Saturday, February 29, 2020


"Historians who believe in the transcendence of science have portrayed scientists as living in a transcendent world of the intellect, superior to the transient, corruptible, mundane realities of the social world. Any scientist who claims to follow such exalted ideals is easily held up to ridicule as a pious fraud. We all know that scientists, like television evangelists and politicians, are not immune to the corrupting influences of power and money. Much of the history of science, like the history of religion, is a history of struggles driven by power and money. And yet this is not the whole story. Genuine saints occasionally play an important role, both in religion and in science. Einstein was an important figure in the history of science, and he was a firm believer in transcendence. For Einstein, science as a way of escape from mundane reality was no pretense. For many scientists less divinely gifted than Einstein, the chief reward for being a scientist is not the power and the money but the chance of catching a glimpse of the transcendent beauty of nature."

- Freeman Dyson (1923 - 2020)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Order of Things

"There where the weaver
would patch his cloth,
Where an able mathematician
would correct his errors,
Where the artist would
retouch his masterpiece
as yet imperfect
or recently damaged,
Nature prefers to start
all over from clay,
from chaos;
and this squandering is
called the order of things."

- Marguerite Yourcenar (1903 - 1987)

Monday, February 24, 2020

Random Mutations

"At this moment, in this place, the shifting action potential in my neurons cascade into certain arrangements, patterns, thoughts; they flow down my spine, branch into my arms, my fingers, until muscles twitch and thought is translated into motion; mechanical levers are pressed; electrons are rearranged; marks are made on paper.

At another time, in another place, light strikes the marks, reflects into a pair of high-precision optical instruments sculpted by nature after billions of years of random mutations; upside-down images are formed against two screens made up of millions of light-sensitive cells, which translate light into electrical pulses that go up the optic nerves, cross the chiasm, down the optic tracts, and into the visual cortex, where the pulses are reassembled into letters, punctuation marks, words, sentences, vehicles, tenors, thoughts.

The entire system seems fragile, preposterous, science fictional."

- Ken Liu (1976 - )

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Organized Patterns

"Perhaps our creative forays, from the stags at Lascaux to the equations of general relativity, emerge from the brain’s naturally selected but overly active ability to detect and coherently organize patterns. Perhaps these and related pursuits are exquisite but adaptively superfluous by-products of a sufficiently large brain released from full-time focus on securing shelter and sustenance… What lies beyond question is that we imagine and we create and we experience works, from the Pyramids to the Ninth Symphony to quantum mechanics, that are monuments to human ingenuity whose durability, if not whose content, point toward permanence.


Whereas most life, miraculous in its own right, is tethered to the immediate, we can step outside of time. We can think about the past, we can imagine the future. We can take in the universe, we can process it, we can explore it with mind and body, with reason and emotion. From our lonely corner of the cosmos we have used creativity and imagination to shape words and images and structures and sounds to express our longings and frustrations, our confusions and revelations, our failures and triumphs. We have used ingenuity and perseverance to touch the very limits of outer and inner space, determining fundamental laws that govern how stars shine and light travels, how time elapses and space expands — laws that allow us to peer back to the briefest moment after the universe began and then shift our gaze and contemplate its end."

- Brian Greene (1963 - )

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Associative Play

"The words or the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be 'voluntarily' reproduced and combined.

There is, of course, a certain connection between those elements and relevant logical concepts. It is also clear that the desire to arrive finally at logically connected concepts is the emotional basis of this rather vague play with the above-mentioned elements. But taken from a psychological viewpoint, this combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought — before there is any connection with logical construction in words or other kinds of signs which can be communicated to others.

The above-mentioned elements are, in my case, of visual and some of muscular type. Conventional words or other signs have to be sought for laboriously only in a secondary stage, when the mentioned associative play is sufficiently established and can be reproduced at will."

- Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Rational Concepts

"The divine principle of unity has ever been that of an inner inter-relationship. This is revealed in some of its earliest stages in the evolution of multicellular life on this planet. The most perfect outward expression has been attained by man in his own body. But what is most important of all is the fact that man has also attained its realization in a more subtle body outside his physical system. He misses himself when isolated he finds his own larger and truer self in his wide human relationship. His multicellular body is born and it dies; his multi-personal humanity is immortal.

"...the impersonal aspect of truth dealt with by science belongs to the human Universe. But men of Science tell us that truth, unlike beauty, and goodness, is independent of our consciousness. They explain to us how the belief, that truth is independent of the human mind, is a mystical belief, natural to man but at the same time inexplicable. But may not the explanation be this, that ideal truth does not depend upon the individual mind of man but on the universal mind which comprehends the individual? For to say that truth, as we see it, exists apart from humanity is really to contradict science itself; because science can only organize into rational concepts those facts which man can know and understand, and logic is a machinery of thinking created by the mechanic man.

I do not imply that the final nature of the world depends upon the comprehension of the individual person. Its reality is associated with the universal human mind which comprehends all time and all possibilities of realization. And this is why for the accurate knowledge of things we depend upon science that represents the rational mind of the universal man and not upon that of the individual who dwells in a limited range of space and time, and the immediate needs of life."

- Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941)

Monday, February 17, 2020


"You would measure time
the measureless and the immeasurable.
You would adjust your conduct
and even direct the course of your spirit
according to hours and seasons.
Of time you would make a stream
upon whose bank you would sit
and watch its flowing.
Yet the timeless in you
is aware of life’s timelessness,
And knows that yesterday
is but today’s memory
and tomorrow is today’s dream.
And that that which sings
and contemplates in you is still dwelling
within the bounds of that first moment
which scattered the stars into space."

- Kahlil Gibran (1883 - 1931) 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Autobiographical Memory

"When you summon up an autobiographical memory, you engage in a kind of mental time travel. You identify your current 'remembering self' with your past 'experiencing self'—like the self that was feeling apprehensive on the first day of school. These two selves are connected, not just through a continuously existing physical body but also through a somewhat discontinuous (because interrupted by dreamless sleep) stream of consciousness. The faculty of autobiographical memory allows us to understand ourselves as beings whose existence extends over time."

- Jim Holt (1954 - )

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Visible Delineations

"You see what the eye does teach; and yet it would never of itself have afforded this insight, without something that looks through the eyes and uses the data of the senses as mere guides to penetrate from the apparent to the unseen. It is needless to add the methods of geometry that lead us step by step through visible delineations to truths that lie out of sight, and countless other instances which all prove that apprehension is the work of an intellectual essence deeply seated in our nature, acting through the operation of our bodily senses."

- St. Gregory of Nyssa (335 – 395)