Monday, August 30, 2010

New from New Scientist...for Now

I have been catching up on a stack of New Scientist Magazines. Here are some cool ideas that worth noting

1. Life Simulation program - The Game of Life program may one day tell us about our beginnings.
2. Himalayan Glaciers are not melting as fast as expected
3. Right handed molecules may dominate life on Mars.
4. Sea snail venom could be a possible pain reliever
5. Male voice strength related to muscular build...
6. On and Off switch could be the guide to the emergence of complex life.
7. Plastic may decay quicker than we think
8. Sterile neutrinos may be the source of Dark Matter
9. Stem Cells restore sight to blind people
10 Female Viagra a no-go
11. Modest solar activity can cause chaos with terrestrial technology (so may be it could be more responsible for global warming than conventional wisdom seems to believe)
12. Frozen tissue (from a dead animal) may be reprogrammed to bring endangered species back to life.
13. Einstein's Equivalence Principle - will be put to the test using atoms from Bose-Einstein condensate.
14. Chimpanzees kill to win New territory (sounds like another primate we know too well).
15. Quantum Machines will explore the boundary between the quantum and everyday worlds.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Some Great Events in the History of Western Civilization prior to 1000 AD

Some brainstorming - Here is a list of some key events in the history of Western Civilization prior to 1000AD. There is obviously room for more detail but each one of these has been vital to the evolution of the culture.

1. The Agricultural Revolution in Mesopotamia and Egypt
2. Birth of Irrigation Science
3. Coming of the Bronze Age
4. The Early Development of the City (Akkad, Ur, Erich, Lagesh etc)
5. Hebrews introduce Ethical Monotheism
6. Iron Age championed by the Hittites. Age of Glory for Asia Minor Civilizations.
7. Egyptians and Babylonians inspire numerical revolution
8 Code of Hammurabi and the Ten Commandments
9. Phoenicians explore, settle and trade across much of the Mediterranean. Minoans dominate Crete.
10. Homer writes the Iliad and Odyssey. Growth of Mycenean Civilization.
11. Milesians kick start the scientific revolution by looking for a non-divine explanation for the nature of things.
12. System of Greek City States (Polis). Greek colonies spread throughout Eastern Mediterranean and Italy.
13. Athenian Democracy is born.
14. The Era of the Athenian Trio (Plato, Socrates, Aristotle). Birth of formal logic and reason as well as academic classification and systems of questioning

15. Greeks drive disciplines of Math and Science forward building on contribution from Near East.
16. The Persian Wars
17. Rome becomes a Republic (decline of the Etruscans)
18. Celts dominate Western Europe
19. Rise of Macedonia. Empire of Alexander the Great.
20. The post Alexander Hellenic Era - Spread of Greek culture
21. Rome dominates the Italian Peninsula
22. Rome defeats Carthage in the Punic Wars (three altogether)
23. Rome eclipses Greece as Principal Western Power
24. Roman contribution to Western Civilization: Roads, Sewers, Baths, Galley Ships, System of Law etc.
25. Transition of Rome from Republic to Empire. The Rise of the Julian Dynasty.
26. Writing of Christian gospels. Spread of Pauline version of Christianity. Decline of Paganism.
27 . Roman culture permeates much of Europe.
28. Roman Empire splits and then reforms before finally splitting into East and West.
29. Religious toleration in Rome Empire promised by Edict of Milan.
30. Council of Nicea sets ground rules for Christianity.
31. Rome adopts Christianity as State Religion.
32. Rome is sacked by the Visigoths, Vandals and Ostrogoths. Decline of the Western Empire.
33. Atilla the Hun is defeated but not before laying waste to much of the Western Empire
34. Fall of Western Empire in 476 AD. Vandals driven from Spain spread to North Africa.
35. Arianism rivals Catholicism as chief religious force in early Dark Ages Europe. Arianism will however lose out to Catholicism in the long run.
36. Franks dominate France and Germany. Lombards powerful in Italy.
37. Justinian builds up Byzantine Empire in the East but it will decline in strength after his death.
38. Saxons invade Britain.
39. Merovingian Dynasty in France converts to Christianity (under Clovis).
40. Christianity spreads throughout Western Europe driven by Order of Irish Monks.
41. Arab invasions threaten the integrity of Western and Eastern Europe.
42. Charles Martel prevents the Arab take over of France by defeating Muslim forces at Poitiers.
43. Muslim influence in Spain grows.
44. Feudal system dominates Western Europe
45. Vikings attack and set up colonies in Britain, Normandy and Sicily - amongst others.
46. Byzantine Empire undergoes revival under Basil II but will gradually shrink under Arab and Persian pressure.
47. Christian Power in North Africa in decline.
48. Charlemagne declared Holy Roman Emperor after saving the Pope from the Lombards.
49. Charlemagne's court develops into a central portal of learning.
50. Scholasticism dominates Western philosophy.
51. Charlemagne's great Empire divides into three portions after his death roughly resembling the modern areas of France, West Germany and Northern Italy
51. Alfred the Great consolidates Saxon Power in England.
52. Great Monasteries (and Monastic Orders) dominate religious cultural milieu of France.
53. German King Otto the Great establishes himself as Holy Roman Emperor.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What makes Life Interesting?

41 Areas of study that have interested me over the years and the period (in brackets) when I was most focused on them.

(1996- ) means that I have been most interested in the topic from 1996 to the present

IQ Testing (1984-1987, 1998)
Myers Briggs Personality Testing (2001, 2010-)
Global Warming Debate (2006-2009)
Human Genetics (1988-1991)
Neuroroscience (1988, 1989)
Astronomy (1985-1986, 2009-)
Cosmology (1997-)
Religion and Science Debate (2006-)
British History (1976-1985, 1989, 1997-2004)
Education Philosophy (2007-)
Eastern Philosophies (2000-2003, 2010-)
French History (1984,1985, 1998. 2008) – particularly Napoleon and the French Revolution
American History (1992-)
Leftist mindset (2001-)
Jewish Philosophy (2005-)
Telecommunications (1995-2001)
Conservatism (1994-)
Macroeconomics (2008-2009)
Science Fiction Alternative Worlds (1992-2000)
World War II (1982-1986, 1989, 1994, 2005-2007)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (1994-1997)
Modern Physics (1984-1987, 2001-)
Classic Physics ((1984-1987, 2001-)
Chemistry (1986, 1988-1992, 2002-2003)
Evolutionary Theory (1989, 2005-)
British Football (1976-1986, 1994-)
Ancient Rome (1977,1978, 2002-2006)
James Bond Universe (1977-1986)
International Tennis (1978-1987, 2003-2008)
Cricket (1980-1984)
Boxing (1977-1987)
Batman (1975-1979, 2005-2008)
Judge Dredd (1980-)
British Comics (1977-1985, 2003-)
South African History (1984-1986, 1994)
Cold War (1982-1989, 1994-1996)
Endocrinology (1989-1991)
Kabbalah (2010-)
Baseball (1988-1994)
International Politics (1976-)
Mathematics (1984-1986)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

50 Things I don't like about the US

Excessive Materialism
US military support for Saudi Arabia
Culture of Litigation
Affirmative Action overload
Fred Phelps and his wack jobs
Very insular reporting of news by local media
Way too many elections
The Hype on College Sport
The over use of Standardized testing
Us vs Them politics – pick your team Democrat or Republican
Corrupt local governments: Detroit, Washington, Chicago
High per capita energy use
Movement to introduce intelligent design into the Science curriculum
West Coast Drug Culture
Race merchants – Jackson, Sharpton and co.
Sensationalist Driven News Media
Military Industrial Complex
Hollywood value system
Crassness of the nouveau riche
Extremely arrogant superstars
American Idol
Oprah Winfrey and her gang of hangers on.
The ACLU sabotaging the fight against international Jihadism
The bias of the All-powerful NY Times
Ward Churchill, Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky
Overly lax pollution laws
Society of Have and Have not
Government bailout of car companies
Obese epidemic
New York snootiness
Activist Court Judges who walk over the constitution
Anti-Semitic haven: Rense, Stormfront, Aryan Nation etc.
Culture of Self Promotion
Lack of discipline in school system
Disparity in the school system
Gangsta culture
Jimmy Carter, Pat Buchanan, Helen Thomas
Adoration of the Kennedys
Proliferation of unhealthy foods in the supermarket
Cavalier banking system
Ridiculously short allowable maternity leaves
Inflated prison system resulting from misguided war on drugs
Professional sporting system ruled too a fault by the all-mighty dollar
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae
Weak federal policy in preventing illegal immigration
Exaggerated understanding of success in the War of 1812
Urban sprawl
US history of co-operation with Nazi Germany
Ineptness of the CIA and US military Intelligence

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

50 Things I like about the US

Spirit of Small Government
The US Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence
Cities like Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans and New York
The US Open Tennis
Ronald Reagan
Civil War History
The Grand Canyon
Cape Kennedy
US action in WWI and WWII in defeating the Central and Axis Powers respectively
Sci-Fi authors such as Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ben Bova
Spiderman and Batman
Victor Davis Hanson
Bill Buckley
Encyclopedia Britannica
History of the American Revolution
Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright
Harry Truman
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland
Finger Lakes Region
Greenwich Village
Emphasis on Freedom of Speech
Mount Palomar Observatory
Edgar Allen Poe
HP Lovecraft
Universal Studios
Library of Congress
Colorado Physics – PHET
Redwood Trees of California
Oregon Coast
History of the Wild West
Small villages of New England
Alan Dershowitz
Mad Magazine
Utah Desert
Gone with the Wind
All in the Family
Family Ties
The rich Jewish culture of New York
Cape Cod
Wyoming Country – Yellowstone National Park
Judeo-Christian heritage
California beachfront
Napa Valley
US Contribution to Aerospace Engineering
Free Enterprise
Nation built by Immigrants

Coming soon next Thursday: 50 Things I don't like

Friday, August 06, 2010

Key Ingredients for Success

As civilizations progress positively they become more likely to encapsulate these characteristics.

Democratic Institutions
Freedom of Press
Freedom of Action
Freedom of Religion
Appreciation for the Vital role of Science and Technology
Rule of Law
Private Ownership of Property
Personal Responsibility – Recognizable Free Will
Accountability of Political Office
Social Service Institutions
Prison Reform
Necessary Dissent
High Levels of Education
Low levels of bribery and corruption

If a state fails it is normally missing several of these ingredients.