Why not start your morning by learning all about… time travel? This is my TEDxUofT talk that just went online TODAY, and it features JOKES and MESSING WITH THE TIMELINE. It is called “A Time Traveller’s Primer”.
I hope you like it!
Ryan North, you tall, handsome nerd, you’ve done it again.
This pulsar lies near the center of the Vela supernova remnant, which is the debris of the explosion of a massive star about 10,000 years ago. The pulsar is the collapsed core of this star, rotating with a period of 89 milliseconds or about 11 times a second. Radiation is beamed out along the magnetic poles and pulses of radiation are received as the beam crosses the Earth, in the same manner as the beam from a lighthouse causes flashes. Being enormous cosmic flywheels with a tick attached, they make some of the best clocks known to mankind. These sounds directly correspond to the radio-waves emitted by the brightest pulsars in the sky as received by some of the largest radio telescopes in the world.
Sometimes you have to nudge your sleepy cat aside & climb out of your blanket cocoon at 4 am to look up which end of the visible spectrum magenta falls on*, or what the collective noun for bears is**, or to find out whether there is such a thing as an alloy made from gold and silver***, or what were the early Peruvian cloud people called again****, or is lucid dreaming a natural ability or a learned skill*****?
I don’t really have a problem with living in the Information Age.
The basic thesis is pretty self explanatory from the title alone; what makes it extra fascinating is that Nagel is an atheist. He argues that evolutionary natural selection has enormous obstacles to overcome in plausibly explaining man’s consciousness, his ability to reason, and his recognition of objective moral values—both in how they can currently exist within its framework of natural and unintelligent processes, and in explaining how they came about at all. These are obstacles that, Nagel argues, naturalistic Darwinism simply hasn’t adequately addressed (yet)—and likely never will. He teases the “secular establishment,” wishing it would
wean itself of the materialism and Darwinism of the gaps—to adapt one of its own pejorative tabs. I have tried to show that this approach is incapable of providing an adequate account, either constitutive or historical, of our universe. (127)
He calls the naturalistic materialism of the day “a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense.” (128) Of course, the philosophical contender at the opposite side of the ring is some form of theism, which Nagel also denies as insufficient. He does discuss some of the challenges facing theism, but since the reigning consensus (at least among professional scientists and philosophers) is that of naturalistic materialism, this is where Nagel spends most of his time.
I will readily admit that a good bit of this 128-page book was over my head. Nagel is not writing popular-level philosophy, and I had to read and digest it slowly. But it’s valuable to engage and follow arguments advanced by an intellectual heavyweight, especially from someone outside the fold of theism.
Adding to to-read list.
Would fit in nicely with my recent readings of Sheldrake & Colllins. I’m interested in stuff outside the realm of easy answers, OKAY.
Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous permanent installation at the Teton County Library in Wyoming!
Designers Brian W. Brush and Yong Ju Lee of E/B Office New York created an extensive fiber-optic installation for the Teton County Library grand opening in Wyoming that visualizes library searches in flashes of colored light. Dubbed Filament Mind, the installation, which opened at the end of January, uses over five miles of fiber-optic cables and 44 LED illuminators to collect, categorize, and render searches from libraries all across the state of Wyoming into glowing bursts of color.
Click through and watch the video! I just love how it makes the library system seem like a giant brain. In a pretty way, of course.