dark matter

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pages: 198 words: 57,703

The World According to Physics by Jim Al-Khalili

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

The observed higher-than-expected orbital speeds of these outer stars suggest that there must be some additional invisible stuff present, extending out beyond the visible matter we can see and providing the extra gravitational glue to stop the outer stars from flying off. Dark matter can also be seen from the way it curves space around it. This phenomenon manifests itself in the way light bends while on its path from very distant objects to our telescopes. The amount of bending can only be explained by the extra gravitational curvature of space provided by the dark matter of galaxies that the light passes on its way to us. So, what do we know about dark matter other than that it provides this necessary extra gravitational attraction? Might this not be accounted for by something less exotic than a new form of matter? Indeed, some astrophysicists suggest that there may be no need for dark matter at all—if we are allowed to modify the properties of the gravitational force at large distances.

None of these models have been able to match the observational data for galaxy clusters, particularly colliding galaxy clusters (such as the famous Bullet Cluster), the detailed structure of the cosmic microwave background radiation, globular star clusters, or, more recently, tiny dwarf galaxies. The existence of dark matter also seems necessary to explain the structure of the early universe. In contrast with normal matter, which through its interaction with the electromagnetic field kept its energy high, dark matter cooled down more quickly as the universe expanded and therefore started to clump together gravitationally earlier. One of the most important results in astrophysics in recent years has been the confirmation from sophisticated computer simulations of galaxy formation that we can only explain the real universe if it does indeed contain large quantities of dark matter. Without it, we would not get the rich cosmic structures we see today. Put more bluntly, without dark matter, most galaxies, and hence stars and planets, could never have formed in the first place.

The consensus now is that it consists of a new type of heavy particle (heavy by the standards of elementary particles, that is), and most of the experimental effort thus far has been focused on building sophisticated underground detectors that can capture extremely rare events when such a dark matter particle streaming in from space collides head-on with an atom in the detector. To date, no signal from these increasingly sophisticated and sensitive experiments has been picked up. And yet, physicists looking for dark matter remain optimistic. Most likely, they say, it will be in the form of slow-moving particles, making up what is known as ‘cold dark matter’. And there is no shortage of suggestions for what these particles might be, with such wonderful-sounding names as axions, sterile neutrinos, WIMPs,3 and GIMPs4. Many feel confident that experimental evidence will emerge soon. But then, we’ve been saying that for some time now. I should at this point say just a little about neutrinos, which for a while were the leading candidates for dark matter. These are elusive yet abundant particles that we know exist, which have a tiny mass and are almost invisible.


pages: 381 words: 120,361

Sunfall by Jim Al-Khalili

airport security, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, Carrington event, cosmological constant, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Attenborough, Fellow of the Royal Society, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invisible hand, Kickstarter, mass immigration, megacity, MITM: man-in-the-middle, off grid, pattern recognition, Silicon Valley, smart cities, sorting algorithm, South China Sea, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Turing test

The needle was holding firm. And it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. Technical Note on Dark Matter The central premise of the odin project rests on the behaviour of dark matter. But how accurate is this scientifically? Well, let me make a couple of things clear. Firstly, dark matter is real. It is what holds galaxies together. In fact, there is five times more dark matter in the universe than normal matter. The problem is that, as of the time of writing in December 2018, we still don’t know what dark matter is made of. Whatever its constituent particles are, they are nothing we currently know of. Physicists refer to it as ‘non-baryonic matter’. We know dark matter feels the force of gravity but not the electromagnetic force (which is what allows it to pass through normal matter as though it weren’t there).

The second point is that it is indeed the case that one of the potential candidates for dark matter is called the neutralino, a hypothetical particle predicted by a still speculative theory called Supersymmetry. My concern in using the neutralino in Sunfall was that it would either be discovered before the book came out or, even worse, ruled out entirely by some new experimental result; and that another particle would be discovered to be what dark matter is really made of. But, so far, so good. Neutralinos are still in the running. As for dark-matter beams self-interacting, well that is sort of correct, as far as we currently know. However, I have taken some liberty here in the sense that self-interaction of dark matter is likely to be rather weak, otherwise we would see evidence of it in astronomy.

‘You see, ladies and gentlemen, for the magnets to bend the trajectories of our beams from their original direction so that they enter the ground, the particles need to know the magnets are there and react to them, right? ‘Yes, I know that sounds obvious. But, as I hope you all know by now, dark matter doesn’t feel the presence of normal matter, by which I mean it’s not affected by the electromagnetic force. So, just as dark matter passes through normal matter as if it weren’t there, it will also be oblivious to the presence of the magnets, regardless of how powerful those magnets are.’ The background murmuring began afresh as many in the audience suddenly understood what seemed to be a fundamental flaw in the scheme. Marc took a couple of steps closer to the front of the stage. ‘So, here’s the plan. We don’t make beams of neutralinos, the usual dark-matter particles, to begin with, but heavier versions of them. These are called, somewhat unimaginatively I’m afraid, heavy neutralinos.


pages: 279 words: 75,527

Collider by Paul Halpern

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, 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: 489 words: 136,195

Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, demand response, Google Earth, megacity, Minecraft, oil rush, out of africa, planetary scale, precariat, sovereign wealth fund, supervolcano, the built environment, The Spirit Level, uranium enrichment

And the remaining missing 27 per cent of the universe’s mass is thought to be made up of dark matter – the particles of which almost wholly refuse to interact with baryonic matter. Dark matter is fundamental to everything in the universe; it anchors all structures together. Without dark matter, super-clusters, galaxies, planets, humans, fleas and bacilli would not exist. To prove and decipher the existence of dark matter, writes Kent Meyers, would be to approach ‘the revelation of a new order, a new universe, in which even light will be known differently, and darkness as well’. Dark-matter physicists work at the boundary of the measurable and the imaginable. They seek the traces that dark matter leaves in the perceptible world. Theirs is hard, philosophical work, requiring patience and something like faith: ‘As if’ – in the analogy of the poet and dark-matter physicist Rebecca Elson – ‘all there were, were fireflies / And from them you could infer the meadow’.

Zwicky found no answers to his questions, but in asking them he began a hunt that continues today. His ‘missing mass’ is now known as ‘dark matter’ – and proving its existence and determining its qualities is one of the grail-quests of modern physics. How, though, to hunt for darkness in darkness? How to seek a substance that has mass and therefore exerts gravity, but that does not emit light, reflect it or block it? Since Zwicky, the evidence for the existence of dark matter has been gathered largely by inference: the detection not of the matter itself, but of its presumed influence on luminous entities, observable objects. To perceive matter that casts no shadow, you must search not for its presence but for its consequence. It is now known, for instance, that dark matter affects the rotation curves of spiral galaxies, causing all bodies within such a galaxy to revolve at comparable rates, regardless of their distance from the galaxy’s gravitational centre.

Dave Webb (2006). 44 ‘For the first time in millennia . . . the vast majority of people a few generations ago ‘: Harrison, The Dominion of the Dead, p. 31. Chapter 3: Dark Matter Pages 55 shielded from the surface by 3,000 feet of halite, gypsum . . . clay and topsoil: on the strata sequence at Boulby, see ‘Lithological Log of Cleveland Potash Ltd’, Borehole Staithes No. 20, drilled September–December 1968 to a depth of c.3500 feet (BGS ID borehole 620319, BGS Reference NZ71NE14). 58 ‘the revelation of a new order . . . and darkness as well’: Kent Meyers, ‘Chasing Dark Matter in America’s Deepest Gold Mine’, Harper’s Magazine (May 2015), 27–37: 28. 58 ‘As if. . .you could infer the meadow ‘: Rebecca Elson, ‘Explaining Dark Matter’, in A Responsibility to Awe (Manchester: Carcanet, 2001), p. 71. 75 ‘I suddenly thought. . . it seems to have stuck’: Paul Crutzen, quoted in Howard Falcon-Lang, ‘Anthropocene: Have Humans Created a New Geological Age?’


pages: 147 words: 39,910

The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts by Shane Parrish

Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, Barry Marshall: ulcers, bitcoin, Black Swan, colonial rule, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, delayed gratification, feminist movement, index fund, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, mandelbrot fractal, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ponzi scheme, Richard Feynman, statistical model, stem cell, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the map is not the territory, the scientific method, Thomas Bayes, Torches of Freedom

The simpler explanation is more robust in the face of uncertainty. _ It was Rubin’s observations of the Andromeda galaxy that led to her to collect the first evidence in support of the theory of dark matter—a substance that does not emit energy or light. Dark matter is an excellent theory with a lot of explanatory power. As Lisa Randall explains in Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, measurements of dark matter so far fit in exactly with what we understand about the Universe. Although we can’t see it, we can make predictions based on our understanding of it, and test those predictions. She writes, “It would be even more mysterious to me if the matter we can see with our eyes is all the matter that exists.”9 Dark matter is currently the simplest explanation for certain phenomena we observe in the Universe. The great thing about science, however, is that it continually seeks to validate its assumptions.

And as Hume suggested, if they couldn’t, it was a lot more likely that we needed to update our understanding of the world than that a miracle had occurred. And so, dark matter remains, right now, the simplest explanation for the peculiar behavior of galaxies. Scientists, however, continue to try to conclusively discover dark matter and thus try to determine if our understanding of the world is correct. If dark matter eventually becomes too complicated an explanation, it could be that the data describes something we don’t yet understand about the universe. We can then apply Occam’s Razor to update to what is the simplest, and thus easiest to verify, explanation. Vera Rubin herself, after noting that scientists always felt like they were ten years away from discovering dark matter without ever closing the gap, was described in an interview as thinking, “The longer that dark matter went undetected, … the more likely she thought the solution to the mystery would be a modification to our understanding of gravity.”11 This claim, demanding a total overhaul of our established theories of gravity, would correspondingly require extraordinary proof!

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2007. 5 Sagan, Carl. The Demon Haunted World. New York: Random House, 1995. 6 Scoles, Sarah. “How Vera Rubin confirmed dark matter.” Astronomy.com, October 4, 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.astronomy.com/news/2016/10/vera-rubin 7 Larsen, Kristine. “Vera Cooper Rubin.” Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women’s Archive. Retrieved from: https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/rubin-vera-cooper 8 Panek, Richard. “Vera Rubin Didn’t Discover Dark Matter.” Scientific American, December 29, 2016. Retrieved from: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/vera-rubin-didnt-discover-dark-matter/ 9 Randall, Lisa. Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs. New York: HarperCollins, 2015. 10 Sagan, Carl. Ibid. 11 Panek, Richard. Ibid. 12 Vara-Orta, Francisco.


pages: 292 words: 88,319

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

Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, cosmological principle, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, Georg Cantor, Isaac Newton, mutually assured destruction, Olbers’ paradox, prisoner's dilemma, Ray Kurzweil, scientific worldview, 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: 695 words: 219,110

The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene

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

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: 312 words: 86,770

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

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.


pages: 297 words: 84,009

Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero by Tyler Cowen

23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, augmented reality, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, crony capitalism, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, employer provided health coverage, experimental economics, Filter Bubble, financial innovation, financial intermediation, global reserve currency, global supply chain, Google Glasses, income inequality, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, late fees, Mark Zuckerberg, mobile money, money market fund, mortgage debt, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, obamacare, offshore financial centre, passive investing, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, price discrimination, profit maximization, profit motive, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, Steve Jobs, The Nature of the Firm, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, ultimatum game, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, Y Combinator

That is another way of putting the “dark matter” point, and again it reflects the American willingness, and indeed eagerness, to seek out higher-yielding (and riskier) equity-based investments. There is no general agreement on how large this “dark matter” phenomenon might be. Hausmann and Sturzenegger in their original work suggested a figure as high as 5.6 percent of GDP per year, with an accumulated stock of dark matter as high as 40 percent of GDP (a 2006 estimate). If that is true, rather than foreigners having a net claim of $2.5 trillion on the United States in the form of capital assets (a 2005 estimate), the United States has a net claim of $724 billion on foreigners—a big difference in value.16 A lot of subsequent writers have expressed skepticism that dark matter gains could be so high, and the dark matter hypothesis fell out of favor during the financial crisis, when American investments overseas lost a lot of their value and the chaos made a lot of these values yet harder to measure.

The upshot is that America’s net foreign position is much better than it looks on paper. And that is why the phrase “dark matter” is used, as a hat tip to a hypothesis in physics that says most of the matter in the universe is essentially invisible to our measuring instruments. Of course, this point about economic dark matter is a restatement of the earlier observation that American capital markets help bring higher rates of return to this country. I once had a chat with a leading Korean economist, who lamented to me: “We work so much harder than you do to export! But we give it all back by just investing in your T-bills. You Americans earn more by investing in businesses overseas.” That is another way of putting the “dark matter” point, and again it reflects the American willingness, and indeed eagerness, to seek out higher-yielding (and riskier) equity-based investments.

Part of that change stems from the aggressive marketing of overseas equities by American brokers and fund managers, as well as the more general growth of foreign and emerging markets. This American overseas investment probably represents a significant net gain to the citizens of the United States.15 One way of thinking about this net gain is to consider that domestic U.S. firms invest a good deal overseas, and at fairly high rates of return. The gains from these investments are sometimes called “dark matter,” because the gains cannot be observed easily and thus their size is the subject of debate. In economics, the “dark matter hypothesis” first became popular in 2005–2006, when the U.S. trade deficit was unusually large but, contrary to many predictions, the dollar showed no signs of collapsing and most of the time was not even falling. How could this be? Some economists, most notably Ricardo Hausmann and Federico Sturzenegger, suggested a new hypothesis: that America’s actual trade deficit might be much lower than measured if we took into account intangible American exports overseas, typically bundled with American investment abroad.


pages: 335 words: 95,280

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

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

Moreover, calculations that I and others performed more than thirty years ago showed that the remnant abundance today of the lightest supersymmetric particle left over after the Big Bang would naturally be in the range so that it could be the dark matter dominating the mass of galaxies. In that case our galaxy would have a halo of dark matter particles whizzing throughout it, including through the room in which you are reading this. As a number of us also realized some time ago, this means that if one designs sensitive detectors and puts them underground, not unlike, at least in spirit, the neutrino detectors that already exist underground, one might directly detect these dark matter particles. Around the world a half dozen beautiful experiments are now going on to do just that. So far nothing has been seen, however. So, we are in potentially the best of times or the worst of times. A race is going on between the detectors at the LHC and the underground direct dark matter detectors to see who might discover the nature of dark matter first.

And finally, as experiments have now confirmed over the past decade or two, there is a third family, made of two new types of quarks, called bottom and top, and an accompanying heavy version of the electron called the tau particle, along with its neutrino. Beyond these particles, as I shall soon describe, we have every reason to expect that other elementary particles exist that have never been observed. While these particles, which we think make up the mysterious dark matter that dominates the mass of our galaxy and all observed galaxies, may be invisible to our telescopes, our observations and theories nevertheless suggest that galaxies and stars could never have formed without the existence of dark matter. And at the heart of all of the forces governing the dynamical behavior of everything we can observe is a beautiful mathematical framework called gauge symmetry. All of the known forces, strong, weak, electromagnetic, and even gravity, possess this mathematical property, and for the three former examples, it is precisely this property that ensures that the theories make mathematical sense and that nasty quantum infinities disappear from all calculations of quantities that can be compared to experiment.

It could be that, in the year between the time I write these words and the book going into its tenth printing, supersymmetric particles will be discovered. If they are, this will have another important consequence. One of the bigger mysteries in cosmology is the nature of the dark matter that appears to dominate the mass of all galaxies we can see. As I have briefly alluded to earlier, there is so much of it that it cannot be made of the same particles as normal matter. If it were, for example, the predictions of the abundance of light elements such as helium produced in the Big Bang would no longer agree with observation. Thus physicists are reasonably certain that the dark matter is made of a new type of elementary particle. But what type? Well, the lightest supersymmetric partner of ordinary matter is, in most models, absolutely stable and has many of the properties of neutrinos.


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

Bernie Madoff, carbon-based life, citation needed, dark matter, F. W. de Klerk, Nelson Mandela, 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: 171 words: 51,276

Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand: Fifty Wonders That Reveal an Extraordinary Universe by Marcus Chown

Albert Einstein, Anton Chekhov, Arthur Eddington, Carrington event, dark matter, Donald Trump, double helix, Edmond Halley, gravity well, horn antenna, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, microbiome, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine

In fact, there are recent claims that some but not all of this missing stuff has actually been found in the guise of hot filaments of gas, forming a kind of web of tenuous matter between the galaxies.1 But, in addition to the 4.9 percent ordinary matter, 26.8 percent—almost six times as much—is in the form of dark matter. This gives out no light or at least too little light to be detected by our most sensitive astronomical instruments. We know of its existence only because its gravity tugs at the visible stars and galaxies, causing them to move in a manner different from the prediction of Newton’s law of gravity. As for the identity of the dark matter, your guess is as good as mine. Speculations range from as-yet-undiscovered subatomic particles to fridge-sized black holes surviving from the earliest moments of the Big Bang to relics from the future in which time runs backwards (seriously!).2 If the dark matter is made of the former, it may at this moment literally be in the air all around you. There was a hope that a candidate subatomic particle might turn up at the Large Hadron Collider, the giant particle accelerator near Geneva in Switzerland.

In idle moments, I daydream about whether there might not be dark stars, dark planets, and dark life, and that the real reason a fifty-year search for extraterrestrial intelligence has drawn a blank is that the dark stuff is where all the action is, with the chaos of galactic commerce going on all around us. Invisibly. But, in addition to the 4.9 percent ordinary matter and the 26.8 percent dark matter, a whopping 68.3 percent of the mass of the universe is dark energy (remember: all energy has an equivalent mass—it weighs something—according to Einstein’s famous E = mc2 formula). The dark energy is invisible, fills all of space, and has repulsive gravity. The repulsive gravity is speeding up the expansion of the universe, which is how the dark energy was discovered in 1998. That’s not long ago at all. Just imagine. Until only a couple of decades ago, science had overlooked this major mass component of the universe. Now, if physicists are baffled by dark matter, they are utterly at sea when it comes to dark energy. Our very best theory of physics is quantum theory. It is fantastically successful.

“Perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of our modern cosmology is the dominance of invisible components,” says American astronomer Stacy McGaugh. “Dark matter and dark energy comprise about 95 percent of the mass-energy content of the universe, yet we have only ideas about what they are.”3 It is a sobering thought that we have constructed a picture of the universe—the great edifice of modern cosmology—on the basis of the mere 2.5 percent of the cosmos we can see directly with our telescopes. Imagine if, in the nineteenth century, Charles Darwin knew about frogs but nothing of trees, dogs, grasshoppers, or sharks. How successful would he have been in coming up with a viable theory of biology like the theory of evolution by natural selection? But cosmologists find themselves in just this position. It seems abundantly clear that some huge idea is missing. Hopefully, when it is found, it will help weld dark matter and dark energy—messy bolt-ons to the basic Big Bang theory—into an elegant, seamless theory.


pages: 203 words: 63,257

Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhana

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, Ernest Rutherford, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Magellanic Cloud, New Journalism, race to the bottom, random walk, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Skype, Solar eclipse in 1919, South China Sea, Stephen Hawking, undersea cable, uranium enrichment

The discovery that neutrinos have mass is also of interest to cosmologists. Since neutrinos are the second most numerous particles in the universe after photons, even if each one has only a smidgen of mass, the total could add up to a lot. So some cosmologists had hoped that neutrinos would account for much of the mysterious dark matter, whose presence is only “seen” through its gravitational influence on galaxies and galaxy clusters. But the neutrino’s mass has turned out to be way too tiny to explain dark matter. That means some other particle or particles, hitherto unknown to physics, must exist. The hunt is on, but no good candidate has turned up yet. The findings of Super-K and SNO also set the stage for other neutrino experiments, focused on making precise measurements of how different neutrino flavors morph into one another.

CP violation: A violation of the CP (or charge-parity) symmetry, which postulates that the laws of physics should be the same if you swap a particle with its antiparticle and left with right. Understanding CP violation is central to figuring out how matter came to predominate over antimatter in the early universe. Crab Nebula: The gaseous remnant of the supernova that was seen in 1054, located in the constellation Taurus, with a neutron star near its center dark matter: Invisible material whose existence is inferred from its gravitational influence on visible matter in galaxies and galaxy clusters. Dark matter appears to be much more abundant than normal matter, but what it’s made of remains a mystery. At one time, scientists thought that neutrinos could be a major constituent, but now we know that their mass is too small. deuterium: An isotope of hydrogen whose nucleus contains a neutron as well as a proton, instead of a lone proton.

For astronomers, who have had to rely almost exclusively on electromagnetic radiation in the form of visible light, radio waves, and X-rays from distant celestial bodies, neutrinos offer an exciting new window on the most violent phenomena in nature. In fact, neutrinos may have a lot to do with triggering spectacular stellar explosions in the first place. Some scientists have proposed that a sterile variety of neutrinos could account for so-called dark matter, which makes up nearly a quarter of the universe but remains undetected except through its gravitational tug on galaxies. The imprints left by primordial neutrinos on the faint afterglow of the big bang, which is still measurable with microwave telescopes, could reveal the conditions very soon after the universe was born. What’s more, we may have neutrinos to thank for the simple fact that the universe is not empty of matter, and thus for our very existence.


pages: 492 words: 149,259

Big Bang by Simon Singh

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

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: 310 words: 89,838

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

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

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: 634 words: 185,116

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

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, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, Laplace demon, lone genius, low earth orbit, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, pets.com, Pierre-Simon Laplace, 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: 357 words: 98,853

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

dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Downton Abbey, Drosophila, epigenetics, Kickstarter, 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: 282 words: 89,436

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

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

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: 281 words: 70,908

Ringworld's Children by Larry Niven

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."


Wonders of the Universe by Brian Cox, Andrew Cohen

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, Dmitri Mendeleev, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johannes Kepler, Karl Jansky, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, trade route

They are thought to have giant halos of dark matter, a new form of matter unlike anything we have discovered on Earth and which interacts only weakly with normal matter. Despite this, its gravitational effect dominates the behaviour of galaxies today and most likely dominated the formation of the galaxies in the early Universe. This is because we now think that around 95 per cent of the mass of galaxies such as our own Milky Way is made up of dark matter. In some sense this makes the luminous stars, planets, gas and dust an after-thought, although because it is highly unlikely that dark matter can form into complex and beautiful structures like stars, planets and people, one might legitimately claim that it’s rather less interesting. The search for the nature of dark matter is one of the great challenges for twenty-first-century physics.

The search for the nature of dark matter is one of the great challenges for twenty-first-century physics. We shall return to the fascinating subject of dark matter later in the book. The word ‘galaxy’ comes from the Greek word galaxias, meaning milky circle. It was first used to describe the galaxy that dominates our night skies, even though the Greeks could have had no concept of its true scale. Watching the core of our galaxy rise in the night sky is one of nature’s greatest spectacles, although regrettably the light of our cities has robbed us of this majestic nightly display. For many people it looks like the rising of storm clouds on the horizon, but as the Earth turns nightly towards the centre of our galaxy, the hazy band of light reveals itself as clouds of stars – billions of them stretching thousands of light years inwards towards the galactic centre.

It began 13.75 billion years ago with the Big Bang, and in this embryonic period, known as the Primordial Era, the Universe was a place without the light from the stars, although in its early years the swirling hot matter would have glowed as brightly as a sun. For the first 100 million years, the conditions were far too violent for stars to form. This changed when the Universe had expanded and cooled sufficiently for the weak force of gravity to begin to clump the primordial dust, gas and dark matter into galaxies. With this came the dawning of the second great epoch in the life of our universe: the Stelliferous Era, the age of stars. The moment the first stars were born is one of the most evocative milestones in the evolution of the cosmos. It signals the end of an alien time when the Universe was without structure – a formless void. The beginning of the Stelliferous Era marks the beginning of the age of light, the moment when the Universe would have become recognisable to us.


pages: 186 words: 64,267

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

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

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.


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Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christian

Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, butterfly effect, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cepheid variable, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, Columbian Exchange, complexity theory, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, demographic transition, double helix, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, Haber-Bosch Process, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Marshall McLuhan, microbiome, nuclear winter, planetary scale, rising living standards, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, trade route, Yogi Berra

But it takes a lot of energy to fuse protons because their positive charges repel each other, and temperatures were falling fast just after the big bang, so it was impossible to fuse more protons to form the nuclei of larger atoms. This explains a fundamental aspect of our universe: almost three-quarters of all the atoms in it are hydrogen, and most of the rest are helium. A lot more matter consists of dark matter, stuff we don’t yet understand, though we know it exists because its gravitational pull determines the structure and distribution of galaxies. So, a few minutes after the big bang, our universe consisted of vast clouds of dark matter in which were embedded crackling plasmas of protons and electrons with photons of light flowing through them. Today, we find plasmas only in the centers of stars. Now we must pause and wait about 380,000 years (almost twice as long as our species has existed on Earth). During this time, the universe kept cooling.

Normally, isolated atoms are electrically neutral, because the positive and negative charges of their protons and electrons cancel each other out. So when the first atoms of hydrogen and helium formed, most of the matter in the universe suddenly went neutral, and the tingling plasma evaporated. Photons, the carriers of the electromagnetic force, could now flow freely through an electrically neutral mist of atoms and dark matter. Today, astronomers can detect the results of this phase change, because photons that escaped the plasma generated a thin background hum of energy (the cosmic microwave background radiation) that still pervades the entire universe. Our origin story has crossed its first threshold. We have a universe. Already it has some structures with distinctive emergent properties. It has distinct forms of energy and matter, each with its own personality.

And the things it herded were the simple forms of matter created in the big bang. Together, gravity and matter provided the Goldilocks conditions for the emergence of stars and galaxies. Studies of the cosmic microwave background radiation show that in the early universe, there was little structure at large scales. Think of a gossamer-thin mist of hydrogen and helium atoms floating in a warm bath of dark matter permeated with photons of light. And all of it at more or less the same temperature. We know the early universe was homogenous because we can measure temperature differences in the CMBR, and we find that the hottest parts of the early universe were only about one one-hundredth of a degree warmer than the coolest parts. No usable temperature gradients here, no waterfalls of energy that could build new structures.


pages: 338 words: 106,936

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

Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Asian financial crisis, bank run, beat the dealer, Benoit Mandelbrot, Black Swan, Black-Scholes formula, Bonfire of the Vanities, Bretton Woods, Brownian motion, business cycle, butterfly effect, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, Carmen Reinhart, Claude Shannon: information theory, collateralized debt obligation, collective bargaining, dark matter, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Thorp, Emanuel Derman, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, financial innovation, fixed income, 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, Myron Scholes, new economy, Paul Lévy, Paul Samuelson, 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, Vilfredo Pareto, 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.


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The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World by Sarah Stewart Johnson

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Astronomia nova, back-to-the-land, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Drosophila, Elon Musk, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, Mercator projection, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ronald Reagan, scientific mainstream, sensible shoes

POOR DRILL Curiosity’s drill went on hiatus in late 2016 after a motor failed; a new percussive drilling technique (called Feed Extended Drilling) designed by JPL’s engineers successfully brought the drill back to life eighteen months later in 2018; Guy Webster, “Curiosity Rover Team Examining New Drill Hiatus,” NASA (Dec. 5, 2016); “Curiosity Successfully Drills ‘Duluth’,” NASA Science Mars Exploration Program (May 23, 2018). VERA RUBIN RIDGE A special issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research detailing discoveries in the Vera Rubin Ridge is slated to be released in 2020. EVIDENCE OF DARK MATTER Vera C. Rubin, W. Kent Ford, Jr., and Norbert Thonnard, “Rotational Properties of 21 SC Galaxies with a Large Range of Luminosities and Radii, from NGC 4605 (R= 4kpc) to UGC 2885 (R= 122 kpc),” The Astrophysical Journal, 238 (1980), pp. 471–487; J. G. De Swart, Gianfranco Bertone, and Jeroen van Dongen, “How Dark Matter Came to Matter,” Nature Astronomy, 1, no. 3 (2017), p. 0059. 85 PERCENT OF THE “Synopsis: How Dark Matter Shaped the First Galaxies,” American Physical Society (Oct. 2, 2019). LEARNED TO TELL TIME Interview of Vera Rubin by Alan Lightman, Niels Bohr Library and Archives, American Institute of Physics (College Park, Md.: April 3, 1989).

NEAR THE END OF HER LIFE Rubin was only the second woman, after Caroline Herschel in 1828, to win the Royal Astronomical Society’s Gold Medal. She also received a National Medal of Science in 1993, the highest scientific award in the United States. Many also believe she should have been awarded a Nobel Prize for her work; see: Randall, “Why Vera Rubin Deserved A Nobel,” The New York Times, and Sarah Scoles, “How Vera Rubin Confirmed Dark Matter,” Astronomy (June 2016). “TO HAVE A FAMILY” Vera Rubin, Bright Galaxies, Dark Matters (New York, Springer Science and Business Media: 1996). SHE HAD FOUR CHILDREN Overbye, “Vera Rubin, 88, Dies; Opened Doors in Astronomy, and for Women,” The New York Times. BECAME A PLANETARY GEOLOGIST Dave Rubin is a sedimentologist in the department of Earth and planetary sciences at U.C. Santa Cruz and a participating scientist on the Mars Science Laboratory science team, focusing on sediment deposits and geomorphology.

The high levels of the detections, up to three hundred parts per billion, set to rest one of the longest-standing mysteries about Mars: The building blocks of life were indeed there. * * * — BY THE TIME I joined the science team, Curiosity had holes in its wheels, and its poor drill was beginning to show signs of wear. It had been roving for four years. But the mission was about to enter into one of its most interesting phases: an ascent of the Vera Rubin Ridge, named after the extraordinary scientist who discovered the first evidence of dark matter, mysterious particles thought to comprise roughly 85 percent of the total matter in the universe. As a girl, Rubin had learned to tell time by how the stars outside her window wheeled across the sky. As a young woman, she was encouraged to pursue a career not in astronomy but in painting astronomical objects. Undeterred, she went on to earn a PhD at Georgetown and stayed on as an assistant professor at a time when many astronomy departments were not open to women.


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Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris

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

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.


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Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back by Oliver Bullough

banking crisis, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, capital controls, central bank independence, corporate governance, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, diversification, Donald Trump, energy security, failed state, Flash crash, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, high net worth, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, income inequality, joint-stock company, liberal capitalism, liberal world order, mass immigration, medical malpractice, offshore financial centre, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Plutonomy: Buying Luxury, Explaining Global Imbalances, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Sloane Ranger, sovereign wealth fund, WikiLeaks

Anyone who spends any time among the lawyers and accountants who are the legal guardians of Moneyland will hear mention of – on a sliding scale of increasing illegality – ‘fiscal friction’, ‘succession planning’, ‘tax neutrality’, ‘commissions’ and ‘facilitation payments’. After a while, you will find yourself speaking this way yourself. So, how much money is there out there, hiding behind this palisade of circumlocution? This is a difficult question to answer: the money is invisible, and kept invisible by well-paid, imaginative and highly intelligent people. It is dark matter and, like dark matter, it can only be studied by recording its effect on things that we can see. Gabriel Zucman, the French economist who has studied Swiss banking, has tried to make these calculations. By analysing the statistical anomalies that banking secrecy creates, he estimates that 8 per cent of all the world’s financial wealth was held in tax havens in 2014: $7.6 trillion, out of a total of $95.5 trillion.

The misuse of diplomatic immunity by extremely wealthy people has gone under-remarked, Lethal Weapon 2 excepted. 11 – Un-write-about-able The story of Bill Browder’s life as a fund manager in Russia, and his conversion into a human rights activist, is told in his Red Notice: How I Became Putin’s No. 1 Enemy (New York: Simon & Schuster and London: Corgi, 2015). The film that was never shown was directed by Havana Marking, and it was really good. Thanks to Daria Kaleniuk and others for appearing in it. 12 – Dark Matter The 2015 Deutsche Bank paper ‘Dark Matter: The Hidden Capital Flows that Drive G10 Exchange Rates’ by Oliver Harvey and Robin Winkler is available online, and links much of the secret money moving into Britain to Russia. It is ironic that two years later, that same bank paid fines of $630 million to settle US and UK charges that it had moved $10 billion of hidden capital out of Russia in so-called ‘mirror trades’.

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book. A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. eISBN 978 1 78283 333 8 CONTENTS 1 Aladdin’s Cave 2 Pirates 3 Queen of the Caribbees 4 Sex, Lies and Offshore Vehicles 5 Mystery on Harley Street 6 Shell Games 7 Cancer 8 Nasty as a Rattlesnake 9 The Man Who Sells Passports 10 ‘Diplomatic Immunity!’ 11 Un-write-about-able 12 Dark Matter 13 ‘Nuclear Death is Knocking Your Door’ 14 Say Yes to the Money 15 High-end Property 16 Plutos Like to Hang out Together 17 Breaking Switzerland 18 Tax Haven USA 19 Standing up to Moneyland Notes on Sources Acknowledgements Index 1 ALADDIN’S CAVE When the French rebelled in July 1789 they seized the Bastille, a prison that was a symbol of their rulers’ brutality. When the Ukrainians rebelled in 2014, they seized Mezhyhirya, the president’s palace, which was a symbol of their rulers’ greed.


pages: 81 words: 28,120

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

anthropic principle, cosmological constant, dark matter, Johannes Kepler

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

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, Johannes Kepler, John Harrison: Longitude, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, pattern recognition, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Solar eclipse in 1919

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.


Global Catastrophic Risks by Nick Bostrom, Milan M. Cirkovic

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, availability heuristic, Bill Joy: nanobots, Black Swan, carbon-based life, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer age, coronavirus, corporate governance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, death of newspapers, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, Doomsday Clock, Drosophila, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, feminist movement, framing effect, friendly AI, Georg Cantor, global pandemic, global village, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, P = NP, peak oil, phenotype, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, Singularitarianism, social intelligence, South China Sea, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Tunguska event, twin studies, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, War on Poverty, Westphalian system, Y2K

In addition, these white dwarfs will slowly accumulate weakly interacting dark matter particles that orbit the galaxy in an enormous diffuse halo. Once trapped within the interior of a white dwarf, the particles annihilate each other and provide an important source of energy for the cosmos. Dark matter annihilation will replace conventional nuclear burning in stars as the dominant energy source. The power produced by this process is much lower than that produced by nuclear burning in conventional stars. White dwarfs fuelled by dark matter annihilation produce power ratings measured in quadrillions of Watts, roughly comparable to the total solar power intercepted by Earth (approximately 10 17 Watts) . Eventually, however, white dwarfs will be ejected from the galaxy, the supply of the dark matter will get depleted, and this method of energy generation must come to an end.

Gravitational demise of cold degenerate stars. Phys. Rev. D, 58, 083003.) eras: neutrinos, electrons, positrons, dark matter particles, and photons of incredible wavelength. In this cold and distant Dark Era, physical activity in the universe slows down, almost (but not quite) to a standstill. The available energy is limited and the expanses of time are staggering, but the universe doggedly continues to operate. Chance encounters between electrons and positrons can forge positronium atoms, which are exceedingly rare in an accelerating universe. I n addition, such atoms are unstable and eventually decay. Other low­ level annihilation events also take place, for example, between any surviving dark matter particles. In the poverty of this distant epoch, the generation of energy and entropy becomes increasingly difficult.

S . in Earth and Space Sciences from the same university, and his B.S. in Theoretical Physics from the University of Belgrade. His primary research interests are in the fields of astrophysical cosmology (baryonic dark matter, star formation, future of the universe), astrobiology (anthropic principles, S ETI studies, catastrophic episodes in the history of life) , as well as philosophy of science (risk analysis, foundational issues in quantum mechanics and cosmology). A unifYing theme in these fields is the nature of physical time, the relationship of time and complexity, and various aspects of entropy-increasing processes taking place throughout the universe. He wrote one monograph ( QSO Absorption Spectroscopy and Baryonic Dark Matter; Belgrade, 2005) and translated several books, including titles by Richard P. Feynman and Roger Penrose. In recent years, his research has been published in Monthly Notices ofthe Royal Astronomical Society, Physics Letters A, Astrobiology, New Astronomy, Foundations of Physics, Philosophical Quarterly and other major journals.


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

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Airbnb, American energy revolution, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, Bakken shale, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, creative destruction, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, disruptive innovation, 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, intangible asset, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, 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, Marc Andreessen, mass immigration, means of production, new economy, performance metric, pets.com, post-work, 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 Future of Employment, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, 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.


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

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, 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, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, endowment effect, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, experimental economics, Flash crash, friendly AI, functional fixedness, global pandemic, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, information trail, Internet of things, invention of writing, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Markoff, 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, Satyajit Das, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, social intelligence, 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.


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

airport security, business intelligence, dark matter, drone strike, 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.


Science...For Her! by Megan Amram

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

Albert Einstein, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bioinformatics, Cass Sunstein, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, conceptual framework, dark matter, discovery of DNA, Donald Knuth, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, 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, Johannes Kepler, Kevin Kelly, Magellanic Cloud, means of production, medical residency, Nicholas Carr, P = NP, publish or perish, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, selection bias, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Simon Singh, Skype, slashdot, social intelligence, 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: 347 words: 97,721

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

AI winter, Andy Kessler, artificial general intelligence, asset allocation, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, business intelligence, business process, call centre, carbon-based life, Clayton Christensen, clockwork universe, commoditize, conceptual framework, dark matter, David Brooks, deliberate practice, deskilling, digital map, disruptive innovation, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, estate planning, fixed income, follow your passion, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Freestyle chess, game design, general-purpose programming language, global pandemic, 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 Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, lifelogging, longitudinal study, 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, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, social intelligence, 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: 208 words: 70,860

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

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, butterfly effect, clockwork universe, complexity theory, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, Henri Poincaré, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Laplace demon, luminiferous ether, Magellanic Cloud, Olbers’ paradox, Pierre-Simon Laplace, 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.


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

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

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.


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

Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, backtesting, Black Swan, book scanning, bounce rate, business intelligence, business process, butter production in bangladesh, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, commoditize, computer age, conceptual framework, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data is the new oil, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Everything should be made as simple as possible, experimental subject, Google Glasses, happiness index / gross national happiness, job satisfaction, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, lifelogging, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, mass immigration, 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, Shai Danziger, 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, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Davenport, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

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.


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The Infinity Puzzle by Frank Close

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

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: 264 words: 74,313

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

business cycle, dark matter, deskilling, failed state, moral hazard, Nelson Mandela, out of africa, price stability, structural adjustment programs, zero-sum game

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.


Exoplanets by Donald Goldsmith

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Carrington event, Colonization of Mars, cosmic abundance, dark matter, Dava Sobel, en.wikipedia.org, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Kickstarter, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, megastructure, Pluto: dwarf planet, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking

Most notably, the distances between the stars, and thus the distances between any planetary systems that may surround them, exceed what ­human intuition suggests by enormous f­actors. The strangeness of the universe begins with distances that surpass easy understanding. Astronomers have now concluded that two mysterious, invisible, and entirely disparate entities—­dark ­matter and dark energy—­ permeate and dominate the universe in mass and energy terms.1 Dark ­matter, revealed by its gravitational effects on “ordinary ­matter,” consists of particles that are entirely unknown to us at the pres­ent time. The “ordinary” form of m ­ atter resides primarily in vast clouds of hot gas that permeate ­giant clusters of galaxies; to a lesser extent, we find ordinary ­matter in the stars that form the vis­i­ble units of the universe.

See Atacama Large Millimeter Array Alpha Centauri, 10, 19–20, 43, 183, 208 Aluminum, 137, 153 Ammonia, 161–62 Anaxagoras, 124 Andromeda galaxy, 208 Angel, Roger, 195 Ariel (Atmospheric Remote-­sensing Infrared Exoplanet Large-­survey), 186 Arrhenius, Svante, 124 Asteroids, 16, 21, 54, 63, 136–39, 218–23 Astronomical unit, 21 Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), 48, 142–44, 147, 196, 202 Atmospheres of exoplanets, 42, 60, 106–7, 172, 181, 185 composition of, 107, 172, 181, 185 heat trapping by, 42 observation of, 60, 106 Baikonur Cosmodrome, 51 Barnard’s star, 20 Batygin, Konstantin, 22–23, 139–40 Beaulieu, Jean-­Phillipe, 81 Beta Pictoris, 71 Binary star systems, 96–97, 146 Biosignatures, 158, 171–73, 192 Borucki, William, 51, 53 Boss, Alan, 31 Boyajian, Tabetha, 92, 95 247 Index Brown, Michael, 22, 139 Brown dwarfs, 41, 69, 82 Butler, Paul, 2, 32 California-­Kepler Survey (CKS), 129 Campbell, Bruce, 31 Carbon, 106, 153 Carbon dioxide, 106, 137, 162, 164, 172–73, 199 Carbon monoxide, 60, 72, 137 Carrington event, 123, 168–69 Cassini spacecraft, 164 CCD detectors, 108 Center for Astrophysics, 46, 109, 157 Center of mass, 15–19, 37, 43, 96–97 Cerro Pachón, 72–73 Charbonneau, David, 55 CHEOPS (CHaracterising ExOPlanet Satellite), 125–26 Chu, Stephen, 212 Copernican princi­ple, 32 Coronagraphic mask, 69, 72–73, 182, 190–93 Coronagraphy, 69–71, 205 CoRoT spacecraft, 53–54 Dark energy, 10–11 Dark ­matter, 10–11 Deep Space Industries, 222 Discovery Channel Telescope, 48 Domagal-­Goldman, Shawn, 174 Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, 31 Doppler, Johann, 30 Doppler effect, 30 Doppler tomography, 109 Draugr, 26 Dressing, Courtney, 123 Dust, 54, 68, 72, 90, 94, 97, 106, 115, 135, 137, 139, 143–47, 151, 159, 172, 204, 210–11 Dyson, Freeman, 94, 212, 224 Dyson sphere, 94 Eccentricity, 35–38 Eclipse, 75, 96, 173 Einstein, Albert, 8, 74–82, 205–6, 214–17 Einstein ring, 76, 205–6 Electromagnetic radiation.


pages: 238 words: 75,994

A Burglar's Guide to the City by Geoff Manaugh

A. Roger Ekirch, big-box store, card file, dark matter, game design, index card, megacity, megastructure, Minecraft, off grid, Rubik’s Cube, 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: 246 words: 76,561

Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture by Justin McGuirk

A Pattern Language, agricultural Revolution, dark matter, Donald Trump, Enrique Peñalosa, extreme commuting, facts on the ground, Guggenheim Bilbao, Hernando de Soto, housing crisis, illegal immigration, income per capita, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, Kickstarter, lateral thinking, mass immigration, microcredit, Milgram experiment, neoliberal agenda, New Urbanism, place-making, Silicon Valley, starchitect, technoutopianism, unorthodox policies, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus

So what is to be done? For Cruz, the only way forward is not to play by the existing rules, but to start redesigning those institutions. In San Ysidro, he has been seeking to change the zoning laws to allow a richer and more empowering community life. And changing legislation means engaging with what has been called the ‘dark matter’* – not just the physical fabric of the city, but its regulations. * A term coined by the architect Wouter Vanstiphout, later used in the title of Dan Hill’s 2012 book, Dark Matter and Trojan Horses: A Strategic Design Vocabulary. This is the very definition of the activist architect, one who creates the conditions in which it is possible to make a meaningful difference. Cruz himself, who has a tendency to slip into academic jargon, calls it ‘expanded modes of practice’. But he backs it up with a good analogy.

Thinking back to two of his heroes, Alison and Peter Smithson, Alfredo claims that they were sidelined because ‘they didn’t engage in the politics enough’. This is simplistic, but what I understand by it is that for the Smithsons and other modernist builders of social housing, the going was good when they could count on governments seeking them out, but not when it was the other way around. Being an activist architect means engaging in the dark matter of politics to make your case when the politicians have no particular plans in mind. By and large, the Venezuelan architecture community does not seek out these challenges, partly because of the social stigma attached to the barrios, but also because of a traditional high-culture education which taught them that architecture is the design of refined objects. Indeed, ignorance of the barrios is widespread among the residents of formal Caracas.


pages: 145 words: 43,599

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

Bretton Woods, business climate, business cycle, dark matter, endogenous growth, inventory management, Jones Act, 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: 290 words: 84,375

China's Great Wall of Debt: Shadow Banks, Ghost Cities, Massive Loans, and the End of the Chinese Miracle by Dinny McMahon

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, bank run, business cycle, California gold rush, capital controls, crony capitalism, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, fixed income, Gini coefficient, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, industrial robot, invisible hand, megacity, money market fund, mortgage debt, new economy, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban planning, working-age population, zero-sum game

build a prototype: Erik Roth, Jeongmin Seong, and Jonathan Woetzel, “Gauging the Strength of Chinese Innovation,” McKinsey, October 2015, http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/gauging-the-strength-of-chinese-innovation. United States in 2020: Yutao Sun and Cong Cao, “Will China Become World’s Largest Research Spender by 2020?,” Analysis, China Policy Institute, December 4, 2014, https://cpianalysis.org/2014/12/04/will-china-become-worlds-largest-research-spender-by-2020/. on dark matter: Gianfranco Bertone, Behind the Scenes of the Universe: From the Higgs to Dark Matter (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), chap. 1. to research neutrinos: “Daya Bay Experiment Begins Taking Data,” Cern Courier, September 23, 2011, http://cerncourier.com/cws/article/cern/47189. than ever before: Rebecca Morelle, “China’s Science Revolution,” BBC, May 23, 2016, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-0192822d-14f1-432b-bd25-92eab6466362.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, relative to the size of its economy, China already spends more than the European Union on R&D, and is on track to surpass total spending by the United States in 2020. Much of that money has been invested in visionary, one-of-a-kind research facilities, like the world’s largest laboratory for astroparticle physics, buried more than two kilometers underground in Sichuan, which is used for experiments on dark matter. And the sprawling underground complex being built in southeast China that will be used to research neutrinos. And the radio telescope in Guizhou Province that is the biggest of its kind in the world, with a half-kilometer diameter that allows scientists to look deeper into the night sky than ever before. And the world’s first quantum satellite, which China launched in 2016, and which could be used to develop more secure communications.


Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures by Merlin Sheldrake

biofilm, buy low sell high, carbon footprint, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, discovery of penicillin, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, late capitalism, low earth orbit, Mason jar, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, moral panic, NP-complete, phenotype, randomized controlled trial, Ronald Reagan, the built environment, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, traveling salesman

Biology—the study of living organisms—had transformed into ecology—the study of the relationships between living organisms. To compound matters, we understood very little. Graphs of microbial populations projected on a screen had large sections labeled “unknown.” I was reminded of the way that modern physicists portray the universe, more than ninety-five percent of which is described as “dark matter” and “dark energy.” Dark matter and energy are dark because we don’t know anything about them. This was biological dark matter, or dark life. Many scientific concepts—from time to chemical bonds to genes to species—lack stable definitions but remain helpful categories to think with. From one perspective, “individual” is no different: just another category to guide human thought and behavior. Nonetheless, so much of daily life and experience—not to mention our philosophical, political, and economic systems—depends on individuals that it can be hard to stand by and watch the concept dissolve.

ubiquitous feature of life: For organ transplants and human cell cultures see Ball (2019). For an estimate of the size of our microbiome see Bordenstein and Theis. (2015). For viruses within viruses see Stough et al. (2019). For a general introduction to the microbiome see Yong (2016) and a special issue of Nature on the human microbiome (May 2019): www.nature.com/​collections/​fiabfcjbfj [accessed October 29, 2019]. dark matter, or dark life: In a sense, all biologists are now ecologists—but disciplinary ecologists have a head start and their methods are starting to seep into new fields: A number of biologists are starting to call for the application of ecological methods to historically non-ecological fields of biology. See Gilbert and Lynch (2019) and Venner et al. (2009). There are a number of examples of the knock-on effects of the microbes that live within fungi.


pages: 532 words: 133,143

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

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, Johannes Kepler, music of the spheres, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Pierre-Simon Laplace, 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: 193 words: 51,445

On the Future: Prospects for Humanity by Martin J. Rees

23andMe, 3D printing, air freight, Alfred Russel Wallace, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, blockchain, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic transition, distributed ledger, double helix, effective altruism, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, global village, Hyperloop, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, life extension, mandelbrot fractal, mass immigration, megacity, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, quantitative hedge fund, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart grid, speech recognition, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Stanislav Petrov, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stuxnet, supervolcano, technological singularity, the scientific method, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Walter Mischel, Yogi Berra

All that will be left in view, after a hundred billion years, will be the dead and dying stars of our Local Group. But these could continue for trillions of years—time enough, perhaps, for the long-term trend for living systems to gain complexity and ‘negative entropy’ to reach a culmination. All the atoms that were once in stars and gas could be transformed into structures as intricate as a living organism or a silicon chip—but on a cosmic scale. Against the darkening background, protons may decay, dark matter particles annihilate, occasional flashes when black holes evaporate—and then silence. In 1979, Freeman Dyson (already mentioned in section 2.1) published a now-classic article whose aim was ‘to establish numerical bounds within which the universe’s destiny must lie’.5 Even if all material were optimally converted into a computer or superintelligence, would there still be limits on how much information could be processed?

See also spaceflight cosmic inflation theory, 187, 188 cosmology: as vital part of common culture, 214. See also big bang Coursera, 98 creationism, 195, 196 Crick, Francis, 204–5 CRISPR/Cas9, 66–67, 73–74 Crutzen, Paul, 31 cryonics, 81–82 Cuba, environmental plan of, 45 Cuban missile crisis, 17–18, 20 Curiosity rover, 127–28, 143 cyberattack, threat of, 20–21, 94–95 cybertech, benefits and vulnerabilities of, 5, 6–7, 63, 109–10 cyborg technologies, 7, 151 dark matter, 179 Dartnell, Lewis, 217 Darwin, Charles, 121–22, 175, 194, 195, 196, 214. See also evolution Dasgupta, Partha, 34 death: assisted dying, 70–71; organ transplants and, 71 Deep Blue, 86 DeepMind, 86–87, 106 demographic transition, 30 Dengue virus, 74 designer babies, 68–69 Deutsch, David, 192 developing countries: clean energy for, 48–49, 51; effective redeployment of existing resources for, 224; genetically modified (GM) crops and, 66; impact of information technology on, 83–84; megacities of, 22, 29, 77, 109; need for good governance in, 28–29; need to bypass high-consumption stage, 27, 36; population trends in, 30–31.


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

addicted to oil, 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, Johannes Kepler, Kuiper Belt, low earth orbit, 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, selection bias, 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: 488 words: 148,340

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

back-to-the-land, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, dark matter, epigenetics, gravity well, mandelbrot fractal, microbiome, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, 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.


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

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

A scientist is more interested in the things he or she can’t understand than in telling all the stories we already know how to narrate. Science is a living, breathing subject because of all those questions we can’t answer. For example, the stuff that makes up the physical universe we interact with seems to account for only 4.9% of the total matter content of our universe. So what is the other 95.1% of so-called dark matter and dark energy made up of? If our universe’s expansion is accelerating, where is all the energy coming from that is fuelling that acceleration? Is our universe infinite? Are there infinitely many other infinite universes parallel to our own? If there are, do they have different laws of physics? Were there other universes before our own universe emerged from the Big Bang? Did time exist before the Big Bang?

Another way we may be able to deduce things about space beyond the edge of our visible universe is to witness events which can only happen due to the influence of things on the other side of our cosmic horizon. For example, there might be something large beyond our cosmic horizon that is pulling on the galaxies we can see, causing an unusual drift in certain regions of the night sky. Although we might not be able to see such things, we can still experience their effect on the things we can see. What we can know is not limited to what we can see. It’s how we know about dark matter. The gravitational behaviour of the things we can see makes sense only if there is more stuff out there. It is how we discovered Neptune. Although we eventually saw Neptune with our eyes, it was mathematically predicted by the effect it was having on the planets around it. If there is something beyond our cosmic horizon that we can’t see, it can still pull the gravitational strings inside our bubble.

306–9 continuum hypothesis 400–1, 403, 404, 405, 410 Copernicus, Nicolaus 178, 193, 210, 238 corpus callosotomy 309–11 cosmic horizon, visible 214, 221, 223, 226–7, 229, 230, 243 cosmic microwave background 221, 224–5, 226, 227–8, 229, 293–4 cosmic ray interactions 103, 105, 125, 142–3, 258 cosmological argument 406 cosmological constant 215, 224, 230 cosmology: ancient Greek 81; dark energy and 223–4; homogeneity and 234–5, 305; religion and 234–40 see also under individual area of cosmology Couch Adams, John 196–7 Coulson, Charles 15 Crick, Francis 321, 347 Curtis, Heber 204 Cusanus, Nicolaus 191–2 Cygnus X–1 276–7 Dalai Lama 236, 354 Dalton, John 89 Darboux, Gaston 39 dark matter/dark energy 7, 222, 223–4, 227, 234, 365 Darwin, Charles 56, 230 Dawkins, Richard 13, 236, 237; The God Delusion 13, 15 de la Rue, Warren 10 death: consciousness and 8, 318, 354–5; dementia and 318; life after 8, 354–5; science and battle against 2 Delos, oracle of the island of 373–4 Delta baryon 108, 109, 110 dementia 318 Dennett, Daniel 358 Descartes, Rene 198, 304, 307, 330–1, 350, 359, 372, 406 Dhammapada, The 333 dice: ancient world and 21–2, 31, 32; atomic structure of 72–3, 77, 78–80, 81, 82–4, 88, 91–2, 94, 103, 111–13, 114, 121, 125, 127, 175, 187; Bell’s theorem and 171; black holes and 285, 289; calculus and 30–2, 33, 34, 88; Cantor set and 65–6; Cardano and 23–4; chaos theory and 41, 43, 44, 48, 54–5, 66–8, 157, 408, 419; consciousness and 304, 308–9, 321, 325, 338, 343; evolution and 56–7, 58–9; God and 22; infinity and 187, 188, 220, 242–3; microscope and 78–9, 80; Newton’s laws of motion and 32–3, 35–6, 67, 78, 88, 154; Pascal/Fermat and 24–8; predicting fall of, history of 21–8; quantum entanglement and 172–3; shape of universe and 188, 207, 208–9; symmetry and 111–17, 120, 121, 125; uncertainty principle and 160, 163–4, 167; uranium decay and 132–3, 158; what we cannot know and 407, 408, 414, 417, 419, 420 Diophantus 371; Arithmetica 374–5 Dirac, Paul 104, 174 DNA 1, 4, 56–7, 59, 61, 321 Doppler effect 214–15, 268 double-slit light experiment 134–6, 143, 144–7, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152–3, 154, 157, 161–2, 163, 165, 166, 169, 170, 171, 173 Douspis, Marian 226 down quark 117, 118, 119, 120, 121 dualism 330–1, 332 echolocation 57 Eddington, Arthur 271–2, 277 EEG 305, 314–16, 323, 340 Egypt, ancient 251, 332, 366, 368 Ehrsson, Henrik 329, 330, 331 eightfold way 113, 118, 119 Einstein, Albert 131, 275, 276, 277, 299; black holes and 277; Brownian motion and 92, 93–5, 123; cosmological constant and 215, 224; E=mc2 and 108, 167, 168; equivalence, principle of 267–9; expanding universe and 215–17; model of light 139, 141, 142, 143, 147; photoelectric effect and 141, 142, 143, 147; religion and 296–7; quantum entanglement and 172–3; quantum physics and 132, 170, 171, 172–3; space-time, reaction to concept of 262, 264; theory of general relativity 5, 6, 7–8, 115, 143, 168, 215, 219, 220, 248, 265, 267–72, 273, 275–6, 277, 278, 281–2, 285, 288, 293, 299; theory of special relativity 11, 105, 141, 143, 248, 252, 253–64, 296–7, 299, 359 élan vital 358, 408 electricity, Thomson’s experiments to understand 95–6, 140 electromagnetic force 107, 108, 274 electromagnetism 34, 104, 107, 108, 136, 138–43, 417 electron 48, 407; chaos theory and 70, 402; discovery of 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 101; electromagnetic force and 107; hydrogen atom and 274; mass of 126, 127, 230; muon and 104, 105; particle model of light and 136–7, 140–3; periodic table and 103, 106, 116, 125; photoelectric effect and 140–1; quarks and 119–20, 125, 126, 127; string theory and 127; uncertainty principle and 133, 167–70; Young’s double-slit experiment and 143–56, 160, 161–3, 171, 173 electron microscopes 78–9 Elkies, Noam 375 emergent phenomena/emergence 331–2, 356 entropy of a system 285–7, 288, 290, 293 environment, man’s effect upon 2, 6, 53 epileptic seizures 309, 323–4, 326 epistemology 70, 170, 177–8, 179, 226, 411–12, 418 equivalence, principle of 267–9 Erdős, Paul 377–8 Eta particle 115 Euclid 271, 378–9, 380, 401; Elements 367–8, 390 Euler, Leonhard 34, 415 European space agency 187 event horizon 276, 277, 278, 282, 283, 285, 287, 288, 289, 290, 405 Everett, Hugh 155 evolution 2, 8, 56–66; Cambrian explosion of life 58; consciousness and 319–20, 346; Dalai Lama and 354; discovery of new knowledge and 2, 233; fractal tree of life and 60–2; God and 230, 411; mismanaged ecosystems and 55; origin of life and 56–66; pattern spotting and 20; probability/chaos theory and 54–5, 56–66; random mutation and 8, 56–62; solar system/universe 32–41, 43, 55, 133, 155, 177, 206, 220, 223, 234, 299, 377, 411 expanding universe 3, 5, 7, 214–29, 248, 291, 292, 293, 294, 335, 365; accelerating rate of expansion 3, 7, 221, 222–5, 291, 365, 408; Big Bang and 219–21; discovery of 214–18, 365; infinite universe and 225–9; multiverse and 227–35 extraterrestrials 8, 143, 239–40 Fermat, Pierre de 24, 25, 26–7, 28, 36; Fermat’s Last Theorem 4, 8, 36, 176–7, 374–5, 410, 420 Fermi, Enrico 106 Fermilab 122 Ferreira, Pedro 226 Feynman, Richard 3, 121, 131, 132, 155, 159, 174, 276, 305; diagrams 121; Lectures on Physics 158 Fitch, Frederic 413 Flanagan, Owen 349–50 fluid dynamics 34, 44–5 fMRI scanner 4, 305, 315–16, 323, 333–9, 350, 351, 354, 356–7, 416 Fourier, Joseph 34 fractals 60–2, 65, 66, 67, 68, 168, 364; fractal tree of life 60–2 fractions 49, 82–6, 101, 117, 191, 369, 370, 391, 394–5, 396 Franklin, Melissa 122–5, 240 Franklin, Professor W.


pages: 332 words: 109,213

The Scientist as Rebel by Freeman Dyson

Albert Einstein, Asilomar, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, dark matter, double helix, Edmond Halley, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, kremlinology, Mikhail Gorbachev, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, traveling salesman, undersea cable

She spent the rest of her professional life observing galaxies and studying their dynamics. She found that the visible matter in galaxies is not heavy enough to explain the speed of their internal motions. She deduced from her observations that galaxies are pervaded by dark matter, invisible to our telescopes. Nobody knows what dark matter is. It is another deep mystery remaining to be explored. We know only that it is there, and that it weighs more than all the stuff that we can see. Besides discovering and exploring dark matter, Rubin raised four children and crusaded publicly for the advancement of women in science. I was recently chairman of a committee that organized a scientific conference with a list of distinguished scientists as members. I received a blistering letter from Rubin, asking why we had no women on our list.


pages: 380 words: 104,841

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

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, mass immigration, 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: 371 words: 108,317

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

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, commoditize, 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, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lifelogging, linked data, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Minecraft, Mitch Kapor, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, old-boy network, peer-to-peer, 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, uber lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Review, zero-sum game

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: 551 words: 174,280

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

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, global pandemic, Gödel, Escher, Bach, illegal immigration, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kenneth Arrow, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, pattern recognition, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, supervolcano, technological singularity, Thales of Miletus, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Review, William of Occam, zero-sum game

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: 389 words: 112,319

Think Like a Rocket Scientist by Ozan Varol

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, Andrew Wiles, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Arthur Eddington, autonomous vehicles, Ben Horowitz, Cal Newport, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, dark matter, delayed gratification, different worldview, discovery of DNA, double helix, Elon Musk, fear of failure, functional fixedness, Gary Taubes, George Santayana, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Inbox Zero, index fund, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Johannes Kepler, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, late fees, lateral thinking, lone genius, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, Marc Andreessen, Mars Rover, meta analysis, meta-analysis, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, multiplanetary species, obamacare, Occam's razor, out of africa, Peter Thiel, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce, Yogi Berra

We despise politicians, we mock lawyers, but we adore those lab-coated brainiacs who design rockets and launch them into the cosmic ocean in a perfectly coordinated symphony. Every Thursday evening, The Big Bang Theory—a TV show about a group of eccentric astrophysicists—regularly topped the American charts. Tens of millions break out in laughter as Leslie dumps Leonard because he prefers string theory over loop quantum gravity. For three months, more than three million Americans picked Cosmos over The Bachelor each Sunday night, choosing dark matter and black holes over the drama of a rose ceremony.13 Movies about rocket science—from Apollo 13 to The Martian, from Interstellar to Hidden Figures—consistently top box-office charts and collect countless golden statues. Although we glamorize rocket scientists, there’s an enormous mismatch between what they have figured out and what the rest of the world does. Critical thinking and creativity don’t come naturally to us.

Connoisseurs of Uncertainty “Something unknown is doing we don’t know what—that is what our theory amounts to.”22 This is how the astrophysicist Arthur Eddington described the state of quantum theory in 1929. He may as well have been speaking about our understanding of the entire universe. Astronomers live and work in a dark mansion that’s only 5 percent lit. Roughly 95 percent of the universe is made up of ominous-sounding stuff called dark matter and dark energy.23 They don’t interact with light, so we can’t see or otherwise detect them. We know nothing about their nature. But we know that they’re there because they exert gravitational force on other objects.24 “Thoroughly conscious ignorance,” physicist James Maxwell said, “is the prelude to any real advance in knowledge.”25 Astronomers reach beyond the borders of knowledge and take a quantum leap into a vast ocean of unknowns.

Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1948), available at http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/Eddington.2008.pdf. 23. Brian Clegg, Gravitational Waves: How Einstein’s Spacetime Ripples Reveal the Secrets of the Universe (Icon Books, 2018), 150–152; Nola Taylor Redd, “What Is Dark Energy?,” Space.com, May 1, 2013, www.space.com/20929-dark-energy.html. 24. NASA, “Dark Energy, Dark Matter,” NASA Science, updated July 21, 2019, https://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-energy. 25. James Clerk Maxwell, The Scientific Letters and Papers of James Clerk Maxwell, vol. 3, 1874–1879 (New York: Cambridge University Press 2002), 485. 26. George Bernard Shaw, toast to Albert Einstein, October 28, 1930. 27. Albert Einstein, Ideas and Opinions: Based on Mein Weltbild (New York: Crown, 1954), 11. 28.


pages: 257 words: 66,480

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

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, cosmic abundance, dark matter, Donald Davies, Edmond Halley, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Kuiper Belt, Louis Pasteur, Pierre-Simon Laplace, 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

Astronomia nova, Commentariolus, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Edmond Halley, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, 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

AltaVista, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, business intelligence, dark matter, Donald Davies, Douglas Engelbart, 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: 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

23andMe, 8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, Anne Wojcicki, artificial general intelligence, attribution theory, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, Clayton Christensen, dark matter, disruptive innovation, East Village, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Frank Gehry, Googley, income per capita, indoor plumbing, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kickstarter, 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: 264 words: 76,643

The Growth Delusion: Wealth, Poverty, and the Well-Being of Nations by David Pilling

Airbnb, banking crisis, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Branko Milanovic, call centre, centre right, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, dark matter, Deng Xiaoping, Diane Coyle, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Erik Brynjolfsson, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial intermediation, financial repression, Gini coefficient, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Google Hangouts, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, income inequality, income per capita, informal economy, invisible hand, job satisfaction, Mahatma Gandhi, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, Monkeys Reject Unequal Pay, mortgage debt, off grid, old-boy network, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, peak oil, performance metric, pez dispenser, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, rent-seeking, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Rory Sutherland, science of happiness, shareholder value, sharing economy, Simon Kuznets, sovereign wealth fund, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transfer pricing, trickle-down economics, urban sprawl, women in the workforce, World Values Survey

“To wipe out transaction costs, which are being measured, and to replace them with convenience, which is not being measured. So the economy is shrinking, but everyone is getting a better deal. Lots of what tech is doing is destroying what wasn’t needed. The end result is you’re going to have less of an economy, but higher welfare.” From the economy’s perspective, he was suggesting that Spotify and similar companies are like dark matter. Instead of pumping GDP out, they suck it in and make it disappear. And yet they are providing a valuable service that people are willing to pay for. What this does to our economy, as conventionally measured, is a complicated subject about which there is considerable controversy. So it is worth unpicking into several strands. The first is the question of home production. We have seen that washing your children’s clothes or cooking Adam Smith’s dinner is not counted as economic activity.

One can’t help raising a skeptical eyebrow when 81 percent of what we’re trying to measure turns out to be a mistake. Without going into detail, the World Bank basically works backward by calculating how much capital we must have to produce so much income. Having taken into account natural capital and physical capital, the missing amount must be institutional capital. It is a little like the assumptions scientists make about dark matter. If you remember the parable of the two islands, one where people trust each other (and trade) and one where they don’t (and don’t), then attributing a large portion of income to institutional capacity is not ridiculous. Still, the bank’s numbers seem implausibly high in comparison to natural capital. For the record, here are the numbers for total wealth in trillions of dollars, with the breakdown expressed in percentages.26 Figure 3 This chart provokes a few observations.


The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin, Richard Panek

Asperger Syndrome, correlation does not imply causation, dark matter, David Brooks, deliberate practice, double helix, ghettoisation, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, impulse control, Khan Academy, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mouse model, neurotypical, pattern recognition, phenotype, Richard Feynman, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, theory of mind, twin studies

And you sure wouldn’t want to reverse a couple of zeros and ones just to see what happened. Same thing with junk DNA. If you messed around with it, the gene’s “computer program” would not work. I was hardly alone in harboring this deep suspicion. For years, scientists had been taking the idea of junk DNA less and less seriously. In fact, geneticists had started preferring the terms noncoding DNA and dark matter, both of which suggested that this kind of DNA was simply a mystery, not garbage. As I stood reading the article in the airport, I felt vindicated after so many years, which is always nice, but that’s not what jumped out at me. The article—amid many others that day and in the weeks to come that emphasized the non–junk DNA angle—was based on the results of a massive federal research effort called the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements, or Encode.

We’ve all seen the popular image of the double helix: that corkscrew of seemingly endless combinations of A (adenine), C (cytosine), G (guanine), and T (thymine) bases. But that Tinker Toy model represents a strand of DNA that’s stretched out. A strand of DNA completely unfurled would be about ten feet long. But it’s not unfurled. Instead, DNA is so tightly coiled that it fits inside the microscopic cell nucleus. By looking at DNA in its natural state, Encode researchers found, as the Times reported, “that small segments of dark-matter DNA are often quite close to genes they control.” Now that, I thought, is a mindblower. Until then, scientists had been thinking about DNA in its stretched-out form. But if you envision DNA as a tightly wound coil—and while I was standing in the airport, holding the Times in my hands, that’s exactly what my picture brain was doing—then a noncoding piece of DNA could be flipping switches on coding DNA that’s hundreds of thousands of base pairs away.


pages: 411 words: 140,110

Endurance: A Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly, Margaret Lazarus Dean

clean water, dark matter, game design, inventory management, low earth orbit, Skype, the scientific method, twin studies, Y2K

I would never question anyone else’s experience, but this vantage point has never created any particular spiritual insight for me. I am a scientifically minded person, curious to understand everything I can about the universe. We know there are trillions of stars, more than the number of grains of sand on planet Earth. Those stars make up less than 5 percent of the matter in the universe. The rest is dark matter and dark energy. The universe is so complex. Is it all an accident? I don’t know. I was raised Catholic, and as is the case in many families, my parents were more dedicated to their children’s religious development than they were to their own. Mark and I attended catechism classes until one day in the ninth grade, when my mother got tired of driving us. She gave us the choice of whether to keep going or not, and, as many teenagers would, we chose to opt out.

Observing stars and galaxies through the filter of our atmosphere was like trying to read a book underwater. Putting a telescope in orbit outside the atmosphere and past the reach of light pollution has changed the field of astronomy. By observing distant stars, scientists have been able to make discoveries about how fast the universe is expanding, how old it is, and what it is made of. Hubble has helped us to discover new planets in new solar systems and confirmed the existence of dark energy and dark matter. This one scientific instrument has revolutionized what we know about our universe, and the task of repairing it—which always brings the risk of damaging or even destroying its sensitive components—is an enormous responsibility. Once our training was in full swing, we spent a lot of time in simulators. Running simulated missions is the only way for astronauts to get hundreds of hours of experience doing something that in reality we would get to do only a few times.

The Hubble Space Telescope and other instruments like the AMS have transformed our understanding of the universe in recent years. We had always assumed that the stars and other matter we could observe—200 billion galaxies each with 100 billion stars on average—made up all of the matter that existed. But we now know that less than 5 percent of the matter in the universe is actually observable. Finding dark energy and dark matter (the rest of what’s out there) is the next challenge for astrophysics, and the AMS is searching for them. Removing and stowing the insulation from the main bus unit is a relatively simple task for a spacewalk, but as with everything we do in zero g, it is harder than you would think—sort of like trying to pack your suitcase if it were nailed to the ceiling. The focus required to do even simple work in space is daunting, similar to the focus required to land an F-14 Tomcat on an aircraft carrier, or land the space shuttle.


pages: 654 words: 204,260

A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

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

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: 266 words: 78,986

Quarantine by Greg Egan

cosmic microwave background, dark matter, fudge factor, intermodal, pattern recognition, placebo effect, Schrödinger's Cat

’ ‘I don’t know…’ She laughs. ‘I don’t know, either. And the whole point of The Bubble is that we never will know. I have other theories, though, if you don’t like that one. Maybe the Bubble Makers are made of cold dark matter—axions, or some other weakly interacting particle which we’ve never been able to detect with much efficiency. If that were the case, we might have done them relatively little harm—but they decided that our technology was getting uncomfortably close to the point where it could start to affect them. There were plenty of astronomers searching for cold dark matter in the twenties and the early thirties—and their equipment was becoming a little more sensitive, and a little more accurate, every year. Maybe we have them to blame.’ The abstractions can be put aside. Pressing my way through the streets, the idea that the crowd around me is collectively keeping the city from dissolving into a fog of simultaneous possibilities seems not so much unbelievable, as patently irrelevant.


pages: 266 words: 80,273

Covid-19: The Pandemic That Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One by Debora MacKenzie

anti-globalists, butterfly effect, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid-19, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Donald Trump, European colonialism, gig economy, global supply chain, income inequality, Just-in-time delivery, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, planetary scale, reshoring, supply-chain management, uranium enrichment

Many people don’t realize that most diagnoses doctors make are “syndromic”—pneumonia, meningitis, fever, and sepsis are terms that describe the disease process, not what is causing it. The actual pathogens behind these are often not even determined, as this is not needed for treatment. Instead, doctors use wide-spectrum antibiotics for bacteria, or with viruses—like Covid-19—they just try to keep the patient alive until the patient’s antiviral immune response kicks in. “Illuminating this biological dark matter,” the Hopkins team argued, “would focus pathogen discovery efforts on established damage-causing microbes.” Aggressively doing such diagnosis in a few sentinel locations, perhaps in zoonosis hotspots, might reveal the next big threat early as it starts jumping to people. To do more specific diagnosis of syndromes, hospital labs need new kinds of diagnostic technologies that can distinguish a wide range of pathogens.

Diagnostics manufacturers are now making automated “panels” of tests that can recognize the DNA or RNA of, say, a dozen respiratory or gut viruses, a huge improvement over old methods based on growing pathogens in culture to identify them, which is slow and insensitive. Making this kind of capability available more widely, including in countries that cannot afford it now but have hotspots of disease emergence, would illuminate a lot of pathogenic “dark matter” and give us a much stronger idea of exactly what pathogens we are contending with. For now, the most widely used diagnostic panels on the market are designed for routine hospital practice and mostly look for the usual suspects that cause most human infection. In sentinel sites looking for surprises, it would be good to have something that can spot the unexpected and unknown. That might seem impossible—how do you design a test for the unknown?


pages: 486 words: 148,485

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

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, longitudinal study, mandatory minimum, Pierre-Simon Laplace, 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: 608 words: 150,324

Life's Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code by Matthew Cobb

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, anti-communist, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, Copley Medal, dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, James Watt: steam engine, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, phenotype, post-materialism, Stephen Hawking

Physicists have realised that 95 per cent of the Universe is made of stuff we cannot directly detect – dark matter and dark energy – because calculations of the amount of matter in the Universe based on gravitational effects revealed a substantial discrepancy between observed and expected values. For the shadow biosphere to be more than day-dreaming, a similarly overwhelming signature of its existence would be necessary. Those intrigued by the remote possibility of weird life have come up with some potential indicators of its existence, such as the supposedly anomalous varnish that is found on desert rocks.29 However, something as impressive as the indirect evidence of the existence of dark matter and dark energy would be required for this hypothesis to be taken seriously. * The potential for synthetic biology is enormous.

RIKEN Genome Exploration Research Group and Genome Science Group (Genome Network Project Core Group) and the FANTOM Consortium, ‘Antisense transcription in the mammalian transcriptome’, Science, vol. 309, 2005, pp. 1564–6. Ring, K. L. and Cavalcanti, A. R. O., ‘Consequences of stop codon reassignment on protein evolution in ciliates with alternative genetic codes’, Molecular Biology and Evolution, vol. 25, 2007, pp. 179–86. Rinke, C., Schwientek, P., Sczyrba, A. et al., ‘Insights into the phylogeny and coding potential of microbial dark matter’, Nature, vol. 499, 2013, pp. 431–7. Roberts, R. B. (ed.), Microsomal Particles and Protein Synthesis, London, Pergamon, 1958. Roberts, R. B., ‘Alternative codes and templates’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, vol. 48, 1962, pp. 897–900. Robertson, M. P. and Joyce, G. F., ‘The origins of the RNA world’, Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, vol. 4, 2012, article a003608.


pages: 578 words: 168,350

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

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

This apparent general lack of interest by the biological community in aging and mortality beyond a relatively small number of devoted researchers stimulated me to begin pondering these questions. As it appeared that almost no one was thinking about them in quantitative or analytic terms, there might be a possibility for a physics approach to lead to some small progress. Consequently, during interludes between grappling with quarks, gluons, dark matter, and string theory, I began to think about death. As I embarked on this new direction, I received unexpected support for my ruminations about biology as a science and its relationship to mathematics from an unlikely source. I discovered that what I had presumed was subversive thinking had been expressed much more articulately and deeply almost one hundred years earlier by the eminent and somewhat eccentric biologist Sir D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson in his classic book On Growth and Form, published in 1917.4 It’s a wonderful book that has remained quietly revered not just in biology but in mathematics, art, and architecture, influencing thinkers and artists from Alan Turing and Julian Huxley to Jackson Pollock.

An equally profound, but much less heralded, discovery was the realization that on the earthly scale we are also living in an exponentially expanding universe, this one socioeconomic. Although it hardly grabs the same kind of attention, this accelerating socioeconomic expansion has had and will continue to have a significantly more profound effect on your life, your children’s lives, and their children’s lives than all of the wonders and paradoxes of the exponentially expanding cosmic universe and its archetypal mythologies of dark matter, dark energy, and the Big Bang. The most obvious manifestation of the exponential rate at which our social and economic lives have been expanding is provided by the huge population explosion that has occurred over the past two hundred years or so. After two million years of slow, steady growth the number of human beings living on the planet is estimated to have eventually reached the billion mark around 1805.

I concentrated primarily on a subset of a few remarkable men of broad intellect who changed the way we think about the world but who have not received the recognition they deserve even, in some cases, within the broader scientific community. Names that you might not have heard of, such as Adolphe Quetelet, Thomas Young, and William Froude. I also included a few personal anecdotes to illustrate how I came to think about some of these problems, and, in particular, how I transitioned from being obsessed with elementary particles, strings, dark matter, and the evolution of the universe to trying to understand cells and whales, life and death, cities and global sustainability, and why companies die. A critical point in this transition was my meeting with the eminent ecologist and wonderful scientist Jim Brown. In chapter 3, I related the story of how this fortuitous encounter and my subsequent long-term engagement with the Santa Fe Institute came into being and how it led to an extraordinary collaborative relationship that changed my life, and I believe his, too.


pages: 356 words: 102,224

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

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, Johannes Kepler, Kuiper Belt, linked data, low earth orbit, nuclear winter, planetary scale, profit motive, scientific worldview, 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: 360 words: 101,636

Engineering Infinity by Jonathan Strahan

augmented reality, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, gravity well, low earth orbit, 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: 370 words: 97,138

Beyond: Our Future in Space by Chris Impey

3D printing, Admiral Zheng, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, AltaVista, Berlin Wall, Buckminster Fuller, butterfly effect, California gold rush, carbon-based life, Charles Lindbergh, 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, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, life extension, low earth orbit, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, Oculus Rift, operation paperclip, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, phenotype, private space industry, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, 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, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, 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: 114 words: 30,715

The Four Horsemen by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett

3D printing, Andrew Wiles, cognitive dissonance, cosmological constant, dark matter, Desert Island Discs, en.wikipedia.org, phenotype, Richard Feynman, stem cell, Steven Pinker

What caused the apocalyptic mass extinction at the end of the Permian period, a quarter of a billion years ago? We don’t know, but we have some interesting hypotheses to think about. What did the common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees look like? We don’t know, but we do know a bit about it. We know the continent on which it lived (Africa, as Darwin guessed), and molecular evidence tells us roughly when (between 6 million and 8 million years ago). What is dark matter? We don’t know, and a substantial fraction of the physics community would dearly like to. Ignorance, to a scientist, is an itch that begs to be pleasurably scratched. Ignorance, if you are a theologian, is something to be washed away by shamelessly making something up. If you are an authority figure like the Pope, you might do it by thinking privately to yourself and waiting for an answer to pop into your head – which you then proclaim as a ‘revelation’.


pages: 445 words: 105,255

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

3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Bill Joy: nanobots, Brownian motion, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, conceptual framework, continuation of politics by other means, 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, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Thomas Malthus, V2 rocket, Vannevar Bush, zero-sum game

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.


pages: 364 words: 104,697

Were You Born on the Wrong Continent? by Thomas Geoghegan

Albert Einstein, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bob Geldof, 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, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, McJob, minimum wage unemployment, mittelstand, offshore financial centre, Paul Samuelson, 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: 416 words: 106,582

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

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

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.


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

dark matter, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, 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: 615 words: 189,720

Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson

clockwork universe, dark matter, Dava Sobel, gravity well, Johannes Kepler, 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: 824 words: 268,880

Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

anthropic principle, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, dark matter, different worldview, 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.


London Under by Peter Ackroyd

bank run, dark matter, The Spirit Level

Half of them were converted to other uses as the war continued, but certain portals in the form of large Martello towers can still be seen on the surface as troglodytic monuments. That of Goodge Street stands on the corner of Chenies Street and Tottenham Court Road, while that of Stockwell has been converted into a war memorial. These portals could be knocked down, and the deep tunnels filled in, but what would be the purpose? Underground space has acquired the status of dark matter, unseen yet somehow maintaining the structure of the visible world. The portals are the gateways to immensity containing all that is hidden and all that is forgotten. A character in The War of the Worlds (1898) by H. G. Wells, in fear of the extraterrestrial invaders, states that You see, how I mean to live is underground. I’ve been thinking about the drains. Of course those who don’t know drains think horrible things; but under this London are miles and miles—hundreds of miles—and a few days’ rain and London empty will leave them sweet and clean.


pages: 476 words: 118,381

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

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, Johannes Kepler, Karl Jansky, Kuiper Belt, Louis Blériot, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, mutually assured destruction, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, 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

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.


pages: 453 words: 117,893

What Would the Great Economists Do?: How Twelve Brilliant Minds Would Solve Today's Biggest Problems by Linda Yueh

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, currency peg, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, endogenous growth, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, forward guidance, full employment, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Gunnar Myrdal, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index card, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, lateral thinking, life extension, low-wage service sector, manufacturing employment, market bubble, means of production, mittelstand, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Nelson Mandela, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price mechanism, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, reshoring, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, secular stagnation, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, universal basic income, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working-age population

Bruce Brougham, 1928, Prohibition Still at its Worst, New York: Alcohol Information Committee Fisher, Irving Norton, 1956, My Father: Irving Fisher, New York: Comet Press Books Fitzgibbons, Athol, 1988, Keynes’s Vision: A New Political Economy, Oxford: Oxford University Press Flatau, Paul, 2001, ‘Some Reflections on the “Pigou-Robinson” Theory of Exploitation’, History of Economics Review, 33, pp. 1–16 Foster, Richard, 2012, ‘Creative Destruction Whips Through Corporate America’, Innosight Executive Briefing; www.innosight.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/creative-destruction-whips-through-corporate-america-final2015.pdf Friedman, Milton, 1963, Inflation: Causes and Consequences, Bombay: Asia Publishing House ________, 1991, ‘Economic Freedom, Human Freedom, Political Freedom’, address by Milton Friedman, The Smith Center, Seattle Central College, 1 November; http://seattlecentral.edu/faculty/jhubert/friedmanspeech.html ________, 1999, ‘Transcript for: Friedrich Hayek’, Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg, pbs.org; www.pbs.org/thinktank/transcript726.html ________, 2002 [1962], Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press ________, 2012, ‘Milton Friedman in His Own Words’, Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics, University of Chicago; https://bfi.uchicago.edu/news/post/milton-friedman-his-own-words Friedman, Milton and Rose Friedman, 1980, Free to Choose, San Diego: Harcourt ________, 1998, Two Lucky People: Memoirs, Chicago: University of Chicago Press Friedman, Milton and Anna Jacobson Schwartz, 1971 [1963], A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960, Princeton: Princeton University Press Goodridge, Peter, Jonathan Haskel and Gavin Wallis, 2013, ‘Can Intangible Investment Explain the UK Productivity Puzzle?’, National Institute Economic Review, 224, pp. R48– R58 Groenewegen, Peter, 1995, A Soaring Eagle: Alfred Marshall 1842–1924, Aldershot: Edward Elgar Hansen, Alvin H., 1939, ‘Economic Progress and Declining Population Growth’, American Economic Review, 29(1), pt I, pp. 1–15 Hausmann, Ricardo and Federico Sturzenegger, 2007, ‘The Missing Dark Matter in the Wealth of Nations and Its Implications for Global Imbalances’, Economic Policy, 22(51), pp. 470–518 Hayek, Friedrich A., 1979, A Conversation with Friedrich A. von Hayek: Science and Socialism, Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research ________, 1986, ‘The Moral Imperative of the Market’, in The Unfinished Agenda: Essays on the Political Economy of Government Policy in Honour of Arthur Seldon, London: Institute of Economic Affairs ________, 1994, Hayek on Hayek: An Autobiographical Dialogue, ed.

Campbell, A. S. Skinner and W. B. Todd, Oxford: Clarendon Press, bk IV, ch. 2, para 12. 13.  Ricardo, Works and Correspondence, IV, p. 23. 14.  Ibid., p. 21. 15.  King, David Ricardo, p. 88. 16.  Ricardo, Works and Correspondence, IV, pp. 28, 32. 17.  Ibid., p. 35. 18.  Ibid., p. 33. 19.  Ibid., p. 41. 20.  Ricardo Hausmann and Federico Sturzenegger, 2007, ‘The Missing Dark Matter in the Wealth of Nations and Its Implications for Global Imbalances’, Economic Policy, 22(51), pp. 470–518. 21.  Mark Muro, Jonathan Rothwell, Scott Andes, Kenan Fikri and Siddharth Kulkarni, 2015, ‘America’s Advanced Industries’, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC; www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/AdvancedIndustry_FinalFeb2lores-1.pdf 22.  Paul A. Samuelson, 1969, ‘The Way of an Economist’, in International Economic Relations, ed.


pages: 374 words: 113,126

The Great Economists: How Their Ideas Can Help Us Today by Linda Yueh

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, additive manufacturing, Asian financial crisis, augmented reality, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, BRICs, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, clean water, collective bargaining, computer age, Corn Laws, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, cryptocurrency, currency peg, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, Deng Xiaoping, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, endogenous growth, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, fear of failure, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, fixed income, forward guidance, full employment, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Gunnar Myrdal, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index card, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invisible hand, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, lateral thinking, life extension, manufacturing employment, market bubble, means of production, mittelstand, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, negative equity, Nelson Mandela, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, oil shale / tar sands, open economy, paradox of thrift, Paul Samuelson, price mechanism, price stability, Productivity paradox, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, reserve currency, reshoring, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, secular stagnation, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, universal basic income, unorthodox policies, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, women in the workforce, working-age population

Adam Smith, 1979 [1776], An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, eds. R. H. Campbell, A. S. Skinner and W. B. Todd, Oxford: Clarendon Press, bk IV, ch. 2, para 12. 13. Ricardo, Works and Correspondence, IV, p. 23. 14. Ibid., p. 21. 15. King, David Ricardo, p. 88. 16. Ricardo, Works and Correspondence, IV, pp. 28, 32. 17. Ibid., p. 35. 18. Ibid., p. 33. 19. Ibid., p. 41. 20. Ricardo Hausmann and Federico Sturzenegger, 2007, ‘The Missing Dark Matter in the Wealth of Nations and Its Implications for Global Imbalances’, Economic Policy, 22(51), pp. 470–518. 21. Mark Muro, Jonathan Rothwell, Scott Andes, Kenan Fikri and Siddharth Kulkarni, 2015, ‘America’s Advanced Industries’, Brookings Institution, Washington, DC; www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/AdvancedIndustry_FinalFeb2lores-1.pdf 22. Paul A. Samuelson, 1969, ‘The Way of an Economist’, in International Economic Relations, ed.

Bruce Brougham, 1928, Prohibition Still at its Worst, New York: Alcohol Information Committee Fisher, Irving Norton, 1956, My Father: Irving Fisher, New York: Comet Press Books Fitzgibbons, Athol, 1988, Keynes’s Vision: A New Political Economy, Oxford: Oxford University Press Flatau, Paul, 2001, ‘Some Reflections on the “Pigou-Robinson” Theory of Exploitation’, History of Economics Review, 33, pp. 1–16 Foster, Richard, 2012, ‘Creative Destruction Whips Through Corporate America’, Innosight Executive Briefing; www.innosight.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/creative-destruction-whips-through-corporate-america-final2015.pdf Friedman, Milton, 1963, Inflation: Causes and Consequences, Bombay: Asia Publishing House ———, 1991, ‘Economic Freedom, Human Freedom, Political Freedom’, address by Milton Friedman, The Smith Center, Seattle Central College, 1 November; http://seattlecentral.edu/faculty/jhubert/friedmanspeech.html ———, 1999, ‘Transcript for: Friedrich Hayek’, Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg, pbs.org; www.pbs.org/thinktank/transcript726.html ———, 2002 [1962], Capitalism and Freedom: Fortieth Anniversary Edition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press ———, 2012, ‘Milton Friedman in His Own Words’, Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics, University of Chicago; https://bfi.uchicago.edu/news/post/milton-friedman-his-own-words Friedman, Milton and Rose Friedman, 1980, Free to Choose, San Diego: Harcourt ———, 1998, Two Lucky People: Memoirs, Chicago: University of Chicago Press Friedman, Milton and Anna Jacobson Schwartz, 1971 [1963], A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960, Princeton: Princeton University Press Goodridge, Peter, Jonathan Haskel and Gavin Wallis, 2013, ‘Can Intangible Investment Explain the UK Productivity Puzzle?’, National Institute Economic Review, 224, pp. R48–R58 Groenewegen, Peter, 1995, A Soaring Eagle: Alfred Marshall 1842–1924, Aldershot: Edward Elgar Hansen, Alvin H., 1939, ‘Economic Progress and Declining Population Growth’, American Economic Review, 29(1), pt I, pp. 1–15 Hausmann, Ricardo and Federico Sturzenegger, 2007, ‘The Missing Dark Matter in the Wealth of Nations and Its Implications for Global Imbalances’, Economic Policy, 22(51), pp. 470–518 Hayek, Friedrich A., 1979, A Conversation with Friedrich A. von Hayek: Science and Socialism, Washington, DC: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research ———, 1986, ‘The Moral Imperative of the Market’, in The Unfinished Agenda: Essays on the Political Economy of Government Policy in Honour of Arthur Seldon, London: Institute of Economic Affairs ———, 1994, Hayek on Hayek: An Autobiographical Dialogue, ed.


pages: 524 words: 120,182

Complexity: A Guided Tour by Melanie Mitchell

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

Isaac Newton did not have a good definition of force, and in fact, was not happy about the concept since it seemed to require a kind of magical “action at a distance,” which was not allowed in mechanistic explanations of nature. While genetics is one of the largest and fastest growing fields of biology, geneticists still do not agree on precisely what the term gene refers to at the molecular level. Astronomers have discovered that about 95% of the universe is made up of “dark matter” and “dark energy” but have no clear idea what these two things actually consist of. Psychologists don’t have precise definitions for idea or concept, or know what these correspond to in the brain. These are just a few examples. Science often makes progress by inventing new terms to describe incompletely understood phenomena; these terms are gradually refined as the science matures and the phenomena become more completely understood.

Genetics, Complexified Often in science new technologies can open a floodgate of discoveries that change scientists’ views of a previously established field of study. We saw an example of this back in chapter 2—it was the invention of the electronic computer, and its capacity for modeling complex systems such as weather, that allowed for the demonstration of the existence of chaos. More recently, extremely powerful land and space-based telescopes have led to a flurry of discoveries in astronomy concerning so-called dark matter and dark energy, which seem to call into question much of what was previously accepted in cosmology. No new set of technologies has had a more profound impact on an established field than the so-called molecular revolution in genetics over the last four decades. Technologies for rapidly copying, sequencing, synthesizing, and engineering DNA, for imaging molecular-level structures that had never been seen before, and for viewing expression patterns of thousands of different genes simultaneously; these are only a few examples of the feats of biotechnology in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.


pages: 124 words: 40,697

The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking, Leonard Mlodinow

airport security, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Buckminster Fuller, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, fudge factor, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Mercator projection, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, Thales of Miletus, the scientific method, Turing machine

Cosmological constant • a parameter in Einstein’s equations that gives space-time an inherent tendency to expand. Electromagnetic force • the second strongest of the four forces of nature. It acts between particles with electric charges. Electron • an elementary particle of matter that has a negative charge and is responsible for the chemical properties of elements. Fermion • a matter-type elementary particle. Galaxy • a large system of stars, interstellar matter, and dark matter that is held together by gravity. Gravity • the weakest of the four forces of nature. It is the means by which objects that have mass attract each other. Heisenberg uncertainty principle • a law of quantum theory stating that certain pairs of physical properties cannot be known simultaneously to arbitrary precision. Meson • a type of elementary particle that is made of a quark and an anti-quark.


pages: 677 words: 121,255

Giving the Devil His Due: Reflections of a Scientific Humanist by Michael Shermer

Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-communist, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, Chelsea Manning, clean water, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, Columbine, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, creative destruction, dark matter, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Flynn Effect, germ theory of disease, gun show loophole, Hans Rosling, hedonic treadmill, helicopter parent, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, income inequality, invisible hand, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Schumpeter, laissez-faire capitalism, Laplace demon, luminiferous ether, McMansion, means of production, mega-rich, Menlo Park, moral hazard, moral panic, More Guns, Less Crime, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, positional goods, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, Skype, social intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, WikiLeaks, working poor, Yogi Berra

Gravity? Evolution? Ever? An encounter with the deity who created our universe and (presumably) the heavenly cloud where our connectome souls are uploaded after death would very probably top all of these encounters, given its implications for our future existence, not to mention the opportunity to answer science’s deepest questions from the ontological source itself: What is dark energy and dark matter? What was there before the Big Bang? Did you create our universe out of a singularity, and if so how did you do that … and why? We only have our thoughts and the tools of communicating those thoughts through speech and writing. Thus, free thought and free speech are the epistemological primitive, the ground of all other rights. Human and moral progress can only come about when people are free to think and speak their minds and their conscience.

The theists argued that without God the universe has no purpose, and they invested most of their time making the case for God’s existence through standard apologetics arguments: the Big Bang had to have a first-cause which is God, the fine-tuning of the universe for stars, planets, and life could only have come about by God, the Intelligent Design of living organisms is only accountable for by an intelligent designer, the existence of consciousness is a product of the conscious agent who created the universe, and the moral sense of right and wrong could only have come from a moral law giver. None of these arguments is relevant to the question because, I contend, whether there is a God or not, the universe per se cannot have a purpose in any anthropomorphic sense for which that term is usually employed. The universe is simply the collection of galaxies, stars, planets, comets, meteorites, and other solar system detritus, plus whatever dark matter and dark energy turn out to be. The universe is governed by laws of nature that themselves have no purpose other than dictating what matter and energy do. Stars, for example, convert hydrogen into helium, and they have no choice in the matter once they reach a certain size and temperature. Stars are not sitting around thinking “my purpose in life is to convert hydrogen into helium, so I better get on with it.”


The Science of Language by Noam Chomsky

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: 515 words: 142,354

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

bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, business cycle, buy and hold, 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, information asymmetry, investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, light touch regulation, manufacturing employment, market bubble, market friction, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, 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 Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, sovereign wealth fund, the payments system, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, 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: 189 words: 49,386

Letters From an Astrophysicist by Neil Degrasse Tyson

dark matter, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Pluto: dwarf planet, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, unbiased observer

With best wishes to you and your family, Neil Scary Smart Wednesday, July 22, 2009 Dear Dr. Tyson and any other kind brainiacs, My Aspergers son Jack* is scary smart and could very well be the next Einstein, which is his nickname. I’m trying to reach out to other super smart scientists who may be able to help Jack grow his gift. Jack’s vocabulary and obsessions consist of things like concept cars, nuclear fusion, biotech, particle accelerators, dark matter, anti-matter, worm holes, black holes, nanobots, creating cures for disease, and lots of hydrogen! I have no means of nourishing Jack’s brain. His spirit has been almost extinguished by his public school environment. I want so badly for Jack to have connections with other people. That can’t happen when the people surrounding him can’t relate or understand, or believe what he is talking about.


pages: 184 words: 53,625

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

Airbus A320, airport security, algorithmic trading, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Cass Sunstein, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Donald Davies, future of journalism, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, Jane Jacobs, John Gruber, John Harrison: Longitude, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, mega-rich, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, packet switching, peer-to-peer, 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, US Airways Flight 1549, WikiLeaks, William Langewiesche, working poor, X Prize, your tax dollars at work

— 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: 185 words: 55,639

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

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

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.


pages: 207 words: 52,716

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

Albert Einstein, car-free, clean water, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate personhood, corporate raider, corporate social responsibility, dark matter, diversified portfolio, en.wikipedia.org, hypertext link, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, jitney, money market fund, 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: 181 words: 62,775

Half Empty by David Rakoff

airport security, Buckminster Fuller, dark matter, double helix, global pandemic, Google Earth, phenotype, RFID, twin studies, 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).


How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston

affirmative action, carbon footprint, Columbine, dark matter, desegregation, drone strike, 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

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Cepheid variable, cosmological constant, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Georg Cantor, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Conway, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, retrograde motion, 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: 219 words: 63,495

50 Future Ideas You Really Need to Know by Richard Watson

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, digital map, Elon Musk, energy security, failed state, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, happiness index / gross national happiness, hive mind, hydrogen economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, life extension, Mark Shuttleworth, 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: 566 words: 163,322

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

Asian financial crisis, backtesting, bank run, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, business climate, business cycle, 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, creative destruction, 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, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, lateral thinking, liberal capitalism, Malacca Straits, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, mass immigration, 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, Paul Samuelson, 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 Future of Employment, 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: 244 words: 68,223

Isaac Newton by James Gleick

Albert Einstein, Astronomia nova, complexity theory, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, 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.


On Nature and Language by Noam Chomsky

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

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: 209 words: 68,587

Stephen Hawking by Leonard Mlodinow

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

I was ready to go back to my room for a nap, after which I could start scouring the Internet for the myth we’d decided to include in our opening chapter. But Stephen asked me to come home with him. There was still an hour or two before dinner, he said. He wanted to keep working. *1 Assuming that the discrepancy is not due to experimental error or a shortcoming of the approximation method employed to derive the prediction. *2 Dark energy and dark matter represent two unexplained anomalies in today’s physics. Will these eventually be explained within our current framework of theories, or by amending them, or will they require a completely new approach? No one knows. 3 Stephen lived in a house on shady Wordsworth Grove, a quiet street just a short walk outside the old city and close to his office. It was a two-story brick dwelling with a black shingle roof.


pages: 684 words: 188,584

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

Albert Einstein, Brownian motion, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, Columbine, continuation of politics by other means, 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, low earth orbit, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, music of the spheres, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, Project Plowshare, Ralph Nader, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Stuxnet, technoutopianism, too big to fail, uranium enrichment, William Langewiesche, 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: 662 words: 180,546

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

"Robert Solow", Alvin Roth, 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, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, central bank independence, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, constrained optimization, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, debt deflation, deindustrialization, do-ocracy, 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, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Jean Tirole, joint-stock company, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, l'esprit de l'escalier, labor-force participation, liberal capitalism, liquidity trap, loose coupling, manufacturing employment, market clearing, market design, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, Nash equilibrium, night-watchman state, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Philip Mirowski, 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, Vilfredo Pareto, 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: 238 words: 73,824

Makers by Chris Anderson

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, commoditize, Computer Numeric Control, crowdsourcing, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, dematerialisation, Elon Musk, factory automation, Firefox, future of work, global supply chain, global village, IKEA effect, 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, private space industry, profit maximization, QR code, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, Rubik’s Cube, 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: 272 words: 76,089

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

addicted to oil, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, clean water, cosmic abundance, dark matter, demographic transition, Exxon Valdez, F. W. de Klerk, germ theory of disease, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, pattern recognition, planetary scale, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, stem cell, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, zero-sum game

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.


Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth

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: 256 words: 15,765

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

British Empire, business cycle, call centre, dark matter, Donald Trump, estate planning, full employment, glass ceiling, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, longitudinal study, 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, zero-sum game

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: 325 words: 73,035

Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life by Richard Florida

active measures, assortative mating, barriers to entry, big-box store, blue-collar work, borderless world, BRICs, business climate, Celebration, Florida, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, dark matter, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, demographic transition, edge city, Edward Glaeser, epigenetics, extreme commuting, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, happiness index / gross national happiness, high net worth, income inequality, industrial cluster, invention of the telegraph, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, megacity, new economy, New Urbanism, Peter Calthorpe, place-making, post-work, Richard Florida, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Seaside, Florida, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, superstar cities, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, urban planning, World Values Survey, young professional

The answer, according to Ethan Watters, is a new surrogate family, the urban tribe.10 Watters defines it as an “intricate community of young people who live and work together in various combinations, form regular rituals, and provide the same kind of support as an extended family.” “If our tribes were maximizing our weak ties within a city,” Watters writes, “might we be creating the social science equivalent of dark matter—a force that was invisible but was nonetheless critical to holding everything together?” Furthermore, Watters argues, the urban tribe is especially good at meeting members’ needs for self-expression and self-actualization in ways that actual parents and siblings sometimes suppress. But these tribes are not just substitutes; on the contrary, they constitute what amounts to our real families, in ways the networks we were born into may never be.


pages: 252 words: 79,452

To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death by Mark O'Connell

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, brain emulation, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer age, cosmological principle, dark matter, disruptive innovation, double helix, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Extropian, friendly AI, global pandemic, impulse control, income inequality, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, Lyft, Mars Rover, means of production, Norbert Wiener, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, uber lyft, Vernor Vinge

“But that’s not just a religious idea, man. Ask anyone who’s transgender. They’ll tell you they’re trapped in the wrong body. But me, I’m trapped in the wrong body because I’m trapped in a body. All bodies are the wrong body.” We were, I felt, nearing the central paradox of transhumanism, the event horizon where Enlightenment rationalism, pushed to its most radical extremes, disappeared into the dark matter of faith. As unfair a double bind as it may have been, the more Tim denied any connection between his own thinking and the mysteries of religion, the more religious he sounded. But perhaps it wasn’t so much that transhumanism was a quasi-religious movement, as that it addressed itself toward the fundamental human contradictions and frustrations that had traditionally been the preserve of faith.


pages: 281 words: 78,317

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

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, British Empire, citizen journalism, cosmological constant, dark matter, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, George Santayana, Gerolamo Cardano, ghettoisation, Howard Zinn, Isaac Newton, Joan Didion, 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: 276 words: 74,074

The City Always Wins: A Novel by Omar Robert Hamilton

Berlin Wall, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, dark matter

Having Alaa as a codefendant could be good—it will certainly mean the pressure stays up. Is he in the cells with you or on his own somewhere? Let us know about any specific books you’d like or if you have any new ideas—or new material—for podcasts. We will try to get Chaos back in action properly again now. See you soon man K * * * There is a black hole in the center of our lives. A silence, an unsaid lurking, a word, a place, dark matter slowly pulling all else into its nothingness. A thousand deaths live on television. And none of them us. And who are we, if not the ones fighting, not the ones dying? Should we have been ready to die for our enemies? Did we do this? * * * Black open-backed jeeps with men in SWAT gear drive around the streets. The air is filled with the white noise of helicopters, circling forever over Downtown.


pages: 230 words: 76,655

Choose Yourself! by James Altucher

Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, cashless society, cognitive bias, dark matter, Elon Musk, estate planning, Mark Zuckerberg, money market fund, Network effects, new economy, PageRank, passive income, pattern recognition, payday loans, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, Rodney Brooks, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, sharing economy, short selling, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, Steve Jobs, superconnector, Uber for X, Vanguard fund, Y2K, Zipcar

When you’re an Idea Machine, everything you look at breaks down into a collection of ideas, just as physical objects would ultimately breakdown into collections of particles if your eyes were subatomic microscopes. Your eyes and brains become sub-idea microscopes that see the ideas that become the building blocks for everything in society. See them, build them, change them, seed them, birth them, love them, and live them. Ideas are the dark matter of the universe. We know it’s there, but only those “in the know” can see them. * * * What Do I Do Once I Become an Idea Machine? This is what I don’t know the answer to because you are the master of your life. Now you’re ready to take your unique place in the world. Now you have superpowers. You will know how to get to the Justice League satellite that orbits the Earth and solves problems at a moment’s notice.


pages: 227 words: 76,850

Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult That Bound My Life by Sarah Edmondson

Albert Einstein, dark matter, financial independence, Mason jar, Skype, Steve Jobs, unpaid internship, upwardly mobile, young professional

He had a boyish way of nervously biting his lip just before offering answers as he expounded on topics ranging from creativity to productivity to ethics to science. The thing was, I couldn’t follow what the hell he was saying in either of the forums that happened during this first V-Week. I might glean a couple nuggets of wisdom, but mostly I was lost. When Mark asked him a question about quantum physics and dark matter, Keith’s answer somehow shifted into how science has no free will. A question about the development of thought was met with an answer about something entirely unrelated. The senior levels asserted that Keith’s genius was a template to help anyone with their goals, regardless of the content, whether an individual had enrolled to get better at hockey, horse jumping, making more money, or whatever.


pages: 291 words: 81,703

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

Amazon Mechanical Turk, Black Swan, brain emulation, Brownian motion, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, computerized trading, 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, Johannes Kepler, John Markoff, Khan Academy, labor-force participation, Loebner Prize, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, Myron Scholes, Narrative Science, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, P = NP, 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

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: 277 words: 87,082

Beyond Weird by Philip Ball

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

Quantum mechanics has nothing to say about them, and there would be no need to apologize for that if some scientists didn’t keep talking grandiosely about Theories of Everything that are silent about the things which matter most to most of us. fn2 Fundamental particles with spin 3/2, 5/2 and so on are possible in principle, but have never been observed. Some theories predict spin-3/2 particles as candidates for the mysterious ‘dark matter’ thought to make up about four-fifths of the mass of the universe, or as components of a (still elusive) quantum theory of gravity. Not everything is knowable at once fn1 Heisenberg of course used German words: in his original 1927 paper he refers to both Ungenauigkeit (inexactness) and Unbestimmtheit (undeterminedness or vagueness). ‘Undeterminedness’ is closer to the mark, but translation is itself necessarily inexact.


pages: 287 words: 80,050

The Wisdom of Frugality: Why Less Is More - More or Less by Emrys Westacott

Airbnb, back-to-the-land, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, Bonfire of the Vanities, carbon footprint, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, corporate raider, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, Diane Coyle, discovery of DNA, Downton Abbey, dumpster diving, financial independence, full employment, greed is good, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, hedonic treadmill, income inequality, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, loss aversion, McMansion, means of production, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, negative equity, New Urbanism, paradox of thrift, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, the market place, The Spirit Level, Thorstein Veblen, Upton Sinclair, Veblen good, Zipcar

As Jürgen Habermas argues, building on Paul Grice’s analysis of conversational conventions, regardless of how we actually behave and our actual motivations, our discussions usually proceed on the shared assumption that we are all committed to establishing the truth about the topic under discussion.27 But a different paradigm of truth now dominates: the paradigm of truth established by science. For the most part this is not something that ordinary people can pursue by themselves through reflection, conversation, or even backyard observation and experiment. Does dark matter exist? Does eating blueberries decrease one’s chances of developing cancer? Is global warming producing more hurricanes? Does early involvement with music and dance make one smarter or morally better? Are generous people happier than misers? People may discuss such questions around the table. But in most cases when we talk about such things, we are ultimately prepared to defer to the authority of the experts whose views and findings are continually reported in the media.


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

23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Ben Horowitz, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Burning Man, business intelligence, business process, call centre, chief data officer, Chris Wanstrath, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, Dean Kamen, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, game design, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, hiring and firing, Hyperloop, industrial robot, Innovator's Dilemma, intangible asset, Internet of things, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, lifelogging, loose coupling, loss aversion, low earth orbit, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, means of production, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, NetJets, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, 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, Travis Kalanick, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

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: 304 words: 82,395

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

23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, 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, intangible asset, Internet of things, invention of the printing press, Jeff Bezos, Joi Ito, lifelogging, 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, paypal mafia, performance metric, Peter Thiel, 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, Thomas Davenport, 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: 432 words: 85,707

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

Albert Einstein, Boris Johnson, British Empire, California gold rush, cognitive dissonance, dark matter, double helix, epigenetics, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johannes Kepler, Kickstarter, music of the spheres, Nelson Mandela, 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: 285 words: 86,174

Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Chris Hayes

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, carried interest, circulation of elites, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, dark matter, David Brooks, David Graeber, deindustrialization, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, Gunnar Myrdal, hiring and firing, income inequality, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Julian Assange, Kenneth Arrow, Mark Zuckerberg, mass affluent, mass incarceration, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, 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, Vilfredo Pareto, 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: 283 words: 81,376

The Doomsday Calculation: How an Equation That Predicts the Future Is Transforming Everything We Know About Life and the Universe by William Poundstone

Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Arthur Eddington, Bayesian statistics, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, digital map, discounted cash flows, Donald Trump, Doomsday Clock, double helix, Elon Musk, Gerolamo Cardano, index fund, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Feynman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Sam Altman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, time value of money, Turing test

Nothing about that has changed. Now try Scharf’s opposite scenario. We come across an extraterrestrial monolith on the moon. It awakens and informs us that observers are found throughout the universe. Some are biological, based on carbon and other elements. Some are artificial intelligences created by biological beings. But most observers are not made of atoms at all. What we call “dark energy” and “dark matter” are forms of cosmic intelligence. Still other observers inhabit planes of reality we know nothing about. How would this change our views? One take is that it underscores how our world is supremely fine-tuned for life. Yet the alien envoy has informed us that none of the things we thought were essential for observers actually are. We might end up thinking that life is ubiquitous and does not depend on any particular type of physics.


pages: 312 words: 91,538

The Fear Index by Robert Harris

algorithmic trading, backtesting, banking crisis, dark matter, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, fixed income, Flash crash, God and Mammon, high net worth, implied volatility, mutually assured destruction, Neil Kinnock, 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: 349 words: 27,507

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

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, Kickstarter, Mercator projection, Nelson Mandela, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Stephen Hawking, Thorstein Veblen

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.


Bastard Tongues: A Trailblazing Linguist Finds Clues to Our Common Humanity in the World's Lowliest Languages by Derek Bickerton

colonial rule, dark matter, European colonialism, experimental subject, illegal immigration, Kickstarter, longitudinal study, rent control

Anyone who finances one now will be remembered long after death, because we now know enough to do the thing right and because the findings, whatever they may be, be crucial for future understanding of both language aad hu­ man cognition. I'm out of it. I'll consult, if asked, but anyone else is welcome to organize it and run it and take the credit for it. All I care about are the results. Other sciences at least have the luxury of temporary certainty. Newton's explained the universe, oops, no, Einstein's ex­ plained the universe, er, well, now there's all this dark matter and dark energy we have to account for. In linguistics we don't even get that far, we just argue back and forth. Some linguists, like Steve Pinker (whose book The Language Instinct is, after this one, the most fun book on language you're likely to read), have what they are pleased to call "labs," but the kinds of experiment they can do in them, even in the f~ncier ones where you can get pictures of the inside of your brain, yield results that are always interpretable in at least two contradictory ways.


pages: 310 words: 89,653

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

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

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: 374 words: 94,508

Infonomics: How to Monetize, Manage, and Measure Information as an Asset for Competitive Advantage by Douglas B. Laney

3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, banking crisis, blockchain, business climate, business intelligence, business process, call centre, chief data officer, Claude Shannon: information theory, commoditize, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data acquisition, digital twin, discounted cash flows, disintermediation, diversification, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, Erik Brynjolfsson, full employment, informal economy, intangible asset, Internet of things, linked data, Lyft, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, new economy, obamacare, performance metric, profit motive, recommendation engine, RFID, semantic web, smart meter, Snapchat, software as a service, source of truth, supply-chain management, text mining, uber lyft, Y2K, yield curve

But when it comes to truly analyzing it using language and syntactically aware algorithms, graduating to advanced analytic technologies which specialize in this is required. And beyond written text, sources of enterprise intelligence and performance increasingly are in even more complex formats, such as audio and video. As discussed in chapter 2, much of this unstructured information lies dormant in the form of what’s called “dark data.” Much like the dark matter of the universe, we know dark data is there because it has a gravitational effect on our business and operations as it remains unused and unmeasured. As I have long advised clients, there are only three ways to generate economic benefits from unstructured information (or content) before you structure it: you can read it, search it, and sell it. But the process of extracting most forms of value from unstructured information, even the process of categorizing or parsing content, implies some form of pre-processing.


pages: 346 words: 89,180

Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy by Jonathan Haskel, Stian Westlake

"Robert Solow", 23andMe, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Andrei Shleifer, bank run, banking crisis, Bernie Sanders, business climate, business process, buy and hold, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cloud computing, cognitive bias, computer age, corporate governance, corporate raider, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, dark matter, Diane Coyle, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Glaeser, Elon Musk, endogenous growth, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial innovation, full employment, fundamental attribution error, future of work, Gini coefficient, Hernando de Soto, hiring and firing, income inequality, index card, indoor plumbing, intangible asset, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, job automation, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, laissez-faire capitalism, liquidity trap, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, Mother of all demos, Network effects, new economy, open economy, patent troll, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pets.com, place-making, post-industrial society, Productivity paradox, quantitative hedge fund, rent-seeking, revision control, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, software patent, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, survivorship bias, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, total factor productivity, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban planning, Vanguard fund, walkable city, X Prize, zero-sum game

Until very recently, the investments that national statistical offices measured were all tangible assets. Although these investments represented the modern age in all its industrial glory (in 2015 in the UK, for example, businesses invested £78bn in new buildings; £60bn in IT, plant, and machinery; and £17bn in vehicles2), the basic principle that investment was about physical goods would have made sense to William the Conqueror’s reeves. The Dark Matter of Investment But, of course, the economy does not run on tangible investment alone. Stansted Airport, for example, owned not just tarmac and terminals and trucks, but also things that were harder to see or touch: complex software; valuable agreements with airlines and retailers; internal know-how. All these things had taken time and money to build up and had a lasting value to whoever owned the airport, but they consisted not of physical stuff but of ideas, knowledge, and social relations.


pages: 442 words: 94,734

The Art of Statistics: Learning From Data by David Spiegelhalter

Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Bayesian statistics, Carmen Reinhart, complexity theory, computer vision, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Estimating the Reproducibility of Psychological Science, Hans Rosling, Kenneth Rogoff, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nate Silver, Netflix Prize, p-value, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, publication bias, randomized controlled trial, recommendation engine, replication crisis, self-driving car, speech recognition, statistical model, The Design of Experiments, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus

Implementation of any of these methods required specialized skills and software, but now convenient programs allow a menu-driven choice of technique, and so encourage a less partisan approach where performance is more important than modelling philosophy. As soon as the practical performance of algorithms started to be measured and compared, people inevitably got competitive, and now there are data science contests hosted by platforms such as Kaggle.com. A commercial or academic organization provides a data set for competitors to download: challenges have included detecting whales from sound recordings, accounting for dark matter in astronomical data, and predicting hospital admissions. In each case competitors are provided with a training set of data on which to build their algorithm, and a test set that will decide their performance. A particularly popular competition, with thousands of competing teams, is to produce an algorithm for the following challenge. Can we predict which passengers survived the sinking of the Titanic?


High-Frequency Trading by David Easley, Marcos López de Prado, Maureen O'Hara

algorithmic trading, asset allocation, backtesting, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, computer vision, continuous double auction, dark matter, discrete time, finite state, fixed income, Flash crash, High speed trading, index arbitrage, information asymmetry, interest rate swap, latency arbitrage, margin call, market design, market fragmentation, market fundamentalism, market microstructure, martingale, natural language processing, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, price discovery process, price discrimination, price stability, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Sharpe ratio, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, stochastic process, Tobin tax, transaction costs, two-sided market, yield curve

French, 1993, “Common Risk Factors in the Returns on Stocks and Bonds”, Journal of Financial Economics 33(1), pp. 3–56. Ganchev, K., M. Kearns, Y. Nevmyvaka and J. Wortman, 2010, “Censored Exploration and the Dark Pool Problem”, Communications of the ACM 53(5), pp. 99–107. Guéant, O., C. A. Lehalle and J. F. Tapia, 2012, “Optimal Portfolio Liquidation with Limit Orders”, Technical Report, arXiv:1106.3279 [q-fin.TR]. JP Morgan, 2012, “Dark Matters Part 1: Optimal Liquidity Seeker”, Report, JP Morgan Electronic Client Solutions, May. Kharroubi, I., and H. Pham, 2010, “Optimal Portfolio Liquidation with Execution Cost and Risk”, SIAM Journal on Financial Mathematics 1(1), pp. 897–931. Kulesza, A., M. Kearns and Y. Nevmyvaka, 2010, “Empirical Limitations on High Frequency Trading Profitability”, Journal of Trading 5(4), pp. 50–62. Laruelle, S., C.


pages: 291 words: 92,688

Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam

carried interest, dark matter, liberation theology, Mason jar, mass incarceration, plutocrats, Plutocrats, race to the bottom, Silicon Valley

Why did I tell that story of her on the plane and me back home? To embroil Robin, to mythologize her, to upset her, break her open. I’d convinced myself that everyone wants to be immortalized in a work of art. I told that story because it confused me. Because it felt good to scratch the itch of that confusion. Because the work of telling it became a consolation. Because when I worked on it, I took hold of dark matter. I felt an ecstatic thrill seeing my work on the page. I wanted to leave my mark. I thought I could transform it into something else. Because if I didn’t somehow address these ideas, I was literally thinking myself out of existence. Which, I guess, was what I’d done, which was why I didn’t want to be alive anymore, and why I went to my suitcase to find a belt and hang myself. Someone had thrown my suitcase on the floor and was lying in the nearest bed, staring at me.


pages: 294 words: 96,661

The Fourth Age: Smart Robots, Conscious Computers, and the Future of Humanity by Byron Reese

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, artificial general intelligence, basic income, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, business process, Claude Shannon: information theory, clean water, cognitive bias, computer age, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Elon Musk, Eratosthenes, estate planning, financial independence, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, full employment, Hans Rosling, income inequality, invention of agriculture, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, James Hargreaves, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, lateral thinking, life extension, Louis Pasteur, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Mary Lou Jepsen, Moravec's paradox, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, pattern recognition, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Rodney Brooks, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, spinning jenny, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Von Neumann architecture, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, working poor, Works Progress Administration, Y Combinator

Strawson writes, “We don’t know the intrinsic nature of physical stuff,” and he believes that as we understand physics better, consciousness will give up its secrets and be seen just as a physical process. In this view, the seemingly inexplicable nature of what we call consciousness is no great surprise. The physical universe is full of strange, seemingly inexplicable things, such as quantum physics, relativity, and dark matter. Consider the phenomenon of entanglement, in which two particles are so linked with each other that even if they are separated by the width of the universe, if you perform an action on one of them, its pair reacts instantly, faster than light itself. Even Einstein categorized this phenomenon as “spooky.” When compared with things like quantum entanglement, consciousness doesn’t seem all that strange.


pages: 336 words: 93,672

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

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, global pandemic, Google Glasses, iterative process, linked data, mouse model, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, speech recognition, stem cell, Steven Pinker, supply-chain management, Turing machine, twin studies, 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: 255 words: 88,987

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

dark matter, invisible hand, Kickstarter, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, 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: 293 words: 88,490

The End of Theory: Financial Crises, the Failure of Economics, and the Sweep of Human Interaction by Richard Bookstaber

"Robert Solow", asset allocation, bank run, bitcoin, business cycle, butterfly effect, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, cellular automata, collateralized debt obligation, conceptual framework, constrained optimization, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, dark matter, disintermediation, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, epigenetics, feminist movement, financial innovation, fixed income, Flash crash, Henri Poincaré, information asymmetry, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John Meriwether, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market clearing, market microstructure, money market fund, Paul Samuelson, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Piper Alpha, Ponzi scheme, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, risk/return, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, sovereign wealth fund, the map is not the territory, The Predators' Ball, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Turing machine, Turing test, yield curve

But given its ethereal nature, we can think of radical uncertainty in other ways as well. We can also think of radical uncertainty as a type of complexity. From the standpoint of computational irreducibility, we might look at radical uncertainty as occupying a position that is beyond the edge of the complexity spectrum, at least beyond the “visible” complexity spectrum that we can observe and analyze. Radical uncertainty is the dark matter of complexity. We cannot see it, we cannot even detect it, we cannot measure it in terms of informational irreducibility, but we know it is there because every now and then it hits us between the eyes. To see how we can put radical uncertainty into a complexity context, let’s revisit Conway’s Game of Life. It is a stripped-down, rudimentary form of an agent-based model. Life has a set of agents, the black, living cells, which observe their environment each period.


pages: 371 words: 93,570

Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans

"side hustle", 4chan, Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, British Empire, colonial rule, computer age, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, Doomsday Book, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, East Village, Edward Charles Pickering, game design, glass ceiling, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Haight Ashbury, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Honoré de Balzac, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, hypertext link, index card, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge worker, Leonard Kleinrock, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Network effects, old-boy network, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pets.com, rent control, RFC: Request For Comment, rolodex, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, subscription business, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, telepresence, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, Y2K

“I heard women talking about things that I wouldn’t normally hear women talking about,” says Howard Mittelmark, “talking about men in ways that they wouldn’t usually share with me.” At its peak, Echo had around forty-six thousand users. More than half were lurkers. Even today, most people are lurkers: on social media platforms everywhere a vast silent majority listens, reads, and keeps to itself. It’s the social dark matter of the Internet, the force holding us all together. Those who did post actively on Echo—about a tenth of Stacy’s subscribers—were the diehards. They were the hosts, the contrarians, the pot stirrers, the core group. Although Echo still exists, tumultuously but successfully moved over to a Linux server not long ago, only a fraction of that core group remains. Like any family, the remaining Echoids have gone through a lot together.


pages: 327 words: 88,121

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

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, assortative mating, Berlin Wall, big-box store, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, Broken windows theory, business cycle, call centre, clean water, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, David Brooks, delayed gratification, different worldview, double helix, Downton Abbey, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, 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, McMansion, Nate Silver, obamacare, Occupy movement, Peter Thiel, post-industrial society, Richard Florida, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, social intelligence, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban decay, urban planning, Walter Mischel, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, World Values Survey, zero-sum game

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: 321 words: 90,247

Lights Out in Wonderland by Dbc Pierre

Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, dark matter, haute cuisine, market design, stem cell

Some redress is surely due from nature. We’ll see about this, in a quiet moment, with wine. A fire engine roars past with its lights flashing. I turn my back and stare at Burger King as if I might buy it. But whoosh—I find beauty there. The neon has dimmed on a corner of the sign, causing a delicate graduation of reds, from hot capsicum to dry blood. The dimmer part is at the bottom, making dark matter seem to pool there, but that old blood sparkles with highlights thrown by other lamps nearby. There’s no orchid or lily as rare as this fragment of sign, I reflect. Certainly none spelling “King.” Arriving at the railway station, I find it droning with an alternating current of apathy and rage, buffeted as much between trains as when they rocket past without stopping. I switch on my phone and hear it ping a chain of messages.


pages: 386 words: 92,778

"Live From Cape Canaveral": Covering the Space Race, From Sputnik to Today by Jay Barbree

Charles Lindbergh, dark matter, gravity well, invisible hand, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, Stephen Hawking, white flight

Hubble fired the most doubting imaginations, because in the space telescope’s twenty-year lifetime it would answer many eager questions. Were there other planets outside our solar system? Hubble answered yes as it showed astronomers hundreds in our galactic neighborhood. How old is the universe? Hubble says 13.9 billion years. Is the speed of light really the ultimate velocity? Or will we find unanticipated matter and energy that travel faster? What exactly is dark matter? Does it really make up most of the universe? And what happens to the trillions of tons of matter that vanish into the maw of black holes? What are the white gushers in space pouring vast amounts of subatomic particles into our universe—with no identifiable source or known reason? And is the universe expanding? Hubble says yes as it observes exploding stars in galaxies whose light was emitted when the universe was half its present age, and the space telescope reports the universe’s expansion is accelerating—being driven by an unknown force.


pages: 367 words: 99,711

Sundiver by David Brin

Arthur Eddington, clean water, dark matter, zero-sum game

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

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: 317 words: 97,824

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, availability heuristic, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, delayed gratification, fear of failure, feminist movement, functional fixedness, Lao Tzu, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Walter Mischel

Our own view of what is and is not possible in reality affects how we perceive identical evidence. But that view shifts with time, and thus, evidence that might at one point seem meaningless can come to hold a great deal of meaning. Think of how many ideas seemed outlandish when first put forward, seemed so impossible that they couldn’t be true: the earth being round; the earth going around the sun; the universe being made up almost entirely of something that we can’t see, dark matter and energy. And don’t forget that magical things did keep happening all around as Conan Doyle came of age: the invention of the X-ray (or the Röntgen ray, as it was called), the discovery of the germ, the microbe, radiation—all things that went from invisible and thus nonexistent to visible and apparent. Unseen things that no one had suspected were there were, in fact, very there indeed. In that context, is it so crazy that Arthur Conan Doyle became a spiritualist?


pages: 379 words: 99,340

The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium by Martin Gurri

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Arthur Eddington, Ayatollah Khomeini, bitcoin, Black Swan, Burning Man, business cycle, citizen journalism, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, collective bargaining, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, currency manipulation / currency intervention, dark matter, David Graeber, death of newspapers, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, facts on the ground, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, housing crisis, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, job-hopping, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, Port of Oakland, Republic of Letters, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, too big to fail, traveling salesman, University of East Anglia, urban renewal, War on Poverty, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, young professional

The vector of contagion was the information sphere, the weapon of choice was the crowd: the resulting convulsion deserved a catchy name, but given the failure of the global imagination on this point, I will call it, simply, the year 2011. Chapter 5 Phase Change 2011 My story – I repeat – concerns the tectonic collision between a public which will not rule and institutions of authority progressively less able to do so. My misgiving is that democracy will be ground to pieces under the stress. An immense psychological distance separates the two sides, even as they come together in conflict. This gulf is filled with dark matter: distrust. The elites who control the institutions have never really trusted the public, which they considered animalistic and prone to bouts of destructiveness. In effect, they sought to neuter the public by herding it into a mass and attaching it to established hierarchies. A glimpse at any American airport today will confirm that this horror of the top for the bottom has, if anything, grown more intense.


pages: 417 words: 103,458

The Intelligence Trap: Revolutionise Your Thinking and Make Wiser Decisions by David Robson

active measures, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Atul Gawande, availability heuristic, cognitive bias, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, deliberate practice, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Flynn Effect, framing effect, fundamental attribution error, illegal immigration, Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, knowledge economy, lone genius, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Nelson Mandela, obamacare, pattern recognition, price anchoring, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, theory of mind, traveling salesman, ultimatum game, Y2K, Yom Kippur War

Whatever the reason, the results suggest that smarter people are not investing their money in the more rational manner that economists might anticipate; it is another sign that intelligence does not necessarily lead to better decision making. As one vivid example, consider the story of Paul Frampton. A brilliant physicist at the University of North Carolina, his work ranged from a new theory of dark matter (the mysterious, invisible mass holding our universe together) to the prediction of a subatomic particle called the ‘axigluon’, a theory that is inspiring experiments at the Large Hadron Collider. In 2011, however, he began online dating, and soon struck up a friendship with a former bikini model named Denise Milani. In January the next year, she invited him to visit her on a photoshoot in La Paz, Bolivia.


pages: 332 words: 101,772

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

dark matter, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, Golden Gate Park, impulse control, Malacca Straits, Rat Park, 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: 350 words: 98,077

Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans by Melanie Mitchell

Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, computer age, computer vision, dark matter, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Gödel, Escher, Bach, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, ImageNet competition, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, Mark Zuckerberg, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, ought to be enough for anybody, pattern recognition, performance metric, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, superintelligent machines, theory of mind, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Examples include methods for clustering examples based on their similarity or learning a new category via analogy to known categories. As I’ll describe in a later chapter, perceiving abstract similarity and analogies is something at which humans excel, but to date there are no very successful AI methods for this kind of unsupervised learning. Yann LeCun himself acknowledges that “unsupervised learning is the dark matter of AI.” In other words, for general AI, almost all learning will have to be unsupervised, but no one has yet come up with the kinds of algorithms needed to perform successful unsupervised learning. Humans make mistakes all the time, even (or especially) in driving; any one of us might have hit that public bus, had we been the one veering around sandbags. But humans also have a fundamental competence lacking in all current AI systems: common sense.


Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney

Albert Einstein, British Empire, colonial rule, dark matter, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, experimental subject, Francisco Pizarro, global pandemic, Hernando de Soto, invisible hand, John Snow's cholera map, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, placebo effect, trade route, urban renewal

But a survey of ordinary Americans conducted half a century later, in 2004, revealed high levels of confusion as to what a gene actually is.8 Doctors’ training was patchy in 1918, though from 1910 Abraham Flexner had begun campaigning for rigorous, standardised medical education in the US. Health insurance was almost unheard of, and in general healthcare was paid for privately or provided by charities. Antibiotics had yet to be invented, and there was still relatively little people could do once sick. Even in Paris and Berlin, therefore, disease filled the interstices of human lives. It lurked behind the column inches devoted to the war. It was the dark matter of the universe, so intimate and familiar as not to be spoken about. It engendered panic, followed by resignation. Religion was the main source of comfort, and parents were used to surviving at least some of their children. People regarded death very differently. It was a regular visitor; they were less afraid. This, then, was the world into which the Spanish flu erupted: a world that knew the motor car but was more comfortable with the mule; that believed in both quantum theory and witches; that straddled the modern and premodern eras, so that some people lived in skyscrapers and used telephones, while others lived much as their ancestors had in the Middle Ages.


pages: 330 words: 99,044

Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire by Rebecca Henderson

Airbnb, asset allocation, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, collaborative economy, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, crony capitalism, dark matter, decarbonisation, disruptive innovation, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, fixed income, George Akerlof, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, greed is good, Hans Rosling, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, index fund, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), joint-stock company, Kickstarter, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, mittelstand, Mont Pelerin Society, Nelson Mandela, passive investing, Paul Samuelson, Philip Mirowski, profit maximization, race to the bottom, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Second Machine Age, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, Steven Pinker, stocks for the long run, Tim Cook: Apple, total factor productivity, Toyota Production System, uber lyft, urban planning, Washington Consensus, working-age population, Zipcar

It was one of the largest cosmic structures ever discovered, and it changed the face of astronomy. Astronomers had always assumed that if they looked out beyond the Milky Way, galaxies would be spread more or less evenly across the universe. But John’s map suggested that the galaxies were instead confined to great sheets arcing around enormous voids millions of light-years across. The discovery made the front page of the New York Times and helped lay the foundation for the current dark matter–based view of the universe.30 John became one of the most highly cited astronomers of the twentieth century. In 1991, when we had our first date, I was entirely ignorant of all this. He was just some guy that I’d been introduced to. Since we were both academics, I asked him how many papers he had published. He hesitated and guessed that it was something over three hundred. Since I had roughly six published papers at the time, I had to suppress a strong urge to leap to my feet and bolt, but we were married a year later, when he was forty-four.


pages: 903 words: 235,753

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

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, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), 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, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Ethereum, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, peer-to-peer, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Robert Bork, 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, undersea cable, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, Westphalian system, 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.


She Has Her Mother's Laugh by Carl Zimmer

23andMe, agricultural Revolution, clean water, clockwatching, cloud computing, dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Drosophila, Elon Musk, epigenetics, Fellow of the Royal Society, Flynn Effect, friendly fire, Gary Taubes, germ theory of disease, Isaac Newton, longitudinal study, medical bankruptcy, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, moral panic, mouse model, New Journalism, out of africa, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Scientific racism, statistical model, stem cell, twin studies

I inspected her face, aligning photos of her with snapshots of Grace as a baby. Sometimes I thought I could hear heredity. To my ear, at least, she has her mother’s laugh. As I write this, Charlotte is now fifteen. She has a thirteen-year-old sister named Veronica. Watching them grow up, I have pondered heredity even more. I wondered about the source of their different shades of skin color, the tint of their irises, Charlotte’s obsession with the dark matter of the universe, or Veronica’s gift for singing. (“She didn’t get that from me.” “Well, she certainly didn’t get it from me.”) Those thoughts led me to wonder about heredity itself. It is a word that we all know. Nobody needs an introduction to it, the way we might to meiosis or allele. We all feel like we’re on a first-name basis with heredity. We use it to make sense of some of the most important parts of our lives.

Charlotte grew to five foot six, a fairly average height. Veronica has always been off the charts, making people assume she’s a couple of years older than she really is. As a child, Charlotte would hold back when we introduced her to new people, sizing them up. Veronica, standing next to her, would launch herself into the air and shout her name. At age twelve, Charlotte became obsessed with galaxies and dark matter. Veronica didn’t care much what the universe is made of. She’d rather sing, or read Jane Austen. The experiences our daughters have had probably account for some of their differences. But so does meiosis. Grace and I gave each of our children different combinations of the DNA we inherited from our own parents. The unique combination of alleles that each of our children ended up with had a unique influence on how she grew up.


pages: 397 words: 109,631

Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking by Richard E. Nisbett

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, fixed income, fundamental attribution error, glass ceiling, Henri Poincaré, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, lake wobegon effect, libertarian paternalism, longitudinal study, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, quantitative easing, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, selection bias, Shai Danziger, 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: 319 words: 105,949

Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot by Mark Vanhoenacker

Airbus A320, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, computer age, dark matter, digital map, Edmond Halley, Joan Didion, John Harrison: Longitude, Louis Blériot, Maui Hawaii, Nelson Mandela, out of africa, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, the built environment, transcontinental railway, Year of Magical Thinking

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

"Robert Solow", Andrei Shleifer, asset-backed security, Bernie Madoff, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, collapse of Lehman Brothers, corporate raider, Credit Default Swap, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, David Brooks, desegregation, en.wikipedia.org, endowment effect, equity premium, financial intermediation, financial thriller, fixed income, full employment, George Akerlof, greed is good, income per capita, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, loss aversion, market bubble, Menlo Park, mental accounting, Milgram experiment, money market fund, moral hazard, new economy, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, profit motive, publication bias, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, short selling, Silicon Valley, the new new thing, 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, Vilfredo Pareto, 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.


A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford

23andMe, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, bioinformatics, British Empire, colonial rule, dark matter, delayed gratification, demographic transition, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Google Earth, Isaac Newton, Kickstarter, longitudinal study, meta analysis, meta-analysis, out of africa, phenotype, sceptred isle, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, twin studies

Lots of the rest of it does something, including the switches – the ons and offs for genes to dance their choreography as we develop in the womb, enact our lives and interact with the rest of the universe. Some of it does stuff that we haven’t discovered yet. Is it junk? No. Is it useful? We don’t know. Most of the genome – upwards of 85 per cent – does not appear to be under any selective pressure at all. Many writers have described the non-coding realm of our DNA as the ‘dark matter of the genome’, alluding to the stuff we know exists in space, that makes up the majority of mass in the universe, but that we cannot yet account for. We don’t know what it is, but we infer that it is there because of our model of how the universe is built. I intensely dislike this phrase. Metaphors in science should clarify or enlighten, not obfuscate because they sound profound. To me, it is using one thing we don’t understand to explain another, and thus has no explicatory power itself.


pages: 1,066 words: 273,703

Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World by Adam Tooze

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Asian financial crisis, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, break the buck, Bretton Woods, BRICs, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, centre right, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, dark matter, deindustrialization, desegregation, Detroit bankruptcy, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, diversification, Doha Development Round, Donald Trump, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, energy security, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, forward guidance, friendly fire, full employment, global reserve currency, global supply chain, global value chain, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, Kenneth Rogoff, large denomination, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, Martin Wolf, McMansion, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, mittelstand, money market fund, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mutually assured destruction, negative equity, new economy, Northern Rock, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, old-boy network, open economy, paradox of thrift, Peter Thiel, Ponzi scheme, predatory finance, price stability, private sector deleveraging, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, structural adjustment programs, The Great Moderation, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, trade liberalization, upwardly mobile, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, white flight, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, yield curve, éminence grise

Azevedo, “Remarks: The Evolution of Trade, Technology, and Globalization: How to Foster Inclusive Growth,” November 8, 2017, https://www.wto.org/english/news_e/spra_e/spra198_e.htm. 120. C. Constantinescu, A. Mattoo, and M. Ruta, “The Global Trade Slowdown: Cyclical or Structural?,” International Monetary Fund, No. 15–16, 2015. 121. See the powerful critique in S. J. Evenett and J. Fritz, Will Awe Trump Rules? The 21st Global Trade Alert Report (London: CEPR, 2017). 122. B. W. Setser, “Dark Matter. Soon to Be Revealed?,” Follow the Money (blog), February 2, 2017, https://www.cfr.org/blog/dark-matter-soon-be-revealed. 123. National Security Strategy of the United States (Washington, December 2017), 37, https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf. 124. D. A. Graham, “The Wrong Side of ‘the Right Side of History,’” Atlantic, December 21, 2015, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/12/obama-right-side-of-history/420462/. 125.


pages: 422 words: 113,525

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand

agricultural Revolution, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, land tenure, lateral thinking, low earth orbit, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, microbiome, New Urbanism, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, out of africa, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Calthorpe, 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, wealth creators, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, William Langewiesche, 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: 386 words: 116,233

The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime by Mj Demarco

8-hour work day, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, back-to-the-land, Bernie Madoff, bounce rate, business process, butterfly effect, buy and hold, cloud computing, commoditize, dark matter, delayed gratification, demand response, Donald Trump, fear of failure, financial independence, fixed income, housing crisis, Jeff Bezos, job-hopping, Lao Tzu, Mark Zuckerberg, passive income, passive investing, payday loans, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, Ronald Reagan, upwardly mobile, wealth creators, white picket fence, World Values Survey, zero day

I consider these people to be better entertainers than investment advisors. I have no love lost for the poor sap who lost his retirement savings because he listened to some CNBC pundit peddling some hot stock tip or investment advice. What is wrong with people? How do you not take responsibility for your financial plan? And then there's your uncle. You know the guy-the well-educated elder in your life who knows everything, including the molecular structure of dark matter in the Horsehead Nebula. His army of factoids is always ready for deployment: stock tips, the latest and greatest investments, money trends. Yet, lest you forget, he lives paycheck to paycheck. I call these people “Broke Know-It-Alls”-people who dispense financial, moneymaking advice, and yet are dirt poor. These fat behemoths are walking hypocrisies on how to live a life of health and fitness.


pages: 424 words: 114,905

Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again by Eric Topol

23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, bioinformatics, blockchain, cloud computing, cognitive bias, Colonization of Mars, computer age, computer vision, conceptual framework, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dark matter, David Brooks, digital twin, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, fault tolerance, George Santayana, Google Glasses, ImageNet competition, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, Joi Ito, Mark Zuckerberg, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, natural language processing, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nudge unit, pattern recognition, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, placebo effect, randomized controlled trial, recommendation engine, Rubik’s Cube, Sam Altman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, text mining, the scientific method, Tim Cook: Apple, War on Poverty, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, working-age population

IMAGES ImageNet exemplified an adage about AI: datasets—not algorithms—might be the key limiting factor of human-level artificial intelligence.39 When Fei-Fei Li, a computer scientist now at Stanford and half time at Google, started ImageNet in 2007, she bucked the idea that algorithms ideally needed nurturing from Big Data and instead pursued the in-depth annotation of images. She recognized it wasn’t about Big Data; it was about carefully, extensively labeled Big Data. A few years ago, she said, “I consider the pixel data in images and video to be the dark matter of the Internet.”40 Many different convolutional DNNs were used to classify the images with annual ImageNet Challenge contests to recognize the best (such as AlexNet, GoogleNet, VGG Net, and ResNet). Figure 4.6 shows the progress in reducing the error rate over several years, with ImageNet wrapping up in 2017, with significantly better than human performance in image recognition. The error rate fell from 30 percent in 2010 to 4 percent in 2016.


pages: 457 words: 112,439

Zero History by William Gibson

augmented reality, business intelligence, dark matter, edge city, hive mind, invisible hand, new economy, pattern recognition, Pepto Bismol, placebo effect, Ponzi scheme, RFID, too big to fail

They could convey a great deal in a very few words, and had their own slang, in-group jokes of seemingly infinite depth, a species of twin-talk. He wore a headset, cabled to his no-name black laptop, on the embroidered velour beside him, their conversation being conducted, she assumed, through one or another of the darknets they frequented. These were, she gathered, private internets, unlicensed and unpoliced, and Garreth had once remarked that, as with dark matter and the universe, the darknets were probably the bulk of the thing, were there any way to accurately measure them. She didn’t listen. Stayed in the warm, steamy bathroom, drying her hair. When she came out, he was staring up at the round bottom of the birdcage. “Are you still talking?” “No.” He removed the headset. “Are you all right?” “He’s done. Folded.” “What do you mean?” She went to him.


pages: 405 words: 117,219

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

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, animal electricity, 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, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kickstarter, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, millennium bug, Moravec's paradox, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, off grid, 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, social intelligence, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, 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: 504 words: 126,835

The Innovation Illusion: How So Little Is Created by So Many Working So Hard by Fredrik Erixon, Bjorn Weigel

"Robert Solow", Airbnb, Albert Einstein, American ideology, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, BRICs, Burning Man, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, Clayton Christensen, Colonization of Mars, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crony capitalism, dark matter, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, discounted cash flows, distributed ledger, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, fear of failure, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Gilder, global supply chain, global value chain, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, income per capita, index fund, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job satisfaction, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, Lyft, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, Martin Wolf, mass affluent, means of production, Mont Pelerin Society, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, pensions crisis, Peter Thiel, Potemkin village, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, Productivity paradox, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, risk tolerance, risk/return, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, technological singularity, telemarketer, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, transportation-network company, tulip mania, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, uber lyft, University of East Anglia, unpaid internship, Vanguard fund, Yogi Berra

Investment in private companies and infrastructure are also favored investment targets – all the more so recently as their traditional assets have become more volatile. If SWFs were a country, they would probably rank lower than Zimbabwe in Transparency International’s ranking. The Linaburg Maduell Transparency Index (LMTI) measures their transparency and, to cut a long story short, if there are problems understanding the ownership motives of investment funds, they are child’s play compared with the SWFs. SWFs are more like dark matter – known but not observable. Differences exist, of course, but SWFs are generally secretive and only one of the ten largest SWFs in the world – Norway – gets the highest transparency grade. Seven of them rate so poorly that it is impossible to know what they really own. In 2015, these “secret seven” together managed over $3.46 trillion in assets.26 One can understand why many SWFs are shy about the outside world.


pages: 473 words: 124,861

Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm by Isabella Tree

agricultural Revolution, Berlin Wall, British Empire, carbon footprint, clean water, dark matter, illegal immigration, Kickstarter, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, oil shale / tar sands, phenotype

For decades, research into soil biology – ‘one of the most neglected components of the global system’, according to environmentalist Tony Juniper – has been woefully underfunded, sidelined by other, less complex fields of natural science, sexy projects like space technology, and the agro-industry’s funding of research into artificial systems. Only now are scientific techniques coming into play that allow the observation of soil microbes – microbial ‘dark matter’ – in their natural environment rather than within the limiting scope of the laboratory. 99 per cent of microbes will not grow in laboratory conditions. In 2015 the journal Nature reported the first discovery for thirty years of a new antibiotic in the soil – teixobactin – capable of killing Mycobacterium tuberculosis , Clostridium difficile and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus . Most antibiotics are derived from soil microbes and the great hope is that now many other antibiotics new to science can be uncovered in the soil in this way.


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

Albert Einstein, AltaVista, business cycle, 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, longitudinal study, 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.


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

23andMe, 3D printing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Anne Wojcicki, Atul Gawande, augmented reality, bioinformatics, call centre, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, commoditize, computer vision, conceptual framework, connected car, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, dark matter, data acquisition, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, 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, information asymmetry, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, job automation, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, license plate recognition, lifelogging, 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, uber lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, 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.


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Stamping Butterflies by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

affirmative action, Brownian motion, Burning Man, carbon-based life, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, dark matter, phenotype

And then in 1904 a minor clerk at the Swiss Patent Office in Berne wrote a brief pamphlet, a side effect of which was that time and space became, like mass and energy, so inextricably linked they turned into variants of the same thing. Petra Mayer was not a believer in unalloyed Einstein, any more than she believed in the angelic host, time running in only one direction or the universe as an ever-expanding balloon of mostly dark matter. "You've got more than just the one photograph, right?" Petra Mayer said. She was having trouble keeping the impatience out of her voice. Old age and cancer were not treating her kindly. "Yes," said the President, reopening a file. "They're one of the things we've just been discussing. We got copies this morning." Gene Newman leant over the table of the Situation Room to take another look. There were five photographs in all.


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

AltaVista, Andy Kessler, barriers to entry, business process, Cass Sunstein, commoditize, computer age, creative destruction, dark matter, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, Donald Davies, 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, Kenneth Arrow, Larry Wall, Leonard Kleinrock, linked data, Marc Andreessen, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Network effects, new economy, packet switching, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, price mechanism, profit maximization, RAND corporation, rent control, rent-seeking, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, Richard Thaler, Robert Bork, 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, zero-sum game

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.


Applied Cryptography: Protocols, Algorithms, and Source Code in C by Bruce Schneier

active measures, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, dark matter, Donald Davies, Donald Knuth, dumpster diving, Exxon Valdez, fault tolerance, finite state, invisible hand, John von Neumann, knapsack problem, MITM: man-in-the-middle, NP-complete, P = NP, packet switching, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, software patent, telemarketer, traveling salesman, Turing machine, web of trust, Zimmermann PGP

Many of the astrophysics numbers are explained in Freeman TABLE 1.1 Large Numbers Physical Analogue Number Odds of being killed by lightning (per day) Odds of winning the top prize in a U.S. state lottery Odds of winning the top prize in a U.S. state lottery and being killed by lightning in the same day Odds of drowning (in the U.S. per year) Odds of being killed in an automobile accident(in the U.S. in 1993) Odds of being killed in an automobile accident(in the U.S. per lifetime) Time until the next ice age Time until the sun goes nova Age of the planet Age of the Universe Number of atoms in the planet Number of atoms in the sun Number of atoms in the galaxy Number of atoms in the Universe (dark matter excluded) Volume of the Universe 1 in 9 billion (233) 1 in 4,000,000 (222) 1 in 255 1 in 59,000 (216) 1 in 6100 (213) 1 in 88 (27) 14,000 (214) years 109 (230) years 109 (230) years 1010 (234) years 1051 (2170) 1057 (2190) 1067 (2223) 1077 (2265) 1084 (2280) cm3 If the Universe is Closed: Total lifetime of the Universe If the Universe is Open: Time until low-mass stars cool off Time until planets detach from stars Time until stars detach from galaxies Time until orbits decay by gravitational radiation Time until black holes decay by the Hawking process Time until all matter is liquid at zero temperature Time until all matter decays to iron Time until all matter collapses to black holes 1011 (237) years 1018 (261) seconds 1014 (247) years 1015 (250) years 1019 (264) years 1020 (267) years 1064 (2213) years 1065 (2216) years 101026 years 101076 years Dyson’s paper, “Time Without End: Physics and Biology in an Open Universe,” in Reviews of Modern Physics, v. 52, n. 3, July 1979, pp. 447–460.

Assuming that a brute-force attack is the most efficient, it would require 2128(1038) encryptions to recover the key. Design a chip that can test a billion keys per second and throw a billion of them at the problem, and it will still take 1013 years—that’s longer than the age of the universe. An array of 1024 such chips can find the key in a day, but there aren’t enough silicon atoms in the universe to build such a machine. Now we’re getting somewhere—although I’d keep my eye on the dark matter debate. Perhaps brute force isn’t the best way to attack IDEA. The algorithm is still too new for any definitive cryptanalytic results. The designers have done their best to make the algorithm immune to differential cryptanalysis; they defined the concept of a Markov cipher and showed that resistance to differential cryptanalysis can be modeled and quantified [931, 925]. (Figure 13.10 shows the original PES algorithm to be contrasted with the IDEA algorithm of Figure 13.9 which was strengthened against differential cryptanalysis.


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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

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, Pearl River Delta, post-Panamax, profit motive, Skype, standardized shipping container, 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: 489 words: 148,885

Accelerando by Stross, Charles

business cycle, call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, Conway's Game of Life, dark matter, dumpster diving, Extropian, finite state, Flynn Effect, glass ceiling, gravity well, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, knapsack problem, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, means of production, MITM: man-in-the-middle, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, 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, zero-sum game

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.


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Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War by Paul Scharre

active measures, Air France Flight 447, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, automated trading system, autonomous vehicles, basic income, brain emulation, Brian Krebs, cognitive bias, computer vision, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, DARPA: Urban Challenge, DevOps, drone strike, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, facts on the ground, fault tolerance, Flash crash, Freestyle chess, friendly fire, IFF: identification friend or foe, ImageNet competition, Internet of things, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Loebner Prize, loose coupling, Mark Zuckerberg, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, Nate Silver, pattern recognition, Rodney Brooks, Rubik’s Cube, self-driving car, sensor fusion, South China Sea, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Wozniak, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, Tesla Model S, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, theory of mind, Turing test, universal basic income, Valery Gerasimov, Wall-E, William Langewiesche, Y2K, zero day

Patti Domm, “False Rumor of Explosion at White House Causes Stocks to Briefly Plunge; AP Confirms Its Twitter Feed Was Hacked,” April 23, 2013, http://www.cnbc.com/id/100646197. 185 deep neural networks to understand text: Xiang Zhang and Yann LeCun, “Text Understanding from Scratch,” April 4, 2016, https://arxiv.org/pdf/1502.01710v5.pdf. 185 Associated Press Twitter account was hacked: Domm, “False Rumor of Explosion at White House Causes Stocks to Briefly Plunge; AP Confirms Its Twitter Feed Was Hacked.” 186 design deep neural networks that aren’t vulnerable: “Deep neural networks are easily fooled.” 186 “counterintuitive, weird” vulnerability: Jeff Clune, interview, September 28, 2016. 186 “[T]he sheer magnitude, millions or billions”: JASON, “Perspectives on Research in Artificial Intelligence and Artificial General Intelligence Relevant to DoD,” 28–29. 186 “the very nature of [deep neural networks]”: Ibid, 28. 186 “As deep learning gets even more powerful”: Jeff Clune, interview, September 28, 2016. 186 “super complicated and big and weird”: Ibid. 187 “sobering message . . . tragic extremely quickly”: Ibid. 187 “[I]t is not clear that the existing AI paradigm”: JASON, “Perspectives on Research in Artificial Intelligence and Artificial General Intelligence Relevant to DoD,” Ibid, 27. 188 “nonintuitive characteristics”: Szegedy et al., “Intriguing Properties of Neural Networks.” 188 we don’t really understand how it happens: For a readable explanation of this broader problem, see David Berreby, “Artificial Intelligence Is Already Weirdly Inhuman,” Nautilus, August 6, 2015, http://nautil.us/issue/27/dark-matter/artificial-intelligence-is-already-weirdly-inhuman. 12 Failing Deadly: The Risk of Autonomous Weapons 189 “I think that we’re being overly optimistic”: John Borrie, interview, April 12, 2016. 189 “If you’re going to turn these things loose”: John Hawley, interview, December 5, 2016. 189 “[E]ven with our improved knowledge”: Perrow, Normal Accidents, 354. 191 “robo-cannon rampage”: Noah Shachtman, “Inside the Robo-Cannon Rampage (Updated),” WIRED, October 19, 2007, https://www.wired.com/2007/10/inside-the-robo/. 191 bad luck, not deliberate targeting: “ ‘Robotic Rampage’ Unlikely Reason for Deaths,” New Scientist, accessed June 12, 2017, https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12812-robotic-rampage-unlikely-reason-for-deaths/. 191 35 mm rounds into a neighboring gun position: “Robot Cannon Kills 9, Wounds 14,” WIRED, accessed June 12, 2017, https://www.wired.com/2007/10/robot-cannon-ki/. 191 “The machine doesn’t know it’s making a mistake”: John Hawley, interview, December 5, 2016. 193 “incidents of mass lethality”: John Borrie, interview, April 12, 2016. 193 “If you put someone else”: John Hawley, interview, December 5, 2016. 194 “I don’t have a lot of good answers for that”: Peter Galluch, interview, July 15, 2016. 13 Bot vs.


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