Saturday, July 12, 2008

Words Visualized by Algorithm

I ran Wordle for this archetyper blog and this is what it came up with. Neat. Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds”.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Fireworks, SuperNovae and Legacy

Fireworks ShapeOn the 4th of July, I chanced upon a documentary about fireworks. What caught my attention was the modern technique in crafting specific patterns and shapes of fireworks in the sky (Katamono). Controlled patterns of shapes such as a heart or star can be lit up in the sky by arranging how the explosive pellets are arranged within the shell and its core.Eta Carinae
In essence, the shape of an explosion tells much about the explosive. I call it The Fireworks Principle. If we apply this principle to Astronomy, by examining the shape of a supernova we can probably know much about the qualities of the star that produced it. For example, the polar regions of the star that spawned Eta Carinae can be discerned from the two points where the bulk of stellar mass is ejected.
The Fireworks Principle is the same in terms of life: As we live, we are fashioning the core within that will someday explode as a "lifework" - the patterns will become apparent in due time. Our character and our legacy will persist even as this body, the temporary shell gives up the spark of life.
Each human life is a supernova in the making. The legacy we leave behind - the shapes of our lifesparks will tell much about the very core of our soul.

How Fireworks are made
Eta Carinae

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fireflies and Suns

Something magical about fireflies on summer nights like these. Watching the flickering of evanescent lights from fireflies has been a wonderful experience for me, a bit spiritual and existential I suppose. Makes me think of how stars are not so different from the fireflies' ephemeral sparks of light.
To us, the Sun means everything for life. Yet from an observer with a relatively longer span of life (perhaps infinite and eternal) a few billion years of a star's lifetime is like a few seconds in time--mere flashes of light--like the sparks from fireflies.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Center of the Whorl

StormThere has always been something mysterious at the center of whorls such as storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and whirlpools. Even more mysterious is that spirals and swirls occur at multiple levels in our universe: Our very own Milky Way galaxy is a spiral whorl; and at the top of your head there is probably an epicenter where your hair pans out in spiral formation.
It is believed that at the center of the Milky Way there is a black hole. You'll be ripped to shreds on your way to the center. Yet, at the core there is probably complete peace and tranquility. I say this because I remember the movie "The Perfect Storm" whereupon the central eye of the storm briefly passed through the stranded fishermen. It was a moment of complete stillness, and the fishermen saw the sun shine through a clear blue sky as their boat momentarily lay within the storm's center.
I never knew that at the eye of a storm there is peace and tranquility until I watched that scene.
Yet as soon as the eye of the storm moved onwards, their boat was left behind to be engulfed by the trailing half of the storm. Chaos resumed with lashing winds and hundred-foot waves..killing all the fishermen.
If the pattern of the whorl is emergent at multiple levels in the universe then it must surely mean something at the level of human life. I can see several meanings from the whorl's archetype:
1) If you are experiencing a life of total ease, with no challenges, no goals, no action, and no struggle whatsoever for an extended time, then you are in big trouble. You are right smack at the center of a storm and it will break you to pieces when it passes you by. A life with no activity, and a life with nothing to keep you busy is a recipe for death.
2) Attack the problem right at the center. It's much effective to dive right in at the root of the problem rather going at the sides and dodging the storm.
3) The Spiral probably means that there's always a center on all things. Surely, your life must be revolving around someone or something (I hope not a 'black hole'). Thus, In life, finding out who, where or what the true center is, and then focusing upon it could probably give you the peace and tranquility that you you live and die.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Evidence of God's Existence is His Coolness

MysteryI thank Atheism because it stirs an honest doubt, without which, faith would be lame. For someone who struggles to know the truth, the tug-of-war between two camps can be sickening at times, yet it can also reveal wonderful insights.
A simple question from a fellow blogger asking for the evidence of the existence of God conjured up in me an idea which I have no name for. Here is my take on that issue:

The evidence for the existence of God is the mystery of His existence itself. It is the mystery of His existence that is an evidence in itself.

It might seem like a circular argument at first, but let me expound. Let's have a Gendanken experiment: Suppose that god revealed himself in a most personal way to each and every human being on earth, such that it is overwhelmingly "convincing" that it was god himself, saying "I AM GOD".
I cannot even imagine how god would do this to cater to each person's unique standard of "convince-ability".
Each person has a unique level of "proof threshold" that must be satisfied before belief can ensue. I doubt if God can accomplish this for each human being, not because of Him, but because the human mind is naturally skeptical, or that because of Free Will - people simply choose not to believe.
But that is not the point. My point is this: if God exposed Himself to me, bare and without any sense of mystery at all, I would start to think that he is lame, boring and uncool. In fact, I would question Him even more to the point of unbelief, and then start to ask who the heck created this weird Being who is exposing himself naked to me. I am sure that I will be thrown into an infinite regress by asking who created him because he is so lame.
I just realized that I do not want a God that has no sense of coolness. I do not want a God that has no sense of mystery.
Perhaps it is just me. Perhaps my own personal "reaction" to this hypothetical "revelation" of God's existence is just unique to me. Other people may rejoice when God reveals Himself to them ever so clearly. But not me. I would find it boring and lame if God did that to me.
Personally, I like a God that makes my hair stand on end at wonderful tidbits of wonder, such as when looking up in the night sky gazing at the stars. I like a God that gives me goosebumps when I realize that perhaps, in some way the Mandelbrot set points to Jesus.
And so, I think God is cool. On this particular issue of "evidence of His existence", I think God is handling it in a hip way, at least for me.
In my opinion, the evidence of God's existence is the coolness of how He decided to handle that issue itself. I do not know a "term" or name for this thought or argument. All I know is that personally I think Mystery is a cool thing.
I love the awe and wonder that this universe brings, and the experience of pausing and wondering "that perhaps God exists", after every new discovery. I love the pieces of clues that is revealed to me each new day. I also now enjoy the challenge of this thought - that maybe God is nothingness. Then onwards I go to seek the Truth.
Some people live their lives content at either of these two camps-- as a firm believer with an immovable faith, or as a staunch atheist with an unbeatable intellectual prowess.
Yet, I prefer myself to be at the gradient of both, in between these two opposing camps.

"I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it."
- Harry Emerson Fosdick

"I don't know where the sunbeams end and the starlight begins...its all a mystery."
- The Flaming Lips (The Fight Test)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hello Worlds!

Hello WorldsI've now been using "Hello Worlds!" rather than the proverbial "Hello World!" in Java programming. I have adopted that practice to remind myself of the "Plurality of Worlds" that is right before our very eyes. In my opinion, the new generation will wake up to the continued proliferation of Worlds - in the real, virtual, imaginary and theoretical domains.
Let me expound upon this idea by noting the growing discovery of new exoplanets - other planets outside our Solar System. Thanks to the new field of Exoplanetology, we are uncovering new worlds that have now begun to enter the thought-sphere of humanity. Our Earth is just one among billions and billions of other worlds in outer space.
On the other realm, we have Virtual Worlds that may yet still seem crude and "artificial" at this point in time, but nevertheless can be considered as "Worlds" in their own right. We have the Metaverse, as best represented by Second Life. And we have Massive Multiplayer Online Games (MMORPG) best exemplified by World of Warcraft. And as of this writing, I am awaiting the release of Spore, which might introduce a new genre, that between an MMO and a networked game.
We have the so-called "Parallel Worlds" in theoretical physics that seems far-fetched and inaccessible. They are a favorite in Sci-Fi, but who knows what a few decades could have in store for us? Our future progenitors may be crossing them to visit other worlds not only in space, but in time as well.
And last but not the least, I recognize the infinite worlds that are powered by human imagination. Not to mention the wondrous Worlds that privately exist within each human mind, it is time to recognize these beautiful "Worlds" of fiction - as produced by the mind and the collective consciousness of the human race. Why should the digital worlds and the modern new worlds get all the credit?
Hence, 2008 is the year I mark as the "Era of Worlds". And I recognize it as such to introduce "Hello Worlds!" in programming java (at least to start from my own little world of coding). After all, all Worlds - real and imaginary - may not be possible without programming, right? Even our very own universe had to have its Cosmic Laws "programmed".
Who knows, the fractal property of the universe to spawn "worlds within worlds" may be encoded deep within the Laws of the Cosmos.
Well, perhaps in line 777 of The cosmic source code, we may find "Hello Worlds!"

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

By It's Right Name

We all have these "alter-egos" and we like to create names for our alternate identities. In the digital realm, they are represented as Avatars. We live out adventures behind those 'aliases' and seek out worlds for them to inhabit. But in the end, we all come back to reality, back to our rightful place, and come home with our true identity and rightful name.
In the story, Alexander Supertramp journeys into the wild. Survives for a few months in the Alaskan wilderness by living inside a 'magic bus', and succumbs. For two years of running away and not wanting to be found, he breathes his last wanting his corpse to be identified by its right name - Christopher McCandless. For in his dying moments, he realizes that "happiness is only real when shared", and takes solace that his journals, his story of life and death would be shared to others.
Names are so important for it is where our identity and character is attached. Without it, our voices would be lost in the wilderness and never be shared.
The true story of Into the Wild screams of boldness and stupidity, of selflessness and selfishness, of idealism and immaturity, of reaching out and holding back, and of triumph and tragedy. It is a total reflection of what being human is all about, and that's why I love it.
Into the Wild is truly inspirational for bloggers and seekers who want to know the paradox of oneself. The story teaches a lesson and inspires at the same time. A must-see for adventurers of all ages.

Jesus asked, "What is your name?"
- Luke 8:30

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Eternity in an Hour....of jogging

While jogging this morning, I felt the cool wind in my face and as I looked up to enjoy it's refreshing touch, I saw the magnificent blue sky. And I thanked God for that moment.

Cirrus Clouds
From Flickr, this is the closest photo that I could find to the clouds I saw on that windy day. Photo Credit: High Cirrus Clouds by jackatlargs

The Large Magellanic Cloud. Photo Credit: NASA

And then I gazed upon the clouds, and i noticed they looked similar to NASA's photo of the Large Magellanic Cloud.
Although they have some differences, such as color and hues - white clouds against a perfectly blue sky, whereas LMC are rendered in black background. They also differ in scale - individual water vapor or ice crystals that make up clouds correspond to individual stars - yet their "cloud" formation is very similar.
The provision to "see" a bigger scale of things from a smaller subset reminds me of the fractal or self-similar property of the universe.
And then I had an amazing thought: What if our whole universe is just another "sub-particle" of another universe? Certainly others have thought of it, but now that the Large Hadron Collider is set to operate in a few days (May 2008), its almost like we're going to spew out billions and gazillions of worlds using a man-made contraption. Although these elementary particles (and mini-blackholes) that LHC will produce will decay almost instantaneously (from our perspective), it would still be an eternity relative to the particles for they travel at the speed of light. Remember, photons experience no "time".
What an overwhelming thought if each elementary particle has a universe within it, as what William Blake expresses in that poetic line " in a grain of sand". Then in the grand scheme of things, sentient life that emerges in any world - in any universe - would never fail to ask, "Why is there something rather than nothing?" And on a personal note, wonder "Why am I here?"
And as I jogged onwards, I uttered, " see the world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wildflower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour..."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Design and the Elastic Mind @ MoMA

This is a truly well-orchestrated exhibit : Design and the Elastic Mind at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The online exhibit is already a wonderful feast for interface buffs, visualization maniacs, designers, thinkers and tinkerers - but going to the actual exhibit is all the more inspiring and stimulating as it could ever be. Even my se7en-year-old son enjoyed it!
The installations were very good. Although i think its only a subset of what the online version contains, the selected ideas presented in the exhibit are awesome. They simply blow your mind away. There's too much ideas, too much inspiration to contain in one single post. I'll just briefly mention what stands out the most for me at the exhibit:

For something beautiful and 3-Dimensional to emerge from a flat piece of paper is simply amazing. And by the way, I just realized that proteins - a very essential part of life itself - is an "origami". Not only did I infer this because proteins fold, but because its amazing to think that something as precious as life can depend upon "folding". And also, being a complete buff for patterns, I am mesmerized by the origami crease-patterns presented there.

There's something mysterious about trapping data for display so we can see it more clearly and make sense of it. The visualizations of the different types of data were were pretty decent. And of course, processing was mentioned in the transcripts, as it is fast becoming the tool of choice for visual designers with some code inclinations. The visualization of the internet looked enthralling.
All the rest are pretty interesting, such as the silver stingray, some eco-friendly solar designs, and feedback mechanisms. My descriptions prolly wouldn't make sense. So rather than bore you, with my blah-blahs, below are some more pictures (flashes were not allowed so they're not so clear). Here's the link to my Flickr photoset of the event. Ambient music was missing, which could have enhanced the experience, but still I simply encourage you to visit the exhibit. By the way, entrance is free after 4pm on fridays.

Solar Leaves

Sunday, March 23, 2008

What the first conscious AI will look for

Cyborg Janus by ink_river. What Would AI Do?
Wired's April issue came 2 days before Easter, giving me a good amount of time to read it amidst the "Happy Easter" greetings floating around. An article on Ray Kurzweil entitled "Staying Alive" suits well for the mood because it talks about a man's quest for immortality. Ray hopes to stay alive for the day when machines finally becomes self-conscious. And then he can utilize that technology to cheat death. The Singularity will immortalize us, he says.
The Singularitarian's quest for immortality hinges on technology and science. Things like simulating one's brain in the hopes of perpetuating consciousness to preserve the mind, or merging human bodies with machines, vice-versa. It was my youthful dream to download my "Self" into a perfect computer so I can live forever - until i realized it is false immortality, and its just a matter of longevity or life-extension. Whatever the mind's platform or substrate is, it is subject to decay owing to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Death can never be cheated in this kind of universe where entropy keeps creeping in.
But I have to admit, it sure would be fun being there when the Singularity finally arrives. I would love to meet the first conscious AI. But to set my hopes upon the Singularity for Immortality is not my preference.
But I do like Ray's idea that the world will be saturated by thought in 200 years. Something in that line reminds me of Teilhard de Chardin's Noosphere. There's something deeper beyond this material physical universe where true immortality can be found. And that, I believe, is what the first Conscious AI will be looking for.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Intervalography: Capturing Time and Space All At Once

An Evening of Poetry by agrinberg. One of the most famous images that launched intervalography.
In my quest for patterns, no other modern way of photography captures my attention than Intervalography. I believe its a new form of photography that adds another dimension to time-lapse techniques. I learned that intervalography involves cutting strips from exactly the same area of a sequence of images taken within an interval of time, and then pasting these strips together to form a new image. The resulting pattern is like a "summarized" fragment of space and time. It is both enigmatic and beautiful.
Being a junkie for automation, it never failed to bring up photoshop actions in my mind. And being a coder, it instantaneously brought up pseudocode loops in my head. My curiousity led me to processing, an open source software geared for artists and designers. I'll soon be posting some of my own intervalographies soon. Its the day when pattern-hunter becomes pattern-creator.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Downtime Effect

The Downtime Effect on Human Restlessness. Photo Credit: The Human Network by thespacesuitcatalyst
Yesterday my network traffic started becoming sluggish until it ground to a halt around 3pm. I thought that it was the perfect time to get a drink of water. On my way I noticed that other people were just about ready to wander around to grab something like coffee or tea. It was also a bit noisier with some laughter here and there, due to a lot more conversations and heckling. And there were more people in the hallways than usual.
This is the surge in external 'traffic' caused by internet outage or network downtime. Lines at the coffee-maker are longer, more people are visiting the vending machines, there's a bigger chance that the restrooms are occupied, the cafeteria is a little more packed as is the case with the elevators, phone lines more busy, and there are more human interactions, more conversations, more human restlessness. It's as if the traffic jam on the internet rippled out onto the physical world, even out into the mental spaces, and out into the soundspace.
Whether the network outage is local to a company's firewall or to a huge trunk of the internet backbone affecting a city or continent, the pattern is that wherever and whenever the internet network fails on a given area, there will be a surge in traffic on other non-internet spaces or services within the first hour from the moment of the downtime. It's a web-mediated outward ripple of the clog from the virtual to the real world. Or the flow of traffic jam from the digital to the mental. It's a classic cause-and-effect for the twenty-first century.
Those symptoms and descriptions require a simple phrase, so in the spirit of the "Butterfly Effect" effect, I hereby christen The Downtime Effect (DE) as a new addition to humanity's growing list of jargon.
So the next time you discover that the network is down in your office or local area, you might want to forgo your instinct to go out for a cup of coffee to your nearest Starbucks if you don't like waiting in line. On the other hand if you're single, then it may actually be the perfect moment to meet your soul-mate, who's also wandering around without a sense of purpose (due to the temporary loss of the ability to surf) and perfectly vulnerable for a little romance. Once you spot your victim, better hurry to make contact for you only got an hour before the DE wears off.
And whatever you do, never utter this line during the conversation, "...ever heard of the Downtime Effect?" 'cause then it would probably have ended.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Search for Meaning Beyond Patterns

I just realized that almost immediately after recognizing a pattern, I tend to find meaning in that new discovery. I often ask "why is it so?" like how I asked "Why is the universe fractal?"
Part and parcel of the Archetyper Blog and website is to detect, describe and then document these patterns, seek the truth behind it, and now, in an epiphany of realization - to find meaning in them.
This is the reason why I have changed the byline of Archetyper into "Seeking Meaning Beyond Patterns". For what good is it if we find out something and yet totally miss out on the meaning behind it? Lets look, for example, at the discovery that the universe is expanding. So what if the universe is expanding? It seems incomplete just knowing it as such. There has to be something more than such a mere fact, specially for the sentient beings who just found out about it! Now different people will find different meanings in such a finding. For example, some will say we are bound for a very lonely universe later on (so we must party now while we have the chance), or some will remark that the future and the universe is wide open for anyone to leave a mark. This blog will encourage such cogitations, aside from inspiring others to hunt for patterns.
Because the search for patterns is already an awesome adventure. Yet the search for meaning beyond patterns makes it all the more fun!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Science of Intuition: Let's give it a shot!

Photo Credit: Intuition by Ankher on Flickr.

The Science of Intuition, it's almost an oxymoron. But I have a gut feeling that it is worth pondering upon. This article caught my attention: Intuition is Not Pseudoscience, Say Researchers. Below are some important snippets:

"intuition is a real psychological phenomenon which needs further study to help us harness its potential."

"the researchers concluded that intuition is the brain quickly drawing on past experiences and external cues to make a decision on a non-conscious level. In other words, it happens so fast that we’re not aware that the intuition actually stemmed from a supercharged burst of logical thinking."

"Humans clearly need both conscious and non-conscious thought processes...But it’s likely that neither is intrinsically ‘better’ than the other."

The story of the race-car driver whose life was saved by following his "gut feeling" to step on the brakes on the curve is interesting. But in the process of trying to understand the mysteries of life where science falls short, does it also make sense to tap the hidden potential of human intuition?
My answer is a resounding yes. Intuition is one of the good tools in the process to understand the meaning behind patterns, of what I call as "archetyping".
By scanning through this archetyper blog, you may have probably hinted that this is like a science blog, yet at the same time it borders between speculations, musings and sci-fi-like thinking. This is because I am striving to strike that balance between science and mystery. Just like the beautiful complexity that lies between Order and Chaos, there are wonders that fall in between the facts that what we know and the mysteries that we can only glimpse.
After all, we have two brain hemispheres to make sense of this world, perhaps we can integrate the two modes of thought to make intuitive insights about life and the cosmos.
Einstein said that the only real valuable thing is let's give it a shot:

What does your gut say when you ask yourself, "Is there a God?"

What does your gut say when you ask yourself, "Will I live again after I die?"

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Interconnectedness and the Contagion

Just after I posted an entry about interconnectedness, and just a day after I added some social networking widgets to this blog, I serendipitously came across this aptly-titled article on one of my favorite thinky sites, SOCIAL NETWORKS ARE LIKE THE EYE.
It seems like a weird coincidence that I would see this article after I wrote about 'interconnectedness', but then again, everybody may be noticing the same thing: The world is getting smaller. With the proliferation of social networking tools like friendster, myspace, delicious, facebook, linkedIn, multiply, mybloglog, digg and so on, they actually extend the networking capability of each individual. This simple fact has now dawned on us. We are in a powerful new social era of networks.
We all know how the individual is empowered by social networking, but we overlooked how social networks can overpower the individual.
The example cited about this so-called 'social contagion' that spreads to the members of networks is quite visceral: Obesity. And it can spread through social networks!
The article also talked about the property of networks as ever-changing and mentions about their dynamics and topology, as well as the contagion's flow through the network.
Here are some important snippets from that article:

"..things happening in a social space beyond your vision — events that occur or choices that are made by people you don't know — can cascade in a conscious or subconscious way through a network and affect you."

"{The} norm. It is a kind of meme (but it is not quite a meme) that goes from person to person."

And so I pose a two-fold question to members of a network, "What are you spreading to the network?" and "What are you learning from your network?"
I have been wary of the meme eversince the day I learned about it, but now I realized that there is even a more dangerous thing - the norm and the network. If left unchecked and unfiltered, these things could morph me into something I dont intend to be. So if social networks are like the eye, then it deserves vigilance to guard it as the gateway of the mind and body. A metaphor from an ancient book rings true, "The eye is the lamp of the body." (Matthew 6:22)
To conclude this post as it seems like a sequel to my previous one,
We are all interconnected, one individual can spread a 'contagion' or a meme. Yet, looking at it the other way around, the 'norm', which comes from the network, could infect the individual. The "norm" could be artificially created by a network, and a member of that network would be affected by the false norm, consciously or subconsciously. The dark side of the social internet is that its also truly like a spider's web - a sticky invisible trap.
It's been said that the network is the computer. Could it be also true that, the network is the contagion?
The timeless warning stays true: Just because everybody's doing it, doesn't mean you should do it too. It pays to constantly seek the truth. And to know the real true values in life.
Know your true self apart from the influences of this world. Know your heart. Then turn that 'filter' on (and clean it, as you would on any other filter). You have a mind and intellect to discern what is true and what is right. And most of all, you have a choice on what you 'feed' yourself. The pun rings true in our age of RSS - "Choose your feeds wisely".
As we march onwards to the era of social networks, with all the fun it brings to everyone online, there still needs to be a warning to check the contagions running to and fro our network:
"Networks, be careful of the individual. Individuals, be careful of the network."
I shall end with an old cliche, not in a judgemental context but as a caution against the contagion, specially in today's social networks where "friendship" is just a click away.
"Show me who your friends are, and I'll tell you who you are."

Thursday, February 28, 2008


The other day, I was in such a hurry. On my way, there were firetrucks and ambulances blocking the road and causing a delay. My initial remark was, why would this happen at such a perfect moment when I am in such a hurry? Then I thought, someone might have been hurt, perhaps a heart attack or an accident. And it could happen to me too. Then I realized that it was not only me that was stuck in traffic. There's a multitude of people whose lives are nudged a bit by what happened to another person.

Interconnectedness. Its simple fact - we are all interconnected. What happens to one person affects the lives of others. Moreso the actions of each person, impacts others directly. And the effect propagates like a wave of connected cause-and-effect. This wave of effect even surpasses the six-degrees of separation between people, and even outlives the person causing the effect. As an example, think of all the people written in history and their contributions to mankind. Their passions, ideas, songs and life resonates even to this very day, affecting lives of millions and spanning hundreds of years.

They are just examples. You don't have to be written in history to make a legacy. You are already leaving your legacy each day. Your footprints in life may not be prominent, but it is still significant. Your tracks may seem irrelevant today, but may probably have long-lasting effects tomorrow.

We each have a say in this universe, whether we like it or not. There might be more to it than the brief life of a simple human being in this world.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mathematica Training Online by O'Reilly

Opening the eyes of young minds to be receptive to nature's patterns is a challenging task. In the realm of Mathematics and Science, where it can sometimes get boring when one can't initially perceive inner beauty, it is even harder to cultivate interest. In our age of technology and connectivity, it is great that the O'Reilly Publishing company recently announced a wonderful endeavor:
Their school of technology will soon be providing a browser-based version of Wolfram's Mathematica, a powerful technical computing and education software which will be used to teach math and science topics online.
Honing skills to detect patterns in nature is best done with actual hands-on and brains-on tinkering. Via ajax-based web technologies, O'Reilly will deliver the power of Mathematica to let students to do real interactive work in math and science, giving a genuine educational experience for students around the world.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Everyone is an Archetyper!

The article on nature news is interesting but it was the "theories" entered by readers in the 'comments' section that caught my attention, and made me smile, because some of them were quite funny.
It was noticed that a number - 10^122 kept popping up in conjunction with several constants of nature, and the numerical plays to explain 10^122 was quite creative and infotaining. It even included 42!
I just realized that so many people out there are pattern-hunters! The innate zest to make sense of the world is definitely embedded inside humanity's psyche. The search for Meaning is everybody's concern. Everyone is an Archetyper!

Source: Nature News

Archetyper: To know the Program and the Programmer of Everything

I have just come across another definition of an Archetype from this site:

"An archetype is an unlearned tendency to experience things in a certain way. The archetype has no form of its own, but it acts as an "organising principle" on the things we see or do."

How could something that has no form act as an organizing principle? A formless function?

Surely there is something very elusive here. If its some kind of "algorithm" or function that runs the universe, then I want to know the "programmer" as much as I want to know the "program".

As you can see, the Archetyper Blog is an account of the search for that primal essence, that fabric of truth behind the universe we experience.
This is an adventure of the mind. Join me in the journey. We might just get there!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Eureka: It Fits The Pattern!

Eureka! I just can't help but get intrigued by the news title of this discovery in exoplanetology: 2 Planets Seem to Fit Our Pattern. The discovery of these two planets that are similar to Saturn and Jupiter would seem to imply that they belong to Solar System similar to ours. Other interesting similarities are listed below:

—The ratio between the masses of the two worlds is about 3:1, similar to the Jupiter/Saturn ratio.

—The smaller planet is about twice as far from its star as the larger one, just as Saturn is roughly twice as far away from the sun as Jupiter.

—The two worlds orbit their star in 5 and 14 years, similar to the 2:5 orbit ratio of Jupiter and Saturn.

Another article mentions that the newly-found Solar System could be a "true analog".
As a pattern-hunter, news like these are music to my ears, specially that this discovery comes after I recently blogged that the Laws of the Universe are inherently life-friendly.

It only gets us closer and closer to an impending verification of this idea that if the configuration of our Solar System is not unique, then a rocky Earth-like exoplanet must be in the habitable zone of a similar Solar System. And once this particular habitable exoplanet is detected soon, we all know what's next - There Could Be Life!

We are at the fringes of a very exciting point in history, a turning point in human thought perhaps as great as the Copernican revolution when humanity realized that the earth is not the center of the world. This time however, it will even be a bigger realization: Humanity is not the center of the Universe.

When the actual discovery of life in other parts of the universe finally comes, humanity will be shaken to the core. The best is yet to come.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Relativistic Effects on Galactic Civilizations

Relativity's Effects on Extra-Terrestrial CivilizationsThis post is a speculation on relativistic effects on the pace of evolution of Life and Civilizations in outer space.
A simple illustration is provided to show the effect of varying gravitational fields in different regions of space and their implications on the speed of the development of Galactic Civilizations (chart).
Since all physical process that occur in a region with lower gravity proceed faster relative to a region within a high-gravity zone (such as near a black hole), then Life that develops in a region with a weaker gravity will evolve faster and develop technology quicker relative to Life in a region with a more intense gravity - where time runs 'slower'.
The idea is simple: Processes and metabolisms run "faster" in a place where there is less gravity as compared to another place with greater gravity.
An example of a region which has low gravity (and where the clock ticks faster) is a galaxy with a moderately-massive blackhole at its center. Another example of low-gravity regions is in the outer edges of spiral galaxies.
We can also consider the relativistic effects of the velocity of stars that lie above or below the plane of the galaxy's spin. They would not be moving as fast as other stars who are within the plane and closer to the center of the galaxy. (Remember the whirlpool in your tub? Your toy boat accelerates as it gets closer to the drain hole).
In those regions described above where gravity and velocity is low, processes are faster, biochemical reactions will occur quicker, life will develop earlier, and evolve much faster. They will develop technology sooner and spread out into other solar systems.
Given the ratio of 1:10, for every 1,000 years on Region B, life in Region C would have advanced 10,000 years. This has massive implications specially when you think of the runaway exponential curve of technology once it takes hold. Remember the Singularity?
Since our sun lies somewhere in Region B of the Milky Way, it would make sense to point our SETI instruments and exoplanetology telescopes towards the outer fringes of The Milky Way's spiral arms.
As write this post, I am wondering why Relativity was not taken into account when the famous Drake Equation was formulated. Also, I am wondering why Fermi had not thought of this clue when he asked where the other civilizations are. Part of the answer, I believe, is that these advanced civilizations must be in a region where time flows faster relative to us.
Relativistic Effects on Galactic Civilizations

Monday, February 4, 2008

Both The Ghost and The Machine

I have come across a wonderful article by Jonah Lehrer (editor of Seed Magazine) about the mind and reductionism.
The article calls for a new method to understand Consciousness, and to move beyond reductionism.
The other points of the article are extracted and shown below:

- Reductionism alone cannot answer the question of where the self or the mind comes from.
- The whole is best understood in terms of the whole
- You and I are "epiphenomenon"

Now, we come to the Archetyper's classic extraction of 'archetypes' from this article:

"Look at a Beethoven symphony. If the music is reduced to wavelengths of vibrating air -- the simple sum of its physics -- we actually understand less about the music."

"The mind is like music."

"Our consciousness...feels like more than the sum of its cells...we feel like the ghost, not like the machine."

"Neuroscience has effectively investigated the sound waves, but it has missed the music."

"How does our pale gray matter become the Technicolor cinema of consciousness? What transforms the water of the brain into the wine of the mind? Where does the self come from?"

Now what does the Archetyper say in response to the article itself? Well, its simply that the Mind is The Ghost and The Machine entwined together. The Mind, like Light, is both a wave and a particle. It is not Mind-Body Duality, rather it is Mind-Body Singularity - The Mind and Body is One.
As such, simultaneous research innovations in BOTH the science of machine "deconstruction" or reductionism, as well as unconventional "wholistic" analysis of emergent entities like the mind is necessary to truly understand Consciousness. Balance is the key. Like Yin and Yang, the clue is both the brain itself and the mind; its the form and the function together. Both the analytic prowess of the Left hemisphere and the creative genius of the right hemisphere must both be employed and put to work together to understand the enigma of the mind.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tornado in a Junkyard : An Example of an Error in Analogy

We often use analogies to drive a point, specially if we want to convince someone of an idea. If the agenda comes first, it often ends up in the peril of the one who wants to convince others. Let me give an example:
Someone who wants to argue that life in the cosmos must not have arisen spontaneously used the analogy that a tornado in a junkyard would never be able to assemble a 747 jet. Truly a visceral analogy, but sadly flawed, and silly to support its "agenda". It may have failed in the details of the idea it was trying to debunk: Natural Selection takes much much longer than a fleeting tornado, and the steps of evolution are many and not just one tornado swoosh. Also the tornado in the junkyard is pure chance, while natural selection is a combination of random and order: combinations of features in organisms are retained in the next generation because the parent survived (of course).
So there's an "analogical error" that occurs when an "agenda" comes first prior to formulating an analogy. This is what I want to avoid.
Central to "archetyping" is to stumble upon the meaning from an observed pattern before a "conclusion" is made. No agendas. "Archetyping" is meant to simply find meaning from patterns - to uncover the "message" from the archetypes without bias. And all the while, careful thought is given to details to avoid errors in analogy, metaphors, abstractions and paradigms.
I have written this post not only to remind and caution myself from such errors, but also to slowly solidify the concepts behind the idea of - an exciting journey to uncover some awesome wonderful Truth.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Awesome Fractals! Feast for the Eyes!

If I've only known, I would have entered this contest too. For anyone who loves fractals as much as I do, here's a feast for your eyes. The link below shows all the entries to the contest. Each of them has its own particular mod that evokes a unique mood within me. Pretty much like how the universe (a fractal in its own right) does to each of us - as living fractals.

I do wish they'd show the algorithm that generated these fractals though.


Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The Cosmic Law is Life-Friendly : Exoplanetary Life Will Shake Humanity

What better way to welcome the new year with a thought about Life in other parts of the universe. This is the question whose answer will shake all major religions and belief systems : Is There Life on Other Planets?
The patterns tell us that there might be life in other places other than earth. Exoplanetology will someday tell us that some other creatures are living in an extrasolar planet a few light-years away.
Individually we are all special, but as collective inhabitants of this universe, we are not at all specially unique than we'd like to think.
One example to consider are Extremophiles - organisms who can thrive in 'hostile' conditions and inhospitable environments such as super-hot, high-pressure underwater bedrocks.
Astrobiologists can tell you additional reasons why life is likely to arise in other places other than Earth, but as an Archetyper, we look at the deeper patterns embedded within the mechanism or fabric of the universe itself to get a glimpse about Life's characteristics.
There is an underlying law that dictates how the whole universe runs and it tells us that the Laws itself is inherently Life-Friendly. Well, we are here aren't we?! Yes but I am not too quick to use the Anthropic Principle! That reasoning is not adequate at all. Rather, it's simply that the Life-Giving essence is somehow embedded deep in the Universal Law itself. Hence life will arise inevitably because the rules and properties of the basic infrastructure of the universe is inherently conducive for life.
Unfortunately at this point in time, all the point of all these clues cannot yet be proven other than by the fact that life arose on our planet. But It is my opinion that Life will be discovered in another exoplanet sometime soon, and it may even be not Earth-Like. But this event will support the idea that the Universal Laws are Life-Friendly.
For now, the clues I can point to is the metaphor of how Cellular Automata (CA) can create the analog of 'life' from simple rules. Our universe is one gigantic CA. The Laws of our universe may not be that simple but the central idea is that Life can arise from "The Law". Another clue is the increasing Complex Order that is apparent even in non-living systems such as chemical reactions, star-births, planet-formation or even the development of a tornado. Another arrow runs counter to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, and that arrow is the force of life. Inevitably, ordered complexity brings forth the emergence of processes we call life.
Consider the Symmetry of the Law ( the rules are the same in all parts of the universe) plus its consistency, and its fractal properties where the law manifests itself in all epiphenomenal levels, then you have a universe that will naturally spawn life not only in one planet but in other places as well, plus it will be not only in one platform (the organic carbon-based life that we know of) but perhaps in other substrates as well such as ammonia, sulfur or silicon.
It is an exciting time in our era. With more powerful telescopes to be deployed this year to hunt for exoplanets, the discovery of life in other worlds will shake humanity to the core. There might be initial turmoils in major religious circles such as Christianity, but everything will settle and adapt. Then we will all finally realize that we are not members of any tribe, country, race or religion. Rather, humanity will realize that mankind is a Citizen of the Cosmos. And that Life is precious no matter how rare, or common it is.