Lapidarium RSS

Amira's favorite quotes

"Everything you can imagine is real."— Pablo Picasso

Lapidarium notes

Tags:

Ancient
Age of information
Anthropology
Art
Artificial intelligence
Astronomy
Atheism
Beauty
Biography
Books
Buddism
China
Christianity
Civilization
Cognition, relativity
Cognitive science
Collective intelligence
Communication
Consciousness
Creativity
Culture
Curiosity
Cyberspace
Definitions
Democracy
Documentary
Drawing
Earth
Economy
Evolution
Friendship
Funny
Genetics
Globalization
Greek & Latin
Happiness
History
Human being
Illustrations
Imagination
Individualism
Information
Inspiration
Internet
Knowledge
Language
Learning
Life
Literature
Logic
Love
Mathematics
Media
Metaphor
Mind & Brain
Morality
Multiculturalism
Music
Networks
Neuroscience
Painting
Paradoxes
Patterns
Philosophy
Poetry
Politics
Physics
Psychology
Rationalism
Reading
Religions
Science
Science & Art
Self improvement
Semantics
Singularity
Society
Sociology
Storytelling
Technology
The other
Time
Traveling
USA
Unconsciousness
Universe
Writing
Video
Violence
Visualization


Homepage
Twitter
Facebook

A Box Of Stories

Contact

Archive

Nov
2nd
Sat
permalink
Q: Is there a line between art and science, and where does it start to blur?

Cormac McCarthy: “There’s certainly an aesthetic to mathematics and science. It was one of the ways Paul Dirac got in trouble. He was one of the great physicists of the 20th century. But he really believed, as other physicists did, that given the choice between something which was logical and something which was beautiful, they would opt for the aesthetic as being more likely to be true.

When [Richard] Feynman put together his updated version of quantum electrodynamics, Dirac didn’t think it was true because it was ugly. It was messy. It didn’t have the clarity, the elegance, that he associated with great mathematical or physical theory. But he was wrong. There’s no one formula for it.” “
Cormac McCarthy, an American novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, interviewed by John Jurgensen in Hollywood’s Favorite Cowboy, The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 2009.
Jun
1st
Sat
permalink
" "There was this American physiologist who was asked if Mary’s bodily ascent from Earth to Heaven was possible. He said,"I wasn’t there; therefore, I’m not positive that it happened or didn’t happen; but of one thing I’m certain: She passed out at 10,000 meters.” “

Edward O. Wilson, American biologist, researcher (sociobiologybiodiversity), theorist (consiliencebiophilia), naturalist (conservationist) and author, Interview with Edward O. Wilson: The Origin of Morals, originally in P. Bethge, J. Grolle, Wir sind ein Schlamassel, Der Spiegel, 8/2013.

See also: ☞ E. O. Wilson on human evolution, altruism and a ‘new Enlightenment’, Lapidarium notes

 

Apr
7th
Sun
permalink
Colored Plates - Synergetics - R. Buckminster Fuller. Written by Robert W. Gray, Summer 1997

"Up to the Twentieth Century, reality was everything humans could touch, smell, see, and hear. Since the initial publication of the chart of the electromagnetic spectrum, humans have learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear is less than one-millionth of reality. Ninety-nine percent of all that is going to affect our tomorrows is being developed by humans using instruments and working in ranges of reality that are nonhumanly sensible." "
Buckminster Fuller, an American engineer, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist (1895-1983), R. Buckminster Fuller on Education, University of Massachusetts Press, 1979, p. 130.
Feb
23rd
Sat
permalink
The middle ages did not care much for alphabetical order, because they were committed to rational order. To the medieval mind, the universe [is] a harmonious whole whose parts are related to one another. It was the responsibility of the author or scholar to discern these rational relationships — of hierarchy, or of chronology, or of similarities and differences, and so forth.
Matthew Battles, a senior researcher with metaLAB (at) Harvard, Library: An Unquiet History, W. W. Norton & Company, 2004.
Feb
15th
Fri
permalink
The Laws of Nature are written by man. The laws of biology must write themselves.
Heinz von Foerster, Austrian American scientist combining physics and philosophy. Together with Warren McCulloch, Norbert Wiener, John von Neumann, Lawrence J. Fogel, and others, Heinz von Foerster was an architect of cybernetics (1911-2002), Heinz Von Foerster’s ‘Theorem Number Three’ in Understanding Understanding (pdf), Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2003, p. 195.
permalink
Hard sciences are successful because they deal with soft problems; soft sciences are struggling because they deal with hard problems.
Heinz von Foerster, Austrian American scientist combining physics and philosophy. Together with Warren McCulloch, Norbert Wiener, John von Neumann, Lawrence J. Fogel, and others, Heinz von Foerster was an architect of cybernetics (1911-2002), Heinz Von Foerster’s ‘Theorem Number Two’ in Understanding Understanding (pdf), Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 2003, p. 191.
Feb
3rd
Sun
permalink

Marcelo Gleiser: Life is fundamentally asymmetric


“Look into a mirror and you’ll simultaneously see the familiar and the alien: an image of you, but with left and right reversed. Left-right inequality has significance far beyond that of mirror images, touching on the heart of existence itself. From subatomic physics to life, nature prefers asymmetry to symmetry. (…) Life is fundamentally asymmetric. (…)

Somehow, during its infancy, the cosmos selected matter over antimatter. This imperfection is the single most important factor dictating our existence. (…) It is not symmetry and perfection that should be our guiding principle, as it has been for millennia. (…)

The science we create is just that, our creation. Wonderful as it is, it is always limited, it is always constrained by what we know of the world. […] The notion that there is a well-defined hypermathematical structure that determines all there is in the cosmos is a Platonic delusion with no relationship to physical reality. (…)

The critics of this idea miss the fact that a meaningless cosmos that produced humans (and possibly other intelligences) will never be meaningless to them (or to the other intelligences). To exist in a purposeless Universe is even more meaningful than to exist as the result of some kind of mysterious cosmic plan. Why? Because it elevates the emergence of life and mind to a rare event, as opposed to a ubiquitous and premeditated one. (…)

Unified theories, life principles, and self-aware universes are all expressions of our need to find a connection between who we are and the world we live in. I do not question the extreme importance of understanding the connection between man and the cosmos. But I do question that it has to derive from unifying principles. (…)

For a clever fish, water is “just right“ for it to swim in. Had it been too cold, it would freeze; too hot, it would boil. Surely the water temperature had to be just right for the fish to exist. “I’m very important. My existence cannot be an accident,” the proud fish would conclude. Well, he is not very important. He is just a clever fish. The ocean temperature is not being controlled with the purpose of making it possible for it to exist. Quite the opposite: the fish is fragile. A sudden or gradual temperature swing would kill it, as any trout fisherman knows. We so crave for meaningful connections that we see them even when they are not there. (…) The gravest mistake we can make is to think that the cosmos has plans for us, that we are somehow special from a cosmic perspective.”
Marcelo Gleiser is the Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy at Dartmouth College, ☞ ‘Elegance,’ ‘Symmetry,’ and ‘Unity’: Is Scientific Truth Always Beautiful?, Lapidarium notes (Image courtesy of Ben Lansky)
Dec
7th
Fri
permalink
Philosophy, art, and science are not the mental objects of an objectified brain but the three aspects under which the brain becomes subject.
Gilles Deleuze, French philosopher (1925-1995), What Is Philosophy?, Verso, 1994, p. 210.
Nov
19th
Mon
permalink
Bruno Munari, Italian artist and designer (1907-1998), cited in Keri Smith, How To Be An Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum, Penguin Books, 2008, p.116.
Sep
23rd
Sun
permalink

S. J. Gould, F. Drake, L. Nimoy, J. Cage, A. Hammer on the Meaning of Life

“The first thing I look at each morning is a picture of Albert Einstein I keep on the table right beside my bed. The personal inscription reads “A person first starts to live when he can live outside of himself.” In other words, when he can have as much regard for his fellow man as he does for himself. I believe we are here to do good. It is the responsibility, of every human being to aspire to do something worthwhile, to make this world a better place than the one he found. Life is a gift, and if we agree to accept it, we must contribute in return. When we fail to contribute, we fail to adequately answer why we are here.” 

Armand Hammer, American business manager and owner, physician (1898-1990)  

“I find the question “Why are we here?” typically human. I’d suggest “Are we here?” would be the more logical choice.”

Leonard Nimoy, American actor, film director, poet, musician and photographer  

“Observations of distant galaxies have produced provocative evidence for a startling idea: Our universe was just one bubble in a great fountain of bubble universes springing from the Big Bang that created all reality. Given billions of years of evolution, sophisticated living structures have developed, including creatures conscious of their universe, able to manipulate it in massive ways. There is no doubt that life will have developed in many places in our universe. Our own significance, our ultimate potential and our ensemble of possible destinies will be understood by finding and studying the other intelligent creatures of space. Thus a prime task is to seek out other intelligent civilizations and to share knowledge with them.”

Frank Drake, American astronomer and astrophysicist  

“No why. Just here.”

John Cage, American composer, music theorist and writer (1912-1992)

“The human species has inhabited this planet for only 250,000 years or so-roughly.0015 percent of the history of life, the last inch of the cosmic mile. The world fared perfectly well without us for all but the last moment of earthly time–and this fact makes our appearance look more like an accidental afterthought than the culmination of a prefigured plan.

Moreover, the pathways that have led to our evolution are quirky, improbable, unrepeatable and utterly unpredictable. Human evolution is not random; it makes sense and can be explained after the fact. But wind back life’s tape to the dawn of time and let it play again–and you will never get humans a second time.

We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small and tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook. We may yearn for a ‘higher’ answer — but none exists. This explanation, though superficially troubling, if not terrifying, is ultimately liberating and exhilarating. We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature. We must construct these answers ourselves — from our own wisdom and ethical sense. There is no other way.”

 Stephen Jay Gould, American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science (1941-2002)

The meaning of Life, LIFE Magazine, Dec 1988. (Illustrations: 1, 2)
See also: ☞ What is the meaning of life?, Quora answers
Life tag on Lapidarium
Sep
9th
Sun
permalink
The [“why”] question is meaningless. (…) Not only has “why” become “how” but “why” no longer has any useful meaning, given that it presumes purpose for which there is no evidence.
Lawrence Krauss, Canadian-American theoretical physicist who is a professor of physics, Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration, and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University, ☞ Philosophy vs science: which can answer the big questions of life?The Observer, 9 Sept 2012.
permalink
Every science begins as philosophy and ends as art; it arises in hypothesis and flows into achievement.
Will Durant, American writer, historian, and philosopher (1885-1981), The Pleasures of Philosophy, 1929.
permalink
Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? Is the unified theory so compelling that it brings about its own existence? (…)

In the eighteenth century, philosophers considered the whole of human knowledge, including science, to be their field and discussed questions such as: did the universe have a beginning? However, in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, science became too technical and mathematical for the philosophers, or anyone else except a few specialists. Philosophers reduced the scope of their inquiries so much that Wittgenstein, the most famous philosopher of this century, said, “The sole remaining task for philosophy is the analysis of language.” (…)

However, if we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist.
Stephen Hawking, British theoretical physicist and author, A Brief History of TimeBantam Dell Publishing Group, 1988.
Aug
26th
Sun
permalink

“Our knowledge of the universe around us has increased a thousand fold and more. We learned that Homo sapiens was not forever imprisoned by the gravitational field of Earth … We’ve seen deeply into our universe and looked backward nearly to the beginning of time.” “
Neil Armstrong, the first person to set foot upon the Moon. He was an American NASA astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor and United States Naval Aviator (1930-2012), in rare speech when NASA turns 50.
See also: ☞ July 21, 1969 on the front page of The NYT
Inspired Mankind With One Small Step, NYT, Aug 25, 2012.
Did Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin have instructions of what to do if they couldn’t take off from the moon?, Quora
Aug
17th
Fri
permalink
The aim of science is not to open the door to infinite wisdom, but to set a limit to infinite error.
Bertolt Brecht, German poet, playwright, and theatre director (1898-1956), The Life of Galileo (tnx rawsilk)