22 JUN 2016 by ideonexus

 Freeman Dyson's Optimism

Brand: I was looking at your 1988 book, Infinite in All Directions, and remembering what it was that excited me about it. Ten years ago, most people I knew were in the depths of a kind of bad mood, harboring a pessimistic feeling that things were going to keep getting worse for the rest of their lives. But your book had this pragmatic and also rather cosmic optimism about it; it came as a complete counter to the cultural flow at that point. Did you perceive that at the time? Dyson: Oh yes. I...
Folksonomies: futurism optimism
Folksonomies: futurism optimism
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31 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Static Culture

The fantasies of Wells and Huxley were based on the same idea, that a species adapting itself too perfectly to a static ecological niche is doomed to stagnation and ultimate extinction. Their nightmares describe a possible future for our species, if we succeed in building around ourselves a protective cocoon that shields us from the winds of change while our mental faculties dwindle. A future of senile dementia is as possible for the species as it is for the individual. And yet, when I compa...
Folksonomies: culture cultural change
Folksonomies: culture cultural change
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31 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 The Evolving View of Science and Evil

Daedalus begins with an artillery bombardment on the Western Front, the shell bursts nonchalantly annihilating the human protagonists who are supposed to be in charge of the battle. This opening scene epitomizes Haldane's hard-headed view of war. And likewise at the end, when the biologist in his laboratory, "just a poor little scrubby underpaid man groping blindly amid the mazes of the ultramicroscopic," is transfigured into the mythical figure of Daedalus, "conscious of his ghastly mission ...
Folksonomies: evil inequality war science
Folksonomies: evil inequality war science
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30 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 States Reduce Violence

So did Hobbes get it right? In part, he did. In the nature of man we find three principal causes of quarrel: gain (predatory raids), safety (preemptive raids), and reputation (retaliatory raids). And the numbers confirm that relatively speaking, “during the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war,” and that in such condition they live in “continual fear, and danger of violent death.” But from his armchair in 17th-ce...
Folksonomies: society governance violence
Folksonomies: society governance violence
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21 MAR 2015 by ideonexus

 Spelling and Grammar is Ancestor Worship

The fetishization of "correct" English -- which is to say, white, wealthy English -- is in direct opposition to everything that makes English such a glorious drunkard's debauch of a language. English came to us from the inventive malapropism and linguistic entrepreneurship of its speakers: from Shakespeare, who coined words wholesale; to the working-class streets with their heterodox cursing and rhyming slangs. To demand the immobilization of this restless, incontinent language is a form of b...
Folksonomies: grammar spelling reform culure
Folksonomies: grammar spelling reform culure
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18 MAR 2015 by ideonexus

 The Importance of Comparative Alphabets

But when I had grasped the facts that spellings are often false, that words can be invented, and that explanations are often wrong, I found that worse remained behind. The science of phi- lology is comparatively modern, so that our earlier writers had no means of ascertaining principles that are now well established, and, instead of proceeding by rule, had to go blindly by guesswork, thus sowing crops of errors which have sprung up and multiplied till it requires very careful investigatio...
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07 MAR 2015 by ideonexus

 London Pollution Disaster

The whole world needs to burn coal and oil, right? So what’s wrong with our coal? Do you know how much coal China has burned? In 2013, we had already burned 3.6 billion tons. But do you know how much all the other countries in the world have burned? We have burned more coal than the rest of the world combined. The last time a country had this kind of consumption was England in 1860. But as a result they paid a heavy price. Deep in an abandoned mine in South Wales lies the heart of England...
Folksonomies: pollution air pollution
Folksonomies: pollution air pollution
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24 JAN 2015 by ideonexus

 Preachers and Prophets

Since I have had to pay college tuition for five daughters, I have chosen to play the role of preacher. I preach to all who will listen the gospel of manifest destiny. The destiny which I am preaching is not the expansion of a single nation or of a single species, but the spreading out of life in all its multifarious {134} forms from its confinement on the surface of our small planet to the freedom of a boundless universe. This unimaginably great and diverse universe, in which we occupy one...
Folksonomies: colonization expansion
Folksonomies: colonization expansion
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24 JAN 2015 by ideonexus

 Science Unifiers

Now it is generally true that the very greatest scientists in each discipline are unifiers. This is especially true in physics. Newton and Einstein were supreme as unifiers. The great triumphs of physics have been triumphs of unification. We almost take it for granted that the road of progress in physics will be a wider and wider unification bringing more and more phenomena within the scope of a few fundamental principles. Einstein was so confident of the correctness of this road of unificati...
Folksonomies: science unification
Folksonomies: science unification
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24 JAN 2015 by ideonexus

 Manchester and the Birth of the Industrial Revolution

What was so exciting about Manchester? Disraeli with his acute political and historical instinct understood that Manchester had done something unique and revolutionary. Only he was wrong to call it science. What Manchester had done was to invent the Industrial Revolution, a new style of life and work which began in that little country town about two hundred years ago and inexorably grew and spread out from there until it had turned the whole world upside down. Disraeli was the first politicia...
Folksonomies: academia revolution
Folksonomies: academia revolution
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