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Links With Your Coffee - Tuesday




Nope, sorry, math is too narrow a discipline to be a universal language. Try music, which includes math, visual art, writing, poetry, and real physical motion across space and time. As my pianist daughter tells me, wherever you go in the universe, life's a pitch.


math is too narrow a discipline to be a universal language

I don't think they're talking about launching a 7th grade algebra book into space. Math is the root of all science. Saying that music is the universal language would be like saying that angel food cake (rather than heat) is the essential element of baking. We may as well launch a Peanuts strip as Beethoven's Fifth.

Yeah, music wouldn't work. half of what we like about any music is about things like its mimicry of heartbeats and such. All we need is some alien race spending a decade trying to decode a message from earth only to find its some avant garde interpretation of the emotional impact of a bumble bee flying. THat might just top the ways to convince aliens that they either should ignore us or come and take our planet away because we are all clearly high on something.

I don't know what the worry is really. We have already been sending out reality TV into the cosmos for a decade. I am sure survivor translates real well for other species.

One thing I often wonder about math is how much our decimal system would screw with other races. I mean we count through ten because of the ten fingers we count on. If the forelimbs of another race, they could have a very different system of math and if their memory system is good, crazy bastards could be doing all there math in binary. That would have made algebra a real bitch in high school.

Alexandra Pelosi says in the interview:

"I think that the blogs have poisoned the political atmosphere..."

Whaddya think, Norm? :)

Actually, I think this is total crap. There have been nasty rallies and other vicious political sentiments continuously for thousands of years, all the way up to the recent pre-blog past.

I remember in particular one pro-war rally in Seattle (not a typo) organized by right wing talk radio in support of the Afghan War. My friend and I went down as counter protesters, and at more than one point we really thought that we were extremely close to having the shit kicked out of us by the angry mob.

I agree, total crap. Your analysis is spot on, and human nature guarantees that it will continue to be the way till the end of times.

I would say that blogs grant the same audience regardless of one's intellect, motivation or capacity for original thought. I'm not sure how to measure the positive or negative impact of that. Yes, we could all march on down to the National Mall with our placards, but isn't it so much more convenient to type $%^! onto a screen?

Strange how so many are more hopeful about out politics then just about any other time in history. POison must taste good.

I mean, Think of all the dark crap our govt has tried to pull off in the last 4-5 years and had the internet pounce on it. Press never did that.


you got the idea

I'm a practicing mathematician, and the idea that an alien culture, let alone another species, understands the world through mathematics is pseudo-scientific rubbish. Mathematics is one way to organize data -- a very beautiful and natural one to humans no doubt -- but I don't see any reason to reach a broader conclusion than that. There is even a tribe of humans, the Piraha, who seem to lack basic numerical mathematics, along with universal quantifiers like "all" and "there exists." (This may of course, be an instance of natives playing a linguist as a Margaret Mead, but that's beyond the point.)

Well, I read the rest of the Martin Rees article, and it wasn't so silly as his lead made it seem to be. At any rate, one way to answer the question of why mathematics is "so effective," is to ask what you're comparing it against.


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