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  • All the Lights

    So has anybody read this?

    It's in Issue 37 of Conjunctions Magazine, which I'm going to try and take a look at tomorrow.

    I've managed to find one quote from it on the 'net:
    “Nufro went ahead and proved mathematically that if you swim to an unknown boat out in the bay who you find owns it could be vastly different from who would have owned it had you taken a canoe there instead”
    Sounds more like Eco than MZD, if you ask me, but this guy seems to have liked it, so...

  • #2
    Originally posted by fearful_syzygy
    I'm going to try and take a look at tomorrow.
    How will you be going about doing that? My university's library doesn't have it, and the only place I could find it is on Amazon.com, and it costs $15.00.

    However, when you "look inside," you see issue 34, not 37...

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    • #3
      Well, obviously my university's library kicks your university's library's arse then!

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      • #4
        If you find it, maybe you could share the wealth :eusa_pray:

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        • #5
          Edited - for pdf see this post.
          Last edited by Raminagrobis; 02-21-2006, 05:18 AM.

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          • #6
            Excellent. I made a pdf of it on Saturday, and was waiting for MZD (via nikhsub1) to give the all-clear to put it up, but in the meantime everyone either take the opportunity to download those, or PM me and I might, as usual, find it in my heart to send you a copy.

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            • #7
              Whoops. Didn't mean to pre-empt you there.

              Anyway, what did you think of it? It is supposed to be a Borges pastiche, right?
              Last edited by Raminagrobis; 02-14-2006, 04:10 PM.

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              • #8
                I really like this story. :icon_biggrin:

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ellimist
                  I really like this story. :icon_biggrin:
                  Funny, I would have thought otherwise (what with you being a physicist and all).

                  I wonder if MZD wrote it as a provocation directed at Sokal and that crowd?

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Raminagrobis
                    Funny, I would have thought otherwise (what with you being a physicist and all).

                    I wonder if MZD wrote it as a provocation directed at Sokal and that crowd?
                    Yeah... I was a bit worried at first... and a bit bothered while reading it. I even read the pseudo-physics parts out loud to some of my friends and they just scoffed.
                    (hidden spoiler text follows, heh)
                    But, I really, really like science fiction. MZD, of course, does not claim that the idea is at all valid. And the end makes up for it, anyway. I know it's just metaphor - no problems. Hehe.

                    Anyway, I think the Sokal hoax was hilarious. I loved it. Academic journals needs to pay close attention to what is being published, and check peer reviews. Then again, "The Physics of Eror" was unpublished, right?
                    Last edited by Ellimist; 02-14-2006, 05:03 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ellimist
                      Anyway, I think the Sokal hoax was hilarious. I loved it. Academic journals needs to pay close attention to what is being published, and check peer reviews. Then again, "The Physics of Eror" was unpublished, right?
                      Yeah but Livia Bassil's Psychology of Physics was published! And it contained egregious impostures like this: 'It is a political imperative for any and all free thinkers to mistrust any institution claiming to be beyond the motions of our own impulses.' :banghead:

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Raminagrobis
                        Yeah but Livia Bassil's Psychology of Physics was published! And it contained egregious impostures like this: 'It is a political imperative for any and all free thinkers to mistrust any institution claiming to be beyond the motions of our own impulses.' :banghead:
                        I must admit, I don't quite understand what she meant by that. Perhaps I read too quickly and missed the context, but... is she saying that there is something non-human about science and must be made humanized, sort of like what MZD was discussing at the beginning of the story?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ellimist
                          I must admit, I don't quite understand what she meant by that. Perhaps I read too quickly and missed the context, but... is she saying that there is something non-human about science and must be made humanized, sort of like what MZD was discussing at the beginning of the story?
                          In context it's simply a refusal to recognize any absolute objective values in science, I think. Not that I'm imputing that idea to MZD, you understand. The fact that the story's packaged up in god-knows-how-many layers of narrative wrapping makes it difficult to do that. But it's difficult to get a handle on the story as a whole, isn't it? From what you're saying, it seems you read it as a piss-take, a sort of knowing critique of its own premise, casting sidelong glances at both sides fighting the 'science wars'...?

                          Incidentally - and this is slightly off the point - I was reading somewhere recently an article that made a much more convincing point about the 'psychology' of science, but from the opposite position. The point was that scientists (mathematicians and physicists especially) are extremely preoccupied with the ideal of 'elegance' in equations etc., and that this preoccupation is potentially detrimental to science as a whole, 'elegance' being a concept perhaps not quite so intrinsic to the fabric of the universe as we would like to believe.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Raminagrobis
                            In context it's simply a refusal to recognize any absolute objective values in science, I think. Not that I'm imputing that idea to MZD, you understand. The fact that the story's packaged up in god-knows-how-many layers of narrative wrapping makes it difficult to do that. But it's difficult to get a handle on the story as a whole, isn't it? From what you're saying, it seems you read it as a piss-take, a sort of knowing critique of its own premise, casting sidelong glances at both sides fighting the 'science wars'...?
                            Yeah, that makes sense. Thanks! I am going to have to read it a few more times... like T50YS, heh.

                            Originally posted by Raminagrobis
                            Incidentally - and this is slightly off the point - I was reading somewhere recently an article that made a much more convincing point about the 'psychology' of science, but from the opposite position. The point was that scientists (mathematicians and physicists especially) are extremely preoccupied with the ideal of 'elegance' in equations etc., and that this preoccupation is potentially detrimental to science as a whole, 'elegance' being a concept perhaps not quite so intrinsic to the fabric of the universe as we would like to believe.
                            Oh, definitely. First, "values" and "ethics" cannot and do not arise out of science (esp. physics). Science tells us how things work, what we COULD do with certain knowledge, but not what we SHOULD do.

                            The whole "elegant equations" thing, the way I see it, is more of a guise, that messy equations have too many terms and are too specific. It's a guise for a desire of efficiency, I think. We should be able to describe many phenomena in a few systems of equations. For example, a well known one, F = ma. This simple equation of Newton's is, indeed, fairly elegant. This is because it can be changed and moved around and reinterpreted to explain a number of phenomena. In fact, the actual equation is F = dp/dt... change in vector momentum over change in time.

                            Using this, we can expand it to explain oscillatory motion, kinematics, and all sorts of other stuff.

                            A non-elegant equation would be something that doesn't explain something efficiently or only does it for a single case.

                            Yeah, there are more than a few people who think this desire for elegance is troublesome, because sometimes messy equations are good in the short term. If it helps explain something and works for the situation, we should use it.

                            But.. what do I know? I am only an undergraduate right now. Ask me later.
                            Last edited by Ellimist; 02-14-2006, 06:41 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Yeah, that makes sense, but doesn't the desire for elegance go deeper than just a practical need for neatness and efficiency? I mean Einstein spent many years being obstinately wrong about quantum physics precisely because he didn't think it was elegant enough. Not because the equations were too cumbersome, but because it clashed with his idea of what physics should be like.

                              By the way, I think you're right, that lyrical passage at the end of the story does just about make up for it.

                              On another matter, there was a rather good story by David Foster Wallace in the same issue of Conjunctions (did you read it, f_s?), plus an article by Paul Auster about why football (soccer) is a substitute for war. Go out and buy it immediately, it's worth $15 of anybody's money.

                              that was my token attempt to avoid accusations of copyright infringement

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