Yummy brain food
My friend David lent me the book What is Your Dangerous Idea? Today's Leading Thinkers on the Unthinkable. Below are some of the yummier nuggets of brain candy.
* "In a very real sense, then, virtually all organisms, including humans, are sunlight transmogrified, temporary waypoints in the flow of energy." ~Scott D. Sampson
* "Brains cannot become minds without bodies....Perhaps thought and feeling are only possible because the brain interacts with its body and listens to the things it tells it. And perhaps much of how the brain understands the world is only possible because of the brain's experience of controlling a body....We may build computers that understand language but cannot say anything meaningful, at least until we can give them 'extended tactile experiences.' To put it another way, computers may not be able to make sense until they can have sex." ~Alun Anderson
* "Our brains may never be well enough equipped to understand the universe, and we are fooling ourselves if we think they will. Why should we expect to be able eventually to understand how the universe originated, evolved, and operates? While human brains are complex and capable of many amazing things, there is not necessarily any match between the complexity of the universe and the complexity of our brains, any more than a dog's brain is capable of understanding every detail of the world of cats and bones, or the dynamics of stick trajectories when thrown. Dogs get by and so do we, but do we have a right to expect that the harder we puzzle over these things the nearer we will get to the truth?" ~Karl Sabbagh
* "Relativity makes it clear that asking, 'What is happening right now on Andromeda?' is complete nonsense. There is no 'right now' elsewhere in the universe; nevertheless, we keep thinking of the universe as if there were an immense clock ticking away the instants, and we have a lot of difficulty adapting to the idea that a phrase like 'the present state of the universe right now' is physical nonsense." ~Carlo Rovelli
* "The self that is the particular, networked set of connections of matter compromising our mortal bodies will one day die, of course. But the self that is the sum of each separate individual condensate in us of energy-turned-matter is already ancient and will live forever. Each fundamental particle may one day return to energy or from there revert back to matter. But in one form or another, it will not cease. In this sense, we and all around us are eternal, immortal, and profoundly connected." ~Carolyn C. Porco
* "Nothing can be more dangerous than nothing. Humanity has always been uncomfortable with zero and the void....But the emptiness is all around us. Most of the universe is void. Even as we huddle are our hearths and invent stories to convince ourselves that the cosmos is warm and full and inviting, nothingness stares back at us with empty eye sockets." ~Charles Seife
* And then there is this one, which I cannot adequately summarize, but is full of delicious yumminess.