invention of the telescope

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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

He’d estimated the angle to be 87 degrees, while the true value is 89.853, almost a right angle. Small differences in angles of this size result in quite large differences in the relative size of the lengths of the sides of the triangle. It would need the invention of the telescope and some more clever mathematics to truly determine the size of the solar system. The right-angled triangle made by the Earth, Moon and Sun when the Moon is half full. Even without the invention of the telescope, astronomers could see that the Moon and Sun weren’t the only bodies processing through the sky. Ancient cultures picked up several tiny pricks of light in the night sky that behaved very differently from the plethora of other stars.

Although we don’t have a ship in which we can sail to the edges of the universe, scientists in the seventeenth century did come up with a cunning way to explore space: the telescope. HOW FAR CAN YOU SEE? It was Galileo’s generation that discovered you could enhance how far you can see by placing carved glass lenses in a tube. Indeed, for years Galileo himself seemed to get the credit for the invention of the telescope, but that accolade should go to the Dutch spectacle-maker Hans Lippershey, who filed a patent for an instrument ‘for seeing things far away as if they were nearby’. The Dutch instrument was able to magnify things by a factor of 3. Galileo heard about the instrument on a trip to Venice.

THE STARS IN OUR NEIGHBOURHOOD Looking at the celestial sphere on my desk, I find it laughable that the ancient Greeks thought the stars were painted on a huge celestial ball enclosing the universe with the void beyond. But they didn’t have much to go on. Given the distance of the stars from the Earth, to the naked eye they all look to be a long way away. It was impossible for the ancient astronomers to detect any depth. But the invention of the telescope brought those stars a little closer, close enough that modern astronomers could see that they were not all the same distance from the Earth. If one star is nearer to us than another, then there is a way to tell that it’s closer. Although we are stuck on the surface of the Earth, at least the Earth is moving relative to the stars, which means we get different viewpoints on the cosmos.


pages: 1,197 words: 304,245

The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution by David Wootton

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, British Empire, clockwork universe, Commentariolus, commoditize, conceptual framework, Dava Sobel, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, Ernest Rutherford, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, germ theory of disease, Google X / Alphabet X, Hans Lippershey, interchangeable parts, invention of gunpowder, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Johannes Kepler, John Harrison: Longitude, knowledge economy, lateral thinking, lone genius, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, Philip Mirowski, placebo effect, QWERTY keyboard, Republic of Letters, social intelligence, spice trade, spinning jenny, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

As we will see, the Copernican revolution was delayed until the seventeenth century: very few sixteenth-century astronomers accepted Copernicus’s claim that the Earth revolves around the sun instead of standing still at the centre of the cosmos. The real revolution in astronomy came with Tycho Brahe’s nova, with the abandonment of belief in the crystalline spheres, and with the invention of the telescope. The key date is not 1543 but 1611. The title page of Johannes Stradanus’s New Discoveries (Nova reperta, c.1591) summarizes the knowledge that marks off the modern world from the ancient. Pride of place is given to the discovery of America and the invention of the compass, with, between them, the printing press.

But Gilbert understood that, seen from the moon, the Earth would shine like a vast moon; and that, seen from further away, it would shine like a star (here, he directly argued against Benedetti). The moon, he thought, had continents and oceans, just like the Earth. Like Bruno, he thought the oceans would be brighter than the land. He saw no reason why the other planets should not be just like the Earth.94 Gilbert drew, before the invention of the telescope, the first map of the moon, and as a result discovered its libration, the fact that it appears to turn slightly, up and down and from side to side, as it faces the Earth. This confirmed his conviction that the planets float freely in space. Moreover, Gilbert was the first to break completely with the notion that movement in the heavens must be circular: his planets trace complicated paths through the void; such a path could explain why the moon appears to wobble in the sky.

Man ceased to be the measure of all else only with the adoption of the metric system in France in 1799.46 The basic unit of measurement (from which volumes and weights were derived) became the metre, originally defined as one ten millionth of the distance from the equator to the North Pole. The metric system merely completed a process that had begun with the invention of the telescope, which definitively destroyed the idea that the universe was made on the same scale as man. § 5 According to orthodox Christian thinking (at least until Pascal), the universe had been made to provide a home for humankind. The sun was there to provide light and heat by day, the moon and stars light by night.


pages: 404 words: 131,034

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, global pandemic, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, spice trade, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, Tunguska event

But Kepler remained preoccupied with his work. He envisioned Tycho’s domain as a refuge from the evils of the time, as the place where his Cosmic Mystery would be confirmed. He aspired to become a colleague of the great Tycho Brahe, who for thirty-five years had devoted himself, before the invention of the telescope, to the measurement of a clockwork universe, ordered and precise. Kepler’s expectations were to be unfulfilled. Tycho himself was a flamboyant figure, festooned with a golden nose, the original having been lost in a student duel fought over who was the superior mathematician. Around him was a raucous entourage of assistants, sycophants, distant relatives and assorted hangers-on.

In the Somnium he tried to make the rotation of the Earth plausible, dramatic, comprehensible: “As long as the multitude does not err,… I want to be on the side of the many. Therefore, I take great pains to explain to as many people as possible.” (On another occasion he wrote in a letter, “Do not sentence me completely to the treadmill of mathematical calculations—leave me time for philosophical speculations, my sole delight.”*) With the invention of the telescope, what Kepler called “lunar geography” was becoming possible. In the Somnium, he described the Moon as filled with mountains and valleys and as “porous, as though dug through with hollows and continuous caves,” a reference to the lunar craters Galileo had recently discovered with the first astronomical telescope.

The idea that geometrical order reveals an underlying intelligence was central to Kepler’s life. His argument on the lunar craters is a clear foreshadowing of the Martian canal controversy (Chapter 5). It is striking that the observational search for extraterrestrial life began in the same generation as the invention of the telescope, and with the greatest theoretician of the age. Parts of the Somnium were clearly autobiographical. The hero, for example, visits Tycho Brahe. He has parents who sell drugs. His mother consorts with spirits and daemons, one of whom eventually provides the means to travel to the moon. The Somnium makes clear to us, although it did not to all of Kepler’s contemporaries, that “in a dream one must be allowed the liberty of imagining occasionally that which never existed in the world of sense perception.”


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

The tide started to turn with the publication of Nicolas Copernicus’s infuential volume On the Revolutions of Celestial Bodies just before his death in 1543. He posited that the Sun occupied the center of the universe, thus displacing the Earth from its unique niche. But the true revolution occurred with the invention of the telescope at the beginning of the next century. Galileo’s 1610 discovery of four moons circling Jupiter proved the existence of heavenly bodies that did not orbit the Earth. He also showed that Venus exhibited a full set of phases, just like the Moon, as predicted by Copernicus’s Sun-centered model.

These celestial alignments follow a precise cycle, with time intervals of 8.0, 121.5, 8.0, and 105.5 years in the case of Venus; Mercury transits are more frequent, with about a dozen or so per century. As Venus passes in front of the Sun, taking several hours to do so, it appears as a black dot about one-thirtieth the solar diameter. It’s big enough to be seen with the (properly protected) naked eye, but there are no records of a transit being observed before the invention of the telescope early in the seventeenth century. That’s not too surprising given the rarity of the event. In 1629 Johannes Kepler, as he investigated the laws of planetary motion, realized that transits of both Venus and Mercury would occur two years later. Unfortunately, he didn’t live to see either, and the Venus transit of 1631 was not visible from Europe in any case.

Yet Venus, with a broiling surface temperature of 400 degrees Celsius, a crushing surface pressure ninety times that of the Earth’s at sea level, and a carbon dioxide atmosphere that confrms our worst fears of the greenhouse effect, cannot sustain life as we know it. That’s why fnding, or even imaging, Earth-size planets elsewhere is one thing, but detecting life is quite another. Chapter 9 Signs of Life How Will We Find E.T.? Once the invention of the telescope showed that the Earth is but one world among many, it opened the serious prospect of life on other planets. The reconnaissance within our solar system has revealed some tantalizing hints but no defnitive evidence so far. Now that we are on the verge of fnding extrasolar worlds with conditions hospitable for life, the question has gained a new urgency.


pages: 294 words: 87,986

4th Rock From the Sun: The Story of Mars by Nicky Jenner

3D printing, Alfred Russel Wallace, Astronomia nova, cuban missile crisis, Elon Musk, game design, hive mind, invention of the telescope, Johannes Kepler, Kickstarter, Kim Stanley Robinson, low earth orbit, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, placebo effect, Pluto: dwarf planet, retrograde motion, selection bias, silicon-based life, Skype, Stephen Hawking, technoutopianism

Mars has been a key player in astronomy for millennia, due in large part to its proximity to Earth. While the more distant outer planets – Uranus, Neptune, the now-demoted Pluto – were only discovered following the invention of the telescope in the 1600s, the inner and nearby outer planets have always been visible with the naked eye, and so have been included as part of our Solar System models since the year dot. The invention of the telescope enabled us to characterise our nearest neighbours better than ever before. Many astronomers turned their eyes Mars-ward; Galileo Galilei, widely regarded as one of the fathers of the telescope, is thought to have observed the planet from 1608 to 1610, completing some of the very first telescopic views of Mars.


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

The low temperatures provide an advantage, though, because once molecules are synthesized on Titan, they tend to stick around: The higher the temperature, the faster molecules fall to pieces. On Titan the molecules that have been raining down like manna from heaven for the last 4 billion years might still be there, largely unaltered, deep-frozen, awaiting the chemists from Earth. THE INVENTION OF THE TELESCOPE In the seventeenth century led to the discovery of many new worlds. In 1610 Galileo first spied the four large satellites of Jupiter. It looked like a miniature solar system, the little moons racing around Jupiter as the planets were thought by Copernicus to orbit the Sun. It was another blow to the geocentrists.

Still others suggested that the dense cloud of fine particles accompanying the fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter would disrupt the magnetosphere of Jupiter or form a new ring. A comet this size should impact Jupiter, it is calculated, only once every thousand years. It's the astronomical event not of one lifetime, but of a dozen. Nothing on this scale has occurred since the invention of the telescope. So in mid July 1994, in a beautifully coordinated international scientific effort, telescopes all over the Earth and in space turned towards Jupiter. Astronomers had over a year to prepare. The trajectories of the fragments in their orbits around Jupiter were estimated. It was discovered that they would all hit Jupiter.


pages: 330 words: 99,226

Extraterrestrial Civilizations by Isaac Asimov

Albert Einstein, Cepheid variable, Columbine, Edward Charles Pickering, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, invention of radio, invention of the telescope, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

This came in 1532 in Orlando Furioso, an epic poem written by the Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto (1474–1533). In it, one of the characters travels to the Moon in the divine chariot that carried the prophet Elijah in a whirlwind to Heaven. He finds the Moon well populated by civilized people. The notion of a plurality of worlds received still another push forward with the invention of the telescope. In 1609, the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) constructed a telescope and pointed it at the Moon. For the first time in history, the Moon was seen magnified, and more clearly detailed than was possible with the unaided eye. Galileo saw mountain ranges on the Moon, together with what looked like volcanic craters.

The Milky Way is a faint, luminous fog that seems to form a belt around the sky. In some ancient myths, it was pictured as a bridge connecting heaven and Earth. To the Greeks it was sometimes seen as a spray of milk from the divine breast of the goddess Hera. A more materialistic way of looking at the Milky Way, prior to the invention of the telescope, was to suppose it was a belt of unformed star matter. When Galileo looked at the Milky Way, however, he saw it was made up of myriads of very faint stars. For the first time, a true notion of how numerous the stars actually were broke in on the consciousness of human beings. If God had granted Abraham telescopic vision, the assurance of innumerable descendants would have been formidable indeed.


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

Ironically, Copernicus’s own worldview was anthropomorphic, even to the extent that he comforts us by pointing out that, despite his heliocentric model, the earth is almost at the universe’s center: “Although [the earth] is not at the center of the world, nevertheless the distance [to that center] is as nothing in particular when compared to that of the fixed stars.” With the invention of the telescope, observations in the seventeenth century, such as the fact that ours is not the only planet orbited by a moon, lent weight to the principle that we hold no privileged position in the universe. In the ensuing centuries the more we discovered about the universe, the more it seemed ours was probably just a garden-variety planet.


pages: 412 words: 122,952

Day We Found the Universe by Marcia Bartusiak

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Cepheid variable, Copley Medal, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, horn antenna, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Occam's razor, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Pluto: dwarf planet, Solar eclipse in 1919, William of Occam

The most famous is in the northern constellation Andromeda, the mythical princess situated in the sky near her parents, Cassiopeia and Cepheus, and her husband, Perseus. At her waist is an oval patch of light, best seen on the darkest of nights. As early as the tenth century, astronomer Al-Sufi of Persia noted it as a “little cloud” in his catalog of the heavens. With the invention of the telescope more nebulae were sighted, and by the early 1700s Edmond Halley (of comet fame) counted six in all. To some observers, these pale entities were breaks in the celestial sphere, through which the light of the Empyrean—the highest heaven—came shining down. Others suggested that they were the hazy atmospheres surrounding distant stars.

Astronomers eager to solve the spiral nebulae dilemma had Mars, strangely enough, to thank for a further step toward an answer—at least in a roundabout way. The red planet, with its vivid ruby luster, has fascinated stargazers for millennia, but interest grew even more intense after the invention of the telescope. With the extra magnification astronomers could at last discern markings on the surface of Mars. Bright patches around its poles, similar in appearance to our own planet's arctic and antarctic regions, were seen to wax and wane with the Martian seasons. So Earthlike was this behavior that by 1784 William Herschel was reporting that Mars “is not without a considerable atmosphere … so that its inhabitants probably enjoy a situation in many respects similar to ours.”


pages: 204 words: 58,565

Keeping Up With the Quants: Your Guide to Understanding and Using Analytics by Thomas H. Davenport, Jinho Kim

Black-Scholes formula, business intelligence, business process, call centre, computer age, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, Florence Nightingale: pie chart, forensic accounting, global supply chain, Hans Rosling, hypertext link, invention of the telescope, inventory management, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, longitudinal study, margin call, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Myron Scholes, Netflix Prize, p-value, performance metric, publish or perish, quantitative hedge fund, random walk, Renaissance Technologies, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, six sigma, Skype, statistical model, supply-chain management, text mining, the scientific method, Thomas Davenport

With his luck and superior mathematical talent, Kepler solved the mystery of the planets. Kepler’s data was primarly gathered by Tycho Brahe (1546–1601), a Danish nobleman and brilliant astronomer who made the most accurate astronomical observations of his time by devising the most precise instruments available prior to the invention of the telescope. With generous royal support from the king of Denmark, Brahe built a research center called Uraniborg (castle of the heavens), which became the finest observatory in Europe. He designed and built new instruments, calibrated them, and instituted scrupulous nightly observations for over twenty years.


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

By midmorning of February 24, scientists around the world learned about the discovery, tipped off by phone calls from giddy colleagues and a telegram from the International Astronomical Union. Their delight had to do with the fact that Supernova 1987A (as it came to be known) was the first one observed in our galactic neighborhood since the invention of the telescope nearly four centuries earlier. It was the nearest and the brightest supernova seen in 383 years—since Johannes Kepler observed a supernova in our own galaxy with his naked eye in 1604—and as such, it offered astronomers an unprecedented opportunity to witness a massive star’s last hurrah.


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

We know, with the benefit of centuries of ever more comprehensive and accurate astronomical data, leading to our current understanding in modern cosmology, that the Universe has no center at all, and may indeed extend out in all directions forever. But of course poor Copernicus, working before the invention of the telescope, could not have known any of this. It would take a relatively unknown astronomer in the sleepy English market town of Wallingford near Oxford to make the next big leap forward. His name was Thomas Digges and he was born in 1546, a few years after Copernicus died. His father, Leonard Digges, was also a scientist—credited with the invention of the theodolite, an instrument used (these days mainly by surveyors) to measure vertical and horizontal angles very precisely.


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 philosophical conflict and change in perception that his ideas engendered are sometimes referred to as the Copernican Revolution. HOROSCOPE FOR NICOLAUS COPERNICUS Astronomers and astrologers in Copernicus’s time shared the same pool of information about the positions of the heavenly bodies against the backdrop of the stars. Until the invention of the telescope in the seventeenth century, position finding and position predicting constituted the entirety of planetary science—and the basis for casting horoscopes. He was christened for his father—Mikolaj in Polish, Niklas in German, his native tongue. Later, as a scholar, he Latinized his name, but he grew up Niklas Koppernigk, the second son and youngest child of a merchant family from the copper-mining regions of Silesia.


pages: 243 words: 65,374

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson

A. Roger Ekirch, Ada Lovelace, big-box store, British Empire, butterfly effect, clean water, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, germ theory of disease, Hans Lippershey, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, inventory management, Jacquard loom, John Snow's cholera map, Kevin Kelly, Live Aid, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, megacity, Menlo Park, Murano, Venice glass, planetary scale, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, walkable city, women in the workforce

Dot-Dash to Dot.Com: How Modern Telecommunications Evolved from the Telegraph to the Internet. Springer, 2011. White, M. “The Economics of Time Zones,” March 2005. http://www.learningace.com/doc/1852927/fbfb4e95bef9efa4666d23729d3aa5b6/timezones. Willach, Rolf. The Long Route to the Invention of the Telescope. American Philosophical Society, 2008. Wilson, Bee. Swindled: The Dark History of Food Fraud, from Poisoned Candy to Counterfeit Coffee. Princeton University Press, 2008. Wiltse, Jeff. Contested Waters: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America. University of North Carolina Press, 2010.


pages: 262 words: 80,257

The Eureka Factor by John Kounios

active measures, Albert Einstein, Bluma Zeigarnik, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, deliberate practice, en.wikipedia.org, Everything should be made as simple as possible, Flynn Effect, functional fixedness, Google Hangouts, impulse control, invention of the telephone, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Louis Pasteur, meta-analysis, Necker cube, pattern recognition, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, theory of mind, US Airways Flight 1549, Wall-E, William of Occam

But there is a more complete approach—a scientific approach. Science finishes the job by putting opinions and observations to the test wherever possible. Individual fields of science have had periods of extraordinary development, often spurred by new technologies. Astronomy was energized by the invention of the telescope, as biology was by the microscope. The last quarter century has seen the emergence of a new field—cognitive neuroscience—fueled by techniques for measuring the activity of a brain while it works. Techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and high-density electroencephalography (EEG) have enabled us to explore the brain in ways that elucidate how we perceive, remember, think, feel—and have insights.


The Internet Trap: How the Digital Economy Builds Monopolies and Undermines Democracy by Matthew Hindman

A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, accounting loophole / creative accounting, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, Benjamin Mako Hill, bounce rate, cloud computing, computer vision, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, disinformation, Donald Trump, fault tolerance, Filter Bubble, Firefox, future of journalism, Ida Tarbell, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the telescope, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, lake wobegon effect, large denomination, longitudinal study, loose coupling, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Metcalfe’s law, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, New Economic Geography, New Journalism, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, performance metric, price discrimination, recommendation engine, Robert Metcalfe, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Skype, speech recognition, Stewart Brand, surveillance capitalism, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, The Chicago School, Thomas Malthus, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Yochai Benkler

Journalists portray themselves as indispensable public servants: as Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel aptly put it, “The primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing.”57 But audience numbers are so shockingly low that newspapers are clearly failing in their civic role. The silver lining is that journalists have a new toolkit with which to diagnose and mend the problem. Big scientific leaps have often followed improvements in measurement, as when Newton’s laws followed the invention of the telescope. Journalism today is at such a juncture. Journalists no longer have to rely on the so-called “imagined audience” or faulty conventional wisdom. For the first time, individual journalists can directly measure the readership their stories receive. With practice, the hope is that Making News Stickier • 161 journalists can distill broader lessons about how to attract readers to the stories that really matter.


pages: 327 words: 103,336

Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer by Duncan J. Watts

active measures, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Bear Stearns, Black Swan, business cycle, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, coherent worldview, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, East Village, easy for humans, difficult for computers, edge city, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, framing effect, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Santayana, happiness index / gross national happiness, high batting average, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, industrial cluster, interest rate swap, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, lake wobegon effect, Laplace demon, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, medical malpractice, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, oil shock, packet switching, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, prediction markets, pre–internet, RAND corporation, random walk, RFID, school choice, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, Tragedy of the Commons, ultimatum game, urban planning, Vincenzo Peruggia: Mona Lisa, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

Most recently, the genomics revolution that began more than fifty years ago with the discovery of DNA has long promised more in the way of medical treatments than it has been able to deliver; yet that hasn’t stopped us from devoting enormous resources to the pursuit of science.26 Why should the science required to understand social problems such as urban poverty or economic development or public education deserve less attention? It should not. Nor can we claim anymore that the necessary instruments don’t exist. Rather, just as the invention of the telescope revolutionized the study of the heavens, so too by rendering the unmeasurable measurable, the technological revolution in mobile, Web, and Internet communications has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of ourselves and how we interact. Merton was right: Social science has still not found its Kepler.


The Knowledge Machine: How Irrationality Created Modern Science by Michael Strevens

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Atul Gawande, coronavirus, Covid-19, COVID-19, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Fellow of the Royal Society, fudge factor, germ theory of disease, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Johannes Kepler, longitudinal study, Louis Pasteur, Murray Gell-Mann, Peace of Westphalia, Richard Feynman, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Thales of Miletus, the scientific method, Thomas Bayes, William of Occam

That the secrets of the universe lie in minute structures, in nearly indiscernible details, in patterns that only the most sensitive, fragile, and expensive instruments can detect, is an insight so important that it deserves a name. I call it the Tychonic principle, after the sixteenth-century Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, who, working just before the invention of the telescope, was the last and greatest “naked-eye” astronomer, using sextants and quadrants to pinpoint the positions of stars and the movements of planets to within 0.02 degrees. To achieve this level of accuracy, Tycho built an observatory called Stjerneborg (“castle of the stars”) entirely at basement level, seeking as Michelson and Morley later would to shelter from the inaccuracy inflicted by the bustle and noise of the world outside (Figure 5.2).


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

Now, thanks to the abundance of plates and Miss Leavitt’s completion of the North Polar Sequence, Miss Vann had the necessary tools to assess the novae’s changing magnitudes over time and create a light curve for each one. On June 8, 1918, shortly before she left the observatory to take up war work, a new nova erupted in the constellation Aquila, outshining all but the very brightest stars for several weeks. At magnitude −0.5, Nova Aquilae 1918 proved the brightest such sight since the invention of the telescope, but its photographic study fell to the second Pickering Fellow, Dorothy W. Block, a 1915 graduate of Hunter College in New York City. Unlike the astronomical fellowship of the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association, now permanently assigned to Margaret Harwood, the Pickering Fellowship entailed no Nantucket residency rule.


pages: 467 words: 114,570

Pathfinders: The Golden Age of Arabic Science by Jim Al-Khalili

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Book of Ingenious Devices, colonial rule, Commentariolus, Dmitri Mendeleev, Eratosthenes, Henri Poincaré, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invention of the wheel, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, liberation theology, retrograde motion, scientific worldview, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, trade route, William of Occam

To Copernicus, the outer sphere of the fixed and distant stars was also centred on the sun. But we have learnt that our sun sits on an outer arm of an average spiral galaxy in a nondescript part of the universe, and certainly not at the universe’s centre. How could poor Copernicus know this before the invention of the telescope? Indeed, modern cosmology based on Einstein’s theory and centuries of ever more comprehensive and accurate astronomical data have convinced us that the universe has no centre at all, much as the surface of the earth has no centre. What Copernicus described correctly (apart from the elliptical orbits that had to await the work of Kepler) was only our sun-centred solar system.


pages: 407 words: 116,726

Infinite Powers: How Calculus Reveals the Secrets of the Universe by Steven Strogatz

Albert Einstein, Asperger Syndrome, Astronomia nova, Bernie Sanders, clockwork universe, complexity theory, cosmological principle, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, four colour theorem, fudge factor, Henri Poincaré, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Johannes Kepler, John Harrison: Longitude, Khan Academy, Laplace demon, lone genius, music of the spheres, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Pierre-Simon Laplace, precision agriculture, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Socratic dialogue, Solar eclipse in 1919, Steve Jobs, the rule of 72, the scientific method

Nevertheless, he didn’t give up. He continued to ponder the planets and soon got a break when Tycho Brahe asked him to be his assistant. Tycho (as historians always call him) was the world’s best observational astronomer. His data were ten times more accurate than any obtained previously. In the days before the invention of the telescope, he’d devised special instruments that allowed him, with the naked eye, to resolve the angular positions of the planets to within two arcminutes. That’s one-thirtieth of a degree. To get a sense of what a tiny angle this is, imagine looking up at the full moon on a clear night while holding your little finger all the way out in front of your face.


pages: 463 words: 118,936

Darwin Among the Machines by George Dyson

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, backpropagation, British Empire, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer age, Danny Hillis, Donald Davies, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, IFF: identification friend or foe, independent contractor, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, low earth orbit, Menlo Park, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, phenotype, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, spectrum auction, strong AI, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing machine, Von Neumann architecture, zero-sum game

6 Telecommunications systems have appeared, disappeared, and reappeared across the centuries: fire beacons, heliographs, and primitive forms of semaphore based on hanging or waving anything from flags to lanterns in the air. When the Spanish armada entered the English Channel in July 1588, a network of fire beacons raised the alarm, cradling the newborn Thomas Hobbes with fear. The invention of the telescope in the early seventeenth century extended the distance between relay stations and allowed more complex symbols to be distinguished. The feasibility of a “method of discoursing at a Distance, not by Sound, but by Sight” was addressed by Robert Hooke in a lecture, “Shewing a Way how to communicate one’s Mind at great Distances,” delivered to the Royal Society on 21 May 1684.


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

In my professional community of astrophysicists, about 90 percent of us, plus or minus, are liberal, antiwar Democrats. Yet practically all of our detection hardware flows out of historical relationships with military hardware. And that connection goes back centuries. In the early 1600s Galileo heard about the invention of the telescope in the Netherlands—which they used for looking in people’s windows—and he built one himself. Almost no one had thought to look up with the telescope, but Galileo did, and there he found the rings of Saturn, the phases of Venus, sunspots. Then he realized, Hey, this would be good for our defense system.


pages: 419 words: 124,522

Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron

Ayatollah Khomeini, British Empire, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, failed state, invention of gunpowder, invention of the telescope, Lao Tzu, Pax Mongolica, South China Sea, trade route

In his court of architects and painters, calligraphers and poets, Mongol vigour and Persian delicacy struck momentary fire. Another son, the talented prince Baisanghur, assembled a forty-strong workshop of illuminators and book-binders–and a unique library–before drinking himself to death at the age of thirty-seven. In Samarkand, meanwhile, two centuries before the invention of the telescope, Ulug Beg was charting the course coordinates of 1,018 stars, and recalculating the stellar year to within seconds of that computed by electronics. At the heart of this renaissance was Shah Rukh’s prodigious queen, Gawhar Shad. These were her children. Her foundations–mosques, palaces, colleges, baths, libraries–spread in lavish patronage all over eastern Persia and Afghanistan.


Adam Smith: Father of Economics by Jesse Norman

"Robert Solow", active measures, Andrei Shleifer, balance sheet recession, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bear Stearns, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Broken windows theory, business cycle, business process, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Carmen Reinhart, centre right, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, Corn Laws, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crony capitalism, David Brooks, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial intermediation, frictionless, frictionless market, future of work, George Akerlof, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, incomplete markets, information asymmetry, intangible asset, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jean Tirole, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, lateral thinking, loss aversion, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, money market fund, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, moral panic, Naomi Klein, negative equity, Network effects, new economy, non-tariff barriers, Northern Rock, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, price mechanism, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, random walk, rent-seeking, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, scientific worldview, seigniorage, Socratic dialogue, South Sea Bubble, special economic zone, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, The Chicago School, The Myth of the Rational Market, The Nature of the Firm, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Theory of the Leisure Class by Thorstein Veblen, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, time value of money, transaction costs, transfer pricing, Veblen good, Vilfredo Pareto, Washington Consensus, working poor, zero-sum game

In part this was the result of scientific advance: the dethroning of the Ptolemaic view of the universe described by Smith, in favour of the heliocentric view of Copernicus and his followers; the astonishing discoveries of Newton; major mathematical developments by Descartes in geometry, and Leibniz and Newton with the calculus; the invention of the telescope and microscope, and the new natural philosophy of Galileo, Boyle and Hooke. But these achievements in turn betokened a much wider intellectual, social and cultural realignment, away from religion, deference to institutions and received wisdom and towards individual reason, scepticism and the exchange of ideas.


pages: 530 words: 145,220

The Search for Life on Mars by Elizabeth Howell

affirmative action, Alfred Russel Wallace, British Empire, dark matter, double helix, financial independence, follow your passion, glass ceiling, Google Earth, independent contractor, invention of the telescope, John von Neumann, Louis Pasteur, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, New Journalism, Pluto: dwarf planet, Ronald Reagan, Skype

* * * Those first Martian explorers were Earth-bound, trying to divine meaning from the regular passage of stars that paraded before them in the skies. Our earliest ancestors first saw Mars as a bright object in the night sky. As it was the color of blood, it soon became known as a portent of war, whose baleful presence cast an unnerving malevolence throughout the heavenly firmament. The invention of the telescope brought the Red Planet closer. When the first astronomers trained their instruments toward it in the seventeenth century, they saw ocher-colored deserts upon which darker, greener features could be made out. Some interpreted them as vegetation, supported by observations that they seemed to change with the seasons.


pages: 444 words: 139,784

How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler, Charles van Doren

Albert Einstein, George Santayana, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johannes Kepler, land tenure, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, place-making, Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith

Because celestial bodies were subject to one kind of change only—local motion—whereas all terrestrial bodies change in other respects as well, the ancients concluded that they had to be composed of a different kind of matter. They did not surmise, nor could they probably have surmised, that with the invention of the telescope, the heavenly bodies would give us knowledge of their mutability beyond anything we can know through common experience. Hence they took as a question that they thought it proper for philosophers to answer one that should have been reserved for later scientific investigation. Such investigation began with Galileo’s use of the telescope and his discovery of the moons of Jupiter; this led to the revolutionary assertion by Kepler that the matter of the heavenly bodies is exactly the same as the matter of bodies on earth; and this in turn laid the groundwork for Newton’s formulation of a celestial mechanics in which the same laws of motion apply without qualification to all bodies wherever they are in the physical universe.


pages: 523 words: 148,929

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

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

Since oxygenated hemoglobin contains the energy that fuels cell activity, detecting the flow of this oxygen allows one to trace the flow of thoughts in the brain. Joshua Freedman, a psychiatrist at the University of California, Los Angeles, says: “It’s like being an astronomer in the sixteenth century after the invention of the telescope. For millennia, very smart people tried to make sense of what was going on up in the heavens, but they could only speculate about what lay beyond unaided human vision. Then, suddenly, a new technology let them see directly what was there.” In fact, fMRI scans can even detect the motion of thoughts in the living brain to a resolution of .1 millimeter, or smaller than the head of a pin, which corresponds to perhaps a few thousand neurons.


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

The majority, however, believed that they were more mundane entities within our own Milky Way. After all, William Herschel had indicated that everything was within our pancake-shaped Milky Way. The study of nebulae dates back to the ancient astronomers, who had spotted a handful of nebulae using just their naked eyes, but then the invention of the telescope revealed a surprisingly large number of them. The first person to compile a detailed catalogue of nebulae was the French astronomer Charles Messier, who started work on this project in 1764. Previously he had already been successful in tracking down comets, which is why King Louis XV nicknamed him the Comet Ferret, but Messier was continually frustrated because, at first sight, it was easy to confuse a comet with a nebula as both types of object appear as tiny smudges in the sky.


Evidence-Based Technical Analysis: Applying the Scientific Method and Statistical Inference to Trading Signals by David Aronson

Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, asset allocation, availability heuristic, backtesting, Black Swan, butter production in bangladesh, buy and hold, capital asset pricing model, cognitive dissonance, compound rate of return, computerized trading, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, distributed generation, Elliott wave, en.wikipedia.org, feminist movement, hindsight bias, index fund, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Long Term Capital Management, mental accounting, meta-analysis, p-value, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, Ponzi scheme, price anchoring, price stability, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nelson Elliott, random walk, retrograde motion, revision control, risk free rate, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, riskless arbitrage, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Sharpe ratio, short selling, source of truth, statistical model, stocks for the long run, systematic trading, the scientific method, transfer pricing, unbiased observer, yield curve, Yogi Berra

That is to say, the rule’s rather high performance would not warrant the conclusion that it has predictive power or an expected return that is greater than zero. THE NEED FOR RIGOROUS STATISTICAL ANALYSIS The tools and methods of a discipline limit what it can discover. Improvements in them pave the way to greater knowledge. Astronomy took a great leap forward with the invention of the telescope. Though crude by today’s standards, the earliest instruments had 10 times the resolving power of the unaided eye. Technical analysis has a similar opportunity, but it must replace informal data analysis with rigorous statistical methods. Informal data analysis is simply not up to the task of extracting valid knowledge from financial markets.


pages: 761 words: 231,902

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

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

There are many ramifications of the increasing order and complexity that have resulted from biological evolution and its continuation through technology. Consider the boundaries of observation. Early biological life could observe local events several millimeters away, using chemical gradients. When sighted animals evolved, they were able to observe events that were miles away. With the invention of the telescope, humans could see other galaxies millions of light-years away. Conversely, using microscopes, they could also see cellular-size structures. Today humans armed with contemporary technology can see to the edge of the observable universe, a distance of more than thirteen billion light-years, and down to quantum-scale subatomic particles.


pages: 1,266 words: 344,635

Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton

airport security, business process, corporate governance, data acquisition, dematerialisation, disinformation, family office, illegal immigration, invention of the telescope, inventory management, Plutocrats, plutocrats, stem cell, the map is not the territory, undersea cable

There are records of old astronomers recording Sirius as having a red coloration.” “When was this?” “Sir, eh, 150 BC was the first recorded instance.” “Are you joking, Captain?” “Sir, no sir. There have been several such inconsistencies in astronomical accounts in early history. They all happened prior to the invention of the telescope, so there’s no modern verifiable proof available. But the legend persisted for some time. There was even a tribe in Africa that supposedly knew about Sirius B centuries before telescopes confirmed its existence.” “I’m glad you’re doing your homework, Captain, but exactly how is this folklore relevant?”