Stephen Wolfram: Idea Makers

Túto knihu som prečítala už dávno, ale potom som na ňu nejako zabudla a natrafila som na ňu až pri upratovaní v čítačke. 

Mohla by byť dobrá. Ale nie je. 

Ja som veľkou fanynkou pána Wolframa. wolframalpha používame so študentami veľmi často (dnes sme hľadali najväčšie známe prvočísla), páčilo sa mi, ako spolu so synom pomáhali pri tvorbe filmu Arrival, aj jeho prístup k dátam. Chystala som sa aj na jeho knihu A New Kind of Science (open access). Takže do Idea Makers som sa pustila s veľkou chuťou. 

Prečítala som si o niekoľkých zaujímavých ľuďoch z Wolframovho pohľadu. To by samo o sebe mohlo byť veľmi fajn, lebo kombinácia niečoho intímneho zasadená do širšieho kontextu dokáže byť veľmi silná (teraz mám napríklad v takomto duchu rozčítané Raising Elijah, kde sa prelína osobný, lyricky písaný, príbeh s verejným/náučným/aktivistickým textom). Ale tu sa to nepodarilo. Wolframove ego preráža skoro v každej biografii. Ešte aj u tých, s ktorými sa nestretol osobne, si neodpustil poznámky typu “keď dokázali to, čo dokázali bez wolframalpha, predstavte si, čo ešte by objavili, keby mali takýto nástroj k dispozícii”. 

Takže nie. Alebo ak predsa, tak len so silným filtrom. 

Wonder women

Wonder Women od Sam Maggs 

Táto kniha je skôr pre Kiku, keď raz začne poriadne čítať po anglicky, ale ja som si ju celkom s radosťou preletela. Sú to kid-friendly krátke životopisy 25 žien (plus spomína zhruba 25 ďalších), ktoré boli vedkyne, lekárky, špiónky, vynálezkyne a cestovateľky. Zaujímavé na tom je, že som z nich poznala len dve a Marie Skłodowska Curie, Rosalind Franklin alebo Jocelyn Bell Burnell sa na hlavný zoznam ani dostali. Výborné je aj to, že aj keď biele európanky alebo američanky prevažujú, slušné zastúpanie majú aj iné farby pleti a iné krajiny. 

Annie Smith Peck: A woman who has done good work in the scholastic world doesn’t like to be called a good woman scholar. Call her a good scholar and let it go at that… I have climbed 1,500 feet higher than any man in the United States. Don’t call me a woman mountain climber.

Jedna téma sa v knihe objavuje opakovane – ženy, ktorých objavy boli pripísané mužom:

But since Lise was exiled from Germany, Otto published their findings and Lise’s theory in the journal Nature – without giving Lise credit… Then in 1944, despite Lise having coined the term nuclear fission in her own Nature article in 1939, Otto won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery… Although his 1946 Nobel lecture did mention Lise five times, most people assumed she was merely Otto’s junior assistant, a misconception that he seems to have done nothing to correct.  

Je výborné, že aj takéto knihy vychádzajú. Representation matters. 

Víkendové surfovanie

A love story – úžasné

When we encounter a mother doing too many things perfectly, smiling as if it were all so easy, so natural, we should feel a civic responsibility to slap her hard across the face and scream the word “Stop!” so many times that the woman begins to chant or whimper the word along with us. Once she has been broken, we may take her in our arms until the trembling and self-hatred leave her body. It is our duty.

When I swim at the public pool, I wear sunglasses so I can admire the hairless chest of the nineteen-year-old lifeguard. I love it that he, a child, really, is guarding me, fiercest of warriors, a mother, strong as stinky cheese, with a ripe, moldy, melted rotten center of such intense complexity and flavor it would kill a boy of his tender age.

The answer is easy in daylight. But the night’s untethering almost always turns me into someone I’m not. I spend nights thinking about the different women I become in the dark. Where am I keeping these women when the sun is up?

The work of organizing everything – celé dobre a aj iné na jej stránke stoja za prozretie

koláčik navyše

I now live in Berkeley, California. A few years ago, just a few blocks from my home, a pair of researchers in the Cal psychology department staged an experiment. They began by grabbing students, as lab rats. Then they broke the students into teams, segregated by sex. Three men, or three women, per team. Then they put these teams of three into a room, and arbitrarily assigned one of the three to act as leader. Then they gave them some complicated moral problem to solve: say what should be done about academic cheating, or how to regulate drinking on campus.

Exactly 30 minutes into the problem-solving the researchers interrupted each group. They entered the room bearing a plate of cookies. Four cookies. The team consisted of three people, but there were these four cookies. Every team member obviously got one cookie, but that left a fourth cookie, just sitting there. It should have been awkward. But it wasn’t. With incredible consistency the person arbitrarily appointed leader of the group grabbed the fourth cookie, and ate it. Not only ate it, but ate it with gusto: lips smacking, mouth open, drool at the corners of their mouths. In the end all that was left of the extra cookie were crumbs on the leader’s shirt.

This leader had performed no special task. He had no special virtue. He’d been chosen at random, 30 minutes earlier. His status was nothing but luck. But it still left him with the sense that the cookie should be his.

This experiment helps to explain Wall Street bonuses and CEO pay, and I’m sure lots of other human behavior. But it also is relevant to new graduates of Princeton University. In a general sort of way you have been appointed the leader of the group. Your appointment may not be entirely arbitrary. But you must sense its arbitrary aspect: you are the lucky few. Lucky in your parents, lucky in your country, lucky that a place like Princeton exists that can take in lucky people, introduce them to other lucky people, and increase their chances of becoming even luckier. Lucky that you live in the richest society the world has ever seen, in a time when no one actually expects you to sacrifice your interests to anything.

All of you have been faced with the extra cookie. All of you will be faced with many more of them. In time you will find it easy to assume that you deserve the extra cookie. For all I know, you may. But you’ll be happier, and the world will be better off, if you at least pretend that you don’t.

tu je video:

Richard Hamming: You and your research

Now for the matter of drive. You observe that most great scientists have tremendous drive. I worked for ten years with John Tukey at Bell Labs. He had tremendous drive. One day about three or four years after I joined, I discovered that John Tukey was slightly younger than I was. John was a genius and I clearly was not. Well I went storming into Bode’s office and said, “How can anybody my age know as much as John Tukey does?” He leaned back in his chair, put his hands behind his head, grinned slightly, and said, “You would be surprised Hamming, how much you would know if you worked as hard as he did that many years.” I simply slunk out of the office!
What Bode was saying was this: “Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest.” Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity — it is very much like compound interest. I don’t want to give you a rate, but it is a very high rate. Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime.

tento článok o Iráne ma doviedol k tejto podivnosti

find great books to read without judging the cover (or the author)

my bionic quest for Bolero 

noisli

Víkendové surfovanie

Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria

The stations—which didn’t so much scan as photograph books—had been custom-built by Google from the sheet metal up. Each one could digitize books at a rate of 1,000 pages per hour. The book would lie in a specially designed motorized cradle that would adjust to the spine, locking it in place. Above, there was an array of lights and at least $1,000 worth of optics, including four cameras, two pointed at each half of the book, and a range-finding LIDAR that overlaid a three-dimensional laser grid on the book’s surface to capture the curvature of the paper. The human operator would turn pages by hand—no machine could be as quick and gentle—and fire the cameras by pressing a foot pedal, as though playing at a strange piano. […]

It was strange to me, the idea that somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25-million books and nobody is allowed to read them. […] It’s there. The books are there. People have been trying to build a library like this for ages—to do so, they’ve said, would be to erect one of the great humanitarian artifacts of all time—and here we’ve done the work to make it real and we were about to give it to the world and now, instead, it’s 50 or 60 petabytes on disk, and the only people who can see it are half a dozen engineers on the project who happen to have access because they’re the ones responsible for locking it up.

I asked someone who used to have that job, what would it take to make the books viewable in full to everybody? I wanted to know how hard it would have been to unlock them. What’s standing between us and a digital public library of 25 million volumes?

You’d get in a lot of trouble, they said, but all you’d have to do, more or less, is write a single database query. You’d flip some access control bits from off to on. It might take a few minutes for the command to propagate.

Neuralink and the Brain’s Magical Future

Because, as the human history case study suggests, when there’s something on the planet way smarter than everyone else, it can be a really bad thing for everyone else. And if AI becomes the new thing on the planet that’s way smarter than everyone else, and it turns out not to clearly belong to us—it means that it’s its own thing. Which drops us into the category of “everyone else.” […]

He sees it as only a matter of time before superintelligent AI rises up on this planet—and when that happens, he believes that it’s critical that we don’t end up as part of “everyone else.” That’s why, in a future world made up of AI and everyone else, he thinks we have only one good option: To be AI. […]

The pace of progress in this direction matters a lot. We don’t want to develop digital superintelligence too far before being able to do a merged brain-computer interface.

Before European Christians Forced Gender Roles, Native Americans Acknowledged 5 Genders (Finds Them And Kills Them je úžasné meno)

Stredoškoláčky videli, že by mladí volili Kotlebu a Kollára, tak vymysleli súťaž o tom, ako funguje štát

The Gene, An Intimate History

Od tohto pána som pred dvoma rokmi čítala “životopis” rakoviny – knižku Emperor of all maladies. Natoľko sa mi páčila, že keď som zistila, že napísal ďlašiu knihu, tak som ju tiež kúpila. A nesklamal. Táto kniha je o génoch, o tom, čo si ľudia o nich kedysi mysleli, čo a ako sa o nich dodnes zistilo, filozofovanie o tom, prečo je to jeden z najnebezpečnejších a zároveň najúžasnejších objavov a nakuknutie do možnej budúcnosti. 

Pár úryvkov na zamyslenie a na namotanie sa:

Consider the genesis of a single-celled embryo produced by the fertilization of an egg by a sperm. The genetic material of this embryo comes from two sources: paternal genes (from sperm) and maternal genes (from eggs). But the cellular material of the embryo comes exclusively from the egg; the sperm is no more than a glorified delivery vehicle for male DNA—a genome equipped with a hyperactive tail. Aside from proteins, ribosomes, nutrients, and membranes, the egg also supplies the embryo with specialized structures called mitochondria. These mitochondria are the energy-producing factories of the cell; they are so anatomically discrete and so specialized in their function that cell biologists call them “organelles”—i.e., mini-organs resident within cells. Mitochondria, recall, carry a small, independent genome that resides within the mitochondrion itself—not in the cell’s nucleus, where the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes (and the 21,000-odd human genes) can be found. The exclusively female origin of all the mitochondria in an embryo has an important consequence. All humans—male or female—must have inherited their mitochondria from their mothers, who inherited their mitochondria from their mothers, and so forth, in an unbroken line of female ancestry stretching indefinitely into the past. (A woman also carries the mitochondrial genomes of all her future descendants in her cells; ironically, if there is such a thing as a “homunculus,” then it is exclusively female in origin—technically, a “femunculus”?) Now imagine an ancient tribe of two hundred women, each of whom bears one child. If the child happens to be a daughter, the woman dutifully passes her mitochondria to the next generation, and, through her daughter’s daughter, to a third generation. But if she has only a son and no daughter, the woman’s mitochondrial lineage wanders into a genetic blind alley and becomes extinct (since sperm do not pass their mitochondria to the embryo, sons cannot pass their mitochondrial genomes to their children). Over the course of the tribe’s evolution, tens of thousands of such mitochondrial lineages will land on lineal dead ends by chance, and be snuffed out. And here is the crux: if the founding population of a species is small enough, and if enough time has passed, the number of surviving maternal lineages will keep shrinking, and shrinking further, until only a few are left. If half of the two hundred women in our tribe have sons, and only sons, then one hundred mitochondrial lineages will dash against the glass pane of male-only heredity and vanish in the next generation. Another half will dead-end into male children in the second generation, and so forth. By the end of several generations, all the descendants of the tribe, male or female, might track their mitochondrial ancestry to just a few women. For modern humans, that number has reached one: each of us can trace our mitochondrial lineage to a single human female who existed in Africa about two hundred thousand years ago. She is the common mother of our species. We do not know what she looked like, although her closest modern-day relatives are women of the San tribe from Botswana or Namibia. I find the idea of such a founding mother endlessly mesmerizing. In human genetics, she is known by a beautiful name — Mitochondrial Eve.

… the largest “negative eugenics” project in human history was not the systemic extermination of Jews in Nazi Germany or Austria in the 1930s. That ghastly distinction falls on India and China, where more than 10 million female children are missing from adulthood because of infanticide, abortion, and neglect of female children.

McKusick’s belief in this paradigm – the focus on disability rather than abnormalcy – was actualized in the treatment of patients in his clinic. Patients with dwarfism, for instance, were treated by an interdisciplinary team of genetic counselors, neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, nurses, and psychiatrists trained to focus on specific disabilities of persons with short stature. Surgical interventions were reserved to correct specific deformities as they arose. The goal was not to restore “normalcy” – but vitality, joy, and function. […] And here too “fitness” could not be judged in absolutes. Rather the lack of fitness – illness in colloquial terms – was defined by the relative mismatch between an organism and environment.

Knižné dilemy

Hmm. 

Martinus mával (rozumej posledné dva roky mal) v rámci mesiaca knihy knižné šifry. Bolo to veľmi fajn, ale neviem, či už došli knihy, alebo prišiel čas na zmenu, tento rok je každý marcový pracovný deň (okrem prvých pár) jedna knižná dilema. A ja že dobre, zapojím sa…

Teraz malá odbočka… ja som veľká fanynka Martinusu. A občasná zákazníčka. A ešte aj členka krajskej komisie matematickej olympiády. Zajtra nám v Žiline začína celoštátne kolo kategórie A, a keď sme rozmýšľali o cenách pre víťazov, tak som oslovila Martinus (na všeobecnej adrese info@martinus.sk) s prosbou. Boli úžasní, blesková priateľská reakcia, mohla som si vybrať, či priamo knihy alebo darčekové poukážky, či má byť darovacia zmluva na mňa alebo na unvierzitu… mladí matematici a matematičky budú mať čo čítať. A ja som ešte väčšia fanynka. Ďakujeme.

Ale tie knižné dilemy? Prečo takto?

Z tých 15tich doterajších, tri neboli o žiadnych postavách (či sa môže čítať vo vani? či je ok, písať ďalšie diely po smrti pôvodného autora? a zvieracia farma vs veľký brat?) 9 bolo o chlapských postavách a iba 3 boli o ženských postavách. A nielenže ich bolo málo, ale aké to boli dilemy? Či si Hermiona mala vybrať Rona alebo Harryho? Či si Deanerys má vybrať Tyriona alebo Jona? A či si Ana má alebo nemá vybrať Christiana? 

Naozaj tie ženské postavy nič zaujímavé nerobia? Neponúkajú žiadne iné “čo by bolo keby?” To najzaujímavejšie na nich je, či a akého chlapa si vyberú? 

Ja sa už ani nerozčuľujem, len som sklamaná. Veď tu netreba veľa a dá sa to robiť o kusisko lepšie. 

Svetlo, ktoré nevidíme

All the light we cannot see, napísal Anthony Doerr

Francúzsko, II. svetová vojna, slepé dievča, ktoré ušlo s otcom z Paríža, nemecký chlapec, ktorý vie opravovať rádiá… a úžasne napísaný príbeh. Ono je to vpodstate obrázková kniha, aj keď v nej žiadne obrázky nakreslené nie sú (ale nájdu sa vzorce!). Akoby svet popísaný pre Marie-Laure, ktorá oslepla, keď mala šesť rokov. Dve rozkúskované predčasne ukončené detstvá, ktoré sa prelínajú a na konci do seba zapadnú ako skladačka. A nie, nie je to love story, je to príbeh o tom, ako sa ľudia snažia byť dobrí aj vo svete, ktorý nedáva zmysel.  

He thinks of the old broken miners he’d see in Zollverein, sitting in chairs or on crates, not moving for hours, waiting to die. To men like that, time was a surfeit, a barrel they watched slowly drain. When really, he thinks, it’s a glowing puddle you carry in your hands; you should spend all your energy protecting it. Fighting for it. Working so hard not to spill one single drop.

What is blindness? Where there should be a wall, her hands find nothing. Where there should be nothing, a table leg gouges her shin. Cars growl in the streets; leaves whisper in the sky; blood rustles through her inner ears.

Time is a slippery thing: lose hold of it once, and its string might sail out of your hands forever.

Veľmi sa mi páčila.

The Emperor’s Soul

V pondelok nám začína semester a vidím to tak, že do vianoc zase nič neprečítam. Tak som sa teraz ešte nechala zlákať krátkou knižkou od Brandona Sandersona. Jeho poviedka v zbierke Nebezpečné ženy sa mi páčila najviac, tak som si povedala, že si nájdem od neho ešte niečo iné. Natrafila som na Emperor’s Soul a za dva večery som si ju dokonale vychutnala.

There was rarely an obvious branching point in a person’s life. People changed slowly, over time. You didn’t take one step, then find yourself in a completely new location. You first took a little step off a path to avoid some rocks. For a while, you walked alongside the path, but then you wandered out a little way to step on softer soil. Then you stopped paying attention as you drifted farther and farther away. Finally, you found yourself in the wrong city, wondering why the signs on the roadway hadn’t led you better.

Zaklínač

Včera pri rozjímaní o nebezpečných ženách mi došlo, že som vlastne toto leto čítala jednu feminist-friedly fantasy ságu od poľského autora Andrzeja Sapkowského:

Ciri (obrázok

Ciri (obrázok odtiaľto)

Zaklínač III. – Krev elfu
Zaklínač IV. – Čas opovržení
Zaklínač V. – Křest ohněm
Zaklínač VI. – Věž vlaštovky
Zaklínač VII. – Paní jezera

Áno, naozaj to začína treťou knihou. Prvé dve sú knihy poviedok o Geraltovi, ktoré ku samotnej ságe netreba. A celkom sa teším, ako sa k nim na vianoce alebo niekedy budúci rok vrátim. Ale po dočítaní piatej/siedmej knihy som už mala pocit, že si potrebujem zase chvíľu čítať niečo iné (lebo toho bolo veľa v krátkom čase, nie že by som toho mala plné zuby).

Ale postavy sú veľmi “ľudské” (aj keď samozrejme nie všetci sú ľudia). Robia chyby a niektorí sa z nich aj poučia. Vyvíjajú sa, nechýba im zmysel pre humor… naozaj dobré čítanie, ktoré by bolo takmer dokonalé, keby tam bolo menej násilia a brutality.

Nebezpečné ženy

Túto knihu som si kúpila, pretože sľubovala, že

bola poňatá ako multižánrová antológia, v ktorej sa miešajú všetky možné druhy fikcie a tak […] požiadali autorov všetkých možných žánrov – sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, historického hororu, paranormálnej romance, mužov i ženy – aby sa s témou “nebezpečné ženy” vysporiadali každý po svojom. … Nenájdete tu žiadne neštastné obete, ktoré stonajú strachom zatiaľčo mužský hrdina bojuje s monštrom…

Ale očakávala som viac ako som dostala. Každá antológia má lepšie a horšie kúsky, to asi čitateľov neprekvapí. Tu som však mala pocit, že niektorí autori a autorky nepochopili zadanie. Napríklad poviedka Zápas s Ježišom, ktorá je celá o troch chlapoch. Áno, je tam jedna femme fatale, ktorá takmer neprehovorí a o ktorú sa dvaja z nich bijú, ale o nej sa na 27 stranách dozvieme menej ako o ktoromkoľvek z tých troch.

nebezpecne2Alebo Panici od Diany Gabaldon. Áno to je tá, ktorá napísala Outlander, a aj teraz si vybrala tie isté reálie a postavy. Má k dispozícii hlavnú hrdinku Claire, o ktorej mohla napísať nejakú vedľajšiu story. Alebo sme sa mohli dozvedieť viac o malej a silnej  Jane, ktorá takto hovorila o tehotenstve. Ale nie, čítame o dvoch chlapoch a ich problémoch…

G. R. R. Martin sa tiež mohol trochu viac posnažiť. Do svojej novely Princezná a kráľovná napchal toľko postáv a miest, že by vystačili aj na rozsiahlejší román, ale kráľovná nie je vôbec akčná a princezná síce trochu áno, ale pri tom výpočte všetkých ostatných udalostí to akosi zaniká.

Takže snaha sa cení, ale hromadne sa chváliť nedá. Individuálne si to však zaslúži Brandon Sanderson (ktorý písal o silnej žene Vin aj vo svojej výbornej trilógii Mistborn). Tu je to poviedka Tiene pre Silence v lesoch pekla. Na malom kúsku nás nenálsilne ale veľmi chytľavo vovedie do úplne iného sveta, kde staršia hrdinka používa striebro na boj s tieňmi. (Zaujímavé, že v Mistborn knihách je práve striebro na rozdiel od ostatných kovov nanič.)

Feministické sci-fi a fantasy (alebo aspoň feminist-friendly) je naozaj zriedkavý tovar.

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