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In the News 02.10.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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In the News 02.10.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

Photo by dear laura

The Trouble with Theories of Everything

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Technology cannot keep pace with theoretical predictions about subatomic reality coming from physics. The same applies to our ability to observe the far reaches of the universe. Theory outstrips data and can become more extravagant with the claims it makes about the character of a reality. Theories are more underdetermined by empirical results than ever, but scientists are reluctant to admit that the arguments they put forward are philosophical and metaphysical. Their theories provide a framework in which they can operate, but if they are removed not only from actual observation but from what in principle can be accessible to us, our descendants, or even any possible observer in our universe, it is hard to see that they are anything other than the product of pure reason. Just because scientists use such reasoning does not make it science.

 

Read the rest of this article at Nautilus

What Old Age Is Really Like

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What does it feel like to be old? Not middle-aged, or late-middle-aged, but one of the members of the fastest-growing demographic: the “oldest old,” those aged eighty-five and above? This has been the question animating me for a couple of years, as I’ve tried to write a novel from the perspective of a man in his late eighties. The aging population is on our collective minds; a statistic that intrigued me is that the average life expectancy in the U.K.—and, by extension, most of the rich West—is increasing by more than five hours a day, every day. I’m in my mid-thirties, but felt confident that I could imagine my way into old age. How hard could it be, really?

Somewhere along the way, though, things went wrong. My protagonist became Generic Old Man: crabby, computer illiterate, grieving for his dementia-addled wife. Not satisfied to leave him to his misery, I forced on him a new love interest, Eccentric Old Woman: radical, full of energy, a fan of wearing magenta turbans and handing out safe-sex pamphlets outside retirement homes.

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker

The Guggenheim Puts Online 1600 Great Works of Modern Art from 575 Artists

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If you were to ask me in my callow years as a young art student to name my favorite painter, I would have answered without a moment’s hesitation: Wassily Kandinsky. His theoretical bent, his mysticism, his seemingly near total creative independence…. There were times when Kandinsky the thinker, writer, and teacher appealed to me even more than Kandinsky the painter. This may go a ways toward explaining why I left art school after my first year to pursue writing and teaching. But nowadays, having seen a tiny bit more of the world and its bountiful artistic treasures, I might pause for just a moment if asked about my favorite painter… then I’d answer: Wassily Kandinsky.

Read the rest of this article at Open Culture

Aaron Sorkin on Turning Steve Jobs Into a Film Icon

In Steve Jobs, Oscar-winning screenwriter Aaron Sorkin takes us backstage to paint a painfully human portrait of the late Apple icon.

If you’d like to have an in-depth discussion about algorithms or FaceTime, you should cross Aaron Sorkin off your list of potential conversation partners. But if you need an Oscar-winning screenwriter to elevate the tech world beyond the usual awkward-genius clichés, Sorkin is your man.

Read the rest of this article at Wired

Life Is a Braid in Spacetime

How to see yourself in a world where only math is real.

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Excuse me, but what’s the time?” I’m guessing that you, like me, are guilty of having asked this question, as if it were obvious that there is such a thing as the time. Yet you’ve probably never approached a stranger and asked “Excuse me, but what’s the place?”. If you were hopelessly lost, you’d probably instead have said something like “Excuse me, but where am I?” thereby acknowledging that you’re not asking about a property of space, but rather about a property of yourself. Similarly, when you ask for the time, you’re not really asking about a property of time, but rather about your location in time.

But that is not how we usually think about it. Our language reveals how differently we think of space and time: The first as a static stage, and the second as something flowing. Despite our intuition, however, the flow of time is an illusion. Einstein taught us that there are two equivalent ways of thinking about our physical reality: Either as a three-dimensional place called space, where things change over time, or as a four-dimensional place called spacetime that simply exists, unchanging, never created, and never destroyed.

Read the rest of this article at Nautilus

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.