerances allowed where more from an engineering point of view rather than sound etc.

    The general consensus on speaker cables was that price had NO bearing on sound quality.
    From what i could gather from the limited comments was that length. gauge and strands could reproduce very subtle differences, but again subjectively if this actually improved the sound.
    I was advised to look inside many amps and speakers and see what wire was used to connect the speaker terminals.
    Putting fancy expensive wire between these standard wires just doesn't make sense.

    Analogue interconnects do seem to have an impact on sound, but only up to a certain point.
    It seems cheap leads can pick up interference, and can actually degrade the sound even if isolated from interference sources.
    The advice i got was to keep them short as possible.
    Make sure they are well screened and well made.
    Don't be fooled by flashy designs and outrageous claims.

    Digital leads (including fibre optics) can effect the sound.
    But only to the degree that very long or poorly designed products can lose data.
    This can come across as random noise or sound drop outs.
    It could also lead other forms of corruption.
    Again i was advised to just buy well made and good quality to minimise data loss.
    All laughed at the notion that different high end digital cables can alter the characteristics of the sound.

    Speakers do need running in.
    I was told it wasn't the internal crossovers, rather that the cone material/rubbers are stiff when new.
    These soften with use and allow the cone to move more freely (which adds bass), and become more sensitive.

    I was told to sort the room out, position the speakers correctly and try to avoid wi-fi/baby monitors near the equipment.
    All common sense really, but this can and will have much greater impact than those super duper expensive cables and connects.
    I was told that everyone would be much better off spending all the money poured into these aftermarket upgrades, on upgrading to the next level of equipment.
    Better DACs/transports, amplifiers and speakers would have real improvements to the sound.
    These would be improvements that actually exist and could be demonstrated in blind tests!

    I've followed the advise and am very happy with my modest set up.
    If at any point in the future i find that any of the above isn't true, i will be the first back here to report it!
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2009
  19. andy1249

    andy1249
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    Genuine designers are worth listening too , and that person may be well regarded among the audiofoolery's so called elite, but he is not well regarded amongst anyone professional.

    He is amongst the same calibre of people who work for monster and claim their HDMI's are capable of deeper blacks and trash like that. Someone who helps a company spread esoteric smoke and mirrors to fool the more gullible into believing ( what can only ever be ) unsubstantiated claims.

    If you want a good example of this kind of hocus pocus and an absolutely brilliant example of a good engineer vs a bad one take a look at the videos here.

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/hdmi-cables-switches/900577-hdmi-event-avforums-tv.html

    The first two are from an excellent engineer , I dont know him , but hes clearly only interested in dispelling the hogwash and trying to get the truth across , for the record , thats my only vested interest here.

    The third is affiliated with a cable company , and cannot resist the old cable company ruse of playing down the benefits of digital interconnects and trying to justify a 1000 dollar interconnect , as if there ever could be justification for such a blatant rip-off. That is an example of an " engineer" with a vested interest.

    And regarding this ....

    dont twist my words to try and make everything black and white , I said no such thing , what I said was the outputs of any system can be measured and its not magic , its engineering.
    I also said that there was no way a phenomenon like burning in components could affect a digital output , and that is true , its rendered impossible by the nature of the circuit.

    Having said that , Not all CD players are the same , they can and do output bitstreams not identical to whats on the CD , on the high end this manifests itself as a form of upscaling if you like , on the lower end it manifests as error masking routines to hide the mistakes made by cheap drive units. There are also numerous other ways in which players can output non identical bitstreams , all of them measurable and none of them down to burn in.

    Regardless , in all cases , the effects can be measured with great accuracy and theres no smoke and mirrors needed.

    There is no such thing as a real difference between any two pieces of audio gear that cannot be measured. If two pieces of gear are inspected and measured and there is no difference , then there really is no difference and any claims to the contrary are nonsense. As much as audiophiles would like to think otherwise , there are no such things as magic ears.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2009
  20. Mr_Sukebe

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    Just one further question Andy, what experience do you have of listening to high end components?
     
  21. karkus30

    karkus30
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    Wow you really have a strong opinion :)

    Well you can measure as long as you know what exactly your measuring.

    With your engineering hat on, why not just accept that people do hear a difference and then try and discover why ? Then maybe you can discover some of that magic that you doubt so much.

    You cannot know exactly what another person hears, sees, feels etc (if you could it would probably be a far more intense sensation than any drugs).

    Oh yeah, all ears are magic :thumbsup:
     
  22. SirDoss

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    Well, just to jump in, I bought the Arcam cd73 not long back and wondered the same thing. Apart from a slight burning smell inside the cabinet which dissapeared after a week, I could not tell any difference at all after a decent run in.
     
  23. phil t

    phil t
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    So that means others can’t?

    :)
     
  24. phil t

    phil t
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    True, but aren’t we talking about a compact disk player with analogue o/p?

    :)
     
  25. andy1249

    andy1249
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    That is always the case , thats pretty much how it works , a certain claim is made , the gear is hooked up , the data is analysed , sometimes the data supports the claims , sometimes it does not. In addition some claims are so outrageous that theres really no point in measuring , but the measurements are done anyway and the data presented to have at hand for proof.

    I dont know where it originated but engineering managers are fond of the following line ...

    " In god we trust , Everyone else brings Data ! " :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2009
  26. phil t

    phil t
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    Which kind of misses the point? We’re talking about something that evokes an emotional response, whether we realise it or not. No two people will react in quite the same way, one mans meat is another’s poison etc.

    Measure away, me, I’m keeping an open mind AND enjoying the music.

    :)
     
  27. andy1249

    andy1249
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    :D

    Now that is a funny one ,

    Regarding Einstein , without Eddingtons measurements and data he would have been dismissed as a crank.

    And as for Edison , these days hes considered the worlds first patent troll , and spent a huge amount of time publicly ridiculing Teslas AC distribution model for electricity in favour of his own massively wasteful DC distribution model.
    As usual the more practical application won out in the end.

    Media soundbites are usually just that :D
     
  28. andy1249

    andy1249
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    Actually no , heres the OP's original point ,

    AV gear being purely an engineering discipline , this can be answered purely from an engineering point of view.

    My point is , that some aspects of the design ( mostly the analog aspects ) allow for differences , and some dont.
    From the point of view of the listener claiming a difference , in some cases that difference is physically there , in some cases it most definitely is not.
    In the latter case , Im going to cry foul , and as usual , independant blind tests will back that cry up.
     
  29. karkus30

    karkus30
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    It's studying why those claims are so outrageous that is of interest. The peson making them perceives the difference.

    This is something that I discovered by chance. We live close to a supermarket and I was kept awake by the low frequency noise made by the compressers.

    My wife who has far better hearing than me was oblivious. The sound was so annoying that we eventually moved to another room permanently.

    We had the local council to do a check on the noise levels and they were unmeasurable, although the guy that came out said he could clearly hear the noise.

    So, for some reason I am very tuned in to that particular frequency even though it might be on a level with every other sound, for some reason I pick it out and amplify it. It cant be measured, but still it creates the effect.

    Now, on the other hand my wife can pick up differences between the sound of amplifiers. She has no real interest in hifi, but still can tell what I have changed within seconds.

    How ? is it something that she picks up from me, a certain vibe that indicates I have made a change? Is it the components, the shape of the box and its materials, maybe some mechanical thing, maybe some radiated component.

    Data is good but we are beginning to scrape at the surface of the 'not so exact' with quantum physics.

    It's the Schrodingers Cat experiment.

    When you consider that all matter is just a mass of vibrating particles that have no colour or composition. We just add that by our perception. We create our own version by interpreting the signals we receive from our senses. The world we create is our own world. What we measure we measure and interpret in our own world. Yes there are laws and mass/energy are real but outside of that anything is possible.

    Just have an open mind.
     
  30. andy1249

    andy1249
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    Kindly read the first few posts ?


    Ok thats it for me , Im out , Ive said my part. :D
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2009

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