As mentioned above the “vector” component of the term comes from the fact that information vectors are defined by multiple values. In geometry and physics, a vector is an object with magnitude and direction. In this document the term “vector” is used more generally to describe a thing with multiple defining properties. This section will identify some principles related to the defining properties.
For example, if you hold a flat, red, 6″ wooden disk in your hand, you have some perception of its color, size, shape, firmness and weight. If it was slightly (just slightly) radioactive, you would not know that in the absence of any capable instruments. Therefore, the radioactive level of that disk is not an attribute of this information vector from your perspective. However, if you handed that shape to an extraterrestrial visitor who could sense radiation, that aspect would be a defining characteristic of this information vector to him.
This short and simple principle will prove to be very important:
Simply put, there is some numeric value to all the defining properties of an information vector. The observer may not know the exact nominal value of the property, but the value can be quantified which gives the observer the ability to recognize and compare these property values.
Let’s start with some easy examples. Note that in all examples involving perception, we are assuming that the observer has no sensory impairments.
You hold a red circular disk that is 6″ in diameter and weighs 8oz. This disk represents an information vector. Each of these aspects has a numeric representation, even if, as an observer, you cannot perceive the precision of that number. In other words:
- You recognize the circle as 6″. Your perception of a circle that was 18″ in diameter would be different.
- The circle is red, which means you are perceiving light waves with wavelengths of roughly 700 nanometers. If you held a blue sphere, you would perceive the color differently — blue has a wavelength of roughly 475 nanometers.
- What about the fact that the disk is circular as opposed to being a square, triangle or some irregular shape? The outline of a circle follows a mathematical equation which in its simplest form is: . This document will go into more detail on shapes and images and mathematical functions. The important point for now is that the shape can be numerically represented.
- Also, this disk happens to be made of wooden fiberboard so it is fairly rigid. The stiffness and strength of material can be measured in its relationship to the amount of force required to bend or break it. There is a common measure of this quantity known as Young’s modulus that is commonly used in mechanical engineering and construction. If the disk were to be made of construction paper, you would have some perception of the difference in its rigidity.
- Finally, let’s say that the red disk was constructed in Chicago and the blue disk was constructed in Scranton. This place of origin cannot be readily perceived by the observer in any regard so: the place of origin is not a defining property of this information vector.
- You are standing in a quiet empty parking lot and hear a momentary blaring of an air horn.
- This air horn event represents an information vector.
- In this case, the person blared the air horn for exactly two seconds. We stated earlier that the intelligent mind has an awareness of the passage of time. If the air horn had been blared for 20 seconds, the event would have been perceived differently.
- During that 2 seconds, the air horn sounded at a constant frequency of 500Hz. If the horn sounded at a much higher or lower frequency, the event would have been perceived differently.
- During that 2 seconds, the air horn sounded at a constant volume of 100 decibels. Again, a different measurement of the decibels would indicate a louder or softer horn.
One more example for now:
- You are standing in the street and a fairly large acorn falls on your head. A second ago you weren’t paying any attention to that portion of your head because the associated neurons were not delivering any important message. This acorn impact to the head represents an information vector.
- The force of the acorn to your head is measured as mass * acceleration. The mass and acceleration (due to air resistance) of a falling feather would be much less, as would the feeling of impact.
- The mass of a bowling ball is much more than an acorn. Enough said.
- The hardness of the fallen object also plays into your experience. There are different means of measuring hardness, but all relate to the force we expect to exert to distort the surface of something.