I’ve spent my blogging time this afternoon refining yesterday’s post about Michio Kaku’s book THE GOD EQUATION. I’m not sure reducing 20 bullets about each chapter to 10 bullets will make much difference, in terms of my goal to pass along knowledge I’ve gained to anyone reading this blog. But that’s what I did today, and I’m always thinking toward the big picture, that my accumulation of blog essays and summaries of significant books will add up to something, in the long run.
About this book — I remain a bit queasy about the author’s consideration of a “grand planner,” as if one were needed to explain the mathematical consistency of the universe, which he is agnostic about only because it can’t be proved. I am much more inclined to be persuaded — about the “reason” for the existence of our universe — by the idea that only one set of physical constants and mathematical principles is consistent. That somehow, our universe exists because nothing else can exist.
At the same time, I suspect these big issues are simply incomprehensible to primates like us, wandering around on the surface of an average planet, forever blinkered by the limitations of our senses, and our capacity to understand abstract concepts. We are like dogs thinking we might be able to understand arithmetic, and oblivious to concepts like geometry and calculus.
Here’s a book I thought suspect on two or three counts, but which turned out to be quite worthwhile. It’s a succinct, crisp history of physics, from the Greeks to the present, and ending with, though not dwelling too much on, string theory. Along the way we meet all the famous physicists we’ve heard about, matched up to their key discoveries, and in turned matched up to how those discoveries changed human history and have played out in the modern world.
Jerry Coyne, 29 Jun 2022: Once again: A misguided article on why the theory of evolution is obsolete
This discusses an article in the UK newspaper Guardian, Do we need a new theory of evolution?, by Stephen Buranyi, which uses the image linked above.
Of course journalist Buranyi’s answer implies “yes” and evolutionary biologist Coyne’s is a definite “no.”
The New Yorker, Anna Wiener, 27 Jun 2022: The Weird, Analog Delights of Foley Sound Effects
Subtitled: “E.T. was jello in a T-shirt. The Mummy was scratchy potpourri. For Foley artists, deception is an essential part of the enterprise.”
CNN, 27 Jun 2022: Supreme Court further erodes separation between church and state in case of praying football coach
No surprise here; the current SCOTUS has been consistently favoring religious interests in every possible circumstance. At least Christian ones! Plus, Robert Reich, and what Thomas Jefferson thought about Constitutional originalism.
A couple of these items today echo points I’ve made in recent days.
How the Supreme Court decision about Roe v Wade suggests that no laws can be made about anything that was not recognized as an issue two or three centuries ago. The US is forever anchored to past standards, it seems. It cannot learn.
As I’ve observed before, conservatives, especially the Christian ones, seem to be about constraining rights (for others) and expanding rights (for themselves), while liberals are about expanding rights for everyone to the extent they don’t conflict with each other. Why are conservatives so intent on running other peoples’ lives?
The better question might be, why are so many conservative states so anxious to pass laws that restrict the freedoms of many of their citizens? Are that they addled with religious superstition? With magical thinking about the “personhood” of a just-fertilized embryo?
Why do they not care that these laws they’re passing are restricting the religious rights of *others*? Isn’t this religious dictatorship by Christians?
Texas, climate change, gays, guns, Christians