Sunday, July 28, 2013

quote for the day

Image Credit: Subaru Telescope (NAOJ) & DSS;
Assembly and Processing: Robert Gendler

"If the past is the roadmap to the future, then the yet unwritten acts promise forays, by intrepid mathematicians of today and tomorrow, into new worlds presently populated with seemingly unattainable mathematical truths." - Ken Ono

- Dna-nanomanufacturing news,

Four stranded dna compined with two stranded dna Dna was discovered to be two stranded.  There's been alternative artificial dna made before using different amino acids.  Now, we've got four stranded dna! In fact, in an article I did not keep track of, four stranded dna has been found naturaly I think in human cells much less other lifeform's cells. So, this is pretty big science news and nanomanufacturing news. Dna-nanotech news-wise, this combining of four stranded with two stranded dna allows for stiffer stronger dna-nanomanufacturing.  It can of course combine with the more flexible dna-nanotechnologies already developed.  I'd say this is significant for dna-nanomanufacturing's ability to do usefull work and bootstrap to an even more robust nanomanufacturing base.

It's almost been a year since a great group of dna-nanomanufacturing developments allowed for faster creation of arbitrary dna-nanostructures, then bringing down the cost numerous times. I've seen plenty of indications that researchers are just too busy experimenting to write up a scientific paper per dna-nanostructure. Quiet before the storm is the modo here!

- There's other exciting scientific news. Inflationary generalization of the Big Bang theory has been confirmed again. It was confirmed in the late 1980s with the Cobe satellite.  The recent Wmap has made things interesting, showing a north and south pole to our cosmos.  But, that type of stuff can only make theories previously proven correct even more interesting(like the way Newton's theory was generalized by Einstein's theories of Relativity). The article explaining more confirmation for Inflationary theory . Another article related to neutrinos . And related to Neutrinoes, is the CERN/Lhc people who discovered the some Higgs particles think they've finally found some hints of dark matter, hints of supersymmetric particles found in LHC data. I doubt I've given every exciting new particle physics/cosmololgy news!

- A.I. news has also been pretty exciting.  Previously, I had found(not sure if I posted about this) European researchers trying to make A.I. happen by means of memristers. This appears to be a different group. Chips that mimic the brain .

 - I've seen some stuff about gigantic virus's that could put the Biology theories on their heads.  This is pretty exciting from that standpoint in my opinion. Giant virus's make the line between life and non-life even more fuzzy?

- Space exploration should be getting exciting.  SpaceX is about to start making space happen; a launch per month by next year!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

astro picture for the day/ thought for the day - James Burke connections and social conditioning

The above picture is of the Earth and the Moon off in the distance.  The picture is taken from a Gemini program spacecraft.  The U.S. space program started from the Mercury program, to the Gemini, to the Apollo. I can't find any farely good pictures of the Earth from orbit from the Mercury program.  I'm pretty sure the Yuri Gagarin flight didn't take very good quality views.  So, I found quite a lot of good pictures of Earth from orbit during the Gemini program days.

Why do I put a Gemini picture up?  Because of James Burke's connections idea. I of course make a bit of connections between James Burke's connections and Jacob Bronowski's ideas, in my "Origins of Mathematical Knowledge." I point out certain peculiar connections that are similar to Jacob Bronowski's ideas, and argue that maybe some if not a lot of James Burke's other connections are weak or not really a connection at all. Surelly the long bow did not lead to the invention of the cannon? But, maybe there were various connections like social connections between the Knight, the Knights influence on the economy and technology(Jacob Bronowski like connections) and the longbow.  It's not that the one can logically deduced the long bow from Knights on horseback, but different almost purely human connections. These types of connections are similar to an interesting social connection of the space program(both Soviet and American).

Basically, the space program led to the environmental movement.  When people saw how finite the Earth's resources were from space, they became more concerned than ever before for the environment.  People had their concerns before.  But the views of the Earth form orbit created another wave of environmentalism - almost a religion.  What to say about that?

Well, there's all kinds of influences like this.  Like maybe some people grow up with technological accidents, and so are influenced to hate science and technology.  Others profit from it, and so embrace science and technology. This could be generalized to social conditioning.  People grow up told to like certain things, and hate others.  They don't ask questions and shed their social conditioning.  They hate/like no matter what.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

thought for the day/ philosopher bloopers

ESA/NASA Hubble space telescope

After the discovery of Uranus, philosopher Hegel said he had logically proved that there can be no more planets.  At the time, Ceres was discovered, and people took that as a disproof of Hegel's logic.  Soon after Hegel's life, astronomers discovered Neptune by means of mathematics first.

Around the time that mathematical astronomers were predicting yet another planet beyond Uranus(due to odd motions of the gaseous giants), an Auguste Comte predicted that we'll never know the chemical constitution of the stars.  At almost the same time Joseph Fraunhofer, Bunson, and Kirchhoff found that the spectrum of light codes up the electron orbitals(they didn't know it like that), and essentially gives information of the chemicals, and physics of the stars(and atoms).

I suppose it would help to actually see what their logic was, but these two examples are a little bit contrary to my pointing out Jacob Bronowski/James Burke's connections.  Another theory that got disproved is the aether theory.  Some would argue that quantum mechanics and even Relativity theory brings the aether back in a new form. Of course, there's plenty of examples of logic and theory predicting things.  There's the famous Ole Rømer finding of the finite speed of light, anti-matter, neutrinos.  All this really brings up is that when dealing with the real world, empirical data needs to be gathered to determine the truth of logic and how far the theory applies.

--------------------------------------------------nano news extra,

I had figured that after all the breakthroughs of almost a year ago now, in the ability to make arbitrary dna-nanostructures at far greater speeds than before, that dna-nanotechnologists were probably going to be almost too busy to report each and every new nano-structure on a daily basis.  As reported here, and it's noted that this is some that has been made available for free(hence, there's probably some people doing things that they just are keeping to themselves for now), the researchers have indeed been too busy to report everything. foresight latest on dna-nanomanufacturing .  I actually havn't viewed the more technical report, as my computer doesn't have the software to open it; it's not exactly my computer.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

thought for the day/ Disruptive technology disproven; or at least generalised beyond Eric Drexler's wildest dreams

I've seen many documentaries about the beginnings space program that led to the Apollo space program, but this was 1) a new one, 2) I liked it.  I'm not sure why I like this one over all others; so, I guess we'll see if others like watching it!

I wrote this recently; considering no reply from all the 'disruptive technology' lovers, I'd say I've won the argument; so, I'm posting it here,

The reason why Malthusian doomsday scenarios have always failed is because more knowledge allows us to overcome the limitations/efficiencies of our previous knowledge(Malthuses overpopulation theories also led to Darwin's "Natural Selection"; so it led to something real).
But, along comes Eric Drexler with his "disruptive technology", and everyone jumps on the idea for one personal reason or another no doubt. Ope, maybe the Malthusian nightmare scenario will happen due to Eric Drexler's fight against future shock or something like that. I think Eric Drexler's original motivation was what happens when an economy spins out of control due to super advanced products hitting the market. I had argued that we need an Isaac Asimov "Foundation" so that knowledge/skills isn't lost due to whatever social chaos might come from some sudden technological advance. To say the least, the vagaries of everyones wish/fear of "disruptive technology' has kept everyone from taking my idea seriously.

------------------------------------------science extra for the day

I don't want to get into all the famous volcanic eruptions, like Mount St Helens, Pinatobo, and the list goes on. But, a recent breakthrough in how volcanoes work has been published(linked below).

A hugh volcano, almost Mount Vesuvius like, has been erupting on and off and threatening Mexico city for a long time.  Recently, our technological age has gotten some great video of its smaller bursts.

Popocatepetl erupted again a few weeks after the electrifying blast above. 

major understanding of how volcanoes work

Friday, July 12, 2013

thought for the day/ BBC - My Father the Bomb and Me

Lisa Jardine has gone personal in this video; so, this is a personal response.  I mention some things about my sister, and feel justified because it appears to me Lisa Jardine here has gone to the vague knowledge of religion.  She feels the opportunity to find something wrong with her father, Jacob Bronowski.  The fact that refugee Jews helped build the bomb has long been understood as their wish for Hitler to not get the bomb.  She should have understood this long before she found some top secret work of her father about aiming bombs.  She should have understood why the moment she found them.  There is no mystery.  She's acting up, and I can't help and am tired of the acting up of many people like my own sister.  So, this blog entry is a bit more seemingling personal.

I've often noted how I was approximately born at the same time that Jacob Bronowski died, just like some people note that Isaac Newton was born the day Galileo died. That type of reasoning the mythicists use; and I of course fight that type of reasoning.  I just say it in fun.

Jacob Bronowski is still my favorite philosopher next to E.T. Bell I suppose. I make this blog and champion Jacob Bronowski because I find that he is the most general philosopher and still largely correct.  I also would like to say that it appears that humanity has past by Jacob Bronowski, which is an intellectual tragedy. There's a new generation every fifteen to twenty years, and every generation can take in so much knowledge.  They cut out what they think they don't need. They should keep the most general; they've cut out the most general, so far. As A.I and brain research fails to figure it all out, and then turns to figure it out and find the correct solution, I think humanity will come back to Jacob Bronowski and others like Ernst Cassirer.

I came to Jacob Bronowski almost by accident.  I had noticed Jacob's "Ascent of Man" book on science bookshelves for the longest time while a youth; but, I had always past it by.  I considered it a cheap work, just another historian of science.  I should back up a little bit. I went to bookstores while a youth trying to find any books that could help me learn science.  At the time, the bookstores were Waldenbooks, and the science sections were like one or two rows of the nature section which was just one shelf of the bookstore.  Bookstores like Bookstar, and then Barnes and Nobles with hugh science sections, sections devoted to each science section came a few years later, but still I did not get into Jacob Bronowski.  I got a Jacob Bronowski book called "Origins of Knowledge and Imagination" from my sister who was working in a used bookstore at the time.  The title certainly caught my eye, but I still didn't know what to expect.  I had for a few years in my teens at the time had already moved towards the philosophy of mathematics trying to understand the nature and origin of mathematics in the hopes of becoming a mathematician.  Most mathematicians I find did not do this in their youths.  They just learned as much mathematics as possible; some just become teachers; some have some natural creative ability and so they go on to become full fledged mathematicians. To say the least, Jacob Bronowski's "Origins of Knowledge and Imagination" is still one of my favorite books(next to E.T. Bell's "Development of Mathematics".). And I consider this later life work to have put things together, the nature and origin of mathematics and science, the relation to art and human philosophy/ethics. My sister never read it!  Shoot, she says she doesn't like 2001, or Isaac Asimov's "Foundation."  Sorry to go a bit personal, but it is a little striking that she who gave me the book has turned south, never learned how to ask questions, face facts; never learned the difference between rational thought and irrationalist thought. She's an example of the generation problem that missed out on Jacob Bronowski and the true human spirit - the rational scientific spirit; the real holistic experience and ethics.  Moving on . . .

I found this video a day after uncovering a little mystery.  I got involved in a little mathematicians group on facebook quite by accident. I'm an amateur mathematician at best(I once got through an interesting how to do mathematics book, and of course, I've done many basic mathematicians type of knowledge; things like the Pythagorean theorem, the irrationality of the square root of two, and three, the infinitude of primes, the five platonic solids, and I've given some indication of my learning of Greek mathematical knowledge and my explorations of the origins of mathematics as I've tried to check my own generalisations of Jacob Bronowski's ideas in his "Origins of Knowledge and Imagination"; I think I can consider myself certainly a historian and philosopher of mathematics and amateur mathematician).  These guys are pretty up there.  There's some older guys with Harvard Phds.  I know some can get on to arxiv and publish there.  There's some young hotshoes.  I've even heard some say they read Serre others have gotten through some maybe all of Bourbaki books. But, I've recently uncovered the identity of one guy who's certainly has worked with some of the most premier mathematicians.  Grothendieck, Andre Weil, and John Tate(see my video about the Hodge Conjecture; John Tate introduces the speaker; John's such a great character!).   He goes by his Russian name on facebook, Игорь Ростиславович Шафаревич.   How I uncovered this guys name in English is kind of interesting.  I was reading John Stillwell's "Elements of Algebra", and read through the bibliography and found that an interesting title of "Construction of fields of algebraic numbers with given solvable Galois groups."  The auther was a L Shafarevich.  I googled the name real quick and found a familiar picture.

Reading the wiki jolted some more memories.  One of my first books back in junior high days was "The Mathematical Experience."  In it was an enjoyable article about some Russian mathematician who had some interesting things to say about mathematics.  He kind of derived god from mathematics.  He said mathematics seems to grow with no goal; how to put that goal, since mathematical ideas seem to spring up in people far from each other like non-euclidiean geometries, then belief in God must be the guiding hand . . . yea, the reasoning there is a little off as it stands.

I bring this Igor Shafarevich up because he lived in much the same time period as Jacob Bronowski.  Igor fought against the corrupt Soviet Union; yet, it appears he's gone the nazy blame the Jews for the wrong turning of the Soviet Union later on in life(about the same time he pubished his god ideas of mathematics). At the same time Igor Shafarevich couldn't figure out philosophy, Jacob Bronowski was trying to understand the relation of mathematics to art, philosophy, and to learn the history of mathematics in the human experience.  He certainly found that mankind is the technologically dependent and hence mathematically dependent species.  It can't be that mathematics is the problem, or why exist at all?  Why through human curiosity away because some have abused it?  I simply stress that mathematical philosophy is about questioning assumptions, not making those assumptions, having the courage to consider new ideas, and the honor to put wrong ideas away, to be skeptical, to be open minded.   I've found more curiosities amongst this facebook mathematican social group.

I've found that most are socially bound up to various religions which I've shown are anti-science. They have all the examples of why not to be socially bound up, but there is no asking questions, just go back in their rooms and shut the door.  Well, as I've said before, question your beliefs, or I don't want to hear it; just shut up.

For Lisa Jardine, watching Jacob Bronowski at Auswitz was pretty hard.  No doubt that is quite a video, once again, the point is that Jews worked on the Manhatten project and in the case of Jacob Bronowski on aiming bombs and calculating death rates, because they didn't want Hitler to win the war.  Why this was hard for Lisa to grasp all her life is striking to me, as much as my struggles to get people to understand irrationality incrowding. The moving part for me was her revealing when Jacob Bronowski died due to being asked questions about science and morality.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

thought for the day/ connections between my "Nature and Orign of Mathematical knowledge" and the use of fire from Homo Erectus to us, or at least to Anaximander of Miletus

 Carl Sagan's literary account of fire mythology of the ancients,
"We eat berries and roots. Nuts and leaves. And dead animals. Some animals we find. Some we kill. We know which foods are good and which are dangerous. If we taste some foods we are struck down, in punishment for eating them. We did not mean to do something bad. But foxglove of hemlock will kill you. We love our children and our friends. We warn them of such foods.
     When we hunt animals, then also can we be killed. We can be gored. Or trampled. Or eaten. What animals do means life and death for us: how they behave, what tracks they leave, their times for mating and giving birth, their times for wandering. We must know these things. we tell our children. They will tell their children.
     We depend on animals. We follow them - especially in winter when there are few plants to eat. We are wandering hunters and gatherers. We call ourselves the hunterfolk.
     Most of us fall asleep under the sky or under a tree or in its branches. We use animal skins for clothing: to keep us warm, to cover our nakedness and sometimes as a hammock. When we wear the animal skins we feel the animals power. We leap with the gazelle. We hunt with the bear. There is a bond between us and the animals. We hunt and eat the animals. They hunt and eat us. We are part of one another.
     We make tools and stay alive. Some of us are experts at splitting, flaking, sharpening, and polishing, as well as finding rocks. Some rocks we tie with animal sinue to a wooden handle and make an ax. With the ax we strike plants and animals. Other rocks are tied to long sticks, If we are quiet and watchful, we can sometimes come close to an animal and stick it with the spear.
     Meat spoils. Sometimes we are hungry and try not to notice. Sometimes we mix herbs with the bad meat to hide the taste. We fold foods that will not spoil into pieces of animal skin. Or big leaves. Or the smell of a large nut. It is wise to put food  aside and carry it. If we eat this food too early, some of us will starve later. So we must help one another. For this and many other reasons we have rules. Everyone must obey the rules. We have always had rules. Rules are sacred.
     One day there was a storm, with much lightning and thunder and rain. The little ones are afraid of storms. And sometimes so am I. The secret of the storm is hidden. The thunder is deep and loud. The lightning is brief and bright. Maybe someone very powerful is very angry. It must be someone in the sky, I think.
     After the storm there was a flickering and crackling in the forest nearby. We went to see. There was a bright, hot, leaping thing, yellow and red. We had never seen such a thing before. We now call it "flame." It has a special smell. In a way it is alive. It eats food. It eats plants and tree limbs and even whole trees, if you let it. It is strong. But it is not very smart. If all the food is gone, it dies. It will not walk a spear's throw from one tree to another if there is no food along the way. It cannot walk without eating. But where there is much food, it grows and makes many flame children.
     One of us had a brave and fearful thought: to capture the flame, feed it a little, and make it our friend. We found some long branches of hard wood. The flame was eating them, but slowly. We could pick them up by the end that had no flame. If you run fast with a small flame, it dies. Their children are weak. We did not run. We walked, shouting good wishes. "Do not die," we said to the flame. The other hunterfolk looked with wide eyes.
     Ever after, we have carried it with us. We have a flame mother to feed the flame slowly so it does not die of hunger. Flame is a wonder, and useful too; surely a gift from powerful beings. Are they the same as the angry beings in the storm?
     The flame keeps us warm on cold nights. It gives us light. It makes holes in the darkness when the moon is new. We can fix spears at night for tomorrow's hunt. And if we are not tired, even in the darkness we can see each other and talk. Also - a good thing! - fire keeps animals away. We can be hurt at night. Sometimes we have been eaten, even by small animals, hyenas and wolves. Now it is different. Now the flame keeps the animals back. We see them baying softly in the dark, prowling, their eyes glowing in the light of the flame. They are frightened of the flame. But we are not frightened. The flame is ours. We take care of the flame. The flame takes care of us.
     The sky is important. It covers us. It speaks to us. Before the time we found the flame, we would lie back in the dark and look up at all the points of light. Some points would come together to make a picture in the sky. One of us could see the pictures better than the rest. She taught us the star pictures and what names to call them. We would sit around late at night and make up stories about the pictures in the sky: lions, dogs, bears, hunterfolk. Other, stranger things. Could they be the pictures of the powerful beings in the sky, the ones who make the storms when angry?
     Mostly, the sky does not change. The same star pictures are there year after year. The moon grows from nothing to a thin sliver to a round ball, and then back again to nothing. When the Moon changes, the woman bleed. Some tribes have rules against sex at certain times in the growing and shrinking of the moon. Some tribes scratch the days of the moon or the days that the woman bleed on antler bones. Then they can plan ahead and obey their rules. Rules are sacred.
     The stars are very far away. When we climb a hill or a tree they are no closer. And clouds come between us and the stars: the stars must be behind the clouds. The moon, as it slowly moves, passes in front of stars. Later you can see that the stars are not harmed. The moon does not eat stars. The stars must be behind the moon. They flicker. A strange, cold, white faraway light. Many of them. All over the sky. But only at night. I wonder what they are.
     After we found the flame, I was sitting near the campfire wondering about the stars. Slowly a thought came: The stars are flame, I thought. Then I had another thought: the stars are campfires that other hunterfolk light at night. The stars give a smaller light than campfires. So the stars must be campfires very far away. "But," they ask me, "how can there be campfires in the sky? Why do the campfires and the hunter people around those flames not fall down at our feet? Why don't strange tribes drop from the sky?"
     Those are good questions. They trouble me. Sometimes I think the sky is half of a big eggshell or a big nutshell. I think the people around those faraway campfires look down on us - except for them it seems up - and say that we are in their sky, and wonder why we do not fall up to them, if you see what I mean. But hunterfolk say, "Down is down and up is up." That is a good answer, too.
     There is another thought that one of us had. His thought is that night is a great black animal skin, thrown up over the sky. There are holes in the skin. We look through the holes. And we see flame. His thought is not just that there is flame in a few places where we see stars. He thinks there is flame everywhere. He thinks flame covers the whole sky. But the skin hides the flame. Except where there are holes.
     Some stars wander. Like the animals we hunt. Like us. If you watch with care over many months, you find they move. There are only five of them, like the fingers on the hand. They wander slowly among the stars. If the campfire thought is true, those stars must be tribes of wandering hunterfolk, carrying big fires. But I don't see how wandering stars can be holes in a skin. When you make a hole, there it is. A hole is a hole. Holes do not wander. Also, I don't want to be surrounded by a sky of flame. If the skin fell, the night sky would be bright - to bright - like seeing flame everywhere. I think a sky of flame would eat us all. Maybe there are two kinds of powerful beings in the sky. Bad ones, who wish the flame to eat us.  And good ones who put up the skin to keep the flame away. We must find some way to thank the good ones.
     I don't know if the stars are campfires in the sky. Or holes in a skin through which the flame of power looks down on us. Sometimes I think one way. Sometimes I think a different way. Once I thought there are no campfires and no holes but something else, too hard for me to understand.
     Rest your neck on a log. Your head goes back. Then you can see only the sky. No hills, no trees, no hunterfolk, no campfire. Just sky. Sometimes I feel I may fall up into the sky. If the stars are campfires, I would like to visit those other hunterfolk - the ones who wander. Then I feel good about falling up. But if the stars are holes in a skin, I become afraid. I don't want to fall up through a hole and into the flame of power.
     I wish I knew which was true. I don't like not knowing."
What inspired me to word for word out of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" chapter/episode seven was that I started to reread Isaac Asimov's "Extraterrestrial Civilizations."  I stopped rereading it because I decided other reading is more important; and maybe I buy a new less worn out copy.  I'm thinking I should reread it and make a review of it on this blog; but, once again, I stopped rereading it for various reasons.
Just one of the things that struck me in reading the first chapter of Isaac's E.T. book was fire.  As I've shown in my "Nature and Origin of Mathematical knowledge", there's some interesting connections in James Burke's "Connections" book/video.  Particularly, the connections of like how fertilization, pest control, and irrigation come out of clearing the fields.  There's others of course.  But, in re-reading Isaac Asimov's Extraterrestrial civilizations book, he notes how fire keeps the animals away, cooks the food and some others I think I'm forgetting. Point is the fire for our Homo Erectus ancestors led to concepts just like agriculturalism did.
As Carl Sagan says in his Cosmos book chapter/episode 7, "I don't think every hunter gatherer had all these thoughts.  But maybe some did."  "We know that some African tribes people today(at the time of his writing) thought the milky way was a backbone that holds the night up.  And he notes that the concept of the 'eternal flame' permeates human cultures.  Such thoughts can be the beginnings of scientific thoughts.
As Carl Sagan further notes, Anaximander, friend and I would suppose collegue  of Thales, the first Greek mathematician who discovered logical proof.  He traveled to Egypt and Babylon(and subsequently influenced other Greeks to do likewise, such as Pythagoras) and brought back the knowledge there to inspire the Greeks towards rational thought(at least a good deal more than ever before in history).   Thales according to all sources seems to have proven some interesting things - any angle in a semi-circle is a right angle; I've seen this theorem used in a version of the solution to the kepler problem; Isaan Newton deriving the three Kelper laws from his inverse square law.  He further appears to have proven that all vertical angles are equal, that the angles of a isosceles triangle are equal(a seemingly trivial theorem; but, it lies at the beginning of trigonometry), and that a circle is divided in half by it's diameter.  Yet another trivial theorem, but proof makes it more interesting when you phrase it in terms of degress of a ciricle.  A circle of course has 360 degrees(by a Babylonian tradition).  The line divides the circle in halk, hence the line has 180 degrees!  If you hadn't gone through the proof, you would never think of "how many degrees does a straight line have?"!  Back to Anaximander of Miletus, the same town Thales came from.
Anaximander thought that life must evolve.  I've heard this before.  I know I've read the book before, but that appears to have been a long time ago for me. I reread the essential chapters of Carl Sagan's Cosmos recently(due to the inspiration from reading about fire from Isaac Asimov's "Extraterrestial Civilizations"), and I read the reason Anaximander thought this was because of the observation that if you just left babies out in the wild, they will die.  So, they have to have parents, who also must have had parents to give them the knowledge of how to survive.  So, the animals must have evolved and transformed into our current form over time. Anaximander also believed that the stars were fire hidden by holes in the sky.  
Nor, as Saint Augustine later complained, "did he, any more than Thales, attribute the cause of all this ceaseless activity to a divine mind."

- Note - Carl Sagan's Cosmos, episode 7, "The backbone of Night" has been taken down from youtube.  I had linked to them when first putting this blog together.  I'm a little surprised that those who are in charge of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" wouldn't want it to be on youtube.  Those who are in charge of James Burkes stuff and Jacob Bronowski's videos clearly want the knowledge on youtube.

- Quote for the day extra

"Serenity takes you far - Shiing-Shen Chern

Saturday, July 6, 2013

thought for the day/ ancient knowledge mathematically defined

Image Credit & Copyright: Adam Block, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter, U. Arizona

I defined ancient knowledge in the previous incarnation of my blog.  I had said how three hundred years defines ancient knowledge.  A full human lifetime appears to be about a hundred years.  So, two hundred years is certainly a previous human generation, but to go beyond human memory, we should go to three hundred years.  This is not a very mathematical definition of ancient knowledge, but it's interesting.  Recently, I was rereading John D. Barrow's "Pi in the Sky" to review once again the origin of mathematical knowledge and compare to Jacob Bronowski's ideas in his "Origins of Knowledge and Imagination."

I've always said that chapter two, "The Counter Culture", is worth the price of the book.  It's about seventy pages about tally bones found thirty thousand years ago to base two and five and all the number linguistics.  Reading it, you appreciate that the primitive numbers of the Egyptians and Mesopotamians(who went much further algebraically than the Egyptians) were a sophisticated development that required a long period of development. In rereading that chapter, I found some interesting stuff about the number three.

Three meant beyond.  In latin, there's trans and tres.  Tres is three, and trans is beyond.  In French, we have trois and tres.  Trois is three, and tres is "very". The anthropologists of the eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds(just like the Golden Bough, you can't even do some of this research anymore.  The education of peoples throughout the world is kindof erasing this knowledge) found tribes in Islands, Africa and the like who had words for one, two, and then many, or beyond.

Well, I find it kind of interesting that my idea for defining ancient knowledge corresponds numberwise with the significance of the number three at one time tens of thousands of years ago.

So, if three hundred years is the standard for ancient knowledge, how much knowledge is ancient today?  Well, due to our young species, very little is ancient knowledge! Three hundred years ago was of course around early 1700.  Right now that's 1713.  At that time, differential equations were still exercising the best efforts of mathematicians.  This is all the mathematics past a first and maybe a second semester calculus class. Basically, the mathematics and Physics of Isaac Newton is now ancient knowledge, and almost nothing afterwards!  The seventeen hundreds was dominated by Euler but had some other underrated mathematicians like Lagrange.  The seventeen hundreds closed with the publication of Laplaces vast generalization of Newton's "Principia."  Basically, after Isaac Newton, mathematians created a vast amount of differential equations, calculus of variations, some beginnings of complex analyses, number theory beyond Fermat.  Laplaces "Celestial Mechanics" generalizes Newton's "Principia" with all that mathematics.  It goes to five thousand page each volumes; it was obsolete the day it was published.  William Hamilton, discoverer of quaternions, made an early name for himself by finding a single mistake in it all.  The majority of all that knowledge is not quite ancient knowledge.

In the eighteen hundreds. A Cantor, not the George Cantor of transfinite numbers fame in the same century, published a technical history of mathematics up to the eighteen hundreds.  It went to four thick volumes.  The eighteen hundreds of course saw mathematics go abstract - abstract or alternative algebras, abstract geometries, or non-Euclidean geometries and projective geometry to unify them all.  The eighteen hundreds had mathematicians breaking free of all the rules and making them on their own.  Analyses of course continued to develop as it does so today. Technical histories of eighteen hundreds mathematics are still coming out today.  The collective works of Leondard Euler are still not quite complete. The point is of course the vast majority of mathematical knowledge is not ancient knowledge.

-------------------------------------------science/tech goodie extras

artificial ribosomes

When Eric Drexler first started thinking about nanomanufacturing, he innovated artificial proteins.  He knew the idea of making smaller machines to make smaller machines all the way down to single atoms is a long road.  Nobody then seemed to be able to make complete characterization of ribosomes(natural nanomachines that make nanotechnologies - proteins).  Proteins that could self-assemble into nanomachines seemed a bit far fetched as well.  But, he thought of a way to maybe make that more practical than ribosomes.  Today, making artificial proteins has become reliable enough, but nanotechnologists are not so excited about them as they are about peptides . Still, this breakthrough in Ribosomes is kind of exciting.

SpaceX has done a pretty good job bringing down the price of space rocketry.  But others have made even more breakthroughs.  One other space company has innovated pistons instead of turbopumps for rocketry.  Here, nasa has created composite cryogenic fuel tanks. My only problem with all this is everyone is keeping their innovations to themselves.  Imagine combining everyone's ideas where possible!  England has these jet engine/rocket engine hypbrid innovations.  I recall they use superconductors to cool incoming air.