Seb's World: 1
A deep dive into everything you need to get past hump day, whatever day of the week that is for you
Here’s the first instalment of Seb’s World. I’m looking forward to guiding you through the best of what’s out there, most of it available for free.
Talk with Einstein
This AI simulation looks the business. But does he know as much as you might expect? Click on the underlined link try him out. I gave him a few well-chosen questions…
Seb: Tell me about the special theory of relativity.
Einstein: Gave a good answer from Wolfram Alpha
Seb: Where did you go to University?
Einstein: Even the biggest brains in the world need to keep learning. That’s not one I’ve been trained for yet.
Seb: Tell me about Leibnitz?
Einstein: Gave a good answer from Wolfram Alpha
So, overall I’d say he’s good with questions that lead him to the knowledge banks in Wolfram Alpha but he has a long way to go with anything that takes him outside of that.
Try him out. What questions did you ask and what were the most surprising replies?
The lockdown has been a trial and a challenge for us all in the past eighteen months. Peter Martin came forward with Shelter In Place, an hour of solo piano jazz each Friday night. Sixty-five episodes on it emerged as a deep dive into the jazz tradition and a remarkable document of his talent. The whole sequence is available on YouTube. So, take a little time out and enjoy. Here’s the final session that reprises the series. All the earlier sessions are available…
It’s a Quantum World
Entanglement, quantum computing, it’s changing the world fast. But what does it mean? Here’s an approachable intro by Jim Al-Kahlili.
GPT-3 by OpenAI with a capacity of 175 billion machine learning parameters was introduced in May 2020. It promises to transform many computing tasks through the use of natural language. More on this in coming editions of Seb’s World. For the time being let’s focus on Wisdom_By_GPT3, a twitter account (#gpt3) that lists some of GPT3’s more philosophical outputs. Here are a few of note:
"chance is the form in which the laws of nature reveal themselves"
"art is the debris from the collision between the soul and the world"
"your reputation is what you have when you've lost everything else"
"a pixel is a point of light in a space of darkness, a window into another reality"
"art and poetry are explorations of beauty while music and math are quests for truth"
Scared yet, human?
It’s notable how podcasting has come of age in the last year or so. One that interests me the most is Futures podcast by Luke Robert Mason. You can subscribe via your usual podcast provider or here: https://futurespodcast.net/
In this episode Science writer Ginny Smith shares her insights into the latest ways to scientifically understand the human brain, the role of hormones and neurotransmitters.
The Empire of Light (1950) by René Magritte
When lockdown ends and travel is once more on the cards, I plan to visit the Peggy Guggenheim museum in Venice again where this painting (and many others of note) is on display in the Grand Canal fronted house where Peggy lived with artist Max Ernst. Though it’s been developed somewhat the feeling of entering the house where Peggy entertained and pioneered the support of radical art is as strong as ever.
Best One liners
Gary Delaney has a wicked sense of humour that sometimes sails close to the wind. Here are some of my favourites:
When I was older, I used to love playing around with time machines.
I remember sitting in class learning about Pavlov, thinking "Those stupid dogs." Then the bell went and we all had lunch.
Bad news, there's been a flood at the silica gel factory. No wait, hang on it's fine.
My dad’s dog died, so I went out and got him an identical one. He was livid. “What am I going to do with two dead dogs?”
My friend Jack Hughes went to France, but whenever he introduced himself to people they got all defensive.
The label on this loaf says two slices contain as much calcium as a glass of milk, now I just need to find out which ones.
I went to the premature ejaculation clinic today. They told me my appointment isn't until next Friday.
I had a fight with my acupuncturist and stabbed him. He said he’d never felt better.
Got myself a DVD on how to improve my foreplay. Well, I had to skip the boring bits at the start...
New from the frontiers of science
From my writer’s desk
This is the desk used by Charles Dickens (snapped at the Charles Dickens Museum in London). He wrote by hand using a dip pen and ink and produced all those wonderful, great stories. I’m using a Mac with state of the art word processor, spellchecker and just about any other twenty-first century gizmo I care to choose. Yet I’m nowhere near as prolific (or talented) as him. I guess thinking this through is a first step to seeking to improve.
That’s it, folks. The end of Seb’s Word 1. Hope you found something to stimulate and enjoy.
See you next time.