K.C. Cole on Wonderland

Kc_cole_01[Going through my work from IF this morning I found this unpublished post on K.C. Cole's talk. Saturday was just a blur.]

She begins by riffing on "weird," showing a few photos of odd looking creatures and people at the South Pole who are upside down, which she uses to transition into relativity.

One's own perception, according to Einstein, is "proper time." But, she adds, this does not mean that there is no objective reality. Reality just means seeing from all points of view.

Mass and energy are interchangeable. Time is symmetrical. Anti-matter and matter are created in equal portions. The dirt lying next to the excavated hole is matter and anti-matter, respectively.

But for some reason matter left over from the beginning of the universe resulted in us.

I like her images, which convey ideas well.

The strangeness of numbers is also fascinating, but not as weird as the human mind. She explains a few optical illusions, which reminds me of Leonard Shlain's previous discussion of perspective in Da Vinci's Mind. Some things that make sense from one vantage and may be comple nonsense viewed from another.

Her example of Schroeder's Cat(sp?) reminds me of John Barrow's discussion of Thomson's Lamp. Quantum mechanics in its expansiveness somehow splits the difference between alive or dead, on or off.

Don't expert the quantum realm to make sense, she says. This post may prove her point.

She points out how science has been adapted to the stage, which can lend some sense to the ideas lurking within the physics.

She makes the case for a definiteness principle. Quantum stability, combined with quantity, makes everything - from sugar to the smell of a rose - what it is. It's a bit like a violin string; the vibration of the string can produce different and pleasing sounds.

On the other hand, the Uncertainty principle suggests that questions will determine answers. There is a trade off as a result of the observation. It means that until the measurement is made, little can be known; but some other bit of knowledge will be sacrificed in the measuring.

I like this quote from Neils Bohr she uses: "The opposite of a shallow truth is is false, but the opposite of a deep truth is also truth."

"Complementarity" is the condition of being right while being at opposite ends of the observational spectrum.

She apologizes again from implying that objective reality doesn't matter. "It just means that reality is really complicated."

On mass: At big enough mass, we'd all become spheres. "Stars just have enough mass in one place, that's all."

On truth, again: the opposite of truth is not heresy. Art, science and reasoning get to truth differently. Literature can expand data by providing context. Cubism and quantum mechanics came on the scene at about the same time, which she does not regard as an accident. Finally, thinking of things in only one way will eventually lead to trouble.


Photo: Geoff Oliver Bugbee, www.geoffbugbee.com