Category — science!
In my stumblings today, I wound up watching this Nova episode on Richard Feynman:
Now, this is partly notable because I'd been pretty sure there wasn't much on Feynman that I hadn't seen or read already. I'm a huge…well, not fan; I don't think there can be a Feynman "fan" since if you know anything about the man, you know he wouldn't have wanted them…but he's one of my favorite modern figures, and a person (or story of a person I guess, since I was just a child when he died) that I've always fervently, grinningly, intensely identified with.
"Why" is an interesting question — I think it's for the same reason that I gravitate towards the other people I do, as well — and why a great many of them are scientists. I would say that it's because they prove that "Interestedness" (a certain breed of Curiosity characterized by openness, acceptance, and enthusiasm for the process of discovery) is a type of reasoning, not at all incompatible with hard logical reasoning — it sits, I think, underneath it, and gives it a totally different character; like the difference between painting on canvas and paper and cloth. Painting logic on Interestedness is so, so different than painting it on, say, that closed-off, goal-oriented type of Curiosity (Industry, I guess we could call it). Feynman was a genius in the sense of hard logic, but it wasn't his skills with calculations or experimentation that made him famous or that make him such an enduring figure, in my opinion — it's the depth of his devotion to Interestedness.
Interestedness is a "yes" state; it's Curiosity focused on the Path. As Feynman says in the video, "You have to understand that every plot, even though there's a high chance of failure as far as the ultimate aim was concerned, would always turn out to be a big adventure…" Industry, in contrast, is seeking to learn things for a purpose — to make a drug, to start a company, to win a prize, or even to do something really beneficial like cure a disease; Industry isn't always *bad*, but it is always goal-focused and so, in my ever-so-humble opinion, can never achieve the astronomical results that thinking like Feynman's can.
Anyway. Enjoy the Feynman; it's lovely. <3
April 25, 2013 1 Comment
Oooo, if you haven't messed with Google Ngram, you shooooould! Instant pretty graphs of the occurrence of any words and phrases in tons of books over time? YES PLEASE!
Here, for example, you can see that the phrase "in the beginning" was used a lot in 1800 and has been in steady decline ever since, while "in the end" has been on the rise during the same time-period; and the phrase "in the middle" has remained steady and qualitatively in-between the other two.
Have you ever seen anything so squee-worthy?? I'm not sure I have. I may need to sit down a minute, actually. Whoo…
(YES, okay, I heard about the Ngram corpus lookup feature of Google Books and immediately headed over and devised a goofy philosophically-meta search for it. Because that is me, and data that speaks to me gets me hot.)
December 11, 2012 1 Comment
[HD video, really worth your time to let load, hit fullscreen, sit back and get ready to grin like a maniac]
March 18, 2012 Comments Off
Well, either I bit my lip or something in the night (possible), or I have a real honest-to-Pete cold sore coming on. ::stifles panic:: Now, I know that cold sores are normal — they're expressions of Herpes Simplex 1, which something like 80% of the population carries and is one of the viruses associated with the common cold — but I've only ever had one mild one in my life, and even then it scared the pants off me. Not sure why, but those things give me the creeeeeeps.
I do have a cure for them, which I used last time and worked fantastically well (gods I love herbalism)…but do I have any slippery elm bark on me? Um, no, I do not. So I read about six web-pages full of possible cures, most of which sounded horrendous, and settled on "likely to work and available": A dose of ibuprofen (swelling), a packet of Emergen-C (immune system boost) and a slice of fresh garlic, which I rubbed on the proto-sore and then ate, to clear my mouth of nasty virus-stuff. (Garlic, for you uninitiated, is a phenomenal anti-viral, -fungal and -bacterial. Be careful putting it on your skin though — prolonged exposure will give you chemical burns! Garlic is such a strong medicine that if you rub some on your foot, you'll taste it shortly thereafter — I've used it to remove warts and skin-tags, all by itself! — so treat it with respect.)
It would make some sense for me to get a cold-sore now…I've been traveling, been around new people and sharing food and stuff with them, and due to being with family for the holidays, not eating or sleeping terribly well either (always a bad idea in the middle of winter!). Sometimes I lean on my awesome immune system too much; a performance vehicle needs careful care! I wouldn't be surprised if, due to the stress of the last few weeks, I got a sniffly cold-cold for the first time in almost 2 years (though I would be angry at myself, lol), and I shouldn't be surprised if I get this. But hoooooooly cow do I hope I can stave it off! ::shudders::
Hope everybody out there is healthy!! More useful posting soon; after a long period of just being slammed with daily life (moving right before the holidays was such a great idea) I'm finally thinking and writing more again. *WHEW*
Peace (even while at war with viruses! ;)
*thank you to the University of Maryland Medical Center for their clear summaries of herbal remedies! Nice to have that to link to.
UPDATE: Everybody who looked at it (including Nurse Mom) said it was a cold sore, and if they're right then I stumbled on an awesome way to kick a cold sore's butt! All I did besides the aforementioned single dose of vitamins and ibuprofen was to continue to apply and eat fresh garlic. Whenever it became sore or bothered me, I'd cut the end off a clove of garlic (nice and portable; I took it on the train) and rub it right on there. When I felt it sting I took the garlic off, and the stinging went away after a minute — and after that, it would stop bothering me. It stayed the way it was for a day, then faded in a day; today it's pretty much gone and I haven't needed the garlic at all. Also on the first day I ate a clove of garlic, and the next day I chewed up a few of the end-pieces I was cutting off. But that seems to have done it — woo!
December 30, 2011 Comments Off
I thought this made for a nice quick "Oh! Huh" kind of moment — not that the points below can't be argued (haha what fun are things that can't be argued, right?) but it is fun to think about in that light. (Here's the full pdf, which I found on Google in a moment of undirected curiosity.) And if you're really fascinated, the Google and Wikipedia searches on related topics are fun too. Happy Saturday!
September 24, 2011 Comments Off
This is a good podcast — two scientists candidly discussing some of the problems with the scientific method.
It comes down to an argument I've been making since I was a freshman studying logic and mathematics: The systems may be perfect, but they're being *used by people* *in the real world* — introducing a MINIMUM of two layers of imperfection. As long as the method is one invented and used by people (or any emotional entity), and can't be segregated from the biases and imperfections that creep in due to our world and society (i.e. someone has to order the rats from a supplier; someone has to try to get that paper published; etc.), then it's simply not responsible to treat scientific inquiry as perfectly objective.
That's not to say it's bad, or useless–on the contrary, I'm a big fan of scientific method. But the thing I probably like best about it is its willingness to modify itself based on evidence; to grant, in other words, the primacy of reality over its interpretations thereof: pretty much the exact opposite of how religion does it. And I think that in order to preserve this wonderful quality of Science, to keep it from becoming just another close-minded blinders-wearing club of fanatics, it's absolutely critical to keep its flaws and limitations in mind.
Thanks to my good friend Psuke for the link! (She has all the best podcasts, seriously. I wish I could get her to just post her favorites here all the time….::hint::hint:: ;)
April 23, 2011 Comments Off
Don't miss the awesomely informative graphic at http://xkcd.com/radiation/. Fun takeaways include:
- Living within 50 miles of a coal-power plant for a year doses you with almost three times as much radiation as living within 50 miles of a nuclear-power plant for a year;
- A single mammogram gives 24 times the average total dose someone living within 10 miles of Three Mile Island received;
- Cell phones emit no ionizing radiation (I knew this, but it's great to see it included); and
- The worst known one-day dose from the Fukushima region in Japan is about 3.6% of the lowest one-year dose clearly linked to an increase of cancer risk.
So…Panic minus facts equals stupid, but facts plus colors equals pure awesome. I get it now! ;)
March 20, 2011 2 Comments
"The purpose of mechanics is to describe how bodies change their position in space with "time". I should load my conscience with grave sins against the sacred spirit of lucidity were I to formulate the aims of mechanics in this way, without serious reflection and detailed explanations."
(The Special Theory of Relativity, Ch. 3)
ABSOLUTELY, sir, have I felt myself at times in danger of sinning against the sacred spirit of lucidity! I'll strive to remember that the atonement of such sins is to write the shit down, no matter what others — others in power, too — might say or think about it. So they're wrong about space, cavalier about time, and stupid to insist that death is scary…they may not like us for it, but we're bound to tell them, or carry those grave sins with us through the whole continuum.
(My whole world is better now that I have the backing of a great man to shore up my belief in a Sacred Spirit of Lucidity! Whatever you're reading this weekend, I hope it's been as transformative for you. ;)
March 5, 2011 Comments Off
Okay, buckle up, because this is going to be a little crazy.
(Then again, could I have believably done it ANY OTHER WAY?? ;)
So, the first big piece of news is obvious if you've read the title: I'm re-adapting to my Everyman 3 schedule, after a few months of stone-cold (and miserable, if I might opine) monophasic sleep. This effort starts next week — but what I mean by "starts" is that I'll begin preparation in earnest, and begin documenting it.
If a week of documented prep sounds lame to you I apologize, but in all seriousness, about 75% of the questions I get from polyphasers (and wannabephasers? :) are concerning issues that could have been solved by better preparation, so I want to highlight and explain those steps while I'm doing them. Expect a lot of posts, including pics and possibly videos; but at least for next week, expect them to be short and rushed, as I won't actually have any extra time to do them in yet!
Oh, also, I'll be in the process of moving. Yes, I got me a nice apartment in the Boston area finally (after weeks of working here while crashing at a friend's place — thank you, friend!), and I start sleeping there on Monday night. I completely agree that this is an insane time to be re-adapting, and indeed, my original plans were much more sane (no, I swear! really!) — but there are reasons. Keep going. ;)
The following week (beginning Monday Nov. 8), I'll start my Everyman 3 schedule again. Basically I plan to pick up the schedule I had before: Naps at 7am, 1pm and 7pm, and sleep from 1a – 4a. Lord knows there's public transit and everything involved now, and so I'll be the first to admit modifications may be necessary; but it sounds like a good plan, anyway.
So here's the kicker — and the why now. Zeo, a company that does personal sleep coaching for (usually) non-crazy people, has offered to sponsor a scientific study of people adapting to polyphasic sleep, using their portable-brain-wave-monitory thing and their website, plus a small scientific panel to look at the data. While I would have rather waited a bit for things to settle down before re-adapting myself, I simply couldn't pass this opportunity up!
So, next week it is! Everybody ready?
(Me neither! ;)
October 30, 2010 10 Comments
w00t! Happy Winter Food & Presents Time, everybody!
…My Xmas is merrier and brighter (wait, are those flames?) already!
December 23, 2009 Comments Off