Part two of Cambridge cosmologist John Barrow's presentation on infinity last October is now available. You may find the podcast linked in the left column of IFblog. Or simply take the feed and avoid the return trip.
A short video produced by Paul Schultz, the lead IF marketing firm, highlighting the 2006 festival is linked at www.ideafestival.com and on the left side of IFblog. Have a look. And thanks to everyone who made ideaFestival '06 possible.
Thanks to the work of Chaz Rough at PodFactory, the first of what should be several podcasts from the 2006 ideaFestival is now available. Polly LaBarre, former Senior Editor at Fast Company, is featured on the first episode discussing business mavericks.
You can download the first one at IFblog or use the iTunes link available on the IF Web site.
In an infinite universe the data set is always in progress.
So if inductive conclusions cannot be justified, why trust induction at all? Because it can be self correcting. Though ultimately - and infinitely - self-referential, it excels as a method for prediction, and coupled with the imagination is a kind of future reasoning.
So yes, the bias is built in. And from that bias, knowledge grows.
If logic is your thing, the Machine Learning (Theory) blog has more here and here.
Just a note, the live blogged ideaFestival sessions have been archived as "IF '06" in the category cloud - page down once or twice and you should see the cloud on the left side of the blog. Books recommended by ideaFestival speakers are archived, appropriately enough, in the "books" category. I have a few more book recommendations to add, so stay tuned.
Thanks Todd for asking for a list of the recommended books.
Kevin Smokler writes about his experiences at the ideaFestival.
I've heard inventor Ray Kurzweil inform us that we are only a decade and a half away from computers having the processing power of the human brain, witnessed DJ Spooky remixing "Birth of a Nation" live and science writer K.C. Cole
explain quantum mechanics in 10 minutes better than my college
professors did in 4 months. Along the way, I also missed a presentation
on Zora Neal Hurston, another on the mind of Leonardo Da Vinci, and a
third on the special effects wizardry of The Matrix. I'm disappointed
on the one hand: When will be able to hit on those three topics in a
single afternoon again? On the other I'm relieved, because the psychic
contradiction they raise may have made my head explode: At the Idea
Festival, you feel smart and stupid at the exact same time.
Has the green revolution reached a tipping point? One of the
leading thinkers and environmental activists, National Public Radio's Steve Curwood, discusses the rise of '"green" and the profound social, geopolitical
and business changes it may bring.
[Going through my work from IF this morning I found this unpublished post on K.C. Cole's talk. Saturday was just a blur.]
She begins by riffing on "weird," showing a few photos of odd looking creatures and people at the South Pole who are upside down, which she uses to transition into relativity.
One's own perception, according to Einstein, is "proper time." But, she adds, this does not mean that there is no objective reality. Reality just means seeing from all points of view.
Mass and energy are interchangeable. Time is symmetrical. Anti-matter and matter are created in equal portions. The dirt lying next to the excavated hole is matter and anti-matter, respectively.
But for some reason matter left over from the beginning of the universe resulted in us.
I like her images, which convey ideas well.
The strangeness of numbers is also fascinating, but not as weird as the human mind. She explains a few optical illusions, which reminds me of Leonard Shlain's previous discussion of perspective in Da Vinci's Mind. Some things that make sense from one vantage and may be comple nonsense viewed from another.
Her example of Schroeder's Cat(sp?) reminds me of John Barrow's discussion of Thomson's Lamp. Quantum mechanics in its expansiveness somehow splits the difference between alive or dead, on or off.
Don't expert the quantum realm to make sense, she says. This post may prove her point.
She points out how science has been adapted to the stage, which can lend some sense to the ideas lurking within the physics.
She makes the case for a definiteness principle. Quantum stability, combined with quantity, makes everything - from sugar to the smell of a rose - what it is. It's a bit like a violin string; the vibration of the string can produce different and pleasing sounds.
On the other hand, the Uncertainty principle suggests that questions will determine answers. There is a trade off as a result of the observation. It means that until the measurement is made, little can be known; but some other bit of knowledge will be sacrificed in the measuring.
I like this quote from Neils Bohr she uses: "The opposite of a shallow truth is is false, but the opposite of a deep truth is also truth."
"Complementarity" is the condition of being right while being at opposite ends of the observational spectrum.
She apologizes again from implying that objective reality doesn't matter. "It just means that reality is really complicated."
On mass: At big enough mass, we'd all become spheres. "Stars just have enough mass in one place, that's all."
On truth, again: the opposite of truth is not heresy. Art, science and reasoning get to truth differently. Literature can expand data by providing context. Cubism and quantum mechanics came on the scene at about the same time, which she does not regard as an accident. Finally, thinking of things in only one way will eventually lead to trouble.