terça-feira, abril 30, 2019

Higher Order Languages: "Gödel's Proof" by Ernest Nagel, James Newman

What Gödel's Theorem really says is this: In a sufficiently rich FORMAL SYSTEM, which is strong enough to express/define arithmetic in it, there will always be correctly built sentences which will not be provable from the axioms. That, of course, means their contradictions will not be provable, either. So, in a word, the sentences, even though correctly built, will be INDEPENDENT OF the set of axioms. They are neither false nor true in the system. They are INDEPENDENT (cannot stress this enough). We want axioms to be independent of each other, for instance. That's because if an axiom is dependent on the other axioms, it can then be safely removed from the set and it'll be deduced as a theorem. The theory is THE SAME without it. Now, the continuum hypothesis, for instance, is INDEPENDENT of the Zermelo-Fraenkel axioms of the set theory (this was proved by Cohen). Therefore, it's OK to have two different set theories and they will be on an equal footing: the one with the hypothesis attached and the one with its contradiction. There'll be no contradictions in either of the theories precisely because the hypothesis is INDEPENDENT of the other axioms. Another example of such an unprovable Gödelian sentence is the 5. axiom of geometry about the parallel lines. Because of its INDEPENDENCE of the other axioms, we have 3 types of geometry: hyperbolic, parabolic and Euclidean. And this is the real core of The Gödel Incompleteness Theorem. By the way... What's even more puzzling and interesting is the fact that the physical world is not Euclidean on a large scale, as Einstein demonstrated in his Theory of Relativity. At least partially thanks to the works of Gödel we know that there are other geometries/worlds/mathematics possible and they would be consistent.

Without a clear and explicit reference to the concept of a formal system all that is said regarding Gödel's theorems is highly inaccurate, if not altogether wrong. For instance, if we say that Gödel's statement is true, after saying that Gödel's Theorem states that it can't be proved either true or false. Without adding "formally", that doesn't really make much sense. We'd only be only talking about axioms, which are only a part of a formal system, and totally neglecting talking about rules of inference, which are what the theorems really deal with.

By independent I mean 'logically independent', that is only a consequence of Gödel's theorem in first order languages, whose logic is complete. In second order arithmetic, the Peano axioms entail all arithmetical truths (they characterize up to isomorphism the naturals), so that no arithmetical sentence is logically independent of such axioms. It occurs, however, that second order logic is incomplete and there is no way to add to the axioms a set of inference rules able to recursively derive from the axioms all of their logical consequences. This is why Gödel's theorems holds in higher order languages too. In fact, this is how the incompleteness of higher order logic follows from Gödel's theorems.

What prompt me to re-read this so-called seminal book? I needed something to revive my memory because of Goldstein's book on Gödel lefting me wanting for more...I bet you were expecting Hofstadter’s book, right? Nah...Both Nagel’s & Newman’s along with Hofstadter’s are failed attempts at “modernising” what can’t be modernised from a mathematical point of view. 

Read at your own peril.

segunda-feira, abril 29, 2019

Nicht-Logische-Kunstücke: “Incompleness - The proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel” by Rebecca Goldstein

“It is really not so surprising that Wittgenstein would dismiss Gödel’s result with a belittling description like ‘logische Kunstücke,’ logical conjuring tricks, patently  devoid of the large metamathematical import that Gödel and other mathematicians presumed his theorems had. Gödel’s proof, the very possibility of a proof of its kind, is forbidden on the grounds of Wittgensteinian tenets that remained constant through the transformation from ‘early’ to ‘later’ Wittgenstein, where early Wittgenstein had a monolithic view of language and its rules and later Wittgenstein fractured language into self-contained language-games, each functioning according to its own set of rules. He was adamant on the impossibility of being able to speak about a formal language in the way that Gödel’s proof does.”

In “Incompleness - The proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel” by Rebecca Goldstein

Wittgenstein: “Hi Kurt, as you appear to be a professional mathematician working in the field, and after having written my “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”, I wonder if you can confirm whether these points are true, points I always wondered about whenever I read on articles connected to the work of Cantor, you and Cohen:
1) Primary school arithmetic has never been proved to be consistent, so theoretically a snotty kid could one day do correct arithmetic manipulations which lead to the result 0=1 i.e. Maths cannot currently prove this won't happen?
2) Your 2nd incompleteness theorem states roughly that a proof of the consistency of a consistent system which includes arithmetic does not exist in the language of that system. Now maybe there exists a proof of the consistency of system A (CON(A)) in the language of system B, but if system B again includes arithmetic you don't know if CON(B) is true and therefore cannot trust the proof of CON(A) in system B, and so on. But is it possible that CON(A) could be proved to be true without any dependencies by some wholly other method?”

Gödel: ”From 1) Commutative law:
For addition: a + b = b + a, ergo unless one creates a new or addendum to this law, one unit will never equal zero. Remember when Euclid's parallel line axiom was changed and the math, based on these new axioms, was useful for spheres and hyperspheres? Same thing “me “thinks. I'm a Computer Scientist with a minor in Physics though. What the hell do I know?"

Wittgenstein: “But you are assuming the axioms are consistent. Gödel said that a system which is powerful enough to include arithmetic cannot prove its own consistency. Given, then, we can't prove the consistency of the axioms, we may end up with a contradiction, e.g. 1=0. (In the case of Geometry, Euclid's axioms have been shown to be consistent, so the situation is different to that of arithmetic.)

Gödel: “A system cannot prove itself GIVEN the axioms in the system. It would need new axioms to prove these old axioms. But the new axioms would need newer axioms. And so on. Isn't this what you proved? We are always at least an axiom away from a house built on rock. Euclid's axioms have the same problem. Or maybe I'm wrong.”

Wittgenstein: “The question is about consistency of a set of axioms. If system A can handle arithmetic then a proof of system A's consistency cannot be provided from system A's axioms. Maybe a proof of A's consistency can be provided in system B, but then the question becomes can we trust that proof given we can't prove the consistency of B from its own axioms, and so on. All of which means that the consistency of elementary school arithmetic has never been proven, and so the appearance of a contradiction has not been ruled out mathematically. I don't think this applies in the case of Euclid's axioms. I believe they have been shown to be consistent.”

Gödel: “What the hell Wittgenstein????”

NB: This conversation took place in German. This dialectic is presented in translation, because my blog friends would complain about it.

The trouble with philosophy is that it is the residue of thought that cannot be answered elsewhere. Thales postulating that everything is made of water is physics as much as metaphysics (albeit a physics founded on pure speculation). Eventually though physics got its act together, developed its own rules and methodologies and never looked back. All the better for physics but it left philosophy somewhat diminished. Every discipline, pretty much, has its origins in philosophy. Philosophy is, in a sense, just science that hasn't got its act together yet. That is why the history of philosophy is so fascinating and so much modern philosophy (including Wittgenstein; "Philosophical Investigations" disproves the Tractatus and dissolves philosophy completely) is pretty sterile stuff.

It sounds rather Wittgenstein was possessed was a very strange case of the Kierkegaardian Malady in its distinction between not believing in Gödel's theorems and having faith in Math (in a Kierkegaardian sense the same as believing in God and having Faith in God at the same time; but then Kierkgaard knocks the socks off Wittgenstein any time of the day).

Bottom-line: Goldstein’s take both on Gödel and Wittgenstein’s opposing views is one of the best I’ve ever read. Her explanation on the concrete way Gödel went about proving both theorems is much better than Newman’s and Nagel’s book .

domingo, abril 28, 2019

Hausdorff Manifolds: “Distress” by Greg Egan

“At least two conflicting generalised measures can be applied to T, the space of all topological spaces with countable basis. Perrini’s measure [Perrini, 2012] and Saupe’s measure [Saupe, 2017] are both defined for all bounded subsets of T, and are equivalent when restricted to M - the space of n-dimensional para-compact Hausdorff manifolds - but they yield contradictory results for sets of more exotic spaces.”

In “Distress” by Greg Egan

“’The physicists have it easy - with their subject if not with me. The universe can’t hide anything: forget all that anthropomorphic Victorian nonsense about ‘prising out nature’s secrets.’ The universe can’t lie; it just does what it does, and there’s nothing else to it.”

In “Distress” by Greg Egan

Egan’s novel reminds me of one the best science books I read last year: “Lost in Math” by Hossenfelder: Mosala (an Information-Theory-applied-to-Physics-a-la-Roy-Frieden proponent; those of you who studied Statistcs in college surely remember the so-called Fisher’s statistic test of independent events) as Hossenfelder, and the Anthrocosmologists (ACs) as Stringer Physicists.  Yes, yes, the emphasis on the beauty of the math & all those extra dimensions likely engages Hossenfelder's crap detector as does Mosala’s crap from the other two TOE competing theories in the novel. One of Hossenfelder's mantras is "pick the *right* math", not what's aesthetically pleasing or feels "natural", both of which stopped getting particle physics anywhere decades ago. Given Hossenfelder's frustration with theoretical physicists' disrespect for the Standard Model - despite its amazing success - because the math is "ugly" (ditto quantum theory) she might see this attempt to find the "right math" overrides its making the SM "more beautiful." Hossenfelder might enjoy that "If something isn't working, do more of it" (and repeat) is one of the strategies used by dysfunctional families, long recognized by Family Psychotherapists. I also like to think of Hossenfelder as the Keystone of Physics (like Mosala), but as things are going no such luck in sight...

"’If something isn't working, do more of it’ (and repeat)"

Seems also what the searchers of the fundamental unified force do with their theories regarding neutron decay. "If neutrons don't decay, extend the deadline." The Higgs was previously predicted and with a range for its mass. It was found within that range. After the Higgs, everything is nebulous speculation. Supersymmetry should have shown up even before the LHC. When it didn't, the goalposts were moved. And keep moving. "Build bigger colliders & they [particles] will come" makes sense to a certain point, but it's looking more & more that we're past that point. Yes, the dollars do take away funds for other research or infrastructure. Don't you remember all the wailing & gnashing of teeth inside & outside NASA when the decision to go with the Space Shuttle was made? That definite rearranged the research landscape. The F35 fighter seems to have done something similar with the defense budget, or so it's said.

The phrase Too Big to Fail comes to my mind.

At places clunky narrative and hard to engage with? Non-relatable characters? But sheer otherworldly ideas FFS: Stateless (IP-free pirate island), voluntary autists, Anthrocosmology, seven distinct biological sexes, yanking a camera gear out of Worth's body and not caring, Africa getting lots of Nobel prizes in Physics, autistic characters, competing TOEs... Beautiful, inspiring science communicated through exceptionally SFional content. Every sentence, every thought is deeply meaningful; the images and inserts I got while reading this novel added another dimension to the experience... The beauty of art, science and the human mind are merging into one entity in Egan’s novel. We’re not even near of having a TOE right now twenty years later; read “Distress” instead. It’s the second best thing.  Egan is one of the few SF writers out there whose science actually feels up to date even we read him on TOE as in this novel more than 20 years since he wrote it. Many SF authors will mention TOE or whatever crap they come up with, but only as a convenient hook to introduce the same old time travel crappy yarn. When Egan writes about TOE, he's actually exploring the ramifications of current theory, not just using it as a hook for an old plot/narrative hack. Like Egan, we all have high hopes for a Scientific Renaissance when everyone understands the underlying physics governing the world. Do I understand everything he is on about? Nope. But that’s the fun of reading this kind of SF. It makes me think deep thoughts...

Bottom-line: Greg Egan, along with Ted Chiang (also one of my favourite writers, of a SFional persuasion or not; maybe I’ll do a post about my favourite SF writers one of these days when I feel so inclined), belong to the a category of writing I like to call ontological SF (as opposed to epistemological SF): writing seeking to depict the world itself (ontology), and not an interpretation of it (epistemology). In a SF publishing world of crappy lookalike writers, they both are very inspirational. Read them if you don’t do read brain-dead SF.

SF = Speculative Fiction.

sábado, abril 27, 2019

Eigenstates' Superposition: "Teranesia" by Greg Egan

“’Do you know how computers work, Prabit?’
‘More or less.’
‘Zeroes and Ones. You understand the binary system?’
‘Have you ever wondered why computers are so hostile to women?’
‘Hostile?’ Prabir had some trouble deciding what Keith was most likely to mean by this claim. Paranoid delusions of artificial intelligence weren’t necessarily out of the question.
‘Zero is female: the womb, the vagina. One is male: Unmistakably phallic. The woman is absent, marginalised, excluded. The man is present, dominant,  imperious.  This blatantly sexist coding underpins all modern digital technology!’

In “Teranasia” by Greg Egan

“’You know what I hate most about you, Menéndez?’
‘Everything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Everything that doesn’t kill me just fucks me up a bit more.’”

In “Teranasia” by Greg Egan


Even before getting into the superposition business, I would find it fascinating if it could be shown that a living organism could be placed in a coherent ground state without killing it. The authors seem to base their hopes for this on papers they cite for cryogenic survival at liquid nitrogen temperatures, ~77 kelvin. Compared to the millikelvin needed for this experiment, that's positively roasting...Well, only Schrödinger thought the idea was stupid. His point was indeed that the superposition idea was nonsense because such a thing was impossible. But in fact Bohr was right and if it were not for phase decoherence, it would be exactly what happens. Since the experiment actually carried out (following the link in the article) was done at 20 millikelvin to avoid that decoherence (in a simple piece of aluminum), one doesn't need to worry very much about putting a living bacterium, let alone a cat, into a superposition of alive and dead states.

The quantum world of the tiny is weird, and doesn't share our passion for common sense behaviour. Imagine a snooker ball: it can be one of eight colours. Now imagine the same snooker ball shrunk down to the size of an atom, where quantum mechanics and probability dominate. In this realm, the snooker ball is not a definite colour; rather, it is all possible colours at the same time until the point in time where someone actually has a look at it. That's an example of what physicists call a 'superposition of states'. Weird, but it seems to be true. The same can be said of the cat. Until you have a peek, the cat is in a blurred state of dead and alive at the same time.

There is a theory – The Many Worlds Theorem of Quantum Mechanics – that's a personal favourite of mine even it’s for the wrong reasons: The cat (or tiny snooker ball) is not in a superposition of states at all. Instead, there is simply a universe where someone opened up a box to find a dead cat, and a separate universe where the box was opened to reveal a live cat. And another universe where the cat has one less whisker. And another universe where the cat's flea is about to jump... That's a lot of universes, but it's a simple concept. It means that if something can happen it does happen. Surely there is a possibility, small but still a possibility that instead of the observer deciding if the object exists or not the object decides if the observer exists or not and the observer is either there or not there. or both or in two places at the same time...Does it really all come down to DNA...? For evidence I would probably point to decoherence. A simple object could not "decohere," but an object composed of atoms/particles can. Decoherance is not just an implementation problem any more than the vaporization of a liquid. It is more like a physical change of state with quite different properties in each phase. Thermal effects are not just noise to be addressed in implementation - the motion and constant collisions between atoms (which in and of themselves would "collapse the wave-function") cause a physical change in the collective properties - such that matter at room temperature is "decohered." There are then no collective quantum effects. Such a system could not exist in a superposition, and we can very clearly define a transition from quantum to classical. Or, in Egan’s words: “One of the many approximations made by the modellers involved  the quantum state of the protein, which was described mathematically in terms of eigenstates for the bonds between atoms: quantum states that possessed definite values for such things as the position of the bonds and its vibrational energy. A completely accurate description of the protein would have allowed each of its bonds to exist in a complex superposition of several different eingestates at once, a state that possessed no definite angles and energies, but only probabilities for a spectrum of different values.”
The structures of our brain and the meta-structure of our mind must reflect an unknowable yet structured reality. Kant suggests that time, space and causality are not basic constituents of that reality. Max Born postulated that physics IS philosophy. My own experience of time is much more "the eternal now" than a logical sequence. Endlessly iterative processes, such as suggested by Quantum Bayesianism, lend imaginative support to Dyson's "Infinite in All Dimensions." Getting to know "the mind of God" may be another infinite process. The proper translation of the Greek "Know Thyself: is "always be trying to get to know yourself." You'll never get there.

Bottom-lineEgan plays with the wave-function collapse (with and without DNA entities) concept in a fictionalized narrative. I just wish he’d rewrite it in 2020 - 20 years later - and remove the Deus-Ex-Machina finale...having the São Paulo Gene developing a conscience in the last few pages...uhm...). Upon re-reading, still a solid 4 stars"Idea" (with a capital "I"). What makes Egan's ideas different from any other SF stuff out there? They're much more complex and disconcerting, veering off from the more mundane staring-into-space-SF; but his touch is nevertheless light -- philosophical questions hinted at rather than announced and telegraphed a mile away as see in most of today’s SF.

sexta-feira, abril 26, 2019

Eigenstates: “Quarantine” by Greg Egan

“[character referring to quantum entanglement and wave function collapse] ‘so, what should they call it?’ ‘Oh...neural linear decomposition of the state vector, followed by phase-shifting and preferential reinforcements of selected eigenstates.’”

In “Quarantine” by Greg Egan

“’So...where’s the problem?’

‘The problem is: before you make a measurement in either of these cases, the  wave function doesn’t tell you what the outcome is going to be; it just tells you that there’s a fifty-fifty chance either way. But once you’ve made the measurement,a  a second measurement on the same system will always give the same result; if the cat was dead the first time you looked, it will still be dead if you look again. In terms of the wave function, the act of making the measurement has, somehow, changes it from a mixture of two waves, representing the two possibilities, to a ‘pure’ wave - called an eingestate - representing just one. That’s what’s called ‘the collapse of the wave function’.
‘But why should a measurement be special? Why should it collapse the wave function? Why should some measuring device - itself made up of individual atoms, all of which are presumably obeying the very same quantum mechanical laws as the system being measured - cause a mixture of possibilities to collapse into one? If you treat the measuring device as just another part of the system, Schrödinger’s equation predicts that the device itself should end up in a mixture of states - and so should anything that interacts with it.’”

In “Quarantine” by Greg Egan

What’s at play here? Quantum entanglement (quantum entanglement occurs when pairs of particles interact in ways that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently) in one of the best narrative treatments I’ve ever read in a non-SFional  setting.

If the nature of reality is consciousness then, there are no perfect symmetries, there is no pure randomness. We are in the gray region between truth and chaos. These extremes can only be ideals, not reality. Process only occurs in the gray region, time does not exist at the extremes. If we think of coin tosses, with truth, the coin is either heads or tails as a frozen expression of meaning, and with chaos the coin is always both, it never stops spinning, and contains no meaning. The dynamic tension between the two is where time comes from. Either spin is imparted to truth or the perfect randomness of the perpetual spin symmetry is broken. At each extreme is a different form of symmetry, one is a symmetry in the relationship of meaning and the other is a symmetry of potential.

Truth as a static structure vs a dynamic system. To simplify, think of a stack of copy paper with one word on each page. In time, we see each page one at a time, outside of time all of the words, on all of the pages combine to make a single word. This single word is truth, it is the entire story, told in an instant of time. The fractal version of this story has another feature. As each page is presented to us, our intent creates a slightly new meaning that branches out, changing the story, an effect that turns the stack into a tree like structure.

The direction of time's arrow is the breaking of the symmetry of the potential of the boundary condition. In other words, if I toss a coin and it has perfect symmetry of potential it will land heads half the time and tails half the time. The symmetry of the potential is broken if the coin tosses are not 50/50. In a perfectly random system, after a sufficient number of tosses, the symmetry for all even number tosses would always be 50/50. Coin tosses are a lot like squaring the circle. You get closer and closer to the true value but you never reach it, like an infinite recursive iteration.

With the earlier novels (e.g., “Quarantine”), Egan tends to be more story driven, though there is always a mathematics/physics/computational basis, and the later ones tend to be more bit less driven by the story and more by the maths/physics (e.g., “The Orthogonal Trilogy”). With some writers it takes them a while to fully master their narrative skills but Egan was great from the start, so there is no work to avoid. 

quinta-feira, abril 25, 2019

String Vacua: "Quantum Field Theory: A Modern Introduction International Student Edition" by Michio Kaku

“Quantum field theory has emerged as the most successful physical framework describing the subatomic world. Both its computational power and its conceptual scope are remarkable. Its predictions for the interactions between electrons and photons have proved to be correct to within one part in 108. Furthermore, it can adequately explain the interactions of three of the four known fundamental forces in the universe. The success of quantum field theory as a theory of subatomic forces is today embodied in what is called the Standard Model. In fact, at present, there is no known experimental deviation from the Standard Model (excluding gravity). This impressive list of successes, of course, has not been without its problems. In fact, it has taken several generations of the world's physicists working over many decades to iron out most of quantum field theory's seemingly intractable problems. Even today, there are still several subtle unresolved problems about the nature of quantum field theory.”

In “Quantum Field Theory - A Modern Introduction International Student Edition” by Michio Kaku

“One of the main problems in superstring research has been to find the true vacuum of the theory, either perturbatively or nonperturbatively. Therefore, intense research over the years has been spent trying to catalog the various possible four-dimensional compactified strings.

A few classes of these solutions include:

1. Calabi-Yau manifolds, which are highly nonlinear, nontrivial manifolds studied by mathematicians;
2. Orbifolds, which are certain manifolds which have fixed points on them (e.g., a cone is an orbifold);
3. Free fermion/free boson solutions.

Unfortunately, we now know millions upon millions of possible string vacua. In fact, it is conjectured that the complete set of all possible string vacua is the totality of possible conformal field theories (CFTs). Although there are an enormous number of possible four-dimensional string vacua, the surprising feature of string theory is that, with a few rather mild assumptions, one can come fairly close to describing the physical universe. Earlier, we saw that Kaluza-Klein theory was too restrictive to describe the physical universe. In particular, the Standard Model's gauge group and complex fermion representations could not be accommodated. However, the string model, because it is not based on Riemannian space, does not suffer from these problems.”

In “Quantum Field Theory - A Modern Introduction International Student Edition” by Michio Kaku

Is the universe fond of pi? Seriously, that is indeed strange. Since 3+1-space and 4-space are not necessarily identical in how things radiate, it seems sensible to ask if the extra pi applies in either cases or just one.

If there is a difference, then things get interesting further up. There are, at most, two time dimensions within the 11 defined dimensions in modern M-theory. If 3+1 acts differently to 4, then you should be able to make predictions and observations that distinguish 10+1, 9+2 and a pure 11. Much more importantly, though, given that we're looking at stuff that would be entirely visible from any 3-dimensional cross-section of a higher-dimensional radiating property, we're looking at stuff that proves whether these dimensions exist at all. In other words, experimental evidence that could test string theory, supergravity, holographic universe theory (since you run into limits on what you can compress in what way), etc (If leptons of any given type are indeed the visible protrusion of a higher-dimensional object, then provided the geometry of that object is fixed, there are other experiments you can perform, since you cannot rotate an n-dimensional object around n+1 axes. That's an aside, though.) At the same time, we're told that such theories are closer to philosophy and untestable.

Any thoughts on this Kaku?

At such short distances, space is not smooth. Because it is not smooth, the effective radius (the radius you get by creating a perfect sphere of equal surface area) is not the apparent radius (the radius you get from naive assumptions about spacetime). If you apply the effective radius, the inverse square law is a perfect fit. This means that at Planck lengths, you have to consider the fact that spacetime is nothing more than geodesics. Now, obviously flattened spacetime is not going to be identical to curved spacetime. But That Does Not Matter. It doesn't matter because if you know the geometry, you know the space/area/line that the force is occupying. If you double the size of the container, you halve what is in any given part of it. This is so incredibly elementary. Anyone who knows about Compton wavelengths knows about geometry and knows that for every convex hull there is a circle of equal circumference. Why should I have to explain this? Kaku, step forward!

quarta-feira, abril 24, 2019

Snake-oil Stuff: "Quantum Healing" by Deepak Chopra

Why does anyone (anyone!) believe this rubbish? It's so blatantly stupid. There's no science in any of this (he 'claims' things; he's 'probably' read a book or two at the most), but cops out by saying what he's doing is 'philosophy'. Why not run his idea by a few real philosophers and see what they have to say?

He's a con. 150 years ago he'd be touring the backwoods selling bogus elixirs. And, pretty obviously, he still is [P.S. If there's any fans of his out there - don't get angry with posts like mine (don't shoot the messengers). Do the research, and then get angry with Chopra for fleecing you and treating you with total contempt. No one deserves that. Chopra would disagree.]

Initially before snake-oil salesmen like Deepak came on board in the 80s, the new age had some thoughtful ideas. And then his lot coopted it with Hay House and Oprah and turned it into the circus it is today, 'Chopra claims 95% of disease-related gene mutations – including cancers, auto-immune diseases, and Alzheimer’s – are “influenced” by how we think, how we feel and our relationships.' This kind of thinking is why someone newly diagnosed cancer patient is sometimes told by a well-meaning friend, 'You must have NEEDED this in your life.' Which is a long way up on the list of most annoying remarks ever, as one confronts surgery, chemo etc.

And, years later, why people tell you that you're inspirational just for being alive - while others who died must have been harbouring unhealthy levels of anger and grief. Which is equally outrageous.
What you don't get is that the experience from meditation is one of the richest you can have, it's the explanations that are all wrong and the way Chopra/Maharishi, etc., tie it all in to some mythical ancient past that they are trying to recreate to make an enlightened world free from war and pain. Who wouldn't want that? Easy to be cynical from the outside but easy to get sucked in once you are blissed out. There never was an enlightened ancient society of course and 90% of the supporting philosophy is rubbish but it feels good and that's the lure. You can do meditation, feel good and NOT believe a word of it.

I think Chopra mocks both science and spirituality. His science is pseudo-science and then tries to base this in spirituality. I think spiritual people should just stick to what works, i.e., meditation / prayer (without understanding the science behind it - and i don't doubt something happens at a natural, scientific level).

Stay the heck away from 'it's my career' Guru Chopra and his snake oil. He's another in the long list of self-help charlatans who've hoodwinked the masses into buying his shit. What Chopra does is take a concept from Hindu philosophy and then in a very clever con mannish way turn it into a mass of psychospiritual babble which scrambles one's brain. It sounds really good but it leads nowhere.
There's more real world spirituality in Bradley's “Mists of Avalon” and that’s saying a lot. Mike Myers was in a film that took a huge swipe at Chopra and the whole eastern guru con man thing. Chopra will be burning in hell along with all the other false teachers and prophets.

Neo-liberalism can be summed up as: The ceaseless desire to intensify and expand the market, in the belief that all of society is a market and that every human activity can be turned into a transaction. Everyone and everything is a commodity from which profit can be obtained. Neo-Liberalism is a philosophy that arose in the late 1970's. It has since pervaded every aspect of modern life.

Deepak Chopra appears to be the culmination of over 30 years of this shit, in that he is now convincing people that spirituality can be based upon this bankrupt ideology. Deepak Chopra a pseudo-science export from India has made a fortune from rehashing spiritual practices from India and serving a feel-good self-improvement soup coupled with a PR-friendly approach. His new book which claims that all of us have super brains is nothing new. From childhood we have been told that we have been using only 2 % of the potential of our brains and that a vast part of our brains remains unused and that super humans like Buddha, Jesus, Einstein and the rest have figured out a way to optimize their brain power and thus attain super human and cult status. But to me it sounds unnatural. If God or evolution really intended us to use our superbrains how come 99.99 % of the human race is not using it! And if perchance everyone did really begin to start activating their superbrains after reading Mr. Chopra's book it seems like our earth which is already wilting under the pressures of progress wouldn't be able to bear the super charged pressures of their super ambitions. It seems to me that having a no-brain rather than too much of brain is good for your mental state and for the sustenance of the planet that we live in.

His condescending voice is the most annoying thing. I had the misfortune of reading 'Way of the Wizard' a few years ago. Initially intrigued because it contained fictional discourses between Merlin and King Arthur, both of which I idealised when I was a kid. Let's just say, when I'd finished I was praying for a Merlin to turn Chopra into a worm.

terça-feira, abril 23, 2019

A Handful of Nothing: "Fire & Blood" by George R.R. Martin, Doug Wheatley

Nope. This is not a review of “Fire & Blood” which I’ve just finished. This is going to take the form of a suggestion aimed at Martin for the “forthcoming” “Winds of Winter”… "What about "Fire & Blood," you may ask. "I couldn't care less." Crap.

An apocalyptic battle between the White Walkers and fire-breathing dragons results in the Ice Wall being melted, thus inundating much of the North with a gigantic flood, but causing practically no human casualties, as the Nights Watch by now consists of Jon Snow, Gilly and her baby, all of whom are saved by sitting on top of Sam Tarly, who is in turn holding on to the tail of Jon Snow's direwolf. They thus escape the flood, being eventually rescued by the fortuitous arrival of the ship commandeered by Arya Stark and Gendry, who she rescued from the dungeons of House Frey, all of whom she had personally killed after she thought they had looked at her funny. Sam, Gilly and Arya settle in the Iron Islands, with the aid of Yara, who likes the cut of Gilly's jib and marries her in a touching lesbian ceremony presided over by Sam, who for his part never has sex with anyone, ever. Arya eventually marries Gendry, who sets to work applying his ironworking skills to establishing a successful metallurgic industry using the Islands' most famous resource, which thus in a classic application of the free-market economy makes the Islands the centre of the wider Northern economy, rendering any military conquest of the Boltons unnecessary. The humbled Boltons opt to quit the human-flaying business in order to relocate to sunnier Braavos, where they become rich by turning their talents to opening tanning salons and sausage restaurants for Westerosian tourists, Westeros under the rule of Queen Daenerys and her new Hand, Tyrion, having experienced a massive economic boom once the country abandoned the monetarist policies of the Lannisters. The Lannisters are by now practically extinct, as all their members have by now all murdered each other, married each other, or murdered each other after having married each other, with the exception of Tyrion, who, as we saw, managed to sneak into Daenerys' good books by virtue of advocating a Keynesian strategy of economic stimulus (the dragons periodically burn everything down, which thus obliges everyone to rebuild it), and Tommen, who had wisely opted to marry his cat Ser Pounce instead, before being murdered by the latter at the wedding. Tyrion is by now happily reunited with Sansa, who has come to realise after her adventures that there are worse things in life than a randy husband who drinks a lot. Daenerys opts to unite the Houses of Lannister and Targaryen by marrying Ser Pounce, a tentative liaison with Theon Greyjoy having proved unsatisfactory in various aspects (Theon joins Varys to become a popular comedy duo in Westerosian seaside resorts, managed by Lord Petyr Baelish, who discovers in show business the true stage for unlimited Macchiavellian plotting and amoral deception). Stannis Baratheon is reduced to being their bouncer, having been abandoned by Melisandre, who married Bran Stark after the latter inveigled her into seeking unlimited power by adopting the Children as her own children. The Children keep her out of trouble by raucously demanding lavish home-cooked meals every hour, on the hour, for the rest of her natural life. Jon Snow is made heir to the throne, but continues to mope about King's Landing in a miserable and gloomy state until he meets Margaery Tyrell, whereupon he finally realises that he has found the true purpose in his life, which is to marry her and thereafter devote all his energy and waking hours to making her as gloomy and miserable as he himself is.

Martin, take it or leave it. Pay up on your way out please…

segunda-feira, abril 22, 2019

a_0 =cH_0: "The Universe: Leading Scientists Explore the Origin, Mysteries, and Future of the Cosmos" by John Brockman

The matter originated in the Big Bang. Firstly as a soup of quarks, W's, Z's, electrons etc. As the new universe expanded and cooled, the quarks coalesced into particles like protons. As the expansion continued a point was reached where nuclei could trap electrons and make neutral atoms. This occurred about 380,000 years after the Big Bang. Once neutral atoms existed, the universe became transparent to photons, which we now see as the Cosmic Microwave Background. In our laboratories such as CERN we can recreate the conditions that existed about 0.0000000001 seconds after the Big Bang and study the processes that would have been occurring at that time.

I'd like to add something clever here. But I can't. There are ministerial posts crying out for people like me...I personally like Sir Roger Penrose's hypothesis. Conformal cyclic cosmology. Recent theoretical progress indicates that spacetime and gravity emerge together from the entanglement structure of an underlying microscopic theory. These ideas are best understood in Anti-de Sitter space, where they rely on the area law for entanglement entropy. The extension to de Sitter space requires taking into account the entropy and temperature associated with the cosmological horizon. Using insights from string theory, black hole physics and quantum information theory we argue that the positive dark energy leads to a thermal volume law contribution to the entropy that overtakes the area law precisely at the cosmological horizon. Due to the competition between area and volume law entanglement the microscopic de Sitter states do not thermalise at sub-Hubble scales: they exhibit memory effects in the form of an entropy displacement caused by matter. The emergent laws of gravity contain an additional `dark' gravitational force describing the `elastic' response due to the entropy displacement. We derive an estimate of the strength of this extra force in terms of the baryonic mass, Newton's constant and the Hubble acceleration scale a_0 =cH_0, and provide evidence for the fact that this additional `dark gravity force' explains the observed phenomena in galaxies and clusters currently attributed to dark matter.

Bow before Manuel, you puny Brockman and acolyte earthlings! Piece of advice: Stay in school kids. Would have been nice if they marked the beginning of the YouTube flatearthers on the timescale, to show how long it took for the pinnacle of dimwittery to find its natural home. This universe used to be part of a bigger union of universes and ours voted to leave and look what happened. There’s no one else around just endless empty planets. Kinda lonely. Sigh. (Scientist discovers oldest stars in universe. After having explicitly said stars could not be this old in current models of the BBT. Theory revised to incorporate failure of previous prediction...and hey presto! Great new success of model hailed in media. Salaries of all concerned to be doubled.)

Yeah, I cared to be an astrophysicist. Wanted to become an artist. And thought of brain surgery too. Finally I did none of these things. I have my reasons for this ... outcome!