Archive for the ‘Magic’ Category

Searching for that deeper meaning to life? The key to the universe has been found!

January 1, 2008

Throughout history, prominent thinkers have been convinced that the everyday world observed through our senses represents only the surface manifestation of a deeper hidden reality, where the answers to the great questions of existence should be sought.

So compelling has been this belief that entire societies have been shaped by it.  Truth seekers have practiced complex rituals and rites, used drugs and meditation to enter trancelike states, and consulted shamans, mystics and priests in an attempt to lift the veil on a shadowy world that lies beneath the one we perceive.

Attempts to gain useful information about the world through magic, mysticism, and secret mathematical codes mostly led nowhere.  But about 350 years ago, the greatest magician who ever lived finally stumbled on the key to the universe — a cosmic code that would open the floodgates of knowledge.  This was Isaac Newton — mystic, theologian, and alchemist — and in spite of his mystical leanings, he did more than anyone to change the age of magic into the age of science.

The word science is derived from the Latin scientia, simply meaning “knowledge.”  Originally it was just one of many arcane methods used to probe beyond the limitations of our senses in the hope of accessing unseen reality. The particular brand of “magic” employed by the early scientists involved hitherto unfamiliar and specialized procedures, such as manipulating mathematical symbols on pieces of paper and coaxing matter to behave in strange ways.  Today we take such practices for granted and call them scientific theory and experiment.

We really are in possession of the key to the universe.  The ancients were right: beneath the surface complexity of nature lies a hidden subtext, written in a subtle mathematical code.  This cosmic code contains the secret rules on which the universe runs.  Newton, Galileo, and other early scientists treated their investigations as a religious quest.  They thought that by exposing the patterns woven into the processes of nature they truly were glimpsing the mind of God.

Cosmic Jackpot by Paul Davies

The “not discovered here” approach to discovery

September 29, 2007

Five steps to making discoveries and inventions:

  1. Define: define the problem you want to solve and define a goal that you want to attain that would solve the problem. At this point you know “what” you would like to see attained, but don’t know “how” to attain it.
  2. Abstract: The problem and goal that you identified will be expressed in terms specific to the area that you are working in. Your next step is to raise it up, abstract it, so that it is expressed in terms independent of your particular area of endeavor. Get the fundamental concepts identified.
  3. Already Discovered: This may be the most important step: assume that someone has already solved the problem (made the discovery) [1], although it may be in a different area of endeavor.
  4. Search: search the internet and read voraciously, looking for people working on analogous problems. You will likely need to abstract their work, and then compare their abstract problem statement with your abstract problem statement to determine if they are the same.
  5. Apply: once you’ve found someone who has already discovered what you want to do, apply their ideas and techniques to solving your problem

So, the problem of making a discovery comes down to these factors:

  • How good are you at searching?
  • How widely read are you? Do you have varied interests?
  • How good are you at recognizing that your problem is (abstractly) the same as someone else’s problem?

With this approach you acknowledge that, with near certitude, someone else has already solved the problem (made the discovery). The only “discovery” you have to make is to find their discovery, recognize that it’s essentially the same thing that you’re working on, and then apply their ideas and techniques to your particular situation.

This is the “not discovered here” approach to discovery.

[1] “Most claims of originality are testimony to ignorance and most claims of magic are testimony to arrogance.” [James March, Stanford University]