New Year’s Reading

For years now, my favorite is the edge.org’s annual question. This year was:


You can go there and read it by yourself. Just bellow two hundred answers in more than 130 thousand words all together.

At least one answer is a pure shame. Mostly they are much better, some even extraordinary. I’ll engage here with some of those, so you don’t have to read them all.

Or take this as a recommendation to read it by yourself.

Andrei Linde: Energy Of Nothing

He argues that the density of vacuum energy is approximately the same as the energy of the ordinary matter, scattered all over the Universe. It’s a special moment in history, when those two are equal. In the future dark energy will prevail and will be our demise. According to him and most of astrophysicists. Enjoy this calibration while you can!

I give him 8/10.

Freeman Dyson: Doing More With Less

A small budget astronomy program named Dragonfly brought as a discovery. 50 dwarf galaxies orbiting our Milky Way have been discovered. They are made of  1 percent of visible and 99 percent of dark matter. While it’s 10 agaist 90 percent in the case of our central Galaxy. He pledged for more small budget programs like this.

I give him 9/10.

Jim Holt: The Ironies of Higher Arithmetic

There is the abc conjecture. Unproven, except by one Japanese man Shinichi Mochizuki with a proof so difficult, that nobody understands it. A whole team of experts tried, but nobody was able to digest it. They will try again, this year.

I give him 8/10.

John Naughton: A New Algorithm Makes Us Rethink What Computers Can—and Cannot—Do

After decades a Hungarian born László Babai has managed to significantly improve his own algorithm which solves the graph-isomorphism problem. Are those two graphs in fact the same? The old algorithm was already quite useful, but it was factorial, the new one is only slightly worse then polynomial. Can be an important achievement.

I give 8/10 to Naughton  and 10/10 to Babai, of course.

Pamela McCorduck: Identifying The Principles, Perhaps The Laws, Of Intelligence

She argues, that all kinds of intelligence, be it biological, human, animal, plant or computer are essentially the same thing. Just like rock throwing and satellite orbiting and many more are just examples in Newtonian mechanics. The time is coming, she says, when we will understand this what she calls the computational rationality, just as we understand mechanics. It’s time to cut the various crap here.

I agree with her and I give her 10/10. Even if it sounds like an old news for some of us.

To be continued …









2 thoughts on “New Year’s Reading

  1. Saladin says:

    Regarding “Energy of Nothing”:
    The word “Nothing” is used extremely non-chalantly (unscientifically even) in the current scientific mainstream. “Nothing should mean one thing and one thing only: Non-Existence – the total absence of anything (philosophical Nothing if you will). Everything is talking about “Nothing” and no one really menas “Nothing”. There are no degrees of nothingness – it either is or is not – Nothing (wordplays asside, of course)

    While the details defining it are murky – it is very clear what it isn’t. Balancing of positive and negative energies for them to cancel out is not “Nothing”. In fact – there isn’t any mainstream theory that uses and adequately describes any kind of “Nothing” as a possible start or end state (or non-state) of any kind.

    Zero-Energy? No problem.
    Non-Existence? Just no. If there is “Nothing”, it entails “Nothing” and cannot be and affect Anything.

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