Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Posted: December 26, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

He understood that modeling the incoherent and vertiginous matter of which dreams are composed was the most difficult task that a man could undertake, even though he should penetrate all the enigmas of a superior and inferior order; much more difficult than weaving a rope out of sand or coining the faceless wind.

Jorge Luis Borges, The Circular Ruins, in Ficciones (via fauvevivre)

Posted: December 15, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

I don’t write a book so that it will be the final word; I write a book so that other books are possible, not necessarily written by me.

Michel Foucault (via wordpainting)

Posted: December 13, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Clay Shirky argues that technologies get interesting only when they’re widespread enough to become boring. In 2012, in the best way possible, e-readers became incredibly, fantastically boring. Though the year found marginal improvements to e-reader technologies, it also saw a significant reversal in the relationship between humans and the written words we use to help express our humanity: In 2012, we read books, but our books also read us. Teachers used e-readers to catch would-be cheaters among their students. Books on screens promised new frontiers of interactivity between textbooks and teaching. They transformed Shakespeare’s plays from public performances to intimate ones. We went, with our books, back to the future, rediscovering in digital texts what has always made books agents of culture and, generally, awesome: their implicit community, their fundamental sociability, their ability to capture and convene. This year, we began to learn what it will mean to have books and readers that are reciprocal. We began to understand an old insight in a new way: We shape our books, and then our books shape us.

The Year in Tech, 2012: Reading  (via courtenaybird)

Posted: December 7, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

A book is a human-powered film projector (complete with feature film) that advances at a speed fully customized to the viewer’s mood or fancy. This rare harmony between object and user arises from the minimal skills required to manipulate a bound sequence of pages. Each piece of paper embodies a corresponding instant of time which remains frozen until liberated by the act of turning a page.

John Maeda (via inthenoosphere)

ikenbot:

When Einstein Met Tagore

Collision and convergence in Truth and Beauty at the intersection of science and spirituality

On July 14, 1930, Albert Einstein welcomed into his home on the outskirts of Berlin the Indian philosopher Rabindranath Tagore. The two proceeded to have one of the most stimulating, intellectually riveting conversations in history, exploring the age-old friction between science and religion. Science and the Indian Tradition: When Einstein Met Tagore recounts the historic encounter, amidst a broader discussion of the intellectual renaissance that swept India in the early twentieth century, germinating a curious osmosis of Indian traditions and secular Western scientific doctrine.

The following excerpt from one of Einstein and Tagore’s conversations dances between previously examined definitions of science, beauty, consciousness, and philosophy in a masterful meditation on the most fundamental questions of human existence.

Continue to Excerpt Here

Posted: November 28, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Between the times of Aristarchus and Huygens, humans answered the question that had so excited me as a boy growing up in Brooklyn: What are stars? The answer is that the stars are mighty suns, light-years away in the vastness of interstellar space.

Carl Sagan – Cosmos (via ikenbot)

This is the “information age”, we all know that. Laptops and smartphones wing uncountable amounts of information between us, across the airwaves and down wires and optical fibres. Bank transactions, weather reports, news stories, love stories and break-ups are being communicated through the ubiquitous ability of the machines around us to process information. But why should we call this the information age rather than, say, the decades after Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1450 and began the publishing revolution? What about when the first fragments of paper were made more than 2,000 years ago, allowing (relatively) easy sharing of stories or administrative records? Or how about the earliest known records of writing, Sumerian clay tablets etched with cuneiform script? Or the invention of language some time in the prehistory of our species? At each stage, humans wanted to communicate something. At each stage there has been information, and information has propelled the evolution of our society. James Gleick, the doyen of science writing and the author of the hugely successful Chaos as well as biographies of Richard Feynman and Isaac Newton, reviews the history of humanity through the lens of our attempts to make communication faster, more efficient and more available.

The Information: a History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick – review | Alok Jha | Science | guardian.co.uk

sciencenote:

When physics professor Chad Orzel went to the pound to adopt a dog, he never imagined Emmy. She wasn’t just a friendly mutt who needed a home; she was a talking dog with an active interest in what her new owner did for a living and how it could work for her.

Soon Emmy was trying to use the…

Science :): How to Teach Physics to Your Dog

The Library of Utopia | MIT Technology Review

Posted: November 19, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

In his 1938 book World Brain, H.G. Wells imagined a time—not very distant, he believed—when every person on the planet would have easy access to “all that is thought or known.” The 1930s were a decade of rapid advances in microphotography, and Wells assumed that microfilm would be the technology to make the corpus of human knowledge universally available. “The time is close at hand,” he wrote, “when any student, in any part of the world, will be able to sit with his projector in his own study at his or her convenience to examine any book, any document, in an exact replica.” Wells’s optimism was misplaced. The Second World War put idealistic ventures on hold, and after peace was restored, technical constraints made his plan unworkable. Though microfilm would remain an important medium for storing and preserving documents, it proved too unwieldy, too fragile, and too expensive to serve as the basis for a broad system of knowledge transmission. But Wells’s idea is still alive. Today, 75 years later, the prospect of creating a public repository of every book ever published—what the Princeton philosopher Peter Singer calls “the library of utopia”—seems well within our grasp. With the Internet, we have an information system that can store and transmit documents efficiently and cheaply, delivering them on demand to anyone with a computer or a smart phone. All that remains to be done is to digitize the more than 100 million books that have appeared since Gutenberg invented movable type, index their contents, add some descriptive metadata, and put them online with tools for viewing and searching.

The Library of Utopia | MIT Technology Review

Posted: October 11, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

It’s an irony of modern life that the exponential spread of information has given rise to another exponential spread, of books about the exponential spread of information. We’ve got more facts than we ever had before, and so we’ve got more ruminations on how those facts affect us. Does Google make us stupid, or has it given us a deeper knowledge? Is there now so much to read and learn that we’ll never master anything (a concern that dates back at least 800 years)? Are all these facts disposable, such that what we learn today will be obsolete tomorrow?

The Harvard network scientist and pop theorist Samuel Arbesman stokes our fears of information on the cover of his recent book, The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date. Watch out, that title says: The truth is melting! But the argument that Arbesman lays out (in a set of loosely connected anecdotes and essays) works to do the opposite. He uses math as a medication for this anxiety, to keep us calm in the face of shifting knowledge. His book works like a data-beta-blocker: By fitting fickle truths to models and equations, it promises a way to handle life’s uncertainty and keep abreast of “the vibrations in the facts around us.” In the end, though, the prescription runs afoul of a more fundamental ambiguity: What does it mean to call a fact a fact to start with? (via Samuel Arbesman’s The Half-Life of Facts, reviewed. – Slate Magazine)

Beyond a joke: the truth about why we laugh Plato and Aristotle saw it as a tool to topple the mighty. It often accompanies gruesome acts of cruelty. Most of us will use it more routinely – to win friendship and love. So what lies behind the apparent spontaneity of laughter? Consider the bizarre events of the 1962 outbreak of contagious laughter in Tanganyika (now Tanzania). What began as an isolated fit of laughter in a group of 12-to 18-year-old schoolgirls rapidly rose to epidemic proportions. Contagious laughter propagated from one individual to the next, eventually infecting adjacent communities. Like an influenza outbreak, the laughter epidemic was so severe that it required the closing of at least 14 schools and afflicted about 1,000 people. Fluctuating in intensity, it lasted for around two and a half years. A psychogenic, hysterical origin of the epidemic was established after excluding alternatives such as toxic reaction and encephalitis.

Beyond a joke: the truth about why we laugh | Books | The Observer

Posted: August 29, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Review – The Primate Mind
Built to Connect with Other Minds
by Frans B. M. de Waal and Pier Francesco Ferrari (Editors)

Can chimpanzees imitate behavior? Are apes capable of altruism? Do chimpanzees have a theory of mind? What characteristics are uniquely human? Since the 1970s these kinds of questions have guided most of the research on the primate mind. As a result, endless debates have been generated on the topic of which primates (i.e. human vs. non-human) have those kinds of mental capacities. Resulting from a meeting at the Ettore Majorana Center in June, 2009, The Primate Mind, Built to Connect with other Minds, is a collection of papers that enters this debate by offering an alternative approach to the animal mind. Instead of selecting a human mental capacity and investigating whether different species possess such a capacity, this collection of papers offers an attempt to understand the underlying constituent capacities of primate cognitive phenomena and their role in the evolutionary process of the species.

Review – The Primate Mind – Psychology

Posted: July 7, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

Without the work of intellectual giants like Einstein, Newton and Darwin, we might still be in the dark ages. But how many scientists still read the dust-ridden texts where these luminaries first expounded their theories? Thanks to the internet, you no longer have to hunt down these yellowing tomes in a moldy library vault. Here’s the story of 9 famous publications that spun the scientific world off its orbit. (via The Classic, Beautiful and Controversial Books That Changed Science Forever | Wired Science | Wired.com)

Posted: May 27, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Every few years a few truly great general interest books on technology, human problems, and social progress come along. Books like Carson’s Silent Spring, 1962. Toffer’s Future Shock, 1970. Piel’s The Acceleration of History, 1972. Drexler’s Engines of Creation, 1986. Moravec’s Mind Children, 1988. Hawken’s The Ecology of Commerce, 1993. Stock’s Metaman, 1993. Simon’s The State of Humanity, 1996. Brin’s The Transparent Society, 1998. Kurzweil’s The Age of Spiritual Machines, 1999. Rhodes’s Visions of Technology, 1999. Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree, 1999. Wright’s Nonzero, 2000. Lomborg’s The Skeptical Environmentalist, 2001. Wallace’s Moral Machines, 2008. Kelly’s What Technology Wants, 2010. Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature, 2011. Ridley’s The Rational Optimist, 2011. Now comes Diamandis and Kotler’s Abundance, 2012, a member of this very rare and special class. (via Abundance, 2012 – Why You Should Read This Book – Ever Smarter World)

Posted: May 14, 2012 by Wildcat in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

WHY are we thinking so much about thinking these days? Near the top of best-seller lists around the country, you’ll find Jonah Lehrer’s “Imagine: How Creativity Works,” followed by Charles Duhigg’s book “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,” and somewhere in the middle, where it’s held its ground for several months, Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” Recently arrived is “Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior,” by Leonard Mlodinow. It’s the invasion of the Can’t-Help-Yourself books.

The Amygdala Made Me Do It – NYTimes.com