Berfrois

Many, Many, Many, Many Worlds

Many, Many, Many, Many Worlds

I have often talked about the Many-Worlds or Everett approach to quantum mechanics — here’s an explanatory video, an excerpt from From Eternity to Here, and slides from a talk. But I don’t think I’ve ever explained as persuasively as possible why I think it’s the right approach. So that’s what I’m going to try to do here. Although to be honest right off the bat, I’m actually going to tackle a slightly easier problem: explaining why the many-worlds approach is not completely insane, and indeed quite natural. The harder part is explaining why it actually works, which I’ll get to in another post.

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Another Year in Dissenters’ Paradise by Mircea Pitici

Another Year in Dissenters’ Paradise by Mircea Pitici

Contrast (Order and Chaos), M.C. Escher, 1950 by Mircea Pitici The world of mathematics is a dissenter’s paradise. Although mathematical reasoning binds the mind to rigor and constrains it to obey rules of inference and to accept semantic conventions shared by the community of its practitioners, the world of...

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Life and Chemistry, Melancholia and Depression

Life and Chemistry, Melancholia and Depression

I’ve spent a good deal of time lately reading up on the set of historical, medical and philosophical conditions known for centuries as melancholia and more recently as depression. My interest is that I’ve been commissioned to write a book about melancholia, but I’ll be writing it because it’s...

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With Atomic Power

With Atomic Power

From Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: After being discharged from the Air Service at the end of the Great War, Buck Rogers was hired by the American Radioactive Gas Corporation as an inspector; while investigating a mine, he was overcome by (what else?) radioactive gas, and it preserved him...

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Desires

Desires

Scene From A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Titania and Bottom, Edwin Henry Landseer, 1848 From Threepenny Review: As in Freud’s own time, the “boundary violation” (the discipline’s contemporary euphemism) remains embarrassingly common. Usually the clinician is a man, often professionally distinguished with years of experience, and the patient a younger...

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Sound and Sight

Sound and Sight

Steamboat Willie, Walt Disney Studios, 1928 by Bill Benzon Neuroscientist Seth Horowitz has an interesting piece in the New York Times: The Science and Art of Listening. He talks of hearing as the passive registering of sound; listening, however, requires active attention. Hearing is fast while vision is slow:...

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Open (Access) All Hours

Open (Access) All Hours

Photograph by Aunt Owwee by Cameron Neylon With major governments signalling a shift to Open Access it seems like a good time to be asking which organisations in the scholarly communications space will survive the transition. It is likely that the major current publishers will survive, although relative market share...

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What future transitions we can expect?

What future transitions we can expect?

by Kevin Kelly What kinds of developmental thresholds would any planet of sentient beings pass through? The creation of writing would be a huge one. The unleashing of cheap non-biological energy is another. The invention of the scientific method is a giant leap. And the fine control of energy...

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Alexander Hahn: 199 Visible Oranges

Alexander Hahn: 199 Visible Oranges

The merchant’s attractive display had been constructed very carefully. The pyramid has a triangular base of 12 oranges to a side. From each side of this triangle rises one of the sloping triangular faces of the pyramid. Each triangular face starts with its row of 12 and continues with...

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Jay Slosar: Paranoia Matters

Jay Slosar: Paranoia Matters

Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire, Salvador Dalí, 1940 by Jay Slosar “Don’t look back something might be gaining on you,” said Satchel Paige, a legendary baseball pitcher in the 1930s and 40s who couldn’t pitch in the major leagues because he was black. After Jackie Robinson...

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Hugh Everett III, Many-Worlds Man by Jeffrey Barrett

Hugh Everett III, Many-Worlds Man by Jeffrey Barrett

Jacek Yerka by Jeffrey A. Barrett In the Spring of 2007, the journalist Peter Byrne interviewed Mark Everett (E of the band Eels) about Mark’s father Hugh Everett III. Mark did not know much about what his father had done for a living, and he knew even less about...

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Mathematicians are Giraffe Hunters by Barry Mazur

Mathematicians are Giraffe Hunters by Barry Mazur

I came late to the feeling that the purity of mathematical ideas had any need for story or for the temporal intrusion of personal accounts. But, I've changed, quite a bit. In fact, Apostolos Doxiadis and I have just published Circles Disturbed, a book of essays written by over...

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Gazing

Gazing

From American Scientist: Does your dog know what you are thinking? Can a chimpanzee understand what another sees? In the three and a half decades since David Premack and Guy Woodruff first asked whether chimpanzees have a “theory of mind,” a considerable empirical and philosophical literature has sprung up...

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A Tale of Strychnine and Murder

A Tale of Strychnine and Murder

From cover of The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie, 1920 by Deborah Blum There is altogether too much strychnine about this case - The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Agatha Christie, 1920. In the midst of World War I – or so the story goes – a young Englishwoman...

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Jennifer Rhee: Our Friends, the Killer Robots

Jennifer Rhee: Our Friends, the Killer Robots

Defending Yourself against the Coming Rebellion (2005) offers a survey of the “quickening” developments in contemporary robotics research, from humanoid robots, to smart houses, to robot swarms, to unmanned air and land vehicles.

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Continued Enrichment?

Continued Enrichment?

IR40 Heavy Water reactor facility, near Arak, Iran From Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: The criticism that Obama drew for his subdued response begs the question of whether the Green Movement actually wanted his vocal support. Gauging the views of movement leaders, Parsi determines that, at the height of...

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Ground

Ground

Berliner Ensemble production of The Life of Galileo, 1971 From The Nation: A right thumb, a finger, a tooth. These were the contents of a reliquary acquired several years ago by a collector at an auction in Florence. Little did he know that for centuries the remains had been...

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Rhoda Feng: Neophilia

Rhoda Feng: Neophilia

In the 1450s there lived a boy whose favorite pastime it was to roam the hills of Tuscany. He would dwell in vineyards and olive groves that offered up an assortment of brightly plumed birds, peeping insects, and fragrant plants for contemplation. On his lengthier peregrinations, he developed a...

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Albert Rolls: Which (Side) Are You On, Man?

James Parker begins his review of Inherent Vice with the quip, “If Thomas Pynchon were a stand-up comedian, and Inherent Vice his newest routine,...

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Keith Doubt
Keith Doubt on Serbia

The intellectual integrity of cultural anthropology is based largely on its commitment to cultural relativism as a principled notion. Cultural relativism is the principle...

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A Gosse in Woolf’s Clothing by Andre Gerard

On May 31, two weeks after his death, and the day before Orlando was sent to the printer, Woolf noted his death as follows:...

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Andrew Gallix: Let’s Go!

Retro-futurism, as we now call it, came out of the closet in the late '70s due to the widespread feeling that there was indeed...

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I Know I Have to Go by Rick Whitaker

W.G. Sebald’s father joined the Reichswehr in 1929 and remained in the Wehrmacht under the Nazis. He was captured by the French and remained...

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B. Alexandra Szerlip: Vertigo

Vertigo has been scrutinized under the rubric of scopophilia, fetishism, voyeurism, the sadistic male gaze, objectification of the female body, “a dream substrate of...

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Bobbi Lurie With Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp sat silent. He seemed far away, lost in reverie. Then, he spoke of the death of art, which he described as...

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Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie and Marcel Duchamp on Lena Dunham’s Girls

But I was perplexed. Marcel Duchamp didn’t order a thing to eat at the café. I assumed it was because he was dead, requiring nothing...

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Europe’s Fascists in Suits by John Gaffney

Earthquake metaphors have had strong currency, both political and journalistic, in the aftermath of May’s European Parliament (EP) elections. The most spectacular tremors were...

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Lauren Berlant’s Love Theory

Both Derrida and Ronell suggest that saying yes is “telephonic,” both in the sense that it resounds over a distance and therefore always is...

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B. Alexandra Szerlip: Dream Train

Unless they lived in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona or California – all former Mexican territories – most U.S. residents in the 1930s were unaware...

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70-Minute Mark by Nicholas Rombes et al.

The different tools used to capture the frame and the wild variety in terms of image quality, which is the way films are remembered...

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You may say Rauan Klassnik’s a dreamer…

“We’ve got a problem,” says Andrew Shuta of Spork as he and Drew Burk guide me into a fancy conference room. Ron’s sitting across from...

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David Palumbo-Liu on Chinua Achebe

Many years ago, in an interview he did with Bill Moyers, Chinua Achebe was asked, “What would you want the West to do?” Achebe...

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