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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Eugenia Herbert on Julia Margaret Cameron

The Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron is currently undergoing a revival with a recent exhibition of her work at the Metropolitan Museum in New...

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Philippe Theophanidis on Jean-Luc Godard

At one point near the end of his unfinished novel Jean Santeuil, Marcel Proust describes a painting by Claude Monet from 1897, titled “Bras...

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An Enigma Wrapped Inside an Enigma by Michael Munro

There is perhaps nothing more enigmatic in the history of philosophy than that which in the tradition is known as the active intellect (nous...

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Jeremy Fernando
Jeremy Fernando on Tan Chui Mui

For, it is not as if films speak; nor are their filmmakers there—at the site where this alleged speaking to, speech, takes place —...

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Jason S. Polley: Prawns

The suburbs, aka first-world neighborhoods, are present via their conspicuous near visual absence in 2009’s District 9, a film focusing on an increasingly disorderly...

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Reality Principles: Berfrois Interviews Frank Smecker

I don't know if I ever wanted to become a theorist. I struggle with this position. For me, it's a hystericized — and therefore...

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Jesse Miksic on Dark Souls II

Is Dark Souls II the crowning rebirth of Gothic Romance for the digital age? I'm being dramatic, I realize. The spirit of Gothic has...

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Michael Munro
A Quotation and Provocation by Michael Munro

The teleology of the Universe is directed to the production of Beauty. That is the opening line of the text, its first thesis. It’s...

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Menachem Feuer
Menachem Feuer: Schlemiels

As human beings we have to “court” failure. This term suggests two things: on the one hand, it suggests dating and becoming intimate with...

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Bobbi Lurie
Bobbi Lurie with James Franco

Every day after that, I stood outside The Italian Restaurant on Fourteenth Street until it closed. I didn’t even smoke. The guy from The...

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Henry Giardina
Henry Giardina: Furrows and Hollows

There’s an oft-quoted line out of Candide that goes, “I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I have never fallen...

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Ashley James
Ashley James: Personhood

It seemed that by the close of January this year, the entire country could recognize the face of Sergeant Cory Remsburg: Near the tail-end...

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Logan K. Young on The Replacements

I, myself, was barely six months old when Twin/Tone put out The Mats’ Let It Be. The day, they say, was Orwellian: Tuesday, October...

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Tyranny Is a Growth Industry by Vladimir Savich and Zachary Bos

Tyranny is a growth industry. Each day brings exciting new developments. These events imprint themselves upon the world in the form of newspapers, magazines,...

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