Category Archives: Philosophy

The Information

Book Review: The Information

Very, very interesting. Maybe more important than all the other articles I’ve posted this week.

==

In 1989, I traveled to a Boston suburb to interview Claude Shannon, the inventor of information theory. Then 73, Shannon was shy and his memory was poor, so his wife, Betty, answered many of my questions. Shannon seemed to enjoy himself most when showing off his collection of games and gadgets, including a juggling W.C. Fields robot, a maze navigated by a mechanical mouse and seven chess-playing machines.

My two-page profile in Scientific American didn’t come close to doing justice to Shannon, who died in 2001. After all, this playful polymath—whose work bridged electrical engineering, mathematics, computer science, physics and even philosophical logic—was among our era’s most influential thinkers. His work, especially his 1948 paper “The Mathematical Theory of Communication,” helped spawn today’s digital devices and communications technologies. Information theory has also inspired a radical new scientific worldview, which proposes that reality is composed not of matter but of bits of information.

James Gleick’s “The Information” gives Shannon his due and much more. As promised in its subtitle, “The Information” describes Shannon’s achievement (“a theory”) and helps us appreciate it by tracking information’s myriad manifestations (“a history”) from 5,000-year-old cuneiform records of barley sales all the way up to today’s digital super-abundance (“the flood”). In the course of informing us about information, Mr. Gleick illuminates the histories of mathematics, artificial intelligence, quantum mechanics, genetics and other fields that we have come to understand better thanks to Shannon’s theory.

What, exactly, is information? Prior to Shannon, Mr. Gleick notes, the term seemed as hopelessly subjective as “beauty” or “truth.” But in 1948 Shannon, then working for Bell Laboratories, [ Bell Laboratories – must have been quite a place… ] gave information an almost magically precise, quantitative definition: The information in a message is inversely proportional to its probability. Random “noise” is quite uniform; the more surprising a message, the more information it contains. Shannon reduced information to a basic unit called a “bit,” short for binary digit. A bit is a message that represents one of two choices: yes or no, heads or tails, one or zero.

Shannon’s simple formulation provided a framework for coding information digitally and hence more efficiently. Information theory also turned out to have deep connections to other Big Ideas. Entropy, the core concept of thermodynamics, measures the disorder of systems and, paradoxically, their potential for yielding information. The insights of information theory also have helped shed light on the interplay between randomness and order in so-called chaotic phenomena, as well as on the uncertainty principle of quantum mechanics.

In the 1990s, the physicist John Wheeler, whom Mr. Gleick says was “the last surviving collaborator of both Einstein and Bohr,” proposed that all of physics could be recast in terms of information theory. Wheeler dubbed his idea “the it from bit.” By “it,” Wheeler meant all the components of physical reality, including particles, forces and even space and time. Every “it,” he wrote, “derives its function, its meaning, its very existence” from “answers to yes or no questions, binary choices, bits.” Today other physicists are beginning to think of the entire universe as a cosmic computer. “Increasingly,” Mr. Gleick comments, “the physicists and the information theorists are one and the same.”

No author is better equipped for such a wide- ranging tour than Mr. Gleick. Some writers excel at crafting a historical narrative, others at elucidating esoteric theories, still others at humanizing scientists. Mr. Gleick is a master of all these skills. As he traces the evolution of intertwined ideas, he provides vivid portraits of Shannon and other pioneers of our Information Age, including Charles Babbage, whose unbuilt 19th-century “Analytical Engine” anticipated modern computers, and Alan Turing, whose machines helped the Allies crack German codes during World War II.

A key theme throughout “The Information” is that of self- referentiality. When did humans first think about thinking? Write about writing? Conceptualize concepts? What dictionary first defined the word “define”? (It was an English dictionary published in 1582, according to Mr. Gleick.) The ancients knew self-referential conundrums such as the liar’s paradox. (“This statement is false.”) But in the 1930s Kurt Gödel pinpointed a similar logical knot at the heart of mathematics. His notorious Incompleteness Theorem demolished any hope of discovering a foolproof method for yielding mathematical truth—for, in effect, distinguishing signal from noise.

The inherent limitations of reason loom large toward the end of “The Information,” when Mr. Gleick switches his focus to “the flood”—the torrent of information released by our digital technologies. He ponders the same questions that Nicholas Carr fretted over in his recent book, “The Shallows”: Is the amount of information inversely proportional to wisdom? As information surges, will noise swamp signals? Will the false and trivial overwhelm the true and meaningful?

Every information technology, Mr. Gleick reminds us, has aroused these sorts of concerns. Plato worried that writing would lead to mental laziness, but without writing we might not know that Plato ever existed. Mr. Gleick concludes on an upbeat note. “Meaningless disorder is to be challenged, not feared,” he writes. “We can be overwhelmed or emboldened.” Neither information theory—as Shannon often emphasized—nor any other methodology can find meaning for us. Each of us has to discover—or create—meaning on our own. [Not sure I agree 100%, with this last statement.]

Mr. Horgan, director of the Center for Science Writings at Stevens Institute of Technology, is the author of “The End of Science” and “Rational Mysticism.”

Share

How Stupid is The West?

The following is a copy of an article written by Spanish writer Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez and published in a Spanish newspaper on Jan. 15,2008.  It doesn’t take much imagination to extrapolate the message to the rest of Europe- and possibly to the rest of the world.

REMEMBER AS YOU READ – THIS WAS IN A SPANISH NEWSPAPER

Date: Tue. 15 January 2008

ALL EUROPEAN LIFE DIED IN AUSCHWITZf

By Sebastian Vilar Rodrigez

I walked down the street in Barcelona, and suddenly discovered a terrible truth – Europe died in Auschwitz.  We killed six million Jews and replaced them with 20 million Muslims.  In Auschwitzwe burned a culture, thought, creativity, and talent.

We destroyed the Chosen People, truly chosen, because they produced great and wonderful people who changed the world.

The contribution of this people is felt in all areas of life: science, art, international trade, and above all, as the conscience of the world.

These are the people we burned.

And under the pretense of tolerance, and because we wanted to prove to ourselves that we were cured of the disease of racism, we opened our gates to 20 million Muslims, who brought us stupidity and ignorance, religious extremism, and lack of tolerance, crime,  and
poverty, due to an unwillingness to work and support their families with pride.

They have blown up our trains and turned our beautiful Spanish cities into the third world, drowning in filth and crime.
Shut up in the apartments they receive free from the government, they plan the murder and destruction of their naive hosts.

And thus, in our misery, we have exchanged culture for fanatical hatred, creative skill for destructive skill, intelligence for backwardness and superstition.

We have exchanged the pursuit of peace of the Jews of Europe and their talent for a better future for their children, their determined clinging to life because life is holy, for those who pursue death, for people consumed by the desire for death for themselves and others, for our children and theirs.

What a terrible mistake was made by miserable Europe.

***********************************

A lot of Americans have become so insulated from reality that they imagine America can suffer defeat without any inconvenience to them.

Absolutely No Profiling!  Pause a moment, reflect back, and take the following multiple choice test.

These events are actual events from history.  They really happened!  Do you remember?

HERE’S THE TEST

1. 1968, Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by:
a. Superman
b. Jay Leno
c. Harry Potter
d. A Muslim male extremist between the ages of 17 and 40

2. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by:
a. Olga Corbett
b. Sitting Bull
c. ArnoldSchwarzenegger
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

3. In 1979, the U.S.embassy in Iran was taken over by:
a. Lost Norwegians
b. Elvis
c. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

4. During the 1980s a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by:
a. John Dillinger
b. The King of Sweden
c. The Boy Scouts
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

5. In 1983 the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by:
a. A pizza delivery boy
b. Pee Wee Herman
c. Geraldo Rivera
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

6. In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked and a 70-year-old American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard in his wheelchair by:
a. The Smurfs
b. Davey Jones
c. The Little Mermaid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

7. In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens and a U.S. Navy diver trying to rescue passengers was murdered by:
a. Captain Kidd
b. Charles Lindberg
c. Mother Teresa
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

8. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by:
a. Scooby Doo
b. The Tooth Fairy
c. The Sundance Kid
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

9. In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by:
a. Richard Simmons
b. Grandma Moses
c. Michael Jordan
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

10. In 1998 the U.S.embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by:
a. Mr. Rogers
b. Hillary Clinton, to distract attention from Wild Bill’s women problems
c. The World Wrestling Federation
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

11. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked.  Two were used as missiles to take out the WorldTradeCenter.
Of the remaining two, one crashed into the U.S. Pentagon and the other was diverted and crashed by the passengers.
Thousands of people were killed by:
a. Bugs Bunny, Wiley E. Coyote, Daffy Duck and Elmer Fudd
b. The Supreme Court of Florida
c. Mr Bean
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

12. In 2002 the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against:
a. Enron
b. The Lutheran Church
c. The NFL
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

13. In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by:
a. Bonnie and Clyde
b. Captain Kangaroo
c. Billy Graham
d. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

14. And now we can add: In 2009, 31 people wounded and 13 American Soldiers murdered on base at Fort Hood by a Major who was known as…
a: You guessed it – A Muslim male extremist between the age of 17 and 40.

No, I really don’t see a pattern here to justify profiling.  Do you?  So, to ensure we Americans/Canadians never offend anyone, particularly fanatics intent on killing us, airport security screeners will no longer be allowed to profile certain people.  They must conduct random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, secret agents who are members of the President’s security detail, 85-year old Congressmen with metal hips, and Medal of Honor winner and former Governor Joe Foss, but leave Muslim males between the ages 17 and 40 alone lest they be guilty of profiling.

Send this post to as many people as you can so that the Nancy Pelosis, Gloria Aldreds, and other dunder-headed attorneys, along with Federal Justices who want to thwart common sense, feel ashamed of themselves – if they have any such sense.

We cannot allow the socialist transformation being brought on by the current administration to continue. Look at what it has done to Europe.

We all must stand together before it’s too late and everything America stands for is lost.

The Global Islamic population is approximately 1,200,000,000.  That is ONE BILLION TWO HUNDRED MILLION, or 20% of the world’s population.

They have received the following Nobel Prizes:

Literature:
1988 – Najib Mahfooz

Peace:
1978 – Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat
1990 – Elias James Corey
1994 – Yaser Arafat:
1999 – Ahmed Zewai

Economics:
(zero)

Physics:
(zero)

Medicine:
1960 – Peter Brian Medawar
1998 – Ferid Mourad

TOTAL: 7  SEVEN!

The Global Jewish population is approximately 14,000,000.  That is FOURTEEN MILLION, or about 0.02% of the world’s
population.

They have received the following Nobel Prizes:

Literature:
1910 – Paul Heyse
1927 – Henri Bergson
1958 – Boris Pasternak
1966 – Shmuel Yosef Agnon
1966 – Nelly Sachs
1976 – Saul Bellow
1978 – Isaac Bashevis Singer
1981 – Elias Canetti
1987 – Joseph Brodsky
1991 – Nadine Gordimer World

Peace:
1911 – Alfred Fried
1911 – Tobias Michael Carel Asser
1968 – Rene Cassin
1973 – Henry Kissinger
1978 – Menachem Begin
1986 – Elie Wiesel
1994 – Shimon Peres
1994 – Yitzhak Rabin

Physics:
1905 – Adolph Von Baeyer
1906 – Henri Moissan
1907 – Albert Abraham Michelson
1908 – Gabriel Lippmann
1910 – Otto Wallach
1915 – Richard Willstaetter
1918 – Fritz Haber
1921 – Albert Einstein
1922 – Niels Bohr
1925 – James Franck
1925 – Gustav Hertz
1943 – Gustav Stern
1943 – George Charles de Hevesy
1944 – Isidor Issac Rabi
1952 – Felix Bloch
1954 – Max Born
1958 – Igor Tamm
1959 – Emilio Segre
1960 – Donald A. Glaser
1961 – Robert Hofstadter
1961 – Melvin Calvin
1962 – Lev Davidovich Landau
1962 – Max Ferdinand Perutz
1965 – Richard Phillips Feynman
1965 – Julian Schwinger
1969 – MurrayGell-Mann
1971 – Dennis Gabor
1972 – William Howard Stein
1973 – Brian David Josephson
1975 – Benjamin Mottleson
1976 – BurtonRichter
1977 – Ilya Prigogine
1978 – Arno Allan Penzias
1978 – Peter L Kapitza
1979 – Stephen Weinberg
1979 – Sheldon Glashow
1979 – Herbert Charles Brown
1980 – Paul Berg
1980 – Walter Gilbert
1981 – Roald Hoffmann
1982 – Aaron Klug
1985 – Albert A. Hauptman
1985 – Jerome Karle
1986 – Dudley R. Herschbach
1988 – Robert Huber
1988 – Leon Lederman
1988 – Melvin Schwartz
1988 – Jack Steinberger
1989 – Sidney Altman
1990 – Jerome Friedman
1992 – Rudolph Marcus
1995 – Martin Perl
2000 – Alan J. Heeger

Economics:
1970 – Paul Anthony Samuelson
1971 – Simon Kuznets
1972 – Kenneth Joseph Arrow
1975 – Leonid Kantorovich
1976 – Milton Friedman
1978 – Herbert A. Simon
1980 – LawrenceRobert Klein
1985 – Franco Modigliani
1987 – Robert M. Solow
1990 – Harry Markowitz
1990 – Merton Miller
1992 – Gary Becker
1993 – Robert Fogel

Medicine:
1908 – Elie Metchnikoff
1908 – Paul Erlich
1914 – Robert Barany
1922 – Otto Meyerhof
1930 – Karl Landsteiner
1931 – Otto Warburg
1936 – Otto Loewi
1944 – Joseph Erlanger
1944 – Herbert Spencer Gasser
1945 – Ernst Boris Chain
1946 – Hermann Joseph Muller
1950 – Tadeus Reichstein
1952 – Selman Abraham Waksman
1953 – Hans Krebs
1953 – Fritz Albert Lipmann
1958 – Joshua Lederberg
1959 – Arthur Kornberg
1964 – Konrad Bloch
1965 – Francois Jacob
1965 – Andre Lwoff
1967 – George Wald
1968 – Marshall W. Nirenberg
1969 – SalvadorLuria
1970 – Julius Axelrod
1970 – Sir Bernard Katz
1972 – Gerald Maurice Edelman
1975 – Howard Martin Temin
1976 – Baruch S. Blumberg
1977 – Roselyn Sussman Yalow
1978 – Daniel Nathans
1980 – Baruj Benacerraf
1984 – Cesar Milstein
1985 – Michael Stuart Brown
1985 – Joseph L. Goldstein
1986 – Stanley Cohen [& Rita Levi-Montalcini]
1988 – Gertrude Elion
1989 – Harold Varmus
1991 – Erwin Neher
1991 – Bert Sakmann
1993 – Richard J. Roberts
1993 – Phillip Sharp
1994 – Alfred Gilman
1995 – Edward B. Lewis
1996- Lu RoseIacovino
TOTAL: 129!

The Jews are NOT promoting the brain-washing of children in military training camps, teaching them how to blow themselves up and cause maximum deaths of Jews and other non-Muslims.  The Jews don’t hijack planes, nor kill athletes at the Olympics, or blow themselves up in German restaurants.  There is NOT one single Jew who has destroyed a church.  There is NOT a single Jew who protests by killing people.

The Jews don’t traffic slaves, nor have leaders calling for Jihad and death to all the Infidels.

Perhaps the world’s Muslims should consider investing more in standard education and less in blaming the Jews for all their problems.

Muslims must ask what they can do for humankind before they demand that humankind respects them.

Regardless of your feelings about the crisis between Israel and the Palestinians and Arab neighbors, even if you believe there is more culpability on Israel’s part, the following two sentences really say it all:

“If the Arabs put down their weapons today, there would be no more violence.  If the Jews put down their weapons today, there would be no more Israel.” Benjamin Netanyahu

General Eisenhower Warned Us.
It is a matter of history that when the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight Eisenhower, found the victims of the death camps, he ordered all possible photographs to be taken, and for the German people from surrounding villages to be ushered through the camps and even made to bury the dead.

He did this because he said in words to this effect:

“Get it all on record now – get the films – get the witnesses – because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened.”

Recently the UK debated whether to remove ‘The Holocaust’ from its school curriculum because it ‘offends’ the Muslim population, which claims it never occurred.  It is not removed as yet.  However, this is a frightening portent of the fear that’s gripping the world and how easily each country is giving into it.

It is now more than 60 years after the Second World War in Europe ended.
This post is part of a memorial chain, in memory of the 6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians, and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, raped, burned, starved, beaten, experimented, on and humiliated while the German people looked the other way.

Now more than ever, with Iran, among others, claiming the Holocaust to be a myth, it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.

Will you help distribute this around the world?

How many years will it be before the attack on the WorldTradeCenter ‘NEVER HAPPENED,’ because it offends some Muslim in the United States?

Will you do something today, or will you wait until you “suffer” tomorrow?

Share