dark matter

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pages: 279 words: 75,527

Collider by Paul Halpern

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, gravity well, horn antenna, index card, Isaac Newton, Magellanic Cloud, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Solar eclipse in 1919, statistical model, Stephen Hawking

The identification of the Higgs boson and/or the discovery of supersymmetric companion particles could shape the direction of theoretical physics for many decades to come. Another field eagerly awaiting the LHC findings is astronomy. Astronomers hope that new results in particle physics will help them unravel the field’s greatest mystery: the composition of dark matter and dark energy, two types of substances that affect luminous material but display no hint of their origin and nature. 9 Denizens of the Dark Resolving the Mysteries of Dark Matter and Dark Energy I know I speak for a generation of people who have been looking for dark-matter particles since they were grad students. I doubt . . . many of us will remain in the field if the L.H.C. brings home bad news. —JUAN COLLAR, KAVLI INSTITUTE FOR COSMOLOGICAL PHYSICS (NEW YORK TIMES, MARCH 11, 2007) There’s an urgency for LHC results that transcends the ruminations of theorists.

There are other reasons to believe that MACHOs could help resolve only part of the dark matter mystery. Using nucleosynthesis (element-building) models that estimate how many protons must have been present in the moments after the Big Bang to produce the elements we see today, astrophysicists have been able to estimate the percentage of baryonic matter in the universe. Unfortunately, these estimates show that only a small fraction of dark matter could be baryonic in nature; the rest must be something else. Made of conventional baryonic matter, MACHOs thereby could not provide the full explanation. Consequently, researchers have turned to other candidates. The beefy acronym MACHO was chosen to contrast it with another class of dark-matter candidates, the ethereal WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles).

Apart from neutrinos, MACHOs, and WIMPs, another option, a hypothetical massive particle called the axion, postulated to play a role in quantum chromodynamics (the theory of the strong force) and tagged by some theorists as a leading dark-matter contender, has yet to be found. The search for the universe’s missing mass has been at an impasse. Enter the LHC to the rescue. Perhaps somewhere in its collision debris the secret key ingredients of cold dark matter will be revealed. Prime contenders would be the lightest supersymmetric companion particles, such as neutralinos, charginos, gluinos, photinos, squarks, and sleptons. Presuming they have energies on the TeV scale, each would present itself through characteristic decay profiles that would show up in tracking and calorimetry. If dark matter were the main cosmic mystery, physicists would simply be clenching their teeth, crossing their fingers, and waiting expectantly for results at the LHC or elsewhere to turn up a suitable prospect.


pages: 695 words: 219,110

The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

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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

These are the most standoffish of the supersymmetric particles—they could nonchalantly pass through the entire earth without the slightest effect on their motion—and hence could easily have escaped detection.9 From calculations of how many of these particles would have been produced in the big bang and survived until today, physicists estimate that they would need to have mass on the order of 100 to 1,000 times that of the proton to supply the dark matter. This is an intriguing number, because various studies of supersymmetric-particle models as well as of superstring theory have arrived at the same mass range for these particles, without any concern for dark matter or cosmology. This would be a puzzling and completely unexplained confluence, unless, of course, the dark matter is indeed composed of supersymmetric particles. Thus, the search for supersymmetric particles at the world’s current and pending accelerators may also be viewed as searches for the heavily favored dark matter candidates. More direct searches for the dark matter particles streaming through the earth have also been under way for some time, although these are extremely challenging experiments. Of the million or so dark matter particles that should be passing through an area the size of a quarter each second, at most one per day would leave any evidence in the specially designed equipment that various experimenters have built to detect them.

Researchers have found that more complicated realizations of inflation can suppress the production of gravitational waves. 9. A viable dark matter candidate must be a stable, or very long-lived, particle—one that does not disintegrate into other particles. This is expected to be true of the lightest of the supersymmetric partner particles, and hence the more precise statement is that the lightest of the zino, higgsino, or photino is a suitable dark matter candidate. 10. Not too long ago, a joint Italian-Chinese research group known as the Dark Matter Experiment (DAMA), working out of the Gran Sasso Laboratory in Italy, made the exciting announcement that they had achieved the first direct detection of dark matter. So far, however, no other group has been able to verify the claim. In fact, another experiment, Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS), based at Stanford and involving researchers from the United States and Russia, has amassed data that many believe rule out the DAMA results to a high degree of confidence.

And so, like an audience that infers the presence of a dark-robed mime even though it sees only his white-gloved hands flitting to and fro on the unlit stage, astronomers concluded that the universe must be suffused with dark matter—matter that does not clump together in stars and hence does not give off light, and that thus exerts a gravitational pull without revealing itself visibly. The universe’s luminous constituents—stars— were revealed as but floating beacons in a giant ocean of dark matter. But if dark matter must exist in order to produce the observed motions of stars and galaxies, what’s it made of? So far, no one knows. The identity of the dark matter remains a major, looming mystery, although astronomers and physicists have suggested numerous possible constituents ranging from various kinds of exotic particles to a cosmic bath of miniature black holes.


pages: 292 words: 88,319

The Infinite Book: A Short Guide to the Boundless, Timeless and Endless by John D. Barrow

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Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, cosmological principle, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, mutually assured destruction, Olbers’ paradox, prisoner's dilemma, Ray Kurzweil, short selling, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine

Their heaviness means they move more slowly and they can condense into regions small enough to explain the existence of cold dark matter in galaxies. This is an exciting frontier of modern cosmological research that brings together particle physicists with their candidates for the cold dark matter particles, astronomers with their observations of how much dark matter there seems to be, computational astrophysicists running huge computer codes to simulate the formation of galaxies dominated by slow-moving dark matter, and experimental physicists searching for the tell-tale signatures of the dark matter particles flying through their detectors deep underground. Until just a few years ago the observations pointed stubbornly to a Universe that did not contain the critical density of material needed to halt its expansion in the future. Even the dark matter couldn’t tip the scales. On the simplest interpretation of the evidence it appeared that the Universe could not be finite.

By watching how fast the luminous stars and galaxies are moving, we can determine the strength of the gravitational forces they are feeling. Remarkably, wherever we do this we discover that things are moving as if they are under the influence of the gravity of about ten times more matter than we see shining in the dark. We call this other unseen material 'cold dark matter'. A small fraction of this dark matter is composed of ordinary atoms and molecules, but the identity of the rest is a mystery. (see Figure 7.5). Two of the great quests of modern cosmology are to pin down the quantity and the quality of the cold dark matter. Fig 7.4 A composite satellite photograph of the Earth at night.11 Notice that the most brightly illuminated areas are big Western cities. The regions of greatest population in Asia and Africa are almost completely dark. Thus the light is a good tracer of wealth rather than of people.

In order to cluster into galaxies and pull matter into clumps where stars form and light shines, they need to move much more ponderously. We need neutrinos that are heavier and slower. So what is left? The strange dark matter could be composed of very small black holes, each no more massive than the Earth but only one centimetre in size. Black holes don’t take part in nuclear reactions and so don’t upset our predictions about the lightest elements. They could perhaps be the dark matter – but it seems odd that they should form so abundantly with the mass of the Earth. Why this mass? If more massive black holes were equally abundant it would contradict other observational restrictions. So, there is a credibility gap. Why should black holes happen to have formed with just the right masses and abundances to solve our dark matter problem? In the absence of a good reason cosmologists have noted this possibility but not pursued it enthusiastically.


pages: 312 words: 86,770

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo by Sean B. Carroll

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Brownian motion, dark matter, Drosophila, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the scientific method

The behavior of some visible objects such as galaxies is affected by more abundant, invisible “dark matter” and “dark energy.” The analogy with genetics is that for decades, because of the simplicity of the genetic code, we biologists have been able to see the “stars” of the genome, to see exactly where genes are encoded in DNA. But we too now appreciate that in most animals’ genomes, the genes that we see occupy just a small fraction of DNA. A much larger part of our DNA consists of sequences that are not part of the simple code for any gene and whose function cannot be deciphered simply by reading the sequence. This is the “dark matter” of the genome. Just as dark matter in the universe governs the behavior of visible bodies, the dark matter in our DNA controls where and when genes are used in development.

In the next chapter, I will describe the fantastic little devices in the genome that draw the beautiful patterns of gene expression you’ve seen here and that are the key links between the chains of tool kit genes that build animal complexity and diversity. Dark matter in the universe (top) and genome (bottom). The top is an image of the galaxy cluster CL0024+1654; the dark matter appears as hazy cloud in the center. The bottom image is of a microarray of the fruit fly genome—the bright spots are DNA that encodes genes, the darks spots are DNA that is not expressed. UNIVERSE COURTESY OF EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY, NASA, AND JEAN-PAUL KREIB (OBSERVATION MIDI-PYRENEES, FRANCE/CALTECH, USA). GENOME COURTESY OF DR. TOM GINGERAS AND AFFYMETRIX, INC. 5 The Dark Matter of the Genome: Operating Instructions for the Tool Kit It is indeed a feeble light that reaches us from the starry sky.

Seeing in the Dark In cosmology, biology, as well as other sciences, the existence of particular entities is detected either directly, by observation, or indirectly, by observing the effects on other entities that are more easily visualized or measured. The evidence for dark matter in the universe is all indirect, based upon observation of the velocities and rotation of galaxies and the deduction that there must be a great deal of mass inside galaxies that cannot be seen. Cosmologists and physicists are not yet sure what dark matter is made of. Our understanding of dark matter in the genome is much better because we know what it is made of (DNA) and we can isolate it and study its properties both directly and indirectly. One of the most powerful ways to study noncoding “dark” DNA is to hook a piece of it up to a gene that encodes a protein that is easily visualized, such as an enzyme that will make a colored reaction product, or a protein that will fluoresce in a beam of light.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B. J. Novak

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Bernie Madoff, carbon-based life, citation needed, dark matter, F. W. de Klerk, Saturday Night Live

They didn’t understand the story, so they didn’t repeat it, and it never became known. But those who were there for both contests knew what was so special about what they had witnessed: slow and steady wins the race, till truth and talent claim their place. Dark Matter “And that’s the puzzling thing about dark matter,” said the scientist at the end of our planetarium tour. “It makes up over ninety percent of the universe, and yet nobody knows what it is!” People on the tour chuckled politely, like Wow, isn’t that a fun fact? But I looked closer at the scientist, and I could tell something from the smirky little smile on his fat smug face: This motherfucker knew exactly what dark matter was. “So as you look up at the skies tonight, I hope you have a little more perspective, knowing more about what we know—and don’t know—about our vast and magical …” etcetera etcetera.

I told them about the planetarium tour and about how no one knows what dark matter is, not even the scientist, which they thought was interesting, and then I did an impression of the scientist giving the tour, which they thought was hysterical. I felt a little bad because in my impression I gave the scientist a lisp, which he didn’t have in real life, but that was the part that made my friends laugh the hardest, so, who knows. One of my friends said, “You know, he actually sounds kind of sweet,” which made me feel better because that was how I felt about him in my head while I was doing the impression! Even though I was making him sound like a dork, I still thought of him as kind of sweet. And also, he had lied about no one knowing what dark matter is, when he really did know, so he wasn’t exactly an angel himself.

PS3614.O9255A6 2014 813′.6—dc23 2013044121 This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Jacket design by Hum Creative v3.1 To the Reader CONTENTS Cover Title Page Copyright Dedication The Rematch Dark Matter No One Goes to Heaven to See Dan Fogelberg Romance, Chapter One Julie and the Warlord The Something by John Grisham The Girl Who Gave Great Advice All You Have to Do ’Rithmetic The Ambulance Driver Walking on Eggshells (or: When I Loved Tony Robbins) The Impatient Billionaire and the Mirror for Earth Missed Connection: Grocery spill at 21st and 6th 2:30 pm on Wednesday I Never Want to Walk on the Moon Sophia The Comedy Central Roast of Nelson Mandela They Kept Driving Faster and Outran the Rain The Man Who Invented the Calendar The Ghost of Mark Twain The Beautiful Girl in the Bookstore MONSTER: The Roller Coaster Kellogg’s (or: The Last Wholesome Fantasy of the Middle-School Boy) The Man Who Posted Pictures of Everything He Ate Closure Kindness Among Cakes Quantum Nonlocality and the Death of Elvis Presley If I Had a Nickel A Good Problem to Have Johnny Depp, Fate, and the Double-Decker Hollywood Tour Bus Being Young Was Her Thing Angel Echeverria, Comediante Superpopular The Market Was Down The Vague Restaurant Critic One of These Days, We Have to Do Something About Willie Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Missing Bicycle Regret Is Just Perfectionism Plus Time Chris Hansen at the Justin Bieber Concert Great Writers Steal Confucius at Home War If You Love Something Just an Idea Heyyyyy, Rabbits The Best Thing in the World Awards Bingo Marie’s Stupid Boyfriend Pick a Lane “Everyone Was Singing the Same Song”: The Duke of Earl Recalls His Trip to America in June of 1962 The Pleasure of Being Right Strange News Never Fall in Love The World’s Biggest Rip-Off The Walk to School on the Day After Labor Day Kate Moss Welcome to Camp Fantastic for Gifted Teens There Is a Fine Line Between Why and Why Not The Man Who Told Us About Inflatable Women A New Hitler Constructive Criticism The Bravest Thing I Ever Did Rome The Literalist’s Love Poem J.


pages: 492 words: 149,259

Big Bang by Simon Singh

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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, John von Neumann, Karl Jansky, 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, Richard Feynman, scientific mainstream, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbiased observer, V2 rocket, Wilhelm Olbers, William of Occam

Something else that keeps Big Bang cosmologists awake at night is dark matter. Observations show that stars orbiting the periphery of galaxies have tremendous speeds, yet the gravitational pull of all the stars closer to the heart of the galaxy is not enough to prevent these peripheral stars from flying off into the cosmos. Therefore, cosmologists believe that there must be vast quantities of dark matter in a galaxy, namely matter that does not shine but which exerts enough of a gravitational pull to keep the stars in their orbits. Although the idea of dark matter dates back to Fritz Zwicky at Mount Wilson in the 1930s, cosmologists are still unsure of its true nature, which is rather embarrassing as calculations imply that the universe has more dark matter than ordinary stellar matter. Some candidates for dark matter are so-called massive compact halo objects (MACHOs), a category which includes black holes, asteroids and giant Jupiter-like planets.

Other candidates for dark matter come under the heading of weakly interacting massive particles (WIMPs), which includes various types of particles that do not form objects like MACHOS, but which might permeate the entire universe, hardly making their presence felt, except through the force of gravity. As yet, there are only vague clues to the nature and amount of dark matter in the universe, which is rather frustrating because cosmologists need a respectable understanding of dark matter before they can fill in some gaps in the Big Bang model. For example, the gravitational influence of dark matter would have played a major role in attracting more ordinary matter in the early stages of the universe, thereby helping to form galaxies. And, at the other end of the timeline, dark matter might play a decisive role in the ultimate fate of the universe.

For example, the COBE satellite completed its scientific mission on 23 December 1993 and has been superseded by satellites with improved detectors, such as WMAP, whose results appear in Figure 104. Even better satellites are already being designed, and on the Earth’s surface there will be more sensitive radio telescopes, more powerful optical telescopes and experiments on the lookout for signs of dark matter. Future observations will challenge, test and stretch the Big Bang model. They may lead to a revision of the estimate of the age of the universe, diminish the influence of dark matter in the universe or fill in some gaps in our knowledge, but cosmologists generally agree that these will only be tweaks to the overall scheme of the Big Bang model, rather than a paradigm shift to a completely new model. This is a view endorsed by Big Bang pioneers Ralph Alpher and Robert Herman in Genesis of the Big Bang, published in 2001: ‘Although many questions about cosmological modeling are still unanswered, the Big Bang model is in reasonably good shape.


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

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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

Starting in the 1980s, astronomers and particles physicists have conducted searches for dim astronomical objects and/or invisible particles with enough gravitational oomph to constitute dark matter. The focus began to center on cold (slow-moving) dark matter particles that respond to the weak force and gravity but not to electromagnetism (hence their invisibility). Searches for such particles have been conducted in converted mine tunnels deep underground, to avoid the “noise” of ordinary particles, as well as in space. At the time of this writing, conclusive evidence for dark matter particles has yet to be found. If dark energy and dark matter were rare phenomena, perhaps we could hold off on explanations and try to tidy up other loose ends in physics. On the contrary, together they constitute 95 percent of everything in space. According to recent astronomical estimates, a whopping 68 percent of the universe is dark energy and fully 27 percent is dark matter, leaving only 5 percent that can be explained through the standard model combined with conventional general relativity.

Dark energy, the agent for accelerating the universe, and dark matter, the invisible substance that keeps galaxies from flying apart, represent mysteries on par with those that challenged the quantum pioneers. We have mentioned how the former seems to match the cosmological constant term proposed (and later retracted) by Einstein and later advocated by Schrödinger. However, no one knows the physical source of dark energy, which acts as a kind of antigravity. The nature of dark matter offers another modern-day conundrum. First identified in the 1930s by Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky in his study of the Coma cluster, it constitutes the unseen mass gravitationally required to keep astronomical structures stable. As Zwicky’s claim was not taken seriously, it took another half century before the search for dark matter began in earnest.

Such tremendous energies are well beyond current reach. Fortunately, high-energy theories often have lower-energy implications. Thus the Large Hadron Collider could well detect particle states that offer a window into physics beyond the standard model. An example would be supersymmetric companion particles: mates of fermions with bosonic properties, or vice versa. The discovery of such would offer powerful evidence for supersymmetry and possible dark matter candidates. While none have turned up so far, many physicists continue to be hopeful that superpartners will emerge in collider data once enough of it is collected and analyzed. Faster Than Light: A Cautionary Tale Researchers, students, funding agencies, science aficionados, writers, and others interested in what lies beyond the standard model are waiting eagerly for the tiniest hint of new, unexplained phenomena.


pages: 310 words: 89,838

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

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

Observations of our cosmic neighborhood have led scientists to notch up 70 percent of whatever’s out there to dark energy, the mysterious force that is driving the expansion of the universe. No one knows what dark energy is, and finding out is a major goal in physics. The Standard Model describes but 4 percent of the matter we can see in space. The rest, about a quarter, is dark matter. The name is intentionally unilluminating. Dark matter doesn’t shine or radiate heat, and you can’t see it by bouncing light off it. Many theorists think dark matter is made of supersymmetric particles called “neutralinos,” the lightest kind the supersymmetry theory predicts. Not everyone is a fan of supersymmetry. Critics challenge aficionados with a simple question: If the universe is supersymmetric, where are all the other particles? Why haven’t we discovered selectrons by now, or photinos or winos?

The point Wells makes is that there could be countless other particles and forces at work that we simply don’t notice. “It would be really strange if everything that exists out there was stuff that our bodies feel. There is simply no reason why we should be so special,” he says. Scientists already know that the universe contains matter that we cannot see or feel. There are vast clumps of dark matter that lurk around galaxies that only reveal their presence by exerting a gravitational pull on the celestial objects around them. Cosmologists believe that dark matter makes up around a quarter of the mass of the universe. How are these worlds hidden from us? Take a good look at the world around you. Everything, including this book in your hands and the chair you are sitting on, is made up from simple building blocks. Atomic nuclei are made from quarks that are bound together by the strong force.

The detectors that scientists use to sift new physics from the debris of particle collisions inside the LHC are technological master-pieces. By far the largest is the aptly named Atlas detector, from “A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS,” which is so big it would barely fit in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. The 7,000-metric-ton Atlas and the not-so-small CMS detector were designed with the Higgs particle in mind. They might see far more, though, such as exotic particles of dark matter or extra dimensions. The Higgs boson might pop into existence in any of several ways inside the Large Hadron Collider, but scientists predict the most likely route to be when two gluons—the particles that bind quarks together inside protons—slam together and fuse. The energy released in the collision would theoretically create a Higgs particle with ease, though it would decay immediately afterward.


pages: 357 words: 98,853

Junk DNA: A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome by Nessa Carey

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dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Downton Abbey, Drosophila, epigenetics, mouse model, phenotype, placebo effect, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs

Typeset in Janson Text by Marie Doherty Printed and bound in the UK by Clays Ltd, St Ives plc For Abi Reynolds, who is always by my side And for Sheldon – good to see you again Contents Acknowledgements Notes on Nomenclature An Introduction to Genomic Dark Matter 1. Why Dark Matter Matters 2. When Dark Matter Turns Very Dark Indeed 3. Where Did All the Genes Go? 4. Outstaying an Invitation 5. Everything Shrinks When We Get Old 6. Two is the Perfect Number 7. Painting with Junk 8. Playing the Long Game 9. Adding Colour to the Dark Matter 10. Why Parents Love Junk 11. Junk with a Mission 12. Switching It On, Turning It Up 13. No Man’s Land 14. Project ENCODE – Big Science Comes to Junk DNA 15. Headless Queens, Strange Cats and Portly Mice 16. Lost in Untranslation 17. Why LEGO is Better Than Airfix 18.

Even the brief geological moment that represents the emergence and spread of our own species has been sufficient time to create a greater range of experiments than those of us who wear lab coats could ever dream of testing. Consequently, throughout much of this book we will explore the darkness by using the torch of human genetics. There are many ways to begin shining a light on the dark matter of our genome, so let’s start with an odd but unassailable fact to anchor us. Some genetic diseases are caused by mutations in junk DNA, and there is probably no better starting point for our journey into the hidden genomic universe than this. 1. Why Dark Matter Matters Sometimes life seems to be cruel in the troubles it piles onto a family. Consider this example. A baby boy was born; let’s call him Daniel. He was strangely floppy at birth, and had trouble breathing unassisted. With intensive medical care Daniel survived and his muscle tone improved, allowing him to breathe unaided and to develop mobility.

JUNK DNA Also by Nessa Carey The Epigenetics Revolution JUNK DNA A Journey Through the Dark Matter of the Genome NESSA CAREY Published in the UK in 2015 by Icon Books Ltd, Omnibus Business Centre, 39–41 North Road, London N7 9DP email: info@iconbooks.com www.iconbooks.com Sold in the UK, Europe and Asia by Faber & Faber Ltd, Bloomsbury House, 74–77 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DA or their agents Distributed in the UK, Europe and Asia by TBS Ltd, TBS Distribution Centre, Colchester Road, Frating Green, Colchester CO7 7DW Distributed in Australia and New Zealand by Allen & Unwin Pty Ltd, PO Box 8500, 83 Alexander Street, Crows Nest, NSW 2065 Distributed in South Africa by Jonathan Ball, Office B4, The District, 41 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock 7925 Distributed in India by Penguin Books India, 7th Floor, Infinity Tower – C, DLF Cyber City, Gurgaon 122002, Haryana ISBN: 978-184831-826-7 Text copyright © 2015 Nessa Carey The author has asserted her moral rights.


pages: 186 words: 64,267

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

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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, Magellanic Cloud, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking

If we add up the masses of all the stars that we can see in our galaxy and other galaxies, the total is less than one hundredth of the amount required to halt the expansion of the universe, even for the lowest estimate of the rate of expansion. Our galaxy and other galaxies, however, must contain a large amount of “dark matter” that we cannot see directly, but which we know must be there because of the influence of its gravitational attraction on the orbits of stars in the galaxies. Moreover, most galaxies are found in clusters, and we can similarly infer the presence of yet more dark matter in between the galaxies in these clusters by its effect on the motion of the galaxies. When we add up all this dark matter, we still get only about one tenth of the amount required to halt the expansion. However, we cannot exclude the possibility that there might be some other form of matter, distributed almost uniformly throughout the universe, that we have not yet detected and that might still raise the average density of the universe up to the critical value needed to halt the expansion.

Conservation of energy: The law of science that states that energy (or its equivalent in mass) can neither be created nor destroyed. Coordinates: Numbers that specify the position of a point in space and time. Cosmological constant: A mathematical device used by Einstein to give space-time an inbuilt tendency to expand. Cosmology: The study of the universe as a whole. Dark matter: Matter in galaxies, clusters, and possibly between clusters, that can not be observed directly but can be detected by its gravitational effect. As much as 90 percent of the mass of the universe may be in the form of dark matter. Duality: A correspondence between apparently different theories that lead to the same physical results. Einstein-Rosen bridge: A thin tube of space-time linking two black holes. Also see Wormhole. Electric charge: A property of a particle by which it may repel (or attract) other particles that have a charge of similar (or opposite) sign.

So they should still be around today. If we could observe them, it would provide a good test of this picture of a very hot early stage of the universe. Unfortunately, their energies nowadays would be too low for us to observe them directly. However, if neutrinos are not massless, but have a small mass of their own, as suggested by some recent experiments, we might be able to detect them indirectly: they could be a form of “dark matter,” like that mentioned earlier, with sufficient gravitational attraction to stop the expansion of the universe and cause it to collapse again. About one hundred seconds after the big bang, the temperature would have fallen to one thousand million degrees, the temperature inside the hottest stars. At this temperature protons and neutrons would no longer have sufficient energy to escape the attraction of the strong nuclear force, and would have started to combine together to produce the nuclei of atoms of deuterium (heavy hydrogen), which contain one proton and one neutron.


pages: 281 words: 70,908

Ringworld's Children by Larry Niven

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dark matter, friendly fire

Stars look bigger than they should, as if you're seeing a whole solar system." "You've been perceiving this." Tunesmith waved into a recorded view of neon paint streaming through oil. "Dark matter. The missing mass. Instruments in Einstein space can't find it, but it huddles close around suns in this other domain you've been calling hyperspace. Dark matter makes galaxies more massive, changes their spin--" "We rammed through that?" "Wrong picture, Louis. My instruments didn't record any resistance. We'll test that later. It might have been different if this had reached us." A deep violet comma-shaped shadow. "We find life everywhere we look in this universe. Would it be surprising if an ecology has grown up within dark matter? And predators?" Maybe Tunesmith was mad. Louis asked, "Are you suggesting that ships that use hyperdrive near a star are eaten?"

Certainly there are mathematics involved, but they may be more complex than just places where an equation gives infinities. Inside this morass of dark matter, the characteristic speed may be drastically lowered. The proof is that we live." "We are being observed," the Hindmost said. "I sense ranging beams from ARM and Patriarchy telescopes and neutrino detectors. Ships begin to accelerate inward. The ship from Sheathclaws houses telepaths of both species, though they can't reach us yet. I've found the comet cluster that hides the Kzinti flagship Diplomat. It's across the solar system, seven light-hours away and receding behind us. Tunesmith, do you have a plan?" The Ghoul protector said, "I have the simple part. We will observe the Fringe War as we coast outward. Let our velocity carry us beyond the danger zone, the dark matter zone where predators lurk. Then swing around the system in hyperdrive.

That larger sphere just popping into view was Long Shot, close and closing. Tunesmith barely glanced at the view. "They'll be a few minutes matching. We have time. Hindmost, show us what we recorded in this last hyperdrive jump." The hypercamera's record was blank. Louis snickered. Tunesmith reproved him. "Louis, there's nothing to see. We're outside the envelope of dark matter that collects around our star. Where there almost isn't any dark matter, there almost isn't space either! This is why we can travel faster than light does in vacuum, because distance in this domain is drastically contracted. "Now I need only learn why there is more than one characteristic velocity. I'll get that by studying Long Shot. Hindmost, take us in range of Diplomat." "Two fighting ships guard the near side of the comet."


pages: 634 words: 185,116

From eternity to here: the quest for the ultimate theory of time by Sean M. Carroll

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, Columbine, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, gravity well, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, lone genius, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, pets.com, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Schrödinger's Cat, Slavoj Žižek, Stephen Hawking, stochastic process, the scientific method, wikimedia commons

But matter itself comes in different forms: “ordinary matter,” including all of the kinds of particles we have ever discovered in experiments here on Earth, and “dark matter,” some other kind of particle that can’t be anything we’ve yet directly seen. The mass (and therefore energy) in ordinary matter is mostly in the form of atomic nuclei—protons and neutrons—but electrons also contribute. So ordinary matter includes you, me, the Earth, the Sun, stars, and all the gas and dust and rocks in space. We know how much of that stuff there is, and it’s not nearly enough to account for the gravitational fields observed in galaxies and clusters. So there must be dark matter, and we’ve ruled out all known particles as candidates; theorists have invented an impressive menu of possibilities, including “axions” and “neutralinos” and “Kaluza-Klein particles.” All told, ordinary matter makes up about 4 percent of the energy in the universe, dark matter makes up about 22 percent, and dark energy makes up about 74 percent.

The pressure in an ionized plasma is generally larger than in a collection of atoms. 240 Penrose (2005), 706. An earlier version of this argument can be found in Penrose (1979). 241 Most of the matter in the universe—between 80 percent and 90 percent by mass—is in the form of dark matter, not the ordinary matter of atoms and molecules. We don’t know what the dark matter is, and it’s conceivable that it takes the form of small black holes. But there are problems with that idea, including the difficulty of making so many black holes in the first place. So most cosmologists tend to believe that the dark matter is very likely to be some sort of new elementary particle (or particles) that hasn’t yet been discovered. 242 Black-hole entropy increases rapidly as the black hole gains mass—it’s proportional to the mass squared. (Entropy goes like area, which goes like radius squared, and the Schwarzschild radius is proportional to the mass.)

What we might do is build particle accelerators that reveal something about supersymmetry, which in turn teaches us something about string theory, which we can use to understand more about quantum gravity. Or we might gather data from giant telescopes—collecting not only photons of light, but also cosmic rays, neutrinos, gravitational waves, or even particles of dark matter—that reveal something surprising about the evolution of the universe. The real world surprises us all the time: dark matter and dark energy are obvious examples. As a theoretical physicist, I’ve written this book from a rather theoretical perspective, but as a matter of history it’s often new experiments that end up awakening us from our dogmatic slumbers. APPENDIX: MATH 304 These properties are behind the “magic of mathematics” appealed to above. For example, suppose we wanted to figure out what was meant by 10 to the power 0.5.


pages: 338 words: 106,936

The Physics of Wall Street: A Brief History of Predicting the Unpredictable by James Owen Weatherall

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Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, Claude Shannon: information theory, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, dark matter, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial innovation, George Akerlof, Gerolamo Cardano, Henri Poincaré, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, iterative process, John Nash: game theory, Kenneth Rogoff, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, martingale, new economy, Paul Lévy, prediction markets, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, stochastic process, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, tulip mania, V2 rocket, volatility smile

To learn as much about the theory as he could, he picked up a book by Einstein, The Meaning of Relativity, in which Einstein offered an argument about how much dark matter could exist in the universe. Dark matter — literally, stuff in the universe that doesn’t seem to emit or reflect light, which means that we can’t see it directly — was first discovered in the 1930s, by its effects on the rotation of galaxies. Devotees of popular physics know that today, dark matter is one of the most puzzling mysteries in all of cosmology. Observations of other galaxies suggest that the vast majority of the matter in the universe is unobservable, something that is not explained by any of our best physical theories. Einstein proposed a simple way of figuring out the lower bound for the total amount of dark matter in the universe. He argued that the density of dark matter in the universe as a whole was at least as much as the density within a galaxy (or rather, a group of galaxies known as a cluster).

He argued that the density of dark matter in the universe as a whole was at least as much as the density within a galaxy (or rather, a group of galaxies known as a cluster). Osborne decided he didn’t buy the argument. For one, Einstein seemed to be making a series of bad assumptions. Worse still, the best evidence that anyone had in 1946 showed that most dark matter was restricted to certain parts of a galaxy, with basically no dark matter in empty space (this still seems to be true). So if anything, you should expect the density of dark matter to be higher in a galaxy than in space as a whole. By 1946, most people, if they disagreed with an argument of Einstein’s pertaining to relativity and astrophysics, would assume they had misunderstood something. Einstein was already a cultural icon. But Osborne took no heed of such things. When he understood something, he understood it, and no amount of reputation or authority could intimidate him.


pages: 81 words: 28,120

Illustrated Theory of Everything: The Origin and Fate of the Universe by Stephen Hawking

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anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, cosmological constant, dark matter

If we add up the masses of all the stars that we can see in our galaxy and othergalaxies, the total is less than one-hundredth of the amount required to haltthe expansion of the universe, even in the lowest estimate of the rate of expan-sion. But we know that our galaxy and other galaxies must contain a largeamount of dark matter which we cannot see directly, but which we know mustbe there because of the influence of its gravitational attraction on the orbits ofstars and gas in the galaxies. Moreover, most galaxies are found in clusters, andwe can similarly infer the presence of yet more dark matter in between thegalaxies in these clusters by its effect on the motion of the galaxies. When weadd up all this dark matter, we still get only about one-tenth of the amountrequired to halt the expansion. However, there might be some other form ofmatter which we have not yet detected and which might still raise the averagedensity of the universe up to the critical value needed to halt the expansion.The present evidence, therefore, suggests that the universe will probablyexpand forever.


pages: 442 words: 110,704

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars by Dava Sobel

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Albert Einstein, card file, Cepheid variable, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Ernest Rutherford, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, index card, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John Harrison: Longitude, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, pattern recognition, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Solar eclipse in 1919, V2 rocket

CHAPTER THIRTEEN: The Observatory Pinafore The Harvard-Radcliffe Gilbert & Sullivan Players gave an abridged concert performance of The Observatory Pinafore at the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in Cambridge on October 26, 2000, as part of a banquet and centenary symposium honoring Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin. The so-called dark matter demonstrated by Robert Trumpler’s research was interstellar dust. It should not be confused with the mysterious invisible entity given the same name by modern astronomers, who believe dark matter is what holds galaxies together. CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Miss Cannon’s Prize After Harlow Shapley announced the wedding of Cecilia Payne and Sergei Gaposchkin, Miss Cannon made a note on the appropriate page in her diary. This particular diary was of the five-year variety, with room for only a paragraph-length entry per date, and in the allotted box she had already recorded how water pouring in through the back wall had flooded the cellar to a depth of several inches (though whether at her home or the observatory she did not specify).

Trumpler came to these conclusions by observing one hundred open clusters—close associations of stars that were not as densely crowded together as in globular clusters. He calculated each open cluster’s distance two ways, by its apparent brightness and also its apparent diameter. Both values predictably decreased with distance, but the open clusters faded in brightness much faster than they shrank in size. Some form of “dark matter” definitely intervened to absorb their light. As far as Trumpler could tell, the mysterious absorbing medium was confined to the Milky Way, but unevenly distributed; it concentrated along the plane of the galaxy and dissipated near the poles. Shapley had banked on transparency when he estimated the galaxy’s extent at three hundred thousand light-years. With the effect of interstellar absorption factored in, the Milky Way contracted to about half that size.

After she returned to Princeton and married astronomer Bancroft Sitterly in 1937, she continued working, and later became manager of the program in atomic spectroscopy at the National Bureau of Standards. Vera Rubin, who attended Vassar College because of its historic association with Maria Mitchell, received the 2003 Bruce Medal for her measurements of galaxy rotation, which led to the discovery of dark matter. Sandra Moore Faber, the 2012 winner, did her graduate work at Harvard but has spent her career at the University of California Observatories, pursuing the formation, structure, and clustering of galaxies. In 2013 she was one of twelve recipients of the National Medal of Science. The telescope named for Miss Bruce, which Shapley praised as “the great galaxy hunter of the Southern Hemisphere,” was decommissioned in 1950.


pages: 661 words: 169,298

Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Cepheid variable, Chance favours the prepared mind, 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, 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, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers

In a sense, the big-bang universe is a high-energy physics experiment, which can be studied at various points in history to understand how the universe evolved. Analysis of this literally universal experiment confirms that most of the stuff of the universe is invisible—the “dark matter” problem—and that much of this invisible stuff cannot be ordinary matter, like planets and stars, but must be of some exotic form, like the particles predicted by string theories. (String theory, along with M-theory, which portrays the strings as membranes, continues to be a promising method for constructing a unified, quantum theory of gravity, but it remains unfinished.) Important clues to the nature of dark matter were found by astronomers studying supernovae. One class of these exploding stars, the type la supernovae, all seem to reach about the same maximum brightness (once one corrects for idiosyncracies such as differing abundances of nickel and other elements.)

By 2003, astronomers could estimate with some confidence that dark energy constitutes two-thirds of the mass of the universe, with dark matter (its nature also unknown) making up almost all of the other third, while planets, stars, and interstellar gas and dust—the “bright matter”—account for less than one percent of the universe by weight. When the first edition of Coming of Age was written, scientists were in something like the situation of accountants who could weigh a locked safe and estimate how much precious metal it contained, but didn’t know whether they were gold bars or silver coins. Now the safe has been cracked. One can see that it contains a few coins (visible matter) plus two other lockboxes, one labeled “dark matter” and the other “dark energy.” The task is to pick the locks on those two boxes. One remarkable—if slightly unsettling—prospect presented by dark energy is that the expansion rate of the universe may not dictate its destiny.

Supersymmetry theory, as we saw in the previous chapter, predicts the existence of enormous numbers of as yet undetected particles left over from the early universe.* If the theory ripened to the point that it could specify the masses of these particles, it might be possible to test it by looking for them. A ghostly clue that there may be such undetected material in the universe today is proffered by what astronomers call the “dark matter” problem. The masses of galaxies and their clusters can be deduced by measuring the velocity at which stars orbit the centers of the galaxies to which they belong, and at which galaxies orbit the centers of clusters of galaxies.† In case after case, this turns out to add up to something like five or ten times the mass of all the visible stars and nebulae. The startling implication is that everything we see and photograph in the sky amounts to only a fraction of the gravitationally interacting matter in our quarter of the universe.


pages: 328 words: 100,381

Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State by Dana Priest, William M. Arkin

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airport security, business intelligence, dark matter, friendly fire, Google Earth, hiring and firing, illegal immigration, immigration reform, index card, Julian Assange, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, WikiLeaks

By the spring of 2011, the new way of war had become so routine that as the last cherry blossom dropped to the ground in Washington, President Obama approved the use of lethal American military drones in yet another country with which the United States was not at war: Libya. A United Nations resolution had authorized the NATO alliance to use military force to stop Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi from brutalizing opponents to his rule. But the air strike on his command-and-control compound in Tripoli, in which one of his sons and three grandsons died, seemed to indicate he had gotten himself on a kill list, too. CHAPTER ELEVEN Dark Matter Besides the damage inflicted on the enemy by the CIA’s killer drones, paramilitary forces killed dozens of al-Qaeda leaders and hundreds of its foot soldiers in the decade after 9/11. But troops from a more mysterious organization, based in North Carolina, have killed easily ten times as many al-Qaeda, and hundreds of Iraqi insurgents as well. This secretive organization, created in 1980 but completely reinvented in 2003, flies ten times more drones than the CIA.

Over a decade in which they were fighting secret battles, sometimes in countries where wars have not been declared, this group of men (and a few women) sustained a level of obscurity that not even the CIA has managed to pull off. Its commanders—headquartered at Fort Bragg and the adjoining Pope Air Force Base in Fayetteville, North Carolina—still consider the organization to be officially “unacknowledged,” meaning its true purpose and everything it does is classified, and therefore, as far as the public is concerned, it does not exist. “We’re the dark matter,” a strapping U.S. Navy SEAL once explained. “We’re the force that orders the universe but can’t be seen.” When its officers are working in civilian government agencies or U.S. embassies abroad, which they do quite a lot, they dispense with uniforms, unlike the rest of their military comrades. On the battlefield, they dress according to the mission, and when in uniform they wear no name or rank identifiers.

After 9/11, they had come up with all sorts of new names to hide their secret military subunits: The Secret Army of Northern Virginia, Task Force Green, Task Force Blue, Task Force 11, then Task Force 20, then Task Force 121. In fact, they change their task force numbers so often that even their American colleagues sometimes “aren’t sure who we are,” one officer explained, acknowledging that obscurity was the goal. All these task forces are part of JSOC, which sits at the center of the secret universe as the dark matter that shapes the world in ways that are usually not detectable. Like the CIA, the Joint Special Operations Command has become the president’s personal weapon against terrorists, one both Presidents Bush and Obama have wielded often over the years, with little or no input from Congress or the larger public policy community that has weighed in on life-and-death policy options since the beginning on what is now the country’s longest war, the war against al-Qaeda.


pages: 323 words: 90,868

The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-First Century by Ryan Avent

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3D printing, Airbnb, American energy revolution, autonomous vehicles, Bakken shale, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, gig economy, global supply chain, global value chain, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, means of production, new economy, performance metric, pets.com, price mechanism, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, software is eating the world, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, very high income, working-age population

The value-generating pieces of successful companies were once satisfyingly tangible: consisting of buildings and machines, patents and people. That is ever less the case. Company cultures, which shape worker incentives and determine how a business reacts to changes in the marketplace, have become much more important in the digital age. Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of Standard & Poor’s 500* firms is ‘dark matter’: the intangible secret sauce of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wage bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that prevailed in the 1970s.27 A large proportion of that dark matter is an amorphous ‘know-how’: the culture, incentives and tacit knowledge that make a modern company tick. The Economist is like that; our journalists gather information from all over the world, analyse it, and filter it through our editorial structures in order to generate pieces of journalism people want to buy.

Local incentives may encourage all sorts of wasteful behaviour. Firms can and do fail, and not simply because competitors are offering clearly superior goods or services. This culture, or what economists often call ‘intangible capital’, is increasingly a firm’s most important technology. Knowing what information matters and what to do with it is the difference between a wildly profitable company and a bankrupt one. DARK MATTER AND DISRUPTION Intangible capital consists of the hard-to-grasp behavioural infrastructure that makes modern firms tick. It rests at the heart of most successful firms, from Apple to Goldman Sachs to Honda, and determines how people work and what sort of salary they are able to earn in return. Intangible capital includes boring but important stuff such as intellectual property – patents and trademarks – or the value of a widely recognized brand.

A recent analysis considered how much it would cost to duplicate the average firm on the S & P 500: that is, how much you’d have to spend to obtain the machines, buildings, technology, workers and so on that represent the visible components of a company. In the 1970s, the value of those components added up to more than 80 per cent of the firm’s valuation. The rest of the valuation constituted what was then defined as ‘dark matter’: the stuff you can’t just go out and buy. Today, however, these proportions of value are reversed. More than 80 per cent of the value of top firms resides in these intangibles – stuff that simply can’t easily be accounted for; the buildings and salaries and all the rest of it are only a small chunk of what makes a valuable firm valuable.3 This momentous shift occurred as firms shed prosaic operations that could be outsourced to other firms, and concentrated instead on the critical, value-generating work of the business.


pages: 481 words: 125,946

What to Think About Machines That Think: Today's Leading Thinkers on the Age of Machine Intelligence by John Brockman

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3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, bitcoin, blockchain, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, constrained optimization, corporate personhood, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, dark matter, discrete time, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, endowment effect, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, experimental economics, Flash crash, friendly AI, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, information trail, Internet of things, invention of writing, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, loose coupling, microbiome, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, RFID, Richard Thaler, Rory Sutherland, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

Having these machines won’t answer the questions about the world that are the most important to me and many others: What constitutes the dark matter of the universe? Is supersymmetry really a symmetry of nature that provides a foundation for and extends the highly successful Standard Model of particle physics we have? These and similar questions can be answered only by experimental data. No amount of thought will provide such answers. Perhaps, given all the information we have about nature, some machine will actually come up with the right answers; indeed, perhaps some physicists have already come up with the answers. But the true role of data is to confirm which answers are the correct ones. If some physicist or some machine figures it out, they have no way to convince anyone else that they have the actual answer. Laboratory dark matter detectors or the CERN Large Hadron Collider or possibly a future Chinese collider might get the needed data, but not a thinking machine.

It’s not necessary that this type of thinking be faster than that of humans, or greater or deeper. In some cases, it will be simpler. Our most important machines aren’t machines that do better at what humans do but machines that do things we can’t do at all. Our most important thinking machines won’t be faster or better at thinking what we can think; they will think what we can’t think. To solve the current grand mysteries of quantum gravity, dark energy, and dark matter, we’ll probably need intelligences other than human. The extremely complex questions that will come after them may require even more distant and complex intelligences. Indeed, we may need to invent intermediate intelligences that can help us design yet more rarified intelligences that we couldn’t design alone. Today, many scientific discoveries require hundreds of human minds to solve; in the near future, there may be classes of problems so deep they’ll require hundreds of different species of minds to solve.

For example, in the laboratory of Professor Martin Fischer at the University of Potsdam, interesting research is being done on the connection of the body and mathematical reasoning. Stephen Levinson’s group at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen has shown how culture can affect navigational abilities, a vital cognition function of most species. In my own research, I’m looking at the influence of culture on the formation of what I refer to as “dark matter of the mind,” a set of knowledges, orientations, biases, and patterns of thought that affect our cognition profoundly and pervasively. If human cognition is indeed a property that emerges from the intersection of our physical, social, emotional, and data-processing abilities, then intelligence as we know it in humans is almost entirely unrelated to “intelligence” devoid of these properties. I believe in artificial intelligence as long as we realize it’s artificial.

Science...For Her! by Megan Amram

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Albert Einstein, blood diamonds, butterfly effect, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, double helix, Google Glasses, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, pez dispenser, Schrödinger's Cat, Steve Jobs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, Wall-E, wikimedia commons

Kill yourself. A WHITE DWARF: 156,000,000 lbs. Kill yourself. A NEUTRON STAR: 16,800,000,000,000 lbs. Real Khloe Kardashian over here. HELL: 9,357,753,975,867,564,57 9,846,735,732,342 lbs. HEAVEN: 0 lbs. ;) A BLACK HOLE: 0 lbs. ;) Heating Up & Cooling Down * * * Thermodynamics is the study of how heat is transferred from one thing to another. Dark matter is good at absorbing heat. Um, speaking of “dark matter?”—I love black men! ;) FIG. 3.2 Sorry to be TMI but they are great lovers! I got bit by the jungle fever bug (malaria) when I was like thirteen and I have not looked back. FIG. 3.3 FIG. 3.2 FIG. 3.3 THREE FUN WAYS TO ENJOY A DATE Even If You Are White and Your Date Isn’t the Same Race as You * * * Go to a movie that involves lots of races! Try Birth of a Nation or, if you want to spend a night in, rent Roots.

., x Chelsea, xvii chemistry, 31–61, 63, 190 of cooking, 32–35 childbirth, 23 children, 10–11 Chloe, viii Chris, xiii Christina, ix Christine, xv Christmas trees, 97–99 chromosomes, 18 Chunky Love, ix Claire, xii Claire-Marie, ix Clara, ix Class, 24 Claudia, xi climate change, 103 coal, 102 coma, 23 computers, 151 confabulating, 101 Cookies, ix cooking, 32–35 Cori, Carl Ferdinand, 174 Cori, Gerty, 174 Courtney, xiv covalent bonds, 55 cover letter, girlfriend, 134–35 cover-ups, 79, 89 Craigslist, 154 Cris, ix Cristy, ix crocus, 100 Crystal, ix Crystal Glass, ix Curie, Irene, 170 Curie, Marie, 60, 170, 173, 174 Curie, Pierre, 174 Cynthia, xv D daisy, 100 Dana, xvii Dani, xix Daniella, xviii Danielle, xiv dark matter, 72 Darwin, Charles, 26 dating, 154–59 online sites for, 154–56 Davida, viii Dawn, xv Day-Lewis, Daniel, 15 death, 20–23, 50, 51 Debbie, xv Deen, Paula, 33–35, 89 dendrology, 91–99 Denise, xviii depression, 128 Dereka, xii Deschanel, Zooey, 80 Devil Wears Prada, The (Weisberger), 119 diagnosis, 126 diamonds, 45, 102 Diana, xvii Diaz, Cameron, 15 disease, 123–26 displacement, 65 DNA, 17–18, 138 Donica, xix Donna, xvi double helix, 17 Drew, xiii driving, women and, 65–68 drugs, 90, 131–32 E Earth, 147, 150 age of, 147 earth sciences, 87–114 Eat, Pray, Love (Gilbert), 119 E. coli, 130 economics, 159–61 Edna, xvi eggs, 2–3, 18 freezing of, 157 egg whites, 34 Einstein, Albert, 75 electronic music, 162 electrons, 55 elements, 46–49, 57 Eliana, viii Elizabeth, xi Ella, ix Ellen, viii Ellie, xiii e-mail, 151 Emily, xi Emma, xi employment, 174–75 Erica, xiv Erin, xiv Eryn, xviii Esther, viii ethanol, 39 eukaryotes, 14 Eve, 28 Evelyn, x evolution, 26–28 vs. religion, 27–28 expiration dates, 130 extinction, 26 extraterrestrial life, 150 Ezri, xv F face mash, 19 Faith, xi fallopian tubes, 136 Family, 24 fats, 33 female orgasms, 107 fertilization, 3 Fifty Shades Freed (James), 119 Fifty Shades of Grey (James), 119 final exam, 190–91 floriculture, 100–101 flowers, study of, 100–101 Fluffy, xix Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 131 food poisoning, 130 formaldehyde, 45 4-vinylguaiacol, 44 Francesca, xi Franklin, Rosalind, 138 fruit salad, 34 G G., ix Gabriella, x Galileo Galilei, 75 gamma radiation emissions, 57 garden burgers, 34 gas, 56 gay-ball warming, 103 genes, 17 Genesis 4:1, 119 genetics, 16–19 Genus, 24 Getgo, ix Giana, xi Gina, xviii “gin and Drano,” 37 girlfriend cover letter, 134–35 Girls’ Guide to Fishing and Hunting, The (Bank), 119 global warming, 103–6 contributing to, 105 fashion staples for, 106 glycogen, conversion of, 174 Golda, xix Gone Girl (Flynn), 119 Goodall, Jane, 170, 173 Goodnight Moon (Brown), 111 Grace, x Gregoria, xviii gravity, 147 H H.P.T., xix Hailey, x hairspray, 105 Hamm, xi Hannah, x Harissa, xix Harper, x Heather, xiii Heidi, viii Hemings, Sally, 72 He’s Just Not That into You (Behrendt), 119 Holly, xvii homosexuality, 77 hoodies, 79 Hooke, Robert, 12 Hoover, J.


pages: 400 words: 94,847

Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science by Michael Nielsen

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Albert Einstein, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, Cass Sunstein, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, conceptual framework, dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Firefox, Freestyle chess, Galaxy Zoo, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, Magellanic Cloud, means of production, medical residency, Nicholas Carr, publish or perish, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, social web, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, University of East Anglia, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge

In the 1970s the astronomer Vera Rubin discovered that stars toward the outer reaches of our Milky Way galaxy are rotating around the center of the galaxy much faster than we’d expect on the basis of our best theory of gravity, the general theory of relativity. But rather than give up on general relativity, most astronomers instead prefer to postulate the existence of invisible dark matter permeating the galaxy. If the distribution of dark matter is just right, then general relativity can correctly account for the speed of stars on the outer edges of the galaxy. By comparison to the popularity of dark matter, new theories of gravity have been pursued by relatively few astronomers. So far I’ve made little distinction between conventional explanations and complex models. This blithe conflation of the two has perhaps bothered some readers. Many people believe there is a hard and fast distinction between an explanation and a model: explanations contain some element of the truth, while models are merely convenient crutches, useful for illuminating some phenomenon, but ultimately not expressing the truth.

See also Firefox; Linux; MathWorks competition; open source software computer games: addictive quality of, 146, 147 for folding proteins (see Foldit) connectome, human, 106, 121 conversation, offline small-group, 39–43 conversational critical mass, 30, 31, 33, 42 Cornell University Laboratory of Ornithology, 150 Cox, Alan, 57 Creative Commons, 219, 220 creative problem solving, 24, 30, 34, 35, 36, 38. See also problem solving Crick, Francis, 79–80, 104 Critical mass: for chain reaction, 29–31 conversational, 30, 31, 33, 42 dark matter, 127 data: citation of, 195 theft of, 104 databases, online: of all the world’s knowledge, 4–5 of American Chemical Society, 164 biological, 121 GenBank, 4, 6–7, 9, 108 of Open Dinosaur Project, 150–51 specified by grant agencies, 191 data-driven intelligence, 112–16 in biology, 116–19 complemented by citizen science, 151 for machine translation, 124–25.


pages: 465 words: 103,303

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

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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

Lee, Rhonda L. Feinbaum, and Victor Ambros, “The C. elegans Heterochronic Gene lin-4 Encodes Small RNAs with Antisense Complementarity to lin-14,” Cell 75 (December 1993): 843–54. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8252621] 50. the importance … has been overblown: Harm van Bakel et al., “Most ‘Dark Matter’ Transcripts Are Associated with Known Genes,” PLOS Biology 8, no. 5 (May 18, 2010): e1000371; [http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1000371] and Richard Robinson, “Dark Matter Transcripts: Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing?” PLOS Biology 8 (May 18, 2010): e1000370. [http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1000370] 51. a sweeping new theory: Leonardo Salmena, Pier Paolo Pandolfi, et al., “A ceRNA Hypothesis: The Rosetta Stone of a Hidden RNA Language?”

If he is right then there is another code to be deciphered. Only then can we truly understand the cellular circuits and how they can go wrong. Junk that is not junk. Genes—99 percent of them—that reside in our microbes rather than in our own cells. Background seemed to be trading places with foreground, and I was reminded of what happened in cosmology when most of the universe turned out to be made of dark matter and dark energy. Yet for all the new elaborations, the big bang theory itself was left standing. It wasn’t so clean and simple as before, but it provided the broad strokes of the picture, a framework in which everything, aberrations and all, made sense. The same appeared to be happening with the hallmarks. One presentation after another in Orlando included a much-copied PowerPoint slide illustrating Hanahan and Weinberg’s six canons.

With our tools and intelligence we can strike small victories and hold off death for a while. But it is the tide that will eventually prevail. Try as he might, Maxwell’s demon will ultimately be defeated. In the end, the Echthroi always win. Epilogue Joe’s Cancer A life-view by the living can only be provisional. Perspectives are altered by the fact of being drawn; description solidifies the past and creates a gravitational body that wasn’t there before. A background of dark matter—all that is not said— remains, buzzing. —JOHN UPDIKE, Self-Consciousness The next spring at the ranch, I’m told, the salsola was as bad as ever. I wasn’t there to see it. During that year our marriage ended, seventeen years after it had begun. For a long time our lives had been diverging. The cancer had brought us closer but now it was gone. Brushing so near death makes a person think about how she wants to spend what is left of life.


pages: 347 words: 97,721

Only Humans Need Apply: Winners and Losers in the Age of Smart Machines by Thomas H. Davenport, Julia Kirby

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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

Within a few years, Galileo was pointing the new device toward the heavens and for the first time seeing the craters and mountains of the moon. A distant echo of that moment came in 2012, when Francisco Kitaura and his team at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam, Germany, developed a new algorithm based on artificial intelligence, called KIGEN, to map the “dark matter” of the cosmos. Dark matter makes up some 23 percent of the universe, compared to just 5 percent “normal matter” of visible stars, planets, dust, and gases—and both are flung across the 72 percent that consists purely of “dark energy.” Understanding just where and how the dark matter has been distributed since the Big Bang is essential to gaining deeper knowledge of the universe’s dynamics, but the computational task is immense. Summing up the contribution of the new algorithm, Kitaura says: “With the help of AI, we can now model the universe around us with unprecedented accuracy and study how the largest structures in the cosmos came into being.”1 That is a pretty smart machine—and it’s the kind of smart machine we can all love because, again, it is pure augmentation.

The best use of his human talent is in the “wet lab” preclinical studies where a compound is applied to live disease and it’s time to figure out just how it could be formulated to treat a patient, with sensitivity to toxicity and dose tolerance.2 Both of these are realms where smart machines are on the rise but don’t threaten jobs, because the goals are so immense that today’s labor supply doesn’t begin to match the requirements of the tasks in their unautomated states. There are not enough pharmacologists in Framingham, or indeed the world, to pore over the tens of trillions of data points that Berg’s AI system processes in its analysis of tissue samples. All the astronomers ever churned out by the world’s universities could not map the dark matter lurking among the 54,000 known galaxies of the universe. We’re guessing that there are no neo-Luddites out there trying to smash any of this machinery. The question is, then: Why don’t all applications of smart machines feel as helpful as these? What really is so different about these combinations of humans and machines? If we could pin that down, maybe we could dispel the brewing fear of knowledge work automation, and even mark the path toward more and better jobs for humans in a machine-filled world.


pages: 502 words: 107,657

Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die by Eric Siegel

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Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, backtesting, Black Swan, book scanning, bounce rate, business intelligence, business process, call centre, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data is the new oil, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Google Glasses, happiness index / gross national happiness, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, personalized medicine, placebo effect, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, risk-adjusted returns, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, software as a service, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Levy, text mining, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize, Yogi Berra

Contest to automatically grade student-written essays: Kaggle, “Develop an Automated Scoring Algorithm for Student-Written Essays,” Competition, February 10, 2012. www.kaggle.com/c/asap-aes. Mark D. Shermis and Ben Hamner, “Contrasting State-of-the-Art Automated Scoring of Essays: Analysis,” Contrasting Essay Scoring, April 12, 2012. http://dl.dropbox.com/u/44416236/NCME%202012%20Paper3_29_12.pdf. Contest to predict the distribution of dark matter in the universe: Kaggle, “Mapping Dark Matter,” Competition, May 23, 2011. www.kaggle.com/c/mdm. Heritage Health Prize ($3,000,000): Kaggle, “Improve Healthcare, Win $3,000,000,” Competition, April 4, 2011. www.kaggle.com/host/casestudies/hpn. More Kaggle case studies: Anthony Goldbloom, “Machines Learn, but Can They Teach?” Predictive Analytics World Boston Conference, October 2, 2012, Boston, MA. www.predictiveanalyticsworld.com/boston/2012/agenda.php#day2–445a.

.), and a graduate student (Germany); $100,000 in prize money sponsored by the Hewlett Foundation (established by a founder of Hewlett-Packard) went to these winners, who developed the best means to automatically grade student-written essays. Their resulting system grades essays as accurately as human graders, although none of these three winners had backgrounds in education or text analytics. And guess what kind of expert excelled at predicting the distribution of dark matter in the universe? Competing in a contest sponsored by NASA and the Royal Astronomical Society, Martin O’Leary, a British PhD student in glaciology, generated a method the White House announced has “outperformed the state-of-the-art algorithms most commonly used in astronomy.” For this contest, O’Leary provided the first major breakthrough (although he was not the eventual winner). As he explains it, aspects of his work mapping the edges of glaciers from satellite photos could extend to mapping galaxies as well.

—Jeff Howe, Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business The organizations I’ve worked with have mostly viewed the competition in business as a race that benefits from sharing, rather than a fight, where one’s gain can come only from another’s loss. The openness of crowdsourcing aligns with this philosophy. —Stein Kretsinger, Founding Executive of Advertising.com One small groundbreaking firm, Kaggle, has taken charge and leads the production of PA crowdsourcing. Kaggle has launched 53 PA competitions, including the essay-grading and dark matter ones mentioned above. Over 50,000 registered competitors are incentivized by prizes that usually come to around $10,000 to $20,000, but climb as high as $3 million. These diverse minds from more than 200 universities and 100 countries, about half academics, have submitted over 144,000 attempts for the win.2 An enterprise turns research and development completely on its head in order to leverage PA crowdsourcing.


pages: 449 words: 123,459

The Infinity Puzzle by Frank Close

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

However, there is one aspect of supersymmetry that could prove most profound: SUSY might be the source of the dark matter that appears to dominate the material universe. In cosmologists’ simulations of the large-scale universe, dark matter is the glue that binds the galaxies, preventing them from spiraling apart and probably having helped to form them in the first place. From the motion of galaxies we can infer that 90 percent of the universe consists of stuff that is dark—in the sense that it does not shine in any wavelength of the electromagnetic spectrum. This implies that it is impervious to the electromagnetic force. Lightweight neutrinos have these properties, but the models of galactic dynamics work best if the dark matter consists of massive particles. However, no such particles are known in the standard model.

This is analogous to the way 350 the infinity puzzle that the stars form, but whereas stars made of conventional particles feel strong and electromagnetic forces, which enable them to shine, the conglomerates of neutral “-inos” have no such ability. Inert lumps of dark matter populating space accompanied by occasional “conventional” particles, such as make us, could be the nature of the universe. If SUSY particles are discovered, and turn out to have these properties, it would prove a beautiful convergence between high-energy particle physics and cosmology. Having once believed that we were at the center of the universe, and then seen our location shifted into the outer reaches of one out of billions of galaxies, the stuff that makes us might turn out to be no more than flotsam in a sea of dark matter. big bang day When the Large Hadron Collider was approved in 1993, some wondered if it would ever become reality. Huge technical challenges had to be overcome; nearly every particle physicist on the planet would have to join in a collective effort; new technology would have to be invented.


pages: 208 words: 70,860

Paradox: The Nine Greatest Enigmas in Physics by Jim Al-Khalili

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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

Einstein’s ideas on space and time, for instance, provide fertile ground for logical brainteasers such as the Pole in the Barn Paradox, the Paradox of the Twins, and the Grandfather Paradox. Others, such as those involving the cat and the demon, have, in the eyes of some, yet to be satisfactorily laid to rest. When choosing my greatest enigmas in physics, I have not homed in on the biggest unsolved problems—for example, what dark matter and dark energy, which between them make up 95 percent of the contents of our universe, are made of, or what, if anything, was there before the Big Bang. These are incredibly difficult and profound questions to which science has yet to find answers. Some, like the nature of dark matter, that mysterious stuff that makes up most of the mass of galaxies, may well be answered in the near future if particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva continue to make new and exciting discoveries; others, like an accurate description of a time before the Big Bang, may remain unanswered forever.

I should also stress that these are personal and highly subjective lists, neither comprehensive nor restricted to questions and puzzles that are paradoxical. I set them out here merely to highlight how much more we still need to learn about the Universe and our place in it. I begin with ten problems that fall into the first category—those to which I anticipate science finding satisfactory answers within my lifetime: 1. Why is there more matter than antimatter in the Universe? 2. What is dark matter made of? 3. What is dark energy? 4. Will fully functional invisibility cloaks be possible? 5. How far can we push chemical self-assembly toward explaining life? 6. How does a long strand of organic material fold up into a protein? 7. Is there an absolute limit to human life spans? 8. How are memories stored and retrieved in the brain? 9. Will we one day be able to predict earthquakes? 10.


pages: 264 words: 74,313

Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places by Paul Collier

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dark matter, deskilling, failed state, moral hazard, out of africa, price stability, structural adjustment programs

First, why was the benign effect of democracy that reduced the risk of political violence dependent upon the level of income: what was it about income that made democracy differentially peace-promoting in richer societies? The second was Votes and Violence 23 the converse question of why autocracies become more dangerous at higher levels of income. Finally, and most mysteriously, once these income-related effects of democracy and autocracy were allowed for, there remained a further pure effect of democracy that was making societies more at risk of violence. Like some unobservable dark matter it was lurking as a constant across societies. What was it? These were not easy questions. The key insight came by the simple psychological technique of imagining myself in the position of being a former dictator in one of the countries of the bottom billion who had caved in to pressure from donors to democratize. How had I kept the peace before and how did democratization change my problem? I was evidently not the first person to wonder about how a dictator might best stay in power.

Does democracy affect my ability to undertake such purges? Well, the awkward problem with preemptive purges is that they are not compatible with the rule of law: the technique depends upon punishing people even though they haven’t done anything. This sort of conduct collides with even fairly modest levels of democracy. The idea that the ability to mount a purge would be reduced as a result of democracy was a plausible explanation for the dark matter. If leaders could no longer mount preemptive purges they might 24 WARS, GUNS, AND VOTES be less able to keep the lid on political violence. This might be why, over and above those effects of democracy that depended upon the level of income, there was the pure effect that increased political violence. Herodotus had given us an idea; now it was time to test it. We turned to a large political science data set on purges.

Whatever the limitations of the present regime, it is clearly massively more democratic than that of Saddam Hussein. Yet Hussein presided over a relatively peaceful country. It was not an attractive peace, but it was a peace of sorts, and it most surely depended upon preemptive repression rather than citizen consent. So a weakening of technologies of repression is, I think, a likely explanation for the dark matter: the higher risk of political violence that comes from democracy. Why, then, should the net effect of democracy be increasingly favorable as income rises? I think the answer lies in those effects that I started with: accountability and legitimacy. The stark and straightforward reason that in the bottom billion the accountability and legitimacy effects of democracy do not reduce the risk of political violence is that in these societies, democracy does not deliver either accountability or legitimacy.


pages: 238 words: 75,994

A Burglar's Guide to the City by Geoff Manaugh

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big-box store, card file, dark matter, game design, index card, megacity, megastructure, Minecraft, Skype, smart cities, statistical model, the built environment, urban planning

They do the work of electricians, plumbers, carpenters, masons, painters, locksmiths, glaziers and machinists, often all in the same day.” They knew how buildings actually worked, but also that buildings consist, for the most part, of sprawling back labyrinths of maintenance rooms and side corridors that residents—even the most dutiful of apartment owners—never visit or realize exist. For a burglar, these spaces on the outer margins of architectural consciousness are like the dark matter of the built environment. Laundry rooms, fire escapes, employee staircases, emergency exits, rooftop boiler rooms; the list goes on and on. An overlooked hinterland nonetheless central to any building’s ability to function, these sorts of facilities permeate hotels and apartment complexes. From a burglar’s point of view, these sorts of spaces are temptations: secondary passageways and points of entry over which few people feel they have responsibility.

The deep interiors of buildings such as hotels tended to be relatively unprotected, in his experience; this meant that once you got past the entrances and lobbies and had wandered farther into a building’s core, you could expect to find fewer people walking around, whether they were guards on patrol or residents taking out the garbage. Every building had its rhythms. These service corridors were the internal hinterlands—the architectural dark matter—so beloved by Bill Mason. The Internet has been a godsend to burglars, Dakswin pointed out. He had been going online to research different neighborhoods, zooming in to see specific buildings on Google Street View to scope out everything from window heights—and thus potential routes into someone’s home—to the presence of fences and shrubbery that could provide welcome cover. Even more useful, he said, had been the rise of building-industry websites such as Emporis.

In one of the film’s most iconic scenes, McClane evades capture by climbing through an air duct—this after falling down an HVAC shaft when the machine gun he has been using as an anchorage point fails—giving the building’s ventilation system a second life as an escape route and adding to the popular mythology of the ventilation system as an overlooked, parallel system of circulation within a building. As we saw with Bill Mason, these vents are part of the architectural dark matter—the invisible backstage—that makes up so much of the built environment. Indeed, McClane’s actions reveal a new type of architectural space altogether—a topological condition that we might call Nakatomi space, wherein buildings reveal near-infinite interiors, capable of being traversed through all manner of nonarchitectural means, with their own exhilarating form of boundless fluidity. As a revelatory look at the labyrinthine, previously unexposed back corridors of the built environment—where the thirty-first floor is connected to the lobby or the twenty-sixth floor leads directly to the roof—the first Die Hard movie remains exemplary.


pages: 488 words: 148,340

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

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back-to-the-land, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, dark matter, epigenetics, gravity well, mandelbrot fractal, microbiome, traveling salesman, Turing test

Cosmic radiation also regularly penetrates it, usually without hitting any atoms of the ship, but rather passing through the matrix of those atoms unimpeded. It is as if ghosts that pass through the ship tear at its fabric, or don’t. This is noticeable; there are sensors that register these occasional atomic hits, also the pass-throughs. It is also true that there is a continuous flood of dark matter and neutrinos always flying through the ship, as they do through everything in the universe, but these interact very weakly indeed; once a day or so, a flash of Cherenkov radiation sparks in the water tanks, marking a neutrino hitting a muon. Once in a blue muon. Same with the dark matter, which visible matter moves through as if through a ghost ether, a ghost universe; once or twice a weakly interactive massive particle has chipped away from a collision and registered on the detectors. Fiercer by far are the lancings of gamma rays and cosmic rays from the bursting of stars earlier in the galaxy’s history, or in the even earlier histories of previous galaxies.

It seems a gamma ray shot through the ship and made an unlucky hit, collapsing the wave function in a quantum part of the computer that runs the ship. It’s such bad luck that Devi wonders darkly if it might have been sabotage. Badim doesn’t believe this, but he too is troubled. Particles shoot through the ship all the time. Thousands of neutrinos are passing through them right this second, and dark matter and God knows what, all passing right through them. Interstellar space is not at all empty. Mostly empty, but not. Of course they too are mostly empty, Devi points out, still grumpy. No matter how solid things seem, they are mostly empty. So things can pass through each other without any problems. Except for once in a while. Then a fleck hits something as small as it, and both go flying off, or twist in position.

The remaining helium 3 and deuterium fuel on board could be used for maneuvering within the solar system, if we can stay within the system at all. Problem of deceleration really quite severe, given our tremendous speed. Analogy describing the problem, from out of the classic literature on the subject: it is as if one is trying to stop a bullet with tissue paper. Quite an eye-opener of an analogy. Exotic physics, for example creating drag against dark matter, or putting dark energy to use, or quantum entangling the ship with slower versions of the ship, or with large gravity wells in parallel universes, etc.: these are all impractical at best. Wishes. Fantasies. Pie in the sky. Which is a mysterious metaphor. Food from nowhere? Land of Cockaigne? People used to be hungry often, as they were in the last years of wakefulness in the ship. Except previously, instead of going into hibernation to escape their fate, at least temporarily, they simply starved.


pages: 532 words: 133,143

To Explain the World: The Discovery of Modern Science by Steven Weinberg

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Astronomia nova, Brownian motion, Commentariolus, cosmological constant, dark matter, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, fudge factor, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, music of the spheres, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, retrograde motion, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

Of course, we cannot explore everything, but we choose problems that we think, rightly or wrongly, offer the best prospect for scientific understanding. Biologists who are interested in chromosomes or nerve cells study animals like fruit flies and squid, not noble eagles and lions. Elementary particle physicists are sometimes accused of a snobbish and expensive preoccupation with phenomena at the highest attainable energies, but it is only at high energies that we can create and study hypothetical particles of high mass, like the dark matter particles that astronomers tell us make up five-sixths of the matter of the universe. In any case, we give plenty of attention to phenomena at low energies, like the intriguing mass of neutrinos, about a millionth the mass of the electron. In commenting on the prejudices of the pre-Socratics, I don’t mean to say that a priori reasoning has no place in science. Today, for instance, we expect to find that our deepest physical laws satisfy principles of symmetry, which state that physical laws do not change when we change our point of view in certain definite ways.

There are also eight mathematically similar “gluon” fields responsible for the strong nuclear interactions, which hold quarks together inside protons and neutrons. In 2012 the last missing piece of the Standard Model was discovered: a heavy electrically neutral boson that had been predicted by the electroweak part of the Standard Model. The Standard Model is not the end of the story. It leaves out gravitation; it does not account for the “dark matter” that astronomers tell us makes up five-sixths of the mass of the universe; and it involves far too many unexplained numerical quantities, like the ratios of the masses of the various quarks and electron-like particles. But even so, the Standard Model provides a remarkably unified view of all types of matter and force (except for gravitation) that we encounter in our laboratories, in a set of equations that can fit on a single sheet of paper.

., 383 Collins, John, 224 color, theory of, 218–19 Columbus, 65n, 107 comets distance from Earth, 40n Encke’s, 250 Galileo and, 182, 186, 205 Halley’s, 247, 250 Kepler and, 161 Newton and, 237, 244, 247 Tycho and, 159–60, 168 commensurable lines, 282–85 Commentariolus (Copernicus), 117, 148–51, 153–54, 157 complex numbers, 163 cone, volume of, 19 conic section, 40, 194, 235, 237 ellipse and, 318–19 parabolas and, 344–45 conservation of energy, 340–41 conservation of momentum, 197, 235, 362–63 Constantine I, emperor of Rome, 48, 49 Constantinople, 104, 253 constellations, 56–57Copernicus, Nicolaus, 72, 134, 141, 146, 307 Arabs and, 107, 117 astronomers’ reception of, 157–58 Descartes and, 204 Francis Bacon and, 201 Galileo and, 173, 177–79, 181–88 Kepler and, 162–63, 166–73, 255 Newton and, 237n, 251 planetary motion and, 48–49, 85–86, 90–91, 95, 117–18, 124, 141n, 148–63, 172, 228, 240 Ptolemaic theory and, 304–7, 325 relative sizes of planetary orbits and, 320–21 religious opposition to, 155–57, 181, 184–88, 213 Tycho’s alternative to, 158–61 Córdoba, 112, 114, 123 Cosimo II di Medici, 178 cosine, 296, 309, 313 cosmic rays, 263 counter-Earth, 78 Crease, R. P., 381 Cremonini, Cesare, 173, 180 Crombie, A. C., 137, 375 Ctesibius, 35, 41 cube, 10, 12, 17, 162, 163n, 275, 278–79 cubic equations, 109 Cutler, Sir John, 220 Cuvier, Georges, 265 Cyril of Alexandria, 50–51 d’Alembert, Jean, 248 Dalton, John, 11, 259 Damascus, 104, 117, 118 dark energy, 83, 165, 265 dark matter, 9, 264 Darwin, Charles, 24, 172, 200, 248, 265–66, 383 days of the week, 77n De analysi per aequationes number terminorum infinitas (Newton), 224 Dear, Peter, 125, 269, 373, 380 deduction, xv, 19–21, 132, 164, 189, 197, 201–3, 205, 247, 264–65, 289 deferents, 88–92, 93, 97, 110, 149, 150, 160, 180, 303–6, 324–24 Demetrius of Phaleron, 32 Democritus, 7, 11–14, 44, 46–47, 65, 110–11, 260 De Motu (On Motion) (Galileo), 173 density of Earth vs. water 240 Newton and, 232 De Revolutionibus (Copernicus), 153–58, 183–84 derivative, 223 Descartes, René, 37, 40, 141, 194, 201, 202–14, 218, 223, 229, 236, 246, 248, 342, 346–48 Descartes’ law, 37, 207 Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World (Galileo), 185–87, 193, 199 Dialogue Concerning Two New Sciences (Galileo), 190, 193–94 Dicks, D.


pages: 380 words: 104,841

The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us by Diane Ackerman

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23andMe, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, airport security, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, carbon footprint, clean water, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Google Earth, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, Internet of things, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, Masdar, megacity, microbiome, nuclear winter, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, skunkworks, Skype, stem cell, Stewart Brand, the High Line, theory of mind, urban planning, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog

In the past decades a fundamental change has evolved in the idea of the universe we inhabit, and also what a human being is and may become. We don’t worry if we can’t see a splinter in a child’s finger. We automatically don glasses and become an animal with keener eyesight. That may save the child from infection, but it also revises what a human being is. How will that continue changing in our lifetime? Already, we’re masters of the invisible. Just as we accept that the universe is mainly invisible dark matter and dark energy, we accept the reality of protozoans and viruses even though we can’t see them without a microscope, or perhaps as stationary oddities in the pages of a textbook—which few people are tempted to do. We believe in television and radio waves, gnomelike quarks, GPS, microwaves, the World Wide Web, gosling photons, a mantilla of nerve endings in the brain, the voiceless hissing of background fizz from the Big Bang, planets orbiting many stars in the night sky—some hospitable to life.

They’re also real workhorses, fluting the air until it’s breathable, promoting photosynthesis on the land and in the oceans, decomposing dead organisms and recycling their nutrients. In industry, we breed them to ferment dairy products and to process paper, drugs, fuel, vaccines, cloth, tea, natural gas, precious metals; they help mop up our oil spills. We yoke them like oxen and set them to work. But just as most of the mass in the universe (94 percent) is “dark matter,” this largest biomass on our planet escapes the naked eye, yet is the invisible Riviera of the visible world. How remarkable it is that we’re not only renaming our age, we’re on the threshold of redefining ourselves as a completely different kind of animal than we ever imagined. For years, we thought DNA told the whole story. Instead we find that each person is a biological extravaganza of ten trillion microbes and one trillion human cells.

., 112–17 population of, 72 as seen from space, 16–17, 18, 19 sky parks in, 77–78 City Hall, Chicago, 83 city parks, 83 clams, 57 Clarke, Ann, 157–67 Clarke, Bryan, 156–67 Cleverbot, 227–28 cliff swallows, 115–16 close work, 192 Clostridium difficile, 301–2 clouds, 12 coal, 21, 106 Coan, James, 178 cocaine, 298 cochlear implants, 253 cockatoos, 202 cod, 59–60 Cold War, 146 Collins, Francis, 289 colon disease, 302 Colorado, 40 compassion, 176 computers, 13, 87, 175, 187, 194, 197, 203, 211, 220, 222, 224, 226, 230, 256, 261, 270 condors, 132 consciousness, 200, 216, 217, 219, 228–29 cooking, 190 Copenhagen, 78 copper, 21 coral bells, 80–81 cordite, 153 corn, 71, 153 corncrakes, 133, 137 Cornell University, 209–25 corpus callosum, 177 cosmos, 125 cottontails, 129 cougars, 117 Council House 2 building, 94 courtly love, 190 cows, 71 coyotes, 117, 118 crabs, 138 “cradle to cradle,” 87 cranes, 124 Creative Machines Lab, 218, 223–24 creativity, 196 Crick, Francis, 274 crickets, 173–74 Cronin, Lee, 237 crops, 71 Crutzen, Paul, 9, 313 cucumbers, 89 cuneiform, 235 Curitiba, Brazil, 107 cyborg anthropology, 262 cyborg dragonflies, 146–47 cyborgs, 146–47, 251, 260, 262–63 daffodils, 125 Dakar, Senegal, 314 dandelions, 132 Dantuluri, Phani, 261 dark energy, 172 dark matter, 172 Darwin, Charles, 156, 268, 276 Dayak people, 107 day lilies, 125 deception, 219 Decker Yeadon, 92 deer, 133 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), 146–47, 209, 225, 236, 256, 258–59 dengue fever, 302 Denmark, 101 depression, 196 Desertec, 106 diabetes, 301 diamondbacks, 118–19 dianthus, 125 Dietikon, Switzerland, 82 digoxin, 302 dinosaurs, 31, 154 Djairam, Dhiradj, 104, 105 DNA, 160, 263, 274–75, 278–79, 281, 282, 287 of extinct species, 151–52, 153–54, 160–63, 166–67 dodos, 163 dog roses, 132 dogs, 140, 144, 145–46, 147, 148, 149 dolphins, 147, 202, 204, 216 domestic animals, 11, 71, 140 Dominoni, Davide, 114 dopamine, 298 Dourada, Fazenda, 123 droughts, 41, 46 Duckworth, Tammy, 259, 260 dung beetles, 164 Dust Bowl, 41 Dutch Hunger Winter, 283 ears, 245–46 Earth: as seen from air, 20–21 as seen from space, 16–18, 19, 305 Earthmasters: The Dawn of the Age of Climate Engineering (Hamilton), 314 Eastgate Centre, 92, 93–94 echolocation, 147 École Polytechnique de Montréal, 181 eczema, 301 Edison, Thomas, 191, 306 Edmonton Airport, 83 education, 286 Edwards, Andres, 88 Eggerthella lenta, 302 Eggleson, Kathleen, 183–84 eggs, 160–61, 279 Eisenberger, Naomi, 177 electricity, 76, 78, 91, 97, 99, 100–103, 104, 184–87, 191, 213 electronic campfires, 193 elements, 34–35 elephants, 202, 217 underpass for, 124 in war, 144, 145–46 Ellis, Erle, 126 Eloxochitl, 112 emotions, 214, 222–23 empathy, 190, 219, 228 Energy Department, U.S., 64 England, 132 English ivy, 132 EnsnAired, 98 Environmental Protection Agency, U.S., 86–87 epigenetics, 279–86 Estonia, 77 eucalyptus, 132 Eureqa machine, 219–20, 221 European badgers, 124 Eve (robot), 221 Everglades, 129, 130, 133, 315 evolution, 208, 211, 219, 224, 251, 276–77, 279 microbes’ effects on, 292–93 extinction, 12 of birds, 139 of Miami blue butterfly, 131 orangutans and, 27–28 of Partula, 156–59 of plants, 315 and resurrection of species, 151–52, 153–54, 161–63, 208 of trilobites, 29, 30 extinctions, great, 60, 154, 305 eyeglasses, 171 factories, 71 false indigoes, 125 famine, 276, 277, 285, 286 Fantastic Voyage, 181 farming fish, 60 Faroe Islands, 78 farsightedness, 192 fecal transplants, 302 Ferrer, Miguel, 136 ferrets, 132 fertilizers, 36, 64 fiber optics, 97 field mice, 134 fighting, 190 finches, 156 Finger Lakes, 31, 131 fire ants, 132 fireflies, 181 fishermen, 56–60 fleecy electricity, 35 Flegr, Jaroslav, 297 floods, 41 Florida, 117, 131 Florida rosy wolfsnail, 157 flounder, 65 food, 7 Forbes, 235 Forbidden City, 235 Ford Motor Company, 87–88 forests, 54 fossil fuels, 10, 34, 51, 307 fossils, 9, 29–30, 31, 32, 33–34, 35, 36, 43, 57 Fountainhead, The (Rand), 59 foxes, 129, 133, 134 foxgloves, 125 France, 72, 124, 296, 298 Frankenstein (Shelley), 212–13 Franklin, Rosalind, 274 Fraser, Bill, 135 frogs, 80, 125, 131, 132 Frozen Ark, 155, 160, 163–64 frozen food, 317 fruit flies, 293–95 fungi, 289-90, 300 G8 Summit, 315 Gabriel, Peter, 201–3 Galileo Galilei, 220 Galveston, Tex., 50 Gambia, 131 gardening, hydroponic, 83 gardens, 38–39 urban, 74 vertical, 79–85 Gardens by the Bay, 78 gas, 106 Gaudi, Antoni, 236 geckos, 180 genetic mutations, 277 Genghis Khan, 272–73, 274 geoengineering, 53–54 geographic change, 11 Geological Society of London, 9 Geological Survey, U.S., 299 geothermal warmth, 95 Germany, 72, 78, 83, 101, 124, 132, 298 solar panels in, 106–7 Gershenfeld, Neil, 202–3 gestures, 26–27 giraffes, 276 global consciousness, 18 global warming, 11, 38–42, 154, 307–8 agriculture and, 56 in Bangladesh, 51–53 and development of seas, 64–65 evidence of, 108 extreme weather and, 36–43, 314 fishermen and, 56–57 gardens affected by, 38–39 habitats rearranged by, 133–40 human rights and, 48 glowworms, 144 glucocorticoids, 283 golden eagles, 132 Golden Lion Tamarin Conservation Program, 123 golden toads, 162 Golding, William, 162 Google, 192, 210 Google Glass, 260–61 gophers, 115 gorgonian, 38 grains, 71 Grand Canyon, 126 granite, 58–59 GraphExeter, 184–85, 317 grasshoppers, 173–74 Grassy Key, 131 great apes, 202 great auks, 151 Great Depression, 108 Greece, 124 Green Apple concept car, 103 Green Belt Corridor, 124 greenhouses, 90 Greenland, 42 green mussels, 131 Green over Grey, 83 growing season, 42 Guam, 139, 157 Guam rail, 139 Guatemala, 88 Gulag Archipelago (Solzhenitsyn), 218 Gurdon, John, 150, 160 Gut Erlasee Solar Park, 106–7 Guthrie, Barton, 261 habitat loss, 154 Haiyan, Typhoon, 46 Hamilton, Clive, 314 Hansen, James, 314 Hansmeyer, Michael, 236 Harvard University, 235 Hastings, Battle of, 190 heart, 150, 239, 248, 249, 250–51, 281 heat, 41 heaters, 87 heat recycling, 95–108 Helm, Barbara, 114 Henri, Pascal, 84 herbs, 89 Hernandez, Isaias, 264–65 herons, 193–94 Heuchera plants, 80–81 High Line, 77 Hitler, Adolf, 273 hockey, 40 Holocene, 9 Homer, 262 Honda, 236 Hong Sun Hye, 102 horse chestnut trees, 153 Horse Island, 58 horses, 137–38, 140, 145–46 hostas, 125 Hudson River, 54–55 hulls, 91 human genome, 13 Human Genome Project, 270, 274, 282, 285, 289, 300 Human Microbiome Project, 289 human rights, global warming and, 48 humans: as eusocial, 288 geographic expansion of, 10 geography changed by, 11 history of, 71 orangutan genes shared by, 3 population growth of, 10 technological changes to bodies of, 13 tools used by, 7, 9 humans, environmental effects of: climate change, see global warming and possibility of nuclear winter, 8–9 hummingbirds, 126 hunter-gatherers, 71 Huntington’s disease, 271 Hurricane Irene, 57 Hurricane Katrina, 46 hurricanes, 31, 41, 43, 55 Hurricane Sandy, see Sandy, Hurricane hybrid cars, 100 Hyde Park, 142 hydroelectronic power, 100, 107 hydroponic gardening, 83, 89, 90 Icarus, 224 icebergs, 195–96, 197 Iceland, 77 ice packs, 41–42 iCub, 218–19 iGlasses, 261 igloos, 86 iguanas, 131 Ike Dike, 50 Iliad (Homer), 262 India, 88, 107, 132, 175 Indian mongoose, 132 Indonesia, 132, 313 induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS), 150–51, 160–63 industrial farming, 60 Industrial Revolution, 34, 106, 185–86, 232, 235, 267 Inheritors, The (Golding), 162 insects, 166 insulin pumps, 253 intelligence of plants, 205–7 International Union for Conservation of Nature, 313 Internet, 199–200, 235 Inuit, 86 invasive species, 132, 154 Iran, 147 Iraq War, 258 Ireland, 132 Irene, Hurricane, 57 irises, 125 iron fertilization, 53 Island of Dr.


pages: 326 words: 97,089

Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars by Lee Billings

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Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Colonization of Mars, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, full employment, hydraulic fracturing, index card, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, music of the spheres, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, planetary scale, profit motive, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, random walk, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Silicon Valley, Solar eclipse in 1919, technological singularity, the scientific method, transcontinental railway

And yet, leaving aside the vexing unsolved mysteries of life’s origins and the unknown quantity of Earth-like planets, the frontiers of cosmology have recently unearthed new difficulties with the Copernican Principle’s notions of our mediocrity. The majority of the observable universe looks to be empty space, offering at best one-in-a-million odds that, set down randomly within it, you would find yourself in a galaxy. Given that the universe is gradually expanding, these odds can only get worse as time marches on. Mysterious halos, filaments, and clouds of “dark matter,” seemingly immune to all forces in the universe save for gravity, are what hold galaxies and galactic clusters together. A galaxy’s interior is mostly void, filled with, on average, one proton per cubic centimeter. If a galaxy’s stars were the size of sand grains, the average distance between them would be on the order of a few miles. Only the slimmest fraction of the interstellar material within a galaxy is at any moment condensed into something so sophisticated and advanced as a hydrogen atom.

In all likelihood, the technologies for active optics and lightweight mirrors in space were more mature than publicly known, and if eventually declassified could greatly benefit science and society. Mountain extolled the possible virtues: besides imaging alien Earths, the light-gathering power of an 8-meter or 16-meter mirror would revolutionize the rest of space-based astronomy, allowing astrophysicists to witness the formation of supermassive black holes and probe the cosmic distribution of dark matter. More generally, he said, large, cheap mirrors could also prove useful for beaming solar power to receiving stations on Earth, or for monitoring our own planet’s changing atmosphere at the resolution of individual clouds to constrain weather forecasts and climate-change projections. Some months after my discussion with Mountain, the NRO presented NASA with a smaller but still significant gift: two unused space telescopes and related hardware sitting in a restricted clean room in upstate New York.

., 196, 198, 215, 221–23 Butler, Paul, 55, 58–70, 96, 114 Caldeira, Ken, 181 California, 105–7, 112–13 gold rush in, 105–6, 111, 112–13 Calvin, Melvin, 15, 19–20, 25 Cambrian Period, 138–39, 143–45, 182 Cameron, James, 258 Campbell, Joseph, 261 Canada, 244–48 Canadian Shield, 246 Capella, 239 carbon, 123, 131, 132, 134, 135, 140, 141, 175, 179, 182 carbonate-silicate cycle, 175–81, 184 carbon cycle, organic, 175 carbon dioxide (CO2), 124, 132, 134–37, 140, 141, 157, 159–62, 168, 170, 172, 173, 175–82, 184 Carboniferous Period, 131, 132 Carina Nebula, 238 Carnegie Institution, 251 Carpenter, Scott, 100 Carter, Jimmy, 240 Cash, Webster, 219–20 Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, 96 Challenger, 3, 188–89 Chandra X-Ray Observatory, 192, 209 Chaotian Eon, 139 Charbonneau, David, 228–30, 232 charged-coupled devices (CCDs), 51–53 China, 21–22 chlorofluorocarbons, 134, 142 chlorophyll, 141, 143 Christmas Tree Cluster, 238 Clinton, Bill, 196, 215 clouds, 161–62, 164, 206 coal, 125, 131, 134, 136, 137, 144, 160, 184 Columbia, 189, 196 comets, 2, 3, 19, 76–77, 140 Halley’s, 3 Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, 192, 209 computers, 43–44 Constellation program, 196, 198, 203, 204, 215, 221, 223 convergent evolution, 21 Cook, James, 85–86 Copernican Principle (principle of mediocrity), 83, 89, 91 Copernicus, Nicolaus, 81–83, 86, 87, 89, 91, 200 Cornell University, 39, 42 coronagraphic TPF, 217–22, 224, 231, 249 coronagraphs, 217 cosmology, 77–82 Copernican Principle (principle of mediocrity) in, 83, 89, 91 inflationary theory in, 89–92 modern, 86–87, 91 see also astronomy Cosmos, 240 Costanza, Robert, 74–75 Crab Nebula, 30 Crabtree, William, 84 Crutzen, Paul, 134–35 Cuban missile crisis, 23–24 cyanobacteria, 140–44, 175, 183 Daily Mail, 74 dark energy, 88, 90 dark matter, 206 Darwin, Charles, 200 Davidson, George, 113 deep time, 145–46 Democritus, 79, 80, 92, 238 Demory, Brice, 259 De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) (Lucretius), 80–81 De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium (On the Revolutions of Heavenly Orbs) (Copernicus), 82 Devonian Period, 128, 130–32 Diamandis, Peter, 258 dinosaurs, 30, 136, 144 Discovery, 189 DNA, 40, 141, 143, 170 dolphins, 16, 20–21 Drake, Frank, 9–17, 27–45, 101, 167–68, 240 Arecibo transmission of, 39–41 orchids of, 37–38 Drake equation, 16–25, 28–29, 38–39, 41, 42, 183 longevity of technological civilizations (L term) in, 22–25, 38–39, 41, 42 Draper Laboratory, 256 Dyson, Freeman, 104 Dyson spheres, 104, 105 Earth, 109 asteroid strike on, 30 atmosphere of, 3, 132, 134–35, 139, 140, 144, 157–60, 168–69, 174–77, 206, 238 “Blue Marble” images of, 212, 239–41 carbonate-silicate cycle on, 175–81, 184 climate of, 123–24, 128, 132–37, 142, 144, 156–57, 160–62, 173–75, 184 in early cosmology, 77–82 energy consumption on, 103–4 extinctions on, 43, 135, 184 faint young Sun problem and, 173–75 formation of, 2, 7, 20, 139, 173 geologic time periods of, 128–45 glaciation on, 132–34, 142, 174, 176, 178, 179, 183 human population of, 43, 100, 134, 136 ice caps of, 128, 132–33, 135, 136, 184 Laughlin’s idea for moving orbit of, 76–77 Laughlin’s valuation of, 73–76 oxygen on, 139–44, 159, 171, 180–82, 200, 238 Snowball Earth events, 142, 174, 179 Sun’s distance from, 83, 86 tectonic plates of, 30, 105, 111, 128, 140, 144, 176, 229 union of organisms with geophysical systems on (Gaia hypothesis), 175, 176, 178, 183 water on, 3, 30, 158–61, 174, 177–80, 182 Earth, life on, 31, 154 diversification and explosion of, 138–39, 143, 144, 182 emergence of, 4, 7, 19–20, 238 end of, 7–8, 31–32, 75–77, 159, 180–83 essential facts of, 29–30 humanity’s ascent, 144–46 intelligent, 20–21, 182–83 jump from single-celled to multicellular, 28 redox reactions and, 168 Earth-like planets, 29, 32–34, 71–72, 99, 227–28 Earth-size or Earth-mass planets, 6, 53–54, 56, 200, 227, 251 ecology and economics, 74 economic growth, 102, 103 Eddington, Arthur, 35 Edison, Thomas, 106 Einstein, Albert, 35, 87 Elachi, Charles, 211–12, 214, 221 electricity, 103, 136 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 254 Endeavour, 190 endosymbiosis, 143 energy, 103–4, 136–38 from fossil fuels, 103, 124–27, 137, 154, 160, 184 Engelder, Terry, 126 Epicurus, 80 Epsilon Eridani, 10–11 Eshleman, Von, 35 ethanol, 137 eukaryotes, 143, 144 European Southern Observatory (ESO), 60, 64, 66 European Space Agency, 222 evolution, 183 convergent, 21 of universe, 88–89 exoplanetology, 13, 14, 34, 51, 193 exoplanets, 5, 27–28, 87, 222–23, 263 51 Pegasi b, 50, 53, 54, 58–59 Alpha Centauri Bb, 98–99 biosignatures and, 167–72, 261–62 Blue Marble images of, 212–15 distinguishing between various compositions of, 251 Earth-like, 29, 32–34, 71–72, 99, 227–28 Earth-size or Earth-mass, 6, 53–54, 56, 200, 227, 251 formation of, 109 GJ 667Cc, 65–69, 72 Gliese 581c, 163 Gliese 581d, 163 Gliese 581g (Zarmina’s World), 63–64, 68, 69, 72, 163 Gliese 876b, 60 habitability of, 154–83 HD 85512b, 163–64 Jupiter-like, 13, 28, 50, 56, 59, 60, 108, 109, 226, 228, 248–49 Laughlin’s valuation of, 71–77 migration theory and, 108 Neptune-like, 56, 108–9, 251 “Next 40 Years” conference on, 225–35, 263 observation of stars of, 33 snow line idea and, 110 super-Earths, 228–29, 251, 262 transits of, 53 TrES-4, 228 exoplanet searches, 5–7, 13–14, 32–33, 69–70 and false-alarm discoveries, 52–53 press releases on progress in, 163–65 SETI and, see SETI spectroscopy in, see spectroscopy, spectrometers see also telescopes Ferguson, Chris, 185–86 financial markets, 111–12 Fischer, Debra, 59, 61, 62, 69, 96 Ford, Eric, 249–50 Ford, Henry, 125 fossil fuels, 103, 124–27, 137, 154, 160, 184 fracking (hydraulic fracturing), 126–27 Gaia hypothesis, 175, 176, 178, 183 galactic planetary census, 54 galaxies, 87, 88, 99, 238 Andromeda, 31, 191, 238 Hubble Telescope and, 191 Local Group of, 88 Milky Way, see Milky Way Galileo, 241–42 Galileo Galilei, 81–83, 210 Galliher, Scot, 257 Garrels, Robert, 178 gas, natural, 125–27, 137, 184 Gemini telescopes, 199–200, 203 General Dynamics Astronautics time capsule, 100–103 geologic time periods, 128–45 geology, 110–11, 123 glaciers, 132–34, 142, 174, 176, 178, 179, 183 Glenn, John, 100 Goldin, Dan, 194, 211, 215, 242 governments, Urey on, 102 gravitational lenses, 35–37 Great Observatories, 192, 197, 209 Greece, ancient, 77, 92, 238 Green Bank conference, 15–25, 27–28, 101, 167–68, 240 greenhouse gases, 124, 134, 137, 157, 160, 174, 175 carbon dioxide, see carbon dioxide methane, 140, 142, 168–71, 174, 200 Grunsfeld, John, 197–99, 225–26, 235 Guedes, Javiera, 96 Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, 74–75 “Habitable Zones around Main Sequence Stars” (Kasting), 155–56, 159 Hadean Eon, 139–40, 156 Halley, Edmond, 84 Halley’s comet, 3 Hart, Michael, 174, 178 Hays, Paul, 176–79 heliocentrism, 79–82 Hiroshima, 23 Holmes, Dyer Brainerd, 100–101 Holocene Epoch, 133–35, 145 Horrocks, Jeremiah, 84 Howard, Andrew, 62 How to Find a Habitable Planet (Kasting), 167 Hu, Renyu, 259 Huang, Su-Shu, 15, 19 Hubble, Edwin, 86–87 Hubble Space Telescope, 189–93, 195, 197–99, 205–7, 209, 218–19, 226 human genome project, 234 hydraulic fracturing (fracking), 126–27 hydrogen, 159, 170–72 Icarus, 155 ice ages, 132, 133, 142–43 Industrial Revolution, 22, 134 inflationary theory, 89–92 Ingersoll, Andrew, 159 intelligence, 20–21, 23, 32, 182–83 interferometry, 213–14, 216, 231 International Space Station (ISS), 187, 189, 197, 202, 207–8, 210 interstellar travel, 44–45, 100–101 iron, 141 James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), 193–99, 202–4, 209, 215, 216, 218, 220, 225, 262 Jensen-Clem, Becky, 259 Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), 211–12, 216, 219, 221–25, 231 Johnson, Lyndon B., 101 Journal of Geophysical Research, 178 Jupiter, 76, 109, 191, 239 Galileo’s study of, 81 Kepler’s laws and, 83 moons of, 28, 110 Jupiter-like planets, 13, 28, 50, 56, 59, 60, 108, 109, 226, 228, 248–49 Kasdin, Jeremy, 219–20 Kasting, Jerry, 150–52 Kasting, Jim, 150–67, 169–84 children of, 153 Kasting, Sandy, 150 Kasting, Sharon, 153 Keck Observatory, 59, 60, 62, 66, 118 Kennedy, John F., 224 Kennedy Space Center, 185 Kepler, Johannes, 82, 83 planetary motion laws of, 82–84 Kepler field stars, 41 Kepler Space Telescope, 13–14, 53–54, 56, 62, 71–73, 98, 108–9, 166, 201, 225, 229–30, 263 Kirschvink, Joseph, 142 Knapp, Mary, 259 Korolev, Sergei, 186 Kuchner, Marc, 217–18 Kuiper Belt, 76 Large Magellanic Cloud, 238 Lasaga, Antonio, 178 Late Heavy Bombardment, 3, 140 Laughlin, Greg, 5–6, 48–50, 53–57, 69–70, 93–100, 107–12, 114–15, 117–20 Alpha Centauri planet search and, 94–98 idea to move Earth, 76–77 magnetic toy of, 93–94 SETI as viewed by, 99 valuation equation of, 71–77 laws of nature, 155–56 Lederberg, Joshua, 15, 16, 167–68 Le Gentil, Guillaume, 85, 117 Leinbach, Mike, 185–86 Lick, James, 112–14 Lick Observatory, 58, 61, 62, 70, 113–19 life, 32 on Earth, see Earth, life on intelligent, 23, 32 single-celled, 20 technological, see technological civilizations light: photons of, 72, 89, 115–16, 156, 191, 193–94, 201, 202, 213, 216, 237–38 polarization of, 115–16 waves of, 213–14, 216 Lilly, John, 15–16, 20–21 Local Group, 88 Lovelock, James, 168, 170, 174–76, 178, 181–83 Lucretius, 80–81 Lyot, Bernard, 217 Madwoman of Chaillot, The, 36 Manhattan Project, 23 Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, 127, 149 Marcellus formation, 126–30, 137, 138, 141, 144, 160 Marconi, Guglielmo, 48 Marconi Conference Center, 48–50, 53–57 Marcy, Geoff, 57–63, 69, 70, 114, 194, 230–32, 235 Margulis, Lynn, 175 Mars, 19, 50, 87, 100, 107, 109, 155, 167, 179, 191, 192, 239 Kepler’s study of, 82, 83 missions to, 187, 188, 196, 207, 221 water on, 28, 179 Marshall, James, 105–6, 112 Martian Chronicles, The (Bradbury), 98–99 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), 251–52, 259 ExoplanetSat project, 256–57 “Next 40 Years of Exoplanets” conference at, 225–35, 263 Mayor, Michel, 58 McPhee, John, 145 mEarth Project, 228–29 mediocrity, principle of (Copernican Principle), 83, 89, 91 Mercury, 82, 109, 239 meteorites, 20 methane, 140, 142, 168–71, 174, 200 methanogens, 140, 142, 169 microbes, 28 Miletus, 77 Milky Way, 16–17, 25, 31, 39, 41, 79, 86–87, 191, 237, 238 Sun’s orbit in, 95 Miller, George P., 101 Miller, Stanley, 19 Miller Institute for Basic Research in Science, 48, 74 mitochondria, 143 Moon, 3, 76, 100, 229, 242 in early cosmology, 78, 83 formation of, 30, 139 Moon, missions to, 188, 196, 221, 224 Apollo, 1, 50, 151, 187, 202, 212, 239 Morrison, Philip, 15, 18–19, 21, 23–24 Mosely, T.


pages: 371 words: 108,317

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly

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3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, bank run, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bitcoin, blockchain, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, cloud computing, computer age, connected car, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, Freestyle chess, game design, Google Glasses, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, index card, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, linked data, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Minecraft, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, placebo effect, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, social graph, social web, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, transport as a service, two-sided market, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Review

The types of artificial minds we are making now and will make in the coming century will be designed to perform specialized tasks, and usually tasks that are beyond what we can do. Our most important mechanical inventions are not machines that do what humans do better, but machines that can do things we can’t do at all. Our most important thinking machines will not be machines that can think what we think faster, better, but those that think what we can’t think. To really solve the current grand mysteries of quantum gravity, dark energy, and dark matter, we’ll probably need other intelligences beside human. And the extremely complex harder questions that will come after those hard questions may require even more distant and complex intelligences. Indeed, we may need to invent intermediate intelligences that can help us design yet more rarefied intelligences that we could not design alone. We need ways to think different. Today, many scientific discoveries require hundreds of human minds to solve, but in the near future there may be classes of problems so deep that they require hundreds of different species of minds to solve.

Now, what can be done for one image can also be done for moving images, since movies are just a long series of still images in a row. Perceiving movies takes a lot more processing power, in part because there is the added dimension of time (do objects persist as the camera moves?). In a few years we’ll be able to routinely search video via AI. As we do, we’ll begin to explore the Gutenberg possibilities within moving images. “I consider the pixel data in images and video to be the dark matter of the Internet,” says Fei-Fei Li, director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. “We are now starting to illuminate it.” As moving images become easier to create, easier to store, easier to annotate, and easier to combine into complex narratives, they also become easier to be remanipulated by the audience. This gives images a liquidity similar to words. Fluid images flow rapidly onto new screens, ready to migrate into new media and seep into the old.

Telescopes, radioscopes, cyclotrons, atom smashers expanded not only what we knew, but birthed new riddles and expanded what we didn’t know. Previous discoveries helped us to recently realize that 96 percent of all matter and energy in our universe is outside of our vision. The universe is not made of the atoms and heat we discovered last century; instead it is primarily composed of two unknown entities we label “dark”: dark energy and dark matter. “Dark” is a euphemism for ignorance. We really have no idea what the bulk of the universe is made of. We find a similar proportion of ignorance if we probe deeply into the cell, or the brain. We don’t know nothin’ relative to what could be known. Our inventions allow us to spy into our ignorance. If knowledge is growing exponentially because of scientific tools, then we should be quickly running out of puzzles.


pages: 145 words: 43,599

Hawai'I Becalmed: Economic Lessons of the 1990s by Christopher Grandy

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Bretton Woods, business climate, dark matter, inventory management, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Maui Hawaii, minimum wage unemployment, open economy, purchasing power parity, Silicon Valley, Telecommunications Act of 1996

See recommendations of the First Tax Review Commission in “Follow-up to First Commission,” Report of the Tax Review Commission, 1 December 1989, p. 64; “Recommendations” in Executive Summary, Report of the Tax Review Commission, 1 December 1989, p. 4; and “Recommendations and Analysis,” Report of the 1995–1997 Tax Review Commission, 16 December 1996. The bill proposed limitations on the total amount of the credit per year. A similar provision appeared in the administration bill HB 722. Anthony Lawrence Clapes has argued that Hawai‘i has not done nearly enough to attract high tech. See Anthony Lawrence Clapes, Blue Wave Millennium: A Future for Hawai‘i. (Honolulu: Dark Matter Press, 2000). Paul Romer and Robert Lucas are among the leading writers in this area. See Paul Romer, “The Origins of Endogenous Growth,” Journal of Economic Perspectives 8:1(1994): 3–22; and Robert E. Lucas, Jr., “On the Mechanics of Economic Development,” Journal of Monetary Economics 22(1988): 3–42. See Robert E. Hall. and Charles I. Jones, “Levels of Economic Activity Across Countries,” American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings 87:2(1997): 173–177; Robert E.

Card, David Edward, and Alan B. Krueger. Myth and Measurement: The New Economics of the Minimum Wage. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995. ———“Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast-Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania: Reply.” American Economic Review, 90(5)(December 2000): 1397–1420. Clapes, Anthony Lawrence. Blue Wave Millennium: A Future for Hawai‘i. Honolulu: Dark Matter Press, 2000. Crampon, L. J. Hawai‘i’s Visitor Industry, Its Growth and Development. University of Hawai‘i, School of Travel Industry Management, 1976. Eisner, Robert. How Real Is the Federal Deficit? New York: The Free Press, 1986. Grandy, Christopher. “...and Maybe Government Didn’t Grow Much, After All.” Honolulu Advertiser, 29 September 1994. Hall, Robert E., and Charles I. Jones. “Levels of Economic Activity Across Countries.”


pages: 381 words: 78,467

100 Plus: How the Coming Age of Longevity Will Change Everything, From Careers and Relationships to Family And by Sonia Arrison

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23andMe, 8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, attribution theory, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, Clayton Christensen, dark matter, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, Googley, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, placebo effect, post scarcity, Ray Kurzweil, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Singularitarianism, smart grid, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Thomas Malthus, upwardly mobile, World Values Survey, X Prize

., “A Natural Product Telomerase Activator as Part of a Health Maintenance Program,” Rejuvenation Research, September 7, 2010, www.liebertonline.com/doi/full/10.1089/rej.2010.1085. 78 Chris Woolston, “Pricey Telomerase Supplements, Touted as Longevity Boosters, Are Unproven,” Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2010, www.latimes.com/health/la-he-skeptic-telomeres-20101220,0,6925196,print.story. 79 See www.tasciences.com/ta-65/. 80 “Genome Announcement a Milestone, but Only a Beginning,” CNN, June 26, 2000, http://archives.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/06/26/human.genome.05/index.html. 81 Epigenetics is one of these new discoveries. See Brandon Keim, “Early Reports from the ‘Dark Matter’ of the Genome,” Wired News, December 22, 2010, www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/12/genomic-dark-matter/. 82 John Lauerman, “Complete Genomics Drives Down Cost of Genome Sequence to $5,000,” Bloomberg News, February 5, 2009, www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&refer=home&sid=aEUlnq6ltPpQ. 83 “Your Genome in Minutes: New Technology Could Slash Sequencing Time,” ScienceDaily, December 31, 2010, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101220121111.htm. 84 Francis Collins, “A Genome Story: 10th Anniversary Commentary,” Scientific American, June 25, 2010, www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?


pages: 257 words: 66,480

Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System by Ray Jayawardhana

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, cosmic abundance, dark matter, Edmond Halley, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, Louis Pasteur, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Solar eclipse in 1919

But bending of light by individual stars—called microlensing to distinguish it from lensing by entire galaxies containing hundreds of billions of stars—is a lot harder to detect. Since the chance of catching two stars in our own Galaxy in perfect alignment is minuscule, astronomers would have to monitor millions of stars each night to catch a handful of events in progress. But that’s precisely what the Princeton University astronomer Bohdan Paczynski urged his colleagues to do, since the payback could mean valuable insights into what makes up the elusive “dark matter” that holds the Galaxy together. What’s more, in 1991, with then-student Shude Mao, he proposed gravitational microlensing as a means to search for extrasolar planets. His idea was that a planet around the foreground star would alter the magnifying properties of the lens dramatically and thereby betray its presence. Spurred on by Paczynski’s passionate advocacy, in the early 1990s several research teams commenced surveys for microlensing events.

Spectrum of Gliese 229B (top) shows features due to molecules like water and methane in its atmosphere, also seen in Jupiter’s spectrum (bottom). Courtesy: B. R. Oppenheimer (American Museum of Natural History) Current observations suggest that brown dwarfs are common, perhaps a third or a quarter as numerous as stars. Thus our Galaxy alone would contain tens of billions of them. Since they are faint and hard to detect, some astronomers had speculated initially that brown dwarfs could be an important constituent of the “dark matter” that dominates the Galactic mass budget. That doesn’t appear to be the case: even a hundred billion of these lightweights would not add up to much. Shrouded Origins As their ranks have grown, so has our interest in unraveling the origin of these peculiar objects. One obvious clue is that brown dwarfs are common as isolated, free-foating objects both in young star clusters and in the feld, but relatively rare as companions to stars.


pages: 271 words: 68,440

More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionised the Cosmos by Dava Sobel

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Astronomia nova, Commentariolus, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Edmond Halley, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres

The Sun is only one star among two hundred billion in the Milky Way—and relegated to a remote region far from the galactic center. The Milky Way is just one galaxy in a Local Group of neighbors, surrounded by countless other galaxy groups stretched across the universe. All the shining stars of all the galaxies are as nothing compared to the great volume of unseen dark matter that holds them in gravitational embraces. Even dark matter is dwarfed by the still more elusive entity, dark energy, that accounts for three quarters of a cosmos in which the very notion of a center no longer makes any sense. A small corner of today’s known universe, depicted in this Hubble telescope Deep Field image, is many times more vast than the once-shocking distance Copernicus allowed between Saturn and the stars.


pages: 481 words: 121,669

The Invisible Web: Uncovering Information Sources Search Engines Can't See by Gary Price, Chris Sherman, Danny Sullivan

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AltaVista, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, business intelligence, dark matter, Douglas Engelbart, full text search, HyperCard, hypertext link, information retrieval, Internet Archive, joint-stock company, knowledge worker, natural language processing, pre–internet, profit motive, publish or perish, search engine result page, side project, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Ted Nelson, Vannevar Bush, web application

As we discussed in Chapter 2, search engines use programs called crawlers to find and retrieve Web pages stored on servers all over The Invisible Web 57 DEFINITION The Invisible Web Text pages, files, or other often high-quality authoritative information available via the World Wide Web that generalpurpose search engines cannot, due to technical limitations, or will not, due to deliberate choice, add to their indices of Web pages. Sometimes also referred to as the “Deep Web” or “dark matter.” the world. From a Web server’s standpoint, it doesn’t make any difference if a request for a page comes from a person using a Web browser or from an automated search engine crawler. In either case, the server returns the desired Web page to the computer that requested it. A key difference between a person using a browser and a search engine crawler is that the person is able to manually type a URL into the browser window and retrieve that Web page.

A resource that allows the user to interact with the data set, sorting by various criteria. Search engines are interactive databases. Invisible Web. Text pages, files, or other often high-quality information available via the World Wide Web that general-purpose search engines cannot, due to technical limitations, or will not, due to deliberate choice, add to their indices of Web pages. Sometimes erroneously referred to as the “deep Web” or “dark matter.” keyword. A word or phrase entered in a query form that a search system attempts to match in text documents in its database. limit (limiting). Using search engine structure to reduce the returned set of possible hits by specifying certain criteria such as Web page date, country of origin, or by using field searching to restrict the search to specific parts of Web pages. metasearch engine. A search engine that simultaneously searches other search engines and aggregates the results into a single result list.

.), 257 current events resources, 283–289 Current Weather Conditions International, 317 Current Weather Conditions U.S., 317 customization databases, 60–61 invisible Web, 93 local weather, 102.103 MetaCrawler, 45 research toolkits, 111, 113 Cybercafe Search Engine database, 203 cyberterms, 204 412 The Invisible Web D dams, register of, 356 DARE: Directory in Social Sciences — Institutions, Specialists, Periodicals, 374 dark matter, definition, 57 Data Query: World Development Indicators, 373 Database of Award-Winning Children’s Literature, 321 databases. See also specific databases content storage, 78–79 crawlers and, 67–68 customization, 60–61 document delivery services, 154 dynamic content, 130–132 keywords searchable, 14 relational, 61, 75 search engines and, 59–61 specialized content focus, 93 Web interface access, 7 dates, timeliness and, 108–109 deep Web, 57, 82–83 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), U.S., 1, 3 Defense Research Reports (Canada), 363 Defensive Driving Training Locator (NSC), 384 Delphion Intellectual Property Network, 98, 276 Demographic Data (Government Information Sharing Project), 371 demographic information resources, 102, 216, 371–372 dentists, 294–295 Dentists Register and Rolls of Dental Auxiliaries (U.K.), 295 Denver Public Library, Western History Photos, 266–267 Department of Agriculture (USDA), 171 Economics and Statistics System, 171 Foreign Import/Export Data, 195 nutrient database for standard reference, 253–254 Plants Database, 348 Department Of Commerce (DOC), U.S., State Exports Database, 196 Department of Defense (DOD), U.S.


pages: 486 words: 148,485

Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schulz

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affirmative action, anti-communist, banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, car-free, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, conceptual framework, cosmological constant, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, desegregation, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, lake wobegon effect, Ronald Reagan, six sigma, stem cell, Steven Pinker, Tenerife airport disaster, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, trade route

If Neptune didn’t exist, explaining away deviations in Uranus’s orbit by positing a giant undiscovered planet in the outer reaches of the solar system would seem like a pretty desperate move. Or consider a still unresolved example: physicists currently think that 96 percent of all the matter and energy in the universe is invisible—so-called dark matter and dark energy. The virtue of this highly counterintuitive (not to say cockamamie) proposal is that it makes sense of scientific findings that would otherwise call into question the theory of gravity. This is a classic example of extremely strong prior beliefs (we really believe in gravity) trumping extremely strong counterevidence. It remains to be seen whether the dark-matter theory will ultimately seem as foolish as proposing that Orion loiters in the sky every fifty-two years or as prescient as predicting the existence of Neptune. * Even by a far more conservative estimate, dating only to the establishment of Switzerland’s modern federal constitution in 1848, the nation smashes the global average at 143 years.

., 313–14 conversion stories, 279–81 Abdul Rahman’s story, 154–55, 156 C. P. Ellis’s story, 273–79, 280, 294–95 Cook, James, 353n Copernicus, Nicolaus, 127, 357n Coulter, Ann, 148n Courbet, Gustave, 328 credulity, 167–68 cross-dressing theory of comedy, 324n Cruikshank, George, 54 Cuban Missile Crisis, 153 ’Cuz It’s True Constraint, 104–9, 130, 163 Dadaism, 328, 329 dark energy, 126n dark matter, 126n Darwin, Charles, 131–32 data, and error-prevention, 305–6 Davidson, Osha Gray, 275–76, 284n, 383n death-wish response to error, 26–27 decision studies (error studies), 11–12 defensiveness (defenses), 213–18 “better safe than sorry,” 216, 216n blaming other people, 215–16 certainty and, 165–70 denial and, 229–30, 306, 307 near-miss, 214–15, 216 out-of-left-field, 214–15, 216 time-frame, 213–14, 216 definition of wrongness, 10–17 Defoe, Daniel, 258, 382n delusion, 38–39, 40, 351n dementia, 80n democracy, 311–16, 386n denial, 209–10, 228–34, 375–76n Innocence Project and, 233–39, 242–43 Dennett, Daniel, 369n depression, 336 Descartes, René, 6, 33, 113–15, 118–22, 318–19, 349n, 362–63n desegregation of schools, 274–77 desert mirages, 50 Design of Everyday Things (Norman), 211 despair, 258–59, 265 developmental psychology, 100–101, 197–98, 289–92, 307, 385n deviance, 34–35n Dickinson, Emily, 283 Diderot, Denis, 29, 38 direct elections, 312–14 disagreement deficit, 149–54 disillusionment, 53, 252n distal beliefs, 95–96, 359–60n distribution of errors theory, 34–35 Divine Right of Kings, 312 divorce, 248–49, 266–69 divorce rate, 268–69n DNA testing, 222–23, 226–27, 376n, 379n error rate, 223n Innocence Project, 227, 233–39, 242–43 dogma (dogmatic beliefs), 287.


pages: 654 words: 204,260

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

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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, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers

Zwicky also was the first to recognize that there wasn't nearly enough visible mass in the universe to hold galaxies together and that there must be some other gravitational influence—what we now call dark matter. One thing he failed to see was that if a neutron star shrank enough it would become so dense that even light couldn't escape its immense gravitational pull. You would have a black hole. Unfortunately, Zwicky was held in such disdain by most of his colleagues that his ideas attracted almost no notice. When, five years later, the great Robert Oppenheimer turned his attention to neutron stars in a landmark paper, he made not a single reference to any of Zwicky's work even though Zwicky had been working for years on the same problem in an office just down the hall. Zwicky's deductions concerning dark matter wouldn't attract serious attention for nearly four decades. We can only assume that he did a lot of pushups in this period.

One interesting recently suggested theory is that the universe is not nearly as big as we thought, that when we peer into the distance some of the galaxies we see may simply be reflections, ghost images created by rebounded light. The fact is, there is a great deal, even at quite a fundamental level, that we don't know—not least what the universe is made of. When scientists calculate the amount of matter needed to hold things together, they always come up desperately short. It appears that at least 90 percent of the universe, and perhaps as much as 99 percent, is composed of Fritz Zwicky's “dark matter”—stuff that is by its nature invisible to us. It is slightly galling to think that we live in a universe that, for the most part, we can't even see, but there you are. At least the names for the two main possible culprits are entertaining: they are said to be either WIMPs (for Weakly Interacting Massive Particles, which is to say specks of invisible matter left over from the Big Bang) or MACHOs (for MAssive Compact Halo Objects—really just another name for black holes, brown dwarfs, and other very dim stars).

But even when all these are added in, “two-thirds of the universe is still missing from the balance sheet,” as one commentator has put it. For the moment we might very well call them DUNNOS (for Dark Unknown Nonreflective Nondetectable Objects Somewhere). Recent evidence suggests that not only are the galaxies of the universe racing away from us, but that they are doing so at a rate that is accelerating. This is counter to all expectations. It appears that the universe may not only be filled with dark matter, but with dark energy. Scientists sometimes also call it vacuum energy or, more exotically, quintessence. Whatever it is, it seems to be driving an expansion that no one can altogether account for. The theory is that empty space isn't so empty at all—that there are particles of matter and antimatter popping into existence and popping out again—and that these are pushing the universe outward at an accelerating rate.


pages: 551 words: 174,280

The Beginning of Infinity: Explanations That Transform the World by David Deutsch

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Bonfire of the Vanities, conceptual framework, cosmological principle, dark matter, David Attenborough, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, first-past-the-post, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, illegal immigration, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John Conway, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, William of Occam

For one thing, about 80 per cent of that matter is thought to be invisible ‘dark matter’, which can neither emit nor absorb light. We currently detect it only through its indirect gravitational effects on galaxies. Only the remaining 20 per cent is matter of the type that we parochially call ‘ordinary matter’. It is characterized by glowing continuously. We do not usually think of ourselves as glowing, but that is another parochial misconception, due to the limitations of our senses: we emit radiant heat, which is infrared light, and also light in the visible range, too faint for our eyes to detect. Concentrations of matter as dense as ourselves and our planet and star, though numerous, are not exactly typical either. They are isolated, uncommon phenomena. The universe is mostly vacuum (plus radiation and dark matter). Ordinary matter is familiar to us only because we are made of it, and because of our untypical location near large concentrations of it.

Which means that they must have learned something while performing a task that a computer performs without learning anything. But, more profoundly, I expect that Edison was misinterpreting his own experience. A trial that fails is still fun. A repetitive experiment is not repetitive if one is thinking about the ideas that it is testing and the reality that it is investigating. That galaxy project was intended to discover whether ‘dark matter’ (see the next chapter) really exists – and it succeeded. If Edison, or those graduate students, or any scientific researcher engaged upon the ‘perspiration’ phase of discovery, had really been doing it mindlessly, they would be missing most of the fun – which is also what largely powers that ‘one per cent inspiration’. As I reached one particularly ambiguous image I asked my hosts, ‘Is that a galaxy or a star?’

No doubt a billion-tonne space station is not large enough to thrive in the very long run. The inhabitants will want to enlarge it. But that presents no problem of principle. As soon as they started to trawl their cube for hydrogen, more would drift in from the surrounding space, supplying the cube with millions of tonnes of hydrogen per year. (There is also believed to be an even greater mass of ‘dark matter’ in the cube, but we do not know how to do anything useful with it, so let us ignore it in this thought experiment.) As for the cold, and the lack of available energy – as I said, the transmutation of hydrogen releases the energy of nuclear fusion. That would be a sizeable power supply, orders of magnitude more than the combined power consumption of everyone on Earth today. So the cube is not as lacking in resources as a parochial first glance would suggest.


pages: 356 words: 102,224

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan

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Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, germ theory of disease, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, linked data, nuclear winter, planetary scale, profit motive, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, telepresence

We see, scattered across deep space, galaxies with "active nuclei," quasars, galaxies distorted by collisions, their spiral arms disrupted, star systems blasted with radiation or gobbled up by black holes—and we gather that on such timescales even interstellar space, even galaxies may not be safe. There is a halo of dark matter surrounding the Milky Way, extending perhaps halfway to the distance of the next spiral galaxy (M31 in the constellation Andromeda, which also contains hundreds of billions of stars). We do not know what this dark matter is, or how it is arranged— but some† of it may be in worlds untethered to individual stars. If so, our descendants of the * A value that nicely approximates modern estimates of the number of planets orbiting stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. † Most of it may be in "nonbaryonic" matter, not made of our familiar protons and neutrons, and not anti-matter either.


pages: 364 words: 104,697

Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? by Thomas Geoghegan

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Albert Einstein, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, collective bargaining, corporate governance, cross-subsidies, dark matter, David Brooks, declining real wages, deindustrialization, ending welfare as we know it, facts on the ground, Gini coefficient, haute cuisine, income inequality, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, McJob, minimum wage unemployment, mittelstand, offshore financial centre, payday loans, pensions crisis, Plutocrats, plutocrats, purchasing power parity, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, union organizing, Wolfgang Streeck, women in the workforce

That’s why Barbara’s higher GDP per capita actually could be a measure of how much worse off she is than Isabel. It’s just that our economic tools, at this early stage of the “science,” are too crude to calculate the trade-off. After all, economics as a science is about two hundred years old. When it’s as old as physics or astronomy, we’ll get much better measures of standard of living. Freedom or leisure is about as cosmically important as the dark matter, or dark energy, of the universe. It’s just that our minds have been darkened by economists like Milton Friedman. Yet Friedman himself had half an idea as to who is better off (Barbara v. Isabel), even when he was writing libertarian-type tracts like Free to Choose. Friedman’s very life was an indictment of the ideas in the book. As a professor with tenure, he lived like Isabel, not Barbara. He had tenure, and three months off, and no one could fire him.

But that means on the Internet, where people flinch because it’s like a flashlight shining in your eyes, you find yourself involuntarily turning away from a thick, clunky German abstraction a nanosecond before you have had the time to absorb it. The way German makes a car wreck of three or four abstract nouns, you have to see the damn thing in print, and stare at the word longer than the digital world will let you. At any rate, I see more people reading cold, hard print—the kind that pulls the light into its dark matter without flashing any back—in Germany. And maybe it’s because people can stare at a sentence and think about it a little longer when it’s in print that it seems to me I can get into the kind of long and thoughtful political conversations over there that I never seem to have here. I should be clear: we can be thoughtful. We just can’t do it for an hour and fifteen minutes. On this point, since I’m now done with Wigand as a witness, I have to call on “Tom.”


pages: 360 words: 101,636

Engineering Infinity by Jonathan Strahan

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augmented reality, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, gravity well, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, post scarcity, Schrödinger's Cat, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski

The server's body was a fragmented eggshell of Dyson statites, drinking the light of the star. Its mind was diamondoid processing nodes and smart dust swarms and cold quantum condensates in the system's outer dark. Its eyes were interferometers and WIMP detectors and ghost imagers. The first thing the server saw was the galaxy, a whirlpool of light in the sky with a lenticular centre, spiral arms frothed with stars, a halo of dark matter that held nebulae in its grip like fireflies around a lantern. The galaxy was alive with the Network, with the blinding Hawking incandescence of holeships, thundering along their cycles; the soft infrared glow of fully grown servers, barely spilling a drop of the heat of their stars; the faint gravity ripples of the darkships' passage in the void. But the galaxy was half a million light years away.

Primordial chaos reigned on the other side, a porridge-like plasma of quarks and gluons. In an eyeblink it clumped into hadrons, almost faster than the server could follow - the baby had its own arrow of time, its own fast heartbeat, young and hungry. And then the last scattering, a birth cry, when light finally had enough room to travel through the baby so the server could see its face. The baby grew. Dark matter ruled its early life, filling it with long filaments of neutralinos and their relatives. Soon, the server knew, matter would accrete around them, condensing into stars and galaxies like raindrops in a spiderweb. There would be planets, and life. And life would need to be served. The anticipation was a warm heartbeat that made the server's shells ring with joy. Perhaps the server would have been content to cherish and care for its creation forever.


pages: 416 words: 106,582

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

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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, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, mandelbrot fractal, market design, Mars Rover, Marshall McLuhan, microbiome, Murray Gell-Mann, Nicholas Carr, open economy, place-making, placebo effect, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, randomized controlled trial, rent control, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Richard Thaler, Schrödinger's Cat, security theater, Silicon Valley, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Thorstein Veblen, Turing complete, Turing machine, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Catalog

Inference to the best explanation is certainly not as rule-bound as logical deduction nor even as enumerative induction, which takes us from observed cases of all a’s being b’s to the probability that unobserved cases of a’s are also b’s. But inference to the best explanation also gets us a great deal more than either deduction or enumerative induction does. It’s inference to the best explanation that gives science the power to expand our ontology, giving us reasons to believe in things we can’t directly observe, from subatomic particles—or maybe strings—to the dark matter and dark energy of cosmology. It’s inference to the best explanation that allows us to know something of what it’s like to be other people on the basis of their behavior. I see the hand drawing too near the fire and then quickly pull away, tears starting in the eyes while an impolite word is uttered, and I know something of what that person is feeling. It’s on the basis of inference to the best explanation that I can learn things from what authorities say and write, my inferring that the best explanation for their doing so is that they believe what they say or write.

Hunting for Root Cause: The Human “Black Box” Eric Topol Professor of translational genomics, Scripps Research Institute; cardiologist, Scripps Clinic Root-cause analysis is an attractive concept for certain matters in industry, engineering, and quality control. A classic application is to determine why a plane crashed by finding the “black box”—the tamper-proof event-data recorder. Even though this box is usually bright orange, the term symbolizes the sense of dark matter, a container with critical information to help illuminate what happened. Getting the black-box audio recording is just one component of a root-cause analysis of why a plane goes down. Each of us is gradually being morphed into an event-data recorder by virtue of our digital identity and presence on the Web. Not only do we post our own data, sometimes unwittingly, but also others post information about us, and all of this is permanently archived.


pages: 370 words: 97,138

Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey

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3D printing, Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, California gold rush, carbon-based life, Colonization of Mars, cosmic abundance, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, discovery of DNA, Doomsday Clock, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, Haight Ashbury, Hyperloop, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, life extension, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Oculus Rift, operation paperclip, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, phenotype, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, supervolcano, technological singularity, telepresence, telerobotics, the medium is the message, the scientific method, theory of mind, V2 rocket, wikimedia commons, X Prize, Yogi Berra

If the electromagnetic force was stronger or weaker, stable atoms could not form. If the strong nuclear force was stronger or weaker, carbon couldn’t be created in stars. If the gravitational constant was stronger, stars would be very short-lived; if it was weaker, stars wouldn’t shine or make the heavy elements. The universe also has very low entropy or disorder, which may be responsible for time’s forward sense or “arrow.” In addition, the cosmic values of dark matter and dark energy neither prohibit structures from forming nor cause a collapse too soon for life to be able to form. The point is that while the universe would be physically sensible if any of these quantities took different values, it wouldn’t be a universe with life containing life as we know it. It’s unremarkable that the properties of the universe are compatible with our existence. But controversy arises when this anthropic line of reasoning is strengthened to say that the universe must have those particular properties that allow life to develop at some point.

See also “Multiverse Cosmological Models” by P. C. W. Davies 2004. Modern Physics Letters A, vol. 19, pp. 727–44. 12. The first fine-tuning argument was the fact that the age of a biological universe cannot be too short or too long, “Dirac’s Cosmology and Mach’s Principle” by R. H. Dicke 1961. Nature, vol. 192, pp. 440–41. Since then, the idea has been explored by a number of physicists, for example: Coincidences: Dark Matter, Mankind, and Anthropic Cosmology by J. Gribbin and M. Rees 1989. New York: Bantam. Also: The Goldilocks Enigma: Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? by P. Davies 2007. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. For a philosophical perspective, see A Fine-Tuned Universe: The Quest for God in Science and Theology by A. McGrath 2009. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press. 13. “Naturally Speaking: The Naturalness Criterion and Physics at the LHC” by G.


pages: 445 words: 105,255

Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization by K. Eric Drexler

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3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Bill Joy: nanobots, Brownian motion, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, dark matter, double helix, failed state, global supply chain, industrial robot, iterative process, Mars Rover, means of production, Menlo Park, mutually assured destruction, New Journalism, performance metric, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Thomas Malthus, V2 rocket, Vannevar Bush

The next section will turn to this topic, exploring the sometimes uneasy relationship between the disciplines of engineering and science. They’re more different than most people think. PART 3 EXPLORING DEEP TECHNOLOGY CHAPTER 7 Science and the Timeless Landscape of Technology THE GREAT STORY OF THE WORLD Near the dawn of known time, before any hint of an Earth or a Sun, the pre-stellar universe was a realm of dark matter and incandescent gas that expanded, cooled, and faded to darkness as space itself stretched. There were ripples in that sea of matter, slight concentrations of mass that drew more mass together, collapsing to form the seeds of galaxies. The physics of gravitation—and of light, heat, and fluid dynamics—describes these collapses along with the lesser collapses within them that gave birth to a generation of stars that brought light into a time of universal darkness.

.* In 2012, physicists at CERN reported the discovery of the expected Standard Model Higgs boson (or a particle as yet indistinguishable from it), an achievement that required billions of dollars of equipment and enough power to light a small city. With the Higgs boson, physicists observed the final particle predicted by the Standard Model, a crowning yet frustrating achievement. Physicists had hoped that they would find something else, a terrestrial clue to physics beyond the Standard Model. There must be something beyond. Galactic dynamics shows the effects of mass in the form (it seems) of unobserved dark-matter particles, and the expansion of the cosmos itself is being driven ever faster by an unexplained dark-energy field. Beyond this, the equations themselves call out for amendment or replacement. Gravitation doesn’t fit with the rest (but only deep down, in as-yet unobservable ways), and even the compatible parts of the Standard Model have a patchwork quality, where at the bottom, physicists hope to find a more unified fabric.

New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind by Noam Chomsky

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dark matter, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, theory of mind, Turing test

What else does metaphysical naturalism demand? That is not clear. Shall we understand metaphysical naturalism to be the demand for unity of nature? If so, it could be taken as a guiding idea, but not as a dogma. “Ninety percent of the matter of the universe,” physicists tell us, “is what is now called dark matter – dark because we don’t see it; dark because we don’t know what it is,” indeed “we do not have the slightest idea of what 90 percent of the world is made of.” (Weisskopf 1989). Suppose dark matter turns out to be crucially different from the 10 per cent of the world about which there are some ideas. The possibility cannot be discounted in principle; stranger things have been accepted in modern science. Nor can it be excluded in the case of theories of mind. Though there is no reason to entertain the hypothesis, some version of Cartesianism (with a far richer concept of body) could in principle turn out to be true, consistent with a naturalist stance.


pages: 824 words: 268,880

Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

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anthropic principle, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, dark matter, epigenetics, gravity well, James Watt: steam engine, land tenure, new economy, phenotype, stem cell, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Sax decided to skip the synaptic supplements. Saving Ann’s life was one thing, changing her mind another. Random change was not the goal anyway. Acceptance was. Happiness— Ann’s true happiness, whatever that might be— now so far away, so hard to imagine. He ached to think of it. It was extraordinary how much physical pain could be generated by thought alone— the limbic system a whole universe in itself, suffused with pain, like the dark matter that suffused everything in the universe. “Have you talked to Michel?” Ursula asked. “No. Good idea.” He called Michel, explained what had happened, and what he had in mind to do. “My God, Sax,” Michel said, looking shocked. But in only a few moments he was promising to come. He would get Desmond to fly him to Da Vinci to pick up the treatment supplies, and then fly on up to the refuge. So Sax sat in Ann’s room, a hand to her head.

And a magnetic monopole detector, orbiting the sun out of the plane of the ecliptic, had captured a trace of what looked to be a fractionally charged unconfined particle with a mass as big as a bacterium— a very rare glimpse of a “weakly interacting massive particle,” or WIMP. String theory had predicted WIMPs would be out there, while the revised standard did not call for them. That was thought provoking, because the shapes of galaxies showed that they had gravitational masses ten times as large as their visible light revealed; if the dark matter could be explained satisfactorily as weakly interacting massive particles, Sax thought, then the theory responsible would have to be called very interesting indeed. Interesting in a different way was the fact that one of the leading theorists in this new stage of development was working right there in Da Vinci, part of the impressive group Sax was sitting in on. Her name was Bao Shuyo. She had been born and raised in Dorsa Brevia, her ancestry Japanese and Polynesian.

Everyone in these moments attended to her very closely, in effect mesmerized; she had been working at Da Vinci for a year now, and everyone there smart enough to recognize such a thing knew that they were watching one of the pantheon at work, discovering reality right there before their eyes. The other young turks would interrupt her to ask questions, of course— there were many good minds in that group— and if they were lucky, off they would all go together, mathematically modeling gravitons and gravitinos, dark matter and shadow matter— all personality and indeed all persons forgotten. Very productive exciting sessions; and clearly Bao was the driving force in them, the one they relied on, the one they had to reckon with. It was disconcerting, a bit. Sax had met women in math and physics departments before, but this was the only female mathematical genius he had ever even heard of, in all the long history of mathematical advancement, which, now that he thought of it, had been a weirdly male affair.


pages: 615 words: 189,720

Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson

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clockwork universe, dark matter, Dava Sobel, gravity well, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres

It’s like that all through the manifolds. Dark matter has to be very weakly interacting but at the same time registering gravitationally at ten times the mass of all visible matter. That is an odd combination, but Bao considered it as a dimension we only were seeing part of, a hyperdimension or manifold that enfolds our dimensions. That manifold happens to be contracting, you could say, which gives the effect in our sensible universe of the extra gravity we detect. So that’s dimension four.” “I thought you said time was the fourth dimension,” Galileo said. “No. For one thing, what we call time turns out to be not a dimension but a manifold, a compound vector of three different dimensions. But put that aside for a second, and let’s finish with the spatial manifold. Dimension four we still call dark matter, as a gesture to our first awareness of it.”

Particles and waves both were confirmed even though they contradicted each other as explanations, as far as our senses and reason were concerned. In some cases our observations seemed necessary to make things exist at all. And something otherwise undetectable was exerting very marked gravitational effects, that if caused by a mass would outmass the visible matter of the universe ten to one. Then there appeared to be a kind of reverse gravity effect as well, an inexplicable accelerating expansion of space. People spoke of dark matter and dark energy, but these were names only—names that left the mysteries untouched. What they were was better explained by the existence of extra dimensions, first suggested by Kaluza and Klein, and then put to use by Bao.” Galileo said, “Explain them to me.” He felt himself become equations in the clouds inside him. Formulas described the motions of the minims, vibrating at the Planck distance and duration, thus small and brief beyond telling, and vibrating in ten different dimensions, which combined into what Bao called manifolds, each with its own qualities and characteristic actions.


pages: 476 words: 118,381

Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil Degrasse Tyson, Avis Lang

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Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, asset allocation, Berlin Wall, carbon-based life, centralized clearinghouse, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, Gordon Gekko, informal economy, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Karl Jansky, Kuiper Belt, Louis Blériot, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Pluto: dwarf planet, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, space pen, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, trade route, V2 rocket

When I pause and reflect on our expanding universe, with its galaxies hurtling away from one another, embedded within the ever-stretching, four-dimensional fabric of space and time, sometimes I forget that uncounted people walk this Earth without food or shelter, and that children are disproportionately represented among them. When I pore over the data that establish the mysterious presence of dark matter and dark energy throughout the universe, sometimes I forget that every day—every twenty-four-hour rotation of Earth—people kill and get killed in the name of someone else’s conception of God, and that some people who do not kill in the name of God kill in the name of their nation’s needs or wants. When I track the orbits of asteroids, comets, and planets, each one a pirouetting dancer in a cosmic ballet choreographed by the forces of gravity, sometimes I forget that too many people act in wanton disregard for the delicate interplay of Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and land, with consequences that our children and our children’s children will witness and pay for with their health and well-being.

., 166, 175 Classification Act of 1949, 268–69 Clinton, Bill, 6 Close Encounters of the Third Kind (film), 37 Colbert, Stephen, 186–88 Cold War, 5–6, 59, 80, 87, 111, 192, 200, 219 Collier’s, 111 Columbia space shuttle, 12, 15, 60, 96, 130, 142, 156, 199–201, 210 Columbus, Christopher, 8, 87 Comet Halley, 88 Comet Hyakutake, 47 Comet Ikeya-Seki, 88 comets, 103, 116, 255 eccentric orbits of, 115 ecosystems and impact of, 51–52 impact rate of, xi long-period, 46–47 risk of impact by, 46–47 short-period, 46 water and, 48 Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, 52, 88, 102 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2008, 289 Commerce, Department of, US, 305 Commercial Space Launch Act of 1984, 5 Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, 13 Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry, 146, 316–19 appointments to, 316–17 establishment of, 316 personnel matters and, 318–19 termination of, 319 Communist Party, Soviet, 121 Congress, US, xiv, 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 13, 14, 15, 17, 73, 79, 81, 82, 143, 191, 192, 228, 314 see also House of Representatives, US; Senate, US Constellation program, 186 Contact (film), 28 Convention on Registration of Objects Launched into Outer Space, 310–11 Cook, James, 160 Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRDAs), 303–8 Copernican principle, 34, 36 Copernicus, Nicolaus, 34, 97, 115, 118 Corey, Cyrus, 212 cosmic microwave background, 92, 94–95, 176 cosmic perspective, 258, 259–61 cosmochemistry, 30 Cosmos (TV show), 256 Cosmos 1 spacecraft, 166, 170 Cosmos 954 satellite, 168 Cronkite, Walter, 145–46 culture, 72–74, 147–48, 210–11 Curie, Marie, 96 Curtis, Heber D., 98–101 Cyrano de Bergerac, Savinien de, 217 Daniels, George H., 215–16 dark energy, 255 dark matter, 255 Darwin, Charles, 98 Deep Space 1 spacecraft, 164–65, 169–70 Deep Space Network, 246 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), 125 Defense, Department of, US, 271, 274, 309, 312 De Forest, Lee, 218 Democrats, 4–5, 13, 224 Denmark, 7 De Revolutionibus (Copernicus), 115 Descent of Man (Darwin), 98 dinosaurs, 49, 103 Dirac, Paul A. M., 170–71 Discourse Concerning a New World & Another Planet, A (Wilkins), 21 discovery, 84–103 funding for, 87–88 future and, 101–3 human ego and, 97–101 human senses and, 89–95 incentives for, 86–87 rewards of, 88–89 scientific, 98 society and, 95–97 space exploration and, 103 urge for, 84–86 Discovery Channel, 42, 231 Discovery space shuttle, 140 Disney World, 224–25 DNA, 240–41 Drake, Frank, 40 Drake equation, 40–41 Druyan, Ann, 256 Dubai, 5 Dulles, John Foster, 124 Earth, xiv, 26–32, 85–86, 97, 103, 259 asteroid collision rate of, 49–50 life on, 33–35, 47–48 orbit of, 115 risk of impacts to, 49–51, 50 study of, 227–28 viewed from space, 26–28 Earthrise, 69–70 Eddington, Arthur, 107 Education, Department of, US, 326 Einstein, Albert, 94, 97, 101, 161, 195, 248, 251 Eisenhower, Dwight D., 4, 11, 123–25, 200 Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1976, 268 electromagnetic spectrum, 90 Embraer, 73 Endeavour space shuttle, 160–61 Energy, Department of, US, 12 ENIAC, 213 Environmental Protection Agency, 225 ethanol, 158 ethyl alcohol, 92 Europa, 40, 129, 169, 201, 209, 212 European Space Agency, 7, 138–39, 166 European Union, xiv, 127, 226 evolution, 40, 205 religion and, 205 Evolutionary Xenon Thruster, 170 exobiology, 36 exoplanets, 32 biomarkers on, 30–31 search for, 28–30 expenditures, see budgets; NASA, budget of Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, 169 Explorer I satellite, 126 extraterrestrial life, 33–41, 325 chemical composition of, 35–36 Copernican principle and, 34, 36 Drake equation and, 40–41 in Gupta–author interview, 42–44 Hawking’s view of, 42–43 Hollywood portrayals of, 35–38 human self-perception and, 41 intelligence of, 36–39 liquid water and, 39–40 probability of, 33–34 search for, 41, 325 stable orbits and, 40 television signals and, 178 water and, 39–40 eyewitness testimony, 183–84, 204 Fall of Moondust, A (Clarke), 175 Faubus, Orval, 124 Federal Laboratory Consortium for Technology Transfer, 304–5 Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, 269 Ferguson, James, 254 Fisher Pen Company, 194n flight, 107–11, 216 ballistic missiles and, 110–11 early attitudes toward, 216–17 firsts in, 110, 216–17 sound barrier and, 109 V-2 rocket and, 110–11 Wright brothers and, 109–10, 216–17 flybys, 157 Foch, Ferdinand, 217 formaldehyde, 92 fossil fuels, 30 France, xiv, 7 Freedom 7 spacecraft, 114 free fall, 119 friction, 152, 155 Friedman, Louis, 193 From the Earth to the Moon (Verne), 170 Fukushima Daiichi disaster, 168 Futurist, The, 218 Gagarin, Yuri, 73, 79, 113–14, 122, 192 galaxies, 32, 91, 98 black holes in, 142 elements in, 239–40 expansion of universe and, 98, 100–101 orbits of stars of, 115 Galef, Julia, 75–83 Galileo Galilei, 85–86, 97, 147, 169, 213, 225 Galileo navigation system, 208 Galileo space probe, 198 gamma rays, 71, 90, 94, 129, 139 Ganymede, 169 Garbedian, H.


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The Rise and Fall of Nations: Forces of Change in the Post-Crisis World by Ruchir Sharma

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3D printing, Asian financial crisis, backtesting, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, business climate, business process, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, colonial rule, Commodity Super-Cycle, corporate governance, crony capitalism, currency peg, dark matter, debt deflation, deglobalization, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Freestyle chess, Gini coefficient, hiring and firing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflation targeting, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, Malacca Straits, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, megacity, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, mittelstand, moral hazard, New Economic Geography, North Sea oil, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Kuznets, smart cities, Snapchat, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, trade route, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, working-age population

Chapter 8: Cheap Is Good 1 Ed Lowther, “A Short History of the Pound,” BBC News, February 14, 2014. 2 Caroline Freund, “Current Account Adjustment in Industrialized Countries,” International Finance Discussion Papers (U.S. Federal Reserve, 2000). 3 Rudi Dornbusch, interview by Frontline, PBS, 1995. 4 Paul Davidson, “IMF Chief Says Global Growth Still Too Weak,” USA Today, April 2, 2014 5 Oliver Harvey and Robin Winkler, “Dark Matter: Hidden Capital Flows That Drive G10 Exchange Rates,” Deutsche Bank Markets Research Report, March 6, 2015. 6 “EM Macro Daily: China Capital Outflow Risk—The Curious Case of the Missing $300 Billions,” Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research, January 13, 2015. 7 Muhamad Chatib Basri and Hal Hill, “Ideas, Interests, and Oil Prices: The Political Economy of Trade Reform During Soeharto’s Indonesia,” World Economy 27, no. 5 (2004): 633–55.

Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research, January 13, 2015. Forbes, Kristin. “Financial ‘Deglobalization’?: Capital Flows, Banks, and the Beatles.” Bank of England, 2014. Freund, Caroline. “Current Account Adjustment in Industrialized Countries.” International Finance Discussion Papers, 2000. “Global Macro Jottings: Financial Deglobalization.” VTB Capital, November 20, 2014. Harvey, Oliver, and Robin Winkler. “Dark Matter: The Hidden Capital Flows That Drive G10 Exchange Rates.” Deutsche Bank Markets Research, March 6, 2015). Hyman, Ed. “Bond Yields Up But S&P Advances.” Evercore ISI, February 18, 2015. “Is That a Kleptocrat in Your Balance of Payments?” Financial Times Alphaville, March 10, 2015. Kaminsky, Graciela, Saul Lizondo, and Carmen Reinhart. “Leading Indicators of Currency Crises.” International Monetary Fund, 1998.


pages: 515 words: 142,354

The Euro: How a Common Currency Threatens the Future of Europe by Joseph E. Stiglitz, Alex Hyde-White

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bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, cashless society, central bank independence, centre right, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, corporate governance, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, currency peg, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, disintermediation, diversified portfolio, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fiat currency, financial innovation, full employment, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Growth in a Time of Debt, housing crisis, income inequality, incomplete markets, inflation targeting, investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market friction, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, moral hazard, mortgage debt, neoliberal agenda, new economy, open economy, paradox of thrift, pension reform, pensions crisis, price stability, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, Washington Consensus, working-age population

But the decline in productivity is greater than we can easily account for. We get less output for any level of inputs, taking account, for instance, of the smaller capital stock.23 We can estimate the predicted effect of the smaller capital and other observable inputs on productivity. The difference between this and the actually observed decline in productivity is the result of missing “dark matter.” Something hard to observe is missing. Even if we can’t precisely parse out the components of this dark matter, it’s real and needs to be taken into account. There are many components of this missing capital. In their twenties, individuals accumulate skills that increase their productivity over a lifetime. But those skills are gained largely through on-the-job training. When there are no jobs—and youth unemployment in the worse-afflicted countries exceeded 50 percent—there is no on-the-job learning.


pages: 1,205 words: 308,891

Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can't Explain the Modern World by Deirdre N. McCloskey

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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

For instance, if ideas and ethics and “rhetoric” contributed largely to such a happy result then perhaps we should point our social telescopes also towards ideas and ethics and rhetoric. Looking fixedly at trade or imperialism or demography or property law — very interesting 371 though all of them are — will not do the bulk of the scientific job. Ideas are the dark matter of history, ignored for a century or so 1890-1980. In those days, I have noted, we were all historical materialists. To be able to detect the dark matter we will need a new, more ideaoriented economics, which would admit for example that language shapes an economy. For such a humanistic science of economics — explored in this and related books, and which a happy few others of us are working on — the methods of the human sciences would become as scientifically relevant as the methods of mathematics and statistics now properly are.64 Such a new economic science would scrutinize literary texts and simulate on computers, analyze stories and model maxima, clarify with philosophy and measure with statistics, inquire into the meaning of the sacred and lay out the accounting of the profane.

The Science of Language by Noam Chomsky

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Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Alfred Russel Wallace, British Empire, Brownian motion, dark matter, Drosophila, epigenetics, finite state, Howard Zinn, phenotype, statistical model, stem cell, Steven Pinker, theory of mind

[C] Further, [in] talking about the capacity to do science [in our very recently practiced form, you have to keep in mind that] it's not just very recent, it's very limited. Physicists, for example, don't go commit suicide over the fact that they can't find maybe 90 percent of what they think the universe is composed of [dark matter and dark energy]. In . . . [a recent] issue of Science, they report the failure of the most sophisticated technology yet developed, which they hoped would find [some of] the particles they think constitute dark matter. That's, say, 90 percent of the universe that they failed to find; so we're still in the dark about 90 percent of the matter in the universe. Well, that's regarded as a scientific problem in physics, not as the end of the field. In linguistics, if you were studying Warlpiri or something, and you can't understand 50 percent of the data, it's taken to mean that you don't know what you're talking about.


pages: 181 words: 62,775

Half Empty by David Rakoff

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airport security, Buckminster Fuller, dark matter, double helix, Google Earth, phenotype, RFID, urban planning, urban renewal, wage slave, Wall-E, Y2K

The sunniest, most positive child in Malaysia laboring in a fucking sneaker factory can visualize all the good fortune he wants, but without concrete changes in international models of global trade, finance, and educational opportunities along with some very temporal man-made policies, just for starters, guess where he’s going tomorrow morning? (A hint: it rhymes with schmucking sneaker factory.) That can be a cold and lonely reality with which to contend, and one to which every one of us, even the most vinegar-soaked pessimist, is naturally resistant. We all spend our lives rejecting this truth and, consciously or not, entreating the universe—with its vast stretches of deep space, dark matter, and uncharted, immeasurable distances—to somehow align itself in sheer admiration of our fervor and gumption, to rain down precisely that which it is we wish for. And the universe will say nothing. Even the most charmed life is a veritable travelogue of disappointment. There will always be an inevitable gulf between hope and reality. It is how we traverse these Deserts of Letdown that shows us what we are made of (perhaps almost as much as does choosing to characterize them as Deserts of Letdown).


pages: 207 words: 52,716

Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons by Peter Barnes

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Albert Einstein, car-free, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate personhood, corporate social responsibility, dark matter, diversified portfolio, en.wikipedia.org, hypertext link, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, jitney, new economy, patent troll, profit maximization, Ronald Coase, telemarketer, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, War on Poverty, Yogi Berra

As previously noted, the top 5 percent of Americans owns more of this treasure than the bottom 95 percent. But there’s another trove of wealth that’s not so well-known: our common wealth. Each of us is the joint recipient of a vast inheritance. This shared inheritance includes air and water, habitats and ecosystems, languages and cultures, science and technologies, social and political systems, and quite a bit more. Common wealth is like the dark matter of the economic universe—it’s everywhere, but we don’t see it. One reason we don’t see it is that much of it is, literally, invisible. Who can spot the air, an Reinventing the Commons | 67 aquifer, or the social trust that underlies financial markets? The more relevant reason is our own blindness: the only economic matter we notice is the kind that glistens with dollar signs. We ignore common wealth because it lacks price tags and property rights.


pages: 185 words: 55,639

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

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

There would be shadow photons, shadow atoms, perhaps even shadow stars and shadow planets, 11 inhabited by shadow people co-existing in the same spacetime that we inhabit, but forever invisible. A shadow planet could pass right through the Earth and never affect us, except through its gravitational pull. It sounds like science fiction, but one reason that the idea has been taken seriously is that there is astronomical and cosmological evidence that a lot of the Universe exists in the form of dark matter, detectable gravitationally but not seen. It is, though, at least as likely that in the shadow universe later symmetry breakings occurred differently from in our own world, so that there are no shadow stars, and so on, after all. All this is tangential to the story being told here (but see In Search of the Big Bang). It has, though, brought us back to gravity, and gravity is the reason why interest in string theory and supersymnmetry exploded in the middle of the 1980s.

How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston

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affirmative action, carbon footprint, Columbine, dark matter, desegregation, housing crisis, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Rosa Parks, shareholder value, supply-chain management, the scientific method, transatlantic slave trade

That sounds like a rehab center for matrimonially challenged politicians. That name was just a bit too soft for a black kid from the city. Speaking of soft, my initial interest in the school was based entirely on the crush I had on a girl from my church, never a good reason to make a six-year commitment. Strike Two: building design. The school had no hallways. I don’t mean that the inside of the building consisted of dark matter or “The Nothing” from The Neverending Story. I mean the classrooms all had doors to the outside, and kids walked outdoors to get from one class to the next. I later learned that this is a common design in warm places like Southern California and Hawaii, but Green Acres was in Bethesda, Maryland, whose climate offers three full months a year with average low temperatures at or below freezing. Strike Three: the worst basketball game I’ve ever seen.


pages: 233 words: 62,563

Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife

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Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Cepheid variable, cosmological constant, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Georg Cantor, Isaac Newton, John Conway, place-making, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking

Einstein’s gravitational equations didn’t allow for a static, unchanging universe. They did, however, allow for several other fates, which depend on the amount of mass in the cosmos. In the case of a light universe, the balloon of space-time could expand forever, getting bigger and bigger. The stars and galaxies would wink out, one by one. The universe grows cold and dies a heat death. However, if there is enough mass—galaxies, galaxy clusters, and unseen dark matter—the initial push given by the big bang wouldn’t be enough to allow the balloon to inflate forever. The galaxies would tug on one another, eventually pulling the fabric of space-time together; the balloon would begin to deflate. The deflation would get faster and faster, the universe would get hotter and hotter, and it would eventually end in a backward big bang: the big crunch. Which will be our fate: big crunch or heat death?


pages: 184 words: 53,625

Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age by Steven Johnson

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airport security, algorithmic trading, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, future of journalism, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, Jane Jacobs, John Gruber, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, packet switching, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, pre–internet, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Tim Cook: Apple, urban planning, WikiLeaks, working poor, X Prize

— The administration has taken to quoting Sun Microsystems cofounder Bill Joy: “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.” Prize-backed challenges are an acknowledgment that governments work better when they tap the intelligence of the wider population. The power of these challenges does not merely arise from the sheer number of people involved but also from the intellectual diversity of the population. NASA cosponsored a challenge to elicit algorithms that would help computers map the dark matter in the universe. They created a “live leaderboard” of entries, so that participants could learn from their competitors and refine their submissions over time. Leading algorithms were submitted by a Ph.D. student researching satellite photos of glaciers, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School, and a signature verification expert from Qatar University. The most celebrated prize-backed challenge of the Obama administration, however, predated the Challenge.gov site: the Race to the Top competition, sponsored by the Department of Education as part of the 2009 stimulus package.


pages: 219 words: 63,495

50 Future Ideas You Really Need to Know by Richard Watson

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23andMe, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, BRICs, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, digital Maoism, Elon Musk, energy security, failed state, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, germ theory of disease, happiness index / gross national happiness, hive mind, hydrogen economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, life extension, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peak oil, personalized medicine, phenotype, precision agriculture, profit maximization, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Florida, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, semantic web, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, smart transportation, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, supervolcano, telepresence, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Turing test, urban decay, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, women in the workforce, working-age population, young professional

the condensed idea Beware terrorists with nuclear materials timeline 1995 Terrorists attempt to detonate dirty bomb in Moscow 2010 Stuxnet virus attacks nuclear facilities in Iran 2018 Man arrested after attempting to sell radioactive materials on eBay 2022 Al-Qaeda attempts to detonate dirty devices on three subway systems 2030 Tactical nuclear weapons used in Georgia 2060 25 percent of nations found to have secret nuclear programs 2080 Nuclear development abandoned in favor of dark-matter weapons 44 Volcanoes & quakes In 1815, a volcano known as Tambora erupted on an island called Sumbawa in Indonesia. The eruption was the most powerful ever recorded. It has been linked, by some people, to what became known as “The Year Without Summer,” where unusually low temperatures and ash clouds led to crop failures, severe food shortages and riots. So are we due for another terrible summer?


pages: 238 words: 73,824

Makers by Chris Anderson

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3D printing, Airbnb, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple II, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Buckminster Fuller, Build a better mousetrap, business process, crowdsourcing, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, dematerialisation, Elon Musk, factory automation, Firefox, future of work, global supply chain, global village, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Menlo Park, Network effects, profit maximization, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, South of Market, San Francisco, spinning jenny, Startup school, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize, Y Combinator

And second, thanks to the Web, they can sell those things globally. The barriers against entry to entrepreneurship in physical goods are dropping like a stone. “Markets of ten thousand” defines the successful niche strategy for products and services delivered online. That number is large enough to build a business on, but small enough to remain focused and avoid huge competition. It is the missing space in the mass-production industry, the dark matter in the marketplace—the Long Tail of stuff. It is also the opportunity for smaller, nimbler companies that have emerged from the very markets they serve, enabled by the new tools of democratized manufacturing to route around the old retail and production barriers. Even better, some of those companies that start with niche markets may graduate to huge ones. The ultimate combination of atoms and bits In early 2009, if you had visited the TechShop makerspace in Menlo Park, California, south of San Francisco, you would have seen a tall, somewhat gangly guy named Jim McKelvey at a bench, fiddling with a little block of plastic.


pages: 244 words: 68,223

Isaac Newton by James Gleick

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Albert Einstein, Astronomia nova, complexity theory, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Isaac Newton, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

God informed Newton’s creed of absolute space and absolute time. “Can God be nowhere when the moment of time is everywhere?” he wrote in one of many new drafts that did not see light.16 An active, interventionist God must organize the universe and the solar system: otherwise substance would be evenly diffused through infinite space or gathered together in one great mass. Surely God’s hand could be seen in the division between dark matter, like the planets, and shining matter, like the sun. All this “I do not think explicable by mere natural causes but am forced to ascribe it to the counsel & contrivance of a voluntary Agent.”17 He returned to his alchemical experiments, too. Whether or not Newton was like other men, by the summer of 1693 he was eating and sleeping poorly. He had lived fifty years. He was unsettled, back and forth between the fens of Cambridgeshire and the London glare.

Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth

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call centre, dark matter, fear of failure, Google Earth, rolodex, unpaid internship

‘Your problem, Laura Joyce, is that you try too hard.’ And yes, that’s my name. Laura Joyce. Quite a blinder from the great beyond, I think you’ll agree. A fine example of blistering cosmic humour – and one I didn’t truly appreciate until I first started sending out submissions and received several rejections referring to the discrepancy between my own writing and that of my streamy namesake. Want to know what the mysterious ‘dark matter’ they’re searching for actually is? It’s Irony – billions of tons of the stuff, lurking, ready to go. The Universe is not indifferent; the Universe is amused. To get out of my bedroom I had to slide a clothes rail out of the way of the door. It was tricky getting back in again. In addition to the clothes rail and a small desk I had a single bed, which was why I often ended up in bed with Tyler.


pages: 291 words: 81,703

Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation by Tyler Cowen

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Amazon Mechanical Turk, Black Swan, brain emulation, Brownian motion, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, cosmological constant, crowdsourcing, dark matter, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deliberate practice, Drosophila, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, experimental economics, Flynn Effect, Freestyle chess, full employment, future of work, game design, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, Isaac Newton, Khan Academy, labor-force participation, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, Narrative Science, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, reshoring, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, upwardly mobile, Yogi Berra

String theory is known to contain configurations that describe all the observed fundamental forces and matter but with a zero cosmological constant and some new fields. Other configurations have different values of the cosmological constant, and are metastable but long-lived. This leads many to believe that there is at least one metastable solution that is quantitatively identical with the standard model, with a small cosmological constant, containing dark matter and a plausible mechanism for cosmic inflation. It is not yet known whether string theory has such a solution, nor how much freedom the theory allows to choose the details. That was the easy part. Now: String theories also include objects other than strings, called branes. The word brane, derived from “membrane,” refers to a variety of interrelated objects, such as D-branes, black p-branes, and Neveu–Schwarz 5-branes.

Toast by Stross, Charles

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anthropic principle, Buckminster Fuller, cosmological principle, dark matter, double helix, Ernest Rutherford, Extropian, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, glass ceiling, gravity well, Khyber Pass, Mars Rover, Mikhail Gorbachev, NP-complete, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, performance metric, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, slashdot, speech recognition, strong AI, traveling salesman, Turing test, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, Y2K

“I work for the betterment of everybody, not just some narrowly defined national interest, Pam. It's the agalmic future. You're still locked into a pre-singularity economic model that thinks in terms of scarcity. Resource allocation isn't a problem any more -- it's going to be over within a decade. The cosmos is flat in all directions, and we can borrow as much bandwidth as we need from the first universal bank of entropy! They even found the dark matter -- MACHOs, big brown dwarves in the galactic halo, leaking radiation in the long infrared -- suspiciously high entropy leakage. The latest figures say something like 70% of the mass of the M31 galaxy was sapient, two point nine million years ago when the infrared we're seeing now set out. The intelligence gap between us and the aliens is a probably about a trillion times bigger than the gap between us and a nematode worm.


pages: 304 words: 82,395

Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger, Kenneth Cukier

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23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, AltaVista, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, Black Swan, book scanning, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, computer age, correlation does not imply causation, dark matter, double entry bookkeeping, Eratosthenes, Erik Brynjolfsson, game design, IBM and the Holocaust, index card, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Jeff Bezos, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, obamacare, optical character recognition, PageRank, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Post-materialism, post-materialism, random walk, recommendation engine, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

This has sparked a new academic discipline called “Culturomics”: computational lexicology that tries to understand human behavior and cultural trends through the quantitative analysis of texts. In one study, researchers at Harvard poured through millions of books (which equated to more than 500 billion words) to reveal that fewer than half the number of English words that appear in books are included in dictionaries. Rather, they wrote, the cornucopia of words “consists of lexical ‘dark matter’ undocumented in standard references.” Moreover, by algorithmically analyzing references to the artist Marc Chagall, whose works were banned in Nazi Germany because he was Jewish, the researchers showed that the suppression or censorship of an idea or person leaves “quantifiable fingerprints.” Words are like fossils encased within pages instead of sedimentary rock. The practitioners of culturomics can mine them like archeologists.


pages: 256 words: 15,765

The New Elite: Inside the Minds of the Truly Wealthy by Dr. Jim Taylor

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British Empire, call centre, dark matter, Donald Trump, estate planning, full employment, glass ceiling, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, Louis Pasteur, Maui Hawaii, McMansion, means of production, passive income, performance metric, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, Ronald Reagan, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, women in the workforce

In reporting on the wealthy, media members are often guilty of what those in the philosophy of science call the drunkard’s search—the tendency of people to study phenomena that are easy to see and report on instances that are easy to locate (e.g., someone who has had too much to drink searching for his lost keys under a lamppost, where the light is good, rather than where the person is most likely to have lost the keys). Astronomers, for example, tend to study bright shiny objects such as stars and supernovas because they are easy to see, as opposed to the dark matter or dark energy that many believe actually constitutes over 95 percent of the universe. Living large is, by definition, an easier phenomenon to uncover than steal wealth. Media reports shape thinking in part through the 60 The New Elite vividness effect: the tendency of graphic or dramatic depictions of an event to lead people to overestimate how common that event is. Airplane crashes are much less common, and cause many fewer deaths, than car crashes, but the vividness with which airplane crashes are portrayed lead many to falsely believe that air travel is more dangerous than car travel.


pages: 272 words: 76,089

Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium by Carl Sagan

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Albert Einstein, anti-communist, clean water, cosmic abundance, dark matter, demographic transition, Exxon Valdez, F. W. de Klerk, germ theory of disease, invention of agriculture, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Mikhail Gorbachev, pattern recognition, planetary scale, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, stem cell, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus

And so it is with the Universe: If it contains a great deal of matter, the gravity exercised by all this matter will slow down and stop the expansion. An expanding Universe"will be converted into a collapsing Universe. And if there is not enough matter, the expansion will continue forever. The present inventory of matter in the Universe is insufficient to slow the expansion, but there are reasons to think that there may be a great deal of dark matter that does not betray its existence by giving off light for the convenience of astronomers. If the expanding Universe turns out to be only temporary, ultimately to be replaced by a contracting Universe, this would certainly raise the possibility that the Universe goes through an infinite number of expansions and contractions and is infinitely old. An infinitely old Universe has no need to be created.

On Nature and Language by Noam Chomsky

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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

And so, it often makes good sense to disregard phenomena and search for principles that really seem to give some deep insight into why some of them are that way, recognizing that there are others that you can’t pay attention to. Physicists, for example, even today can’t explain in detail how water flows out of the faucet, or the structure of helium, or other things that seem too complicated. Physics is in a situation in which something like 90 percent of the matter in the Universe is what is called dark matter – it’s called dark because they don’t know what it is, they can’t find it, but it has to be there or the physical laws don’t work. So people happily go on with the assumption that we’re somehow missing 90 percent of the matter in the Universe. That’s by now considered normal, but in Galileo’s 99 On nature and language time it was considered outrageous. And the Galilean style referred to that major change in the way of looking at the world: you’re trying to understand how it works, not just describe a lot of phenomena, and that’s quite a shift.


pages: 281 words: 78,317

But What if We're Wrong? Thinking About the Present as if It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, British Empire, citizen journalism, cosmological constant, dark matter, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Gerolamo Cardano, ghettoisation, Howard Zinn, Isaac Newton, non-fiction novel, obamacare, pre–internet, Ralph Nader, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, the medium is the message, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, Y2K

“That number [13.79 billion years, plus or minus 0.2] is actually quite stable,” reiterates Greene. Even on points of conflict, they generally force themselves into alignment: When I told Tyson that Greene was open to the possibility that our understanding of gravity might drastically change, Tyson implied that I may have phrased the question incorrectly. “He’s pointing forward to a time when our understanding of gravity includes our understanding of dark matter,” said Tyson. “That there will be some other understanding of gravity, but it will still enclose Newton’s laws of gravity and Einstein’s general relativity. So he may have presumed your question meant, ‘Is there anything left to be discovered about gravity?’ And that question is not clear to someone who researches gravity.” This kind of willful, unilateral agreement is not unique to famous scientists—most of the unfamous scientists would agree, too.


pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton

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1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

For his eschatology, the “world” is a tragic casualty of its appearance in digital images of itself.48 It cannot survive this manner of testimony. It is shrunken, eaten, defamed by its reduction to a plateau of digitalized time. Whereas difference and analogy are naturally functions of distance, in the instantaneousness of global information the landscape of distances has collapsed, and so for Virilio digital space is dark matter, one that instead of expanding and elongating real distances instead flattens the space of analogy into the simultaneity of network time. There are other, and better, judgments of these accelerations, displacements, elongations, migrations, vectors, lines, and links. Can they be drawn without replicating the terms of reduction that any truly living image would need to escape? Is this what is most starkly absent from Google Earth's transformation of the map into the Interface?

See also money bitcoin, 9, 127, 171, 209, 336–337, 393n54 digital platform, 336–337 double spend problem, 418n45 Facebook, 127 future of, 127, 336 currency-matter link, computerization of, 199 “Cybernetic Praxis in Government” (Beer), 1 cybernetics autopoietic, 59 consumer, 274 corporate, 128 economic planning systems, 58–61, 328–329 of interface design, 157 meaning of, 275–276 rise of, 327 of scenario planning, 359 second-order, 334 Soviet, 58–61, 138, 328–329, 332 theory concurrent with, 54 cyberwarfare, 27 Daalder, Rene, 320 Dal Co, Francesco, 304 Dar al-Islam, 9, 322 dark matter, 91 Darknet, 215 dark pools, 451n63 Dark Side of the Rainbow effect, 359 data jurisdiction over, 113–114, 120, 122–123, 285–286 ownership of, 203, 285, 345–346 proliferation of, 117, 204 substantialization of, 168 data centers energy footprint, 92–94, 113, 140–141, 303–304 water-based, 113–114, 140 data collection Apps for, 236 mobile phones for, 342 sensor nets, 97, 180, 192, 295 smart dust for, 201 Users used for, 340 Data.Gov, 9 data hauls, 363–364 data haven, 400n42 data space versus state space, 123 data visualization, 267, 302, 334 Daultrey, Sally, 97 da Vinci robotic surgery system, 279 Davis, Mike, 304–305 de-addressing of things, 199 death of the User, 260, 271–274, 361, 370, 436n42 Debord, Guy, 414n10 debt, 303, 335–336 decision-making algorithms, 134, 332, 341–342 “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” (Barlow), 441n7 dedifferentiated space, 33 deep address, 64, 197–200, 206, 209, 210–216, 334–335, 338–339, 370.


pages: 662 words: 180,546

Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown by Philip Mirowski

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Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, bank run, barriers to entry, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bernie Sanders, Black Swan, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, constrained optimization, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deindustrialization, Edward Glaeser, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, facts on the ground, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Flash crash, full employment, George Akerlof, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, income inequality, incomplete markets, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, joint-stock company, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, labor-force participation, liquidity trap, loose coupling, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, precariat, prediction markets, price mechanism, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, school choice, sealed-bid auction, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, The Myth of the Rational Market, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, working poor

Indeed, one would be hard pressed to find an experimental refutation of any orthodox neoclassical proposition in the last four decades, so appeals to Karl Popper were more ceremonial than substantial. Of course, sometimes the natural sciences themselves encountered something commensurable to a crisis in their own fields of endeavor—think of dark matter and dark energy, or the breakdown of causality in the 1920s—but they didn’t respond by evasive maneuvers and suppressing its consideration, as did the economists. In retrospect, appeals to science will be seen to have proven a bit of a red herring in coming to terms with the current crisis. Physical complexity theory or neuromysticism or dark matter won’t save us now. In the heat of battle, economists purported to be defending “science’”when, in fact, they were only defending themselves and their minions. Lesson 4: The failure of the economics profession is a saga of social disfunction The completeness of the [orthodox] victory is something of a curiosity and a mystery.


pages: 684 words: 188,584

The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era by Craig Nelson

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Albert Einstein, Brownian motion, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Doomsday Clock, El Camino Real, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Louis Pasteur, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, music of the spheres, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, Project Plowshare, Ralph Nader, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, V2 rocket, éminence grise

The machine’s biggest achievement was the discovery of three of seventeen subatomic particles considered to be the building blocks of everything, and its technology led to the birth of MRI medical diagnostic technology. Four other US nuclear reactors are named for Enrico, as is element number 100, fermium. NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has revealed a previously unknown fifty-thousand-light-year remnant of a black hole eruption at the very center of the Milky Way. Cosmologist Dan Hooper: “We’ve considered every astronomical source, and nothing we know of, except dark matter, can account for the observations. No other explanation comes anywhere close.” In its obituary, the New York Times said, “More than any other man of his time, Enrico Fermi could properly be named ‘the father of the atomic bomb.’ It was his epoch-making experiments at the University of Rome in 1934 that led directly to the discovery of uranium fission, the basic principle underlying the atomic bomb as well as the atomic power plant.

“Russia’s ‘Nuclear Renaissance.’ ” Journal of International Security Affairs 14 (Spring 2008). Moffett, Cleveland. “The Röntgen Rays in America. McClure’s, April 1896. Monbiot, George. “Evidence Meltdown.” Guardian, April 5, 2011. Moran, Michael. “The Reckoning: The Future of American Power.” Slate, November 7–23, 2011. Morris, Errol, director. The Fog of War. Sony Pictures Classics, 2003. Mosher, Dave. “Signs of Destroyed Dark Matter Found in Milky Way’s Core.” Wired, October 26, 2010. Mueller, John. Atomic Obsession: Nuclear Alarmism from Hiroshima to Al-Qaeda. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. Myhrvold, Nathan. “After Fukushima: Now, More Than Ever.” New York Times, December 2, 2011. Nash, Philip. The Other Missiles of October: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and the Jupiters, 1957–1963. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.


pages: 367 words: 99,711

Sundiver by David Brin

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Arthur Eddington, clean water, dark matter

They’re invisible in the hydrogen alpha, so to observe them better, we opened up a couple of bands in the green and blue. Naturally we won’t be opening the wavelength that laser’s tuned to! The lines we choose are quiet and optically thick, so whatever you see that’s green or blue comes from a beastie. It should come as a pleasant change.” “Anything would be welcome but this damned red.” The ship passed through the dark matter and suddenly they were almost among the creatures. Jacob gulped and closed his eyes momentarily. When he looked again, he found that he couldn’t swallow. On top of three days of unbelievable sights, what he saw left him helpless before a powerful tremor of emotion. If a group of fish “is called a “school” for its discipline, and several lions comprise a “pride,” named for their attitude, Jacob decided that the cluster of solar-beings could only be called a “flare.”


pages: 414 words: 105,153

Ringworld by Larry Niven

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dark matter, gravity well, Mercator projection, supervolcano

“By now you know,” said Chiron, “that we have been moving north along the galactic axis for the past two hundred and four of your Earth years. In kzin years—“ “Two hundred and seventeen.” “Yes. During that time we have naturally observed the space ahead of us for signs of danger and the unexpected. We had known that the star EC-1752 was ringed with an uncharacteristically dense and narrow band of dark matter. It was assumed that the ring was dust or rock. Yet it was surprisingly regular. “Some ninety days ago our fleet of worlds reached a position such that the ring occluded the star itself. We saw that the ring was sharply bounded. Further investigation revealed that the ring is not gas nor dust, nor even asteroidal rock, but a solid band of considerable tensile strength. Naturally we were terrified.”


pages: 422 words: 113,525

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand

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agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, biofilm, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, glass ceiling, Google Earth, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, land tenure, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, microbiome, New Urbanism, out of africa, Paul Graham, peak oil, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thomas Malthus, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, working-age population, Y2K

The ultimate goal, perhaps in sight by 2027, would be a metacommunity model that seeks to explain and predict (and retrodict) the behavior of the biosphere as though it were a single superorganism. Such a “genomics of Gaia” would be the ultimate implementation of systems biology. • The transformative technique that makes all of this new science suddenly possible is the shotgun sequencing of the aggregate genomes of large samples of microbes, hence metagenomics. Microbes were long the “dark matter” of biology because, except for a few, they couldn’t be cultured in the lab. Now, with what is called functional metagenomics, you don’t have to bother with the organisms; you screen millions of DNA fragments from countless microbes, looking for new proteins that the fragments generate, and that tells you what the genes are used for. A radical career move by Craig Venter is illustrative. Having grown up as a surfer on the California coast, in 2003 he returned to the sea to decompress from leading the massive effort to sequence the human genome.


pages: 349 words: 27,507

E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation by David Bodanis

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Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, Berlin Wall, British Empire, dark matter, Ernest Rutherford, Erwin Freundlich, Fellow of the Royal Society, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Mercator projection, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Stephen Hawking, Thorstein Veblen, V2 rocket

The Universe (Chapters 14–16) Payne The richest source here is Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin: An Autobiography and Other Recollections, ed. Katherine Haramundanis (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2nd ed., 1996). See also George Greenstein’s reflective essay “The Ladies of Observatory Hill,” in his Portraits of Discovery (New York: Wiley, 1998). An interesting comparison from a later generation is Bright Galaxies, Dark Matters by Vera Rubin (Woodbury, N.Y.: American Institute of Physics, 1997), while George Gamow’s dated though highly readable The Birth and Death of the Sun: Stellar Evolution and Subatomic Energy (London: Macmillan, 1941) gives a useful impression of solar physics in Payne’s time. Hoyle and Earth Fred Hoyle is the best writer of any high-level scientist I’m aware of: his autobiography, Home Is Where the Wind Blows: Chapters from a Cosmologist’s Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), is a pleasure to read.


pages: 310 words: 89,653

The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission by Jim Bell

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Albert Einstein, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, gravity well, Isaac Newton, Kuiper Belt, Mars Rover, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, polynesian navigation, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, V2 rocket

It certainly wasn’t from the gravity of any known objects, as that was being properly accounted for, or from any other obvious known forces. Perhaps it was some kind of new physics that could only be discovered by a long, lonely trip through deep, nearly empty space? No one knew, and the discrepancy became known as the Pioneer Anomaly. Over more than twenty years, astronomers, physicists, and spacecraft engineers tossed around hypotheses about the gravity of small bodies like KBOs, or dark matter, or some other cosmological effect, causing the Pioneers’ deceleration. Or maybe drag from particles in the heliosphere, or small helium gas leaks on the spacecraft that acted like mini thrusters, or some other spacecraft-related effect that hadn’t been properly accounted for. Eventually after much head scratching, physicists and spacecraft engineers finally solved the Pioneer Anomaly. With funding from The Planetary Society, they tirelessly sifted through nearly thirty years of Pioneer tracking data, some of it recovered from ancient magnetic tapes restored to modern digital data files with funding from Planetary Society members.


pages: 319 words: 105,949

Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot by Mark Vanhoenacker

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British Empire, Cape to Cairo, computer age, dark matter, Edmond Halley, John Harrison: Longitude, Louis Blériot, Maui Hawaii, out of africa, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, the built environment, transcontinental railway

Or, the next time you are lying on a picnic blanket and you gaze up at the contrail of a passing plane, consider that a round column of air only half an inch across—about the diameter of your iris—running from the earth’s surface all the way up to outer space, contains around 2.5 pounds of air. Or that a typical picnic blanket—6 feet by 9 feet, say—has around 50 tons of air resting upon it. To me, the truth that air is as substantive as concrete remains as counterintuitive as any of science’s most inscrutable revelations about particles that exist in two places at once, or the unseen dark matter we are told comprises most of the universe. Little in daily life suggests that the air weighs down upon me as matter-of-factly as water rests on the bottom of an aquarium; that each day I awake and stand up and walk through insensible thickness. The writer David Foster Wallace once related a tale of an old fish who asks a pair of young fish how the water is that day. The young fish are mystified; they do not know what water is.


pages: 274 words: 93,758

Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception by George A. Akerlof, Robert J. Shiller, Stanley B Resor Professor Of Economics Robert J Shiller

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Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, Bernie Madoff, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, David Brooks, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, equity premium, financial intermediation, full employment, George Akerlof, greed is good, income per capita, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, loss aversion, Menlo Park, mental accounting, Milgram experiment, moral hazard, new economy, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, transaction costs, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, wage slave

In previous times campaigns have steered clear of place (and venue) where they did not have clear majorities. In Illinois, for example, the Democrats avoided whole areas downstate; just as in New York, they avoided upstate. But now the very significant minorities of voters in such places could be approached, because they were individually targeted. For Obama 2012 these voters in Democrat minority areas were no longer dark matter. The world of advertising and marketing is still about getting the right message and creating the right story. It is still about the story of the Man in the Hathaway Shirt; and that Palmolive will make you beautiful. But the Obama campaign illustrates that it helps greatly to know where to target your message, and, when you do, to know which message will resonate favorably. But then we all know that it is important to target the right stories to the right people; every schoolboy and every schoolgirl knows that they can get into a great deal of trouble by telling the wrong story to the wrong person.


pages: 336 words: 93,672

The Future of the Brain: Essays by the World's Leading Neuroscientists by Gary Marcus, Jeremy Freeman

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23andMe, Albert Einstein, bioinformatics, bitcoin, brain emulation, cloud computing, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data acquisition, Drosophila, epigenetics, Google Glasses, iterative process, linked data, mouse model, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, speech recognition, stem cell, Steven Pinker, supply-chain management, Turing machine, web application

A very large proportion of the single-gene disorders that affect the human population (cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s disease, and many others) are known to be caused by specific mutations disturbing protein-coding genes. Beyond the exome, the remainder of the genome includes many stretches of DNA (once thought of as junk) that may have complicated roles in regulating how the exome works. While progress is being made, geneticists still struggle to make sense of this dark matter of the genome, in particular to understand the biological significance of variations that affect it. So, targeting the protein-coding genes, by sequencing a whole exome rather than dealing with an entire genome, seems a smart way of simplifying things when searching for causal variants in newly ascertained families with a disorder or trait of interest. (Although, of course, there is potential to miss the true culprit if it lies outside the exome.)


pages: 292 words: 85,151

Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper Than Yours (And What to Do About It) by Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest

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23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Burning Man, business intelligence, business process, call centre, chief data officer, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, corporate social responsibility, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, Dean Kamen, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, ethereum blockchain, Galaxy Zoo, game design, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, hiring and firing, Hyperloop, industrial robot, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, loose coupling, loss aversion, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, means of production, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, p-value, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, prediction markets, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, subscription business, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tony Hsieh, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, X Prize, Y Combinator

The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion. Basic Books. Hamel, G., & Prahalad, C. K. (1994). Competing for the Future. Harvard Business Review Press. Hamel, G., & Breen, B. (2007). The Future of Management. Harvard Business Review Press. Hamel, G. (2012). What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation. Jossey-Bass. Hill, D. (2012). Dark Matter and Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Vocabulary. Strelka Press. Hinssen, P. (2004). The New Normal: Great Opportunities in a Time of Great Risk. Portfolio Hardcover. Hoffman, R., & Casnocha, B. (2012). The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career. Crown Business. Hoffman, R., Casnocha, B., & Yen, C. (2014). The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age.


pages: 312 words: 91,538

The Fear Index by Robert Harris

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algorithmic trading, backtesting, banking crisis, dark matter, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, fixed income, Flash crash, high net worth, implied volatility, mutually assured destruction, Renaissance Technologies, speech recognition

Apparently sixteen hundred super-conducting magnets, each weighing nearly thirty tonnes, were housed in a twenty-seven-kilometre circular tunnel beneath his feet, shooting beams of particles around it so quickly that they completed the circuit eleven thousand times per second. The collisions of the beams at an energy of seven trillion electronvolts per proton were supposed to reveal the origins of the universe, discover extra dimensions and explain the nature of dark matter. None of it that Leclerc could discern seemed to have anything whatever to do with the financial markets. QUARRY’S INVITEES BEGAN to arrive just after ten, the first pair – a fifty-six-year-old Genevese, Etienne Mussard, and his younger sister Clarisse – turning up on a bus. ‘They’ll be early,’ Quarry had warned Hoffmann. ‘They’re always early for everything.’ Dowdily dressed, they were both unmarried and lived together in a small three-bedroomed apartment in the suburb of Lancy that they had inherited from their parents.


pages: 255 words: 88,987

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

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dark matter, invisible hand, Skype, éminence grise

(It turns out that some modules are better shielded than others, though it’s not yet clear how big a problem this is or what the long-term health implications are for astronauts and cosmonauts.) Some of my favorite experiments were the ones attempting to answer really big questions like, What’s the universe made of? The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, mounted on the Station’s exterior, is collecting dark matter and high-energy particles to try to provide an answer. Another experiment is looking at the behavior of nanoparticles and how they coalesce without the weight of gravity. Most of the 130 experiments on board are ones that simply cannot be done on Earth: we’re there to make sure that scientists on the ground get the information they need. It’s a big responsibility and an honor to work in that huge orbiting laboratory.


pages: 397 words: 109,631

Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking by Richard E. Nisbett

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, availability heuristic, big-box store, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, cognitive dissonance, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological constant, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, endowment effect, experimental subject, feminist movement, fundamental attribution error, glass ceiling, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, quantitative easing, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Socratic dialogue, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, William of Occam, Zipcar

Society tolerates government and business practices that make our lives worse because they were developed without following effective evaluation procedures and remain untested long after they were introduced—sometimes for decades and at costs in the billions of dollars. A Sampling of the Things to Come The first section of the book deals with thinking about the world and ourselves—how we do it, how we flub it, how to fix it, and how we can make far better use than we do of the dark matter of the mind, namely the unconscious. The second section is about choices—how classical economists think choices are made and how they think they ought to be made, and why modern behavioral economics provides both descriptions of actual choice behavior and prescriptions for it that are better and more useful in some ways than those of classical economics. The section provides suggestions for how to structure your life in order to avoid a wide range of choice pitfalls.


pages: 285 words: 86,174

Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Chris Hayes

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affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, carried interest, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, Credit Default Swap, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, hiring and firing, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, peak oil, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, rolodex, The Spirit Level, too big to fail, University of East Anglia, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

In an extensive investigation into what they called “Top Secret America,” the Washington Post’s Dana Priest and William Arkin found a secret national security state so large and sprawling that almost no one could actually account for what its individual component parts did. It is the alternating waves of secrecy and disclosure that characterize our present epistemic crisis in realms far beyond just national security. We may have more financial data at our fingertips than ever before, but during the last several decades, the hidden universe of financial dark matter has dramatically expanded. The private equity industry, which takes companies private, outside the view of the SEC and public filings, more than tripled in size between 2001 and 2007. Between 2004 and 2007, the market for over-the-counter derivatives grew 74 percent. These derivatives, usually highly specialized, are traded one-to-one, away from the prying eyes of an organized exchange. It was this market in a specific kind of derivatives, credit default swaps, that converted a collapsed housing bubble into a global financial cataclysm.


pages: 432 words: 85,707

QI: The Third Book of General Ignorance (Qi: Book of General Ignorance) by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson

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Albert Einstein, British Empire, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, dark matter, double helix, epigenetics, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, music of the spheres, out of africa, Ronald Reagan, The Wisdom of Crowds, trade route

And some amoebas (100 trillion times smaller than a person) have genomes a hundred times larger. STEPHEN Which animal has the most genes? ALAN Jeremy Clarkson. What is junk DNA good for? Quite a lot, actually. Only 2 per cent of our DNA is actively involved in overseeing the production of the proteins which make new cells. The remaining 98 per cent was once thought to be useless, random, genetic soup – the dark matter of the human genome, dubbed ‘junk DNA’ by Japanese-American geneticist Susumu Ohno in 1972. Nowadays it’s called ‘non-coding’ DNA: it doesn’t tell the body how to make proteins, but it does decide how much gets made and which bits should be turned on and off. For example, non-coding DNA tells the cells in the liver they should produce liver enzymes, and hair cells that they should make the protein keratin, from which hair is made.


pages: 327 words: 88,121

The Vanishing Neighbor: The Transformation of American Community by Marc J. Dunkelman

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Broken windows theory, call centre, clean water, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, David Brooks, delayed gratification, double helix, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Gini coefficient, glass ceiling, global supply chain, global village, helicopter parent, if you build it, they will come, impulse control, income inequality, invention of movable type, Jane Jacobs, Khyber Pass, Louis Pasteur, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Nate Silver, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, Richard Florida, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban decay, urban planning, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, World Values Survey

It offers more freedom to individuals than people experienced in the past because now they have more room to maneuver and more capacity to act on their own.31 The great hope is that connections made across better-integrated disciplines—doctors and scientists kibitzing through mobile devices, across social networks, in real time—will spark even more creativity than that generated in townshipped society. To hear the deans of exciting new industries—venture capitalists surveying the landscape in Silicon Valley, researchers enveloped in projects designed to discover the true nature of dark matter, journalists on missions to uncover elements of the political process shrouded in mystery—it’s hard not to be confident. At the same time, however, a balanced look at the potential dynamism born in outer-ring relationships will cause many to hedge their bets. Some of the same studies documenting the extent to which racial and ethnic separations have eroded have simultaneously found other corrosive sorts of divisions that have emerged in their stead.


pages: 332 words: 101,772

Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines His Former Life on Drugs by Marc Lewis Phd

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dark matter, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, Golden Gate Park, impulse control, Malacca Straits, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea

We’d been blithely building our scenario about school in Puerto Rico, getting lost in its intricacies and ignoring its sheer unlikelihood. Until the bubble finally burst over Christmas vacation. You could say that Schwartz and I had created our own brand of dissociation. But it wasn’t the DM-style knock-you-over-the-head departure from reality. We’d gotten lost in the possibilities of how the world might be, not in the dark matter that emerges when you leave the world behind. The audacity of our plan may have been bolstered by the maturation of cannabinoid receptors, fuelled by the flow of cannabinoids made in our own cells. And if cannabinoids help teenagers design their own reality, then maybe my new preoccupation with pot wasn’t so much an aberration as a second, somewhat desperate effort to keep my options open. But it’s 1967, and pot is highly illegal.


pages: 473 words: 154,182

Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn

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carbon footprint, clean water, collective bargaining, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, Exxon Valdez, Filipino sailors, Google Earth, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, intermodal, Isaac Newton, means of production, microbiome, Panamax, post-Panamax, profit motive, Skype, statistical model, Thorstein Veblen, traveling salesman

The discovery was anticlimactic. The seas had calmed. And yet below us, if the data were to be believed, there raged a watery storm. We human beings are such visual creatures that for a semi-scientifically literate layperson like me, believing in invisible if observable phenomena—mesoscale eddies; rising CO2 levels measured in parts per billion; rising sea levels measured in millimeters; electrons, dark matter, quarks; the waves through which cell phones and satellites communicate—requires a leap of faith, or at least a leap of trust. Out there on the fantail of the Knorr, on the last day of our voyage, in seas far less stormy than they’d been the day before, trying in vain to perceive some trace or sign of the watery storm below, I couldn’t help but feel a bit envious of the naturalists of centuries past, those scientific voyeurs who, with microscopes and telescopes, made discoveries everywhere they looked, perceiving ecosystems in drops of water, cosmologies in the dying rays of intergalactic light.


pages: 493 words: 139,845

Women Leaders at Work: Untold Tales of Women Achieving Their Ambitions by Elizabeth Ghaffari

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Albert Einstein, AltaVista, business process, cloud computing, Columbine, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, dark matter, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, follow your passion, glass ceiling, Grace Hopper, high net worth, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, performance metric, pink-collar, profit maximization, profit motive, recommendation engine, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, thinkpad, trickle-down economics, urban planning, women in the workforce, young professional

Our two companies sub-contract to each other, as needed, across the boundaries. SSAL has about a dozen engineers that come and go on projects as needed. Ghaffari: Does SSAL conduct business mostly in Europe? Ford: The work of SSAL includes any non-US location: Latin America, Asia, pretty much the world over. Our first big contract was a NASA/DOE project, working for the people who were providing the sensors used to discover the origins of dark matter in the universe. They were all located in Pisa, Italy, where Galileo studied. They know a thing or two about astrophysics. It required us to have people on site in Italy to help get that project out the door. In the early days, we did the international work from within our domestic commercial group. Then, after getting on airplanes, talking to customers in Europe and other locations, we realized that it’s not the same—we were not seeing customers frequently enough.


pages: 574 words: 164,509

Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies by Nick Bostrom

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agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anthropic principle, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, brain emulation, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, cosmological constant, dark matter, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, delayed gratification, demographic transition, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, fear of failure, Flash crash, Flynn Effect, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, interchangeable parts, iterative process, job automation, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Netflix Prize, new economy, Norbert Wiener, NP-complete, nuclear winter, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, prediction markets, price stability, principal–agent problem, race to the bottom, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, reversible computing, social graph, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Nature of the Firm, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, Turing machine, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, World Values Survey

Consequently, the number of computational operations that could be performed using our cosmic endowment is at least 1085. The true number is probably much larger. We might get additional orders of magnitude, for example, if we make extensive use of reversible computation, if we perform the computations at colder temperatures (by waiting until the universe has cooled further), or if we make use of additional sources of energy (such as dark matter).24 It might not be immediately obvious to some readers why the ability to perform 1085 computational operations is a big deal. So it is useful to put it in context. We may, for example, compare this number with our earlier estimate (Box 3, in Chapter 2) that it may take about 1031–1044 ops to simulate all neuronal operations that have occurred in the history of life on Earth. Alternatively, let us suppose that the computers are used to run human whole brain emulations that live rich and happy lives while interacting with one another in virtual environments.


pages: 588 words: 131,025

The Patient Will See You Now: The Future of Medicine Is in Your Hands by Eric Topol

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23andMe, 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Anne Wojcicki, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, bioinformatics, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, computer vision, conceptual framework, connected car, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data acquisition, disintermediation, don't be evil, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Firefox, global village, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, license plate recognition, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, placebo effect, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, Snapchat, social graph, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing test, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

One company, Foundation Medicine, has initiated a commercial product of limited sequencing of about three hundred genes of the tumor to query the presence of likely driver mutations.37 Initial results in over two thousand patients have looked promising for finding culprit cancer genes, but clinical trials will be necessary to show that this information leads to improved outcomes compared with the standard, non-GIS approach. Further, given that only a limited number of genes (three hundred of nineteen thousand, or 1.6 percent) are assessed, and the rest of the 98.5 percent of the genome is left as dark matter, we can readily predict this partial GIS approach will likely miss important data. We already know, for example, that there are many noncoding (nongene) elements of the genome that can induce cancer; part of this information could be tapped by performing RNA sequencing. And there is no assessment of the patient’s germline DNA. Nevertheless, although Foundation Medicine’s sequencing strategy has many constraints, it represents a key direction for the future.


pages: 489 words: 148,885

Accelerando by Stross, Charles

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call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, cognitive dissonance, Conway's Game of Life, dark matter, dumpster diving, Extropian, finite state, Flynn Effect, glass ceiling, gravity well, John von Neumann, knapsack problem, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, means of production, packet switching, performance metric, phenotype, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, reversible computing, Richard Stallman, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, slashdot, South China Sea, stem cell, technological singularity, telepresence, The Chicago School, theory of mind, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, web of trust, Y2K

Do you have a specific destination in mind?" "Yeah, to both questions," Manfred admits. "We need to send duplicate ghosts out to each possible router end point, wait for an echo, then iterate and repeat. Recursive depth-first traversal. The goal – that's harder." He points at the ceiling, which dissolves into a chaotic 3-D spiderweb that Rita recognizes, after some hours of subjective head-down archive time, as a map of the dark matter distribution throughout a radius of a billion light-years, galaxies glued like fluff to the nodes where strands of drying silk meet. "We've known for most of a century that there's something flaky going on out there, out past the Böotes void – there are a couple of galactic superclusters, around which there's something flaky about the cosmic background anisotropy. Most computational processes generate entropy as a by-product, and it looks like something is dumping waste heat into the area from all the galaxies in the region, very evenly spread in a way that mirrors the metal distribution in those galaxies, except at the very cores.


pages: 494 words: 142,285

The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World by Lawrence Lessig

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AltaVista, Andy Kessler, barriers to entry, business process, Cass Sunstein, computer age, dark matter, disintermediation, Erik Brynjolfsson, George Gilder, Hacker Ethic, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, Howard Rheingold, Hush-A-Phone, HyperCard, hypertext link, Innovator's Dilemma, invention of hypertext, inventory management, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, linked data, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, packet switching, price mechanism, profit maximization, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, smart grid, software patent, spectrum auction, Steve Crocker, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Chicago School, transaction costs

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) immediately filed suit against Napster for facilitating copyright violation. That may have been a mistake. At the time the RIAA filed suit, the number of Napster users was under two hundred thousand; after the suit hit the press, the number of users grew to fifty-seven million. In chapter 11, we will consider in some depth the legal questions that Napster raised. Focus for the moment just on the innovation. For what Fanning had done was to find a way to use the dark matter of the Internet—the personal computers connecting the Net. Rather than depending upon content located on a server somewhere—in this strict hierarchical client/server model of computing—Fanning turned to the many individual computers that are linked to the Net. They could be the place where content resides. Using the protocols of the code layer, he was able to find an underutilized asset at the physical layer.


pages: 475 words: 155,554

The Default Line: The Inside Story of People, Banks and Entire Nations on the Edge by Faisal Islam

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Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, British Empire, capital controls, carbon footprint, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, collapse of Lehman Brothers, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, dark matter, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, energy security, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial deregulation, financial innovation, financial repression, floating exchange rates, forensic accounting, forward guidance, full employment, ghettoisation, global rebalancing, global reserve currency, hiring and firing, inflation targeting, Irish property bubble, Just-in-time delivery, labour market flexibility, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market clearing, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, mini-job, mittelstand, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, mutually assured destruction, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, offshore financial centre, open economy, paradox of thrift, pension reform, price mechanism, price stability, profit motive, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, race to the bottom, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, reshoring, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, shareholder value, sovereign wealth fund, The Chicago School, the payments system, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, two tier labour market, unorthodox policies, uranium enrichment, urban planning, value at risk, working-age population

The shadow banking system turned risky on-balance-sheet loans into supposedly indestructible financial instruments deemed as safe as a government bond by ratings agencies, and insured by the world’s biggest insurance scheme to stay that safe. The system worked well in an era of flexible credit ratings and even more flexible regulators. But it lacked the insurance against bank runs present in the conventional banking system. There was no backstop for liquidity in the event of a run on the shadow banks. London was its capital – and in 2008, we got the run. Like the dark matter that makes up much of the mass of the universe, the shadow banking system is detectable only by deduction, rather than by direct observation. The US Treasury International Capital (TIC) reporting system offered some light into the financial shade. It was set up in 1934 to track international investment and capital flows, and requires most US financial entities to track foreign purchases of bonds and shares.


pages: 405 words: 117,219

In Our Own Image: Savior or Destroyer? The History and Future of Artificial Intelligence by George Zarkadakis

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3D printing, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, anthropic principle, Asperger Syndrome, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, British Empire, business process, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, continuous integration, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological principle, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Snowden, epigenetics, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, millennium bug, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, post-industrial society, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

Very probably these astronomical data have been collected and analysed systematically since the dawn of the agricultural revolution. But it took ten more millennia until Newton, and then Einstein, developed the scientific theory of gravity that explains why the celestial bodies move the way they do. Moreover, gravity theory (or the ‘General Theory of Relativity’ as it is formally called) explains much more than the planetary motions. It explains the whole cosmos. And it has predicted the existence of black holes, dark matter and dark energy. Similarly, a scientific theory of consciousness must not only explain why the brain achieves consciousness the way it does, but provide predictions of other phenomena relating to consciousness, for example dreams, hallucinations, consciousness in animals, schizophrenia, locked-in-syndrome, and others. Ultimately, we will need to know how it feels to be a bat, or how it feels to be you.


pages: 1,178 words: 388,227

Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

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Danny Hillis, dark matter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, retrograde motion, short selling, the scientific method, trade route, urban planning

Almost as if it were written down somewhere in the Universal Character, Pepys and Wilkins and Waterhouse somehow knew that they had unfinished business together—that they ought to be having a discreet chat about Mr. Oldenburg. A triangular commerce in highly significant glances and eyebrow-raisings flourished there in the Dogg, for the next hour, among them. But they could not all break free at once: Churchill and others wanted more details from Daniel about this Mr. Newton and his telescope. The Duke of Gunfleet got Pepys cornered, and interrogated him about dark matters concerning the Navy’s finances. Blood-spattered, dejected Royal Society members stumbled in from Gresham’s College, with the news that Drs. King and Belle had gotten lost in the wilderness of canine anatomy, the dog had died, and they really needed Hooke—where was he? Then they cornered Bishop Wilkins and talked Royal Society politics—would Comstock stand for election to President again? Would Anglesey arrange to have himself nominated?

CHARING CROSS was strewn with bonfires. But it was the green one that caught Daniel’s eye. “M’Lord Upnor’s town-house lies this way,” shouted Bob Shaftoe, pointing insistently in the direction of Piccadilly. “Work with me, Sergeant,” Daniel said, “as if I were a guide taking you on a hunt for strange game of which you know nothing.” They began to push their way across the vast cosmos of the square, which was crowded with dark matter: huge mobs pressing in round bonfires, singing Lilliburlero, and diverse knaves who’d come up out of Hogs-den to prey upon ’em, and patchwork mutts fighting over anything that escaped the attention of the knaves. Daniel lost sight of the green flames for a while and was about to give up when he saw red flames shooting up in the same place—not the usual orange-red but an unnatural scarlet. “If we should become separated, I shall meet you at the northern end of the Tilt Yard where King Street loses itself in the Cross.”


pages: 1,280 words: 384,105

The Mammoth Book of the Best of Best New SF by Gardner Dozois

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back-to-the-land, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, Columbine, congestion charging, dark matter, Doomsday Book, double helix, Extropian, gravity well, Mason jar, offshore financial centre, out of africa, pattern recognition, phenotype, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Stephen Hawking, telepresence, Turing machine, Turing test, Winter of Discontent, Y2K

We were quiet for a while, and the wind, blowing over the chimney’s top, made the flue moan as if it were a big stone flute. “Did you love him, Bex?” I asked. “Rall?” She didn’t even hesitate in her answer this time. “Of course not, Henry Bone. How could you ever think such a thing? I was waiting to catch up with you. Now tell me about the future.” And so I drew away from her for a while, and told her – part of it at least. About how there is not enough dark matter to pull the cosmos back together again, not enough mass to undulate in an eternal cycle. Instead, there is an end, and all the stars are either dead or dying, and all that there is is nothing but dim night. I told her about the twilight armies gathered there, culled from all times, all places. Creatures, presences, machines, weapons fighting galaxy-to-galaxy, system-to-system, fighting until the critical point is reached when entropy flows no more, but pools, pools in endless stagnant pools of nothing.

“I work for the betterment of everybody, not just some narrowly defined national interest, Pam. It’s the agalmic future. You’re still locked into a pre-singularity economic model that thinks in terms of scarcity. Resource allocation isn’t a problem anymore – it’s going to be over within a decade. The cosmos is flat in all directions, and we can borrow as much bandwidth as we need from the first universal bank of entropy! They even found the dark matter – MACHOs, big brown dwarves in the galactic halo, leaking radiation in the long infrared – suspiciously high entropy leakage. The latest figures say something like 70 percent of the mass of the M31 galaxy was sapient, two point nine million years ago when the infrared we’re seeing now set out. The intelligence gap between us and the aliens is probably about a trillion times bigger than the gap between us and a nematode worm.


pages: 611 words: 186,716

The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

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British Empire, clean water, dark matter, defense in depth, edge city, Just-in-time delivery, Mason jar, pattern recognition, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Socratic dialogue, South China Sea, the scientific method, Turing machine, wage slave

She was reading about the way the illuminated waves rushed up toward her when suddenly the room filled with light. She looked toward the door, thinking that someone had come in and turned the lights on, but she was alone in the room, and the light was flickering against the wall. She turned her head the other way. The center span of the Causeway had become a ball of white light hurling its marbled shroud of cold dark matter into the night. The sphere expanded until it seemed to occupy most of the interval between New Chusan and the Pudong shoreline, though by this time the color had deepened from white into reddish-orange, and the explosion had punched a sizable crater into the water, which developed into a circular wave of steam and spray that ran effortlessly across the ocean's surface like the arc of light cast by a pocket torch.


pages: 571 words: 162,958

Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology by James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel

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back-to-the-land, Columbine, dark matter, Extropian, Firefox, gravity well, haute couture, Internet Archive, pattern recognition, phenotype, post-industrial society, price stability, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Stephen Hawking, technological singularity, telepresence, the scientific method, Turing test, urban renewal, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Y2K, zero day

“I work for the betterment of everybody, not just some narrowly defined national interest, Pam. It’s the agalmic future. You’re still locked into a pre-singularity economic model that thinks in terms of scarcity. Resource allocation isn’t a problem any more—it’s going to be over within a decade. The cosmos is flat in all directions, and we can borrow as much bandwidth as we need from the first universal bank of entropy! They even found the dark matter — MACHOS, big brown dwarves in the galactic halo, leaking radiation in the long infrared—suspiciously high entropy leakage. The latest figures say something like 70 percent of the mass of the M31 galaxy was sapient, two point nine million years ago when the infrared we’re seeing now set out. The intelligence gap between us and the aliens is probably about a trillion times bigger than the gap between us and a nematode worm.


pages: 678 words: 216,204

The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler

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affirmative action, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, call centre, Cass Sunstein, centre right, clean water, dark matter, desegregation, East Village, fear of failure, Firefox, game design, George Gilder, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invention of radio, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jean Tirole, jimmy wales, market bubble, market clearing, Marshall McLuhan, New Journalism, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, pre–internet, price discrimination, profit maximization, profit motive, random walk, recommendation engine, regulatory arbitrage, rent-seeking, RFID, Richard Stallman, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social software, software patent, spectrum auction, technoutopianism, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Nature of the Firm, transaction costs

As SETI@home and Slashdot suggest, it is not necessarily limited to stable communities of individuals who interact often and know each other, or who expect to continue to interact personally. Social production of goods and services, both public and private, is ubiquitous, though unnoticed. It sometimes substitutes for, and sometimes complements, market and state production everywhere. It is, to be fanciful, the dark matter of our economic production universe. 228 Consider the way in which the following sentences are intuitively familiar, yet as a practical matter, describe the provisioning of goods or services that have well-defined NAICS categories (the categories used by the Economic Census to categorize economic sectors) whose provisioning through the markets is accounted for in the Economic Census, but that are commonly provisioned in a form consistent with the definition of sharing--on a radically distributed model, without price or command. 229 NAICS 624410624410 [Babysitting services, child day care] "John, could you pick up Bobby today when you take Lauren to soccer?


pages: 506 words: 167,034

Riding Rockets: The Outrageous Tales of a Space Shuttle Astronaut by Mike Mullane

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affirmative action, Berlin Wall, blue-collar work, dark matter, Donald Trump, Donner party, feminist movement, financial independence, invisible hand, Magellanic Cloud, placebo effect, Potemkin village, publish or perish, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, space pen, Stephen Hawking, urban sprawl, Winter of Discontent

He thought there were enough astronauts as it was. (As Jerry said, it was a strange way of welcoming them.) Jerry’s story implied Abbey had selected a new class over Kraft’s objections. Did even Dr. Kraft answer to Abbey on the subject of astronauts? Nobody knew. Kraft, Abbey, and Young never said a word about their responsibilities. Everything about the most important aspect of our career—flight assignments—was as unknown to us as the dark matter of space was to astrophysicists. Who made assignments? Who approved them? Who had veto power over them? Would there be a rotation system? Would our preferences for a mission be considered? Would military astronauts fly only military missions? Abbey said nothing. Nor did he ever provide the slightest performance feedback—positive or negative. If he had an agenda, that was never revealed either.

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton

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anti-communist, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, centre right, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, cosmic microwave background, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, double helix, East Village, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Frank Gehry, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, Google Earth, Haight Ashbury, horn antenna, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, index card, Jacques de Vaucanson, Kowloon Walled City, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mutually assured destruction, phenotype, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, Tunguska event, urban sprawl, Vesna Vulović, wikimedia commons, working poor

See Robert Redford’s cowboy boots, Elvis’s blue patent-leather loafers, and an ankle boot that once cradled the foot of John Lennon. 327 Bloor Street West, Toronto. 43.667278 79.400139 Around 13,000 shoes from all over history live in a shoebox-shaped building. Snolab LIVELY A mile and a half underground, beneath the Creighton nickel mine, a team of astrophysicists is trying to solve the mysteries of the universe. They work at SNOLAB, a laboratory devoted to searching for neutrinos—neutral subatomic particles—and dark matter. The laboratory needs to be so far underground in order to shield the sensitive detection systems from interference caused by cosmic radiation. The site is best known for its Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO), an experiment that ran from 1999 to 2006, which used a 40-foot-wide (12 m) vessel filled with heavy water (water containing a large amount of the hydrogen isotope deuterium) to detect neutrinos produced by fusion reactions in the sun.

Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky

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anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Burning Man, business climate, cognitive dissonance, continuous integration, Corn Laws, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, European colonialism, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, global reserve currency, Howard Zinn, labour market flexibility, Mahatma Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, mortgage tax deduction, Ralph Nader, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, school choice, strikebreaker, structural adjustment programs, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, union organizing, wage slave, women in the workforce

The point is, we may know the laws, but the possibility of applying them, or of solving the equations, or of working out the problems, or of understanding what’s going on, declines very fast when we get past only the very simplest things. Also, we probably don’t know all the laws—I mean, it’s very unlikely that we really do know the laws, even at the core of science. A physicist will tell you much more about this than I can, but take, say, the matter in the universe: more than 90 percent of the matter in the universe is what’s called “dark matter”—and it’s called “dark” because nobody knows what it is. It’s just sort of postulated that it exists, because if you don’t postulate it, everything blows up—so you have to assume that it’s there. And that’s over 90 percent of the matter in the universe: you don’t even know what it is. In fact, a new branch of physics has developed around superconductivity [“superconductivity” refers to the complete disappearance of electrical resistance in various solids at ultra-low temperatures], and while I don’t have the knowledge to evaluate the claims, what some of the physicists working on it say is that they can now virtually prove (I mean, not quite prove, but come quite close to proving) that in this domain of highly condensed matter, there are principles which are literally not deducible from the known laws of nature: so you can’t reduce the principles of superconductivity to the known laws of nature.


pages: 823 words: 206,070

The Making of Global Capitalism by Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin

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accounting loophole / creative accounting, airline deregulation, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Basel III, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bilateral investment treaty, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collective bargaining, continuous integration, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, disintermediation, ending welfare as we know it, eurozone crisis, facts on the ground, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, full employment, Gini coefficient, global value chain, guest worker program, Hyman Minsky, imperial preference, income inequality, inflation targeting, interchangeable parts, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, land reform, late capitalism, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Monroe Doctrine, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, oil shock, precariat, price stability, quantitative easing, Ralph Nader, RAND corporation, regulatory arbitrage, reserve currency, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, shareholder value, short selling, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, special economic zone, structural adjustment programs, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transcontinental railway, trickle-down economics, union organizing, very high income, Washington Consensus, Works Progress Administration, zero-coupon bond

Acharya, Guaranteed To Fail: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Debacle of Mortgage Finance, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011, pp. 20–2. 24 Alan Greenspan, “Consumer Finance,” remarks by Chairman Alan Greenspan at the Federal Reserve Fourth Annual Community Affairs Research Conference, Washington, DC, April 8, 2005. 25 Moreover, because US FDI was so large, and the returns on it so much higher than on securities, total receipts to the US on assets abroad were higher than what was paid out on foreign assets in the US. For this argument, and the quotation used here, see Ricardo Housmann and Federico Sturzenegger, “US and Global Imbalances: Can Dark Matter Prevent a Big Bang?” Working Paper, Kennedy School of Government, November 13, 2005. See also Herman Schwartz, Subprime Nation: American Power, American Capital and the Housing Bubble, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009. 26 The data is readily available from the US Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Federal Reserve Board Flow of Funds Accounts, Data Download Program. 27 This argument was most strongly advanced by Robert Brenner, The Boom and the Bubble: The US in the World Economy, New York: Verso, 2002, but was much more widely held.


pages: 1,020 words: 339,564

The confusion by Neal Stephenson

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correlation does not imply causation, dark matter, Fellow of the Royal Society, Filipino sailors, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, out of africa, Socratic dialogue, South China Sea, spice trade, urban planning, web of trust

Jack put it on a rock at the lip of the Black Vale of Vhanatiya, and waited for two minutes, then five. But the needle pointed in a direction that obviously was not north. And when Jack moved it to another rock, it pointed in a different direction that was not north. “If you are trying to spook me, it has worked. Let’s get the hell out of here,” Jack said. Their inspection of the Carnaya’s equipment had left Danny and Jimmy baffled and suspicious respectively. “’Twas nought more’n some dark matter, as dull and gross as anything I’ve ever seeyen,” Danny reported. “Certain gemstones look thus, before they have been cut and polished,” Jack said. “It was all sand and grit, nothing bigger’n a pin-head,” Jimmy said. “But Jayzus! Those sacks were heavy.” Enoch was as close to being excited as Jack had ever seen him. “All right, Enoch—let’s have it!” Jack demanded. “I’m king in these parts—stand and deliver!”