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Monthly Archives: July 2010
In a recent blog post, evolutionary biologist, Jerry Coyne, doesn’t flinch at spelling out the implications of strict naturalism for the idea of free will: We simply don’t like to think that we’re molecular automatons, and so we adopt a definition … Continue reading
My daughters are four and six, and barring a severe catastrophe (personal or civilizational), my guess is that they’ll have lifespans that might double that of the average person living today. By the time they hit about the age of 50 (around … Continue reading
Thinking about Symmetry via Stuart Kauffman, William Blake, AR Ammons, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Robert Frost—and My Wife
Biologist Stuart Kauffman blogs for the National Public Radio (NPR) website, and recently wrote a post reflecting on the universe’s symmetry breaking: To begin at the beginning, . . . The universe started extremely hot, dense, and essentially uniform, or isotropic. Perhaps all four … Continue reading
A possibilian? A recent profile of neuroscientist David Eagleman explains what that is: Eagleman rejects not only conventional religion but also the labels of agnostic and atheist. In their place, he has coined the term possibilian: a word to describe those … Continue reading
Old film footage of Santa Monica Pier, 1954. No sound. Like the moments in this footage, we too are fast becoming the ghosts of time.
Could a physicist (or someone at least somewhat in the know) answer a simple question for me? Does the video below roughly approximate what went on at the Big Bang (a symmetry is broken, its granular debris entropically shattering and cascading … Continue reading
This is a trippy story. The carbon molecule called a “buckyball”—named after Buckminster Fuller—has been discovered to be floating free in space: Sir Harry Kroto, who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry with Bob Curl and Rick Smalley for the discovery … Continue reading
Countdown to Zero is supposed to be a documentary not to be missed, and its website says that the film starts in theatres today. Its subject: nuclear terrorism and the dangers associated with nuclear proliferation. Here’s what Salon says about Countdown to Zero: As [Valerie … Continue reading
Why Read Literature or Watch Good Films? Martha Nussbaum on the Role of the Imagination in the Cultivation of Empathy
Here’s a great quote from Martha Nussbaum’s new book, From Disgust to Humanity: Sexual Orientation and Constitutional Law (Oxford 2010, xvii): That ‘terrified’ gay teenager needs, and deserves, equal respect, and a sphere of liberty equal to that enjoyed by … Continue reading
In the video below, the guy at the mike falls off message and says that Nevada Republican, Sharon Angle, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, will make herself available for questions. Oops! You see, Sharon Angle doesn’t take questions from … Continue reading
Reason, to my mind, is a human universal (though some do it far better than others). In other words, barring intellectual disability or brain injury, human beings have a universal capacity for reasoning with others: we can deduct, induct, experiment, … Continue reading
Below is a rather creative video rendition of the holographic principle. In string theory, the holographic principle is simply this: a two-dimensional area—the cosmological horizon 13.7 billion light years away from where we think that we are—may be sufficient for accounting for all the information … Continue reading
I find Jay Shafer’s Thoreau-like experiment elegant and inspiring. Who needs a mortgage if you have creativity?
Who are we? Where are we? Here’s my current answer. I think I can put it in a four line stanza. And I suppose it’s what I might tell my children the next time one of them asks me: At turns beautiful … Continue reading
Christopher Hitchens was recently interviewed by Hugh Hewitt, and offered an interesting tidbit on a rhetorical strategy that tends to work for him: [W]hen I write, as often as I can, I try to write as if I’m talking to people. It … Continue reading
Isn’t Glenn Beck a lovely human being? Here what he said on Tuesday about Jesus and the Jews: Jesus conquered death. He wasn’t victimized. He chose to give his life. He did have a choice. If he was a victim, … Continue reading
Ah, young Hamlet!
Earlier this week, there was a mind-bending New York Times article on gravity that also touched on the possibility that we live in a holographic universe. Here is one of the key passages from the New York Times article explaining the so-called … Continue reading
GOP candidate for Georgia governor, Karen Handel, in a recent interview for local Georgia television, offers no reasons for opposing gay adoption. She just does: Q: So you think gay couples are less qualified to function as parents than straight couples? A: I … Continue reading