Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Principles of the scientific method

1) Principles
2) Rationale for choosing principles
3) Consequences of such principles

I. There exists a physical world independent of us.
II. Systems can observe and interact with this physical world.
III. Through observation, cognitive and interaction processes in some systems it can be shown that phenomena in the physical world obey mathematical constructions.
IV. The relation between a phenomenon and its mathematical construction cannot be proven true with absolute certainty.

Rationale for Principle I.

We cannot inductively or logically prove the existence of an external world. It is merely assumed, as we can only know of sense impressions which appear internally in our brains. However, this assumption seems valid to hold as the rejection of such an assumption leads one to try to explain the origin of our sense impressions and the problem of how one even exists. Such grounds are left for the ancient philosopher or the insane.

Axiom I. has enabled explanation of the origin of sense impressions, of the beginning of ones existence (birth) and many other simple phenomena. (Theories on optics, anatomy and general biology requires the force of an external environment to explain biological phenomena)

Rationale for Principle II.


Systems can be defined to be physical systems which observe a finite region of space with sensory equipment. These systems can manipulate some finite region of space with other physical equipment.

These systems include biological systems, computational machines and robotics. Obviously there is much variety in the mechanisms for observation and interaction but the principle logically covers these.

Rationale for Principle III.

This axiom is much more complicated. First it can be said that in our definition of a system it is possible for a system to develop a component which has a structure such that information can be communicated and processed into more different components. For example a human brain is such a component of a system. It is also possible for this system to devise communicative methods to interact with other systems of the same or similar type. This sort of logic continues until we arrive at complex  adaptive systems such as ourselves which have developed science and other means of investigating the world. Through science up until now natural phenomena seem to elegantly obey mathematical constructions such as the nature of space-time (relativity), Quantum mechanics, Financial systems, biological systems and plantation etc.

I say mathematical constructions because in the future we may not just use algebra, geometry, matrix algebra etc. there may be more sophisticated mathematical techniques to describe nature.

If we come across a phenomenon in nature which does not seem to obey our current mathematical techniques at the time. It may be that more innovation or discovery must first come in mathematics. I hold almost no doubt (some skepticism should remain as principle IV will highlight) that mathematics can describe nature in impeccable detail and form. By obeying mathematical constructions I mean that the phenomenon in question can be described or modeled in some way by a mathematical construction. The mathematics does not necessarily dictate the phenomenon (although it could in principle if it were shown that the physical world is constructed of an information basis).

Rationale for Principle IV.

The physical world which we, systems, observe and interact with is not identical to the abstract mathematical world we witness in mathematics. They seem to originate from fundamentally different origins and we seem to interact with them in different manners. One with sensation the other with logic, internal cognition and reason. The apparent certainties and completeness within mathematics is due to it being merely a construction based upon axioms and logical deductions. It is trivial in this sense. Nature may not be necessarily be like this and until we know every specification of nature we must hesitate to be absolutely certain about any mathematical theory about nature or a part of nature.

Until we have witnessed every observed phenomenon in our universe and in all universes we cannot accept any logical certainty applied to the laws of nature. It is also impossible for us to not observe every phenomenon as we are finite systems with restricted mechanisms e.g. we may not view the world at the speed of light or we may not observe the event horizon in a black hole and communicate it back.

Because of these limitations we have thus provided rationale for principle IV. However, these principles themselves are not certain as they refer to nature. This implies that they may turn out false under more investigation or they may remain true but they may not eternally be true.



As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. - Albert Einstein



Consequences of such principles:


These four principles can be chosen as axioms to the empirical method, that is, as fundamental assumptions made by science at this current time and most probably for a long time.

These principles imply that we can attempt to understand everything we observe through mathematical modeling and theories. We can through these models try and predict to varying degrees of certainty certain events in nature. Through these predictions and their verification or rejection by nature theories develop and science develops. For example Paul Dirac's Quantum theory of the electron predicted anti particles and hence anti matter. These could be tested and were verified. More work could be produced based or around that theory. If the theory would have been false then physics would develop in a different way, nature would look different.

Principle I and II imply that the meta-physical objects do not exist. Meta-physical means something which is independent of the physical world. As such objects cannot be observed or interacted with there existence cannot be explained mathematically or even verbally. They cease to exist. This then implies the non-existence of God if God is meta-physical. If he is physical then we can in principle verify God however there is nothing specific to predict about God, nothing quantifiable or detectable therefore it seems God cannot be verified even if he is physical. To make this clearer: If I told you that there was DUFFY and I think that DUFFY exists, you would say where is he? If I saw everywhere or anywhere then you would be confused. Vagueness such as this cannot be useful in verifying such objects. It seems DUFFY does not exist or its existence is negligible. So we do not hold Go'd's existence to be true on this fact. This applies to other such objects or things which are either 1) metaphysical 2) or non-verifiable.

We could in principle use these mathematical constructions and interact with the universe in such a way as to benefit us, the observing system. This is what we humans have done. We have formulated medicine and technology which have benefited us (in the sense of prolonging our life expectancy, intelligence and general health and well-being)*.

It must also be said of the importance of the study of mathematics, science and the application of them. As they are the source of our ability to overcome environmental struggles with the environment and with the inevitable event of individual death.

It seems other subjects are not on the same level. This may sound narrow-minded but it is true, without science and mathematics our race would be extremely primitive. Other subjects are great for intellectual pleasures and past-times etc. but if they vanished we would still be able to conquer our environment and other such problems. However this does not mean they should just vanish. Some subjects such as art, philosophy, theology and literature represent our past in the sense that they were used to overcome such problems but improved methods have evolved and stemmed from them. The evolution of our intelligence as a species is a very interesting and gradual process.

I hereby present to you the basic principles of the scientific method. For which you may adopt, adapt them or discard them.

*I am talking on an aggregate level as we are in better health to those in the Tudor times and more of us can read and write etc..




Saturday, 21 April 2012

Josephine and the nature of time

A short story
by Luke Kristopher Davis

"Hurry up Jo!" mum exclaimed, she was always in such a rush on a school day. "Okay, okay mum! I'm just doing my hair... I'll be 5 minutes". It's Monday,bleugh, the day I have Mrs Shaw's chemistry test and oh shit I also have a meeting with my tutor about... what was it.. oh yeah... how I am always late for registration. Damn registration. My mum opened the front door and snatched her keys from the table, "Right Jo I'm going now, either you come now or get a detention for being late.. again!", "just coming" I replied. I grabbed my lunch, which looked as if it was the usual slop; cheese sandwiches, Kelloggs bar and an Activia yogurt.


On the way to school I planned my day, my expected joys and expected nightmares. One joy was going to Mr.Bourbaki's physics lessons. He was odd but I liked him. He always does something funny like spill his drink on his notes or something random. All the other lessons seemed pretty dull, except maths which I enjoyed even though the teacher reminded me of a Darlek from doctor who. DIFFERENTIATE! DIFFERENTIATE! The meeting with my tutor will be sooooo annoying. He will drag on with his 'registration is important.. in case we have a fire alarm.. we won't know if you are here. Get a decent watch ....' blah blah fucking blah.

We passed the town hall which was next to my school, which was a comprehensive in Middle-witch, I always looked up at the big clock over seeing the town. It was a nice clock, nice antiquated features.

"Jo-se-phine! Jo! Over here!" that was my friend in my tutor whose arrival seemed to always be simultaneous with mine. Becky was nice, a bit of a sheep trying to fit in but we got along pretty well. "Are you going straight to tutor Jo? I can tell you about what happened on waterloo road oooo it was so oh my godly exciting." She had that permanent smile on her face. "I'm going to go for a walk, probs be in tutor soon", trying not to portray my obvious shared excitement. I lied anyway. I don't go for walks...I went straight into the library. The library was my place to go in the mornings, I would chill out and get any book that took my interest and read it for 20 minutes or so before tutor. I would also always overrun. Everyone thinks the library is for loners and geeks, but I had plenty of friends but I just enjoyed being surrounded by books and it was quite relaxing.

I was never a big fan of fiction. Fiction didn't seem to attract me. I preferred encyclopedias and books about something real. Something I can relate to. I strolled round the reference section and saw a book named: 'Inside the human body'. Yeah i'll read this one, it had detailed colored diagrams which made it quite different.

'The nervous system is how different parts of the body communicate. For instance, if you prick your finger with a pin you feel pain. The prick stimulates a nervous fiber on the point of application and this creates an electric pulse which is sent from the point of application, through the spinal cord, to the brain. Where the signal is processed neurally.'

There was a picture demonstrating this and a picture of a map of the human nervous system. Pretty cool stuff. I put the book back and started to look for another one. I had 5 more minutes. That should be enough time to skim through another one.

I looked in the physics section, as I did have physics first period anyway. Plenty of textbooks and popular science books such as 'The elegant universe by Brian Greene' which was about string theory, I have only read about that in some magazines and on some blogs. Wasn't for me at the moment. I saw quite a nice old book on the bottom shelf in the 'light' section. I did like the look of old books. The title was: 'Relativity: The  Special and the general theory by Albert Einstein'. Wow Einstein. Bourbaki was always going on about Einstein and what was the other one... Bohr yes Bohr. I don't know who Bohr is or was. But I recognized Einstein. I sat and looked at the contents: 'chapter 3: Space and time in classical mechanics, chapter 8: On the idea of time in physics and chapter 9: The relativity of simultaneity', these chapters stood out to me. The Bell rang. Crap. Best go to tutor before he really gets pissed off with me. I put the book back where I found it.

"Gooood morning 11 Hamlet, how are we doing today? I have some term reports to give out and some certificates to give those hard workers who did well this term!" Mr.Grinne said in a profoundly camp tone. "Oh wow someone woke up from the wrong side of the bed this morning." Alex 'the joker' replied in his smart ass tone. "Alex that's impossible, both sides of my bed are the right side.. hahaaha..." silence and cringe pervaded the room ".. ohh hmm.. well let me just take the register". Registration killed my soul. Grinne's face was too happy, he was one of those deceptively happy people who probably is whipped by his wife and disrespected by his kids and is on the verge of suicide. The register had been done, I was probably day dreaming. "Oh wow you're here Miss hunt, looks like you took my advice on board... but we are still meeting at break-time", "Yeah okay sir" I replied with minimal effort.

Time.. Time... tiiiiime. It's such a used word...  'are you on time?' 'What's the time?' we are all obsessed with time. Well not me. Time was popular in the contents page in the book by Einstein. Was he talking about time in the same way as my mum does? As Becky does? As Mr.Grinne? I'm not sure that he was. 

What is time? Is it just what our clocks say? These questions floated through my head. Can we define time independent of our clocks? Time might be part of the world like Bourbaki said inertia was. Like matter was.
"So yeah like Sambuca got cancer and Finley is totally getting annoyed with it, I mean, he is only young what can he do about it. I bet he will leave her. But that would be totes too harsh. What do you think Jossse?" Becky was still rambling on about Waterloo road. "He will probably stay with her until the end and make sure she is happy, the drama will most probably want to present good morals into its viewers especially if a large portion of them are teenagers." She looked blank for a while. "Oh yeahhh oh my god yeah!", her smile was back. 

I went to physics. I sat near the window and thought more about time. I remembered how me and Becky always arrive at school at the same time. If we assume time to be defined as... what our clocks say then me and Becky's clocks would say the same thing. Our clocks were synchronized. If my clock differed by a significant amount say x where x>10 minutes as traffic delays could play a role then mine and Becky's arrivals at school would be different. Also if I fly to Australia am I going to travel into a different time or merely a different time system where the reference clock is defined differently. I recalled one chapter title in Einstein's book; 'The relativity of simultaneity'. Did this chapter imply that what is simultaneous is relative.. if so than this was obvious. If an event happened and is seen by me and Becky, and me and Becky had different clocks which said different times, then by logic we would know that the event wasn't simultaneous. However this seemed silly.  I have decided to randomly change the clocks of me and Becky and this didn't seem right. Let's suppose that me and Becky's clocks are identical. If say a lightning strike occurred  in between us where the distance of the event was the same between me and Becky, the time duration of such an event = distance traveled by light/ the speed of light. The time duration would be the same. It would be simultaneous. So what was Einstein going to talk about...

Then I realized something... that I assumed me and Becky were at rest relative to each other. Mr.Bourbaki always went on about how motion makes sense on relative to something else. So then I played. What if there were two lightning strikes and I was moving in my mum's car at constant speed relative to the ground and Becky. The lightning strikes would hit say two points at equal distances from Becky and when my mum drove past Becky the distance between those two points would be the same for me too. Except one point of lightning would be behind the car and one in front. Becky would obvs see the lightning rods hit the two points at the same time. Would I? Well I am moving towards one point and therefore the distance is decreasing between me and that point and the distance between me and the point behind me is increasing. Therefore the lightning behind me would arrive at me last. This was totally confusing but it made sense in physics terms.


I told Mr.Bourbaki after class about it and he smiled "ah it seems you have come across relativity, it goes against everything we thought but yes you are right as Einstein was". "Oh wow so I kind have discovered it too?" I replied. "No, science doesn't work that way haha but very good work, you might find the consequences of relativity even more baffling" he said with enthusiasm. "Take for instance Time. We used to think time was absolute, we thought it cannot be altered. But Einstein had shown that if you approach the speed of light time for you slows down. If say you went at the speed of light to Jupiter and back, you wouldn't have aged that much but most of the humans will have aged or even died due to old age. This is why one cannot travel faster than the speed of light, it takes an infinite amount of energy and even so breaking this barrier would imply you could travel into the past and throughout all time." I began to have a headache. Wow this is hard. But I sort of loved thinking about it. "So is time not just defined by our clocks, is it part of the universe?" I asked, "Yes, time and space are part of one fundamental geometry of nature" Bourbaki began to wipe the board. "If science be right sir, wouldn't we need evidence of time." I began to put my bag on my back. "Yes you are right, that is true that is where it gets difficult and confusing. Time is useful to us in science so we make use of it. That is still a problem." I thought back to the human body book and about evolution. We might have evolved our brains to think in this way.

I went to the meeting with my tutor at break. "So yes why are you always late Josephine Hunt?" Mr.Grinne asked. "Sir, whilst you are in registration I was moving at the speed of light sir and when I arrive in tutor my time has been dilated and therefore I will always arrive quite late." I grinned. "What on earth are you on about, don't be late again. Anyways who would want to be late to our fantastic tutorial program?". "I guess you're right" I said. He let me go early and by the end of the day I had taken Einstein's book out.

It was a pretty good day. I wonder what book will make my day a little bit more interesting tomorrow. 


Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Breivik: Embodiment of insanity and irrationality

He massacred 77 innocent lives to fight off immigrants and multiculturalism
and he is proud of it. 

12.2 percent of the population of Norway is foreign and these people have mainly come from; Poland, Sweden, Pakistan, Iraq and Somalia. No doubt some of these immigrants have sought a better land than their own which might be crawling with political corruption, warfare and religious strife.

The second most popular religion in Norway is of the Muslim faith which may have somehow influenced Breivik's reaction to the ever changing establishment in Norway.

Was this man's actions justified? Of course not. He committed not just murder but genocide.  This man tactically planned his attack and has given several reasons (no doubt corrupted reasons) why he has done so. This video shows him in court where he pleads that his actions were a sort of preemptive strike which probably means he was trying to seemingly defend himself against the foreign world. Which makes no sense. It is all very delusional. He also played World of Warcraft for a long time which the court took note of. He also cries to his own propaganda video which shows signs that he was brainwashed or just a very sadistic individual.


He obviously has psychological  issues which may have stemmed from early childhood, neglect, obsessive behavior or religiousness and even depression.

His views are not grounded in reason and he may be far from rational thought. Multiculturalism is a key to a progressive society as it stimulates debate, new ideas and a diverse range of people in a community. Breivik is consumed by fundamentalism, he believes in the pure absolute of one race or people similar to that of Hitler, Nick Griffin and Stalin.

This is an example of what fundamentalism can do. It can force a person to kill 77 people. To believe in anything fundamentally takes either a lot of indoctrination (brainwashing), insanity and psychological disorders. This principle also commutes i.e. fundamentalism itself can lead to insanity and extreme acts.

This man should serve life in a very isolated prison. He shouldn't be allowed freedom to commit such crimes again which he said he could do again.

He represents fundamentalism, insanity and irrationality. He is fueled by a similar substance which fuels the insane acts of terroism which is caused from fundamentalism either through religion or through brainwashing to hate the western world.

Those who have died in his attacks will not be forgotten but they are unfortunate evidence of why we must get rid of fundamentalism in our belief systems and continue to promote reason, skepticism, science, evidence and open-mindedness.



Thursday, 12 April 2012

How I See The World



The meaning of life

The question: what is the meaning of life? Has no significant meaning. The universe which surrounds us is material, void of a conscience. This implies one simple conclusion: that there is no meaning to life. Life which takes many forms, be it in the human form or the form of roses or of fir trees, is but a consequence of physical and chemical processes which by chance have happened. We may not know how many universes there are or the exactitude of the size of our own, but what I know scientifically is this: that what happens in the material world is void of meaning to us humans, it dances to a tune that may itself be beyond our own intelligence but this tune is not played by an invisible musician.

On how to improve the British economy

One proposition which would take into effect over many years is to improve and prolong the education of children in areas which will have a constant or increased demand in the global market. We have witnessed growth in the economies of China, Japan, India and Mongolia which is due to a supply of persons with appropriate skills. China and India may be in fault as their economy growth is slightly due to cheap labor as a product of the large poor/unemployed population. However, their education in mathematics,science, English and medicine have soared compared to our British schools. Japan have 85% of children continuing mathematics from GCSE whilst only 15% in Britain. This must change and we will see an economical benefit from such a change.

There is a problem in the governments spending for people who do not wish to work for some reason or other. There must be stricter regulations for one to receive such benefits and more opportunities for these people to obtain certain skills so that their lives can be of use and by doing so they will not just be helping the government they will be helping their own dignity.

However pessimistic the feelings are towards the economy one must also think of the recovery to which lies on the horizon. We are subtly increasing our GDP and redundancies made by companies... private and public seem to be less frequent and more occasional.

Let it be said, that to improve the economy of a nation the nation must delve into the heart of human demands. In this modern world it is no doubt that this demand is knowledge, technology, medicine and visual entertainment. 

I am not an analyst or an economist but this is how I feel the economy may be improved on certain principles.

Symmetry in physical law 

I have only studied a small section of physics but from this and from certain mathematical reflections it has come apparent that there is a beautiful symmetry in nature. Take for example the division of the cell:


this isn't necessarily a physical phenomenon, it is a biological one. However in this mitotic cell division which is the origins of many mammalian organisms the cell division appears very symmetrical. It divides itself into two and then these two divide themselves into two and so on and so forth, quite ingeniously however different simple organs form and then an embryo to a full grown organism. There begins simple cell symmetry which obeys an algorithm ingrained within the genetic material inside of its nucleus and then through time and added complexity an organism appears which is asymmetric. The organism still contains symmetry as shown in the gull and butterfly.


In classical physics symmetry is evident and obvious. Take for example a harmonic oscillator such as a mass on a spring. We can visualize this system in a Cartesian co-ordinate system taking into account the y and x axes as we can assume it is a two dimensional problem. If we rotate the system in the co-ordinate system nothing happens so long as we replicate the forces acting on it. This may seem obvious but it is a consequence of in-variance under rotations in co-ordinate systems. 

Particle physics reflects great symmetry too, for instance the existence of particles and their anti-paritcles such as the electron and positron (predicted theoretically by Paul Dirac). However if we assume perfect symmetry we witness the impossibility of the universe we live in as we should expect a balance of matter and darkmatter.

Take for instance a+b, say b=-a i.e. the negative of a  we would expect a+b=0. This means that if a represented matter and b anti-matter the world would seize to be. Thanks to asymmetry we are here as there was a dominance of matter over anti-matter which physicists still do not know clearly why.

It is with symmetry and symmetry breaking that a lot of physics is done and indeed mathematics, symmetry is  a very useful concept but no doubt it is also a beautiful one.

Why I write

I write for writing itself, it gives me practice into reasoning and exploring ideas. I learn a great deal from writing, how to express myself and my thoughts clearly and simply and I learn much from researching topics which I do not have a full knowledge or understanding of.

I also write for you, the reader, for I know how important and how joyful it is to read. I have read some books, I hope authored by great minds, which have instilled in me the compulsion to share knowledge and thought. It was John Stuart Mill who may have greatly influenced my writing for he was a man who influenced my liberal sentiments to which I feel the need to share my ideas for them to be analysed and discussed in the social world.

I do not think that my work or style is perfect but I hope to strive for clarity and most of all a sincere enthusiasm for the wonders of the world.

Friendship

There is nothing greater than having companions who understand you and change your life in a positive way. There is also nothing much greater than having friends so varied, so smart and who make you laugh in either a witty or naive way. Laughter holds no pretension and no high brow. It is a depressing thing to have no friends and it might perhaps be slightly impossible. I am grateful for the friends I have made and I hope to continue making them and keeping those who suit my personality.

What do you care what other people think?

It seems that many of us hold an instinctive care for the thoughts of  other people about ourselves. This in some cases becomes insecurity and in others arrogance and a perverse nature. This care may be biologically programmed within us, for us to analyse social status and to ensure that we have the best position to mate and to prosper. However is this necessary? Why should we care in these modern times? I have little care... for I know my own principles and I am skeptical of ideas that are not routed in reason. Be happy and thrive do what you love and be open, the scrutiny of the public will either serve you good or be of no use. If you do wrong or believe in falsehoods then yes public scrutiny is good, but do not follow for the sake of following. Leave that behavior to herds of sheep.

War



Again this can be reasoned against so simply it appears so incomprehensible that the people of the past and still of now did not reason so.

Any conflict or contradiction of beliefs can be expressed in language and can be solved with language, either with acquired knowledge or discussion of plans to solve the problem at hand. It seems hacking someones head off, bombing a group of people, shooting another person cannot solve anything. It literally brings only death, it may bring the doer short term gain but in the long run it is not just, beneficial or utilitarian.

I hope in the rest of my life and indeed our existence, no war between ourselves will ever be conceived for it is of obvious fact that it brings nothing of progress. Only psychological delusion will make someone go to war.

One of my friends Joe Rickelton has observed the need to talk about power. It is the desire for power over other humans and the fundamentalist belief that this must be so that causes most strife within the world. Take for instance Terrorism which may be fueled on religious grounds or narcissist selfishness, however these to grounds are based upon fundamentalist beliefs for terrorists to have power. They will not be persuaded or reasoned. The only way to tackle such fundamentalism is a continuing linguistic pressure (through debate and talks with them) and actual strategic violence to ensure the safety of other humans. This is why I hold so much scorn, hatred and rage for fundamentalist people, how they do not reason. This leads to actual human suffering which of all things, is the most damn right worst. Have we not evolved from our violent cousins?

Doctors are trying to cure cancer and other diseases yet there exist some people who cause death consciously. This must stop and if that requires small tactical violence e.g. the capture and killing of Bin Laden then let this be so. Actual warfare is unlikely and unnecessary. I hope we reach a point in our lifetime where we see the existence of only a small amount of violent people which under the control of justice can be stopped in their tracks before they gain mass and enter into another threat such as the threat of terror. 

Does God exist?



This question has plagued humanity for most of its intellectual existence. In order to measure existence in the physical world one must use some equipment to observe an object directly or through it's disturbances on other physical objects. In order to a answer a question in the form: Does X exist? First X must be defined or have an approximate physical description in order for it's physical presence be found by equipment tailored towards measuring it's size and nature. If X cannot be defined then the question cannot be answered as X would be too vague to have any experimental meaning and hence no scientifically certain answer can be given. If X be defined then experiments can done to measure and validate it's a priori description. 

It seems the question Does God exist? falls short, as it does not satisfy the condition that the unknown must be defined sufficiently in order for measurements be taken of it. The definition of God is too vague physically and some even propose that he is beyond the physical world. Therefore the question does not make logical sense.

Will machines govern us?

I feel that technology is increasing but this question seems to me unanswerable but I predict that this will not happen if we are to remain the dominant species. We may build artificial intelligence but not to the extent that they will have the urge to govern a species like ourselves. We have much more recent problems at hand to discuss though this is an interesting one.

Could there be a unified theory of everything? 

In Steven Weinberg's book: Dreams of a final theory this question is thoroughly discussed. Physics in its current state does point towards an ever more simpler more fundamental theory of nature which is becoming ever more cohesive.

How do we know if nature has more layers to its reality or if we are close to it? This we can only find out through doing more science.

How should we teach our children?



Children are very unique, they have the ability to learn almost anything and master it in short periods of time. They have not the stain of prejudice or the burden of convention. Children should be taught empirical truth, like everyone should. They should be taught how to reason and how to value justification for statements, theories and practices. They should be allowed to explore, for this is how curiosity is born. Having fun and lightheartedness are key, for learning about the world is not cumbersome it is joyful, challenging yet fulfilling. They should be challenged and pushed for there is nothing more malicious than to spoon feed a child everything until they are 18.

Indoctrination and the belief of God should not be taught. Many will gasp at this, but I ask why? Do we teach our children that we may exist as batteries to feed more intelligent machines and that we are part of a computer programme? No, for that is nonsense and so is the suggestion that our world was made in a week by some guy who thought knowledge was an apple. I thought so.

Do we have free will?

This seems an age-old philosophical problem. Many think that we do not have free will or that it is merely an illusion. They argue that we live in a deterministic universe and hence our brains are determined to function in a certain way irrespective of our will. 1) the world on small scales is not deterministic is it probabilistic. Also our brain is a very complex system, there may be many ways to respond to external stimuli which our brain might just take the usual response ingrained from experience or it might chose one based on reason. This is all do due to complex nueral processes which may fundamentally be deterministic in some way but as a whole create a complex system able to respond in different conscious ways. This is what makes us intelligent. More knowledge will reveal more certainties on the answers to this question.

Are geniuses born with genius?  



Albert Einstein's brain was once examined after his death to see whether physical observations of his brain will reveal any neuro facts about genius. The only thing which was different was the amount of glial cells in his brain. He had more grey matter than white. However great intelligence is probably greatly determined by genes, for instance high functioning autistic children and genuinely sharp children. However young brains are very adaptable to change and in the right environment their brains will soon resemble that of extraordinary minds.

The answer is no. Genius is part of childhood as many biographies of geniuses reveal.

Greatest way to learn

I, myself, am an independent learner who loves to read and grapple concepts on my own. That is how I have been made to learn. I enjoy it too. Books are the top for learning, doing is great but there is a finite amount you can learn from crude experiments in secondary schools and at home (prove me wrong). Books give recorded knowledge from the past, they enable the acquisition of abstract concepts and the learning of pure mathematics. 

I think the greatest way to learn is to learn every way but much emphasis on books, notes and problem solving. In artistic endeavors practice will obviously make perfect but so will improvisation and exploration. 

Death

We are inclined to fear it yet fear it we shouldn't. We can only try to understand it, how our bodies decay and wither from disease and inefficient cell replication. After understanding we may then try to overcome it if this is possible or even wanted.

Time



As Einstein had shown, space and time are intertwined in a geometry described by Minkowski spacetime. However is time really real? That is, is there any empirical evidence of time. Does our mere subsistence prove the existence of time? Or is time a mere tool for our brains to make sense of the changing world. I expect the latter and this itself is proof that our own biological make up taints our view of the pure external world. I am not complaining however... what is is what shall be. 

Global Warming



There is ample evidence for the claim that human activity has caused an increase in carbon emissions and an increase in general global temperatures which would not occur naturally according to existing geological theory. Such evidence can be found in Newscientist: Running wild (Issue No2872/7th July 2012) which is an article discussing how global warming is affecting the weather.

Many denialists and skeptics who reject that we are imposing ourselves too much on the earth do so without evidence for their own claims. They simply reject global warming on conspiracy grounds or just because they do not wish to make more of an effort in their daily lives. Some skeptics have evidence behind them and this is what is causing a contention, more research needs to be done. It is not simply a 50/50 tie however... more evidence seems to be on the front of global warming.

Despite this debate, it seems that working towards becoming more energy efficient, building more renewable energies, disposing waste more safely and recycling will help progress technology, energy and our own knowledge. Techniques for energy conservation and finding harmless fuels could help our space missions, it could help make the air less polluted which is better for us and for nature. This push for efficiency could also lead to more technologies which could further our species and others.

It is better either way to make an effort to save our planet and reduce our carbon footprint. The effects of us not doing so may be passed our understanding yet and we wouldn't want to find them out before we can prevent them.

Health and physical activity


Child obesity is a big killer for western children and universal healthcare. Over consumption and the lack of encouragement to do sports or go out into the natural environment are big causes of this. There seems to be an ever growing divide between the physical elite and the obese (and unhealthy). To bridge the gap sports and the value of exercise must be everywhere in childhood, they must be buffeted with opportunities to compete, explore nature or swim etc. everyday. 

The value of good food must be ingrained in our youth. This will be done in homes but in schools aswell, temptation to buy cheap, easy preparation and tasty food will seem to save you financially but it kills universal healthcare and may even inhibit your children's academic potential, social confidence or their ambition to live.

Exercise will help you think more clearly, live a happier life. It takes effort but the effort is so worth it. You feel tons better, look better, live longer and it gives you something to wake up  for.


Celebrity Juice: Bringing banter back to TV


To be honest most game shows are not exciting and even the games that form the basis of the show are not that great. I associate great comedy television with Mock of the week, Have I got news for you and Never mind the buzzcocks. These shows presented a good panel relative to each show and they presented a unique comedy: Mock of the week was utterly full of wit and contention and so was Have I got news for you. Never mind the buzzcocks was unique and Noel fielding and Jedward made it pretty easy to carry on watching.

Celebrity juice is even better, it has bought back pure banter. It is in your face, it is crude, sexual and sometimes vile but that's what makes it a great show to watch. Keith Lemon is fantastic, I don't find him at all stupid or offensive...  his one-liners are pretty sharp and if they offend Holly and Fearne then that in itself cracks me up.

This is a definite must see!

Probably the best show on evening television at the moment...


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Documentary: The great Albert Einstein




Enjoy learning about Einstein!




Brain Food: Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities


Professor Stewart is a prolific, clear and enthusiastic mathematician and he is also a great promoter of mathematics itself. G.H Hardy once said:


It is a melancholy experience for a professional mathematician to find himself writing about mathematics. The function of a mathematician is to do something, to prove new theorems, to add to mathematics, and not to talk about what he or other mathematicians have done. Statesmen despise publicists, painters despise art-critics, and physiologists, physicists, or mathematicians have usually similar feelings: there is no scorn more profound, or on the whole more justifiable, than that of the men who make for the men who explain. Exposition, criticism, appreciation, is work for second-rate minds. - A Mathematician's Apology
G.H Hardy was, no doubt, a brilliant mathematician but he has misplaced his belief in thinking that popularizing or promoting mathematics or fields of science is an act of folly. It is an act which requires the clearest of explanatory powers and solidity of understanding. It is also a necessity to promote science and mathematics in order for the numbers of its members to increase and to stimulate a prosperous and intelligent economy. Ian Stewart's book, which is a collection of small adventures into puzzles, history, mathematical concepts and observations is an exemplar of promoting the field without over-simplifying it.

Stewart perfects the art of 'lighting the curious readers fire' by jumping to and fro between varying stimulating mathematics and doing so without waffling. Also Stewart doesn't just reveal an observation he delves into the fundamental reason to why such an observation occurs. This is how pure mathematics is really done: one explores an area of interest which has yet to be explored and finds interesting observations, the mathematician will then clearly describe this observation and formulate either a conjecture or a theorem. The aim of the game is to explain and relate to other realms of mathematics.

What Stewart and Hardy do share is a belief in the artistic pleasure of mathematics, how it should be done purely on the basis of curiosity and of beauty.

This is a must read as it is a book to dip into here and there and one which will provide your brain with enough material to grow!

10/10

"Put that in your pipe and smoke it" (Picture of Hardy)

Here is a link to G.H Hardy's- A Mathematician's Apology http://www.math.ualberta.ca/~mss/misc/A%20Mathematician's%20Apology.pdf


Sunday, 1 April 2012

Government plans to read your emails, texts and lives



The government and secret service have plans to monitor all communications between civilians in the UK. Internet firms such as Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail and other online firms will have an obligation to provide access to the government to our private communications. The agency demanding this is GCHQ. All this, the government argues, is to reveal potential terrorist threats which would normally go unseen and to boost the war on terror.

As emailing, texting, phoning and facebooking are so woven into our lives, the government will be able to see everything we do. Privacy would cease meaning in a such a scheme.

The problem is that this monitoring of our private 'spheres' of life (for a more in depth understanding read John Stuart Mill's- On Liberty) breaches our liberty and our right to live in a democracy and not in a 'big brother' dictatorship state.

An argument for this change is the simple case that we have nothing to hide from the government... the people that do hide illegal practices or abuse the justice system will be caught and on average more justice will be served. Also more potential terrorists will be investigated hence a smaller chance of actual terrorist attacks.

This at first seems a legit argument but the fact that most of us are good citizens doesn't allow the government to swarm over our lives. Officials, which happens now at times, may abuse this system and share certain information which was supposed to be kept private, they may even intercept your conversation even if it was completely innocent. Democracy and a liberal society will only truly flourish and progress if there is actual liberty to communicate privately and to communicate without fear of impingement or ear-wigging of the government.

Also it hasn't been explicitly shown that this monitoring system will actually be an aid to national security. The masses of information will almost be mathematically impossible to decipher based on vague empirical criteria used to catch terrorists. They should carry on with the usual system i.e. asking for warrants to investigate certain conspicuous groups.

This system of monitoring will also face expensive and impractical legality issues e.g. interfering a patient-doctor communication goes against the doctor confidentiality legislation. Also if information is bought up from a private conversation, should the people involved be informed of this?

They should invest more money into more security in public transport such as the underground, national rail and buses so that they could possibly detect terrorists there. Although many fear this intervention plan maybe too late as damage can be done even then.

I feel that the government has not yet justified itself fully for implementing this scheme and I feel that it would cost too much (remember that deficit thingy we are already in?) it is also going backwards politically as we are trying to liberalize our society not have it become a transparent big brother one.

Let's hope the house of lords will keep this from becoming law and even better... let's hope this is an April fools joke.