Matter(s) of the Universe
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Physicists Discover Geometry Underlying Particle Physics | Simons Foundation

Physicists Discover Geometry Underlying Particle Physics | Simons Foundation | Matter(s) of the Universe | Scoop.it
Physicists have discovered a jewel-shaped geometric object that challenges the notion that space and time are fundamental constituents of nature.
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How to Measure “How Much Information”? Theoretical, Methodological, and Statistical Challenges for the Social Sciences by M. Hilbert | University of Southern California (pdf)

"The question of “how much information” there is in the world goes back at least to the time when Aristotle’s student Demetrius (367 BC–ca. 283 BC) was asked to organize the Library of Alexandria in order to quantify “how many thousand books are there” (Aristeas, ca. 200 BC, in Charles, 1913, Section 9). In 1949, one year after his seminal (1948) publication that both created and solved most fundamental problems of information theory, the intellectual father of what is known today as the “information age,” Claude Shannon took a pencil and a piece of notebook paper and estimated the order of magnitude of the largest information stockpile he could think of. He used his newly proposed measure of information (which was at that time, quite unknown) called “the bit,” and estimated the Library of Congress to contain some 10^14 bits (Gleick, 2011, p. 232).

 

Pressed by the exploding number of information and communication technologies (ICTs) that fallowed the theories of Shannon and his colleagues during the decades to come, several research projects have taken up this question more systematically since the 1960s. In the eight articles of this Special Section, authors of some of the most extensive of those inventories discuss findings, research priorities, advantages, and limitations, as well as methodological and measurement differences in their approaches. The goal is to provide an open and transparent academic dialogue that deepens the understanding of the nature, assumptions and limitations of these kinds of inventories and to create a solid fundament for potential future exercises of a similar kind."

 


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How the Internet Affects Our Memories: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips

How the Internet Affects Our Memories: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips | Matter(s) of the Universe | Scoop.it

Abstract:

 

“The advent of the Internet, with sophisticated algorithmic search engines, has made accessing information as easy as lifting a finger. No longer do we have to make costly efforts to find the things we want. We can “Google” the old classmate, find articles online, or look up the actor who was on the tip of our tongue. The results of four studies suggest that when faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers and that when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it. The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves.”

 

***
“We investigate whether the Internet has become an external memory system that is primed by the need to acquire information. If asked the question whether there are any countries with only one color in their flag, for example, do we think about flags—or immediately think to go online to find out? Our research then tested if, once information has been accessed, our internal encoding is increased for where the information is to be found rather than for the information itself. (…)

 

And transactive memory is also evident when people seem better able to remember which computer folder an item has been stored in than the identity of the item itself. These results suggest that processes of human memory are adapting to the advent of new computing and communication technology. Just as we learn through transactive memory who knows what in our families and offices, we are learning what the computer “knows” and when we should attend to where we have stored information in our computer-based memories. We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools, growing into interconnected systems that remember less by knowing information than by knowing where the information can be found. (...)

 

We have become dependent on them to the same degree we are dependent on all the knowledge we gain from our friends and coworkers—and lose if they are out of touch. The experience of losing our Internet connection becomes more and more like losing a friend. We must remain plugged in to know what Google knows.”

 

 


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S. Hawking, L. Mlodinow on why is there something rather than nothing and why are the fundamental laws as we have described them

S. Hawking, L. Mlodinow on why is there something rather than nothing and why are the fundamental laws as we have described them | Matter(s) of the Universe | Scoop.it

“According to the idea of model-dependent realism, our brains interpret the input from our sensory organs by making a model of the outside world. We form mental concepts of our home, trees, other people, the electricity that flows from wall sockets, atoms, molecules, and other universes. These mental concepts are the only reality we can know. There is no modelindependent test of reality. It follows that a well-constructed model creates a reality of its own.”


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Garrett Lisi: A theory of everything | Video on TED.com

Physicist and surfer Garrett Lisi presents a controversial new model of the universe that -- just maybe -- answers all the big questions.
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The Scale of the Universe ☞ Planck length up to the entire universe (interactive visualisation), The Power of Ten

The Scale of the Universe ☞ Planck length up to the entire universe (interactive visualisation), The Power of Ten | Matter(s) of the Universe | Scoop.it

Zoom from the edge of the universe to the quantum foam of spacetime and learn the scale of things.

 

“Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.” — Douglas Adams


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Science Is Not About Certainty. Science is about overcoming our own ideas and a continuous challenge of common sense

Science Is Not About Certainty. Science is about overcoming our own ideas and a continuous challenge of common sense | Matter(s) of the Universe | Scoop.it

"Science is about constructing visions of the world, about rearranging our conceptual structure, about creating new concepts which were not there before, and even more, about changing, challenging the a-priori that we have. So it’s nothing to do about the assembly of data and the way of organizing the assembly of data. It has everything to do about the way we think, and about our mental vision of the world. Science is a process in which we keep exploring ways of thinking, and changing our image of the world, our vision of the world, to find new ones that work a little bit better. (...)

 

Science is not about the data. (...) But these are the tools that we use. What interests us is the content of the theory. What interests us is what the theory says about the world. (...)

 

The deepest misunderstanding about science, which is the idea that science is about certainty. Science is not about certainty. Science is about finding the most reliable way of thinking, at the present level of knowledge. Science is extremely reliable; it’s not certain. In fact, not only it’s not certain, but it’s the lack of certainty that grounds it. Scientific ideas are credible not because they are sure, but because they are the ones that have survived all the possible past critiques, and they are the most credible because they were put on the table for everybody’s criticism.

 

The very expression ‘scientifically proven’ is a contradiction in terms. There is nothing that is scientifically proven. The core of science is the deep awareness that we have wrong ideas, we have prejudices. We have ingrained prejudices. In our conceptual structure for grasping reality there might be something not appropriate, something we may have to revise to understand better. So at any moment, we have a vision of reality that is effective, it’s good, it’s the best we have found so far. It’s the most credible we have found so far, its mostly correct. (...)

 

It’s about overcoming our own ideas, and about going beyond common sense continuously. Science is a continuous challenge of common sense, and the core of science is not certainty, it’s continuous uncertainty. I would even say the joy of taking what we think, being aware that in everything we think, there are probably still an enormous amount of prejudices and mistakes, and try to learn to look a little bit larger, knowing that there is always a larger point of view that we’ll expect in the future."


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Living is information processing; from molecules to global systems by K. D. Farnsworth, J. Nelson, C. Gershenson (2012) (pdf)

Abstract:

"We extend the concept that life is an informational phenomenon, at every level of organisation, from molecules to the global ecological system. According to this thesis: (a) living is information processing, in which memory is maintained by both molecular states and ecological states as well as the more obvious nucleic acid coding; (b) this information processing has one overall function - to perpetuate itself; and (c) the processing method is filtration (cognition) of, and synthesis of, information at lower levels to appear at higher levels in complex systems (emergence). We show how information patterns, are united by the creation of mutual context, generating persistent consequences, to result in 'functional information'.

 

This constructive process forms arbitrarily large complexes of information, the combined effects of which include the functions of life. Molecules and simple organisms have already been measured in terms of functional information content; we show how quantification may extended to each level of organisation up to the ecological. In terms of a computer analogy, life is both the data and the program and its biochemical structure is the way the information is embodied. This idea supports the seamless integration of life at all scales with the physical universe. "


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