Murray Gell-Mann

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pages: 795 words: 215,529

Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick

Albert Einstein, American ideology, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Ernest Rutherford, gravity well, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, pattern recognition, Pepto Bismol, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Schrödinger's Cat, sexual politics, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, uranium enrichment

in a small first printing early in 1985. It sold out quickly, and within weeks the publisher had a surprising best-seller. One unhappy reader was Murray Gell-Mann. His attention focused on Feynman’s description of the joy of discovering the “new law” of weak interactions in 1957: “It was the first time, and the only time, in my career that I knew a law of nature that nobody else knew.” Gell-Mann’s rage could be heard through the halls of Lauritsen Laboratory, and he told other physicists that he was going to sue. For late editions of the paperback Feynman added a parenthetical disclaimer: “Of course it wasn’t true, but finding out later that at least Murray Gell-Mann—and also Sudarshan and Marshak—had worked out the same theory didn’t spoil my fun.” Surely You’re Joking gave offense in another way. Feynman spoke of women as he always had—“a nifty blonde, perfectly proportioned”; “a cornfed, rather fattish-looking woman.”

Brueckner, “The Production of Mesons by Photons,” Physical Review 79(1950):641. 275 THE UNREASONABLE POWER OF THE DIAGRAMS: Segrè 1980, 274. 276 LIKE THE SILICON CHIP: Schwinger 1983, 343. 276 PEDAGOGY, NOT PHYSICS: Ibid., 347. 276 YES, ONE CAN ANALYZE EXPERIENCE: Ibid., 343. 277 ALTHOUGH ‘ONE’ IS NOT PERFECTLY: Bernstein 1987, 63. 277 THEY ALSO WORRIED ABOUT SCHWINCER’S ABILITY: Sheldon Glashow, interview, Cambridge, Mass. 277 MURRAY GELL-MANN LATER SPENT A SEMESTER: Murray Gell-Mann, interviews, Pasadena and Chicago. 278 THERE WAS A NEW NOTE: E.g., Virginia Prewett, “I Homesteaded in Brazil,” Saturday Evening Post, 22 April 1950, 10, began, “It’s going to be the first atomic-bomb shelter in the New World.” Cf. F-W, 551. 278 AT LEAST A 40 PERCENT CHANCE OF WAR: Wheeler to Feynman, 29 March 1951, CIT. 278 WHEN A BRAZILIAN PHYSICIST: Lopes 1988; J.

Bradley, 13 July 1984, CIT. 409 OKAY, START YOUR WATCH: Weiner, interview. 409 A RECORD OF THE DAY-TO-DAY WORK: F-W, II-4. 410 TODAY I WENT OVER TO THE HUNTINGTON: F-L. 410 AND THE NEXT MORNING, ALL RIGHT: Ibid. 411 “LISTEN,” I SAID TO THE DISPATCHER: SYJ, 236. 411 A NICE BROOKLYN RING: Edwin Barber to Feynman, 2 March 1984, CIT. 411 GELL-MANN’S RAGE COULD BE HEARD: E.g., Tuck, interview. 411 OF COURSE IT WASN’T TRUE: SYJ, 229. He also changed “Murray Gell-Mann and I wrote a paper on the theory” to “Murray Gell-Mann compared and combined our ideas and wrote a paper on the theory” (232). Gell-Mann still called it “that joke book.” He knew that Feynman had not deliberately tried to take undeserved credit, but he was hurt nonetheless. “He was not at all a thief of ideas—even very generous in some ways,” Gell-Mann said. “It’s just that he was not always capable of regarding other people as really existing.” 411 A NIFTY BLONDE: SYJ, 241 and 168. 412 OUT WITH HIS GIRL FRIEND: Lectures, I-3–7. 412 DEAR ROTHSTEIN: DON’T BUG ME: “Protest,” mimeograph sheet, CIT. 412 HE HAD SPENT MANY PLEASANT HOURS: Jenijoy La Belle, interview, Pasadena; “Feynman Commends La Belle,” letter to California Tech, 5 March 1976; La Belle 1989. 413 AND, LIKE FALLING IN LOVE: NL, 435. 413 SO WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OLD THEORY: NL, 456. 413 THERE IS IN THE WORLD OF PHYSICS: Feynman 1972e, 1. 414 GENERALLY MR.


pages: 449 words: 123,459

The Infinity Puzzle by Frank Close

Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Arthur Eddington, dark matter, El Camino Real, en.wikipedia.org, Ernest Rutherford, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Simon Singh

Ward asked, to which Marshak replied that at least four separate pieces of data would have to be wrong if V – A were to be the answer. The classification of the weak force appeared a mess, the results of some experiments hinting at S or T, while others preferred V or A. Clarity came with a rush. The experiments claiming S or T turned out to be flawed, and new experiments favored a combination of V and A. Marshak discussed the matter with several colleagues, including Murray Gell-Mann, a young theorist who would almost single-handedly redefine the frontiers of particle physics. However, that would come later, as we shall see. Meanwhile, unaware of these developments, Richard Feynman had been traveling in Brazil that summer and also had realized that V – A offered a mathematically tantalizing, though apparently empirically useless, possibility. On his return he asked some of his Cal Tech experimental colleagues to brief him on developments in the weak interaction, and they told him that Gell-Mann thought that the evidence for the S interpretation looked doubtful and that the data pointed more toward the correct classification being V.

The ideas of Yang and Mills (with or without Shaw) had largely been ignored since 1954. Suddenly, everything changed. The arrival of V – A as the classification of the weak interaction by 1957 inspired not just Ward but also others to realize that latent within the Yang-Mills equations was a possibility for physics to make a great advance. However, it would turn out that there are many possible paths through the Yang-Mills jungle. Murray Gell-Mann, who also had recognized the V – A option, spent a considerable amount of 1958 and ’59 trying to unite weak and electromagnetic forces but failed to find a model that would fit all the facts.12 Salam and Ward, however, were relatively slow in getting together and developing the idea. As we shall see, their first try did not agree with nature. By the time they had found the scheme that nature actually uses, they had been beaten—and by a student.

This episode was an extreme example, Salam claiming that as a result he never again read any of Glashow’s papers, although he himself later admitted that this was a mistake.9 Glashow wisely dropped his wild claim that the theory was renormalizable, but continued with his pursuit of a unified theory. Fortune came his way the next year, 1960, following a seminar that he gave in Paris, attended by Murray Gell-Mann. Gell-Mann was only three years older than Glashow but already had a huge reputation. By the age of thirty he had introduced the concept of “strange” particles, to explain the bizarre phenomena being discovered in cosmic rays; he was already en route to the grand classification scheme that would group the strong interacting particles—hadrons—into families, eventually explaining them as composed of more basic particles called quarks, and he had developed a method of 116 the infinity puzzle calculation known as current algebra to account for the behavior of these particles.


pages: 185 words: 55,639

The Search for Superstrings, Symmetry, and the Theory of Everything by John Gribbin

Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, complexity theory, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking

But although the impetus for finding patterns among the properties of hadrons came partly from ideas developed in the context of field theory in the 1950s, the ‘periodic table’ of the particles stood on its own merits, as a classification system like Mendeleev's table, at the start of the next phase of development of particle physics. The classification system was arrived at independently by two physicists, the American Murray Gell-Mann (born in 1929) and the Israeli Yuval Ne'eman, born in 1925. Ne'eman's education and career were interrupted by the fighting in the Middle East, following World War Two, during which Israel emerged as a nation in the region that had previously been Palestine. Ne'eman stayed in the Israeli armed forces after this period of disturbance, but found opportunities to study as well as to carry out his military duties.

By 1970, experimental results were coming in that seemed to be in line with this colour model of quarks, and the concept began to gain ground. And at about the same time Glashow and two of his colleagues at Harvard, John Iliopoulos and Luciano Maiani, revived the idea of a fourth quark, which Glashow gave the name ‘charm’, in order to tidy up the theoretical interpretation of some other puzzling experimental observations. In 1971, Murray Gell-Mann and Harald Fritzsch, who was born in Zwickau in 1943, and is now Research Professor of Physics at the Max-Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, took up the idea of colour and began to develop a field theory approach that would describe the behaviour of interactions involving particles that came in three varieties. As early as the autumn of 1972, Gell-Mann and Fritzsch were proposing that the best description of the structure of hadrons was in terms of a Yang-Mills type of gauge theory in which the triplets of coloured quarks interacted with one another through the mediation of an octet of gluons.

Group theory was developed in the nineteenth century by the Norwegian mathematician Sophus Lie (so these groups are sometimes known as ‘Lie groups’). Although the theory had been used in mathematical descriptions of the symmetry of crystals, it was a largely obscure branch of mathematics until the second half of the twentieth century, when Chen Ning Yang and Robert Mills found a way to describe the strong interaction in terms of Lie groups, and then Murray Gell-Mann and Yuval Ne'eman (working independently of one another) found that SU(3) provided a framework for describing mathematically the relationships between elementary particles. Since then, symmetry groups have been an essential tool used by physicists in their development of gauge theories of the forces of nature. In this context, symmetry groups are sometimes called gauge groups. A simple example of a group is the set of rotations of a coordinate system (an x, y graph system) around the point where the x and y axes meet.


pages: 558 words: 164,627

The Pentagon's Brain: An Uncensored History of DARPA, America's Top-Secret Military Research Agency by Annie Jacobsen

Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, colonial rule, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Dean Kamen, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, game design, John Markoff, John von Neumann, license plate recognition, Livingstone, I presume, low earth orbit, megacity, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Norman Mailer, operation paperclip, place-making, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, social intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, zero-sum game

“The high goals set by the originators of the Jason concept were being met when the Vietnam War intervened,” said Gordon MacDonald, who joined the Jasons in the summer of 1963. “Murray Gell-Mann called to ask if I’d like to join Jason. I respected Murray a great deal,” and said yes to joining. The first year as a Jason, MacDonald recalled, “my contribution was principally related to [nuclear effects]—what happens to the ionosphere when you set off nuclear explosions, things of that sort.” But as individual Jasons became interested in Vietnam, so did the group. The first Jason to be very interested was Murray Gell-Mann. Gell-Mann was one of the most respected thinkers in the Jason group, and one of the most esoteric. In 1969 he would win the Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery of quarks, a subatomic particle the nature of which is far beyond the grasp of most people.

Kenneth Watson, a nuclear physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, and protégé of Edward Teller, had done a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Keith Brueckner, a physicist, meteorologist, and former Los Alamos weapons developer, had studied at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory with Watson and Goldberger and at the Institute for Advanced Study alongside John von Neumann. Murray Gell-Mann, the youngest member, had been a doctoral student of Manhattan Project giant Victor Weisskopf, and was someone Goldberger considered a prodigy. The four physicists agreed to start a for-profit defense consulting company together. Their first idea was to call it Theoretical Physics, Inc. “The idea was that we would not work simply as consultants; we’d work as a formal group, a little business,” Keith Brueckner recalled, in a 1986 oral history.

They wanted to limit membership to theoretical physicists, said Goldberger, generalists who had knowledge in a wide variety of areas and used mathematical models and abstractions to understand, explain, and predict phenomena in the natural world. “It was a very elite operation,” recalled Brueckner. “It was an honor to be asked.” Goldberger remembered that “everyone was excited, full of ideas, and very patriotic.” Murph Goldberger, Keith Brueckner, Kenneth Watson, and Murray Gell-Mann drew up a list of their most respected colleagues and asked them to participate. The group’s first meeting took place at IDA headquarters in Virginia on December 17, 1959. George Kistiakowsky, one of President Eisenhower’s science advisors, led the meeting. Kistiakowsky kept a daily desk diary in which he recorded his thoughts. “Met at IDA headquarters with the ‘bright young physicists,’ a group assembled by Charles Townes to do imaginative thinking about military problems,” Kistiakowsky noted that day.


pages: 209 words: 68,587

Stephen Hawking by Leonard Mlodinow

Albert Michelson, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, Ernest Rutherford, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Nelson Mandela, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method

The trips were all arranged by his friend Kip Thorne. Kip, who was about Stephen’s age, studied classical general relativity, the original Einstein theory without quantum modifications. At the other end of the Caltech theorist spectrum were two Nobel laureates who specialized in quantum theories and for the most part ignored general relativity. They were the two most influential theoretical physicists of their era, Murray Gell-Mann and Richard Feynman. A decade after Stephen’s Fairchild year, I arrived at Caltech and had the office next to Murray, and down the hall from Feynman. Gell-Mann was “Murray” to me and to most people. He derived his greatest fame from discovering a mathematical scheme to classify and understand the properties of elementary particles. The achievement earned him comparisons with Dmitri Mendeleev, who accomplished an analogous feat when he invented the periodic table of elements.

I’d had relationships, though, in which the exchanges were more like, Hey, the coffee’s too weak, and the response is, Next time make it yourself! What type of relationship would Stephen’s and mine be? I figured that what I had to say, and how he answered, could be a test of things to come. It could be a way to deepen our connection or, if it went south, it could make our future work awkward for us. Mary was dabbing at Stephen’s mouth, and I had already popped up out of my seat when, seemingly from nowhere, Murray Gell-Mann walked up. Apparently he was visiting from New Mexico. I’d seen him only every now and then since he left Caltech in the 1990s. I thought about how, each time I saw him, his hair had grown just a bit whiter, his posture more slumped. Though still in his late seventies, he seemed a little less sharp, too—not that I would’ve wanted to challenge him to a physics contest. In comparison to Murray, Stephen appeared ageless.

Some of Stephen’s colleagues chuckled at the hype and felt happy for him. Others groused. One said, in a 1988 London Sunday Times article, that a list of the twelve best physicists of the twentieth century would not include Stephen. Stephen would have agreed with that assessment. He knew that, back in his early days at Caltech, he would have come in at just number three among the physicists on the fourth floor of the Lauritsen Laboratory—behind Murray Gell-Mann and Richard Feynman. Still, Stephen was happy to have become a spokesperson for his field. What was more important was that probably more than any other physicist alive, he needed the money that comes with fame. Psychologists argue over whether money brings happiness. For Stephen, money brought life. Stephen’s fame didn’t go to his head. He’d always had a certain arrogance—as do most people who are that smart and accomplished—but he also appreciated that, smart as he was, nature is smarter, as all theorists know from experience.


pages: 661 words: 169,298

Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Cepheid variable, Commentariolus, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, delayed gratification, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Harrison: Longitude, Karl Jansky, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, planetary scale, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Solar eclipse in 1919, source of truth, Stephen Hawking, Thales of Miletus, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers

Coming of Age in the Milky Way was written in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco over a period of twelve years, from 1976 through 1988. As one might expect, in the course of so long a project I have incurred more debts of gratitude than I can properly retire. I should like, however, to express my thanks for aid and criticism provided by William Alexander, Sherry Arden, Hans Bethe, Nancy Brackett, Ken Broede, Robert Brucato, Lisa Drew, Ann Druyan, David Falk, Andrew Fraknoi, Murray Gell-Mann, Owen Gingerich, J. Richard Gott III, Stephen Jay Gould, Alan Guth, Stephen Hawking, He Xiang Tao, Karen Hitzig, Larry Hughes, Res Jost, Kathy Lowry, Owen Laster, Irwin Lieb, Dennis Meredith, Arthur Miller, Bruce Murray, Lynda Obst, Heinz Pagels, Abraham Pais, Thomas Powers, Carl Sagan, Allan Sandage, David Schramm, Dennis Sciama, Frank Shu, Erica Spellman, Gustav Tammann, Jack Thibeau, Kip S.

*The medicine balls are purely repulsive, as in the interaction between two electrons or other fermions of like charge. For attractive forces (as between a proton and an electron), imagine that the bosons are elastic bands that stretch when the skaters move apart, drawing them together. For the exclusion principle, let each skater wear a hoopskirt that forbids their colliding…. And that is quite enough of that. *The name “quark” was conferred by Murray Gell-Mann, the Caltech physicist who came up with the idea. It comes from a line in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, “Three quarks for Muster Mark!” George Zweig, a physicist at Caltech who arrived at the same idea independently, called the entities “aces,” a term that lost out to Gell-Mann’s, perhaps because there are four aces, not three, in a deck of cards. 16 RUMORS OF PERFECTION Spirit of BEAUTY, that dost consecrate With thine own hues all thou dost shine upon Of human thought or form, where art thou gone?

Yang-Mills gauge theory offered a new approach to the practice of theoretical physics: What one could now do was to first identify an invariance, the signal of a symmetry; then construct, mathematically, a gauge field capable of maintaining that invariance locally; then derive the characteristics of the particles that would convey such a field; then go and see (or urge the experimenters to go see) whether any such particles actually exist in nature. Viewed from this perspective, Einstein’s photons, the carriers of the electromagnetic force, are gauge particles, messengers of symmetry. So are the gravitons thought to be the carriers of gravitation. But what were the gauge particles of the strong and weak forces? That question was taken up by one of the first to appreciate the beauty of the Yang-Mills approach, the American physicist Murray Gell-Mann. Some smart scientists (Dirac, Bohr, and the elder Einstein) are modest in demeanor. Others are brash. (Wolfgang Pauli disrupted Yang’s first explication of gauge invariance so persistently that J. Robert Oppenheimer finally had to tell him to shut up and sit down.) Gell-Mann was very smart—he spoke more languages than his friends could keep count of, displayed an expert knowledge of everything from botany to Caucasian carpet-weaving, and was said, with forgivable exaggeration, to rank as a great physicist not because he had any particular aptitude for physics but simply because he deigned to include physics among his many interests—and very brash.


pages: 524 words: 120,182

Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell

Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, dark matter, discrete time, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, Paul Erdős, peer-to-peer, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, scientific worldview, stem cell, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine

Many complex systems scientists use the concept of information to characterize and measure order and disorder, complexity and simplicity. The immunologist Irun Cohen states that “complex systems sense, store, and deploy more information than do simple systems.” The economist Eric Beinhocker writes that “evolution can perform its tricks not just in the ‘substrate’ of DNA but in any system that has the right information processing and information storage characteristics.” The physicist Murray Gell-Mann said of complex adaptive systems that “Although they differ widely in their physical attributes, they resemble one another in the way they handle information. That common feature is perhaps the best starting point for exploring how they operate.” But just what is meant by “information”? What Is Information? You see the word “information” all over the place these days: the “information revolution,” the “information age,” “information technology” (often simply “IT”), the “information superhighway,” and so forth.

In contrast, here is a string I generated using a pseudo-random number generator: ATCTGTCAAGACGGAACAT (string 2) Assuming my random number generator is a good one, this string has no discernible overall pattern to it, and would require a longer program, namely “Print the exact string A T C T G T C A A A A C G G A A C A T.” The idea is that string 1 is compressible, but string 2 is not, so contains more algorithmic information. Like entropy, algorithmic information content assigns higher information content to random objects than ones we would intuitively consider to be complex. The physicist Murray Gell-Mann proposed a related measure he called “effective complexity” that accords better with our intuitions about complexity. Gell-Mann proposed that any given entity is composed of a combination of regularity and randomness. For example, string 1 above has a very simple regularity: the repeating A C motif. String 2 has no regularities, since it was generated at random. In contrast, the DNA of a living organism has some regularities (e.g., important correlations among different parts of the genome) probably combined with some randomness (e.g., true junk DNA).

The best set of regularities is the smallest one that describes the entity in question and at the same time minimizes the remaining random component of that entity. For example, biologists today have found many regularities in the human genome, such as genes, regulatory interactions among genes, and so on, but these regularities still leave a lot of seemingly random aspects that don’t obey any regularities—namely, all that so-called junk DNA. If the Murray Gell-Mann of biology were to come along, he or she might find a better set of regularities that is simpler than that which biologists have so far identified and that is obeyed by more of the genome. Effective complexity is a compelling idea, though like most of the proposed measures of complexity, it is hard to actually measure. Critics also have pointed out that the subjectivity of its definition remains a problem.


pages: 433 words: 106,048

The End of Illness by David B. Agus

Danny Hillis, discovery of penicillin, double helix, epigenetics, germ theory of disease, Google Earth, impulse control, information retrieval, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Murray Gell-Mann, pattern recognition, Pepto Bismol, personalized medicine, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, Steve Jobs, the scientific method

—AL GORE, 45th vice president of the United States, Nobel laureate in peace, 2007 “As physician, research scientist, and friendly guide, Dr. David Agus takes his readers on a fascinating tour of ideas and facts about health and illness. They will find many of those ideas to be unconventional and thought-provoking and many of the facts to be both striking and surprising. Read this book and you will very likely change at least some of your views on health and illness.” —MURRAY GELL-MANN, PHD, Nobel laureate in physics, 1969, and distinguished fellow and cofounder of the Santa Fe Institute “Filled with unorthodox ideas backed with hard science, The End of Illness simplifies for the reader the complexity of vital developments happening in medicine today and teaches us how to make the most of what’s available, as well as what’s soon to come.” —MICHAEL DELL, founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Dell, Inc.

Our outlooks on life may evolve slowly over time, but they can shift in an instant when a new fact or finding is brought to our attention. My perspective on health began to take a serious turn when I read Clifton’s article, and then it crystallized one night in the company of a Nobel laureate in physics who pushed me to think differently. In July 2009, I attended a dinner party in Aspen, Colorado, where I had the good fortune of meeting Murray Gell-Mann, the scientist who had postulated the existence of quarks nearly fifty years previously. Quarks, particles more elementary than electrons, are the basic building blocks of all matter in the universe. We owe much of our understanding of how the universe organizes itself at the subatomic level to Murray’s work. He received the 1969 Nobel Prize in physics even though his concepts weren’t confirmed until 1977.

It may even be the biggest success story in biology because it started as just a theory and was later confirmed to be correct, which hardly ever happens in the field. By contrast, this order of events happens all the time in physics. Before we could prove the existence of black holes, for instance, someone came up with a model—an equation more or less—that indicated that they were out there. And lo and behold, black holes were eventually “discovered.” As I mentioned in the introduction, Murray Gell-Mann first predicted the existence of quarks by creating a model based on mathematics rather than observation. This type of discovery, whereby an abstract theory precedes actual proof, or even a way of testing out a theory, almost never happens in biology. Biology is rife with dogma based on real-life observations rather than postulations. That is, with one relatively recent exception: the field of DNA and the genome.


pages: 277 words: 87,082

Beyond Weird by Philip Ball

Albert Einstein, Bayesian statistics, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, dematerialisation, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes

It’s clear now that Bohr’s view of quantum mechanics cannot be ‘right’ in any absolute sense – it is too restricted, and he could not have known some things that we now understand. But about where the problems lie, he was right. And probably, yes, he did not know why. Still, some researchers regard the rather equivocal predominance of the Copenhagen Interpretation as mere historical contingency at best, and as the result of effective (even aggressive) marketing at worst. The Nobel laureate physicist Murray Gell-Mann accused Bohr of having ‘brainwashed’ a generation of physicists into thinking that the problems of quantum mechanics had been solved: the Copenhagen Interpretation has, he said, a ‘tranquillizing’ effect that induces an uncritical stupor. Even if you don’t object to the Copenhagen Interpretation, you have to wonder whether its hegemony really is due to anything other than chance – or to the canny machinations of its advocates, marshalled by the indefatigable Bohr.

Such a wavefunction would need to contain within it every state of the universe conceivably possible. Yet not all of these are realized – specifically, at large scales only certain classical states are allowed. Why is that? In the so-called Consistent Histories Interpretation of quantum mechanics, developed in the 1980s by the physicist Robert Griffiths and subsequently and independently by Roland Omnès and by Murray Gell-Mann and James Hartle, we can narrow down the options using sheer logic. That’s to say, even though quantum mechanics forgoes any choice of outcomes – this or that – in favour of just their probabilities, we can still reasonably say that anything that happens has to be consistent with what came before. Such a criterion of logical consistency means that not every history can be assigned a probability.

Critics might dismiss his view while embracing what it produced. It’s a reminder that in science – and this is arguably truer than ever in a contested field like quantum mechanics – it’s as worthwhile for an idea to be productive as it is for it to be ‘right’. Deutsch’s Many Worlds convictions can, at least in this regard, therefore be considered productive. But what are the chances that they are right? If Murray Gell-Mann was right that Niels Bohr brainwashed a generation of physicists to accept the Copenhagen Interpretation, either his influence has waned or he didn’t do a very good job in the first place. For in an informal poll conducted at an international meeting in 2011 on ‘quantum physics and the nature of reality’, fewer than half of the attendees professed an allegiance to Bohr’s position. True, his was still the most popular interpretation by a considerable margin.


pages: 306 words: 82,765

Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

availability heuristic, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Brownian motion, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, David Graeber, disintermediation, Donald Trump, Edward Thorp, equity premium, financial independence, information asymmetry, invisible hand, knowledge economy, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, mental accounting, microbiome, moral hazard, Murray Gell-Mann, offshore financial centre, p-value, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, Ralph Nader, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, Silicon Valley, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, survivorship bias, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs, urban planning, Yogi Berra

Anyone who has survived in the risk-taking business more than a few years has some version of our by now familiar principle that “in order to succeed, you must first survive.” My own has been: “never cross a river if it is on average four feet deep.” I effectively organized all my life around the point that sequence matters and the presence of ruin disqualifies cost-benefit analyses; but it never hit me that the flaw in decision theory was so deep. Until out of nowhere came a paper by the physicist Ole Peters, working with the great Murray Gell-Mann. They presented a version of the difference between ensemble and time probabilities with a thought experiment similar to mine above, and showed that just about everything in social science having to do with probability is flawed. Deeply flawed. Very deeply flawed. Largely, terminally flawed. For, in the quarter millennia since an initial formulation of decision making under uncertainty by the mathematician Jacob Bernoulli, one that has since become standard, almost all people involved in the field have made the severe mistake of missing the effect of the difference between ensemble and time.fn1 Everyone?

Lack of skin in the game, obviously. For it looks like you need a lot of intelligence to figure probabilistic things out when you don’t have skin in the game. But for an overeducated nonpractitioner, these things are hard to figure out. Unless one is a genius, that is, has the clarity of mind to see through the mud, or has a sufficiently profound command of probability theory to cut through the nonsense. Now, certifiably, Murray Gell-Mann is a genius (and, likely, Peters). Gell-Mann discovered the subatomic particles he himself called quarks (which got him the Nobel). Peters said that when he presented the idea to Gell-Mann, “he got it instantly.” Claude Shannon, Ed Thorp, J. L. Kelly, and Harald Cramér are, no doubt, geniuses—I can personally vouch for Thorp, who has an unmistakable clarity of mind combined with a depth of thinking that juts out in conversation.

Oxford: Oxford University Press. Periander of Corinth. In Early Greek Philosophy: Beginning and Early Ionian Thinkers, Part 1. Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press. Peters, Ole, 2011. “The Time Resolution of the St Petersburg Paradox.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences 369(1956): 4913–4931. Peters, Ole, and Murray Gell-Mann, 2016. “Evaluating Gambles Using Dynamics.” Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science 26(2): 023103. Available: scitation.aip.org/content/aip/journal/chaos/26/2/10.1063/1.4940236 Piketty, Thomas, 1995. “Social Mobility and Redistributive Politics.” The Quarterly Journal of Economics 110(3): 551–584. ———, 2015. Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.


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The Greatest Story Ever Told—So Far by Lawrence M. Krauss

Albert Einstein, complexity theory, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, Ernest Rutherford, Isaac Newton, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, the scientific method

Marshak was also the originator of the Rochester conferences and probably felt it would show favoritism to allow his own student to speak. In addition, since Sudarshan’s idea required at least some of the experimental data to be wrong, Marshak may have decided it was premature to present it at the meeting. That summer Marshak was working at the RAND Corporation in Los Angeles and invited Sudarshan and another student to join him. The two most renowned particle theorists in the world then, Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann, were at Caltech, and each had become obsessed with unraveling the form of the weak interaction. Feynman had missed out on the discovery of parity violation by not following his own line of questioning, but had since realized that his work on quantum electrodynamics could shed light on the weak interaction. He desperately wanted to do this because he felt his work on QED was simply a bit of technical wizardry and far less noble than unearthing the form of the law governing another of the fundamental interactions in nature.

This couldn’t explain the proper nature of the weak interaction, in particular the strange fact that the weak interaction seemed to apply only to left-handed electrons (and neutrinos), whereas electromagnetic interactions don’t depend on whether the electrons are left- or right-handed. The only solution to this problem would be if another neutral gauge particle existed—in addition to the photon—which itself coupled to only left-handed particles. But clearly the new neutral particle would also have to be heavy since the interactions it mediated would have to be weak as well. Glashow’s ideas were reported to the physics community by Murray Gell-Mann at the 1960 Rochester meeting, as Gell-Mann had by then recruited Glashow to Caltech to work in Gell-Mann’s group. Glashow’s paper on the subject, submitted in 1960, appeared in 1961 in print. Yet, no sudden stampede occurred in response. After all, two fundamental problems remained with Glashow’s proposal. The first was the long-familiar problem of how one could have the different masses of the particles needed to convey the different forces, when gauge symmetries required all the gauge particles to be massless.

Particles with the general properties of the vector mesons predicted by Sakurai were discovered experimentally over the next two years, and the idea that they might somehow yield the secret of the strong interaction was exploited to try to make sense of the otherwise complex interactions between nucleons and other particles. In response to this notion that some kind of Yang-Mills symmetry might be behind the strong interaction, Murray Gell-Mann developed an elegant symmetry scheme he labeled in a Zen-like fashion the Eightfold Way. It not only allowed a classification of eight different vector mesons, but also predicted the existence of thus-far-unobserved strongly interacting particles. The idea that these newly proposed symmetries of nature might help bring order to what otherwise seemed a hopeless menagerie of elementary particles was so exciting that, when his predicted particle was subsequently discovered, it led to a Nobel Prize for Gell-Mann.


pages: 385 words: 98,015

Einstein's Unfinished Revolution: The Search for What Lies Beyond the Quantum by Lee Smolin

Albert Einstein, Brownian motion, Claude Shannon: information theory, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, Ernest Rutherford, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Turing machine

As Feynman proposed it, this is just a scheme to calculate probabilities in quantum mechanics. But Rafael Sorkin proposes that this is the basis of a realist quantum theory, in which the beables are histories. The catch (you should know by now there always is a catch) is that one has to use a nonstandard quantum logic to talk about what is real about those histories.6 A very different use is made of histories by Murray Gell-Mann and James Hartle,7 who maintain that the reality we experience is just one of many equally consistent and equally real histories. The idea is that if different histories decohere, they can’t be superposed; thus they can be thought of as alternative histories. Gell-Mann and Hartle, along with Robert Griffiths and Roland Omnès, formulated this idea as the consistent histories approach to quantum mechanics.8 A key result of this approach was that a history obeying Newton’s laws of classical physics would be part of a family that would decohere.

How the Quantum World Says ‘Maybe,’” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 43, no. 2 (May 2012), 75–83, arXiv:1002.0906. 6. Rafael D. Sorkin, “Quantum Measure Theory and Its Interpretation,” in Quantum Classical Correspondence: Proceedings of the 4th Drexel Symposium on Quantum Nonintegrability, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA, September 8–11, 1994, eds. Bei-Lok Hu and Da Hsuan Feng (Cambridge, MA: International Press, 1997), 229–51, arXiv:gr-qc/9507057. 7. Murray Gell-Mann and James B. Hartle, “Quantum Mechanics in the Light of Quantum Cosmology,” in Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium: Foundations of Quantum Mechanics in the Light of New Technology, Tokyo, 1989, 321–43; Gell-Mann and Hartle, “Alternative Decohering Histories in Quantum Mechanics,” in Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on High Energy Physics, 2–8 August 1990, Singapore, eds.

* To put it more precisely, while the measure of all those branches with statistics not obeying the Born rule goes to zero, in the limit of an infinite number of trials, the number of those branches does not. * Wallace and Myrvold have since left Oxford; Deutsch, Greaves, and Saunders remain as of 2018. * The idea that decoherence defines the branches in the Many Worlds Interpretation had been suggested earlier by others including Heinz-Dieter Zeh, Wojciech Zurek, Murray Gell-Mann, and James Hartle. * Indeed, the holographic principle (which is defined on pages 259–260) requires that any system that can be fit into a box with walls of a finite area has a finite number of states. This is certainly the case with any system of the kind we are discussing here—an atomic system interacting with a measuring instrument. One reply that might be given is that we live in an ever-expanding universe, which may imply that the dimension of the state space is continually expanding, in which case there is no Poincaré recurrence.


Possiplex by Ted Nelson

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Bill Duvall, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, cuban missile crisis, Donald Knuth, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, HyperCard, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, Murray Gell-Mann, nonsequential writing, pattern recognition, post-work, RAND corporation, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Vannevar Bush, Zimmermann PGP

But politeness and toadying and accommodation with awfulness are not my thing. I am a truth-teller and that’s that. What would Murray Gell-Mann have said? ca. 1986 Friends often tell me, “Oh, you should get a MacArthur Genius Grant!” Yeah, sure. Unfortunately the MacArthur is something you cannot apply for; you have to be noticed and recognized. (Also, you have to be doing something everybody understands.) The MacArthurs go to people who look good on paper, with polished and well-understood achievements already behind them. Since I have achieved little and my ideas are not generally understood, I don’t profile for it. Nevertheless, in the 1980s I had a friend who thought she could get me a MacArthur grant. She actually managed to get to the man in charge behind the scenes. It was none other than Murray Gell-Mann, the physicist who discovered the quark; he was running the MacArthur selection as a pro bono operation, or so she told me.

It was none other than Murray Gell-Mann, the physicist who discovered the quark; he was running the MacArthur selection as a pro bono operation, or so she told me. She had in her hand a paper on Korzybski that I had written. (On someone's request, I had written a long paper on how Korzybski related to my schematics work-- not because I was a Korzybski fan, but because someone had asked for it with the hint that it would bring money. It didn’t. But it was a good paper.) Now my friend profferred my Korzybski paper to Murray Gell-Mann, the Nobel physicist. Gell-Mann looked down at the paper. "Korzybski?" he expostulated. 'Never mention this man Nelson to me again!' What would Robin Williams have said? ca. 1986 It had been a wonderful afternoon. Tim Leary and I had met Robin Williams and his wife for lunch in San Francisco. Robin is not only an incredible comedian but perhaps the fastest mind in the universe. After lunch Tim and Robin and I went through computer exhibits at the Civic Center (I forget what Conference).


Turing's Cathedral by George Dyson

1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Benoit Mandelbrot, British Empire, Brownian motion, cellular automata, cloud computing, computer age, Danny Hillis, dark matter, double helix, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, housing crisis, IFF: identification friend or foe, indoor plumbing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, packet switching, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Paul Samuelson, phenotype, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Feynman, SETI@home, social graph, speech recognition, Thorstein Veblen, Turing complete, Turing machine, Von Neumann architecture

John von Neumann, Outline for book (to be co-authored with Stan Ulam) on theory of self-reproducing automata, not dated, ca. 1952, VNLC (partial listing of topics is given here). 15. Ware, “History and Development of the Electronic Computer Project,” p. 16. 16. David J. Wheeler, interview with William Aspray; Murray Gell-Mann, interview with author, August 10, 2004, GBD. 17. John von Neumann, “Lectures on Probabilistic Logics and the Synthesis of Reliable Organisms from Unreliable Components,” from notes by R. S. Pierce on lectures given at the California Institute of Technology, January 4–15, 1952, p. 1 (later published in C. E. Shannon and J. McCarthy, Automata Studies [Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1956], pp. 43–99). Murray Gell-Mann, interview with author. 18. John von Neumann, “A Model of General Economic Equilibrium,” Review of Economic Studies 13 (1945): 1. 19. “Institute for Advanced Study Electronic Computer Project, Monthly Progress Report: June, 1956,” pp. 1–2, IAS. 20.

., ILLIAC at the University of Illinois, ORDVAC at Aberdeen, JOHNNIAC at the RAND Corporation, MANIAC at Los Alamos National Laboratory, AVIDAC at Argonne, ORACLE at Oak Ridge, BESK in Stockholm, DASK in Copenhagen, SILLIAC in Sydney, BESM in Moscow, PERM in Munich, WEIZAC in Rehovot, and the IBM 701. “There are a number of offspring of the Princeton machine, not all of them closely resembling the parent,” Willis Ware reported in March 1953. “From about 1949 on, engineering personnel visited us rather steadily and took away designs and drawings for duplicate machines.”15 In turn, von Neumann made visits to the other laboratories, and freely exchanged ideas. Physicist Murray Gell-Mann was working during the summer of 1951 at the Control Systems Laboratory, housed immediately above the ILLIAC at the University of Illinois. “This was used on secret government work,” says David Wheeler, “and some wires came down.” Gell-Mann and Keith Brueckner had been assigned, by their air force sponsors, “to imagine that we had very, very bad computer parts. And we were to make a very reliable computer out of it.”

God knows what they had to pay him.”16 In late 1951, von Neumann wrote up these ideas in a short manuscript, “Reliable Organizations of Unreliable Elements,” and in January 1952 he gave a series of five lectures at the California Institute of Technology, later published as Probabilistic Logics and the Synthesis of Reliable Organisms from Unreliable Components, in which he began to formulate a theory of reliability, in his characteristic, axiomatic way. “Error is viewed, therefore, not as an extraneous and misdirected or misdirecting accident, but as an essential part of the process,” he announced. He thanked Keith A. Brueckner and Murray Gell-Mann for “some important stimuli on this subject,” but not in any detail. “I wasn’t upset at all, at the time,” says Gell-Mann. “I thought, my God, this great man is referring to me in the footnote. I’m in the footnote! I was so flattered, and I suppose Keith was, too.”17 Second- and third-generation copies of the IAS machine followed before the decade was out. Larger computers with larger memories spawned larger, more complex codes, in turn spawning larger computers.


pages: 396 words: 112,748

Chaos: Making a New Science by James Gleick

Benoit Mandelbrot, business cycle, butterfly effect, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, discrete time, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, experimental subject, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, iterative process, John von Neumann, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Murray Gell-Mann, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, stochastic process, trade route

Smale had steered mathematics in the direction of such physical problems, but, as Yorke well understood, the language of mathematics remained a serious barrier to communication. If only the academic world had room for hybrid mathematician/physicists—but it did not. Even though Smale’s work on dynamical systems had begun to close the gap, mathematicians continued to speak one language, physicists another. As the physicist Murray Gell-Mann once remarked: “Faculty members are familiar with a certain kind of person who looks to the mathematicians like a good physicist and looks to the physicists like a good mathematician. Very properly, they do not want that kind of person around.” The standards of the two professions were different. Mathematicians proved theorems by ratiocination; physicists’ proofs used heavier equipment. The objects that made up their worlds were different.

And in return, it was fully in character for Harry Swinney to draw himself up to his maximum height, something around five and a half feet, and say, “That’s true,” with a mixture of innate Louisiana charm and acquired New York irascibility. “That’s true if you have an infinite amount of noise-free data.” And wheel dismissively back toward the blackboard, adding, “In reality, of course, you have a limited amount of noisy data.” Swinney was experimenting with stuff. For him the turning point had come when he was a graduate student at Johns Hopkins. The excitement of particle physics was palpable. The inspiring Murray Gell-Mann came to talk once, and Swinney was captivated. But when he looked into what graduate students did, he discovered that they were all writing computer programs or soldering spark chambers. It was then that he began talking to an older physicist starting to work on phase transitions—changes from solid to liquid, from nonmagnet to magnet, from conductor to superconductor. Before long Swinney had an empty room—not much bigger than a closet, but it was his alone.

THE EVEN-ODD SYSTEM From computer simulations, Yorke found that the system forced drivers to make more trips to the filling station and to keep their tanks fuller all the time; thus the system increased the amount of gasoline sitting wastefully in the nation’s automobiles at any moment. HE ANALYZED THE MONUMENT’S SHADOW Airport records later proved Yorke correct. LORENZ’S PAPER Yorke. “FACULTY MEMBERS” Murray Gell-Mann, “The Concept of the Institute,” in Emerging Syntheses in Science, proceedings of the founding workshops of the Santa Fe Institute (Santa Fe: The Santa Fe Institute, 1985), p. 11. HE GAVE A COPY Yorke, Smale. “IF YOU COULD WRITE” Yorke. HOW NONLINEAR NATURE IS A readable essay on linearity, non-linearity, and the historical use of computers in understanding the difference is David Campbell, James P.


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Filthy Rich: A Powerful Billionaire, the Sex Scandal That Undid Him, and All the Justice That Money Can Buy: The Shocking True Story of Jeffrey Epstein by James Patterson, John Connolly, Tim Malloy

Bernie Madoff, corporate raider, Donald Trump, East Village, Elon Musk, Isaac Newton, Jeffrey Epstein, Julian Assange, Murray Gell-Mann, Ponzi scheme, Stephen Hawking, WikiLeaks

But as far as these academic scientists—without people like him they wouldn’t have any money.” Other friends of Epstein’s say that he truly did have a brilliant mind for science. And in any case, Epstein had done more than sponsor individual scientists. He’d also sponsored conferences on Little Saint Jeff’s. On his website, he announced a conference called Mindshift at which Nobel laureates, such as the theoretical physicist Murray Gell-Mann, would mix with surgeons, engineers, and futurists and where professors would discuss cognitive neuroscience, artificial intelligence, systems of encryption and decryption, and other topics. Epstein had been hosting get-togethers like this for years. Toward the end of Chief Reiter’s investigation, in March of 2006, Epstein had hosted twenty top physicists—including three Nobel Prize winners as well as the celebrity physicist Stephen Hawking—at a Saint Thomas symposium called “Confronting Gravity,” which was advertised as “a workshop to explore fundamental questions in physics and cosmology.”

Seckel had also been trying to sell papers belonging to Isabel’s father. Isabel is Ghislaine Maxwell’s sister and the daughter of Robert Maxwell. It was an odd thing, Epstein’s association with this self-professed PhD who, on closer inspection, turned out to be a bit of a grifter. But the Mindshift conference that Epstein and Seckel hosted in the Virgin Islands did take place, in 2010. Murray Gell-Mann was there, along with Leonard Mlodinow, a physicist who coauthored books with Stephen Hawking. Gerald Sussman, an expert on artificial intelligence who taught at MIT and also attended the conference, said that he didn’t remember too much about it. “We had scientific discussions, talked about various things,” he said vaguely. When Mark Oppenheimer asked him if he’d given money to Seckel, Sussman “got testy” with the reporter.


pages: 404 words: 134,430

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time by Michael Shermer

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anesthesia awareness, anthropic principle, butterfly effect, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological principle, discovery of DNA, false memory syndrome, Gary Taubes, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, laissez-faire capitalism, Laplace demon, life extension, moral panic, Murray Gell-Mann, out of africa, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Attorneys Jeffrey Lehman and Beth Shapiro Kaufman from the firm of Caplin and Drysdale, Nobel laureate Christian Anfinsen, biologist Francisco Ayala from the University of California, Davis, and paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould from Harvard University faced a room filled with television, radio, and newspaper reporters from across the country. Gould and Ayala made opening statements, and a statement by Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann was read in absentia. The emotional commitment of these representatives from the scientific community was clear from the outset and baldly disclosed in their statements. Gould noted, "As a term, creation-science is an oxymoron—a self-contradictory and meaningless phrase—a whitewash for a specific, particular, and minority religious view in America—Biblical literalism." Ayala added, "To claim that the statements of Genesis are scientific truths is to deny all the evidence.

In spite of centuries of attention by scientists and philosophers of science, no concise definition of science has ever been accepted by the community of scientists and scholars. This situation changed temporarily with the amicus curiae brief submitted on August 18, 1986, to the Supreme Court. For this brief, the amid managed to define and agree upon the nature and scope of science. The brief was instigated by Murray Gell-Mann, Paul MacCready, and other members of the Southern California Skeptics Society after they read in the Los Angeles Times that the U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to hear the Louisiana case. Worried, they contacted attorney Jeffrey Lehman, who had recently clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens. Lehman told them that "an amicus brief is the proper way for independent outsiders to present their views to the Supreme Court" (Lehman 1989).

The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener. New York: Quill. ......... 1991a. The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus. ......... 1991b. Tipler's Omega Point Theory. Skeptical Inquirer 15, no. 2:128-134. ......... 1992. On the Wild Side. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus. ......... 1996. Transcript of Interview by M. Shermer, August 11. Gell-Mann, M. 1986. Press Statement by Dr. Murray Gell-Mann. Los Angeles Skeptics Evaluative Report 2, no. 4:5. ......... 1990. Transcript of Interview by M. Shermer. ......... 1994a. What Is Complexity? Complexity 1, no. 1:16-19. ......... 1994b. The Quark and the Jaguar. New York: Freeman. George, J., and L. Wilcox. 1992. Nazis, Communists, Klansmen, and Others on the Fringe: Political Extremism in America. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus. Getzels, J.


pages: 261 words: 86,261

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman by Richard P. Feynman, Jeffrey Robbins

Albert Einstein, Brownian motion, impulse control, index card, John von Neumann, Murray Gell-Mann, pattern recognition, Pepto Bismol, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, scientific worldview, the scientific method

In the preface to The Feynman Lectures on Physics, widely used as a college text since they were collected and published in 1963, he appears with a maniacal grin, playing a conga drum. (On the bongos, it is said, he can play ten beats with one hand against eleven with the other; try it, and you may decide that quantum electrodynamics is easier.) Among Feynman’s other achievements are his contribution to understanding the phase changes of super-cooled helium, and his work with Caltech colleague Murray Gell-Mann* on the theory of beta decay of atomic nuclei. Both subjects are still far from final resolution, he points out; indeed, he does not hesitate to call quantum electrodynamics itself a “swindle” that leaves important logical questions unanswered. What kind of man can do work of that caliber while nursing the most penetrating doubts? Read on and find out. Omni: To someone looking at high-energy physics from the outside, its goal seems to be to find the ultimate constituents of matter.

And so it turns out that a theory has been invented–the theory of quarks; that certain of these things like the proton, for instance, or neutron, are made of three objects called quarks. NARRATOR: No one has yet seen a quark, which is too bad, because they may represent the fundamental building block for all the other more complicated atoms and molecules that make up the universe. The name was chosen for no particular reason by Dr. Feynman’s colleague, Murray Gell-Mann, some years ago. Somewhat to Dr. Gell-Mann’s surprise, the Irish novel writer James Joyce had already anticipated that name thirty years earlier in his book, Finnegan’s Wake. The key phrase was “three quarks for Muster Mark.” This was even a bigger coincidence since, as Dr. Feynman explained, the quarks that make up the particles of the universe seem to come in threes. In the search for quarks, physicists are knocking protons and neutrons together at such high energies with the hope that they will break apart into their quark components in the process.


pages: 346 words: 92,984

The Lucky Years: How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health by David B. Agus

active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, butterfly effect, clean water, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, Drosophila, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Kickstarter, longitudinal study, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, microcredit, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, placebo effect, publish or perish, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Thomas Malthus, wikimedia commons

“The Lucky Years inspires you to live a more healthful and meaningful life and provides practical and hopeful guidance for the path ahead. Dr. Agus will show you what it truly means to enjoy the lucky years.” —Dov Seidman, author of How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything “Dr. Agus presents a provocative, highly informative way of understanding revolutions in health and health care today that will change the quality of our lives.” —Murray Gell-Mann, PhD, Nobel Laureate in Physics, 1969, and distinguished fellow and cofounder of the Santa Fe Institute “Dr. Agus once again gives us a clear path to better health. We are lucky to have such an incredible guide to such a critical subject.” —Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, salesforce.com Thank you for downloading this Simon & Schuster eBook. * * * Join our mailing list and get updates on new releases, deals, bonus content and other great books from Simon & Schuster.

To the research team including lab chief Shannon Mumenthaler, Jonathan Katz, Dan Ruderman, Paul Macklin, Kian Kani, and Yvonne Suarez, and the rest of the dedicated scientists. Thank you for pushing my thinking forward and your work in figuring out better ways to understand and treat disease. To my science mentors, collaborators, and friends Andrea Armani, Anthony Atala, Anna Barker, Paul Davies, Scott Fraser, Sam Gambhir, Murray Gell-Mann, Inderbir Gill, Dana Goldman, Danny Hillis, Cliff Hudis, Carl Kesselman, Parag Mallick, Franziska Michor, Vincent Miller, Larry Norton, Carmen Puliafito, Michael Quick, Chris Rose, Howard Scher, P. K. Shah, Jeff Trent, and Yannis Yortsos. I have the privilege of seeing the breaking health and technology information daily through my involvement with CBS News. Many of the ideas discussed in The Lucky Years originated from stories I initially did with CBS This Morning.


pages: 100 words: 28,911

A Short Guide to a Long Life by David B. Agus

Danny Hillis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, lifelogging, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, personalized medicine, placebo effect, risk tolerance, the scientific method

I also have to thank those who continue to support and inspire me on a regular basis, including Jeff Fager, Sandy Gleysteen, Gayle King, Jonathan LaPook, Chris Licht, Norah O’Donnell, Karolyn Pearson, David Rhodes, and Charlie Rose at CBS News, who empower me to be able to educate and inform. To Dominick Anfuso, Marc Benioff, Gerald Breslauer, Eli Broad, Bill Campbell, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Robert Evans, Murray Gell-Mann, Al Gore, Brad Grey, Davis Guggenheim, Danny Hillis, Walter Isaacson, Peter Jacobs, Clifton Leaf, Max Nikias, Fabian Oberfeld, Howard Owens, Shimon Peres, Maury Povich, Carmen Puliafito, Bruce Ramer, Sumner Redstone, Joe Schoendorf, Dov Seidman, Bonnie Solow, Steven Spielberg, Elle Stephens, Yossi Vardi, Jay Walker, David Weissman, and Neil Young: your mentorship, friendship, and advice are truly appreciated.


pages: 313 words: 101,403

My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance by Emanuel Derman

Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Black-Scholes formula, Brownian motion, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, Claude Shannon: information theory, Donald Knuth, Emanuel Derman, fixed income, Gödel, Escher, Bach, haute couture, hiring and firing, implied volatility, interest rate derivative, Jeff Bezos, John Meriwether, John von Neumann, law of one price, linked data, Long Term Capital Management, moral hazard, Murray Gell-Mann, Myron Scholes, Paul Samuelson, pre–internet, publish or perish, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Sharpe ratio, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, stochastic volatility, technology bubble, the new new thing, transaction costs, volatility smile, Y2K, yield curve, zero-coupon bond, zero-sum game

Now, in the twentieth century, the race was on to find an analogous table for the qualities of so-called elementary particles. So many new ones were being discovered in cosmic rays or man-made colliders that some serious physicists (from California, of course) began to propound holistic sorts of models in which no particle was more elementary than any other and any particle could be considered a composite of all the rest. In Cape Town in the summer of 1964, we heard popular lectures about the work of physicists Murray Gell-Mann and Yuval Ne'eman, both modern-day Mendeleyevs, who each invented their own periodic table of particles. Some of the subtables in their system contained eight distinct particles. Gell-Mann dubbed his model the Eightfold Way, a sophisticated and hip allusion to the eight Buddhist principles of living. By looking at the properties of the unpopulated gaps in their table, Gell-Mann and Ne'eman had predicted the observable properties of a very strange new particle called the Omega Minus.

Pais, a tiny man and the most renowned professor, had hired me into his lab; his former collaborator Mirza Abdul Baqi Beg, a burly Pakistani with a Pancho Villa mustache who always cited the famous German Jewish physicist Rudolf Peierls as his mentor, ran another lab. In a much more low-stakes version of the Lee-Yang quarrel, Pais was rumored to be at war with Beg, and we heard reports of prolonged shouting matches. We also heard that Pais had made a bitter enemy of Murray Gell-Mann, his 1950s collaborator, who, according to George Johnson's biography of Gell-Mann, always referred to Pais as "the evil dwarf." After what I had seen of Lee andYang, I was not overly surprised by these feuds. How hard and how long you appeared to work at Rockefeller was irrelevant; what counted was what you accomplished (and, perhaps, the aura you radiated of how much you might accomplish).


pages: 107 words: 33,799

The Meaning of It All by Richard P. Feynman

means of production, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, the scientific method

Subsequently, he taught at Cornell and at the California Institute of Technology. In 1965 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics, along with Sin–Itero Tomanaga and Julian Schwinger, for his work in quantum electrodynamics. Dr. Feynman won his Nobel Prize for successfully resolving problems with the theory of quantum electrodynamics. He also created a mathematical theory that accounts for the phenomenon of superfluidity in liquid helium. Thereafter, with Murray Gell–Mann, he did fundamental work in the area of weak interactions such as beta decay. In later years Feynman played a key role in the development of quark theory by putting forward his parton model of high energy proton collision processes. Beyond these achievements, Dr. Feynman introduced basic new computational techniques and notations into physics—above all, the ubiquitous Feynman diagrams, which, perhaps more than any other formalism in recent scientific history, have changed the way in which basic physical processes are conceptualized and calculated.


pages: 416 words: 106,582

This Will Make You Smarter: 150 New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking by John Brockman

23andMe, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, banking crisis, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, biofilm, Black Swan, butterfly effect, Cass Sunstein, cloud computing, congestion charging, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, data acquisition, David Brooks, delayed gratification, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, Exxon Valdez, Flash crash, Flynn Effect, hive mind, impulse control, information retrieval, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, lifelogging, mandelbrot fractal, market design, Mars Rover, Marshall McLuhan, microbiome, Murray Gell-Mann, Nicholas Carr, open economy, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, placebo effect, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, randomized controlled trial, rent control, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, Satyajit Das, Schrödinger's Cat, security theater, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Stanford marshmallow experiment, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Thorstein Veblen, Turing complete, Turing machine, twin studies, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, zero-sum game

Understanding exactly how new hidden layers get laid down in neural circuitry is a great unsolved problem of science. I’m tempted to say it’s the greatest unsolved problem. Liberated from its origin in neural networks, the concept of hidden layers becomes a versatile metaphor with genuine explanatory power. For example, in my work in physics I’ve noticed many times the impact of inventing names for things. When Murray Gell-Mann invented “quarks,” he was giving a name to a paradoxical pattern of facts. Once that pattern was recognized, physicists faced the challenge of refining it into something mathematically precise and consistent, but identifying the problem was the crucial step toward solving it! Similarly, when I invented “anyons,” for theoretical particles existing in only two dimensions, I knew I had put my finger on a coherent set of ideas, but I hardly anticipated how wonderfully those ideas would evolve and be embodied in reality.

That’s why no one should expect the next review of climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to suddenly create a harmonious path forward. The more such realities are recognized, the more likely it is that innovative approaches to negotiation can build from the middle, instead of arguing endlessly from the edge. The same body of research on climate attitudes, for example, shows far less disagreement on the need for advancing the world’s limited menu of affordable energy choices. The physicist Murray Gell-Mann has spoken often of the need, when faced with multidimensional problems, to take a “crude look at the whole”—a process he has even given an acronym, CLAW. It’s imperative, where possible, for that look to include an honest analysis of the species doing the looking as well. There will never be a way to invent a replacement for, say, the United Nations or the House of Representatives. But there is a ripe opportunity to try new approaches to constructive discourse and problem solving, with the first step being an acceptance of our humanness, for better and worse.


pages: 119 words: 10,356

Topics in Market Microstructure by Ilija I. Zovko

Brownian motion, computerized trading, continuous double auction, correlation coefficient, financial intermediation, Gini coefficient, information asymmetry, market design, market friction, market microstructure, Murray Gell-Mann, p-value, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, stochastic process, stochastic volatility, transaction costs

Good friend and the responsable who made the computers at the SFI work, Nate Metheney. John Miller for his experienced academic advice, at times a “tough hand” and most importantly for showing me one example where game theory can be practical.1 Rhonda Butler-Villa for helping in numerous issues with authorities (just the usual things...) I also thank Constantino Tsallis for being a great role model; Ilya Peiros, Murray Gell-Mann, Goeffrey West, George Gummerman, Steve Lansing, Christopher Lantz and the late Sergei Starostin for the inspirational lectures and a general inspiring environment. I am grateful to Cormac McCarthy for pulling my car out of a ditch. Thanks go to people who I have had the privilege to meet and who took the time to answer my questions: Brian Arthur, J.P.Bouchaud, Sam Bowles, Michel Dacorogna, Raphael Douady, Thomas Lux, Soren Johansen, Rosario Mantegna and Ramon Marimon.


pages: 695 words: 219,110

The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

airport security, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, clockwork universe, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, dematerialisation, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, urban renewal

The act of measurement would no longer be special; it would merely be one specific example of contact with the environment. Is that it? Does decoherence resolve the quantum measurement problem? Is decoherence responsible for wavefunctions’ closing the door on all but one of the potential outcomes to which they can lead? Some think so. Researchers like Robert Griffiths, of Carnegie Mellon; Roland Omnès, of Orsay; the Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann, of the Santa Fe Institute; and Jim Hartle, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, have made great progress and claim that they have developed decoherence into a complete framework (called decoherent histories) that solves the measurement problem. Others, like myself, are intrigued but not yet fully convinced. You see, the power of decoherence is that it successfully removes the artificial barrier Bohr erected between large and small physical systems, making everything subject to the same quantum mechanical formulas.

It is true that if, in light of the results of EPR, Bell, and Aspect, we try to maintain realism—for example, as in Bohm’s theory discussed later in the chapter—the kind of nonlocality we require to be consistent with the data seems to be more severe, involving nonlocal interactions, not just nonlocal correlations. Many physicists have resisted this option and have thus relinquished realism. 15. See, for example, Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar (New York: Freeman, 1994), and Huw Price, Time’s Arrow and Archimedes’ Point (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996). 16. Special relativity forbids anything that has ever traveled slower than light speed from crossing the speed-of-light barrier. But if something has always been traveling faster than the speed of light, it is not strictly ruled out by special relativity.

A natural question is how we know that there isn’t some future constraint that also has an impact on entropy. The bottom line is that we don’t, and some physicists have even suggested experiments to detect the possible influence that such a future constraint might have on things that we can observe today. For an interesting article discussing the possibility of future and past constraints on entropy, see Murray Gell-Mann and James Hartle, “Time Symmetry and Asymmetry in Quantum Mechanics and Quantum Cosmology,” in Physical Origins of Time Asymmetry, J. J. Halliwell, J. Pérez-Mercader, W. H. Zurek, eds. (Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1996), as well as other papers in Parts 4 and 5 of that collection. 18. Throughout this chapter, we’ve spoken of the arrow of time, referring to the apparent fact that there is an asymmetry along the time axis (any observer’s time axis) of spacetime: a huge variety of sequences of events is arrayed in one order along the time axis, but the reverse ordering of such events seldom, if ever, occurs.


pages: 478 words: 142,608

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Brownian motion, cosmological principle, David Attenborough, Desert Island Discs, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, invisible hand, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, unbiased observer

Stars also, as we have seen, are the precursors to the development of interesting chemistry, and hence life. So, Smolin suggests, there has been a Darwinian natural selection of universes in the multiverse, directly favouring the evolution of black hole fecundity and indirectly favouring the production of life. Not all physicists are enthusiastic about Smolin’s idea, although the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Murray Gell-Mann is quoted as saying: ‘Smolin? Is he that young guy with those crazy ideas? He may not be wrong.’70 A mischievous biologist might wonder whether some other physicists are in need of Darwinian consciousness-raising. It is tempting to think (and many have succumbed) that to postulate a plethora of universes is a profligate luxury which should not be allowed. If we are going to permit the extravagance of a multiverse, so the argument runs, we might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb and allow a God.

Carter, ‘The anthropic principle and its implications for biological evolution’, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A, 310, 1983, 347–63. For a book-length discussion of the anthropic principle, see Barrow and Tipler (1988). 68 Comins (1993). 69 I spelled this argument out more fully in The Blind Watchmaker (Dawkins 1986). The anthropic principle: cosmological version 70 Murray Gell-Mann, quoted by John Brockman on the ‘Edge’ website, http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/smolin.html. 71 Ward (1996: 99); Polkinghorne (1994: 55). An interlude at Cambridge 72 J. Horgan, ‘The Templeton Foundation: a skeptic’s take’, Chronicle of Higher Education, 7 April 2006. See also http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/horgan06/horgan06_index.html. 73 P. B. Medawar, review of The Phenomenon of Man, repr. in Medawar (1982: 242). 74 Dennett (1995: 155).


pages: 158 words: 49,168

Infinite Ascent: A Short History of Mathematics by David Berlinski

Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, four colour theorem, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Murray Gell-Mann, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine, William of Occam

The group named SU(2) represents just what stays the same and what changes in spins of this sort. No new ideas are involved. Symmetry remains symmetry, something captured by a group. In the early 1960s, particle physicists were confronted with a virtual zoo of new particles, unstable objects that left glowing traces of themselves in various experiments but refused to cohere into any stable pattern. A scheme of organization was needed. Murray Gell-Mann and Yuval Ne’eman both realized that SU(2) was a subgroup of a still larger group—the fabled SU(3)—and that when particles were organized by SU(3), an eightfold symmetry emerged, with families of particles neatly organized into very intuitive subgroups. When one of the physical octets specified by the group appeared to be missing a member, Gell-Mann and Ne’eman both predicted that the missing particle was there and would be found—as it was.


pages: 182 words: 51,816

Six Not-So-Easy Pieces: Einstein’s Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time by Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton, Matthew Sands

Albert Einstein, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring

Subsequently, he taught at Cornell and at the California Institute of Technology. In 1965 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics, along with Sin-Itero Tomanaga and Julian Schwinger, for his work in quantum electrodynamics. Dr. Feynman won his Nobel Prize for successfully resolving problems with the theory of quantum electrodynamics. He also created a mathematical theory that accounts for the phenomenon of superfluidity in liquid helium. Thereafter, with Murray Gell-Mann, he did fundamental work in the area of weak interactions such as beta decay. In later years Feynman played a key role in the development of quark theory by putting forward his parton model of high-energy proton collision processes. Beyond these achievements, Dr. Feynman introduced basic new computational techniques and notations into physics, above all, the ubiquitous Feynman diagrams that, perhaps more than any other formalism in recent scientific history, have changed the way in which basic physical processes are conceptualized and calculated.


pages: 189 words: 48,180

Elemental: How the Periodic Table Can Now Explain Everything by Tim James

Albert Einstein, Brownian motion, Dmitri Mendeleev, en.wikipedia.org, Ernest Rutherford, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Silicon Valley

Electrons turn out to be fundamental, as do photons, the particles that make up light. There are lots of others with names like neutrinos, gluons, and Higgs bosons, but protons and neutrons are not on the list. It turns out that protons and neutrons themselves are not fundamental but can be thought of as three particles that are. A proton can’t be split in half but it can be described as being made up of thirds. Murray Gell-Mann named these particles quarks (pronounced “kworks” not “kwarks”). It still wouldn’t be right to say you can chop a proton into thirds, however, because they don’t actually let you do that. Quarks do not exist as individual things, but in little pairs and trios. If you were to take a proton, made from three quarks, and break it apart you wouldn’t end up with the three individual quarks, you’d end up with six … that’s quantum field theory, folks.


How to Make a Spaceship: A Band of Renegades, an Epic Race, and the Birth of Private Spaceflight by Julian Guthrie

Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Charles Lindbergh, cosmic microwave background, crowdsourcing, Doomsday Book, Elon Musk, fear of failure, Frank Gehry, gravity well, high net worth, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, Leonard Kleinrock, life extension, low earth orbit, Mark Shuttleworth, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, Oculus Rift, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, packet switching, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, pets.com, private space industry, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, urban planning

He was uncharacteristically silent, soaking in all of the details. He and his mom passed buildings 10 and 11 and stopped at building 8, the physics department. Created in the nineteenth century by MIT founder William Barton Rogers, the department had among its faculty and graduates a dazzling array of Nobel Prize winners and some of the field’s greatest minds, from Richard Feynman (quantum electrodynamics), Murray Gell-Mann (elementary particles), Samuel Ting and Burton Richter (subatomic particles), to Robert Noyce (Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel), Bill Shockley (field-effect transistors), George Smoot (cosmic microwave background radiation), and Philip Morrison (Manhattan Project, science educator). Physics classes at MIT had been flooded with students in the years following the launch of Sputnik and the success of Apollo.

If the mass decreases by a factor of 9, then the velocity increase approximately equals twice the exhaust gas speed. The takeaway is that you want to burn as much as quickly as possible, and expel it as fast as possible. The faster you burn, the lighter the rocket gets, and the easier it is to change the velocity. *The entire Saturn rocket management team was composed of ex-V-2 engineers from Peenemünde. *The name “quark” was invented by Murray Gell-Mann, a colleague of Richard Feynman’s at Caltech, reputedly based on a quote from James Joyce’s book Finnegans Wake: “Three quarks for Muster Mark!” Gell-Mann wanted it pronounced as “quork.” The quark model unified in a single stroke the whole disorganized pile of miscellaneous particles that had been observed up until that time. *The official length of the Harvard Bridge is 364.4 Smoots plus one ear.


What We Cannot Know: Explorations at the Edge of Knowledge by Marcus Du Sautoy

Albert Michelson, Andrew Wiles, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Arthur Eddington, banking crisis, bet made by Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, Black Swan, Brownian motion, clockwork universe, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, Georg Cantor, Hans Lippershey, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, Necker cube, Paul Erdős, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, Solar eclipse in 1919, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, technological singularity, Thales of Miletus, Turing test, wikimedia commons

So why did the Delta baryon find a way over the easy hill while the Sigma baryon went the long way? This seemed rather strange. There appeared to be certain particles that encountered a barrier (represented in the figure by a broken line) that prevented them from crossing via the easy route to the lower valley. THERE IS NO EXQUISITE BEAUTY WITHOUT STRANGENESS The physicists Abraham Pais, Murray Gell-Mann and Kazuhiko Nishijima came up with a cunning strategy to solve this puzzle. They proposed a new property like charge that mediated the way these particles interacted or didn’t interact with the strong nuclear force. This new property, called strangeness, gave physicists a new way to classify all these new particles. Each new particle was given a measure of strangeness according to whether or not its decay would have to take the long route.

So is the unknown of quantum physics home for a theistic God? If I was going to get anywhere in my attempts to understand whether a God could hide in the equations of quantum physics, I needed to talk to someone who was as much at home in a laboratory as in a cathedral. So I made a trip to Cambridge. THE VEGETARIAN BUTCHER John Polkinghorne learned his physics at the feet of Paul Dirac in Cambridge and then with Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann at Caltech. You can’t ask for better teachers than that. His research has, among other things, helped to confirm the existence of the quarks that many believe are the last step as I zoom in on my casino dice. Polkinghorne is back at his alma mater, so I arranged to meet him at his home in Cambridge. Having done a five-year research stint in Cambridge, I always enjoy a chance to visit even if my heart is with the dark-blue city of Oxford.


pages: 198 words: 57,703

The World According to Physics by Jim Al-Khalili

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, butterfly effect, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, germ theory of disease, gravity well, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, publish or perish, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking, supercomputer in your pocket, the scientific method

I have sympathy for those who get frustrated by the searchers and the dreamers, who often work in esoteric areas like cosmology and string theory, for these are the people who think nothing of adding a few new dimensions here or there if it makes their maths prettier, or to hypothesise an infinity of parallel universes if it reduces the strangeness in ours. But there have been some famous examples of searchers who have struck gold. The twentieth-century genius Paul Dirac was a man driven by the beauty of his equations, which led him to postulate the existence of antimatter several years before it was discovered in 1932. Then there’s Murray Gell-Mann and George Zweig, who in the mid-1960s independently predicted the existence of quarks when there was no experimental evidence to suggest such particles existed. Peter Higgs had to wait half a century for his boson to be discovered and the theory that bears his name to be confirmed. Even the quantum pioneer Erwin Schrödinger came up with his eponymous equation with nothing more than inspired guesswork.


pages: 186 words: 64,267

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, bet made by Stephen Hawking and Kip Thorne, Brownian motion, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking

This was before my time; I joined the college in 1965 at the tail end of the bitterness, when similar disagreements forced another Nobel Prize—winning Master, Sir Nevill Mott, to resign. Up to about thirty years ago, it was thought that protons and neutrons were “elementary” particles, but experiments in which protons were collided with other protons or electrons at high speeds indicated that they were in fact made up of smaller particles. These particles were named quarks by the Caltech physicist Murray Gell-Mann, who won the Nobel Prize in 1969 for his work on them. The origin of the name is an enigmatic quotation from James Joyce: “Three quarks for Muster Mark!” The word quark is supposed to be pronounced like quart, but with a k at the end instead of a t, but is usually pronounced to rhyme with lark. There are a number of different varieties of quarks: there are six “flavors,” which we call up, down, strange, charmed, bottom, and top.


pages: 187 words: 62,861

The Penguin and the Leviathan: How Cooperation Triumphs Over Self-Interest by Yochai Benkler

business process, California gold rush, citizen journalism, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, East Village, Everything should be made as simple as possible, experimental economics, experimental subject, framing effect, informal economy, invisible hand, jimmy wales, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, loss aversion, Murray Gell-Mann, Nicholas Carr, peer-to-peer, prediction markets, Richard Stallman, Scientific racism, Silicon Valley, Steven Pinker, telemarketer, Toyota Production System, twin studies, ultimatum game, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game, Zipcar

There was a certain delight of closure in that the last talk I gave before this text was done was again in Santa Fe, at the SFI’s public lecture, where I tried to present publicly this mixture of accessibility to an engaged, thoughtful nonacademic audience, while trying to not introduce too many errors on the natural and behavioral sciences side of things. The audience stayed to the end and didn’t nod off: that’s one good sign; and the scientists didn’t seem to find too much to complain about either, which also may be a good sign. I was particularly fortunate to spend time with David Krakauer after the talk, who helped me think through and refine some of the points on evolutionary biology, and with Murray Gell-Mann, who didn’t seem to think I was bullshitting more than most. We’ll see.


pages: 256 words: 60,620

Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition by Michael J. Mauboussin

affirmative action, asset allocation, Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, butter production in bangladesh, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, Clayton Christensen, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, disruptive innovation, Edward Thorp, experimental economics, financial innovation, framing effect, fundamental attribution error, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Akerlof, hindsight bias, hiring and firing, information asymmetry, libertarian paternalism, Long Term Capital Management, loose coupling, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, Murray Gell-Mann, Netflix Prize, pattern recognition, Philip Mirowski, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, presumed consent, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, statistical model, Steven Pinker, The Wisdom of Crowds, ultimatum game

Seeley, The Wisdom of the Hive (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995); and Steven Johnson, Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software (New York: Scribner, 2001). 4. Thomas D. Seeley and P. Kirk Visscher, “Sensory Coding of Nest-site Value in Honeybee Swarms,” The Journal of Experimental Biology 211, no. 23 (2008): 3691–3697. 5. See John H. Holland, Hidden Order: How Adaptation Builds Complexity (Reading, MA: Helix Books, 1995); Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex (New York: W.H. Freeman, 1994); and John H. Miller and Scott E. Page, Complex Adaptive Systems: An Introduction to Computational Models of Social Life (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007). 6. P. W. Anderson, “More is Different,” Science 177, no. 4047 (1972): 393–396. See also Herbert A. Simon, “The Architecture of Complexity,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 106, no. 6 (1962): 467–482; and Thomas C.


pages: 578 words: 168,350

Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies by Geoffrey West

Alfred Russel Wallace, Anton Chekhov, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black Swan, British Empire, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, clean water, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, continuous integration, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, double helix, Edward Glaeser, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Guggenheim Bilbao, housing crisis, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of agriculture, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, laissez-faire capitalism, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Marchetti’s constant, Masdar, megacity, Murano, Venice glass, Murray Gell-Mann, New Urbanism, Peter Thiel, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, Vilfredo Pareto, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, wikimedia commons, working poor

Indeed, there were now scant few broad intradisciplinary thinkers, let alone interdisciplinary ones, who were comfortable articulating ideas and concepts that transcended their own fields and potentially reach across to foreign territory. It was to combat this perceived trend that SFI was created. The early discussions of what the actual scientific agenda of the institute might be centered on the burgeoning fields of computer science, computation, and nonlinear dynamics, areas where Los Alamos had played a seminal role. Enter the theoretical physicist Murray Gell-Mann. He realized that all of these suggestions revolved more around techniques rather than ideas and concepts and that if such an institute was to have a major impact on the course of science, its agenda would have to be broader and bolder and address some of the big questions. Whence arose the idea of complexity and complex adaptive systems as overarching themes, since they encompass almost all of the major challenges and big questions facing science and society today—and, furthermore, they invariably cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Being exposed to a never-ending flux of extraordinary individuals at various stages of their careers, from students to Nobel Prize winners across a breathtaking spectrum of intellectual and cultural pursuits, was like letting a child loose in a candy store. In that context I would also like to thank the extended SFI community, both individually and collectively, for broadening my scientific horizons and helping me begin to understand some of the subtleties and challenges inherent in the study of complex adaptive systems. I would particularly like to mention Pablo Marquet, John Miller, Murray Gell-Mann, Juan Perez-Mercader, David Krakauer, Cormac McCarthy, and Bill Miller and Michael Mauboussin, past and present chairmen, respectively, of SFI’s board of trustees, all of whom have given me their unwavering enthusiastic support and encouragement over many years. I am deeply grateful and indebted to all of them. I am particularly grateful to Cormac for painstakingly reading and editing the manuscript in excruciating detail, providing extensive feedback, which helped greatly in improving the final product.


pages: 200 words: 71,482

The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

Buckminster Fuller, Ernest Rutherford, Khartoum Gordon, Murray Gell-Mann, stakhanovite, wage slave

Charles Onions 3 was still alive, and helped Burchfield until the mid-1960s. In the end, 50,000 words were added— including (as Burchfield wrote in his final Preface to Volume IV) several which their creators helped to define: Anthony Powell, for example, helped with acceptance world, A. J. Ayer with drogulus, Buckminster Fuller with Dymaxion, J. R. R. Tolkien—a former assistant and walrus expert—with hobbit, and the cosmologist Murray Gell-Mann with quark. Psychedelic, coined in 1957, but popular at the time that Volume III was being printed, made it, just in time. Robert Burchfield, the New Zealand-born lexicographer who created the four-volume supplement to the completed OED, which appeared between 1972 and 1986. He added a further 50,000 words to the amassment of the tongue. The books that resulted, superficially identical in design and layout to their predecessors, were composed on machines, printed lithographically and bound, not by hand as before, but on a wondrous contraption known as a No. 3 Smyth-Horne Casing-In Machine.


On Nature and Language by Noam Chomsky

Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, complexity theory, dark matter, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Murray Gell-Mann, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, Turing test

nc: Not often, I suppose, but they are in some. So, for example, there is a standard joke in physics and mathematics that the only numbers are 1, 2, 3, and infinity; the others are too complicated, so if anything comes out, say, 7, or something like that, it is wrong. And in fact that actually shows up in scientific work. It showed up in the development of the theory of quarks, apparently: if I remember correctly, when Murray Gell-Mann and his associates were devising the theory, it turned out that they had evidence for seven quarks, but nobody was happy with that, because 7 is too ugly a number; so the assumption was that the picture must be reconstructed in terms of 2 and 3, which are nice numbers. And after further experimental work stimulated by that intuition, the prettier picture turned out to be true. I think that that kind of reasoning does go on.


Free as in Freedom by Sam Williams

Asperger Syndrome, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, Debian, Douglas Engelbart, East Village, Guido van Rossum, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John Markoff, Larry Wall, Marc Andreessen, Maui Hawaii, Murray Gell-Mann, profit motive, Richard Stallman, Silicon Valley, slashdot, software patent, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, urban renewal, VA Linux, Y2K

Stallman characterizes his transition from weekend hacker to full-time AI Lab denizen as a series of painful misfortunes that could only be eased through the euphoria of hacking. As Stallman himself has said, the first misfortune was his graduation from Harvard. Eager to continue his studies in physics, Stallman enrolled as a graduate student at MIT. The choice of schools was a natural one. Not only did it give Stallman the chance to follow the footsteps of great MIT alumni: William Shockley ('36), Richard P. Feynman ('39), and Murray Gell-Mann ('51), it also put him two miles closer to the AI Lab and its new PDP-10 computer. "My attention was going toward programming, but I still thought, well, maybe I can do both," Stallman says. Toiling in the fields of graduate-level science by day and programming in the monastic confines of the AI Lab by night, Stallman tried to achieve a perfect balance. The fulcrum of this geek teeter-totter was his 69 weekly outing with the folk-dance troupe, his one social outlet that guaranteed at least a modicum of interaction with the opposite sex.


pages: 249 words: 77,342

The Behavioral Investor by Daniel Crosby

affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, availability heuristic, backtesting, bank run, Black Swan, buy and hold, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, compound rate of return, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, endowment effect, feminist movement, Flash crash, haute cuisine, hedonic treadmill, housing crisis, IKEA effect, impulse control, index fund, Isaac Newton, job automation, longitudinal study, loss aversion, market bubble, market fundamentalism, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, moral panic, Murray Gell-Mann, Nate Silver, neurotypical, passive investing, pattern recognition, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, science of happiness, Shai Danziger, short selling, South Sea Bubble, Stanford prison experiment, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, stocks for the long run, Thales of Miletus, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, tulip mania, Vanguard fund

In the absence of a certain level of predictability and rapid feedback, neither of which are present in financial markets, intuition lacks soil fertile enough to take root. We have reason to trust the intuition of a NICU nurse, a physicist or a mathematician, but very little reason believe the instincts of a therapist or stock picker (sadly, I am both). Such intuitive shortcomings are not the fault of the experts in question, but rather the discipline in which they ply their trade. As Murray Gell-Mann correctly noted, “Imagine how hard physics would be if electrons could think.” Intuition is powerful in many domains but ill suited to the vagaries of allocating capital. Understanding this to be the case, some investors learn all that they can about markets and seek to deploy that knowledge in good times and bad through the exercise of free will, our next area of consideration. Free will Did you choose to read this book?


pages: 348 words: 83,490

More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places (Updated and Expanded) by Michael J. Mauboussin

Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, beat the dealer, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black Swan, Brownian motion, butter production in bangladesh, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, complexity theory, corporate governance, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deliberate practice, demographic transition, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, diversification, diversified portfolio, dogs of the Dow, Drosophila, Edward Thorp, en.wikipedia.org, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, fixed income, framing effect, functional fixedness, hindsight bias, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, index fund, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Kenneth Arrow, Laplace demon, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, Menlo Park, mental accounting, Milgram experiment, Murray Gell-Mann, Nash equilibrium, new economy, Paul Samuelson, Pierre-Simon Laplace, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, statistical model, Steven Pinker, stocks for the long run, survivorship bias, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, traveling salesman, value at risk, wealth creators, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

.: Principia Press, 1941), 398-99. 2 For example, in log 10 the scale would be 101 (= 10), 102 (= 100), and 103 (= 1,000) versus the more familiar 10, 11, 12. 3 Richard Koch, The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Success by Achieving More with Less (New York: Currency, 1998). 4 Rob Axtell, “Zipf ’s Law of City Sizes: A Microeconomic Explanation Far from Equilibrium,” presentation at a RAND workshop, Complex Systems and Policy Analysis: New Tools for a New Millennium, September 27-28, 2000, Arlington, Va. 5 These modifications are lucidly explained in Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar: Adventures in the Simple and the Complex (New York: W. H. Freeman, 1994), 92-100. 6 Robert L. Axtell, “Zipf Distribution of U.S. Firm Sizes,” Science 293 (September 7, 2001): 1818-20; see http://www.sciencemag.org/content/vol293/issue5536/index.shtml. 7 These include self-organized criticality, highly optimized tolerance (HOT), and the Gibrat process. Not all of these processes are mutually exclusive. 8 Per Bak, How Nature Works: The Science of Self-Organized Criticality (New York: Springer-Verlag, 1996), 1-3. 9 Robert Axtell, “The Emergence of Firms in a Population of Agents: Local Increasing Returns, Unstable Nash Equilibria, and Power Law Size Distributions,” Brookings Institution, Center on Social and Economics Working Paper 3, June 1999.


pages: 286 words: 90,530

Richard Dawkins: How a Scientist Changed the Way We Think by Alan Grafen; Mark Ridley

Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, bioinformatics, cognitive bias, computer age, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, Haight Ashbury, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, loose coupling, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, phenotype, profit maximization, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

Even as television gave up on many aspects of science, and newspapers retreated to covering technology, environmental scares, and popular psychology, the book trade was making stars of scientists. People like Richard Leakey, Jane Goodall, Carl Sagan, and Steven Pinker could fill the biggest lecture halls as Thomas Henry Huxley had once done. But booms usually end in busts and the boom in popular science publishing was no exception. The deflation began after the debacle of Murray Gell-Mann’s The Quark and the Jaguar (1994), which Brockman sold for an advance of $550,000 for American rights alone. Gell-Mann returned much of the advance after failing to complete the book as promised, though it did eventually come out. The next year the phenomenon was Longitude by Dava Sobel and narrative non-fiction, rather than argument, became all the rage. Cod, tulips, salt, and zero were the themes of the moment, not to mention, on a grander and more analytical scale, guns, germs, and steel.


pages: 310 words: 89,838

Massive: The Missing Particle That Sparked the Greatest Hunt in Science by Ian Sample

Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Donald Trump, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, uranium enrichment, Yogi Berra

This interpretation was on the right track, but it was incomplete. Scientists later discovered that protons and neutrons were not elementary particles of matter at all. Unlike the electron, protons and neutrons were made up of even smaller particles called quarks. It took a long time for physicists to accept that quarks were real, not least because no one had ever seen one. The American physicists Murray Gell-Mann and Georg Zweig first put forward the idea in 1964, though they hit on the theory separately.10 They realized that the behavior of protons and neutrons made sense if each contained a trio of quarks. The proposal was still contentious when Peter Higgs visited the Institute for Advanced Study in 1966. Quarks were only widely embraced as true elementary particles of matter some years later. In the half-century or so that followed Thomson’s work on the electron, physicists identified around two hundred different kinds of particles, most of which were pairs or triplets of other subatomic ingredients. 11 The proliferation of particles was getting confusing, but order came in the mid-1970s with what must rank as the crowning glory of particle physics.


pages: 401 words: 93,256

Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland

3D printing, Alfred Russel Wallace, barriers to entry, basic income, Black Swan, butterfly effect, California gold rush, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dava Sobel, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, double helix, Downton Abbey, Elon Musk, Firefox, George Akerlof, gig economy, Google Chrome, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Hyperloop, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, IKEA effect, information asymmetry, James Dyson, John Harrison: Longitude, loss aversion, low cost airline, Mason jar, Murray Gell-Mann, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Rory Sutherland, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, the map is not the territory, The Market for Lemons, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, ultimatum game, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, US Airways Flight 1549, Veblen good

*And no doubt in many battles before. *In some ways, we need markets simply because prices are the only reliable means of getting consumers to tell the truth about what they want. *We all know people, I suspect, who though highly intelligent are insufferably inflexible in their approach to life. *Seriously good mathematicians are, as you would expect, much rarer than merely capable ones. *Co-authored with Murray Gell-Mann, who I can safely say is quite a good physicist, too, what with him getting a Nobel Prize and discovering quarks and all that. ‘Evaluating Gambles Using Dynamics’, Chaos (February 2016). *Presumably, the people who thought like economists all died out. *This explains why Amazon Prime needs to exist. Without it, Amazon cannot have regular customers. *Me, dammit! *A recent lottery winner?


pages: 761 words: 231,902

The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology by Ray Kurzweil

additive manufacturing, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, brain emulation, Brewster Kahle, Brownian motion, business cycle, business intelligence, c2.com, call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, coronavirus, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Dean Kamen, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, factory automation, friendly AI, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the telephone, invention of the telescope, invention of writing, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, linked data, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mitch Kapor, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, premature optimization, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, remote working, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Rodney Brooks, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, selection bias, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Coming Technological Singularity, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Y2K, Yogi Berra

But if we can determine that the file (or a portion of the file) in fact represents pi, we can easily express it (or that portion of it) very compactly as "pi to one million bits of accuracy." Since we can never be sure that we have not overlooked some even more compact representation of an information sequence, any amount of compression sets only an upper bound for the complexity of the information. Murray Gell-Mann provides one definition of complexity along these lines. He defines the "algorithmic information content" (Ale) of a set of information as "the length of the shortest program that will cause a standard universal computer to print out the string of bits and then halt."4 However, Gell-Mann's concept is not fully adequate. If we have a file with random information, it cannot be compressed. That observation is, in fact, a key criterion for determining if a sequence of numbers is truly random.

· Dictionary coders, which use a dynamically updated symbol dictionary to represent patterns (examples: Lempel-Ziv, Lempel-Ziv-Welch, and DEFLATE). · Block-sorting compression, which reorganizes characters rather than using a code alphabet; run-length compression can then be used to compress the repeating strings (example: Burrows-Wheeler transform). · Prediction by partial mapping, which uses a set of symbols in the uncompressed file to predict how often the next symbol in the file appears. 4. Murray Gell-Mann, "What Is Complexity?" in Complexity, vol. 1 (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1995). 5. The human genetic code has approximately six billion (about 1010) bits, not considering the possibility of compression. So the 1027 bits that theoretically can be stored in a one-kilogram rock is greater than the genetic code by a factor of 1017. See note 57 below for a discussion of genome compression. 6.


pages: 282 words: 89,436

Einstein's Dice and Schrödinger's Cat: How Two Great Minds Battled Quantum Randomness to Create a Unified Theory of Physics by Paul Halpern

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, clockwork universe, cosmological constant, dark matter, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, lone genius, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Solar eclipse in 1919, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics

A segment of the original Higgs field would remain as a massive particle called the Higgs boson. By then, so many new elementary particles had been discovered that choosing which fermions to label as fundamental proved critical. Most physicists suspected that protons and neutrons were not fundamental but instead were made up of constituents. The subcomponents were at first called different things, but eventually the physics community settled on the term “quarks,” chosen by Murray Gell-Mann for the way it sounded to him. He spotted the word in a passage from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, “Three quarks for Muster Mark.” As there are three quarks each in protons and neutrons (and in all particles in the category called baryons), the moniker seemed appropriate. Once quarks were catalogued, they seemed to fall into distinct families, called generations. The first generation, including “up” and “down,” comprises the quarks that form protons and neutrons.


pages: 362 words: 97,862

Physics in Mind: A Quantum View of the Brain by Werner Loewenstein

Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, complexity theory, dematerialisation, discovery of DNA, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, informal economy, information trail, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Norbert Wiener, Richard Feynman, stem cell, trade route, Turing machine

And the fact that what gets lost are quantum bits of information, rather than classical Shannon bits, underscores this point. Indeed, decoherence may well be the most fundamental irreversible process in nature. Why Our Weltanschauung Is So Narrow: An Unexpected Lesson for Philosophy The decoherence proposal has come a long way in the past few years and, in the hands of Zeh, Erich Joos, Wojciech Zurek, Murray Gell-Mann, Jim Hartle, and others, has grown into a comprehensive theory. It is a theory that leaves hardly anything untouched, and not just physics. Its reach goes well beyond, to what once was the domain of philosophers: epistemology, the theory of knowledge. This brings us back to our center of interest, the issue of whether the quantum wave gets entangled with consciousness. In that regard, the decoherence theory gives us a freedom of thought the founders of quantum theory never had.


pages: 465 words: 103,303

The Cancer Chronicles: Unlocking Medicine's Deepest Mystery by George Johnson

Atul Gawande, Cepheid variable, Columbine, dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Gary Taubes, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, Magellanic Cloud, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, phenotype, profit motive, stem cell

A winner of the AAAS Science Journalism Award, he is codirector of the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop and a former Alicia Patterson fellow. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and can be found on the Web at talaya.net. ALSO BY GEORGE JOHNSON The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments Miss Leavitt’s Stars: The Untold Story of the Woman Who Discovered How to Measure the Universe A Shortcut Through Time: The Path to the Quantum Computer Strange Beauty: Murray Gell-Mann and the Revolution in Twentieth-Century Physics Fire in the Mind: Science, Faith, and the Search for Order In the Palaces of Memory: How We Build the Worlds Inside Our Heads Machinery of the Mind: Inside the New Science of Artificial Intelligence Architects of Fear: Conspiracy Theories and Paranoia in American Politics


pages: 383 words: 108,266

Predictably Irrational, Revised and Expanded Edition: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

air freight, Al Roth, Bernie Madoff, Burning Man, butterfly effect, Cass Sunstein, collateralized debt obligation, computer vision, corporate governance, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, delayed gratification, endowment effect, financial innovation, fudge factor, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, housing crisis, IKEA effect, invisible hand, lake wobegon effect, late fees, loss aversion, market bubble, Murray Gell-Mann, payday loans, placebo effect, price anchoring, Richard Thaler, second-price auction, Silicon Valley, Skype, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Upton Sinclair

I also hope that I have been able to share with you my enthusiasm for the study of rationality and irrationality. In my opinion, studying human behavior is a fantastic gift because it helps us better understand ourselves and the daily mysteries we encounter. Although the topic is important and fascinating, it is not easy to study, and there is still a lot of work ahead of us. As the Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann once said, “Think how hard physics would be if particles could think.” Irrationally yours, Dan Ariely PS: If you want to participate in this journey, log on to www.predictablyirrational.com, sign up for a few of our studies, and leave us your ideas and thoughts. Reflections and Anecdotes about Some of the Chapters Reflections on Dating and Relativity (Chapter 1) In Chapter 1, on relativity, I offered some dating advice.


pages: 393 words: 115,217

Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries by Safi Bahcall

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Albert Einstein, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Astronomia nova, British Empire, Cass Sunstein, Charles Lindbergh, Clayton Christensen, cognitive bias, creative destruction, disruptive innovation, diversified portfolio, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edmond Halley, Gary Taubes, hypertext link, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Jony Ive, knowledge economy, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Murray Gell-Mann, PageRank, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prediction markets, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, side project, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Solar eclipse in 1919, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tim Cook: Apple, tulip mania, Wall-E, wikimedia commons, yield management

Phil Anderson, mentioned earlier, showed that symmetry-breaking associated with those electron pairs explains why electrical resistance falls to exactly zero. A handful of particle physicists applied Anderson’s ideas to solve another long-standing mystery: how we should think about the origin of mass in the universe. They jointly came up with the idea for what is now called the Higgs boson. (Murray Gell-Mann, who coined the term “quark” and helped create the standard model of particle physics, for which he earned the 1969 Nobel Prize, has argued it should be called the Anderson-Higgs boson.) Histories of superconductivity: Schmalian; Cooper. Popular histories of the Higgs search: Carroll, 135–62; Gell-Mann, 193–94; and Lederman. Technical histories of the Anderson-Higgs mechanism: Brown; Hoddeson, 478–522; Anderson, 4–49, 115–19; Witten.


pages: 336 words: 113,519

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis

Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, complexity theory, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, endowment effect, feminist movement, framing effect, hindsight bias, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, loss aversion, medical residency, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Nate Silver, New Journalism, Paul Samuelson, Richard Thaler, Saturday Night Live, Stanford marshmallow experiment, statistical model, the new new thing, Thomas Bayes, Walter Mischel, Yom Kippur War

“There was nothing we liked to do more than to get together and talk about him, over and over and over.” There were—for starters—the stories about the funny things Amos had said, usually directed at people whom he found full of themselves. He had listened to an American economist talk about how so-and-so was stupid and so-and-so was a fool, then said, “All your economic models are premised on people being smart and rational, and yet all the people you know are idiots.” He’d heard Murray Gell-Mann, a Nobel laureate in physics, hold forth on seemingly every subject under the sun. After Gell-Man was done, Amos said, “You know, Murray, there is no one in the world who is as smart as you think you are.” Once, after Amos gave a talk, an English statistician had approached him. “I don’t usually like Jews but I like you,” the statistician said. Amos replied, “I usually like Englishmen but I don’t like you.”


pages: 379 words: 113,656

Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age by Duncan J. Watts

Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business process, corporate governance, Drosophila, Erdős number, experimental subject, fixed income, Frank Gehry, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, industrial cluster, invisible hand, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Milgram experiment, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Murray Gell-Mann, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, peer-to-peer, rolodex, Ronald Coase, scientific worldview, Silicon Valley, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Toyota Production System, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, Vilfredo Pareto, Y2K

My thanks also go to the generous souls—Karen Barkey, Peter Bearman, Chris Calhoun, Brenda Coughlin, Priscilla Ferguson, Herb Gans, David Gibson, Mimi Munson, Mark Newman, Pavia Rosati, Chuck Sabel, David Stark, Chuck Tilly, Doug White, and especially Tom McCarthy—who volunteered to read and comment on various drafts. Gueorgi Kossinets provided invaluable assistance in preparing the many figures, and Mary Babcock did a fantastically thorough job of copy editing. At a more general level, I am deeply grateful to a number of people at Columbia University—Peter Bearman, Mike Crowe, Chris Scholz, and David Stark—as well as Murray Gell-Mann, Ellen Goldberg, and Erica Jen at the Santa Fe Institute and Andrew Lo at MIT for giving me the freedom and support to pursue my selfish interests, even sometimes at questionable benefit to their own. The National Science Foundation (under grant 0094162), Intel Corporation, the Santa Fe Institute, and the Columbia Earth Institute have provided critical financial support to my teaching and research, as well as to a series of seminal workshops in Santa Fe and New York, out of which numerous collaborations and projects have sprung.


pages: 480 words: 123,979

Dawn of the New Everything: Encounters With Reality and Virtual Reality by Jaron Lanier

4chan, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, carbon footprint, cloud computing, collaborative editing, commoditize, cosmological constant, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, El Camino Real, Elon Musk, Firefox, game design, general-purpose programming language, gig economy, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, impulse control, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, Kuiper Belt, lifelogging, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, Murray Gell-Mann, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, wikimedia commons

I was told there were towering mountains right there, but the smog never cleared enough for me to see them. Recent immigrants from Africa walking in the land of cars, purchases from electronics stores balanced on their heads, looking as out of place as I was. Cynthia, my obsession, turned out to be the daughter of the head of the physics department at Caltech. So that’s where we would hang out. She was the darling of the marvelous minds who huddled there, like Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann. I was never a student at Caltech, but rather the weird boyfriend of the department head’s charming daughter. It’s a kind of status. Feynman was generous with me, showing me how to form geometrical designs with one’s fingers to think about chirality; things like that. He was also a fun drummer and we’d play. Oddly, Caltech didn’t have much in the way of computer graphics going on at the time.


pages: 505 words: 142,118

A Man for All Markets by Edward O. Thorp

3Com Palm IPO, Albert Einstein, asset allocation, beat the dealer, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Brownian motion, buy and hold, buy low sell high, carried interest, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, diversification, Edward Thorp, Erdős number, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial innovation, George Santayana, German hyperinflation, Henri Poincaré, high net worth, High speed trading, index arbitrage, index fund, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Jarndyce and Jarndyce, Jeff Bezos, John Meriwether, John Nash: game theory, Kenneth Arrow, Livingstone, I presume, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, Mason jar, merger arbitrage, Murray Gell-Mann, Myron Scholes, NetJets, Norbert Wiener, passive investing, Paul Erdős, Paul Samuelson, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, publish or perish, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, RFID, Richard Feynman, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, Stanford marshmallow experiment, statistical arbitrage, stem cell, stocks for the long run, survivorship bias, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Predators' Ball, the rule of 72, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Vanguard fund, Vilfredo Pareto, Works Progress Administration

You need to avoid ruin. At all costs. And there is a dialectic between you and your P/L: You start betting small (a proportion of initial capital) and your risk control—the dosage—also controls your discovery of the edge. It is like trial and error, by which you revise both your risk appetite and your assessment of your odds one step at a time. Academic finance, as has been recently shown by Ole Peters and Murray Gell-Mann, did not get the point that avoiding ruin, as a general principle, makes your gambling and investment strategy extremely different from the one that is proposed by the academic literature. As we saw, academics are paid by administrators via colleagues to make life complicated, not simpler. They invented something useless called utility theory (tens of thousands of papers are still waiting for a real reader).


pages: 523 words: 148,929

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, augmented reality, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, blue-collar work, British Empire, Brownian motion, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, DARPA: Urban Challenge, delayed gratification, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hydrogen economy, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John von Neumann, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, mass immigration, megacity, Mitch Kapor, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, social intelligence, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, Turing machine, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Wall-E, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Review, X Prize

I would like to apologize for dragging a TV camera crew from BBC-TV or the Discovery and Science channels into their laboratories and thrusting a microphone and TV camera in front of their faces. This might have disrupted their research, but I hope that the final product was worth it. I would like to thank some of these pioneers and trailblazers: Eric Chivian, Nobel laureate, Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School Peter Doherty, Nobel laureate, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Gerald Edelman, Nobel laureate, Scripps Research Institute Murray Gell-Mann, Nobel laureate, Santa Fe Institute and Caltech Walter Gilbert, Nobel laureate, Harvard University David Gross, Nobel laureate, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics the late Henry Kendall, Nobel laureate, MIT Leon Lederman, Nobel laureate, Illinois Institute of Technology Yoichiro Nambu, Nobel laureate, University of Chicago Henry Pollack, Nobel laureate, University of Michigan Joseph Rotblat, Nobel laureate, St.


pages: 566 words: 144,072

In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan by Seth G. Jones

business climate, clean water, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, drone strike, failed state, friendly fire, invisible hand, Khyber Pass, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murray Gell-Mann, open borders, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, trade route, zero-sum game

Military Says Iraq Is the Priority,” Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2007. 66. Author interviews with senior U.S. Marine Corps officials, Washington, DC, December 10, 2007. 67. Thom Shanker, “Gates Decides Against Marines’ Offer to Leave Iraq for Afghanistan,” New York Times, December 6, 2007, p. A16. Chapter Thirteen 1. PBS Frontline, “The Return of the Taliban,” Written, produced, and reported by Martin Smith. Airdate: October 3, 2006. 2. See, for example, Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1994); John Holland, Hidden Order (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1995); Kevin Dooley, “A Complex Adaptive Systems Model of Organization Change,” Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Science, vol. 1, no. 1, 1997, pp. 69–97. 3. Author interview with Commander Larry Legree, June 10, 2008. 4. Joby Warrick, “CIA Places Blame for Bhutto Assassination,” Washington Post, January 18, 2008, p.


pages: 573 words: 157,767

From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel C. Dennett

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Andrew Wiles, Bayesian statistics, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, computer vision, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fermat's Last Theorem, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information asymmetry, information retrieval, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, iterative process, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, social intelligence, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

Many have helped me with my books, but I will concentrate here on thanking the people who have specifically helped me with the ideas in this book, and who, of course, are not responsible for the errors that they were unable to talk me out of. These include the participants in the Santa Fe Institute working group I organized on cultural evolution in May of 2014: Sue Blackmore, Rob Boyd, Nicolas Claidière, Joe Henrich, Olivier Morin, Pete Richerson, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Dan Sperber, and Kim Sterelny, as well as others at SFI: especially Chris Wood, Tanmoy Bhattacharya, David Wolpert, Cris Moore, Murray Gell-Mann, and David Krakauer. I would also like to express my gratitude to Louis Godbout of the Sybilla Hesse Foundation, for supporting the workshop. Then there are my Tufts students and auditors who participated in a seminar in the spring of 2015 that went through most of the chapters in early drafts: Alicia Armijo, Edward Beuchert, David Blass, Michael Dale, Yufei Du, Brendan Fleig-Goldstein, Laura Friedman, Elyssa Harris, Justis Koon, Runeko Lovell, Robert Mathai, Jonathan Moore, Savannah Pearlman, Nikolai Renedo, Tomas Ryan, Hao Wan, Chip Williams, Oliver Yang, and Daniel Cloud, who visited the seminar to discuss his new book.


pages: 492 words: 149,259

Big Bang by Simon Singh

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Astronomia nova, Brownian motion, carbon-based life, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, Commentariolus, Copley Medal, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Defenestration of Prague, discovery of penicillin, Dmitri Mendeleev, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Freundlich, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Hans Lippershey, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, horn antenna, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, Index librorum prohibitorum, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, Kickstarter, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, Olbers’ paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Paul Erdős, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, scientific mainstream, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, Wilhelm Olbers, William of Occam

MendeleyeVs Dream Paul Strathern The story of the chemist who pioneered the Periodic Table, an icon of modern science. Snowball Earth Gabrielle Walker A great detective story about a hitherto unknown period of Earth’s history. The Fifth Miracle Paul Davies How did life get started? Davies looks at the latest ideas and breakthroughs. Strange Beauty George Johnson A highly readable biography of Murray Gell-Mann, one of the great physicists of the twentieth century. The Cogwheel Brain Doron Swade The heroic tale of Charles Babbage, a Victorian genius who tried to build a mechanical computer. Find Out More Websites selected by Simon Singh http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/m_uni.html This NASA website offers a tutorial, Cosmology 101, that covers everything from the development of the core Big Bang model to the latest ideas and observations.


pages: 649 words: 172,080

Hunting in the Shadows: The Pursuit of Al Qa'ida Since 9/11: The Pursuit of Al Qa'ida Since 9/11 by Seth G. Jones

airport security, battle of ideas, defense in depth, drone strike, Google Earth, index card, Khyber Pass, medical residency, Murray Gell-Mann, RAND corporation, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, trade route, WikiLeaks

Lawrence (New York, Doubleday, Doran, 1939), p. 610. 34 Philip Mudd, interview with author, August 8, 2011. 35 U.S. government official, interview with author, July 5, 2011. 36 Christina Lamb, “Airstrike Misses Al-Qaeda Chief,” Times (London), January 15, 2006. 37 Ayman al-Zawahiri, video message to Bush, American people, January 2006. 38 National Intelligence Council, The Terrorist Threat to the Homeland, p. 1. 39 See, for example, Murray Gell-Mann, The Quark and the Jaguar (New York: Holt, 1994); John Holland, Hidden Order (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1995); Kevin Dooley, “A Complex Adaptive Systems Model of Organization Change,” Nonlinear Dynamics, Psychology, and Life Science 1, no. 1 (1997): 69–97. 40 Bruce Hoffman, Inside Terrorism, rev. ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006), p. 285. 41 Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Is Canada Next?


The Man Behind the Microchip: Robert Noyce and the Invention of Silicon Valley by Leslie Berlin

Apple II, Bob Noyce, business cycle, collective bargaining, computer age, George Gilder, informal economy, John Markoff, Kickstarter, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, means of production, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, open economy, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, union organizing, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War

The wartime combination of increased federal funds and a pool of top-notch European physicists eager to emigrate worked to Slater’s advantage. By the time Noyce came to campus, some of the best-known physicists in the world— nuclear physicists Herman Feshbach and Victor Weisskopf, microwave physicist Nathaniel Frank, acoustics and operations research pioneer Philip Morse—were members of the faculty. The department was also home to the most famous graduate student in America, Murray Gell-Mann, who had arrived a year before Noyce. A prodigy who taught himself calculus at age seven and began studying physics at Yale just a few weeks shy of his fifteenth birthday, Gell-Mann would emerge with his PhD in quantum theory after only two years in the program. He was one of two students in graduate school with Noyce who would one day win the Nobel Prize for Physics. It was an intimidating place by any standard, and presumably even more so for a student from a two-man Physics Department led by someone who did not even have a PhD.


pages: 654 words: 204,260

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Arthur Eddington, Barry Marshall: ulcers, Brownian motion, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, clean water, Copley Medal, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Attenborough, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Louis Pasteur, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, out of africa, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers

To read even an elementary guide to particle physics nowadays you must now find your way through lexical thickets such as this: “The charged pion and antipion decay respectively into a muon plus antineutrino and an antimuon plus neutrino with an average lifetime of 2.603 x 10-8 seconds, the neutral pion decays into two photons with an average lifetime of about 0.8 x 10-16 seconds, and the muon and antimuon decay respectively into . . .” And so it runs on—and this from a book for the general reader by one of the (normally) most lucid of interpreters, Steven Weinberg. In the 1960s, in an attempt to bring just a little simplicity to matters, the Caltech physicist Murray Gell-Mann invented a new class of particles, essentially, in the words of Steven Weinberg, “to restore some economy to the multitude of hadrons”—a collective term used by physicists for protons, neutrons, and other particles governed by the strong nuclear force. Gell-Mann's theory was that all hadrons were made up of still smaller, even more fundamental particles. His colleague Richard Feynman wanted to call these new basic particles partons, as in Dolly, but was overruled.


pages: 901 words: 234,905

The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature by Steven Pinker

affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, British Empire, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, conceptual framework, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Defenestration of Prague, desegregation, epigenetics, Exxon Valdez, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, Hobbesian trap, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, Joan Didion, long peace, meta analysis, meta-analysis, More Guns, Less Crime, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Norman Mailer, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Potemkin village, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Bork, Rodney Brooks, Saturday Night Live, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stanford prison experiment, stem cell, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the new new thing, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, twin studies, ultimatum game, urban renewal, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

The strange ideas of physics—for instance, that time came into existence with the Big Bang, that the universe is curved in the fourth dimension and possibly finite, and that a particle may act like a wave—just make our heads hurt the more we ponder them. It’s impossible to stop thinking thoughts that are literally incoherent, such as “What was it like before the Big Bang?” or “What lies beyond the edge of the universe?” or “How does the damn particle manage to pass through two slits at the same time?” Even the physicists who discovered the nature of reality claim not to understand their theories. Murray Gell-Mann described quantum mechanics as “that mysterious, confusing discipline which none of us really understands but which we know how to use.”58 Richard Feynman wrote, “I think I can safely say that no one understands quantum mechanics…. Do not keep asking yourself, if you can possibly avoid it, ‘But how can it be like that?’…Nobody knows how it can be like that.”59 In another interview, he added, “If you think you understand quantum theory, you don’t understand quantum theory!”


pages: 846 words: 232,630

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life by Daniel C. Dennett

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, assortative mating, buy low sell high, cellular automata, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, Danny Hillis, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, finite state, Gödel, Escher, Bach, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, non-fiction novel, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Schrödinger's Cat, selection bias, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine, Turing test

(And if you can't write a good book about evolution witii the help of this sterling group of editors, you should give up!) Many others answered crucial questions, and clarified my thinking in {14} dozens of conversations: Ron Amundsen, Robert Axelrod, Jonathan Bennett, Robert Brandon, Madeline Caviness, Tim Clutton-Brock, Leda Cosmides, Helena Cronin, Arthur Danto, Mark De Voto, Marc Feldman, Murray Gell-Mann, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Steve Gould, Danny Hillis, John Holland, Alastair Houston, David Hoy, Bredo Johnsen, Stu Kauffman, Chris Langton, Dick Lewontin, John Maynard Smith, Jim Moore, Roger Penrose, Joanne Phillips, Robert Richards, Mark and Matt (the Ridley conspecifics), Dick Schacht, Jeff Schank, Elliot Sober, John Tooby, Robert Trivers, Peter Van Inwagen, George Williams, David Sloan Wilson, Edward O.


pages: 1,396 words: 245,647

The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom by Graham Farmelo

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Berlin Wall, cuban missile crisis, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, gravity well, Henri Poincaré, invention of radio, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Murray Gell-Mann, period drama, Richard Feynman, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, strikebreaker, University of East Anglia

The barrel-chested Kapitza, standing by a blackboard and easel, pointed out that it was now odds-on that experimenters would soon observe the effect; the question was: would Dirac and Kapitza be alive to see it?28 A few days after the Kapitzas left Cambridge, Dirac switched his attention from the past to the future. He attended an entire course of lectures on modern particle physics given by the American theoretician Murray Gell-Mann, a source of many of the most productive new ideas in particle physics since the early 1950s. Then thirty-six and still at the height of his powers, he was admired for his imagination and technical brilliance but feared for his waspish tongue and disliked for his egoism, not least by Dirac.29 In the 1960s, Gell-Mann and others suggested that strongly interacting particles could be classified in mathematical patterns, and he used one of them in 1963 to predict the existence of a new particle.


pages: 898 words: 266,274

The Irrational Bundle by Dan Ariely

accounting loophole / creative accounting, air freight, Albert Einstein, Alvin Roth, assortative mating, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, Black Swan, Broken windows theory, Burning Man, business process, cashless society, Cass Sunstein, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, end world poverty, endowment effect, Exxon Valdez, first-price auction, Frederick Winslow Taylor, fudge factor, George Akerlof, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, hedonic treadmill, IKEA effect, Jean Tirole, job satisfaction, Kenneth Arrow, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lake wobegon effect, late fees, loss aversion, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, Peter Singer: altruism, placebo effect, price anchoring, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Saturday Night Live, Schrödinger's Cat, second-price auction, Shai Danziger, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, Steve Jobs, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, ultimatum game, Upton Sinclair, Walter Mischel, young professional

I also hope that I have been able to share with you my enthusiasm for the study of rationality and irrationality. In my opinion, studying human behavior is a fantastic gift because it helps us better understand ourselves and the daily mysteries we encounter. Although the topic is important and fascinating, it is not easy to study, and there is still a lot of work ahead of us. As the Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann once said, “Think how hard physics would be if particles could think.” Irrationally yours, Dan Ariely PS: If you want to participate in this journey, log on to www.predictablyirrational.com, sign up for a few of our studies, and leave us your ideas and thoughts. Thanks Over the years I have been fortunate to work on joint research projects with smart, creative, generous individuals.


pages: 913 words: 265,787

How the Mind Works by Steven Pinker

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, double helix, experimental subject, feminist movement, four colour theorem, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, hedonic treadmill, Henri Poincaré, income per capita, information retrieval, invention of agriculture, invention of the wheel, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, lake wobegon effect, lateral thinking, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Necker cube, out of africa, pattern recognition, phenotype, plutocrats, Plutocrats, random walk, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, sexual politics, social intelligence, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, Turing machine, urban decay, Yogi Berra

If there are abstract principles that govern whether a web of interacting parts (molecules, genes, cells) has such properties, natural selection would have to work within those principles, just as it works within other constraints of physics and mathematics like the Pythagorean theorem and the law of gravitation. But many readers have gone much further and conclude that natural selection is now trivial or obsolete, or at best of unknown importance. (Incidentally, the pioneers of complexity theory themselves, such as Kauffman and Murray Gell-Mann, are appalled by that extrapolation.) This letter to the New York Times Book Review is a typical example: Thanks to recent advances in nonlinear dynamics, nonequilibrium thermodynamics and other disciplines at the boundary between biology and physics, there is every reason to believe that the origin and evolution of life will eventually be placed on a firm scientific footing. As we approach the 21st century, those other two great 19th century prophets—Marx and Freud—have finally been deposed from their pedestals.


pages: 1,073 words: 314,528

Strategy: A History by Lawrence Freedman

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Anton Chekhov, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Black Swan, British Empire, business process, butterfly effect, centre right, Charles Lindbergh, circulation of elites, cognitive dissonance, coherent worldview, collective bargaining, complexity theory, conceptual framework, corporate raider, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, defense in depth, desegregation, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, en.wikipedia.org, endogenous growth, endowment effect, Ford paid five dollars a day, framing effect, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, invisible hand, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, lateral thinking, linear programming, loose coupling, loss aversion, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, mental accounting, Murray Gell-Mann, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Nelson Mandela, Norbert Wiener, Norman Mailer, oil shock, Pareto efficiency, performance metric, Philip Mirowski, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, shareholder value, social intelligence, Steven Pinker, strikebreaker, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Davenport, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Torches of Freedom, Toyota Production System, transaction costs, ultimatum game, unemployed young men, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl, Vilfredo Pareto, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

By the time he died in 1997, the revolution in information and communication technologies was well underway. Boyd had set the terms for its military exploitation. Boyd was widely read in the scientific literature of the time and picked up easily on developing theories which used simple propositions to explain complex phenomena. From these he drew language and insights to describe the sort of conflicts that interested him. From Norbert Wiener’s cybernetics to Murray Gell-Mann’s complexity theory emerged some core themes about the interaction of parts within systems, adaptation to changing environments, and outcomes that seemed indeterminate but were not beyond explanation. The conclusions for practical strategists that emerged from these theories rarely did justice to the elegance of the originals, and could lead to the suspicion that the main result was to develop more impressive language for matters that were already well understood.