“ “In the future, when the history of our time will be written from a long-term perspective, it may be that the most important things historians will see are not technological advancements or the Internet, but the fact that for the first time a substantial and rapidly growing number of people had choices.” ”—Peter Drucker, an influential writer, management consultant, and self-described “social ecologist” (1909-2005), cited in Esko Kilp, The competitive edge of the social business, Social Enterprise Today, Nov 22, 2011.
“ "Birds were what became of dinosaurs. Those mountains of flesh whose petrified bones were on display at the Museum of Natural History had done some brilliant retooling over the ages and could now be found living in the form of orioles in the sycamores across the street. As solutions to the problem of earthly existence, the dinosaurs had been pretty great, but blue-headed vireos and yellow warblers and white-throated sparrows - feather-light, hollow-boned, full of song were even greater. Birds were like dinosaurs’ better selves. They had short lives and long summers. We all should be so lucky as to leave behind such heirs." ”—Jonathan Franzen, American novelist and essayist, The Discomfort Zone: A Personal History, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006
“ "We are awfully lucky to be here-and by ‘we’ I mean every living thing. To attain any kind of life in this universe of ours appears to be quite an achievement. As humans we are doubly lucky, of course: We enjoy not only the privilege of existence but also the singular ability to appreciate it and even, in a multitude of ways, to make it better. It is a talent we have only barely begun to grasp." ”—Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything, Black Swan, 2003
“ “Don’t tell me nature isn’t a miracle. Don’t tell me the world isn’t a fairytale. Anyone who hasn’t realised that, may never understand until the fairytale is just about to end. Then there is one final chance to tear off the blinkers, a last chance to rub your eyes in amazement, a final opportunity to abandon yourself to the world you are bidding farewell to and leaving.” ”—Jostein Gaarder, Norwegian intellectual and writer, The Orange Girl, Orion Publishing, 2004.
'Life is one huge lottery where only the winning tickets are visible'
“Thirteen forty-nine,” was the first thing [he] said. “The Black Death,” I replied. I had a pretty good knowledge of history, but I had no idea what the Black Death had to do with coincidences. ”Okay,” he said, and off he went. “You probably know that half Norway’s population was wiped out during that great plague. But there’s a connection here I haven’t told you about. Did you know that you had thousands of ancestors at that time?” he continued. I shook my head in dispair. How could that possibly be? ”You have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, sixteen great-great grandparents — and so on. If you work it out, right back to 1349 — there are quite a lot. “Then came the bubonic plague. Death spread from neighborhood to neighborhood, and the children were hit worst. Whole families died, sometimes one or two family members survived. A lot of your ancestors were children at this time, Hans Thomas. But none of them kicked the bucket.” “How can you be so sure about that?” I asked on amazement. He took a long drag on his cigarette and said, “Because you’re sitting here looking out over the Adriatic.
“The chances of of single ancestor of yours not dying while growing up is one in several billion. Because it isn’t just about the Black Death, you know. Actually all of your ancestors have grown up and had children — even during the worst natural disasters, even when the child mortality rate was enormous. Of course, a lot of them have suffered from illness, but they’ve always pulled through. In a way, you have been a millimeter from death billions of times, Hans Thomas.
Your life on this planet has been threatned by insects, wild animals, meteorites, lightning, sickness, war, flods, fires, poisoning, and attempted murders. In the battle of Stikelstad alone you were injured hundreds of times. Because you must have had ancestors on both sides — yes, really you were fighting against yourself and your chances of being born a thousand years later. You know, the same goes for the last world war. If Grandpa had been shot by good Norwegians during the occupation, then neither you nor I would have been born. The point is, this happened billions of times through history. Each time an arrow rained through the air, your chances of being born have been reduced to the minimum.”
He continued: “I am talking about one long chain of coincidences. In fact, that chain goes right back to the first living cell, which divided in two, and from there gave birth to everything growing and sprouting on this planet today. The chance of my chain not being broken at one time or another duirng three or four billion years is so little it is almost inconceivable. But I have pulled through, you know. Damned right, I have. In return, I appreciate how fantastically lucky I am to be able to experience this planet this planet together with you. I realize how lucky every single little crawling insect on this planet is.”
"What about the unlucky ones?" I asked. ”They don’t exist! They were never born. Life is one huge lottery where only the winning tickets are visible.”
“ "One describes a tale best by telling the tale. You see? The way one describes a story, to oneself or to the world, is by telling the story. It is a balancing act and it is a dream. The more accurate the map, the more it resembles the territory. The most accurate map possible would be the territory, and thus would be perfectly accurate and perfectly useless. The tale is the map that is the territory; you must remember this." ”—Neil Gaiman, English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels, audio theatre and films, American Gods, William Morrow, 2001
Zygmunt Bauman: ‘Modern society stopped questioning itself’
“What is wrong with the society we live in - said Cornelius Castoriadis - is that it stopped questioning itself. This is a kind of society which no longer recognizes any alternative to itself and thereby feels absolved from the duty to examine, demonstrate, justify (let alone prove) the validity of its outspoken and tacit assumptions.
This does not mean, though, that our society, has suppressed (or is likely to suppress, barring a major upheaval) critical thought as such. It has not made its members reticent (let alone afraid) of voicing it either. If anything, the opposite is the case: our society — a society of “free individuals” — has made the critique of reality, the disaffection with “what is” and the voicing of disaffection, both an unavoidable and an obligatory part of every member’s life-business.
As Anthony Giddens keeps reminding us, we are all engaged nowadays in “life-politics”; we are “reflexive beings” who look closely at every move we take, who are seldom satisfied with its results and always eager to correct them. Somehow, however, that reflexion does not reach far enough to embrace the complex mechanisms which connect our moves with their results and decide their outcomes, let alone the conditions which hold such mechanisms in full swing.
We are perhaps more “critically predisposed,” much bolder and intransigent in our criticism than our ancestors managed to be in their daily lives, but our critique, so to speak, is “toothless,” unable to affect the agenda set for our “life-political” choices. The unprecedented freedom which our society offers its members has arrived, as Leo Strauss warned a long while ago, together with unprecedented impotence.’ “
“ "It is the great irony of life that a mindless act repeated in sequence can only lead to greater depths of absurdity, while a mindless act performed in parallel by a swarm of individuals can, under the proper conditions, lead to all that we find interesting." ”—Kevin Kelly, writer, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, and a former editor/publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems, and the Economic World, Addison-Wesley, 1994, p. 292.
“ "These slow-changing facts are what I term “mesofacts.” Mesofacts are the facts that change neither too quickly nor too slowly, that lie in this difficult-to-comprehend middle, or meso-, scale. (…)
So, too, is it with humans and how we process information. We recognize rapid change, whether it’s as simple as a fast-moving object or living with the knowledge that humans have walked on the moon. But anything short of large-scale rapid change is often ignored. This is the reason we continue to write the wrong year during the first days of January. (…)
Updating your mesofacts can change how you think about the world. Do you know the percentage of people in the world who use mobile phones? In 1997, the answer was 4 percent. By 2007, it was nearly 50 percent. The fraction of people who are mobile phone users is the kind of fact you might read in a magazine and quote at a cocktail party. But years later the number you would be quoting would not just be inaccurate, it would be seriously wrong. The difference between a tiny fraction of the world and half the globe is startling, and completely changes our view on global interconnectivity.” ”—Samuel Arbesman, Senior Scholar at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, also affiliated with the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, Warning: Your reality is out of date, The Boston Globe, Feb 28, 2010.
“ "Look what is coming: Technology is stitching together all the minds of the living, wrapping the planet in a vibrating cloak of electronic nerves, entire continents of machines conversing with one another, the whole aggregation watching itself through a million cameras posted daily. How can this not stir that organ in us that is sensitive to something larger than ourselves?" ”—Kevin Kelly, writer, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, and a former editor/publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, What Technology Wants, New York: Viking, The Penguin Group, 2010 cited in Playing the Infinite Game, Reality Sandwich
“ “He drew forth a phrase from his treasure and spoke it softly to himself:
A day of dappled seaborne clouds.” ”—James Joyce, Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century (1882-1941), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
“ “It is not the amount of knowledge that makes a brain. It is not even the distribution of knowledge. It is the interconnectedness.” ”—James Gleick, author, journalist, and biographer, whose books explore the cultural ramifications of science and technology, The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood, Pantheon, 2011.
“ "No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination." ”—James Joyce, Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century (1882-1941) in a letter to his brother, cited in Peter Hartshorn, James Joyce and Trieste, Greenwood Press, 1997, p.43.
“ “He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances. He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a verb in the past tense.” ”—James Joyce, Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century (1882-1941), Dubliners
“ "Interpretations of interpretations interpreted." ”—James Joyce, Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century (1882-1941), cited in Teachers College record, Volume 109, Columbia University, 2007, p.1829, oryg. cited in Fletcher, 2001, p. 262.
“ “He would conclude that nothing was real except chance.” ”—Paul Auster, American author known for works blending absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction and the search for identity and personal meaning, City of Glass, Penguin, 1987
“ “No one was to blame for what happened, but that does not make it any less difficult to accept. It was all a matter of missed connections, bad timing, blundering in the dark. We were always in the right place at the wrong time, the wrong place at the right time, always just missing each other, always just a few inches from figuring the whole thing out. That’s what the story boils down to, I think. A series of lost chances. All the pieces were there from the beginning, but no one knew how to put them together.” ”—Paul Auster, American author known for works blending absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction and the search for identity and personal meaning, Moon Palace, Viking Press, 1989
“ "I use 'truth' as a shorthand for the property of a human institution to ‘efficiently’ aggregate the dispersed information held by its individual members.” ”—Norman Schofield, Professor at Department of Political Science, Washington University of St. Louis, Rational choice and political economy (1995), cited in Jeffrey Friedman, The Rational Choice Controversy, New Haven & London, Yale University Press. (tnx whyshouldeye)
“ "The same statistical errors – namely, ignoring the “difference in differences” – are appearing throughout the most prestigious journals in neuroscience." ”—Ben Goldacre, British science writer, doctor and psychiatrist, The statistical error that just keeps on coming, The Guardian, Sept 9, 2011
“ "Science, like art, is not a copy of nature but a re-creation of her." ”—Jacob Bronowski, Polish-Jewish British mathematician, biologist, historian of science (1908-1974), Science and Human Values (1956)
“Maths and music make claims to be universal languages of sorts. Science’s base metaphors are increasingly mathematical - building conceptual models from billiard balls is a thing of the past. Some theorists (for example Wimsatt) consider metaphor central to poetry. Colin Turbayne  thinks that that science is metaphor-laden too, the metaphors dead. Waismann [quoted in 2] argues that scientific concepts are only closed in specific contexts and that they are not different in kind to the metaphors of poetry. (…)
Quantum Theory - In Quantum Theory, probabilities can be calculated but only when an observation is made can any certainty be established. Observation is said to ‘collapse the probability function.’ This has been used for an analogy to the way that a text is interpreted (dis-ambiguated) by the act of reading . (…)
Relativity - Connections are made between Einstein’s Special Relativity and analytic cubism. Awareness of the equal importance of world viewpoints, the impossibility of absolute motion and time perhaps permeated via the Zeitgeist to artists; the link came from no deep mutual understanding.
Gödel - Gödel’s findings have helped soften artists’ views on science and has removed an aim of classical science. They have only made maths more obviously like the other sciences. The gap between science and the arts hasn’t thereby been reduced.
Geometry - Mondrian is heavily geometric and minimalist. This doesn’t make him more appealing to mathematicians. Equally, the 4-colour problem in maths isn’t appealing to artists.” ”—Tim Love, poet, computer officer at Cambridge University, Science and the Arts, PhysLink, Sept 1995  C. Turbayne, 'The Myth of Metaphor', Univ of South Carolina Press, 1970,  P.L. Hagen, Peter Lang, ‘Metaphor’s Way of Knowing’, 1995,  Ian Mills, 'The Quantum Uncertainty of the Narrator', in ‘Poetry Review’ V85.1, Spring 1995.
“ "The core of science is not a mathematical model — it is intellectual honesty." ”—Sam Harris, American author, neuroscientist, the co-founder and current CEO of Project Reason, La Jolla meeting, "Beyond Belief 2006: Science, Religion, Reason and Survival", Nov 2006
“ “Animals have no unconscious, because they have a territory. Men have only had an unconscious since they lost a territory.” ”—Jean Baudrillard, French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist (1929-2007), Simulacra and Simulation, University of Michigan Press, 1994, p. 139.
“ "It is the real, and not the map, whose vestiges persist here and there in the deserts that are no longer those of the Empire, but ours: the desert of the real itself.” ”—Jean Baudrillard, French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist (1929-2007), Simulacra and Simulation cited in Jean Baudrillard, Selected Writings, ed, M. Poster, Stanford: Stanford University Press, p.166-184.
How did Einstein’s musical practice inform his scientific work
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” — Albert Einstein
“When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come close to the conclusion that the gift of imagination has meant more to me than any talent for absorbing absolute knowledge. (…) All great achievements of science must start from intuitive knowledge. I believe in intuition and inspiration. (…) At times I feel certain I am right while not knowing the reason.” — Albert Einstein cited in Paul Schilpp, 1979, Albert Einstein: Autobiographical Notes
“The theory of relativity occurred to me by intuition, and music is the driving force behind this intuition. My parents had me study the violin from the time I was six. My new discovery is the result of musical perception." — A. Einstein stated to Shinichi Suzuki, musical historian and instructor cited in Shinichi Suzuki, 1969. “Nurtured by Love. A New Approach to Education”, p.90.
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” — A. Einstein cited in Alice Calaprice, 2000, The Expanded Quotable Einstein” p. 10, 22, 287.
“Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music, and that would usually resolve all his difficulties.” — Hans Einstein, Einstein’s son cited in Ronald W. Clark, 1971. “Einstein. The Life and Times”, p106.
“After playing piano, he would get up saying ‘There, now I’ve got it’, something in the music would guide his thoughts in new and creative directions.”
— Einstein’s sister Maja, cited in Jamie Sayen, 1985. ”Einstein in America”, p26.
“Einstein recognized an unexplainable connection between music and his science, and notes that Einstein’s mentor, Ernst Mach had indicated that music and the aural experience were the organ to describe space.” — Einstein’s close friend Alexander Mozskowski cited in Robert Mueller, 1967 unknown work, p171.
“ "We are interested in encounters between languages and the consequences of these encounters. (…)
George Bernard Shaw famously said, “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange those ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”
Similarly, incorporeal works of art (poems, short stories etc.) have the potential to affect millions since unlike apples, they are unencumbered by the problem of scarcity (Lewis Hyde). The value of translation is that it unleashes from latency ideas and emotions to a vast sea of others who do not have access to the language in which these ideas and emotions reside.” ”—Asymptote Journal
“ "If you wish to understand the secrets of the Universe, think of energy, frequency, and vibration." ”—Nikola Tesla, Serbian-American inventor, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer (1856-1943)
“Brian Greene: Our Universe May Be a Giant Hologram
“Plato likened our view of the world to that of an ancient forebear watching shadows meander across a dimly lit cave wall. He imagined our perceptions to be but a faint inkling of a far richer reality that flickers beyond reach.
Two millennia later, Plato’s cave may be more than a metaphor. To turn his suggestion on its head, reality—not its mere shadow—may take place on a distant boundary surface, while everything we witness in the three common spatial dimensions is a projection of that faraway unfolding. Reality, that is, may be akin to a hologram. Or, really, a holographic movie.” ”—Brian Greene, American theoretical physicist and string theorist. He has been a professor at Columbia University since 1996, Our Universe May Be a Giant Hologram, Aug 4, 2011, Excerpted fromThe Hidden Reality, Knopf, 2011. (tnx johnsparker)
“ "This flexibility of learning accounts for a large part of what we consider human intelligence. While many animals are properly called intelligent, humans distinguish themselves in that they are so flexibly intelligent, fashioning their neural circuits to match the task at hand." ”—David Eagleman, neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine, Your Brain Knows a Lot More Than You Realize, DISCOVER Magazine, Oct 27, 2011. See also: ☞ David Eagleman on the conscious mind
“ "Maybe we should be open-minded about the obverse possibility – that we hit the buffers because our brains don’t have enough conceptual grasp. (…) Einstein averred that “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible. He was right to be astonished. Our minds, evolved to cope with the life of our remote ancestors on the African savannah. It’s amazing these minds can comprehend so much of the counterintuitive microworld of atoms, and phenomena billions of lightyears away. (…)
To survive this century, we’ll need the idealistic and effective efforts of natural scientists, environmentalists, social scientists and humanists. They must be guided by the best evidence, but inspired by values from beyond the limits of science.” ”—Lord Rees, British cosmologist and astrophysicist, former President of the Royal Society, Lord Rees explores ‘limits of science’ in Romanes Lecture, University of Oxford, Nov 3, 2011. See also: ☞ video of full lecture (transcript (pdf)).
“ "Two plus two is four" is not so clear, you know, and it is not always so. But "Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form" is very accurate." ”—Shunryu Suzuki, a Sōtō Zen roshi (1904-1971), Emptiness is Form, July 03, 1969
“The simplest description of a black hole is a region of space-time from which no light is reflected and nothing escapes. The simplest description of consciousness is a mind that absorbs many things and attends to a few of them. Neither of these concepts can be captured quantitatively. Together they suggest the appealing possibility that endlessness surrounds us and infinity is within.” ”—Megan Erickson, Consciousness: The Black Hole of Neuroscience, Big Think, Nov 6, 2011.
“ "The platonist metaphor assimilates mathematical enquiry to the investigations of the astronomer: mathematical structures, like galaxies, exist, independently of us, in a realm of reality which we do not inhabit but which those of us who have the skill are capable of observing and reporting on. The constructivist metaphor assimilates mathematical activity to that of the artificer fashioning objects in accordance with the creative power of the imagination." ”—Michael Dummett, British philosopher. He was, until 1992, Wykeham Professor of Logic at the University of Oxford, Truth and Other Enigmas, Harvard University Press, 1978, p.225.
“Mark Twain: ‘Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man’
“What a wee little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words! His real life is led in his head, and is known to none but himself. All day long, the mill of his brain is grinding, and his thoughts, not those of other things, are his history. (…)
These are his life, and they are not written, and cannot be written. Everyday would make a whole book of eighty thousand words - three hundred and sixty-five books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of the man — the biography of the man himself cannot be written.”
Mark Twain captured on film by Thomas Edison in 1909 at Stormfield (CT). Twain is shown walkng around his home and playing cards with his daughters Clara and Jean. It’s apparently the only known footage of the author.”—Mark Twain, American author and humorist (1835-1910), Mark Twain’s Autobiography, Volume 1 (1870), Kessinger Publishing, 2003, p.2.
“ "Information, defined intuitively and informally, might be something like ‘uncertainty’s antidote.’ This turns out also to be the formal definition - the amount of information comes from the amount by which something reduces uncertainty. (…)
The higher the [information] entropy, the more information there is. It turns out to be a value capable of measuring a startling array of things - from the flip of a coin to a telephone call, to a Joyce novel, to a first date, to last words, to a Turing test. (…)
Entropy suggests that we gain the most insight on a question when we take it to the friend, colleague, or mentor of whose reaction and response we’re least certain. And it suggests, perhaps, reversing the equation, that if we want to gain the most insight into a person, we should ask the question of whose answer we’re least certain. (…)
Pleasantries are low entropy, biased so far that they stop being an earnest inquiry and become ritual. Ritual has its virtues, of course, and I don’t quibble with them in the slightest. But if we really want to start fathoming someone, we need to get them speaking in sentences we can’t finish.” ”—Brian Christian, American author and poet, he holds a degree from Brown University in computer science and philosophy, and an MFA in poetry from the University of Washington, The Most Human Human: What Talking with Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive, Doubleday, 2011
“In everything, no matter what it may be, uniformity is undesirable. Leaving something incomplete makes it interesting, and gives one the feeling that there is room for growth. (…) Even when building the imperial palace, they always leave one place unfinished.” ”—Yoshida Kenkō, Japanese author and Buddhist monk (1283? – 1350?), Tsurezuregusa (Essays in idleness) written in the early 1330s, cited in Nancy G. Hume, Japanese aesthetics and culture: a reader, SUNY Press, 1995, p.32.
“ "A true noun, an isolated thing, does not exit in nature. Things are only the terminal points, or rather the meeting points of actions, cross sections cut through actions, snapshots. Neither can a pure verb, an abstract motion, be possible in nature. The eye sees noun and verb as one, things in motion, motion in things." ”—Ernest Fenollosa, American professor of philosophy and political economy at Tokyo Imperial University (1853-1908), Chapter: From The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry in Symposium of the Whole: A Range of Discourse Toward an Ethnopoetics, University of California Press, 1983, p.21. (tnx commondense)
“ "I think we should - we need to recognize also that sometimes the actual universe is more fascinating than even our imagination, and it can spur - it can spur our imagination not just as scientists, but I also, I suspect, as - for artists." ”—Lawrence Krauss, American Theoretical Physicist who is Professor of Physics, Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Director of the Origins Project at the Arizona State University, ☞ Werner Herzog and Lawrence Krauss on Connecting Science and Art
“The Glory of Big Data: We enter an era in which digital data merges with biology
“The amount of data available to us is increasingly vast. In 2010 we played, swam, wallowed, and drowned in 1.2 zettabytes of the stuff, and in 2011 the volume is predicted to continue along its exponential growth curve to 1.8 zettabytes. (A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes; that’s a 1 with 21 zeros trailing behind it.) (…)
Big Data is about to get much, much bigger, as we enter an era in which digital data merges with biology. This synthesis of codes takes the abstract world of digits and brings it back into the physical world. We of course know quite a bit about how life is expressed—in the four letters of DNA, in more than 20 amino acids, in thousands of proteins. (…)
In this new era—the transition from digital code to digital-plus-life code—the capacity to generate data exceeds our capacity to store and process it. In fact, life code is accumulating at a rate 50 percent faster than Moore’s Law, it at least doubles every 12 months. Without extraordinary advances in data storage, transmission and analysis, within the next five years we may simply be unable to keep up. (…)
Programmable cell platforms are like computer chips. They could eventually be designed to help create or do anything, if you figure out the right code for what you wish to make. (…)
Life programming may also solve the problem of how to store gargantuan data sets. All digital data can be coded into life-forms, and all life-forms can be coded as digital data. In theory, this means you could eventually store, and copy, all the words and images from every issue of the New York Times in the gene code of a few bacteria.” ”—Juan Enriquez, the founding director of the Life Sciences Project at Harvard Business School and a fellow at Harvard’s Center for International Affairs, The Glory of Big Data, PopSci, Oct 31, 2011