10 June 2007
In Newtonian physics, an object is always somewhere. Once
you’ve found it and measured its velocity and studied its environment, you can calculate as precisely as you like where it will be at any
moment in the future.
The way in which Quantum physicists deal with this
situation is to extract from QM that part of the theory that is causal and predictive. Experiments are carefully
designed to instantiate situations that are calculable, at least as a probability distribution. Particle physicists go to great lengths to isolate their particles, just to make the calculations
tractable so they’ll have a prediction with which to compare.
– Josh Mitteldorf
9 June 2007
When love beckons to you,
For even as love crowns you so shall he crucify you. Even as he is for your
growth so is he for your pruning.
8 June 2007
Even more than composition and performance, the life of Robert Schumann was about love and madness. As a young pianist and composer, he lived in the home of his piano teacher, Friedrich Wiech. He fell in love with Wiech’s daughter, Clara; waited patiently for Clara to come of age, and painfully as Friedrich forbade the liaison, and did all he could to poison it. Robert and Clara rebelled, eloped, and married despite poverty and ostracism.
From desperate determination to become a virtuoso piano performer, Schumann permanently damaged his hands in trying to stretch and strengthen them. He was forced into a career of composition. ‘The first ten years of his compositions are a veritable diary of his courtship of Clara Wieck’...and much of his best composition thereafter was for piano, inspired and improved by Clara’s collaboration.
Later in life, Schumann suffered increasing emotional instability. ‘After throwing himself into the Rhine in 1854, Robert’s condition necessitated his being institutionalized. His alternating periods of intense creativity with depression have led to speculations of bipolar disorder.’
7 June 2007
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
~ John Donne, 1617
6 June 2007
“Afflictive emotions - our jealousy, anger, hatred, fear - can be put to an end. When you realize that these emotions are only temporary, that they always pass on like clouds in the sky, you also realize they can ultimately be abandoned.”
Each Dalai Lama is not
biologically related to his predecessors, but is located by a team of monks seeking
a reincarnation of their previous master.
5 June 2007
Science gets it right. Most of the time. Eventually. If you allow time for open debate and don’t kill the messenger.
How can that be? All those smart people, vetted by prestigious institutions, peer-reviewed and professionally edited.
Why Most Published Research Findings are False. This article focuses on the field of medicine, where the problem is particularly egregious. The authors talk about the effect of bias, reviewers favoring their friends, who in turn will review their own papers next month. Too much pressure to publish, created by high-stakes grant decisions. Not enough distance between the financial interests and the researchers.
All this is true. But I prefer to think that the root of the problem is a failure of imagination. These ‘false findings’ that form the majority of scientific research are seldom revolutionary breakthroughs that turn out to be a flash in the pan. In fact, the problem is just the opposite: it is the results that are conservative, expected extensions of present knowledge that are most suspect.
The world is simply more
complex and surprising than we are prepared to acknowledge, at least until
we are hit over the head with reality on multiple occasions.
4 June 2007
“I have never understood how anyone could have the slightest trouble blending religious awe with a full comprehension of the workings of life’s creation.”