Imagine you are thinking of the future in the past. You are in back 1974 and you think that ‘any word you you speak this afternoon will radiate out in all directions, around the town before tomorrow, out and around the world before Tuesday’. I wish I could have had that thought then. Sure it’s wrong in detail but in principle, it was visionary. Computing has evolved rapidly despite the fact that fifty years later we are still pretty much tied to a keyboard. Global telephony has been upgraded and milliseconds are today’s measure of communication time rather than days. Our voices do radiate out in video and audio streams but much of our thinking is spread by text. It’s still the case that text is faster to comprehend. The limit isn’t the technology, it’s a biological constraint.[Read more…] about Futures and Visions
Imagine being a year locked down for a pandemic and two and a half years into retirement. You’d probably get a tad frustrated at being unable to do things you postponed for a decade or two before retiring. Things like exploring new (to me) places and new (to me) arts. Or challenges like going to Rome on foot from Manchester. Of course I’m free to explore new (to me) ideas by way of books and a web of electronic transmissions (without which I couldn’t order the books).[Read more…] about Shambles
Belated Science Reads
Science and experience both tell us that it may become harder to learn as we get older. On the grounds that it’s never too late to learn, I was thinking about science books overnight. Which is the best? Could it be The Selfish Gene? Or perhaps The Periodic Table? Maybe The Emperor of All Maladies? Or Factfulness?
So I thought a web search would help remind me of some that I have read. Where better to start than the annual Royal Society Prizes for Science Books?
The Lives of a Cell (1974) is a collection of science journalism essays by Lewis Thomas, a book that had a profound effect on me. One of his essays in particular stayed with me. It was about the mythological beasts that we create, that persist like the unicorns that inhabit our grandaughter’s fabulous world.