Monday, April 30, 2001

I am doing pretty good lately. My new roomate Nichole is a great roomate, and I have another friend moving in soon. I applied to do some freelance lightwave work, the deadline for closing is 5/1, so I am hoping to hear something back. I sent my Star Destroyer and my Tie Fighter as example models. This would be great, I would love to actually get paid to do something I enjoy doing, especially if it is lightwave work =) Other than that, I am not up to much. Things have been slow lately at work, and my group may be dissapearing all together with some recent restructuring. But we are told well all have jobs, that might just be a 'dont panic, everything will be fine' as the airplane is going down in flames kind of thing. But I did take on some new tasks recently, expanding my horizons a bit.

So I went to a technology conference on Saturday at SCSU. I knew more about Nanotechnology then the physics professor who lectured on it, but the first and last lectures were awesome. I am sure the physics professor was far more knowledgable in his field then I could ever dream to be, but he seriously lacked knowledge about nanotech, its implications, and its uses. He also was not very good at relaying complex ideas simply and clearly. Most people are not, and it is a difficult art that I have practiced on my poor friends. I think that I was the only person there who was not a student at the school though. There was a neo post modern femina- all science is sexist and evil- nazi there asking questions. It was kind of amusing, although I cant figure out what these post-modernists are actually saying half the time.

Here is an example of what they sound like

""In the second half of the twentieth century professional philosophers and
historians took over the profession and, swept up in a paroxysm of
postmodern deconstruction, proffered a view of science as a relativistic
game played by European white males in a reductionistic frenzy of
hermeneutical hegemony, hell bent on suppressing the masses beneath the
thumb of dialectical scientism and technocracy. (Yes, some of them actually
talk like that, and one really did call Newton's _Principia_ a "rape

This is from the E-Skeptic Mailing list sent out by Michael Shermer. This is what this girl sounded like, I was dumbfounded and had no Idea what she was talking about. I suspect she wasnt actually saying anything, but who knows. The rest of the people at the lecture were students and were pretty much just getting introduced to the ideas of nanotechnology and intelligent machines, and asking euqal level questions. Overall it was quite enjoyable. I talked to the person who organized it later and he is thinking about setting up a Connecticut extroian group, and hoped to get Drexel, Kurzwell, Max Moore or Minsky to speak sometime there. I wished him luck on that, but hope he gets one of them.

Until next time..


Saturday, April 07, 2001

"Stars are the sources of Life. Enormous engines of nuclear fusion, they pour light out into the cosmos, warming the dead cold of space, and provide the antientropic power needed for the self-organization of matter. Starry nights have a mystic beauty, but when consndered from a scientific standpoint they are even more beautiful then they look. For the million specks of light that adorn the black velvet of a dark night sky are, in fact, nothing less that a million fountains of life." - Robert Zubrin

Monday, April 02, 2001

"The genetic code does not, and can not specify the position of every capilary in the body and every nueron in the brain, what it can do is describe the underlying fractal pattern that creates them"

It is interesting when you start learning about fractals and you realize just how pervasive these underlying repeating mathematical formulas are in nature. The same patter that appear in a tree will occur in the branching pattern of the air passages in your lung and the structure of your nerves and viens and arteries. That same pattern is found in massive river deltas and lightning photographs. It is absolutely amazing that these identical patterns occur in so many places. Your genes suggest the branching patterns of your arteries and veins, a trees genes dictate its branching pattern, but no specifically, it only influences it, as environmental come into place encouraging branches to form in specefic places. A delicate balance is reached of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. But the patterns have a mechanism available to predispose them to some arrangement, thier genes. What of lightning strikes and river deltas and canyons, there are formed by the blind forces of nature. They are formed as a consequence of the way that atoms and molecules interact as defined by the four fundamental forces in the universe.

Sunday, April 01, 2001

One of my favorite types of music is the motion picture score. Movie scores are wonderful art form of thier own. Composers try to tell stories through their music, sometimes they are stories that enhance the films stories, and some are stories all by themselves. The music will always inspire the emotion the composer intended at that time. They will bring joy to you, sadness, elation, fascination, supsense, depression, deep sorrow, amazement, shock, and fascination. All of this just in the music. Motion picture scores also seem to be much more dependant on the level the music is at more than any other type of music I listen to. I can only truly enjoy scores if they immerse my sensory input. Scores can make me glad in a few minutes or bring me to tears, all from the mood and the story that comes from the music. Some of my favorite scores are 'Last of the Mohicans', 'Legends of the fall', 'Jurassic park', 'Dances with wolves' and the recently purchased 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' If anyone reading this is really into music but never gave movies scores much thought, I would suggest trying an expirement and picking one up, see what you think. You might be surprised at what you were missing.
As a skeptic, I am an atheist and I do not believe in life after death, magic, spirits or 'souls' in the christian sense. I do however believe in People, and the amazing and beautiful and wonderfull and fascinating things that people can and are able to do and accomplish. Skeptics do not discount emotions, a skeptic will never tell you that 'beauty' does not exist. They may tell you that your concept of beauty is no more valid than any one elses, but that makes it no less important to them. Carrying this philosophy to the extreme, I find myself intruiged by absolutely everything that people do that they find joy in doing. I try to immerse myself in everything that makes it wonderfull to be human and be alive. I can not rationally fool myself into believe in an intangable thing that likely does not exist just to make me feel better. I remember a story about Carl Sagan when a listener at a lecture approached him and said 'without god, what is special about life' or something to that effect. Carl Replied 'Life is what you make of it' As a skeptic I find that life is the most wonderfull and amazing thing, and being aware of that life is even more precious. And then being able to do things that one finds joy in is immensily more profound and fascinating. Not believing that we exist after we die makes me realize how lucky I am to have this life, and that since this is the ONLY one I will get, I better make of it what I can. With my knowledge of science, and especially chaos, I must say that realizing that each and every thing I do and decision I make may have profound and drastic consequences on the entire rest of my life is quite humbling. This gives one pause when making decisions, importnat and even not so important ones.

The most important thing I feel I have learned from studying skepticism though is that I must always remember to doubt myself, and that I may very well be wrong, and that no matter how much I believe something, reality may disagree with me. This is not a fundanmental aspect of ANY religion, which is why I would say it would be far less likely for a skeptic to be close minded then a religious person. Also, there is no reason why logic and skepticism can not be applied to every question one comes across. It may not provide a better answer then a random guess or a 'gut feeling' but at least you know it is more likely to be grounded in reality.

That being said, I would make the assertation that becoming a skeptic has greatly increased my appreciation for life, and everything that makes life worth living.