Saturday, September 27, 2003
remembering, amongst others, ilya prigogine
Slim Dusty receives Australian state funeral
Darren Moosha, 42, who is part Aboriginal, travelled to the funeral from Broome, in northwest Australia.
"It's that Australian-ness that's neither black nor white," he said of Dusty's appeal.
Singer Robert Palmer dies
Rock journalist Paul Lester, from Uncut magazine, said Palmer rose from northern clubs to become "elegant and sophisticated" and the master of several styles.
"He was kind of a pioneer of blue-eyed soul, which is white men doing black music and R&B pretty well. He had two or three careers," Lester told BBC News Online.
Robert Palmer dies aged 54
The singer, whose real name was Alan Palmer ...
Writer George Plimpton dead at 76
A native of New York, Plimpton held the parallel identities of insider and outsider ...
Ilya Prigogine, 86, Nobelist for Study of Complexity, Dies
"In an interview in 1977 after the announcement of his Nobel Prize, Dr. Prigogine explained his research in terms of an analogy with two towns, one walled off from the outside world, the other a nexus of commerce. The first town, he said, represents the closed system of classical physics and chemistry, which must decay according to the second law of thermodynamics. The second town is able to grow and become more complex because of its interactions with the surrounding environment."
Kenneth Chang - The New York Times - 30 May, 2003
16 July 2002 - PhysicsWeb - Small systems defy second law
A deviation from the second law of thermodynamics has been demonstrated experimentally for the first time. Denis Evans of the Australian National University and colleagues have shown that entropy can be consumed - rather than generated - in small systems over short periods of time.
PhysicsWeb - Viscount Ilya Prigogine 1917-2003
"Prigogine is best known for extending the second law of thermodynamics to systems that are far from equilibrium, and demonstrating that new forms of ordered structures could exist under such conditions. Prigogine called these 'dissipative structures' because they cannot exist independently of their environment. According to the second law of thermodynamics, ordered systems disintegrate into disordered ones. However, Prigogine showed that the formation of dissipative structures allows order to be created from disorder in non-equilibrium systems. These structures have since been used to describe phenomena such as the growth of cities and the physics of car traffic."
Vicomte Ilya Prigogine - The Daily Telegraph - 5 June 2003
"At the heart of Prigogine's work was an attempt to reconcile a tendency in nature for disorder to increase (for statues to crumble or ice cubes to melt, as described in the second law of thermodynamics) with so-called "self-organisation", a countervailing tendency to create order from disorder (as seen in, for example, the formation of the complex proteins in a living creature from a mixture of simple molecules).
Prigogine's theories centred on the idea that, in certain circumstances, the second law of thermodynamics (which predicts the relentless increase of disorder - entropy - within a given system) might be broken. He proposed that, in conditions which are sufficiently far from equilibrium, fluctuations of order and disorder could suddenly stabilise. The resulting "dissipative structures" - the most obvious of which is life itself - could last indefinitely, taking energy out of the chaos around them and "dissipating" entropy back into it.
Prigogine's controversial reinterpretation of classical thermodynamics was revolutionary because it suggested that the universe was not necessarily doomed to a long, slow slide into "heat death" in which all useful energy would be lost in random motion."
Doctor Who returns to BBC1 screens
Following a long-running campaign from fans, time traveller Doctor Who is to clamber back into his tardis and return to BBC screens ...
Ilya Prigogine - The Guardian - 18 June, 2003 - Dan Brennan
Prigogine sought to challenge the rigidity of classical physics and chemistry, specifically the second law of thermodynamics, which states that in any isolated physical system order inevitably decays.
Ilya Prigogine: Wizard of Time
Interviewed May 1983 by Robert B. Tucker
Omni: You were a nonconformist, a dissident. How did you muster up the conviction to go against the prevailing ideology?
Prigogine: I would say, again, this probably corresponds to a deep psychological element that isn't easy to make explicit. The attitude of Einstein toward science, for example, was to go beyond the reality of the moment. He wanted to transcend time. But this was the classical view: Time was an imperfection, and science, a way to get beyond this imperfection to eternity. Einstein wanted to travel away from the turmoil, from the wars. He wanted to find some kind of safe harbor in eternity. For him science was an introduction to a timeless reality behind the illusion of becoming.
My own attitude is very different because, to some extent, I want to feel the evolution of things. I don't believe in transcending, but in being embedded in a reality that is temporal.
The Poet Of Thermodynamics
(Byline: Martin Weil - The Washington Post - 31 May 2003)
Ilya Prigogine, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who applied intellect and imagination to some of the most fundamental questions of nature, leading him to be called the "poet of thermodynamics," died May 28 in Brussels. The cause of death was not reported. He was 86.
In his work, which included research at the University of Texas, Prigogine offered new ways of approaching and attacking broad questions that have intrigued humans for centuries: such matters as order and chaos, the evolution of the universe and the meaning and direction of time.
He was credited with providing new ways to interpret the second law of thermodynamics, which has been considered a powerful scientific doctrine with applications ranging from explaining chemical reactions to predicting the fate of the universe.
But as Prigogine explained it in an interview with Omni magazine in 1983, the famous second law takes a mechanistic, deterministic view, which does not always adequately correspond with the complexity and unpredictability of nature.
It applies to systems that have already reached equilibrium, at least in their totality.
But, Prigogine told interviewer Robert B. Tucker in Omni, "we (on earth) are not going toward equilibrium."
He decided to place more emphasis on evolving systems, where processes occur that do not settle into equilibrium, that dissipate energy and are irreversible.
The irreversible processes, sometimes likened to the squeezing of toothpaste from a tube, provide a means of distinguishing between earlier states and later ones. In that sense, they are sometimes considered, in a metaphorically appealing way, as representing "time's arrow."
The irreversible processes, Prigogine said in his Nobel lecture, are the ones that lead to the "one-sidedness of time."
Ilya Prigogine - Autobiography
"Filtrate music out of noise; the unity of the spiritual history of humanity, as was stressed by Mircea Eliade, is a recent discovery that has still to be assimilated."
Philip Ball - Molecules of life come in waves
"Physicists have watched biological molecules become waves in a dramatic demonstration of the effects of quantum mechanics.
It's not clear that biological molecules act like quantum waves in this way as they go about their business in living cells. However, physicist Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford, UK, and psychologist Stuart Hameroff of the University of Arizona in Tucson have proposed that consciousness might arise from wave-like quantum-mechanical effects involving protein filaments called microtubules in nerve cells."
Chemistry guides evolution, claims theory - New Scientist
That enduring metaphor for the randomness of evolution, a blind watchmaker that works to no pattern or design, is being challenged by two European chemists. They say that the watchmaker may have been blind, but was guided and constrained by the changing chemistry of the environment, with many inevitable results.
[...] Harold Morowitz, an expert on the thermodynamics of living systems at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, says these ideas are very exciting. "It's part of a quiet paradigm revolution going on in biology, in which the radical randomness of Darwinism is being replaced by a much more scientific law-regulated emergence of life."
Bacteria 'message' to each other - BBC News
It is known that bacteria exchange messages by releasing substances into the fluid in which they are growing, but new research suggests they can send signals through the air.
It is the first time airborne communication has been identified, say the team ...
BT ponders bacterial intelligence
BT is hoping the living habits of bacteria will bring order to future communication networks.
Researchers working for the company are studying bacterial colonies to help develop communication networks that will self-organise and self-configure.
Although almost blind, army ants deploy pheromones so they can establish traffic lanes. Laden ants returning to the nest occupy the central lane while the ants setting out use the two outer lanes.
BBC - Radio 4 - Frontiers - Wednesday 7 May 2003
Lab Studying Science Behind Traffic Patterns - Alan Sipress
[The Washington Post - Thursday, 5 August, 1999]
Chris L. Barrett, the scientist who convinced Los Alamos that traffic was a matter of grave national security and now heads its transportation project, said: "Traffic is particles with motive. I think it's cool as hell."
Studying the Ebb and Flow of Stop-and-Go
Los Alamos Lab Using Cold War Tools to Scrutinize Traffic Patterns
"The research in New Mexico is the latest chapter in the romance between traffic and physics, a relationship that has lured some of the century's sharpest minds to apply natural laws to the flow of cars along a highway. Physical Review Letters, a premier scientific journal, averages one article on the topic each month.
These scholars, moreover, are employing their theories where rubber meets the road: suggesting concrete solutions, from ramp metering lights for ironing out highway traffic to simulations that can forecast the benefits of specific road improvements.
Through the eyes of a scientist, motorists trapped in a seemingly inexplicable Capital Beltway backup are actually prisoners of rules that are obscure from behind the steering wheel. The patterns can be analyzed and, perhaps before long, even accurately predicted.
Yet despite some tantalizing progress, reaching a full understanding of traffic jams has been slow going. Scientists said they are closer to comprehending the birth of the universe than the daily tie-ups along Interstate 66."
Bill Katovsky: "... pack journalism resembles those nature films of the Serengeti Plains in Africa in which massive herds of antelope or wildebeest all of a sudden move in a thundering different direction."
The Poetics of Traffic Jams - Slate
... The story in today's papers that caused me to mentally brake to a halt was a front-page piece in the Washington Post by Alan Sipress about how the Los Alamos National Laboratory is now busily researching traffic patterns. Since we have all marveled (maybe grumbled might be a better word) at the way bottlenecks appear and disappear with no apparent cause, I sped through the story in hopes of discovering a telling insight. Alas, all that the scientists at Los Alamos and in Germany seem to have come up with is a series of new metaphors to describe traffic jams. Are they like "water molecules freezing into ice"? Or is traffic movement akin to "the remarkable darting motion of a school of fish"? The article, though, did have one memorable bit of deadpan humor. A scientist, Chris Barrett, is described as the man "who convinced Los Alamos that traffic was a matter of grave national security." Unmentioned in the Post was that Dwight Eisenhower used the same flimsy national-security excuse to build the interstate highway system.
Walter Shapiro and Jodi Kantor
Traffic Zoology - CheeseburgerBrown
There is a secret zoo that runs encaged along the roads.
They are liquid, semi-visible goliaths that rage through the streams and chunks of ordinary traffic, with the effervescent tendrils of mile-long tails whipping behind them like Chinese dragons. Though composed of hundreds of pounds of steel, glass and plastic, they are able to pass through solid objects. They are bound by the laws of the highway, but not by any conventional notion of time or space.
They are Aggregate Traffic Animals: a menagerie of emergent beasts drawn from the interacting behaviours of many individual human beings driving many individual cars with many individual goals, their collective activity giving rise to something with greater presence, power and purpose than the sum of its constituents. They take on a host of different forms, each to serve a different end.
They are real, and they drive among us.
American Scientist Online - In Search of the Optimal Scumsucking Bottomfeeder
"Five years ago a column in this series titled "How to Avoid Yourself" described the geometry of paths traced out by a random walker who refuses to set foot in the same place twice. Soon after the article appeared, I received a letter from Mark A. Wilson of the College of Wooster, who pointed out that some of my computer-generated paths were anticipated by millions of years in the fossil record of early life. He referred me to the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology, an immense multivolume work sponsored by the Geological Society of America."
Smallest circuits show quantum effects
Quantum means "lump" and is the basis of a theory that deals with matter and energy coming in discrete quantities. In the main, quantum effects only show themselves at the atomic level and smaller. Quantum theory shows us that the world of the really small obeys rules that in our experience seem illogical, like sub-atomic particles being in two places at the same time.
Patterns from Nowhere - Sid Perkins
Natural forces bring order to untouched ground
"In remote regions of the Arctic, Antarctica, and the Australian outback, an explorer can trek across bleak, uninhabited landscapes only to suddenly stumble upon ground decorated with weird patterns. These lonely sites feature ankle-high and meter-wide donuts of gravel; mazes, stripes, and polygonal networks of pebbles, sand, or ice; and sometimes ice crevasses in perfect geometric patterns. The enigmatic configurations, seemingly created without human influence, call to mind the mysterious phenomenon of crop circles, except that the puzzling structures are made of rocks or ice instead of trampled corn or wheat.
Scientists studying so-called patterned grounds have developed geological models for how some of these varied landforms have arisen from the influence of only soil, water, and sunlight."
Biological Utilisation of Quantum NonLocality
Brian D. Josephson and Fotini Pallikari-Viras
"The perception of reality by biosystems is based on different, and in certain respects more effective principles than those utilised by the more formal procedures of science. As a result, what appears as random pattern to the scientific method can be meaningful pattern to a living organism. The existence of this complementary perception of reality makes possible in principle effective use by organisms of the direct interconnections between spatially separated objects shown to exist in the work of J.S. Bell."
Telepathy - Mark Pilkington - The Guardian
"At last week's British Association meeting, Professor Robert Morris of Edinburgh University's Koestler parapsychology unit announced that his team's experiments continue to suggest the reality of telepathy.
While Morris avoids the T word, preferring the broader "anomalous cognition", his team's research is merely the tip of a very ancient iceberg."
Thursday 18 September, 2003
"I never knew my maternal grandmother, but I vividly recall the events surrounding her death. It was my first - and only - experience of extra-sensory perception. My mother, Claire, is Canadian and was born in the west of Canada. When she emigrated - re-emigrated as it were - to England after she met and married my father, my grandparents remained there. My mother was very close to her mother and, because we didn't have a phone in those days, used to write to her on an almost daily basis. I can still remember my grandmother's blue airmail letters dropping through our letterbox by return of post.
One night, when I was about five years old, I was woken up by a huge commotion on the landing outside my bedroom. It was in the early hours of the morning, but all the lights were on in the house. I opened my bedroom door to see my mother pacing rapidly up and down our narrow landing, my father alongside her, his arm around her shoulders. Mum was in a terrible state and I was frightened. I could see my older sister, Liz, who was nine, standing outside her bedroom crying. I had never seen my mother in near-hysterics. She kept saying she was seeing dreadful images, that something terrible was happening, that my father's mother, Kitty, was seriously ill. She was so convincing that my father put on his dressing-gown and walked up the road to a nearby public telephone box to call his parents. When he got through to them in their Shropshire farmhouse, his father - who must privately have wondered what on earth was wrong with my mum - said everyone was fine, and we should all go back to bed.
Fat chance. When Dad returned to the house, Mum remained inconsolable. Something terrible, she kept insisting, had happened to someone in the family. Don't think my mother was prone to this kind of thing; it's never happened before or since. She was beside herself. In the end Dad had to go to the phone box again to call out our family doctor. When he arrived, he gave Mum a sedative. And finally, at about five or six in the morning, she drifted off to sleep and everything calmed down.
A couple of hours later, there was a knock on the front door. It was a boy with a telegram for Mum from Canada. Her mother, it said, had collapsed and was desperately ill. The message - from my mother's kid brother, Bailey - didn't mince any words. The gist of it was, 'She's dying. Get on a plane.'
Today I don't have a shred of doubt that my mother picked up a human distress call that night, transmitted from one brain to another. It crossed three thousand miles of Atlantic Ocean and got a little scrambled on the way, but it was a full-on case of ESP all right.
Mum flew to Canada that day and remained there until her mother died just two weeks later, of cancer. A few years after that Mum's father died of it too. But as I never saw them except as a tiny baby, they were effectively unknown to me, sweet-faced strangers looking out from a photo album."
Richard Madeley in 'Richard & Judy: The Autobiography'
(Hodder and Stoughton, 2003, pages 6-7)
Matters of Life and Death - The Wire, 1299
Ian Penman interviews Diamanda Galas
[...] She will readily engage in discussing microphone technology, unafraid of spilling a little demystification as she goes. More interesting, maybe, is not what she says about it but how her voice immediately changes in the telling, flowers, splits into a happily daemonic cast list (nasal, vaudeville, impish, Ethel Merman), as though she only had to say 'microphone' to trigger a metamorphosis already underway. The same happens during long gossipy phone sessions "in which I become extremely vicious and sarcastic and if that goes on too long I tend to get into this nasal register. The phone tends to amplify one part of the voice."
New York magazine quoted Frank Sinatra as saying, "The microphone is the singer's basic instrument, not the voice. You have to learn to play it like it was a saxophone."
Tony Schwartz - Media: The Second God (Doubleday, 1983, page 107)
Stop-and-Go Science - Peter Weiss
"Armed with powerful mathematical and computational tools, scientists interested in traffic patterns have flooded the literature with creative representations. "You have a whole zoo of models," says Michael Schreckenberg of the University of Duisburg in Germany. "It seems that every second paper defines a new model," he jokes.
Computer-based traffic models simulate virtual vehicles that motor by the hundreds or thousands through an artificial highway network. The simulations emerge from a more general category of computer models known as agent-based systems, or cellular automata."
Replication + Reproduction
Memes are brutes of information cut across the jolting seam
grate the social-control machine, open & steam the
packs of shrink-wrapped writing
Lichens and other likenings
A dream led David Freedberg to the first visual archive of the natural world. He tells how science began with nothing more than a paintbrush ...
posted by Andrew 9/27/2003 07:08:00 PM