zenpundit.com » science

Archive for the ‘science’ Category

On the felicities of graph-based game-board design: three

Monday, August 24th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — cross-posted from Sembl ]
Following up on two previous posts on graph-based design: Preliminaries and Two dazzlers

**

Here are two old HipBone boards that have the curious property of looking very different while being, in fact, topologically identical. Moves played on either board will feature the same set of links — although, given the visual impac ts of proximity and distance, they may “feel” very different to the players themselves:

Petersen graph boards

I call them the Pentagram and Mercedes boards, for what I trust are obvious reasons. They are both based on versions of the Petersen graph, and I’m grateful to Walter Logeman and Miles Thompson for introducing me to them.

**

One of the vivid differences between my childhood memories and present experience has to do woth the time when the table, the place where food or whatever was, was above my head.

Of course, the table was flat — but it was flat above my head, and I had to reach up into that unknown flatland to grab what I could. Unless of course there was a tablecloth trailing over the edge of the flat, down towards eye-level, in which case.. voila!

Hence my ongoing notion that something tasty might be literally above my head, and my associated excitement. Hence, too, my excitement at the prospect that tasty ideas might also be above my head, and that I might reach up into unknown intellectual flatlands — or pull them down to my own level with a tug of the intellectual tablecloth.

**

That may sound foolish, but it’s entirely in line with Eric Drexler’s advice — and Drexler published the first scientific paper on molecular nanotechnology [.pdf] in 1981.

Here’s what Drexler has to say about reading scientific journals:

Read and skim journals and textbooks that (at the moment) you only half understand. Include Science and Nature.

Don’t avoid a subject because it seems beyond you – instead, read other half-understandable journals and textbooks to absorb more vocabulary, perspective, and context, then circle back.

**

Okay, I’m in over my head as they say.

Here’s an artist’s rendering of something called, I guess, an amplituhedron, a (relatively) newly discovered mathematical object that has the world of physics all excited:

amplutihedron_span

Here’s another, titled for some reason “droplet”:

droplet

Neither of those is anything I could conceivably use to come up with a HipBone or Sembl board, is it?

But get this:

nima-permutation-grassmannian-final-picture

This is another way of looking at the same corner of mathematical physics — one of over a hundred diagrams in the same paper— and here are the two “lesser” diagrams that caught my attention and made me think back to the Petersen graph boards earlier on today:

twistor-diagrams- scientists discover a jewel

Now my itch is to figure out what use the “filled” and “open” nodes in these two graphs might serve in game-playing terms, and how on earth to interpret in game terms the complex weavings of the colored lines in the larger image / board.

**

And hey, while we’re at it, Here are the Wolfram variants on the Petersen graph — striking, aren’t they?

PetersenGraphEmbeddings wolfram

Food for thought is food for play.

**

Sources:

  • N. Arkani-Hameda et al, Scattering Amplitudes and the Positive Grassmannian
  • Nima Arkani-Hameda and Jaroslav Trnkab, The Amplituhedron
  • Check out the stunning physics — deeper than time and space? — if you don’t already know it, and explain it if you do!

  • Natalie Wolchover, A Jewel at the Heart of Quantum Physics
  • And for Wolfram on the Petersen Graph:

  • Eric W. Weisstein, Petersen Graph
  • Great photography? Nah, and then Yah

    Sunday, August 9th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — captivated by, capturing the light of the moon — a meditattion on art, science ]
    .

    dscovrepicmoontransitfull

    **

    According to The Smithsonian:

    Great photography often comes down to snapping the right subject from the right vantage point at the right time. This image from NASA is just that. It was taken by the camera onboard the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite, one million miles away from Earth — the perfect spot to capture the Moon passing across the sunlit face of our planet.

    Nah, not really. As I said in an earlier post, Don’t you mess with my mother the moon, the great moon photo is Ansel Adams’ Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico<:

    moon-over-hernandez

    **

    Yes, Adams’ photo captures “the right subject from the right vantage point at the right time” but it does so with a great eye — the eye, experience, vision of an Ansel Adams. The NASA photo of the moon transiting the earth, by contast, is brilliant, stunning, extraordinary — but offers sight, not insight. Once again, I think of Blake:

    I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative eye any more than I would Question a window concerning a Sight. I look thro’ it & not with it.

    That’s from his A Vision of the Last Judgment — apocalypticx, again — and famnously reads in context:

    “What,” it will be Questioned, “When the Sun rises, do you not see a round Disk of fire somewhat like a Guinea?” O no no, I see an Innumerable company of the Heavenly host crying “Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty.” I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any more than I would Question a Window concerning a Sight: I look thro it & not with it.

    **

    Ah, but how easy to quote the Ansel Adams imager — it has long been famous for being a great photograph.

    And yet the greatness was in Adams, in the moment, not in popular opinion:

    I had been photographing in the Chama Valley, north of Santa Fe. I made a few passable negatives that day and had several exasperating trials with subjects that would not bend to visualization. The most discouraging effort was a rather handsome cottonwood stump near the Chama River. I saw my desired image quite clearly, but due to unmanageable intrusions and mergers of forms in the subject my efforts finally foundered, and I decided it was time to return to Santa Fe. It is hard to accept defeat, especially when a possible fine image is concerned. But defeat comes occasionally to all photographers, as to all politicians, and there is no use moaning about it.

    We were sailing southward along the highway not far from Espanola when I glanced to the left and saw an extraordinary situation – an inevitable photograph! I almost ditched the car and russed to set up my 8×10 camera. I was yelling to my companions to bring me things from the car as I struggled to change components on my Cooke Triple-Convertible lens. I had a clear visualization of the image I wanted, but when the Wratten No. 15 (G) filter and the film holder were in place, I could not find my Weston exposure meter! The situation was desperate: the low sun was trailing the edge of the clouds in the west, and shadow would soon dim the white crosses.

    I was at a loss with the subject luminance values, and I confess I was thinking about bracketing several exposures, when I suddenly realized that I knew the luminance of the moon – 250 c/ft2. Using the Exposure Formula, I placed this luminance on Zone VII; 60 c/ft2 therefore fell on Zone V, and the exposure with the filter factor o 3x was about 1 second at f/32 with ASA 64 film. I had no idea what the value of the foreground was, but I hoped it barely fell within the exposure scale. Not wanting to take chances, I indicated a water-bath development for the negative.

    Realizing as I released the shutter that I had an unusual photograph which deserved a duplicate negative, I swiftly reversed the film holder, but as I pulled the darkslide the sunlight passed from the white crosses; I was a few seconds too late

    **

    See: science.

    Back in the day artists were alchemists — grinding their own colors from exotic shrubs (dragonsblood), insects (crimson lake), stones (lapis lazuli) and so forth — and remain so to this day, as in the case of Jan Valentin Saether:

    saether epiphany

    Those shadows! The light..

    **

    Is Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, science, then — or art?

    Is “art or science” even a real question?

    And that “desired image” of a “cottonwood stump near the Chama River” — isn’t that in some way the negative of Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico? The drawn bow that propelled Adams’ arrow to its mark?

    When one life sprouts inside another

    Thursday, July 16th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — some ugly comparisons, you have been warned — but it is only the exaggerated ugliness that drives my point home ]
    .

    The first DoubleQuote of three I’m posting here shows two views of sacred sites taken over by conquering religions.

    SPEC DQ cordoba istanbul

    You may have seen this DoubleQuote before — the upper panel shows the Mezqita or Grand Mosque of Cordoba, an extraordinarily beautiful building in the middle of which Spanish Catholics grafted a baroque cathedral, an act of which King Carlos V of Spain said:

    You have built here what you or anyone might have built anywhere else, but you have destroyed what was unique in the world

    The lower panel shows the Hagia Sophia or Basilica of the Holy Spirit in Istanbul, which was turned into a mosque by Muslim conquerors, and subsequently made into a museum

    **

    The question this sort of transformation of sacred places — from one faith to another, often by conquest but also on occasion by commercial transfer or simple generosity — leaves me wondering what it must feel like for those who lose their place of worship, especially in case of conquest. And I should make it clear that my question applies as much to Jews unable to pray on Temple Mount as it does to Christians in Istanbul or Muslims in Cordoba.

    By its visual nature, the Cordoban example sticks in my mind, however — the relatively new cathedral sprouting quiute visibly from the ancient mosque.

    And so it is that my mind, habituated to seeking visual analogues, stumbled on the disgusting — if brilliant — birth of the alien in Ridley Scott‘s The Alien:

    SPEC DQ alien chestbuster birth

    I know: Giger‘s aliens in the movie — and even more so, in the now canonical “chestburster” scene — are hideous, as Ridley Scott himself said, “in the unique manner in which they convey both horror and beauty.”

    **

    Granted, these comparisons from “fiction” (above) and “nature” (below) to what is now one of the world’s more interesting architectural oddities seem obscene — we are used to the church-in-a-mosque as a tourist attraction, and in its own way a minjor miracle —

    SPEC Mezquita and Ant

    — my interest here, hiowever, is in looking at it, not through Muslim eyes, but through the eyes of those Muslims for whom building a church inside what was not only a mosque but one of the most beautiful mosques in the world feels like a grievous insult.

    For them, the cathedral in the Mezquita is a blasphemy — the insertion of a polluted form of worship in a place once dedicated to God’s own preferential service. And this is important not so that we can understand the ideation of those who wish to return the cathedal to a mosque and more generally Spain to al-Andalus, but so that we can comprehend the depth and intensity of the associated emotion.

    The passion.

    Which some Christians must surely also feel whewn they enter the museum of Hagia Sophia, once so proud a place of Christian worship and history — or some Jews with respect to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, where the movement to permit Jewish worship, at present forbidden, is gaining momentum.

    The passion behind (sacred) revanchism.

    QBism, not Qutbism, and Joshu’s Dog — or Schrödinger’s Cat?

    Friday, June 5th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — Quantum Bayesianism, that is ]
    .

    SPEC DQ QBism Joshu

    No, really.

    **

    Sources:

  • John Tarrant, The Great Koan, Your Dog
  • Christopher Fuchs, A Private View of Quantum Reality
  • The Tao Te Ching in contemporary western contexts

    Friday, May 29th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — two reasonably diferent ways of contextualizing the Tao Te Ching for the west ]
    .

    DQ Tao Te Ching 43 in Modern Contexts

    Strange, eh?

    I somewhat like Witter Bynner‘s non-literal take on the line in question: “to yield with life solves the insoluble”.

    My own carefully ambiguous version: “Chinese meanings can slip through / into obstinate English translators”.

    **

    Sources:

  • Taoistic Taoism Explained
  • Tao Te Ching (Dao De Jing) by Lao Tzu (Laozi), Chapter 43
  • Physicists solve quantum tunneling mystery

  • Switch to our mobile site