Recent Posts

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Literature / Re: YOU MUST TELL ME ... What else are you reading?
« Last post by MSJ on August 16, 2019, 09:31:44 pm »
Long time, no see...miss ya guys. Ive actually picked up a book for the first time in many months. Dark Age, by Pierce Brown is the choice. About halfway through and loving it, so far. A continuation of the previous books, but this one picks up the pace quite a bit. A definite rec.
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Philosophy & Science / Re: Phycisists Peer Inside a Fireball of Quantum Matter
« Last post by H on August 15, 2019, 07:28:33 pm »
I believe the correct terminology is “immersive post-material interface”.

That's Xir’kirimakra to you, sir.
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Philosophy & Science / Re: Phycisists Peer Inside a Fireball of Quantum Matter
« Last post by Francis Buck on August 15, 2019, 06:00:01 pm »
Hmm, wake me up when we have the Subparticular Intentional Field Machine please.

I believe the correct terminology is “immersive post-material interface”.

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Philosophy & Science / Re: Is Physical Law an Alien Intelligence?
« Last post by themerchant on August 15, 2019, 05:20:41 pm »
SCi keep posting these sort of things, just starting to sit down to read a couple, always interesting always challenging. The good shit!
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Philosophy & Science / Re: Is the Cell Really a Machine?
« Last post by TLEILAXU on August 15, 2019, 02:00:51 pm »
Not sure I get the point. I mean, I'd say most biologists have at least some idea that stochastic and dynamic behavior is important and present at small scales. Like, it's not anything new that the cell is not a literal 'machine' like a microwave oven or something, it's just useful shorthand to say e.g. 'transcriptional machinery'.
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Philosophy & Science / Re: The Universal Law That Aims Time’s Arrow
« Last post by TLEILAXU on August 15, 2019, 01:54:32 pm »
Yeah I liked this one too. I recommend the one that came after, the one with the bubbles, as well.
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Philosophy & Science / The Universal Law That Aims Time’s Arrow
« Last post by sciborg2 on August 15, 2019, 12:42:41 pm »
The Universal Law That Aims Time’s Arrow

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This gradual spreading of matter and energy, called “thermalization,” aims the arrow of time. But the fact that time’s arrow is irreversible, so that hot coffee cools down but never spontaneously heats up, isn’t written into the underlying laws that govern the motion of the molecules in the coffee. Rather, thermalization is a statistical outcome: The coffee’s heat is far more likely to spread into the air than the cold air molecules are to concentrate energy into the coffee, just as shuffling a new deck of cards randomizes the cards’ order, and repeat shuffles will practically never re-sort them by suit and rank. Once coffee, cup and air reach thermal equilibrium, no more energy flows between them, and no further change occurs. Thus thermal equilibrium on a cosmic scale is dubbed the “heat death of the universe.”

But while it’s easy to see where thermalization leads (to tepid coffee and eventual heat death), it’s less obvious how the process begins. “If you start far from equilibrium, like in the early universe, how does the arrow of time emerge, starting from first principles?” said Jürgen Berges, a theoretical physicist at Heidelberg University in Germany who has studied this problem for more than a decade.

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These conditions would have occurred right after “cosmic inflation” — the explosive expansion of space thought by many cosmologists to have jump-started the Big Bang. Inflation would have blasted away any existing particles, leaving only the uniform energy of space itself: a perfectly smooth, dense, oscillating field of energy known as a “condensate.” Berges modeled this condensate in 2008 with collaborators Alexander Rothkopf and Jonas Schmidt, and they discovered that the first stages of its evolution should have exhibited fractal-like universal scaling. “You find that when this big condensate decayed into the particles that we observe today, that this process can be very elegantly described by a few numbers,” he said.

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It seems that as a system begins to evolve, key details, like its symmetries, are retained and become encoded in the scaling exponents dictating its fractal evolution, while other details, like the initial configuration of its particles or the interactions between them, become irrelevant to its behavior, scrambled among its particles.

And this scrambling process happens very early indeed. In their papers this spring, Berges, Gasenzer and their collaborators independently described prescaling for the first time, a period before universal scaling that their papers predicted for nuclear collisions and ultracold atoms, respectively. Prescaling suggests that when a system first evolves from its initial, far-from-equilibrium condition, scaling exponents don’t yet perfectly describe it. The system retains some of its previous structure — remnants of its initial configuration. But as prescaling progresses, the system assumes a more universal form in space and time, essentially obscuring irrelevant information about its own past. If this idea is borne out by future experiments, prescaling may be the nocking of time’s arrow onto the bowstring.
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Philosophy & Science / Re: Is the Cell Really a Machine?
« Last post by Francis Buck on August 15, 2019, 02:52:11 am »
I think that comparing cells (and organisms in general) to a 'machine' is mostly a result of humanity, as of yet, lacking a better, more precise go-to analogy for 'the thing that a cell is like', much in the same way we often compare the human brain to a 'computer' even in spite of realizing that this is an insufficient descriptor of what a human brain actually is.

The issue, of course, is that when we start using this sort of shorthand terminology, it's bound to get people to start taking it over-literally.

This is one of the problems I have with the more recent trend of equating organisms with algorithms. It's not that the analogy isn't apt -- in fact it's startlingly effective (for those still startled by such things) -- but rather I feel it risks repeating the same reductionist perspective that leads to the issue at hand.

Barring any forthcoming breakthroughs in the appropriate scientific fields, a cell isn't anything other than a cell, and a cell -- like the human brain -- is something we just do not yet fully grasp the nature of.
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Philosophy & Science / Is the Cell Really a Machine?
« Last post by sciborg2 on August 12, 2019, 06:40:39 pm »
Is the Cell Really a Machine?

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It has become customary to conceptualize the living cell as an intricate piece of machinery, different to a man-made machine only in terms of its superior complexity. This familiar understanding grounds the conviction that a cell's organization can be explained reductionistically, as well as the idea that its molecular pathways can be construed as deterministic circuits. The machine conception of the cell owes a great deal of its success to the methods traditionally used in molecular biology.

However, the recent introduction of novel experimental techniques capable of tracking individual molecules within cells in real time is leading to the rapid accumulation of data that are inconsistent with an engineering view of the cell. This paper examines four major domains of current research in which the challenges to the machine conception of the cell are particularly pronounced: cellular architecture, protein complexes, intracellular transport, and cellular behaviour. It argues that a new theoretical understanding of the cell is emerging from the study of these phenomena which emphasizes the dynamic, self-organizing nature of its constitution, the fluidity and plasticity of its components, and the stochasticity and non-linearity of its underlying processes.
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Philosophy & Science / Re: Is Physical Law an Alien Intelligence?
« Last post by sciborg2 on August 12, 2019, 02:29:23 pm »
"Sublimed" is an amazing way to describe physical transcendence of a species lol.

Heh, Iain Banks used that in his novels, figured it was the best word as a catch-all for all these options.
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