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All physicists have to look nerdy. It’s part of the job description.

Edge.org has a conversation with theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli:

Science is not about the data. The empirical content of scientific theory is not what is relevant. The data serves to suggest the theory, to confirm the theory, to disconfirm the theory, to prove the theory wrong. But these are the tools that we use. What interests us is the content of the theory. What interests us is what the theory says about the world. General relativity says space-time is curved. The data of general relativity are that Mercury perihelion moves 43 degrees per century, with respect to that computed with Newtonian mechanics.

Who cares? Who cares about these details? If that was the content of general relativity, general relativity would be boring. General relativity is interesting not because of its data, but because it tells us that as far as we know today, the best way of conceptualizing space-time is as a curved object. It gives us a better way of grasping reality than Newtonian mechanics, because it tells us that there can be black holes, because it tells us there’s a Big Bang. This is the content of the scientific theory.

I just discovered Edge.  They have some good shit melding philosophical questions with scientific inquiry.  The kind of stuff I want to write if I ever make it through my formal education.  Totes subscribing.

[edit]

I have to add commentary on this particular post. I can see what Rovelli is getting at, but I don’t like the rhetoric. It’s too dismissive of the importance of data, of the relationship between reason and theory. The arrogance in the rhetorical question, “Who cares about these details?” is particularly grating.

Physicists often try to play with “deep” writing and often fail. (Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman is the other example that immediately comes to mind.) The nature of their occupation involves describing reality, and reality is undoubtably complex. But if you’re a scientist that wants to do metaphysics, you had better choose your language very carefully or risk sounding like a tool.

Categories: Knowledge has vagina dentata so don’t you fuck with it Tags: Carlo Rovelli, certainty, Edge.org, metaphysics, physicists, scientific inquiry

Follow @NYerFiction for “Black Box,” which will appear in ten nightly installments, from 8 to 9 P.M. E.T. If you miss it on Twitter, you’ll find each day’s installment collated here on Page-Turner.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/05/jennifer-egan-black-box.html#ixzz1vueU8F3k

The latest evolutionary mutation of literary mediums is here–short stories on Twitter.

I’ve never been impressed with Twitter, except for its ability to propel the hashtag from IRC networks to colloquial diction. I follow two comedians regularly and the rest of the people get spot-glances from my homepage whenever I log in, which is about once every 3 days. Nothing says, “I was the attention-starved middle child,” like regularly using Twitter.

Twitter is annoying. It’s a way to blog that’s as random and incoherent as writing on a bathroom wall. To use it to present staggered fictional prose, one 140-character-or-less sentence at a time, makes it more annoying. Serialized fiction deadens the reading experience and is done mostly for the profit of the publisher.

Sorry, Jennifer Egan. Tweeting your work is like painting in period blood. The final product still matters more than the unique means of production.  (Also, in my elitist opinion, this “story” is too meh for The New Yorker. Try turning it into a T.S. Eliot poem.)

Fail Whale.

Categories: Reviews Tags: black box, future of fiction, jennifer egan, serialized fiction, short stories, The New Yorker, twitter

I found this little guy/girl?  just lying on my lawn today, right out in the open next to a fallen branch.

I walked right up to it and it didn’t stir an inch, not even blink.

Probably less than 2 weeks old, its presence confused me:  Should I try to cover it from the rain? Shoo it back into the woods? Call animal control? Funny, how human babies are such hideous creatures, but fluffy critters (It had spots! On its nose!) can elicit something of a maternal instinct. Where did evolution go wrong there.

Google revealed that mother deer just do that–leave their babies alone to curl up all comatose-like while they forage for food. Considering its placement, deer obviously still do not understand suburbia.

[EDIT:  A reader writes me, “You shouldn’t ever go up to a deer like that. Or else the mom will show up and KICK THE SHIT OUT OF YOU.”]

It disappeared, presumably with its mom, an hour later.

Maybe we’ll meet again one day, baby deer. But if we do, it’ll probably be a meeting of your lack of understanding about civilization and my car.  Rats with hooves.

Categories: Autobiographical Stories, Knowledge has vagina dentata so don’t you fuck with it Tags: /r/aww, cute things, fawn, newborn deer, whitetail deer

Teachers and students have been striking across Spain this week, in response to the government’s spending cuts. It reminds me of a post my friend (American) made while studying abroad in Seville last fall and witnessing some of the outrage.

Molly In Seville

Today there were students running around the US campus with megaphones shouting “estudiantes, despiertan!” (“students, wake up!”) trying to grab some support for their protest tomorrow. They’re concerned about tuition increases and “recortes” (cuts) in education.

Wellsians – sounds familiar, right?

But here’s the plot twist:

Spanish students at US pay between 69-102 Euros for every six credits each semester, if I am understanding the handy-dandy BDSM-themed pamphlet that was distributed correctly.

So compared to Wells, where those who came in prior to 2009 pay $28,000/year for 12-20 credits, that’s… nothing.

Now, the tuition hikes shown here…

…Are projections for what might happen by 2020, long after these students have graduated. They also represent the worst case scenario, which is that students in their third year will have to pay 574 Euros for each six credits.

Seriously guys?

So I asked one of the protesters about this. I said…

View original post 154 more words

Categories: Politics or: the art of looking for trouble

If you were socially aware on the Internet in 2006, and frequented Fark or Reddit, then you, at the very least, have heard of  Ze Frank.  Yanno, the guy who did a webshow, The Show, every weekday for an entire year.  He talked about Bush a lot, made the Whip Somebody’s Ass song famous, and created a form of community-following that didn’t really exist before the Internet.

ZeFrank fell off the face of the planet for the last couple years, doing projects like Star.me which weren’t bad ideas, but not good enough to reclaim former glory. (Watching Internet celebrities try to make a comeback and fail fills me with existential dread.)

So when he announced that he was coming back with A Show, similar to The Show, I was super excited.  Alas, his attitude was old and tired. Nearly 20 videos later, I’m still not fully engaged.

But finally, he came out with one that got my attention.  Here Ze uses his nueroscience degree from Brown University* and talks some intellectual mind-fuckery about the nature of being and consciousness.

The red book on the shelf behind him is “Free Will” by Sam Harris.