Tag Archives: reading

Replicating Yourself


Can consciousness be replicated in machines? According to one scientist, it will probably happen only when we understand what consciousness is, and how creativity works. In the meantime, quote: “A meme is an idea that replicates itself in other minds.” —The Beginning of Infinity is one of the best books on science ever written. Reviewers, including the NYTimes, agree. It describes how science works, with in depth examples. On IG many post memes without knowing what they are. This is ironic, because real memes (ideas) can be both good and bad (false), and not be perceived as such by the brains in which they are replicated. This is why memes (ideas) are so powerful: false ideas spread just as fast as true, and things that are bad go viral. “Virus” is the root of “viral.” Bad ideas spread through the internet quickly, and people who believe them tend not to know how to distinguish between real and fake because the knowledge of how to distinguish truth is lacking. The bad idea that one must fight “evil” with guns or swords is viral today, just as it was in the Dark Ages. As Einstein put it, “The only thing that can defeat violence is education.” His ideas created the atomic bomb, and he wrote a letter to the president saying it was a mistake to use atomic energy for any purpose other than peace. Psychology shows that the most violent people are also the least educated. They are pawns of rich dictators or military leaders, who use them in their perverse chess games, giving them an outlet for violence…until a meme (the idea that they have been so used) goes viral, and they are overthrown. (Mugabe.) Science is “about finding BETTER EXPLANATIONS.” It is a slow process that occasional finds a breakthrough. A meme comes into existence, and goes viral. Love requires sacrifice, but should not require violence. Ignorance is not “bliss.” It is the most dangerous thing on the planet. It is always a good idea to read widely.

Life 3.0
Life 3.0 about genetics, AI, and our future.

Ripples in Spacetime Explained

LigoA new book Ripples in Spacetime is an engaging account of the international effort to complete Einstein’s project, capture his elusive ripples, and launch an era of gravitational-wave astronomy that promises to explain, more vividly than ever before, our universe’s structure and origin. The quest for gravitational waves involved years of risky research and many personal and professional struggles that threatened to derail one of the world’s largest scientific endeavors. Govert Schilling takes listeners to sites where these stories unfolded-including Japan’s KAGRA detector, Chile’s Atacama Cosmology Telescope, the South Pole’s BICEP detectors, and the United States’ LIGO labs. He explains the seeming impossibility of developing technologies sensitive enough to detect waves from two colliding black holes in the very distant universe, and describes the astounding precision of the LIGO detectors. Along the way Schilling clarifies concepts such as general relativity, neutron stars, and the big bang using language that listeners with little scientific background can grasp. Govert Schilling (1956) is an internationally acclaimed astronomy writer in the Netherlands. He is a contributing editor of Sky & Telescope, and his articles have appeared in Science, New Scientist and BBC Sky at Night Magazine. He wrote over fifty books (in Dutch) on a wide variety of astronomical topics, some of which have been translated into English, including Evolving Cosmos, Flash! The Hunt for the Biggest Explosions in the Universe, The Hunt for Planet X, and Atlas of Astronomical Discoveries. In 2007, the International Astronomical Union named asteroid (10986) Govert after him.

Dead Men Tell No Tales

Family Die

He died the moment he slipped down to this ledge. He hadn’t fallen yet, but time would weaken him. There was no way up, no hope of rescue. And now he was staring into the small crevice before him at something that was inexplicable. It didn’t register at first. It didn’t matter. He was a dead man now. He knew it. This was just a moment in time, his last moment, for however long it lasted. The realization of it made what he was looking at insignificant. His arms stretched into the hole, but there wasn’t room to climb in. His head would barely fit into the rock.

The hole was deep. Maybe twenty feet, straight in. Above him, it was twenty feet to the edge of the cliff. Below, three hundred feet straight down. He had slipped, looking down. Slipped, his hands clawing the curve of sand and rock, while wondering about what appeared to be an opening. It had happened quickly. One moment safe, and the next. . .

It was getting dark now. He was alone. He always hiked alone. People told him not to do that, but he liked being alone in nature. It was his nature.

It was too late, now. There were no other hikers in the area. He had already yelled until his voice left him. No one had come. He thought back to other hikes. Not that he was trying to think, yet. The thoughts flashed by him, and he was observer to them, as if from a distance. Flashes of memory. Wisps. There was no self recrimination to his thoughts. He was past that, now. The moments of his explorations and meditations were behind him. This was the last such moment. This was the end.

When acceptance finally came, he focused and considered what he was looking at. It was a stash of jewelry, covered in dust. A long string of pearls and necklaces. Gold or fool’s gold? It didn’t matter. There was no luster to it. The thought flashed by him that it must be real. No one would put costume jewelry in a tiny crevice twenty feet down a ledge no one could get to without a rope.

The thought was distant, and he struggled to keep it. Wanted to grasp it, like a handhold that didn’t exist on the face of the rock. How much was there? Who had put it there, and why? The thoughts were smoke drifting away. He flailed at them, like he had struggled to get both hands to grip, before pulling himself up into this position. Other thoughts flashed too: memories of rock climbers he’d seen doing what seemed to be impossible. . . placing their hands into niches in the rock, using pitons, cleats, ropes. He had no such things, but even with them there would be no way to save himself.

He stared at the stash of jewelry, the line of treasure. It was like a rope, in a way. He might grasp it in one final effort, were it connected to something, which it was not. He might hold on a bit longer, and yell again when his voice returned. He chuckled at this thought. The laugh was guttural, a rasp in his throat. He was staring at a “treasure trove,” as such hunters liked to say.

Everyone was such a hunter, he realized, except him. Anymore.
His arms were getting weaker, now. The last sliver of the sun slipped out of sight down the horizon to his left. But there was no green flash. It was shades of gold, fading.

Fading into shades of grey.


© 2017 JLowe