Monday, June 21, 2010

Closer to Truth...

Recently, I coincidentally came across the website of a TV-show called "Closer to Truth," that I frankly had never heard of before. Amazingly enough the website features a large selection of interviews with well known scientists, nicely ordered into short videos taking on specific topics.

20 comments:

Savvas said...

Thanks for sharing the links! By the way you might find this collection of videos interesting as well:

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2010/02/11/colbert-nation/#more-4069

The link is from Sean Carroll's blog and the videos are interviews of famous physicists by Stephen Colbert.

Cheers,
Savvas

Bee said...

Thanks... I don't like this Colbert guy though. He seems to think he's incredibly funny, but I just find him sickening. Anyways, I appreciate the attention he gives to physics. Best,

B.

Steven Colyer said...

Bee, I'm not sure you get Colbert's act. His entire show is a satirical mocking of far right wing conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly's show: "The O'Reilly Factor." Colbert is a comedic actor, playing a role, the role being "self-pompous windbag cranky middle-aged white American male who wants 'government off our backs' and angry about gender equality and help for the poor, and why can't it be 1962 again?"

Bee said...

Satire is all fine with me. I just can't stand guys who expect applause for every stupid joke they make.

Plato said...

Robert Lawrence Kuhn

In our marketing campaign, we
joke that “if you were an alien and
had to know where thinking has
come on Planet Earth, you would
have to watch Closer To Truth.” To
CEOs, even those who are not aliens,I offer the same (biased) advice. I do not promise that you will find Ultimate Truth, only that you will be enriched, and perhaps exhilarated, getting Closer To Truth.


Interesting marketing campaign.:)

As to your comment Steven on Colbert, their is a certain comedic style in your writing that looks familiar :)I like it.

Best,

Plato said...

Bee,

One cannot help but laugh at the absurdness, puffiness, of a bolsterer personality.

No comedic styles that you like?

There is something to be said about immediate recognition of the underlying reality that you recognize right away. Even if it is in a cartoon format? What do you think?

Best,

Steven Colyer said...

Thanks, Plato. Well, I was very mocking and sarcastic in high school. Add to that the freezing of my maturity at age 15 and ... viola!

Bee tweeted:
Ladies and Gentlemen, we are nearing the begin of summer! Summer Solstice 2010 is Monday June 21 at 11:28 am Greenwich Mean Time.

Which means 6:28 this morning in Princeton (we share the same time zone and ... that's about it). And 3:28 a.m. in California, so I bet the Wiccans there were up late last night.

Also thanks Bee for tuning us on to that wonderful webpage. I will certainly enjoy watching all those vids.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,


As with the others I thank you for pointing out this site as I was not aware of it before. Looking down the list of names I realized I have heard many of them speak in person over the years, with some and yet not all thanks to Perimeter institute. I personally find it incredible names which a few take as being so prominent are in fact for the vast majority totally unknown and that thought tends to sadden me. Actually what saddens me the most is not that they don’t know the names, yet more so that along with this ignorance comes that what they think about and discovered has escaped their concern to have noticed. In such respect the title of the show I find an interesting one with it being “Closer to the Truth” as it has me to wonder how many would care to know what that truth was. even if it was actually known?


I don’t know exactly how you feel about this, yet I’ve always thought the world will have only shown it has improved when such people are more commonly recognized and still more importantly what and how they think about it is more appreciated by all. It would indeed be wonderful to live in a world where I could mention any of the names you made note of here to actually have in response something other then “who is that”.


Best,


Phil

Uncle Al said...

Stephen Colbert is a perfect string theory simulacrum - all mouth, no substance, and brillantly so. Stephen Colbert viciously mocks from the Right; Jon Stewart viciously mocks from the Left.

America died in 1965 with President Johnson's "Great Society" elevating the lowest classes upon the backs of productive citizens. A mere ten years later the Federal tree had borne abundant fruit - all of it toxic.

In principle, science could save civilization. In practice, science is suborned into the Grand Banks and the Gulf of Mexico. A social advocate makes virtue of failure. The worse the cure the better the treatment - and the more that is required.

The 21st century is Microsoft Windows - the next version will work, we promise. Meanwhile... pay up and register. We'll be watching.

Plato said...

Uncle,

"perfect string theory simulacrum

Colbert's also good at creating definitions for "simulare" word as well:)

You got to laugh at the inventiveness and creativity?

Best,

Pmer said...

I just don't understand people who don't think there is a theory of everything. Even in randomness there are physical laws that are part of the whole.

Bee said...

Pmer: You already said that previously. I already told you previously that reading my post "What is fundamental" would help. But since you either didn't read it or it didn't enlighten you, why don't you look at some of the videos, it might help you understand.

Rhys said...

Thanks for this, Bee. This Robert Kuhn seems like a smart guy, at least based on the couple of videos I watched. It's good to have such people interested in fundamental physics. I'm ignoring the 'God' part of the series...

Bee said...

Hi Rhys,

Yes, he left me with a good impression too. He asked a lot of question that showed he knows about the topic and the person. And he lets them talk, even though on occasions I've wondered how many people dropped out when technical terms are dropped. I mean, when there's talk of the CC or dark matter or whatever, he doesn't insist that it's explained for the one millionth times what it is. He probably loses some audience with that, but otoh the level gets higher and there's a certain learning curve with it. Best,

B.

Phil Warnell said...

Hi Bee,

As you say there is certainly a lot to explore within this series. What I find best about it is it brings to light what the main questions are and how they are being approached in different ways. What I like is its attempts to make clear that physics is not at the stage where it is simply tidying up a few lose ends, yet rather at one where what remains unknown presents as both vast and perplexing. I think if nothing else is realized by those that watch is that the questions that have been revealed indicates the answers will have a profound effect on our thinking as they are discovered.

I did find some inaccuracy in it however, like when Martin Reese said that Einstein’s initial conception of the universe didn’t extend past our own galaxy. I think it was clear to Einstein before the revelations of the Hubble expansion that nebula where separate galaxies. It might seem like a mute point yet I think it is a disservice to science when Einstein is painted as somehow not quite up with his time, as in fact the opposite has proven to be the case so many times.


Best,


Phil

Steven Colyer said...

Dipped my toe into that wonderful page and the first vid I saw (and the only one I've seen so far) is "Is Mathematics Invented or Discovered?" by David Gross. Pretty darn good, and it backs up my independently logical conclusion that Mathematics is a Language, not a Science. I especially liked Gross' explanation of Mathematics as a result of natural selection, which I hadn't thought of. After all, if we use a particular math, it must be reality-describing math, so the useful maths are those that survive. Proof.

And there you have it, I may have been the first person to use "maths" in a grammatically correct fashion. ;-p

Also, what's all this stuff about Gross being "hard to get along with?" He certainly seems very nice, cool, calm, collected and down to earth to me in that vid.

steviebergman said...

Hi Bee, Great find! I hadn't heard of this show either, but I'm always looking for more physics (and the like) interviews.

-Stevie

Pmer said...

I said it again in response to several of the videos, especially Markopoulou's "What is a Theory of Everything?" Perhaps the difference is somewhat termonological: she feels differently about a Theory of Everything versus Grand Unification versus the Ultimate Theory etc... I was thinking of a Theory of Everything as a theory that, in some sense, is the most fundamental one, and not as a theory that would be applied in every circumstance. I don't consult the atomic hypothesis to help me decide what I want to eat. :)

The videos were a great find overall.

The post about the Ising model is very interesting. But it is not entirely clear to me that uncomputability is the same thing as non-reductionism.

Steven Colyer said...

Pmer, may I suggest you explore Causal dynamical triangulation, starting with that link, then Google the Scientific American article(s) on same. I think that stuff is right up your alley.

I didn't watch Fotina's vid, yet, but I imagine she makes the distinction between Quantum Gravity, Grand Unified theory, Theory of Everything, and Unified Field Theory. They are four separate things.

Kay zum Felde said...

Hi Bee,

I've seen some of the videos and I like especially the ones with Fotini Markopoulou and Roger Penrose. Fotini makes it clear, why one should not wait for a theory of everything, since with every new theory there are new problems.

Best, Kay