Links and Comments: The Profound and the Pernicious

From NPR, The Answer To Life, The Universe — And Everything? It’s 63.

The headline is a riff on the famous episode in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Wikipedia) in which a vast computer called Deep Thought is assigned to calculate the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything” (Wikipedia), and responds with the answer, “42”. And then explains that the answer is incomprehensible because the question wasn’t properly formed…

Now we have a new book by Caleb Scharf, The Zoomable Universe, which explores the magnitude of the universe, from the very large to the very small. An order of magnitude difference of… 63. He summarizes a key point of the book in this NPR piece.

It’s on our biological scales that the universe does something very, very funky. Billions of years of elemental and chemical brewing have produced structures capable of awareness, and capable of trying to decode the very thing out of which they’ve come. It’s the ultimate bootstrap, going from a near featureless primordial reality to something that deduces its own existence.

That’s what exploring 63 orders of magnitude leads us to. The nature of us.


On a completely different matter, noting current political controversies, we have Valerie Tarico pointing out that Alabama Conservatives Are Right: Roy Moore’s Behavior Is Perfectly Biblical — and That Is the Problem.

Indeed, Biblical morality reflect the primitive tribalist past of our species, an era when, as the Bible explains, “females are created for the benefit of males”. Tarico cites many passages and examples.

Just another reason why the Bible, I think, is a fascinating historical document, providing keen insights into the childhood of our species, but is not just wrong-headed but actually pernicious as a guide for any kind of morality, let alone insight into the actual nature of the world and humanity’s place in it, in the modern world.

Roy Moore has made his choice. You can call him disgusting or vile or sexist, but don’t use the word hypocrite. Moore is living the script.

And, given the tribalistic loyalty of conservatives discussed in the previous post — despite any signs of contemporary morality — Alabama might yet elect him to the Senate anyway.

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