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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, John von Neumann, lone genius, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Solar eclipse in 1919, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics
The Image of God, gifted with power of thought to try and understand His world. However naive my attempt at this may be, I do have to value it higher than scrutinizing Nature for the purpose of inventing a device to . . . say, avoid splashing my spectacles in eating a grapefruit, or other very handy conveniences of life. —Erwin Schrödinger, “The New Field Theory” Contents Acknowledgments ix introduction Allies and Adversaries 1 chapter one The Clockwork Universe chapter two The Crucible of Gravity 13 43 chapter three Matter Waves and Quantum Jumps chapter four The Quest for Unification 109 chapter five Spooky Connections and Zombie Cats chapter six Luck of the Irish 159 chapter seven Physics by Public Relations chapter eight The Last Waltz: Einstein’s and Schrödinger’s Final Years 203 conclusion Beyond Einstein and Schrödinger: The Ongoing Search for Unity 223 Further Reading Notes 241 Index 255 237 vii 75 183 127 Acknowledgments I would like to acknowledge the outstanding support of my family, friends, and colleagues in helping me see this project to completion.
From that point on, their dream of cosmic unity was tainted with personal conflict. They squandered the prospect of spending their remaining years in friendly dialogue, headily discussing possible clockwork mechanisms of the universe. Having waited billions of years for a complete explanation of its workings, the cosmos would be patient, but two great thinkers had lost their fleeting opportunity. 12 CHAPTER ONE The Clockwork Universe These transient facts, These fugitive impressions. Must be transformed by mental acts, To permanent possessions. Then summon up your grasp of mind, Your fancy scientific, Till sights and sounds with thought combined Become of truth prolific. —James Clerk Maxwell, from “To the Chief Musician upon Nabla: A Tyndallic Ode” U ntil the age of relativity and quantum mechanics, the two greatest unifiers of physics were Isaac Newton and James Clerk Maxwell.
The relationships are the epitome of mathematical conciseness, compact enough to fit on a T-shirt yet powerful enough to describe all manner of electromagnetic phenomena. Through his pairing of electricity and magnetism, Maxwell pioneered the notion of unification of the forces. Today we know that the four fundamental forces of nature are gravitation, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear interactions. We believe that all other forces (friction, for instance) are derived from that quartet. Each of the four operates at a different 14 The Clockwork Universe scale and possesses a different strength. Gravitation, the weakest force, draws massive bodies together over wide distances. Electromagnetism is far, far stronger and affects charged objects. Although it operates at similarly long range, its effect is reduced by the fact that almost everything in space is electrically neutral. The strong interaction operates on the nuclear scale, binding together certain types of subatomic particles (those built from quarks, such as protons and neutrons).
Longitude by Dava Sobel
LONGITUDE The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time DAVA SOBEL Contents 1. Imaginary Lines 2. The Sea Before Time 3. Adrift in a Clockwork Universe 4. Time in a Bottle 5. Powder of Sympathy 6. The Prize 7. Cogmaker’s Journal 8. The Grasshopper Goes to Sea 9. Hands on Heaven’s Clock 10. The Diamond Timekeeper 11. Trial by Fire and Water 12. A Tale of Two Portraits 13. The Second Voyage of Captain James Cook 14. The Mass Production of Genius 15. In the Meridian Courtyard Acknowledgments Sources For my mother, Betty Gruber Sobel, a four-star navigator who can sail by the heavens but always drives by way of Canarsie. 1. Imaginary Lines When I’m playful I use the meridians of longitude and parallels of latitude for a seine, drag the Atlantic Ocean for whales.
Most crowned heads of state eventually played a part in the longitude story, notably King George III of England and King Louis XIV of France. Seafaring men such as Captain William Bligh of the Bounty and the great circumnavigator Captain James Cook, who made three long voyages of exploration and experimentation before his violent death in Hawaii, took the more promising methods to sea to test their accuracy and practicability. Renowned astronomers approached the longitude challenge by appealing to the clockwork universe: Galileo Galilei, Jean Dominique Cassini, Christiaan Huygens, Sir Isaac Newton, and Edmond Halley, of comet fame, all entreated the moon and stars for help. Palatial observatories were founded at Paris, London, and Berlin for the express purpose of determining longitude by the heavens. Meanwhile, lesser minds devised schemes that depended on the yelps of wounded dogs, or the cannon blasts of signal ships strategically anchored—somehow—on the open ocean.
Although he was an able navigator who could keep his ship at her proper depth and protect his crew from mass drowning, his delays had given scurvy the upper hand. Anson helped carry the hammocks of sick sailors ashore, then watched helplessly as the scourge picked off his men one by one . . . by one by one, until more than half of the original five hundred were dead and gone. 3. Adrift in a Clockwork Universe One night I dreamed I was locked in my Father’s watch With Ptolemy and twenty-one ruby stars Mounted on spheres and the Primum Mobile And the notched spheres eating each other’s rinds To the last tooth of time, and the case closed. —JOHN CIARDI, “My Father Watch” As Admiral Shovell and Commodore Anson showed, even the best sailors lost their bearings once they lost sight of land, for the sea offered no useful clue about longitude.
Albert Einstein, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, complexity theory, double helix, Edmond Halley, Isaac Newton, lone genius, music of the spheres, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Saturday Night Live, Simon Singh, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions
The Clockwork Universe Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World EDWARD DOLNICK For Lynn The universe is but a watch on a larger scale. —BERNARD DE FONTENELLE, 1686 Contents Cover Title Page Epigraph Chronology Preface Part One: Chaos Chapter One - London, 1660 Chapter Two - Satan’s Claws Chapter Three - The End of the World Chapter Four - “When Spotted Death Ran Arm’d Through Every Street” Chapter Five - Melancholy Streets Chapter Six - Fire Chapter Seven - God at His Drawing Table Chapter Eight - The Idea That Unlocked the World Chapter Nine - Euclid and Unicorns Chapter Ten - The Boys’ Club Chapter Eleven - To the Barricades! Chapter Twelve - Dogs and Rascals Chapter Thirteen - A Dose of Poison Chapter Fourteen - Of Mites and Men Chapter Fifteen - A Play Without an Audience Chapter Sixteen - All in Pieces Part Two: Hope and Monsters Chapter Seventeen - Never Seen Until This Moment Chapter Eighteen - Flies as Big as a Lamb Chapter Nineteen - From Earthworms to Angels Chapter Twenty - The Parade of the Horribles Chapter Twenty-One - “Shuddering Before the Beautiful” Chapter Twenty-Two - Patterns Made with Ideas Chapter Twenty-Three - God’s Strange Cryptography Chapter Twenty-Four - The Secret Plan Chapter Twenty-Five - Tears of Joy Chapter Twenty-Six - Walrus with a Golden Nose Chapter Twenty-Seven - Cracking the Cosmic Safe Chapter Twenty-Eight - The View from the Crow’s Nest Chapter Twenty-Nine - Sputnik in Orbit, 1687 Chapter Thirty - Hidden in Plain Sight Chapter Thirty-One - Two Rocks and a Rope Chapter Thirty-Two - A Fly on the Wall Chapter Thirty-Three - “Euclid Alone Has Looked on Beauty Bare” Chapter Thirty-Four - Here Be Monsters!
Even as familiar a feature of our lives as gravity “depends entirely on the constant and efficacious and, if you will, the supernatural and miraculous Influence of Almighty God.” There was nothing inherent in the nature of rocks that caused them to fall; they fell because God made them fall. If you stopped to think about it, wrote Whiston, it was as miraculous for a stone to drop to the ground as it would be for it to hover in midair. Leibniz pounced. Newton had committed heresy. Both Leibniz and Newton believed in a clockwork universe, but now Leibniz invoked the familiar image to mock his old enemy. “Sir Isaac Newton, and his followers, have also a very odd opinion concerning the work of God. According to their doctrine, God Almighty wants to wind up his watch from time to time: otherwise it would cease to move. He had not, it seems, sufficient foresight to make it a perpetual motion.” Newton fired back in fury. He was not the one blaspheming God.
If you read the Federalist papers, Wilson continued, the evidence jumped out “on every page.” The Constitution was akin to a scientific theory, and the amendments played the role of experiments that helped define and test that theory. Newton’s posthumous influence was overwhelming, but in one respect his triumph proved too complete. Newton would have wept with rage to know that his scientific descendants spent their lifetimes proving conclusively that the clockwork universe ran even more smoothly than he had ever believed. It ran so marvelously well, in fact, that a new consensus quickly arose—just as Newton’s enemies had claimed, Newton had built a universe that had no place within it for God. The crowning glory of eighteenth-century astronomy was the proof, by the French mathematician Pierre Simon Laplace, that although the planets did wobble a bit as they circled the sun, those wobbles stayed within a narrow, predictable range.
Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff
algorithmic trading, Andrew Keen, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, big-box store, Black Swan, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, cashless society, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, disintermediation, Donald Trump, double helix, East Village, Elliott wave, European colonialism, Extropian, facts on the ground, Flash crash, game design, global supply chain, global village, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, Inbox Zero, invention of agriculture, invention of hypertext, invisible hand, iterative process, John Nash: game theory, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, Law of Accelerating Returns, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Merlin Mann, Milgram experiment, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, passive investing, pattern recognition, peak oil, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Turing test, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y2K
Directing the motion of trains with red lights and green lights was eventually applied to cars and ultimately to people navigating the crosswalks—all timed to maximize efficiency, productivity, and speed. In the clockwork universe, all human activity—from shift work to lunch breaks to TV viewing to blind dates—involved getting bodies to the right place at the right time, in accordance with the motions of the clock. We were as clocks ourselves, with arms that moved and hearts that counted and alarms that warned us and bells that went off in our heads. Just wind me up in the morning. If the clockwork universe equated the human body with the mechanics of the clock, the digital universe now equates human consciousness with the processing of the computer. We joke that things don’t compute, that we need a reboot, or that our memory has been wiped.
Arriving on church bell towers at the dawn of the Industrial Age, the clock was decidedly more interesting to those looking for ways to increase the efficiency of the new working classes. Ironically, perhaps, an invention designed to affirm the primacy and ubiquity of the sacred ended up becoming a tool for the expansion of the secular economy. Trade had been expanding for a century or two already, and keeping track of things numerically—as well as temporally—had become much more important. If the previous era was characterized by the calendar, this new clockwork universe would be characterized by the schedule. The bells of the monastery became the bells of the new urban society. Trade, work, meals, and the market were all punctuated by the ringing of bells. In line with other highly centralizing Renaissance inventions such as currency and the corporation, bells were controlled by central authorities. This gave rise to distrust, as workers were never sure if their employers were measuring time fairly.
This gave rise to distrust, as workers were never sure if their employers were measuring time fairly. The emergence of the clock tower gave everyone access to the same time, allowing for verification while also amplifying time’s authority. Thanks to the clock tower, the rhythms of daily life were now dictated by a machine. Over time, people conformed to ever more precisely scheduled routines. Where the priority of the calendar-driven civilization was God, the priorities of the clockwork universe would be speed and efficiency. Where calendars led people to think in terms of history, clocks led people to think in terms of productivity. Time was money. Only after the proliferation of the clock did the word “speed” (spelled spede) enter the English vocabulary, or did “punctual”—which used to refer to a stickler for details—come to mean a person who arrived on time.8 The metaphor for the human being became the clock, with the heartbeat emulating the ticks of the escapement, counting off the seconds passing.
Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines by Thomas H. Davenport, Julia Kirby
AI winter, Andy Kessler, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, business intelligence, business process, call centre, carbon-based life, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, conceptual framework, dark matter, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, follow your passion, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Freestyle chess, game design, general-purpose programming language, Google Glasses, Hans Lippershey, haute cuisine, income inequality, index fund, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, inventory management, Isaac Newton, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, performance metric, Peter Thiel, precariat, quantitative trading / quantitative ﬁnance, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, speech recognition, spinning jenny, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supply-chain management, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Works Progress Administration, Zipcar
They are fueled by a conviction that accomplishments on their part will matter in the bigger scheme of things. And they delight in solving the hardest puzzles, and attaining the top ranks of performance, in their chosen fields. You may choose to step narrowly if you dream of that special joy of knowing, however briefly, something that no one else knows or has ever known. Science writer Edward Dolnick, in The Clockwork Universe, recounts an anecdote about the scientist Fritz Houtermans, who wrote a pioneering paper in 1929 on how the sun’s energy was produced by fusion: “The night he finished the work, he and his girlfriend went for a stroll. She commented on how beautiful the stars were. Houtermans puffed out his chest. ‘I’ve known since yesterday why it is that they shine.’”9 The story hints that those who step narrowly are not immune to pride—but on the other hand, you probably were not familiar until just now with the name Fritz Houtermans.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Creativity: The Psychology of Discovery and Invention (New York: HarperCollins, 1996). 7. McKinsey Global Institute, “Disruptive Technologies: Advances That Will Transform Life, Business, and the Global Economy,” May 2013, file:///C:/Users/jkirby/Downloads/MGI_Disruptive_technologies_Full_report_May2013%20(2).pdf. 8. Syd Field, Four Screenplays: Studies in the American Screenplay (New York: Delta, 1994). 9. Edward Dolnick, The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World (New York: Harper Perennial, 2012). 10. Greg Farrell and Andrew Martin, “How Goldman Banker Became NFL’s Go-To Stadium-Finance Guy,” BloombergBusiness, January 29, 2015, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-01-29/how-goldman-banker-became-nfl-s-go-to-stadium-finance-guy. Chapter 8: Stepping Forward 1. Thomas H.
., 226 Buehner, Carl, 120 Buffett, Warren, 244 Bush, Vannevar, 64, 248 Bustarret, Claire, 154 BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), 13 Cameron, James, 165–66 Carey, Greg, 154, 156, 172–73 Carr, Nick, 162 CastingWords, 168 Catanzaro, Sandro, 179–80, 193 Cathcart, Ron, 89–91, 95 Cerf, Vint, 248 Chambers, Joshua, 250 Charles Schwab, 88 chess, 74–76 Chi, Michelene, 163 Chicago Mercantile Exchange, 11–12 Chilean miners, 201–2 China, 239 Chiriac, Marcel, 217 Circle (Internet start-up), 146 Cisco, 43 Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), 238 “Claiming our Humanity in the Digital Age,” 248 Class Dojo, 141 Cleveland Clinic, 54 Clifton, Jim, 8 Clinton, Bill, 108 Clockwork Universe, The (Dolnick), 169–70 Codelco/Codelco Digital, 40, 201–3 Cognex, 47 CognitiveScale, 45, 194, 209 cognitive technologies, 4–5, 32, 33–58. See also artificial intelligence abilities of, 34–35 as a big-picture perspective, 100 cognitive cloud, 45 content analysis, 20 context awareness and learning, 52–54 creating new, 176–200 education in, 230–37 future of human work and, 250–51 Great Convergence, 35–36, 50 higher learning for machines, 41–52 how smart are smart machines, 33–36 image recognition, 34, 46–47, 50, 54, 57 intelligent personal assistants, 167 language recognition, 34, 37, 39–40, 43, 44–46, 50, 53, 56 178, 212 Lawton and, 182 newer ways to support humans, 39–41 self-awareness and, 54–57 Shiller’s warning, 7 steady advance of, 36–37 Types of Cognitive Technology and Their Sophistication (Figure 3.1), 34 weaponry and, 243–44, 248, 250 as wheels for the mind, 63–65 where humans fit in, 57–58 Colton, Simon, 125 Colvin, Geoff, 127, 244–45 complex communication, 27, 28, 63 computational linguistics, 45–46 computers, 165.
Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics by Jim Al-Khalili
Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, butterfly effect, clockwork universe, complexity theory, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, Henri Poincaré, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Olbers’ paradox, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics, Wilhelm Olbers
This led to the widely held belief, which lasted for the next two centuries, that if all the laws of nature could be known it would in principle be possible to compute the future action of every object in the Universe. Ours was a universe in which everything—all movement, all change—was predetermined. There was no free choice, no uncertainty, and no chance. This model became known as the Newtonian clockwork universe. At first glance, it is not as bleak as Einstein’s block universe, in which everything that has ever happened and will ever happen in the future is laid out frozen in time before us. But in fact, the clockwork universe is no different in the sense that its state at all future times is predetermined and fixed. Then this view suddenly changed. In 1886 the King of Sweden offered a prize of 2,500 kroner (a tidy sum, more than most Europeans would earn in a year) to whoever could prove (or disprove) the stability of the solar system: that is, say for sure whether the planets would continue to orbit around the Sun forever or if there was a chance that one or more of them might one day spiral into the Sun or escape the pull of its gravity and float away.
The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution by David Wootton
agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, British Empire, clockwork universe, Commentariolus, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, germ theory of disease, Google X / Alphabet X, Hans Lippershey, interchangeable parts, invention of gunpowder, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, knowledge economy, lone genius, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, placebo effect, QWERTY keyboard, Republic of Letters, spice trade, spinning jenny, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions
Machines did not change much in the meantime, but philosophers did. Once Lucretius was available (he was rediscovered in 1417), his concept of the machina mundi could be turned into a quite new idea, the idea of a clockwork universe. In order for this to happen, however, the text of Lucretius was not enough. What was needed was not just new machines but also a new language for discussing machinery. Before this new language, clocks could be used to understand the heavens but not terrestrial physics or biology. It was engineers such as de Caus who, by generalizing the concept of a moving mechanism, made the clockwork universe and the mechanical man possible. Geography had been remade at the beginning of the sixteenth century by mariners; the philosophy of nature was remade in the seventeenth by the ‘mathematicians and engineers’.39 Natural philosophy was no longer an enterprise to be conducted simply with pen and paper.
Collingwood’s claim that the Industrial Revolution was ‘well on the way’ by the sixteenth century seems to me misconceived, for no new power sources had been brought to bear, but in Chapter 14 I will argue that it was indeed well under way by the end of the seventeenth century, thanks to the appearance of a new type of expert, the engineer-scientist. § 4 It will now be apparent that Descartes and Boyle both have what we may term mechanical philosophies, but that they are very different. Of the core three arguments we have distinguished – the corpuscular philosophy, animals as automatons and the clockwork universe – they agree on the first, but each picks one and only one of the other two. Animal automata lead to atheism if humans are held to be little different from animals, but not if one can prove (as Descartes thought he could) the existence of an immaterial mind. The corpuscular philosophy leads to atheism if it is combined with the claim that the universe arises from chance, but not if this further step is blocked, as Boyle sought to block it, by the argument from design.
In The Discovery of the Mind: The Greek Origins of European Thought. Trans. T Rosenmeyer. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1953: 227–45. Snobelen, Stephen D. ‘ “God of Gods, and Lord of Lords”: The Theology of Isaac Newton’s General Scholium to the Principia’. Osiris 16 (2001): 169–208. ———. ‘Isaac Newton, Heretic: The Strategies of a Nicodemite’. British Journal for the History of Science 32 (1999): 381–419. ———. ‘The Myth of the Clockwork Universe’. In The Persistence of the Sacred in Modern Thought. Ed. CL Firestone and N Jacobs. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2012: 49–184. ———. ‘William Whiston, Isaac Newton and the Crisis of Publicity’. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 35 (2004): 573–603. Snow, Charles Percy. The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1959.
Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity Into Prosperity by Bernard Lietaer, Jacqui Dunne
3D printing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, BRICs, business climate, business process, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, clockwork universe, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, conceptual framework, credit crunch, discounted cash flows, en.wikipedia.org, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, fiat currency, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, German hyperinflation, happiness index / gross national happiness, job satisfaction, Marshall McLuhan, microcredit, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, more computing power than Apollo, new economy, Occupy movement, price stability, reserve currency, Silicon Valley, the payments system, too big to fail, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, urban decay, War on Poverty, working poor
While the rhetoric of culpability cites failed policies, the deeper causes are the flawed structure of the conventional competitive money system and the obstacles to examining it. Rethinking Money 217 As we have seen, our current beliefs and practices about money, deliberated by high priests in the temples of central banks, were extrapolated from a series of economic assumptions based on the faulty and incomplete understanding of physics that prevailed at the end of the 19th century. They reflect the limited Newtonian view of a clockwork universe, static and immutable, rather than the more dynamic, complex, highly interdependent, and unpredictable universe of Bohr and the modern school of nonlinear dynamics. Policy making, whether in business or in politics, based on forecasts distorted by the conventional money system is at best shortsighted, if not outright erroneous. Classic economic solutions tend to fall into one of two categories: to depend on the vicissitudes of the free market and rely on trickle-down economics or to implement strategies that attempt to redistribute wealth.
Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer by Duncan J. Watts
affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Black Swan, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, East Village, easy for humans, difficult for computers, edge city, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, framing effect, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, happiness index / gross national happiness, high batting average, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, interest rate swap, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, medical malpractice, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, oil shock, packet switching, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, planetary scale, prediction markets, pre–internet, RAND corporation, random walk, RFID, school choice, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, ultimatum game, urban planning, Vincenzo Peruggia: Mona Lisa, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize
Laplace went on, “for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.”7 The “intellect” of Laplace’s imagination eventually received a name—“Laplace’s demon”—and it has been lurking around the edges of mankind’s view of the future ever since. For philosophers, the demon was controversial because in reducing the prediction of the future to a mechanical exercise, it seemed to rob humanity of free will. As it turned out, though, they needn’t have worried too much. Starting with the second law of thermodynamics, and continuing through quantum mechanics and finally chaos theory, Laplace’s idea of a clockwork universe—and with it the concerns about free will—has been receding for more than century now. But that doesn’t mean the demon has gone away. In spite of the controversy over free will, there was something incredibly appealing about the notion that the laws of nature, applied to the appropriate data, could be used to predict the future. People of course had been making predictions about the future since the beginnings of civilization, but what was different about Laplace’s boast was that it wasn’t based on any claim to magical powers, or even special insight, that he possessed himself.
Benoit Mandelbrot, clockwork universe, double helix, Drosophila, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, Louis Pasteur, mandelbrot fractal, out of africa, phenotype, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, stem cell, unbiased observer
Or perhaps, by an unknown quirk of particle physics, or a breathtaking freak of chance, or by the hand of a benevolent Creator, who put in place the biophilic laws, we are lucky enough to live in a true universe that does favour life. Either way, our universe apparently kindles life. Some thinkers go even further, and see the eventual evolution of humanity, and in particular of human consciousness, as an inevitable outcome of the universal laws, which is to say the precise weightings of the fundamental constants of physics. This amounts to a modern version of the clockwork universe of Leibniz and Newton, parodied by Voltaire as ‘All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.’ Some physicists and cosmologists with a leaning towards biology ﬁnd a spiritual grandeur in this view of the universe as the midwife of intelligence. Such insights into the innermost workings of nature are celebrated as a ‘window’ into the mind of God. Most biologists are more cautious, or less religious.
Cosmos by Carl Sagan
Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, spice trade, Tunguska event
When I saw that she took my words to heart, I would rather have bitten my own finger than to give her further offense.” But Kepler remained preoccupied with his work. He envisioned Tycho’s domain as a refuge from the evils of the time, as the place where his Cosmic Mystery would be confirmed. He aspired to become a colleague of the great Tycho Brahe, who for thirty-five years had devoted himself, before the invention of the telescope, to the measurement of a clockwork universe, ordered and precise. Kepler’s expectations were to be unfulfilled. Tycho himself was a flamboyant figure, festooned with a golden nose, the original having been lost in a student duel fought over who was the superior mathematician. Around him was a raucous entourage of assistants, sycophants, distant relatives and assorted hangers-on. Their endless revelry, their innuendoes and intrigues, their cruel mockery of the pious and scholarly country bumpkin depressed and saddened Kepler: “Tycho … is superlatively rich but knows not how to make use of it.
Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World by Deirdre N. McCloskey
Admiral Zheng, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, BRICs, British Empire, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, clockwork universe, computer age, Corn Laws, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Donald Trump, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, European colonialism, experimental economics, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, germ theory of disease, Gini coefficient, greed is good, Howard Zinn, income per capita, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, means of production, Naomi Klein, New Economic Geography, New Urbanism, purchasing power parity, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Simon Kuznets, Slavoj Žižek, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, tulip mania, union organizing, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal, V2 rocket, very high income, working poor, World Values Survey, Yogi Berra
As Richard Easterlin put it, “the growth of scientific knowledge [he instances biological discoveries improving public and then private health] has been shaped much more by internal [that it, intellectual] factors than external factors such as market forces.”7 But of course one problem that has to be faced by advocates of science is that Chinese and at one point Islamic science and technology, separately and together, were superior to Western in every way, and yet resulted in no industrial revolution. Another is that the inspiriting discoveries of a Newtonian clockwork universe, and the great mathematization in Europe of earthly and celestial mechanics in the eighteenth century, had practically no direct industrial applications until the late nineteenth century at the earliest. The historian of technology Nathan Rosenberg noted that “before the twentieth century there was no very close correspondence between scientific leadership and industrial leadership,” instancing the United States, which had negligible scientific achievement around 1890 and yet industrial might, and Japan, ditto, around 1970.8 Mokyr concludes that “the full triumph of technology was only secured after 1870 with the arrival of cheap steel, electrical power, chemicals, and other advances associated with the second Industrial Revolution,” and associated sometimes with science.9 “Cheap steel,” though, is not a scientific case in point.
Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson
That’s when you have Laplace declaring that with a sufficient physics and database you could predict the entire past and future of the universe just by entering the numbers for the current moment, and running them through the equations either forward or back, as in an astrolabe. It was a thought experiment only, because no one would ever have the data set to do it. But the implication was that God, or something like it, could do it.” “Yes. I can see that.” “It implied a predetermined, clockwork universe that many found depressing to contemplate. We weren’t really choosing to do anything.” “Yes. But your quantum mechanics destroyed all that.” “Precisely.” “Or imprecisely.” “Ha, yes. With relativity and quantum mechanics we began to understand that the four dimensions we sense are artifacts of our perception of dimensions far more numerous than we knew. We began to see things that made it clear four dimensions were not adequate to explain what was happening.
accounting loophole / creative accounting, banking crisis, banks create money, barriers to entry, Benoit Mandelbrot, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, cellular automata, central bank independence, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, collective bargaining, complexity theory, correlation coefficient, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, Financial Instability Hypothesis, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Henri Poincaré, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, invisible hand, iterative process, John von Neumann, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, mandelbrot fractal, margin call, market bubble, market clearing, market microstructure, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, open economy, place-making, Ponzi scheme, profit maximization, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, random walk, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, seigniorage, six sigma, South Sea Bubble, stochastic process, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, total factor productivity, tulip mania, wage slave
Other developments, such as Gödel’s proof that a mathematical system cannot be self-contained – so that it must take some axioms on faith – and the proof that there were some mathematical problems which could not be solved, added to this realization by mathematicians and physicists that mathematics and science had innate limits. As a result, in place of Laplace’s grand conceit, there is a humility to modern mathematics. The future cannot be known, mathematics cannot solve every problem, some things may not be knowable. TABLE 16.1 The solvability of mathematical models (adapted from Costanza 1993) But these epiphanies passed economists by: they continue to believe in a clockwork universe, in which a proper specification of the conditions of today could enable you to predict the future for all time. Nowhere is this vanity more obvious than in the school’s defining works, Walras’s Elements of Pure Economics and Debreu’s Theory of Value. Walras’s arrogance towards those economists who would not practice mathematics is still the typical attitude today held by economists towards those who criticize their use of mathematics: As for those economists who do not know any mathematics, who do not even know what is meant by mathematics and yet have taken the stand that mathematics cannot possibly serve to elucidate economic principles, let them go their way repeating that ‘human liberty will never allow itself to be cast into equations’ or that ‘mathematics ignores frictions which are everything in social science’ and other equally forceful and flowery phrases.
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, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, urban renewal
To Aristotle, the universe was a collection of fifty-five concentric crystalline spheres, the outermost being heaven, surrounding those of the planets, earth and its elements, and finally the seven circles of hell.1 With Newton and his precise, deterministic mathematical formulation of motion, the description changed again. The universe was likened to an enormous, grand clockwork: after being wound and set into its initial state, the clockwork universe ticks from one moment to the next with complete regularity and predictability. Special and general relativity pointed out important subtleties of the clockwork metaphor: there is no single, preferred, universal clock; there is no consensus on what constitutes a moment, what constitutes a now. Even so, you can still tell a clockworklike story about the evolving universe. The clock is your clock.
The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick
Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, bank run, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, citation needed, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Simon Singh, Socratic dialogue, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, talking drums, the High Line, The Wisdom of Crowds, transcontinental railway, Turing machine, Turing test, women in the workforce
Poe was also reading Newton’s champion Pierre-Simon Laplace. “A being of infinite understanding,” wrote Poe, “—one to whom the perfection of the algebraic analysis lay unfolded” could trace the undulations backward to their source. Babbage and Poe took an information-theoretic view of the new physics. Laplace had expounded a perfect Newtonian mechanical determinism; he went further than Newton himself, arguing for a clockwork universe in which nothing is left to chance. Since the laws of physics apply equally to the heavenly bodies and the tiniest particles, and since they operate with perfect reliability, then surely (said Laplace) the state of the universe at every instant follows inexorably from the past and must lead just as relentlessly to the future. It was too soon to conceive of quantum uncertainty, chaos theory, or the limits of computability.
A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy by Joel Mokyr
Andrei Shleifer, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Copley Medal, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, delayed gratification, deliberate practice, Deng Xiaoping, Edmond Halley, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, framing effect, germ theory of disease, Haber-Bosch Process, hindsight bias, income inequality, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, land tenure, law of one price, Menlo Park, moveable type in China, new economy, phenotype, price stability, principal–agent problem, rent-seeking, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, the market place, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, ultimatum game, World Values Survey, Wunderkammern
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 1–16. Sng, Tuan Hwee. 2014. “Size and Dynastic Decline: The Principal-Agent Problem in Late Imperial China 1700-1850.” Explorations in Economic History, Vol. 54, pp. 107–27. Snobelen, Stephen D. 1999. “Isaac Newton, Heretic: the Strategies of a Nicodemite.” British Journal for the History of Science Vol. 32, pp. 381–419. ———. 2012. “The Myth of the Clockwork Universe: Newton, Newtonianism, and the Enlightenment.” In Chris L. Firestone and Nathan Jacobs, eds. The Persistence of the Sacred in Modern Thought. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, pp. 149–84. Song, Yingxing [Sung, Ying-Hsing].  1966. T’ien-Kung K’ai-Wu [Tiangong Kaiwu]: Chinese Technology in the Seventeenth Century. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.