Saturday, October 6, 2007

The View from the Center of the Universe

I just finished reading "The View from the Center of the Universe." Whoah! I have always been interested in pop-astrophysics, cosmology and sci-fi but I haven't read anything on the subject in years.

I've never read anything like this book, a combination of interesting and easy-to-read science and self-help inspiration.

"The View..." is written by Joel R. Primack, a cosmologist who worked on the 'cold dark matter' theory, and Nancy Ellen Abrams, a lawyer and poet of sorts. The pair explain that humans have lost sight of our own importance because of the empty, meaningless universe of Newton and the dark humor/world view of existentialism. We've fallen from Atlas upholding the universe to an ironic and cynical post-modernism.

The book presents new developments in cosmology in an understandable and readable format. It then promotes the creation of a world/universe-centering philosophy. For example humans are embedded in the middle of all possible sizes of entities in the universe. We are made of stardust, the rarest of all matter in the universe and the amount of variables that had to be just so to get you here, reading these very words, is staggering.

The insights I got out of this book:

The future and past already exist but because the speed of light is so slow, reletive to the size of the universe, it's not in Earth's time cone yet/anymore.

The universe is not all the pictures of galaxies and stars "out there." The universe is us, is Earth, is our cells and the not-so-empty space in between the atoms of our bodies.

The book even has something to say about discipline and the attempt to do anything:
"...a theory is like a house: you can rarely find its problems and limitations-or its promising secret passageways-unless your willing to move in with all your furniture."
TheView from the Center of the Universe,
P. 180
The book ends with ways the new scientific view of the universe reflects implications for our own generation.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

All I want for Christmas...


I told Kristen I want an OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) for Christmas. In case you haven't been paying attention, check this out.

Yes, I know the computers are designed for thrid-world children, but for two weeks in November, U.S. residents can purchase two laptops for $399. One laptop is yours to keep and the other goes to a less fortunate child.

Why do I want one? Let me count the ways:
  • Open source software/operating system
  • No moving parts or hard drive, uses flash memory
  • can be converted into high-visibility E-book mode
  • the mission - eventually put laptops in the hands of every child. Change the education industry. Help children teach each other.

Check out the YouTube videos:
Inside OLPC video 1
Inside OLPC video 2 - Not applications, activities
Inside OLPC video 3 - Mesh Networking


(Click to see full size image)