superfluidity

Apr 18

Low budget taxidermy.

Low budget taxidermy.

Apr 17

[video]

“But on principle it is quite wrong to try founding a theory on observable magnitudes alone. In reality the very opposite happens. It is the theory which decides what we can observe.” — Einstein to Heisenberg

Apr 15

“It’s a beautiful theory, but more to the point, it’s how the world is: you and I are collections of, not just particles at particular positions at each instant, but of matrices, walking around, performing measurements, perceiving the world and ourselves. You may not want to be a bunch of matrices; I quite like the idea. But either way we have no choice: if we want to understand the physical world at the deepest level currently known to human beings, it has to be via quantum theory.” — David Deutsch

“Rudimentary organs may be compared with the letters in a word still retained in the spelling but become useless in pronunciation, but which serve as a clue in seeking for its derivation.” — Darwin 1859 432

“The Greeks always thought of personality as actively related to the world (in fact, to two worlds, the world of nature and the world of human society) and not as isolated from it. Therefore Greek expressions of personal emotion and thought have nothing purely and exclusively subjective in them: it might rather be said that a poet like Archilochus has learnt how to express in his own personality the whole objective world and its laws—to represent them in himself. Personality, for the Greeks, gains its liberty and its consciousness of selfhood not by abandoning itself to subjective thought and feeling, but by making itself an objective thing; and, as it realizes that it is a separate world opposed to the external law, it discovers its own inner laws.” — Werner Jaeger, Paideia 1.117

Apr 13

“It’s true that you worry about the fact that they’ll be able to store information better, and have more information about people, and whether that will produce a Big Brother. That depends on the attitude of the leaders of society. Rather interestingly, the country which is more democratic, and which is less interested in all the information about what everybody is doing, to make sure they’re not doing something wrong, is where the computers are developed the most. And the place where’d you think the government would find the computer the greatest use, because you can file all the information about everybody—they don’t develop the computer very much and they don’t know how to use them.” — Feynman (1985)

[video]

How to fix the Second Amendment -

The Washington Post printed an interesting argument from a new book by former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens:

The Second Amendment expressly endorsed the substantive common-law rule that protected the citizen’s right (and duty) to keep and bear arms when serving in a state militia. In its decision in Heller, however, the majority interpreted the amendment as though its draftsmen were primarily motivated by an interest in protecting the common-law right of self-defense. But that common-law right is a procedural right that has always been available to the defendant in criminal proceedings in every state. The notion that the states were concerned about possible infringement of that right by the federal government is really quite absurd.

As a result of the rulings in Heller and McDonald, the Second Amendment, which was adopted to protect the states from federal interference with their power to ensure that their militias were “well regulated,” has given federal judges the ultimate power to determine the validity of state regulations of both civilian and militia-related uses of arms. That anomalous result can be avoided by adding five words to the text of the Second Amendment to make it unambiguously conform to the original intent of its draftsmen. As so amended, it would read:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms when serving in the Militia shall not be infringed.”

I look forward to reading his book. The Supreme Court serves the important scholarly function of interpreting what the constitution means—what knowledge its language was meant to encode and how we might say it more clearly—but our job as citizens is to take its results and ask further: is that what we want it to say? That’s the genius of it, not that it contains infallible knowledge waiting to be correctly deciphered, but that it provides for its own improvement. This political experiment was part of a larger intellectual struggle (which we call the Enlightenment) to reject the very idea of infallibility or authority, not merely in politics or religion, but in knowledge generally.

Apr 11

mythologyofblue:

Treasure Frey, The Search

mythologyofblue:

Treasure Frey, The Search

“With anything you think you know a bit about, you’re probably tempted to rely on your own experience to make an inductive generalization. That can work if you really know what you’re talking about, but it doesn’t work if you’re just using that way of doing it, on another context, where your knowledge is not so secure.” — This comes from the lectures of Marianne Talbot, Critical Reasoning for Beginners, at Oxford (lecture 4 approx. 30:50), which are otherwise very good lectures introducing the principles of argumentation. Induction is a type of commonsense, and so when Hume explained why it was wrong in principle, even he continued to treat it as if it were true, rather like we still speak about the sun rising. If you understand inductive logic as a fallacy, rather than a weaker branch of logic, and reject it entirely, its absence seems elegant, and the inductive sections of philosophy lectures are humorous, not because the professors are stupid, but precisely because they are so smart. Talbot invariably has to equivocate whenever analyzing inductive arguments, and her distaste for them is clear to the audience, but I think not really to herself. This quote is the highlight of that cognitive dissonance. She has just suddenly abandoned an example as bad, before completely expounding it, and proceeds in these sentences to explain that induction is false, even as she seems satisfied that she has justified it, and moves on to the next topic.

Apr 10

mythologyofblue:

Roy Pinney, Reading Braille, ca 1936 (1911 - 2010) +

mythologyofblue:

Roy Pinney, Reading Braille, ca 1936 (1911 - 2010) +

[video]

Vatican to Digitize 41 Million Pages of Ancient Manuscripts

catherinewillis:

Title: WHAT IT SMELLED LIKE INSIDE THE TROYAN HORSE
materials: perfume, ink, feltpen, on paper. 2010

catherinewillis:

Title: WHAT IT SMELLED LIKE INSIDE THE TROYAN HORSE

materials: perfume, ink, feltpen, on paper. 2010