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Today's Quote:

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Phase Transition

You'll love this:

"The iterating of these lines brings gold;

The framing of the circle on the ground

Brings whirlwinds, tempests, thunder and lightning."

--MARLOWE, Dr. Faustus

"The ceaseless motion and incomprehensible bustle of life. Like the motions of dancing figures in a brilliantly lit ballroom into which you look from the dark night outside and from such a distance that themusic is inaudible . . . . Life may appear senseless to you."

--GUSTAV MAHLER (describing a sensation that he tried to capture in the third movement of his Second Symphony

From CHAOS: MAKING A NEW SCIENCE by James Gleick , Part 6, Universality

It happened that Feigenbaum was listening a lot to Mahler and reading a lot of Goethe, two romanticists. Goethe had been doing a lot of studies of color and did not agree with Newton about the true description of color. He was more interested in the perception of color than in the mathematical explanation. Goethe wrote: "With light poise and counterpoise, Nature oscillates within her prescribed limits, yet thus arise all the varieties and conditions of the phenomena which are presented to us in space and time."

Anyway, it only gets better. A great read!

The real message is that knowledge is itself a chaotic system feeding upon itself. The simplest example that I can think of is the relationship between Tycho, Keppler, and Gallileo and Newton. Without Tycho Keppler could not have formed his mathematical calculations and without these neither Gallileo nor Newton would have been able to form their theories and calculations and experiments. Yet Tycho depended on older "science" , superstition, and religion. Keppler, too, was driven by religion. There is a sort of science in religion. That is not covered in this book, but is clear to anyone studying the formation of the modern sciences, literature, music, and art.

To me science is another form of that central unnamed human specialty that gives rise to language, music, art, dance, religion (or magical thinking), and literature. Find that gene! It may also be the center of self-consciousness. We know that the anthropoid apes exhibit self-consciousness and to a lesser degree language and art. That could be said to be a phase transition from consciousness to self-consciousness. Is the human complexity simply a matter of amplification? Hmmmmm.

I wish I could stop thinking about all this and think about what I need to do to get ready for my visit to Florida. I wish I could be PRACTICAL! The family says the problem with my mother?s father was that he was a dreamer - a poet and play write and an actor. He had a very hard time being practical and earning money to keep the family fed! My grandmother, on the other hand, was brilliantly creative in finding ways to make junk into useful items or art and to find PRACTICAL solutions to everyday survival problems. If they had been rich and had spoken English instead of Yiddish, they would probably have become a famous creative couple. Part of the turbulence of life -

"Big whorls have little whorls

Which feed on their velocity,

And little whorls have lesser whorls

And so on to viscosity."


Aaaagg! I?ve got to stop this dream-think! There are solvable problems to be solved! But they are so boring!!!

On another thought, I am not disorganized. I may seem chaotic, but if one studies everything I do and think and dream for my entire lifetime, one will assuredly find the strange attractors and the underlying order.

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I live on the Pacific slopes of the Talamanca mountain range in southern Costa Rica. My adult children live in the United States. I have a Masters Degree in Gerontology but have worked as a migrant laborer, chicken egg collector, radio broadcaster, secretary, social worker, research director, bureaucrat, writer, editor, political organizer, publicist, telephone operator, and more. My hobby of photography has garnered some awards.

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