A slight interlude in the Crescent City.
We live in a world of abundance, but is it really the land of Rainbow Pie? What surprises have we seen? How do we map out the land of abundance to understand the unintended consequences?
Hello fellow space-time travelers. My name is Roger Jones. I am coming to you from steamy downtown Pensacola, Florida. It is 7:30 in the morning in late June, so you can see the morning sun streaming through the east-facing windows behind me. This is the first post on this channel, TheX-Press channel, so I thought…
Full fathom five thy father lies.
Of his bones are coral made.
Those are pearls that were his eyes.
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell
Tempest, Act 1, Scene 2
This video tells a story, a parable rather, about abundance of water and the consequences of abundant water. The setting is Pensacola, Florida. This video is part of the Abundance Project in which citizens are invited to participate in critical thinking to create tools for policy makers.
A thought, or gedanken, experiment is the creation of a simplified, often fanciful, world for the purpose of understanding the implications of a theory. One of the first was Plato’s allegory of the cave, in which Plato postulates that people are only able to sense a part of the universe about them. The allegory explores what that means and implies. The real value of thought experiments is to generate hypotheses that can be tested in the real world.
At any rate, let’s get back to why we are having this conversation. We are here to use the language of art to search for a boundary between Art and (Not Art) in a real example. Surprises occur at boundaries. Surprises are the basis of humor. So … we might know when we are close to a boundary between Art and (Not Art) when we start laughing.
At a random moment in time, the generic behavior of any social system is to be in a trending pattern. In other words, if you ask how will “things” (e.g., the GDP of an economy, the financial market averages, the political climate) look tomorrow, the answer is that they will be just a bit better or a bit worse than today, depend- ing on whether the trend at the moment is moving up or down. This is a large part of what makes trend-following so appealing: it’s easy and it’s almost always right—except when it isn’t! Those moments when it isn’t are rare (infinitesimally small in the set of all time points, actually) and the event is usually surprising within the context of the situation in which the question about the future arises. These special moments when the current trend is rolling over from one trend to another are the critical points of the process. And if that rolling over involves great social damage in terms of lives lost, dollars spent, and/or existential angst, we call the transition from the current trend to the new one an X-event. In the natural sciences, especially physics, such a transition is often associated with a “flip” from one qualitatively different type of structure or form of behavior to another, as with the phase transition from water to ice or to steam.
TIME: 65 million years ago.
PLACE: What is now the Yucatan Peninsula in eastern Mexico.
EVENT: The crash of an asteroid 20 kilometers across.
EFFECT: The end of the dinosaurs and most other life forms on Earth at the time.
Suppose you were a lumbering triceratops. What would your walnut-sized brain have registered when this fiery crash occurred? Answer: Basically, almost nothing beyond an unbelievably intense light in the sky before you were instantaneously reduced to a heap of ashes, or even obliterated entirely if you happened to be in the impact zone. Here’s the scenario.
Gödel did something very clever. He found a solution of Einstein’s field equations in which the world lines circled back on themselves. This means that if you were traveling along a world line you would eventually encounter yourself as a baby. Suppose you kill yourself as a baby. Would you still be alive? It would be disturbing if you were both alive and dead. Unlike quantum mechanics, Einstein’s theory does not address ambiguity explicitly. The great challenge of modern physics is to unite the general theory of relativity with quantum mechanics. This has not yet been done.
Experiments were performed in the early twentieth century that
indicated that small objects like electrons were particles if certain experiments were done, but were waves if other experiments were done. The statement, “This electron is a particle.” can be both true and false. This is a failure of logic of the kind that Kurt Gödel was concerned with. However, this example goes beyond the parlor games of mathematicians. This failure of logic can be measured and occurs in nature. As we will see, this logical failure, is crucial for the formation of life.
What is there about matter, energy, and information that leads to the spontaneous creation and continued existence of complex systems of which we humans are an example? Does life need to composed of carbon atoms as we are? Can life be made out of other types of molecules? Or to take the questioning deeper, does life require chemistry at all for its existence? Can life exist in a nuclear reactor or in a neutron star or in very cold solids near absolute zero or in the memory units of a computer? And what are these things we call consciousness and awareness? And what in the world is a soul?