Crossing the boundary - analogue universe, digital worlds
Crossing the boundary - analogue universe, digital worlds

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Crossing the boundary - analogue universe, digital worlds

3.10 A final word – analogue and digital worlds

So there we have it. On the one hand is our world, an analogue world – a world of light and sound, of taste and touch. On the other side of the boundary is the computer's digital world – a bleak world of binary numbers.

Before I leave the topic, though, I should point out that some of the points I've made may be controversial.

For a start, it's not entirely clear whether the world we inhabit is fundamentally analogue. Quantum theory tells us, for instance, that quantities like light are made up of tiny packets (quanta) of energy. This means that the intensity of a source of light may not vary continuously, but will go up or down in discrete (quantum) steps. Some theories suggest that forces like gravity, and even space itself, may be made up of tiny quanta.

Nor is it certain whether the human brain is an analogue or a digital device. Certainly, the brain is quite different in structure and function from a digital machine. Lazy comparisons between the human mind and a computer are completely misleading. However, there is still argument about whether, at some level, the brain functions like a digital device.

These are all esoteric debates, though, and beyond the scope of this course. Let's now return to our main theme and cross the boundary.

M150_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus