Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Cool: Species Nearly Destroyed All Life Before

August 8, 2018

Earth. The Dark Side. Homo. It has become standard to point out that the genus Homo may destroy life, or, our species, or, at least, civilization itself. This is related to the “Fermi Paradox” (“Where is everybody?” asked Enrico Fermi around 1950…) The idea was that civilizations self-destruct, hence no civilization is visible in the galaxy. To which I retorted that we overestimate the likelihood of advanced life in the galaxy, for a galactic sized number of reasons:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/40-billion-earths-yes-no/

One argument I rolled out is that life was nearly extinguished on Earth by life itself: consider “Snowball Earth”. This weapon of mass life extinction was generated by the advancement of life itself. Let me quote myself:

“Primitive bacterial life is probably frequent. However advanced life (animals) is probably very rare, as many are the potential catastrophes. And one needs billions of years to go from primitive life to animals.

After life forms making oxygen on Earth appeared, the atmosphere went from reducing (full of strong greenhouse methane) to oxidizing (full of oxygen). As methane mostly disappeared, so did the greenhouse. Earth froze, all the way down to the equator:

When Snowball Earth Nearly Killed Life

Yet volcanoes kept on belching CO2 through the ice. That CO2 built up above the ice, caused a strong greenhouse, and the ice melted. Life had survived. Mighty volcanism has saved the Earth, just in time.

That “snowball Earth” catastrophe repeated a few times before the Earth oxygen based system became stable. Catastrophe had been engaged, several times, but the disappearance of oxygen creating life forms had been avoided, just barely.”

Intense chemical weathering by massive acid rain is the likely cause of the end of a period known as the Marinoan glaciation, which happened form 650 to 635 million years ago, according to a paper published in the journal PNAS. This was the last occurence when nearly all of the Earth’s land and seas were frozen over, known as snowball Earth, with glaciers as thick as 2km. Other times, on the right, Earth had no ice at the poles… Present day civilization can survive a warm Earth (right)… Not a Snowball. However, to get from what we have now to no ice, in a geological blink, means ultimate war…

What does this mean philosophically?

Most philosophical systems in the traditional sense don’t consider the truism that, to get creation, one needs destruction, and the more creation, the more destruction. Why? That sounds childish, thus unwise. But children encounter the primeval. Philosophy extended to religion revels in destruction. Actually the Deus/God/Allah destroys the entire universe to establish Heavens.

The universe is a brutal place: not only do planets get flung into space, stars explode, but even entire galaxies get destroyed. The universe is also a happening.

In the greater scheme of things, a war where, say, seven billion people got killed would be nothing special: that was the world population in 1803, when the imbecile Napoleon, having mightily endeavored to reestablish slavery, losing an army in the process, sold a third of the present day US to the USA for 11 million dollars.

In the movie Terminator, Artificial Intelligence takes over, causes a nuclear holocaust, and tries to extinguish humanity. It is more likely though that more and more formidable wars would accompany a Hot Earth scenario… which is what we are going towards, quickly. As I have argued in the past, 2C Is Too Much! Under 2C of global warming, a chain reaction of tipping point would unleash itself, and self-accelerate:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/11/18/2-c-is-too-much/

Now the idea is hitting the mainstream, nine years later. See: “Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. There, scientists argue that there is a threshold temperature above which natural feedback systems that currently keep the Earth at a nice temperature (around 15 C, global) will unravel. At that point, a chain reaction of climate events will thrust the planet into a “hothouse” state. Though the scientists don’t know exactly what this threshold is, they said it could be as little as 2 degrees C (4 degrees F) of warming above preindustrial levels. We are above that half-way point…

As they put it in scientese: We explore the risk that self-reinforcing feedbacks could push the Earth System toward a planetary threshold that, if crossed, could prevent stabilization of the climate at intermediate temperature rises and cause continued warming on a “Hothouse Earth” pathway even as human emissions are reduced. Crossing the threshold would lead to a much higher global average temperature than any interglacial in the past 1.2 million years and to sea levels significantly higher than at any time in the Holocene. We examine the evidence that such a threshold might exist and where it might be. If the threshold is crossed, the resulting trajectory would likely cause serious disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies. Collective human action is required to steer the Earth System away from a potential threshold and stabilize it in a habitable interglacial-like state. Such action entails stewardship of the entire Earth System—biosphere, climate, and societies—and could include decarbonization of the global economy, enhancement of biosphere carbon sinks, behavioral changes, technological innovations, new governance arrangements, and transformed social values.”

People are deeply unaware, they believe that the planet’s climate is more stable than it really is. The episodes of Snowball Earth show that this is not the case. This erroneous feeling of ecological stability is the main source of the indifference which brings the destruction of the planetary climate.

The apocalypse, in the greater scheme of things, is not apocalyptic. After all, an apocalypse, etymologically speaking, is just an uncovering… And this is precisely this normalcy of the abnormal, which will make go so smooth…

Patrice Ayme

 

What Use Philosophy?

March 23, 2018

Only Philosophy will teach the children well:

STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics), or STEAM (adding “Arts” to the preceding) are the latest (well justified) fashion in teaching children in the USA (inspired by China and Singapore). The method is spreading (and I contributed to push it). However, a subject has been forgotten, the most important: philosophy (and, in particular, the history upon which it rests!)

Like science, philosophy is a sum over histories. But it isn’t just that. Like science, philosophy is a method. Like science, the engine of philosophy is unbiased common sense. Yet, a more general method. Like science, philosophy uses facts, and is itself, among other things, a set of facts (not forgetting that ideas and emotions are, themselves, facts). Yet, philosophy doesn’t just use scientific facts (that is, facts beyond any suspicion). Like science, philosophy is a method of enquiry to guess further facts. Like science, philosophy establishes systems of thought. Like science, philosophy can use a single fact to put in doubt a system of thought, and build another. Unlike science though, philosophy can guess facts, and propose (or even establish) systems of thought on those guesses.

Hence philosophy, the philosophical method, common sense applied to whatever, is the key to major advances in science. Major advances in science call upon, and necessitate, guessing the imaginable. They call upon the philosophical method. No philosophical method, no major advances in science possible. Indeed, any major advance in science is built on new facts, and to go fetch those new facts require desire, hope, imagination, systems of potentialities, fancy financing on fumes, curiosity about what could be, etc.

Our bodies love to dance, in part because we love music, part of our dialogue with the universe. Learning to learn, or just to tolerate others’ music is not just pleasant, it’s enriching, a form of wealth which honors the spirit, source of all and any goodness, besides being our very essence!

Buridan’s momentum, force, inertia, relativity of motion and heliocentrism in the Fourteenth Century provide a  nice example of philosophy & science entangled:

Indeed Buridan (circa 1340 CE) guessed that Aristotle’s false physics depended upon neglecting air resistance and friction in general. Absent those errors, what was left was the theory of inertia, a particular case of impetus theory. Buridan noted that we can only ever observe relative motions. We cannot really know absolute motions. So if, for example, we happened to be in a boat going along a coastline, we really don’t know whether the boat we are in is moving or if the coastline is moving alongside us. Nicole Oresme pushed further the physics unmoved on a movable ship argument (replicated by Galileo 250 years later).

A consequence was that a heliocentric system, with planets orbiting the sun indefinitely (and the Earth rotating on itself) was a possibility. Buridan then slyly said that such a system couldn’t be distinguished experimentally from the one in “Scripture”, so we may as well believe the latter. It was an invitation to develop other observations.

Amazingly, both (rector) Buridan and (elected bishop in 1377 CE!) Oresme, having removed all reasons against heliocentrism, and having argued that it was more economical a system of thought, then said it couldn’t be decided, pointed out that this failure showed the limits of reason, and thus that reason couldn’t be used against (their) faith: “What I have said here, by way of diversion of intellectual exercise can in this manner serve as a valuable means of refuting and checking those who would like to impugn our faith by argument.”

“Argument” (reason) is a very powerful, says Oresme, but not powerful enough to determine whether the Earth moves or not. Similarly, if “argument” cannot answer a physical question about the world, we have to be very careful about arguing about faith. Oresme has therefore used rational arguments about physics, involving relativity of motion, to show rational argument can come short, in physics, and thus metaphysics (“faith”).

This is a magnificent example of how entangled science, philosophy and… faith, are.

***

Trying to teach science alone is trying to teach the chicken, how it moves, without its head (philosophy):

Philosophy goes much further than science and its scientific method, as the philosophical method, which uses whatever, enables to establish systems of thought using whatever, including emotions, songs and poetry (the great Twelfth Century philosopher was relatively as famous as the Beatles for his songwriting; even more than Buridan and Oresme, Abelard was in total war with the Catholic Church, namely Saint Bernard; he got emasculated and excommunicated for it…) In particular, philosophy establishes wisdoms of life: why and how to live. Can’t live without it. It may as well be taught, lest all young end up as Jihadists, snowflakes, or culture deprived nerds.


Here is a bit of the love of more advanced wisdom. More advanced philosophy enables to listen to music others, less mentally advanced types, can’t hear. Therein a happiness others are deprived from. However, establishing new thinking inside one’s brain is expensive, not just expansive, and involves suffering. Thus, some whine, Nietzsche prefered suffering to happiness. (Not really true: Nietzsche observed that lions are happy, and  imagined them happy not to be mice… Bertrand Russell, like all good hypocrites, practicing the opposite of what they preach, disingenuously called Nietzsche not compassionate… While siding with the despicable Kaiser in World War One… while Nietzsche correctly vomited the preceding Kaiser already)

Here is a relevant philosophical perspective Buddha himself blithely ignored: IF ONE PREFERS SUFFERING TO HAPPINESS, HOW CAN THINGS GET WORSE? Verily, suffering and happiness are entangled: happiness is best experienced, like the best tsunami, with the contrasting experience, of a lowering of expectations…

Philosophy at its best. Science can’t do that.  

Science can study suffering, science can’t say why one should study suffering, and what to do with it. Only philosophy can do that, thus only philosophy can order science to get going.

We, humans, have been scientists, for millions of years, but so are we, because we love to be wise. That’s how we are. Neglecting the love of wisdom is neglecting us. It is easy to see how greedy potentates will want to neglect us. Let them not have it. In ancient Rome, philosophy failed first, followed by the failure of democracy, then intelligence. Teach philosophy to children, and, if you don’t, ultimately science and technology themselves will falter, as they did in Rome, barbarity will win, as civilization won’t be sustainable anymore. 

To finish how we started here, the most important subject to teach, with heart and mind, is the most encompassing philosophical attitude. How to do this with children? By teaching them the history of civilizations (notice the plural). Killing two birds with one stone. The rise of violent Muslim Fundamentalism in Europe, in particular France, is directly attributable to an astounding lack of knowledge of history among not just the young, but also self-described “intellectuals” (multiple shootings and wounded in France again today, March 23, 2918, in attacks claimed by Daesch, the so-called Islamist State… no problem we shall just live in a state of siege, adorned by shootings in the streets, schools, supermarkets…)

Generally when taught, in only in one hour, the rough circumstances of Muhammad’s ascent to the position of Mecca’s dictator, a discernible mental shift among young Muslims is discernible. It’s just astounding that this telling part of history is not taught anywhere in French schools (all the more as France is a direct political, cultural and legal descendant of the Roman State, half of which got violently invaded, and ruined… by the immediate successors (“Caliphs“) of Muhammad…

China, Europe, India, are the major scientific, and technological powers of civilization. It is no coincidence that they are also the philosophical superpowers.

Human is the philosophical animal. And science, facts known for sure, a consequence. Art also: try to make symbols that will last 50,000 years… without any science.

You want life and the pursuit of happiness? Let society pursue philosophy first!

Patrice Aymé

 

.

Science Is Always Right

February 17, 2018

Science is Right, By Definition, and ever more knowledgeable, from evolution.

What is science? What we know, for sure. Yes, because there is such an emotion as certainty, or quasi-certainty. It’s because we were pretty sure that we came down the trees into the savanna. To discover plenty of new, life saving truth, plenty of science. Like how to drink from, and cook tubers. So yes, there is a notion of truth, and it made us, our species, our genus, Homo, whose genius is to have mastered truth.

Prehistoric men were found with fire starting kits comprising dozens of parts. Humans have used science, what is sure, for millions of years. Fire for 1.3 million years, clothing for two million years (up north), stone tools and weapons for millions of years before that (monkeys and apes, even some birds do). All this was made possible by, and demonstrates sure knowledge: science.

Volcanic lightning is caused by friction (creating electric charges), and then dynamics. Separating small particles from big ones, an application of Newton’s F = ma; F is a given, from supersonic gas, but a, the acceleration, varies, as m, the mass of particles, vary. Hence charges get separated, something lightning solves.

We understand why a violent volcanic explosion generates lightning (one of thousands of triumphs of recent science). That does not mean that the prehistoric science of making fire with sparks from flints or friction from wood are wrong. Just the opposite: both mechanisms come into play to generate lightning from volcanoes. Science goes deeper, darker, ever more. 

Similarly, the twentieth century theories of gravitation did not make Newton wrong (as the naive is won to believe). Actually, the recent theories made Newton twice more right. Indeed. First, Newton pointed out exactly a problem with his theory, which he excoriated as “absurd” (and he used even more vigorous words): Newtonian style gravitation was supposed to be instantaneous, through empty space, Newton hated that. Laplace, a century later, invented the simple mathematical picture of a field propagating at finite speed; that caused waves (1807). A century later, Henri Poincaré, main author of what he called the “theory of relativity”, rolled out relativistic gravitational waves (1905).

After Poincaré’s death (1912), Einstein, working with Hilbert, produced a specialization of Poincaré’s general gravitational theories. That theory was just a MODIFICATION of Newtonian theory (which is its first order, that’s how the Einstein equation is found). Basically, as Poincaré found in 1899, light in Maxwell theory has inertial, thus gravitational, mass. As light was used as the metric in Poincaré’s Relativity, the metric of spacetime was mass dependent. (Those who have the Einstein cult can’t possibly understand the logic underlying the science just alluded to, and that includes many physicists!)

Claiming that science is always wrong is equivalent to saying that we know nothing. It was tried before, and not just by Karl Popper. The confused Socrates perniciously tried to impose that notion, that men were ignorant, and knew nothing (however Socrates knew more than the rest…). Of course, the elites knew everything (or acted as if they did): thus Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander, Antipater and Craterus were all friends, united in their belief that the people knew nothing. And thus 23 centuries of dictatorship was necessary.

Instead, the truth is the opposite: there is such a thing as truth and knowledge. Science is always right, and this is why planes fall off the sky so rarely, and we are going back to the Moon. That doesn’t mean that science can’t be made to become always more refined, powerful, all-knowing. Newtonian mechanics is good enough for rocket science, but, for GPS, one has to be a bit more subtle, and use Relativity (as clocks run slower in a gravitational field, and the greater, the slower…)

Science being right, doesn’t mean that scientists are always right each time they open their mouths. Science is right, scientists are wrong. Example? When physicists come around, and speak as if they were god, this being demonstrated because they apparently witnessed the birth of the universe, they are clearly crazy, and calling them “scientists” is a bit too quick: generously one could say that they are specialists driven to madness by all too many years of hard studies. 

We have gone a long way since Anaximander proposed we all evolved from fishes, and research professor Lamarck, after decades studying mollusk fossils in microscopes, confirmed that, indeed, life had evolved over millions of years (1800; parroted by others later). The Ancient Greeks were perplexed by static electricity. Now we understand it very well, and soon we will understand it better (as Quantum Computer fabrication will force us to understand better atomic and single electron dynamics).

Science is an exploration always renewed, but real knowledge has been accumulated, and when 2,000 Athenians lifted the general amnesty, to target Socrates specifically, and him alone, they showed us that epistemology should be taken seriously. Socrates claimed ignorance, the 2,000 jurors claimed he should have known. No, indeed, science is not fake news! Besmirching science with error painted all over is error unbecoming a deep thinker.

Patrice Aymé

P/S: The approach above is antipodal to that of Karl Popper. Popper basically believed that to be science, science ought to be demonstrably false (OK, I can never resist ridiculizing him, although I like Popper!) This silliness causes real damage: consider the essay linked above:”Why Science Is Wrong” it clamors in its click-bait title (the article is not as bad as its title, but the damage is done). 10,000 people applauded, thus identifying science and fake news, damaging knowledge, thus everything, and validating fake news. So you see, Popper may sound like an ethereal subject, considering the notion of science in the 1930s. But now, nearly a century later, we have popular authors regurgitating the same notion, that, if it’s science, it’s wrong. Popper would say, and did say, that it is not at all what he wanted to say. Yet, he said it, no mistake about that.

Science True, Popper False

November 15, 2017

Abstract: Philosopher Karl Popper put out in 1934 a nonsensical theory of what science was. Unfortunately, that nonsense has ruled science ever since. And it shows!

***

Truth is contained in what’s left after the rest has been proven false.

Human beings think with theories, which are digital depictions or even chains of emotions, of an underlying neuronal reality.

It is better for the elite in power to have a much less understandable vision of the world posing as ultimate wisdom. Enter Karl Popper, an establishment philosopher.

Popper: “In so far as a scientific statement speaks about reality, it must be falsifiable; and in so far as it is not falsifiable, it does not speak about reality.”

This upside down masterpiece makes much more sense than Popper view of science, or reality!

How does Popper falsify reality? By being God? Did Popper believe he was God? Is a lion non falsifiable? Does lack of falsiability make a lion’s claw unreal? With a philosophy of relity like that, one can’t do anything, and that suits the establishement just fine.

Theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder in How Popper killed Particle Physics rightly explodes the Popper falsification obsession:

Popper is dead. Has been dead since 1994 to be precise. But also his philosophy, that a scientific idea needs to be falsifiable, is dead.

And luckily so, because it was utterly impractical. In practice, scientists can’t falsify theories. That’s because any theory can be amended in hindsight so that it fits new data. Don’t roll your eyes – updating your knowledge in response to new information is scientifically entirely sound procedure.

So, no, you can’t falsify theories. Never could.”

In 1934, Popper said that science is what can be shown to be potentially false. This.has impressed physicists, ever since.Let me disintegrate Popper falsification a bit further from the logical viewpoint.

After proposing the heliocentric theory, using his concept of inertia, circa 1350 CE, Buridan observed that the heliocentric theory could not be experimentally distinguished (yet) from the geocentric theory, and thus, one may as well believe the latter, as “Scripture” said so.

It was definitively proven that Venus turned around the Sun (Sol) more than three centuries after Buridan wrote, when telescopes became powerful enough to observe the phases of Venus (how the Sun illuminated Venus). So the question of falsifiability is not new.

Even earlier, 14 centuries ago, the ancient Greeks demonstrated the atomic theory by observing perpetual motion of small particles (what we call now according to an Englishman, Brownian motion, because nearly everything was discovered by Englishmen say the English).

Popper believed that a scientific theory should be “falsifiable”. As he wrote: “A theory is falsifiable, as we saw in section 23, if there exists at least one non-empty class of homotypic basic statements which are forbidden by it; that is, if the class of its potential falsifiers is not empty.”

Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, p. 95

Pure mumbo-jumbo. (Popper’s mumbo-jumbo would make the epicycles theory “scientific”… as it was false in some computational consequences, as Tycho found; epicycles partisans could have fixed that with more cycles…)

Popper’s mumbo-jumbo enabled Popper to speak of science, while avoiding the concept of truth. Under the cover of  sounding scientific (thus honorable). If science itself was not about truth, nor induction, neither was society in need to be about truth… or induction (so no revolution). That could only please an establishment put in place by the history of privilege. So Popper became Sir Karl, got plenty of honors, and part of the elite. That was good for Sir Karl. After all, if there is no truth, there is still the Queen.

On the face of it, believing, as Popper affected to, that one should be able to prove that a theory could be false, to make it true enable us to make zombies “scientific” (they could be false!) To be true something just has to potentially be false.

God is not falsifiable, because God can’t “conceivably” be false (at least to the believer in said God). Thus, if God exists, that makes God true, yet unfalsifiable. So we would have the problem of a God which is true, yet non-scientific.

The more general problem is that, how could something which is true be falsifiable?

Popper was a good physicist: he corresponded as early as 1934 about nonlocality with Einstein. Out of it came what’s known as the Popper nonlocality experiment. Although he himself said his early nonlocal ideas were not correct, it’s highly likely that he put Einstein on the track of the EPR nonlocal paper of 1935. However, on science, his own theory is self-contradictory ( and for the “Open Society” Popper is famous for, the basic ideas come straight from the philosophers behind Pericles).

Popper himself threw the science as falsifiability theory under the bus in his later years:  Science may be described as the art of systematic over-simplification — the art of discerning what we may with advantage omit.” The Open Universe : An Argument for Indeterminism (1992), p. 44

“Science must begin with myths, and with the criticism of myths.” Ch. 1 “Science : Conjectures and Refutations”, Section VII

Physicist Lisa Randall made a profitable scientific discovery, and proved it experimentally: she found that Dark Matter sells book. According to Lisa, her nonsensical theory, that Dark Matter annihilated dinosaurs, makes sense, because it can be proven to be false. I should sell her a bridge on Mars, or a zombie for a lover.

In truth, the dinosaurs were in bad trouble for millions of years (the fossil record about the number of species shows), because the Dekkan Traps hyper-volcanism had been acting up for millions of years, smothering the planet, perniciously heating from CO2, between brutal bursts of cooling, from sulfate aerosols, while acidifying the oceans with all that volcanic CO2 (and having all those pesky mammals and birds around didn’t help!) Warm blooded animals and those who burrow survived. Such hyper-volcanism cools the planet’s radioactive core, and happens every 200 million years or so. 

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2009/11/21/trapped-by-super-traps/

Popper’s insane view of reality has long dominated. Thus physics headed the wrong way. And biology too (as the fanatical attacks against Lamarck, and thus epigenetics, showed; an English (of course!) professor, Medawar, was even given in the 1950s the Nobel for proving Lamarck wrong, as if a single experiment on rats could disqualify all of epigenetics, now a gigantic field steering genetics itself, as Lamarck guessed cogently) .

That was the good news. The bad news about Popper? His adversaries fostered a depiction of reality which was even more insane! So I used to be popperian, before I realized that poppy Popper was all poppycock…

Patrice Ayme’

 

March For Science, Humanity, Sawing From Saturn.

April 23, 2017

Nietzsche “made philosophy with a hammer”. Yet science was always made with a saw, literally cutting, and not just through crap:

Today is “Earth Day”, in the USA, the most significant country, at least in the sense of most polluting, per capita (except for critters such as some emirates, Canada and Australia). Self-admiring herds of hollier-than-thou posers proclaimed the “March For Science”. Those herds marching around the US, with herbivorous intelligence, claim science is in danger. I agree, there is never enough science. 

Ironically, it is the ability to make distinctions which is in primordial danger. The inability to make distinctions proliferates in the rabidly anti-Trump, and PC crowd which tends to be marching quite a bit these days, flaunting its rage, and lack of foresight. Yet the “March for Science” is not per se anti-Trump (although the censoring, manipulative and partisan New York Times claimed it was).

Political Correctness certainly rests on the false pretense of not making distinction between being right, and feeling good. PC is driven by moods, not careful, painstaking analysis, and this is fundamentally anti-science. No distinctions, no science. (But certainly plenty of racism, tribalism, nationalism, fanaticism.) As we will see.

Marching is good, science even better. Without science there is no humanity. Literally and figuratively. Science is not a choice humanity makes, but its essence..

Humanity colonized the planet, and is now colonizing the Solar System. Colonizing: that’s what humanity not just does, but is. Starting 50,000 years ago, humanity colonized Oceania. Actually all of planet Earth, and its oceans were conquered from very small human populations. (In a very complicated spatio-temporal pattern, with select interbreeding of long isolated populations.)

***

Forecasts are that, thanks to automation, robots, Artificial Intelligence, 60 million jobs will be lost in the USA within 20 years. The solution? More science. More scientists, and artists. More high level science and other high level creative jobs. As robots crawl all over, creative thinking will be needed more than ever. For example, the mathematician of the future will coach her office AI into producing thousands of theorems, after tweaking some axiom(s). And then she will ponder how useful, or pretty, those theorems produced by the AI, look.

Homo SAPIENS, comes from Latin sapientem (nominative sapiens), present participle of sapere “to taste, have taste, be wise”. Homo Sapiens is a creature of wealth and taste. Wealth from capital, even simple obsidian blades and fire cages. 

Very pale tiny blueish dot: Earth as seen from between Saturn Mighty Rings. Shot By Cassini, April 12, 2017

Cassini/Huygens is the NASA/ESA robot sent to the Saturn system, nearly 20 years ago. It established the nature of Titan’s atmosphere and surface, and that life could exist on Enceladus. Enceladus has plenty of water and hydrocarbon molecules. Now, after using Titan to change its orbit completely, thanks to five close encounter with the mighty satellite, from various position, Cassini has switched to a semi polar orbit which allows it to squeeze between the giant planet and her rings.  In case it would collide with a grain of sand, or ice, the nuclear-powered spacecraft is advancing antenna first, using it as a shield.

Cassini was a Savoy-Italian-French astronomer, born in Nice (where now Islamist immigrants kill people by the dozens, in the name of the “Islamist State”). Cassini was first to find the Cassini division of Saturn rings and was the first to measure (using a 220 feet high church roof to set-up a camera obscura, with agreement of clerics) the diameter of the Sun. The diameter of the Sun was found to vary on the ground of the church during the year, as predicted by Kepler’s ellipse theory of planetary orbits. Cassini helped set-up the Paris observatory, and worked as an astronomer under a Louis XIV grant, for the last 43 years of his life. His son succeeded him as astronomer and geodesist (measuring the Earth).

***

Why does humanity need taste? To be able to distinguish: The word “Science” appears in mid fourteenth century English meaning “what is known, knowledge (of something) acquired by study; information;” also “assurance of knowledge, certitude, certainty,” from Old French science “knowledge, learning, application; corpus of human knowledge“.

In the twelfth century, the French, having the taste for simplifying the lives of their lips, transformed the Latin scientia “knowledge, a knowing; expertness,” from sciens (genitive scientis) “intelligent, skilled,” into something easier to pronounce (most of French is simplified Latin pronunciation… and grammar).

The original Latin “scientia” is the present participle of scire “to know,” probably originally “to separate one thing from another, to distinguish,” related to scindere “to cut, divide,” from Proto Indo-European root *skei- “to cut, to split”. In French : “scier” (to saw). This is the source also of Greek skhizein “to split, rend, cleave,” Gothic skaidan, Old English sceadan “to divide, separate;” itself related to schizo…

***

Want to Save The Earth? Institute a Carbon Tax!

Trump came out with a pro-science and pro-Earth statements, so the Trump Derangement Syndrome crowd will punch the air, once again. Right Trump at some point was one way, and at other points, the other. Trump and three of his children signed a  2009 letter to President Barack Obama calling for a global climate deal. “We support your effort to ensure meaningful and effective measures to control climate change, an immediate challenge facing the United States and the world today,” That was before Trump discovered, as I did to my sorrow, that Obama’s aspiring mood seems to have bee that of one of these Kenyan boys helping the big white masters of international finance, in a typical picture of colonial Kenya.

Later the weather got cold when Trump was trying to golf, or enjoy balmy weather in Los Angeles, and he called global warming a hoax. Nobody seems to have shown him the graph of the deep ocean temperature, steadily going up.

“My Administration is committed to keeping our air and water clean, to preserving our forests, lakes, and open spaces, and to protecting endangered species.” Trump’s statement added that environmental protection should not come at a cost to working families, and that the White House was focused on “reducing unnecessary burdens” on American workers while working to protect the environment.

Trump insisted that his administration would work to achieve the “twin goals” of environmental health and American economic growth, noting that “we should remember that rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate… Today on Earth Day, we celebrate our beautiful forests, lakes and land. We stand committed to preserving the natural beauty of our nation.”

Beauty of Earth too. Earth Moon from Saturn: We Are Nothing Much! We Are Nothing Much! Hanging onto precious little! Care for our small blue home by making the Solar System into a more human park, there is lots of space!

Thus the usual sea of words from the US government, same as all the ones before. For 24 years, three US administrations, preciously nothing important has been done to reduce the CO2 crisis, at the US government level (whereas all European government, including fossil fuel wealthy Norway, put a 400% tax on fossil fuels).

So far, for the USA, it has been mostly words (the gasoline tax established by Eisenhower, as many good, effective, progressive things, was not really indexed on inflation, and has become ever more irrelevant). All most of the significant progress done in the US was from scientific and technological advances to which the government contributed only indirectly. For example the government contributed to PhotoVoltaic (PV) research. PV is changing the world: by 2020, the total Earth PV production will be at least 500 Gigawatts (500 standard nuclear reactors).

Human technology is improving ever more. The tech found in the 20-year-old  Cassini/Huyghens is already amazing. And we are much further. But weneed to accelerate, lest we perish. Here are the “Grand Finale” orbits of Cassini, after having used Titan’s attraction to get a completely different set of orbits.

Beauty of Earth too. Earth Moon from Saturn: We Are Nothing Much! We Are Nothing Much! Hanging onto precious little! Care for our small blue home by making the Solar System into a more human park, there is lots of space!

There is only one policy which can seriously help: a carbon tax. Or more exactly a GreenHouse Gas tax, a GHG tax. It does not have to be punitive, vengeful. Just compute the damage particular emissions cause to the Earth, consider those to be part of their cost, and require the perpetrator to pay for that damage they cause. Those who march together, bleating together about supporting Earth, are finding all too much comfort in their lack of data gathering, thought, and will. If they want to save earth that much, they should campaign for a GreenHouse Gas tax. A GHG tax. The more GHG is used in making a product, including produce, flowers, air travel and  ship transport, the more it should be taxed (the WTO authorizes this sort of tax, at any level… while limiting other taxes at 3%. So a 35% GHG tax is WTO, and UN legal! Installing it would dramatically favor the non-carbon energy production, from PV to electric hydrogen cargo ships pulled by sails or kites…)

***

Of The Ecological Hypocrisy Of The Obamas, Oprah, Springsteen, and their ilk:

Obama is great leader of the hollier-than-thou, we-don’t-need-to-think-too-hard, as long as it looks good on TV, crowd. Obama is widely and wildly admired, by the PC throngs. Although my flesh and blood friend, he was captured by the establishment, even before he became president. Much of the rage against Trump is actually subconsciously displaced from a severely suppressed, denied rage, against Obama, changing mirage! This all needs some fresh air.

Obama sold Federal coal, one of the highest quality low sulfur coal on the entire Earth, for 20% of its real environmental cost. That in turn depressed coal prices everywhere. But don’t worry: last week, the Obamas were in Tahiti, and Moorea, on a plutocrat’s 140 meter super yacht, celebrating the sucking dummies who vote “democratic”, and want to save the Earth. The Obamas were celebrating Earth Day their way, polluting massively, for all to see, with Oprah Winfrey, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Hanks, David Geffen. After an incredible performance in not appearing to be what they really are, the Obamas have revealed to be some of the greatest stage artists, and deserve to share in the .001% lifestyle. 

What will Trump do about the climate disaster? We don’t know (all the noisy measures he took so far are devoid of much impact, they satisfy the deniers, but that’s it). I advise a massive carbon tax, as usual.

***

One has to take decisions, to make distinctions: Considering the danger of Earth’s microbes spreading to Enceladus’ water ocean, or Titan hydrocarbon atmosphere, the decision was taken to crash Cassini into Saturn, where it will burn up. (Maybe Earthly microbes will survive and thrive in Saturn clouds, oops, haha…)

Yes, there is a dark side to colonization, including space colonization, and there is a dark side even to cognition itself. But not to worry: our species is fully equipped to handle the Dark Side, with a determined smile! That’s part of our charm.

Patrice Ayme’

TRUTH, SCIENCE: CONSTRUCT, Only Then Try To Falsify

December 24, 2016

The notion of truth is central to the human condition. “Belief”, “Faith” claim to solve it. But there is a better way: dynamics.

BUILD, THEN VERIFY: HOW SCIENCE & TRUTH PROGRESS. TRUTH IS AN ECOLOGY.

Popper’s Error: Science Is Not Just About Falsification. Science Is Construction First, Falsification Later:

Abstract: ‘Falsification’ ruled 20th-century science. However, falsification was always second to construction. First construct, only then falsify. Why? As simple as it gets: One cannot falsify something that one has not constructed.

So what is truth? For a hint: look at biological evolution: in a way evolution is a truth, any species solves a number of problems it is confronted to. (It could be the Ebola virus: the virus solves the problem of its own survival.) I will show truths are also denizens of an evolutionary process. (Leaving the Bible’s Logos in the dust…)i

***

Detailed Examples Show That Falsification Is Always Second To Construction: the heliocentric theory jumps to mind.

Heliocentrism (Earth rotates around the Sun) was first proposed by the astronomer Aristarchus (320 BCE). At least so said Archimedes. The arguments were lost. However, Aristotelian physics was in the way. PPP Carefully Looking At The Phases Of Venus Falsified The Ptolemaic Model of the Solar System

Buridan (~ 1345 CE) demolished Aristotelian physics (no, islamophiles, Buridan was indeed first). Armed with his correct inertial theory, Buridan proposed that Earth turned around the sun. But he could not prove it. Copernicus said more of the same two centuries later: yet it could not be proven.

The philosophical argument had been known for 18 centuries: the Sun was the bigger thing, so the smaller thing, Earth, should rotate around the bigger thing. (Maybe some Ancient Greeks thought about another argument, relative to speed: if the Sun turned around, in just a day, its speed had got to be enormous; enormous speeds were unfriendly; if Earth rotated around, it needed to rotate on itself: would the clouds fly away? Aristotle’s erroneous physics said so, but Buridan explained  that Aristotle’s arrow experiment was false, by introducing rotary inertia.

Kepler came out with his laws, a stupendous achievement. Still one could not prove heliocentrism definitively. It had become the simpler description, though, by a long shot. 

Falsification Of The Egocentric Ptolemaic System Was Only Provided By The Goddess Venus

Falsification Of The Egocentric Ptolemaic System Was Only Provided By The Goddess Venus; By The Way, I Protest Against The Adjective “Copernican”. Aristarchus, and Even More, Buridan, Were The Main Architects of Building The Truth About The Heliocentric System. Buridan threw Down Aristotelian Physics, Something Even Archimedes Did Not Do (that we know of!)

[In the Ptolemaic System, Venus Was Always Between Earth And Sol, Thus, Venus Always Appeared As A Crescent. Seeing Venus fully lighted by Sol showed Ptolemaic astronomers were full of it. Now, OK, they had to wait for the progress of European optics in the middle Middle Ages… Reading glasses and all that…]

And then Galileo found that the little things, the four satellites of Jupiter, were rotating around the big thing (Jupiter). Another indice.

At this point, there were several independent lines of arguments each pointing at heliocentrism as the most economical, most likely explanation (size, speed, lesser overall rotational inertia (rotational “impetus”, to speak as Buridan did), Kepler’s Laws, Jupiter’s satellites).

It was a “beast in the forest approach”: it sounded like a lion, it smelled like a lion, it had the color of a lion, it looked as if it had the ears of a lion. So what of Popper’s “falsification” approach in this? Suppose that it did not have the color of a lion. Does that prove it’s not a lion? No. It could be bright red, because it’s covered with blood, and it’s still a lion. Or all black, because it’s in the shade, yet, still a lion.

By 1613, though, Galileo’s telescope had enough power to resolve the phases of Venus (and dare to publish the result). Only then was the heliocentric theory definitively proven, and the Ptolemaic system ruled out. If the way the phases behaved had not come out right, heliocentrism would have been wrong. PPP Venus provided with the Popper Falsification. However, even before that, all astronomers had come to the conclusion that it was certain that the Earth turned around the Sun.

***

Of The Bad Influence Of Popper & The Primacy Of Falsification:

Falsification is not fun and cuts down the impulse of imagination. Putting falsification from cognition first kills imagination. Imagination is more important than cognition. Imagination is the definition of the human condition.

To realize that only the phases of Venus were an incontrovertible proof, one had to have derived the heliocentric theory far enough to come to that conclusion. By the time it became clear that the Venus phases were the incontrovertible proof could be, 99% of the theory of heliocentrism was established. 

It was a question of mental chicken and egg: neither came first, the theory had to evolve. Actually, the phases of Venus can be resolved by exceptional observers with fantastic eyes, and special atmospheric conditions (the human eye can resolve a minute of arc, Venus apparent size is around two-third of that).

If one had been guided by only finding a definitive proof of heliocentrism, one would have invented no science. For example Buridan and his students invented graphs. They also demonstrated early calculus theorems, but without any of the sophisticated formalism, equation, analytic geometry, which those theorems would push to discover…

By considering that only the last step of an inquiry makes that inquiry scientific, Popper and his falsification obsession make science impossible. (Down with Popper; make no mistake, I like Popper, but then I also “like” Ivanka Trump’s mien in the coach cabin of a Jetblue sardine can, when she kept calm in the middle seat, while being “harassed” by two PC college professor idiots… They were thrown out of the plane, came to regret their actions, and then deleted their Tweeter accounts where they wrote about the deedd they planned. Both the martyrized Ivanka and one of the cruel college professors of barbarity were with small children, including two infants…)

As Buridan pointed out, one could not tell the difference, experimentally , between the heliocentrism he proposed and Scripture (so one may as well believe scripture, he added insolently). But that impossibility to falsify did not prevent him to think about it, and to think about it as a science.

***

Evolution theory is even more constructivist: 

The Greek philosopher Anaximander of Miletus, before the Persian fascist annihilated Miletus, proposed that people descended from fishes. Later, Aristotle, baffled by fossils, ordered his students to go out, observe and establish a registry of living forms.

By then evolution theory by mixed artificial and natural means was well-known in Greece, as related methods produced superlative cattle sold around the Mediterranean. Nobody can know how much was explicitly in writing about evolution (out of 700 Greco-Roman classics we know of, only 150 survived… through the Frankish controlled monasteries).

Evolutionary ideas were revived in the Eighteenth Century, until Lamarck proposed the theory of evolution in 1800 CE. Lamarck became quickly an object of hatred from the dictator Napoleon and the Christian Church. A bedrock of his conclusions were microscopic studies of fossils of mollusks (decades behind the microscope destroyed his eyesight). Lamarck was a research professor, not a falsification professor: he invented ideas, and even words: he used neologisms such as biology, mollusk, invertebrate, etc.

Lamarck also proposed a non-selective mechanism to explain evolution (as I said above, the Greeks were thoroughly familiar with natural and artificial selection). That obviously could not be disproven, and the mechanism was completely unfathomable. It is only now that epigenetics has been demonstrated to exist, and some mechanisms explaining it have been made explicit.

Methinks there is much more to come (because DNA is a Quantum machine in a Quantum environment, and all interactions are non-local…

***

Those Who Don’t Want To Build, Don’t Want to Know:

We build theories, first. Then we test them, always. First build.

Those who don’t want to build, don’t want to falsify.

***

Finding Truth By GOING BEYOND The BIBLICAL GOD:

To assuage and pacify the Neoplatonist leadership of the Roman empire, the evangel of John proclaims in its first few sentences that the “logos” was God, and God was the “logos”. In other words, logic, the discourse, ruled the universe.

Now the “logos” itself is its own truth: any logic defines a propositional truth from its axioms: well-formed propositions are “true” in a sense. HOWEVER, propositional truth is not ALL the truth in a logical system. That observation is the key to the problem of truth.   

Moreover, there is the problem of meta-truth. Meta-truth evolves out of truth (Godel famously proved that meta-truth existed). Logicians have been struggling with both non-propositional truth and metatruth (Godel’s proofs were proofs of existence, and did not provide with an explicit mechanism to build metatruths; later Godel and Cohen rolled out axioms which were independent of others, and thus could be considered true or not).

The preceding shows that building a scientific theory is a built-up of truth: Popper’s work was naive, removed from reality.

A scientific theory’s formation is an evolution of truth: it defines truth as it goes. Science is the best state of formal knowledge we have: thus truth is an evolution

Still, although truth evolves, that does not mean there is no absolute formal truth. There is: planes fly, don’t they? For a plane to fly one million formal truths need indeed to be true, at the same time, or the plane would crash.

Thus one can see that truth does not evolve like a species: metatruth evolves like an ecology does, generating on its way perfect species, local truths. An ecology evolves perfect species, such as sharks and oysters, which barreled, same as they always were, through massive extinction waves in the last few hundreds of millions of years. Evolution also produced species whose main business is to evolve, such as hominins (ourselves and all those cousins of us we used for dinner, in the past).

So, in the evolution of logic and metalogic, perfect truths are produced, so perfect they become part of the logos themselves (truths such as realizing that love is the engine of all things human!).

God is truth, and we make it up, as we debate reality with our imagination.

Patrice Ayme’

P/S: The essay is better appreciated if one is familiar with 20th century philosophy of science (and it penetrated the exercise of science itself, especially physics). Karl Popper claimed that, if a theory is falsifiable, then it is scientific. However, if I say, tomorrow the sky is blue, that’s falsifiable, but not necessarily scientific. The Popperian criterion excludes from the domain of science not unfalsifiable statements but only whole theories that contain no falsifiable statements. That’s silly, because Popper wanted to ‘prove’ that Marxism was not scientific… Yet clearly the work of Marx contains falsifiable statements. Moreover, Pauperism leaves one with the Duhemian problem of what constitutes a ‘whole theory’ as well as the problem of what makes a proposition ‘meaningful’.

My approach above pretty much throws the whole thing through the window. Science has to do with truth, and metatruth, which have architectures of truth, just as a building or a plane have them.

 

The Chinese Riddle, & How To Keep It Nice

July 18, 2016

China is the other great civilizational center. The primary one being the Indo-European ensemble (which crucially incorporated Egypt, where a lot of what came to be known as Greek mathematics, was discovered).

To understand Europe, the last 500,000 years have proved necessary (Neanderthals started to burn coal, 80,000 years ago, foe example, and explored immensely deep caves, 165,000 years). In the case of China, the evolution of the last 5,000 years are crucial to understand how China became China.

 

China: A World Within The World, But Not Quite The Center Of Everything

China: A World Within The World, But Not Quite The Center Of Everything

China is the other great civilizational center. Much of what China uses as civilizational instruments was developed in situ, from writing, to the number system, to much philosophy. However, that philosophy was unbalanced, too much under the influence of Confucius (whose works have been under care from the same family inside the same city for 60 generations or more).

China developed an examination system which, in theory, enabled the most cognitively qualified to rule. Thus Mandarins and not aristocrats were in command. At least in theory.

This system, admirable in principle, was flawed in practice, as China got terminally invaded at least twice. The Mongol invasion came close to annihilation, when some of Genghis Khan’s generals proposed to exterminate the Chinese and change the ecology! (The generals knew they could turn much of China into a steppe similar to much of Mongolia, by cutting the forests and bringing massive herds of cattle, goats, sheep…)

The primary civilization center is the Indo-European ensemble (which crucially incorporated Egypt, where a lot of what came to be known as Greek mathematics, was discovered).

Now we have basically just one civilization, worldwide, so the misadventures of China are highly  instructive.

To understand Europe, the last 500,000 years have proved necessary (Neanderthals started to burn coal, 80,000 years ago). In the case of China, the last 5,000 years are crucial.

Now, granted all and any explanation can only be incomplete. What is important is to introduce new ideas, and that includes new hierarchy in what is more important, and what is not.

Right now, China seems severely influenced by the Germany of the Second Reich, and its incredible fast scientific, technological, mercantilist, and economic expansion… At the cost of a more general, more pacific mood. That uncanny comparison is quite a bit spooky. An evidence is the madness about the south of the South China Sea.

As in Germany, starting 165 years ago, increasing aggressiveness towards foreign powers seems to be the glue which increasingly keeps the dictatorship together. In the case of Germany, the increasing aggressiveness, which had started by attacking Denmark in 1853, went on with the catastrophic apotheosis, encouraged by the US presidency. of the savage surprise attack on the world of August 1914. Naturally enough, it was followed by the encore of Nazism. Yes, it’s not a reassuring comparison. But the same psychohistorical forces are in play. Psychohistory rules national moods and the actions they lead to (Isaac Asimov wrote a book on this; the real, live, historical case was the second foundation of the Roman Empire, the “Renovation of the Roman Empire made official by Roman emperor Charlemagne…). 

On the reassuring side, China adopted, and accepted to be guided, by a huge chunk of Western philosophy, a Franco-German contraption sensitive to the nastiness of great capital. That was a huge philosophical revolution, but it was made possible only by a great openness of mind (in part learned in Paris by the top leader of Communist China, such as Chou En Lai and Deng Tsiao Ping)

China used to rile against capital. Yet, who has the most capital under command in the world, after the USA? China.

Nevertheless, to accept a distant philosophy, extremely alien to China, China had to open its collective mind and eyes gigantically. And intelligence itself is something one can learn to acquire.

The kindest attitude with China right now may well be to show to it that its aggressiveness in the south of the South China sea can only lead to war, even a world war. And that China cannot win it. Australia has started to do just that by acquiring, with US help, a fleet of the best submarines in the world, made in France. (In World War Two, after the Americans learned to make torpedoes which actually exploded, their submarines were one of the main factors in closing the Pacific to the fascist Japanese military.)

The Han are dominating the Middle Kingdom as never before. One hundred nations are now submitted to them. Their languages are even disappearing. (My own daughter is learning Mandarin, BTW.) That’s all very good for the Han. They are now very much richer than before, not just from their considerable industry and genius, and change of philosophy, adopting instead European philosophy. Those increased riches also come from occupying Tibet and Xinjiang.

The Han should not push their luck with aggressive military and imperialistic distractions. Adopting just a piece of European philosophy and history, while ignoring the rest, plenty of Dark Side in full evidence and how to control it, can only lead to an unbalanced mind. And, from there, dangerous, irreversible courses of action… Of the sort Europe is all too familiar with.    

Patrice Ayme’

 

Science: Discovery Or Construction? Discovery Of Construction!

April 13, 2016

In his book “To Explain The World: The Discovery Of Modern Science”, Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg asserts that modern science was DISCOVERED. Modern science was out there, under a bush, and a couple of physicists Weinberg esteem (Galileo, Newton), lifted the bush, and uncovered “modern science”.

This may not look like it, but that subtitle itself, that science was discovered, is a speculation on what reality is. In other words, it is a piece of bold philosophy… which, thanks to modern scientific advances in biology, can be philosophically shown to be, most probably, erroneous.

Indeed: is not the mind constructed? Modern experiments in neurobiology have shown this.

The Eye Is Only All-Seeing Because It Is Full Of Ideas And Theories About What It Sees

The Eye Is Only All-Seeing Because It Is Full Of Ideas And Theories About What It Sees

A kitten shown only a very distorted version of the world does not learn to see correctly.

(In an interesting case of cecity, Weinberg disparages the inventor of analytic geometry, Descartes, who made modern mathematics possible, including infinitesimal calculus, and Newton’s little activities: no Descartes, no Newton. However, once Descartes had invented analytic geometry, and another Frenchman deduced the correct universal attraction law, the work made by Newton was a matter of at most a couple of decades, since Kepler’s laws were already known. Kepler erroneously thought the attraction was 1/distance, when it’s actually 1/square of distance…)

Weinberg tried to clarify the subtitle of his book (‘the discovery of modern science’): science was not just ‘constructed’ but actually ‘discovered’. In truth, one should be careful. Take agriculture. Was it discovered, or invented? Both. Most agricultural products were not just discovered, but also literally engineered, through domestication. (A process which is still poorly understood: how can one get from a wild tree which could poison a human to death by eating twenty nuts, to a nutritious modern almond tree? Is not that an achievement more awesome than Newton’s? And the fact is, millions, nowadays, know how Newton did it, but none how Neolithic farmers made what was deadly, edible.)

Our apparent discoveries modify our brains, so, in a sense, they are constructions. Neurological constructions.

Now let’s ponder this: when something which has been constructed “discovers” something else, has that something else been uncovered, or constructed?

Are then what we think of the things of our world and the architecture our minds are made of, discovered or constructed?

No doubt, some will say, a bridge is constructed. Clearly so, when it is made by hand (as even Heidegger will understand). But, animating these hands are minds. Not just the ones of the builders, but the minds of those who made the minds of the builders. Because cultures, transmitted by languages, make minds.

Furthermore, what is the difference between a bridge made of stones, and a bridge between two neurons, or two systems of neurons? Philosophically speaking, not much.

The point is that we feel, or think we observed,  that things of the world are some way, and from that, we build bridges between neurons, or systems thereof.

Appearances are not just deceiving. Appearances we perceive lead to constructions of, and in, our minds. Shallow makes deep.

The process cannot be any different with “science”. From appearances, that we call “experiences”, we build explanations, connections between neurons, or systems thereof. So what did we truly discover, when we made a scientific discovery?

What we discovered is that we can build a mind in ways not suspected before. And that, somehow, it fits the real world better, meaning we can increase our powers on matter. This is all what modern science is. The same old same old which has made us evolve ever closer to the gods we are becoming at an accelerating pace. For better or worse.

Patrice Ayme

Tribal Preferences Everywhere

December 18, 2015

Even In Science, Tribal Effects Dominate:

Human beings are tribal animals. A tribe is a small group of individuals, helping each other, cemented by deep emotions. Don’t say it’s over. A recent study demonstrates what some have guessed all along, namely that it flourished in science.

Max Planck — the Nobel Prize–winning physicist who launched quantum theory by discovering that energy radiation was quantized  — once made the cynical observation that science progressed “one funeral at a time”. Said he:

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

(When Hitler started to devastate Germany, Planck visited the madman, and told that imbecile that his institute and university had been destroyed by Hitler’s racial policies. Hitler later had Planck’s son killed.)

Researchers at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) released a working paper — titled, “Does Science Advance One Funeral at a Time?” Yes it does:

Even In Science Baboons Follow The Leader Profitably

Even In Science Baboons Follow The Leader Profitably

Mining citations in the PubMed database, the researchers found evidence that when a prominent researcher suddenly dies in an academic subfield, a blooming of new ideas and innovation follow. They identified 12,935 “elite” scientists — based on the amount of funding they received, how many times they’ve published, how many patents they invented, or whether they were members of elite groups, such as the National Academies of Sciences or the Institute of Medicine. They found 452 of these elite researchers died before retirement. As science leaves a dense trail of citations, publish dates, and authors’ hierarchies, it’s possible to track changes in publishing patterns after the permanent eclipse of a prominent star.

After the death of a rock-star scientist, their frequent collaborators and tag-alongs — the junior researchers who authored papers with them, often enslaved to them — suddenly see a drop in publications. At the same time, there is a marked increase in published work by other newcomers to the field.

Verily, a PhD is mostly a tribal rite. (Warning: Elites will scream!)

***

So Why Should Nations, Those Super-Tribes Of Europe, Vanish Under A Flood Of Invaders?

Plutocrats all over loudly clamoring that Syrian refugees should get preference over Natives so destitutes, they can’t even reproduce: contemplate Germany, with the world’s worst reproduction rate, and now one million mostly Muslim refugees admitted in eleven months (the European Union accepted hundreds of thousands more, including three whose calling was to kill as many people in Paris as they could).

It seems only natural that Natives would get preferential treatment above Non-Natives.

Some claim that open borders, the open society, welcoming invaders, is so superior in all ways, that it should be embraced at all costs. The argument was rolled out first by Pericles. However, within 30 years, half of the Athenian population was dead, the city occupied, and only Sparta saved Athens for eradication.

Opening up a country to the max works, as a complement. But, throughout the West, we observe decay, to the point the Natives cannot afford to reproduce. Instead, it is proposed to generously import millions of Middle Easterners… Many armed with a version of a religion which hates the West (9/11, the Paris and San Bernardino massacres were fully, or partly organized by such imports).

Who wins from importing invaders and weakening the Natives? International plutocracy, as above local laws as it is above decency, and the nations it crushes. Unsurprisingly, the same international plutocracy owns the Main Stream Media of the West. A tycoon such as Murdoch could move from Australia, colonize Britain, and then take over the USA (where he owns plenty, including Fox News and the WSJ…) And then the MSM tells the little people, and persuade them that, the worse their condition gets, the better, as long as they are generous to strangers from far-away lands (such as the aforesaid plutocrats).

The more the fate of the Natives of the West looks ominous, the more they will revolt against their oppressors. Hopefully.

And those oppressors are those who have molded minds in the West. Thus the minds of the people have to fight themselves.

This is why a site about cuddly kittens will get thousands of “likes” a day, and an enormous readership, whereas a serious site such as this one has generally to make do with none. Let the force be with you, and direct it first towards those poisonous moods and thoughts which have brought your stealthy demise.

Well, it could be worse: you could believe, as the Pope’s government does, that Mother Teresa cured cancer, because someone’s cancer supposedly went away after touching a medal of Teresa. (After that, you may want to chop off head of Shiites, should you be a Saudi prince! Because if one miracle can happen, so could any.)

Teresa was somebody who accused tens of millions of women to be murderesses, among other exploits:

Christian Morality: Cruel & Demented Sado-Masochism, All Too Often

Christian Morality: Cruel & Demented Sado-Masochism, All Too Often

Following the leader materially helps, but can be entirely nefarious, morally speaking. By condoning the Catholic Church often monstrous morality, and the exploitation of women, the Catholic church has found another diabolical leader to make a saint of.

Mother Teresa was mostly a self-interested ambition sucker, anxious to make Pope John-Paul II feel good about himself (she was hanging around the Pope’s ear in the Vatican, a plushy place if there is any!). But she is a saint says the same tribal organization which promptly made “Saint” Louis (IX), who wrote that nothing would please him more than torturing to death “unbelievers” and Jews.

What’s the main reason for tribes? Death. Giving death, avoiding death. Just study Saint Louis. Just study Teresa, and her pain and death obsessions. And tribal effect can cause death to new ideas, not just people, all over, not just science.

Plutocracy is its own tribe, and its survival depends upon free markets, open borders, tini tiny local laws which big plutocrats can fly over, and the general world order the 99% suffer from in the West.

Planck and the economic researchers we quoted above push us towards the following conclusion. You want innovation, and a blooming of art, thought, ideas, and justice, and a young world? Please help visit upon plutocracy an early demise!

Patrice Ayme’

Solar Roads

October 15, 2015

Solar Roads Versus Objection Mars:

Long ago, when the sun had not set yet on the will of the West to progress, a poet was visiting my home. He read some of his poetry. Humanity had just reached the Moon. The poet loftily declared that we did not need the Moon, we needed to fight hunger.

Later, the malaria parasite mutated, becoming resistant to standard treatment. Now it kills more than 1.2 million people a year. A typical objection to colonizing the Solar System is this:

“as I see it – Scott’s movie (even if I’m a sci-fi fan and I love some movies of him as well: Blade Runner is definitely a masterpiece) is a mere conservative propaganda aiming for people to agree that these extremely expensive missions to Mars are more important than saving African children from ebola, helping Syrian refugees, letting Europe be democratic yet or supporting laws against free guns in the US … Save the “american” astronaut, guys!” The answer is crushing, it holds in one picture:

French Truck On Solar Photo-Voltaic Road: the Future Has Arrived

French Truck On Solar Photo-Voltaic Road: the Future Has Arrived

There is nothing “conservative” about missions to Mars. Quite the opposite: such missions are fully progressive. They force humanity to progress.

Disease in Africa has to do with lack of governance. Lack of hospital has to do with lack of governance. In the Ebola epidemic, the countries that were struck were struck from lack of organized health care.

Senegal got one, just one, imported Ebola case. The patient got cured, and that was it. Even Mali, with better governance, in spite of a Jihadist invasion, was able to contain a few imported cases. Meanwhile, several countries next door, which are intrinsically much richer (Sierra Leone, Guinea. Liberia) saw thousands of deaths, and containment came from the efforts of NGOs, France and the USA (mostly).

When France pulled out of Africa, some particularly smart critic told a senior French government minister that the argument of “freeing” Africa from alleged colonialism made no humanitarian sense: there was no “colonialism” to speak of, and who was going to pay for one hospital every 100 kilometers in the world’s second largest continent? The minister smiled, and said: “this is precisely the point, we will not incur that expense anymore.”

Two capabilities save children in general: a) good governance. b) science.

When considering a Mars mission in this connection, one has to answer if the Mars mission will improve governance and science. Governance itself is a science. A mission to Mars is “expensive”. How much? 100 million dollars? 200 millions? How much would a Mars colonization program cost to launch? Two trillion dollars?

According to the International Monetary Fund, subsidies for fossil fuels are more than 5.5 trillion dollars a year. Enough to set-up a village on Mars, with existing technology.

Now going to Mars would force drastic progress in, say, fuel cells. The technology of fuel cells was invented for the Moon mission. After Obama became president, the research funding on this field was yanked out (probably to send money to businessmen such as Elon Musk).

Mars colonization would force enormously innovative research in energy technology, for example fuel cells, and nuclear energy (both fission and fusion).

Nothing else will.

Syrian refugees? Mars will not save Syrians? Nothing is more removed from the truth. Mars, the god of war, is what is needed in Syria, fighting for Goodness, instead of having Mars fight in the name of the devil Assad, as was mostly done so far.

The 300,000 dead in Syria, the eleven million refugees, have been caused by the rule of a single, cornered man, Assad, son of Assad, and the clique surrounding him. To solve the Syrian refugees crisis, Assad’s rule ought to be terminated, so that he could be replaced by generals open to enough democracy to keep Syrians in Syria.

Unfortunately the Franco-American decapitation strike against Assad was called off by Obama, for reasons so far unexplained. So the massacre keeps on going, with forces under the orders of Assad killing at least ten times as much what the Islamist State kills.

Fossil fuels consumption, should it go on for a few more decades, will bring the global temperature up five degrees Celsius, and massacre the biosphere. It has to stop, but can be stopped only with plentiful, cheap, new energy sources.

That, or massive war (killing billions).

How? Science to the rescue. Without evoking the spectrum of nuclear energy (fission and fusion), Solar Photo-Voltaic (SPV) is here. Normal solar panels were developed for space missions. Without space colonization, they would not have been developed. Yet, solar panels are fragile. Or, more exactly, were fragile until now.

A giant French construction company (Bouygues) deposed patents to cover-up solar cells with various materials to make them tough. Glass can be made as hard as steel. Then Bouygues engineers drove more than a million vehicles above the toughened-up panels in a few test cities (Chambery, Grenoble). Now the first solar road is under construction. Four meters of said road can satisfy a house’s needs. 100 square meters (twenty meters of the linear road depicted) are enough to drive 100,000 kilometers with an electric vehicle. If 25% of French roads were covered, 100% of French electric needs would be covered.

The future, the good future, is here: it’s enough to let science roll. But science needs challenges. Such as Mars colonization. If (very serious) scientists and mathematicians need bananas, such as the Fields Medal and the Nobel Prize, certainly humanity needs bigger motivation, and bigger prizes than that!

You want morality? More morality? Then you need a bigger science. And the way to get a better science is by setting higher objectives, greater passions, more exacting thoughts. Progress, the Will to Progress, is a mood. It cannot be confined to moral progress, because the universe juggles with evil. Moral progress means technological progress.  Mars colonization is no moral objection. Objective Mars is a moral imperative.

Patrice Ayme’