Posts Tagged “Science”

08w27:2 Max Tegmark

by timothy. 0 Comments

The summary, as I’ve understood it.

‘if 2 + 2 =4 and that means the same things as two plus two equals four or deux et deux egale a quatre then the equation points to something independent of the symbols we use to represent it, and further, it represents patterns independent of the language and symbology of human beings.

Contrast this with Richard Rorty’s claims (as I understand them) that it is precisely this use of symbolic language which suggests there is nothing inherent in the Universe – no underlying Truth or nature. For Rorty, 2 + 2 = 4 is only true for those of us who understand what those symbols mean. In other words, it’s a quirk of our mind to assume that just because we recognize a relationship/pattern and use words to describe it, doesn’t mean it actually exists independent of our minds. Like, we recognize ‘fingers’ and have words in each language to describe them, but absent human beings human fingers would not exist.

Thus, absent human beings, a universe described by human math would not exist either. – Timothy

Is the Universe Actually Made of Math?

Max Tegmark | Wikipedia

Max Tegmark | MIT (Homepage)

The Mathamatical Universe

Shut up and Calculate (the so called ‘Director’s Cut’ of The Mathamatical Universe)

Many lives in many worlds

08w09:1 TAAGTG

by timothy. 0 Comments

Blue eye color in humans may be caused … | Eiberg, Troelsen, Nielsen, Mikkelsen, Mengel-From, Kjaer, Hansen
The origin of the founder mutation – The mutations responsible for the blue eye color most likely originate from the neareast area or northwest part of the Black Sea region, where the great agriculture migration to the northern part of Europe took place in the Neolithic periods about 6–10,000 years ago (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994).

The high frequency of blue-eyed individuals in the Scandinavia and Baltic areas indicates a positive selection for this phenotype (Cavalli-Sforza et al. 1994; Myant et al. 1997). Several theories has been suggested to explain the evolutionary selection for pigmentation traits which include UV expositor causing skin cancer, vitamin D deficiency, and also sexual selection has been mentioned. Natural selection as suggested here makes it difficult to calculate the age of the mutation.

Blue Eye Genotype

08w03:3 A brain floating in space on a midwinter's day

by timothy. 0 Comments

Big Brain Theory: Have Cosmologists Lost Theirs? | Dennis Overbye
“It could be the weirdest and most embarrassing prediction in the history of cosmology, if not science. If true, it would mean that you yourself reading this article are more likely to be some momentary fluctuation in a field of matter and energy out in space than a person with a real past born through billions of years of evolution in an orderly star-spangled cosmos. Your memories and the world you think you see around you are illusions.”

07w50:5 The Evolutionary Wild Fire

by timothy. 0 Comments

It began on December 10th, with two articles:

Are humans evolving faster?

Genome study places modern humans in the evolutionary fast lane

and then was picked up by Scientific American, the Houston Chronicle, ABC News, the Huffington PostM, Arts, and Reuters. The next day on December 11th, Bruce Sterling posts on this in his blog, liking to the coverage in the LA Times.

The New York Times of course has it, and Drudgereport links to the Yahoo version. Slashdot links to the Reuters story. The BBC picks it up as well.

Drudge Retort links to the story in the Houston Chronicle. 2Blowhards links to the original research paper (PDF), with supporting links to the LA Times story, the PR, (via Steve Sailer), John Hawks’ blog, and Scientific American. Andrew Sullivan gets in the game. William Saletan blogs it in his Slate column.

Wednesday Dec 12th brings one link to the acceleration story, by mcmath61 at However, on December 12th the New York Times reports on another evolutionary story, as to the adaptation of a women’s spine to bipedal pregnancy. This news release at Eureka Alert suggests the loss of fur (and hence the loss of the ape’s tendency to have babies clinging to the fur) encouraged the development of that bipedality. CNN picks up the pregnancy story,

The Eureka Alert press release on the adaptive spine goes out on the following day, December 13th, and the New York Times reprints a slightly altered version of their previous day’s take. The Boston Globe writes up the pregnancy story, and the Globe & Mail reproduces it.

Jason Kottke gets on the Accelerated Evolution bandwagon on this day, linking to the New York Times article, as does Slashdot. The Economist does its write-up.

Finally, on December 14th, William Saletan picks up the theme and writes about it in a piece called The Evolution of Evolution.

07w44:4 Twelve Thousand Nine Hundred Years Ago

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Evidence for an extraterrestrial impact 12,900 years ago that contributed to the megafaunal extinctions and the Younger Dryas cooling | … et al (PDF)

To borrow stbalbach’s write up on Metafilter:

“On May 23, 2007 a multi-disciplinary team of scientists announced (YouTube, 70mins, 7-parts, part1-1 is a summary) the finding of physical evidence strongly suggesting that, around 12,900 years ago (10,900 BC), a massive Shoemaker-Levy type comet hit the atmosphere, air burst over the Great Lakes region of North America and probably engulfed much of the continent in a fireball and subsequent firestorm with catastrophic effects for life and climate. The extraterrestrial event coincides with the mass extinction or depopulation of many of North America’s largest mammals (including camels, mammoths, the short-faced bear and numerous other species); coincides with the end of the Clovis culture; and coincides with the start of a global climatic shift known as the Younger Dryas, a sudden return of Ice Age conditions. The “Younger Dryas impact event”, as it is banally being called, now competes with some well known and hotly debated theories, such as human hunters killed the mammals; or the Younger Dryas was caused by a slow down in the Gulf Stream (which has implications for current Global Warming predictions). On September 27, 2007 the team officially published their findings as Evidence for an extraterrestrial impact 12,900 years ago that contributed to the megafaunal extinctions and the Younger Dryas cooling (PNAS open access).”

04w51:4 Beautiful Maths

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 51 number 4 (beautiful maths)


Cones, Curves, Shells, Towers | Margaret Wertheim
“At first glance it does not seem possible that such a complex, curving form could have been folded from a single sheet of paper, and yet it was. The construction is one of an astonishing collection of paper objects folded by Dr. David Huffman, a former professor of computer science at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a pioneer in computational origami, an emerging field with an improbable name but surprisingly practical applications. ” New York Times article, may require registration

Mathematicians crochet chaos | BBC News
“Dr Hinke Osinga and Professor Bernd Krauskopf, of Bristol University’s engineering mathematics department, used 25,511 crochet stitches to represent the Lorenz equations.”

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emailed by Timothy on Friday 17 December 2004 @ 6:32 PM

04w36:1 Alice and Bob

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Good Reads Mailing List | 2004 week 36 number 1 (Alice and Bob)


Teleportation goes long distance | Paul Rincon
“Researchers from the University of Vienna and the Austrian Academy of Science used an 800m-long optical fibre fed through a public sewer system tunnel to connect labs on opposite sides of the River Danube. The link establishes a channel between the labs, dubbed Alice and Bob. This enables the properties, or ‘quantum states’, of light particles to be transferred between the sender (Alice) and the receiver (Bob). In the computers of tomorrow, this information would form the qubits (the quantum form of the digital bits 1 and 0) of data processing through the machines. “

The Story of Alice and Bob | John Gordon
“Against all odds, over a noisy telephone line, tapped by the tax authorities and the secret police, Alice will happily attempt, with someone she doesn’t trust, whom she can’t hear clearly, and who is probably someone else, to fiddle her tax return and to organise a cout d’etat, while at the same time minimising the cost of the phone call. A coding theorist is someone who doesn’t think Alice is crazy.”

Alice and Bob |
“Alice and Bob are common archetypal ‘characters’ used in explanations in fields such as cryptography and physics. The names are used for convenience, since explanations such as ‘Person A wants to send a message to person B’ rapidly become difficult to follow. The names are also said to be politically correct, since they are from both sexes, and were chosen only because of the alphabetical order.”

Chapter 1, Bits | MIT Open Course Ware: Information and Entropy, Spring 2003
“How is information quantified? Consider a situation that could have any of several possible outcomes. An example might be flipping a coin (2 outcomes, heads or tails) or selecting a card from a deck of playing cards (52 possible outcomes). How compactly could one person (by convention usually named Alice) tell another person (Bob) this outcome?” NOTE: links to a PDF file, 144K

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emailed by Timothy on Tuesday 31 August 2004 @ 10:40 PM