Ephemerides

A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Monday 11 February 2002

Yesterday started as a cold, wet, miserable kind of day, so we fired up our Bosky cookstove. The grate was set high for summertime cooking, so I lowered it to accommodate more firewood. After an hour or so, the water in the hot water cylinder commenced to boil. When this happened with the stove in the cottage, we would just run a bath with hot water only and allow it to cool to usable temperature. Then there was the luxury of lying there for an hour, topping the water up from time. Of course, this is illegal. Some do-gooderess has decreed that this is entirely too dangerous and all hot water must be mixed with cold as it leaves the cylinder so that it can't be used to boil children alive in the bathtub.

The solution to this problem, short term has been to carry a kettle of boiling water from the stovetop to the kitchen sink so that the water is hot enough to wash the dishes. Presumably, the do-gooderesses are incapable of realising that this is actually more likely to scald children underfoot than hot water coming out of the kitchen sink tap.

Most of the do-gooderesses I've met are part of the so-called environmental lobby. They are against nasty [1] chemicals, global warming, excessive energy and water use... so why are they forcing us to warm the atmosphere with steam, cool hot water down so I can boil it up on the stove to make it hot enough, or install a dishwasher that uses toxic chemicals to clean the plates we eat our food off? And miss out on those long, hot baths that relieve the aches and pains in this old body! Perhaps I'm supposed to be out there waving a placard with "Save Forests with Land Rights for Gay Whales" instead of wasting my time enjoying myself.

The long term solution to this problem is to shoot the do-gooderesses move the tempering valve to where it belongs -- limiting the temperature of the water coming from the shower. Boiling water coming out of a shower head unexpectedly is dangerous as I can attest. It happened to me once, many a long year ago and as a consequence, I still loathe showers and prefer bathtubs. The second is to install a hot water radiator, or two. Strictly speaking, I suspect that The House of Steel will be comfortable enough without radiators, temperature-wise, but it seems a sensible way to distribute the excess of heat from this over-efficient cookstove more evenly.

Fortunately, I have already researched the technology of running hot water radiators from the Bosky. The hot water coming from the stove is passed through a valve that splits the stream in two such that neither can steal all of the hot water. A small electric pump sends the water around the radiator circuit and it's controlled by a thermostat attached to the stove's hot water outlet. The radiators get no hot water until the hot water cylinder is receiving a goodly amount. This method precludes the use of cheap cast iron radiators that require anti-corrosive chemicals in the water, but stainless steel, or copper core radiators aren't that much more expensive.

The cast iron radiators rely on a coil of water pipe inside the hot water cylinder that takes heat from the water in the cylinder, so this adds expense to the cylinder. As well, it keeps the temperature of the water in the cylinder lower, so one suspects that a larger capacity cylinder is called for. The separate, anti-corrosive-chemical-laden water needs regular topping up and de-sludging. I'd rather pay a little extra up front.

[1] While the do-gooderesses are mostly against things, they are in favour of recycling waste. To me, this is a clear symptom of the current paradigm of society where waste is acceptable. Natural systems do not have waste, just outputs from systems that are the inputs of other systems. Cow shit is fertiliser for growing vegetables. Vegetable trimmings are food for the pigs, chickens and cows. Human systems sometimes used to do this. I can remember when newspapers were used to wrap fish and chips, and vegetables. Now they go to a recycling plant to make recycled paper before they are used to wrap fish and chips, and vegetables. Clothes used to be dried on a clothes horse in the kitchen, or hoisted aloft on a contraption to be in the warmer air near the ceiling. Now we have electrical clothes driers that are sent to the recycling plant when they break down.

-oOo-

From regular reader, Roy Harvey:

Jonathan,

There is an interesting article on sharpening blades for hand planes at http://www.shavings.net/SCARY.HTM.

Roy Harvey rmharvey at snet dot net Beacon Falls, CT

Heh, heh... thanks for that Roy. I finished the sharpen after less than 2 seconds on the linisher with some 600 grit wet and dry. But I didn't mention it because I thought that was supposed to be infra dig and didn't want the wrath of the hand-tool maniacs to descend. There's a lot of food for thought in that charming piece of writing and I have a loooong way to go yet. (Thinking about the next project where I can use my beloved handtools).

Thought for the day:

Without consistency there is no moral strength.

Owen

Current Listening

The Ovarian Sisters -- Beat Your Breasts


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Tuesday 12 February 2002

Before the wrath of the do-gooderesses descends, I think I'd better expand on yesterday's rant about recycling. First, there are plenty of men among the do-gooderesses. You see, there's always two ways of looking at the same thing, probably a result of processing information in different ways in the two halves of our brains. Women, by and large, emphasise processing information in the opposite side to what men, by and large, do. We look at the same problem from different points of view and come to sometimes staggeringly different conclusions.

The day before yesterday for instance, SWMBO wanted to help with the woodshed foundation. The fall, back to front is around 10:1, so I'm levelling what will be the floor of the shed. SWMBO says: "Why bother? Running the way it is will allow water to drain away." I said: "I want the stacks of firewood leaning back into the shed so they don't fall out, or worse, onto the person stacking the firewood! The shed keeps the water out and there will be a drainage ditch around the outer edge for run-off." SWMBO accuses me of being sarcastic.

The do-gooderesses of this world rarely take into account the ramifications of a decision. Changing one part of a system almost always changes the way the system works as a whole. Engineers understand this; do-gooderesses don't. By and large, engineers are men; by and large, do-gooderesses are women. The statisticians working in the area of brain physiology tell us that 10% of women have engineers' brain wiring and 10% of men have do-gooderesses' brain wiring. Don't take this to mean I believe one type of brain wiring is superior to another in any absolute sense. Using an engineering example, it makes no sense to use a chisel as a screwdriver, or vice versa. Similarly, it's perverse to expect a do-gooderess to come up with a solution to an engineering problem, or expect an engineer to solve a human relationship problem.

Last week, we had two do-gooderesses staying at The House of Steel. Their solutions to what are essentially engineering problems were seen from the point of view of human relationships. The solution to the world's problems is to decentralise everything. We should be living in small hamlets, rather than cities and towns, or like us, on our own separate farm. Ignoring the fact that this would require social engineering on a large scale, it would also eliminate most endeavours that require more than a handful of people to achieve. The universities they were educated at, for instance. And libraries. 

Surprisingly, for a mind-set that is supposedly suffused with human values, it is a one-size-fits-all approach doomed to fail because of human differences. Some of us prefer to live in relative isolation, others surrounded by lots of people. One of the issues arising from a world filled entirely with small self-sufficient hamlets would be how to eliminate large numbers of people that would no longer have anywhere to live. 

-oOo-

Yesterday, I cobbled together a rectangular bucket from scraps of zincalume left over from building The House of Steel. It's for kindling, what we call morning sticks here, and is designed to fit between the stove and the cupboard to the right of the stove. Until I made it we had a plastic bucket to the left of the stove impeding the use of the cupboard in the corner of the kitchen. There's a bunch of stove tools need a rack to hang from behind the stove, but I decided to leave that for another day. Varnishing the last of the dining chairs was more fun. Less fun was continuing the excavation for the woodshed. I really regret not getting Squid to do it while he had the excavator here -- it would have taken him less than five minutes! Still, it helps The Fat Bastard continue the weight-loss program.

Thought for the day:

A child becomes an adult when he realizes that he has a right not only to be right but also to be wrong.

Thomas Szasz

Current Listening

Genesis -- Selling England by the Pound


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Wednesday 13 February 2002

I have just read a rather wonderful book -- One Good Turn: The Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw by Witold Rybczynski. I purchased it as a Christmas present for Fran, knowing he would lend it to me when he had finished reading it, evil bastard that I am. One of his daughters purloined it first and it took a while to resurface. The book grew out of a New York Times Magazine assignment to write about the single most important technical innovation of the millennium. It's a well-written piece of history about something most historians ignore -- a seemingly minor technical innovation that paved the way for The Industrial Revolution. No screw, no machine tools -- no machine tools, no mass production -- no mass production, no elevation of living standards for the poor.

-oOo-

The other day, I received an email from an old friend. In part he said: "There is a sense in what you write that you regard scientists as "them" rather than "us" and you seem to be interested in disparaging science - a topic I'd like to tackle and one I'm surprised to find in a scientifically literate type, but a bit big for the moment."

Since my friend is too busy to write, I'll write my thoughts here. It's not science that I have problems with, but Scientism. This is the self-contradictory belief that only scientific statements have any meaning. Since this clearly falls outside of Karl Popper's definition of what a statement must be to be called scientific, that is, falsifiable, it's unscientific and therefore meaningless. I have been taken to task more than once for making statements about science in these pages "because you're not a scientist", so I suppose there is a bit of us and them about it. I didn't go on to complete my degree, so I am not one of the anointed.

My other major problem with many scientists is their tendency to reification. The Oxford English Dictionary defines reification in part as "The mental conversion of a person or abstract concept into a thing". A photon, for instance, is a mental model for understanding the behaviour of a "fundamental" (indivisible) particle of subatomic matter, another mental model. Let me emphasise, photons are a concept, not things, yet scientists will frequently argue that they must exist as things since the model is so useful. While it was once useful to think of photons as "fundamental", they are now considered to consist of quarks. The effects of individual quarks have yet to be observed, unlike photons. Nobody has ever observed a photon, nobody has ever observed a quark, or even the effect of a single quark that implies it might exist. The only evidence for the existence of photons is the behaviour of electrons when they change energy levels. It is speculation, based upon the way we would like things to work, that some thing called a photon exists and moves between a pair of interacting electrons. It's a belief -- an act of faith.

I remember one of Richard Feynman's physics lectures where he drew a squiggle between two interacting electrons and said that was a virtual photon. Feynman seemed to always remain aware that the physics was a convenient way of explaining things and getting the mathematics to come out right. Any explanation was one of several, perhaps many possible explanations. He didn't "confuse the map with the territory" as someone once wisely said. As I grow older, I seem to hold fewer and fewer beliefs, relying more on adding to and modifying the map of what I perceive as reality.

When Feynman figured out how to calculate radiation resistance in aerials, he used the concept that positrons are electrons travelling backwards through time. He didn't believe that positrons were actually travelling backwards in time. It was a convenient fiction that enabled the result to be accurately calculated.

In the balance of probability, it's more likely than not that there is a thing we call a photon. But science can never establish a truth. Science can only make statements that may be empirically disproved at some future time. A scientist doesn't have to believe in photons to perform experiments involving them in a model of reality. When scientists start talking about Scientific Truth, we know they are taking on the rôle of the priests they so love to disparage. Have any of my readers tried to empirically disprove Big Bang Theory lately? No, I thought not!

Thought for the day:

...science was the expression of the silliest realism, which did not blush to take at their face value the more than dubious reflections of objects in the human intellect; to pass them current, and to shape out of them the sorriest, most spiritless dogma ever imposed on humanity. Was not the idea of a material world existing by and for itself the most laughable of all self-contradictions?

Thomas Mann

Current Listening

Kraftwerk -- Radioactivity


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Thursday 14 February 2002

Yesterday, I finished the foundation for the woodshed. It consists of five half a metre (18 in) deep holes dug with a manual post-hole digger filled with concrete and a scrap of 100 mm (4 in) steel purlin protruding to attach the framework. The corner supports are treated pine poles, 2.4 m (8 ft) tall at the front and 1.8 m (6 ft) tall at the back. The floor area is 3 m (10ft) square and is divided in half, front to back so while we are using the firewood from one half, that in the other half is drying thoroughly, protected from the weather. The shed is open at the front as it faces north east from where rain very rarely arrives.

On Sunday, my son Thomas and I will make the framework and commence cladding it. The exterior will be unpainted corrugated zincalume and the interior lining will be green, hardwood planks. Since they will be vulnerable to wood-eating organisms in the firewood, I will coat them with discarded sump-oil. Naturally, the shed is sited where it will cause the least possible damage if it catches fire and adjacent to the driveway where the firewood will be delivered.

Tasks for today include removing the myrtle boards from the bedroom in the cottage and starting the bookshelf for The Lesser Hall. I will be using floorboards for the shelves so they need to be glued and clamped. If there are enough floorboards, I will use them for the ends as well. The bookshelf will be deep at the bottom and shallow at the top, so the larger and heavier books will be close to the floor.

I note that the weather prediction for today is "warm, to very warm". This is a welcome change from "cool to mild".

Get a Life -- Leunig

Cartoon from The Age

Thought for the day:

Never take a wife till thou hast a house (and a fire) to put her in.

Benjamin Franklin

Current Listening

Dave Evans -- Sad Pig Dance


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Friday 15 February 2002

Yikes! The weather prediction for today is for hot! The first day this summer that the temperature is predicted to rise above 30°C.

Our friend Lenore has returned to live in Tasmania! She dislikes the carpet in her new home and so is donating it to the cottage. Hiding the cottage floors should help it sell.

Waylon Jennings has passed away, bringing back memories of the many fine friends I have had in the music industry who are no longer with us. I thought of Paul Wylde the other day when sorting through my possessions and deciding what to keep and what to discard. When Paul left for England many years ago, he gave me some stage clothes he couldn't be bothered taking with him.

Paul Wylde

This was Paul at the height of his career. Boppin' the Blues was a number one single and a number one album for Blackfeather. Neither Paul nor the rest of the band could remember the lyric of the old Carl Perkins song, so they wrote their own version. I was greatly saddened to hear of his suicide from Jimmy Doyle last year. Some of his best music was never to the best of my knowledge recorded in a studio. Paul had an old Philips mono reel to reel tape recorder that he used. If our friend Trish gets to read this, I'd love a dub of those tapes if you still have them. [4/2/03 Paul's sister Meghan emailed to say: "[Paul] died of a rare lung disease that he had had for many years".]

Of course if those tapes were never dubbed, they likely won't be playable. A few years ago my friend Tom Giblin and I were reminiscing and decided to play some of the tapes he'd engineered while at Armstrongs. Not the Leo Kottke, or other important stuff -- old TV and radio jingles. "Up, up and away, with TAA, the friendly, friendly waaay..." We didn't get too far through the first tape before the sound started to degrade terribly. Even though this was professional quality tape, the oxide was coming off and coating the head.

Thought for the day:

I'd rather die while I'm living then live while I'm dead.

Jimmy Buffet

Current Listening

Dave Bromberg -- Demon in Disguise


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Saturday 16 February 2002

I didn't feel much like work yesterday, so I took the day off. Usually, there's an email listserv I frequent when I can't be bothered reading, or doing something equally useful. Apart from a desultory few emails about Waylon Jennings and how he missed out on dying alongside his mentor, Buddy Holly, the Bandwidth Wasters were remarkably quiet. Subdued even. So after reading the opening chapter of Return of the King, I decided to indulge in that strangest of pleasures, surfing the Internet. By that I mean semi-randomly following links that seem of interest.

What I discovered was that Merle Oberon was born twice! Yes, folks, she was born in Bombay, India and St Helens, Tasmania on the very same day! 

That led to a Google search on "born twice" and that led me the The Ship of Fools, where else? Check out Albert Steptoe and Cardinal Newman. Eliminating christ, christian and jesus from the search produced this gem from Pravda. And a two-headed crocodile in The Guardian. Then I found a page devoted to menstruation that claims women can become pregnant twice a month. The prospect of a woman falling preggers 24 times a year boggles the mind! Corona Australis, the constellation also known as The Southern Crown is apparently associated with the Greek god, Dionysius, the twice born. I'm associated with him too, but that's because he's the god of wine and I'm rather fond of the odd drop, or six. The link to this zoo informs me that 60% of polar bears in captivity are mentally deranged. Only a Russian University could claim to be born twice, in 1918 and 1970 when it was established in 1803. Perhaps they can't count up to three! India's weird and wonderful caste system has some twice-born members. With over 2,000 castes, Bollywood makes films with castes of thousands.

-oOo-

In my rant the other day about the lack of apps on *nix, I'd forgotten about TeX. As is usual in *nix, where one app will do the job, you must use three, or more: an editor (vi, or emacs), TeX (to convert the text to a DVI file), a DVI driver to proof your output on your printer, a DVI print-to-screen driver to avoid using up countless dead trees and optionally a library of macros you can edit in lieu of writing your own (not that this eliminates the need to write them).

Here's a sample to create a grey box with leading and trailing black lines:

\newcommand{\bstitle}[5]{{\Large% \addcontensline{toc}{subsection}{#1}}% 
\nocont{#1}{#2}{#3}{#4}{#5}}%

\newcommand{\nocont}[5]{% 
\setlength{\unitlength}{1mm}% 
\begin{picture}(#4,11)% 
\put(0,0){\special{#5.ps}}% 
\put(0,0){\framebox(#4,0){\}}% 
\put(0,11){\framebox(#4,0){\}}% 
\put(0,0){\makebox(#4,11)[1]}% 
\sf\bf\hspace*{1mm} #1}}% 
\put(0,0){\makebox(#4,11)[r]}% 
\sf\bf {\rm\it #2 \/ \sf% 
\bf\ #3\hspace*{1mm} }}}% \end{picture}}%

\newcommand{\dtitle}[2]{\bstitle{#1}{by}% 
{#2}{122.5}{grey1box}}% 
\newcommand{\stitle}[2]{\bstitle{#1}{by}% 
{#2}{59}{greybox}}% 
\newcommand{\dblk}[1]{\bstitle{#1}{\ }% 
{\ }{122.5}{grey1box}}% 
\newcommand{\sblk}[1]{\bstitle{#1}{\ }% 
{\ }{59}{greybox}}%

From an article called "Typesetting a Magazine the Easy Way". Kinda makes editing postscript [1] seem simple. Fran, the guy who helped me build The House of Steel used to do this stuff, but it was ruining his eyesight.

Two little flies in the ointment. I can't find a bureau to output DVI files. The prospect of having film sent from the US, or UK doesn't appeal. [2] The cost of the several books it looks like I would need and the time would appear prohibitive. Of course I could convert the DVI files to Postscript, but then I could use just use Ventura, or FrameMaker to create PS files directly. For those unaware of such things, TeX, Ventura and FrameMaker process text tagged with commands using SGML (Standard Graphics Markup Language). (HTML is a subset of SGML). Unlike Ventura and FrameMaker, where you can readily edit your marked up document in a visual way, TeX only allows you to process ("compile") plain text files that can then be viewed, or printed.

One thing that the proponents of TeX seem to do that is quite misleading is compare it to word processors, such as Word or Word Perfect. Since you can't edit anything with TeX, you need to use another application to edit the files that TeX processes for output, this is beyond strangeness! It's a bit like arguing the virtues of an off-set printer plate versus a typewriter!

Ah well! Back to waiting for those Lunix apps, I suppose.

[1] Something I haven't needed to do since about 1995. 

[2] Every second piece of film from Sydney, a mere thousand miles or so distant, arrives after being pressed under a weight of several tonnes. I imagine that even more opportunities for this would occur on the longer trip. Oh yes, "overnight" from the US is five days, or was the last time I received an express parcel from there.

-oOo-

Then serendipity strikes -- from a reference found on Jerry Pournelle's web:

LyX is an advanced open source document processor running on many Unix platforms (including MacOS X), OS/2, and under Windows/Cygwin. Note that all these ports use the same xforms interface and need an X server. Unlike standard word processors, LyX encourages an approach to writing based on the structure of your documents, not their appearance. LyX lets you concentrate on writing, leaving details of visual layout to the software.

LyX produces high quality, professional output -- using LaTeX, an industrial strength typesetting engine, in the background; LyX is far more than a front-end to LaTeX, however. No knowledge of LaTeX is necessary to use LyX, although it will give a user more power.

Thought for the day:

There is a condition worse than blindness, and that is, seeing something that isn't there.

L. Ron Hubbard

Current Listening

Blackfeather -- At the Mountains of Madness


Top

Sunday 17 February 2002

My sceptik friend wrote: 

I suspect most of any difference of opinion is in the meaning of words. Lets start with an interesting one - what does "real" mean? What qualifies a thing as real and what disqualifies it? Can you give examples of things that are real and not real that illuminate the distinction?

Roland

To which I replied:

Starting with the OED definition of real: "Having an objective existence; actually existing as a thing."

and objectivity: "The quality or character of being objective; external reality; objectiveness."

and subjectivity: "The quality or condition of viewing things exclusively through the medium of one's own mind or individuality; the condition of being dominated by or absorbed in one's personal feelings, thoughts, concerns, etc.; hence, individuality, personality."

(Hoping you don't object to the OED as the base for meaning of words)

Any discussion of reality begins with words, concepts in our minds. Are words real in the sense of what they are used to describe, cows [1] for instance? There's cow in the sense of that particular cow over there, and the property of cowness. What is it that enables us to determine that a particular beast is a cow and another is not? Science can do so through genetics, but the ability to detect cowness doesn't need the science of genetics. It's already in there, presumably as part of our brain-wiring that occurs in us as infants. It's subjective, a result of "one's personal feelings, thoughts, concerns, etc." Clearly this is so, since no amount of training after a certain age is reached before it commences will impart this ability.

I can argue that my mind is itself a part of reality, so sending the dichotomy away. This clearly occurs during what we call "a spiritual experience", that feeling that everything is one. There even appears to be some "objective" evidence for this:

http://noosphere.princeton.edu/

An eskimo has words for several different kinds of snow. I don't. I can analyse the different kinds with my scientific tools, but that still won't enable me to experience eskimo reality, even were I to learn the appropriate words.

I can choose to regard my perception that there is an external reality of which "I" am not a part as real, or I can choose to regard my less frequent perception that there is only one reality of which "I" am a part as real. Both mutually exclusive perceptions occur inside my consciousness, and clearly are part of my personality, that is subjective.

The tool I am doing all this with, "I", or "my concsiousness" is identical whether I am reading Tolkien, experiencing an orgasm, or working out a theory of gravity from conic sections. Presumably all of these internal goings on are a result of thousands of years of "purposeless" evolution. But it's a "so far so good" thing. I suspect that we are our memes and genes, but how would I "know" that the science meme is "better" than the spiritual feeling meme? Which is the most likely to survive?

Having become imbued with the probabilistic nature of the Quantum world, my belief system has itself become probabilistic. I feel I have more in common with Schroedinger's cat than I have in common with most of the people I converse with. My belief in the concept of reality is entirely provisional. Perhaps I'm insane, but if I am it creates no particular problems for me. Life, for me is an interesting adventure where I am creating my own map, different to whatever maps may be created by others. But one obvious difference between myself and others I converse with is that most people cannot distinguish between the map and what we call reality.

If all that's confusing to you, it's confusing to me, too. But then I find that most of the difficult-to-think-about things confuse everyone who bothers to think about them, too.

Roland replied:

Nope, that didn't help. Can you give examples of things that are real and not real that illuminate your understanding of the distinction?

Roland

So I tried again:

OK, lets' try another tack. Everything I perceive, I perceive in my mind. I have no other way of perceiving (that I know of). What I perceive in my mind is not "the thing itself", it's a simulation. That simulation is dependent on the brain wiring that occurred as an infant. There are smells and sounds that I can never smell, or hear because I never smelt, or heard them in my infant life. Does the fact that I can't smell, or hear those things make them unreal? There are people who can smell them, hear them and communicate that fact to others in their culture. When Darwin visited the Patagonian Indians, they were unable to see the ships that delivered Darwin and the ship's crew. One wonders about the experience of the Indians being taken aboard the ships they couldn't see from the shore.

So, if someone says to you: "Listen to that!" and you hear nothing, does that mean it doesn't exist? That it's a mere hallucination? If you smell something and say to your Eastern European companion: "Smell that!" and he smells nothing, how do you prove to him that smell exists? To him, it might as well be a mere hallucination.

Doing physics, like all of this other stuff, is happening inside our minds. Feynman appears to have become so good at this, he didn't have to work anywhere near as hard at this as I do. There are many to whom f=ma is a total mystery and would remain so no matter how many years were spent attempting to understand it. Yet that person would likely to be able to throw and catch balls, introducing the necessary time delay to do so without conscious thought. Brain wiring.

Galileo Gallilei wrote that the reason boats floated was because they were pointed at both ends. This is the man that gave birth to modern physics. Some have declared that he was "obviously joking", but I think not. I have read much of Kepler, Copernicus, Da Vinci, Newton et alia. (My curiosity about science is as much a matter of how and why we do it as it is the science itself). All of these marvellous minds carried concepts that, to us, are mutually contradictory, inconsistent and "illogical". Can I then say, in all honesty, hand-on-heart, that my model of reality in my head is perfectly consistent and therefore maps one-to-one with something out there? How would I know that at some future point in time that some other mind won't see things differently?

I know that my model is quite different to that of people who smell different smells, hear different sounds, see different things. Feynman made much of his inner vision when doing his remarkable work. He couldn't get a handle on things until he could see them as if they were objects. The minds of other physicists and mathematicians appear to work quite differently.

Reality, then, is an interaction between my mind, the culture I am a member of and the point in history I inhabit. There can be no reality in an absolute sense, only a set of realities. Sure, I can find a group of people who on the surface appear to share my reality, but equally I can find many people who don't.

In the immortal words of Robin Williams: "Wow! Reality, what a concept!"

-oOo-

Then Thomas helped me erect the frame for the woodshed. How real can that be? you might ask. Well, according to mathematician, Frank Tipler, if I was a simulation in a supercomputer moments before the end of the Universe, what he calls The Omega Point, I wouldn't know it.

Thought for the day:

There are. intangible realities which float near us, formless and without words; realities which no one has thought out, and which are excluded for lack of interpreters.

Natalie Clifford Barney

Current Listening

Mike Oldfield -- Ommadawn


 

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© Jonathan Sturm 2002

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© Jonathan Sturm 2002