I have never been able read only one book at a time. Obviously not one with each eye, don’t be silly, but I always have several books going at once. Purchasing the Kindle has only compounded the problem since I can carry around a whole bunch without carrying around a stack of books (which I inevitably do anyhow, because the library isn’t fully up to speed with their electronic library.)
Right now, I am in the middle of: Tarzan of the Apes, by Edgar Rice Burroughs (e-book, public domain! Free Baby!), Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett, The Turk, by Tom Standage (research), Fortune and Glory, by Brian Michael Bendis (Graphic Novel), Hidden Realities, by Brian Greene, and The Singularity is Near by Ray Kurzweil.
It’s the last two that are important here. Brian Greene is a physicist, the kind that writes books for people who have no business studying physics because math makes their brain hurt, but who (like me) like to be up to date with the latest in theoretical science. You know, because it makes us fun at parties. And the topic this time is parallel universes. Of which, I am now aware, there are six working theories that make them possible, perhaps likely even. Almost all are predicated on the idea of infinity as a mathematical concept. It’s a fascinating book, mostly because science fiction makes me tingle, and this is the petri dish of science fiction stuff, and also because it shows a connection between math and me and the Universe that doesn’t consist of, “and 37 cents is your change, sir, would you like room for cream?”
In short, layman’s terms, when contemplating an infinite universe, it becomes necessary to deal with the mathematical concept of infinity, and with infinity everything is not only possible but necessary. So if there was a big bang that produced us, and arranged its molecules in a fashion that produces galaxies, planets, and stars like Paris Hilton, then in an infinite amount of space, purely necessary would be other universes that contain galaxies, planets, and stars like Paris Hilton only really far away. Of course that doesn’t make sense when I type it, but if you read Greene’s book, it sorta does.
And what it also does, is show you how math has convulsive fits of suicidal depression when an equation asks it divide by zero, and mass explosions of parallel universes when it’s asked to multiply by infinity. The book doesn’t have equations, but refers to them all the time, in sentences like, “and Schrodinger’s probability wave equations accurately predict that an election is sometimes over here, and sometimes over there.” or “this gave fits to physicists using the General Relativity equations of Einsteins to work out whether you can eat ice cream in a Black Hole.”
Which brings me neatly, in my roundabout nonsensical bloggy organization way, to the second book of the last set of books I am reading which in the Singularity book by Ray Kurzweil. Long story short, too late, this book postulates a time in the near future when the electronic interfaces, ie microprocessors that we create will be able to link up with out brains processes and completely blur the line between man and machine. Women are closer to achieving this, but let’s not get vulgar here.
The line of thinking that links these two books for me, is the child’s dream of being able to download knowledge directly to my brain without having to do the work of well, learning. I was always pretty good at math. Tested out of college calculus by scoring a 4 on the AP exam, well done me. So I never touched it again. I was able to let go of the ideas of integrals and derivatives like yesterday’s pizza in a gas station restroom (disgusting). But now, with the intense interest with which I am reading Brian Greene’s work, I want to delve further into the mysteries of the Universe than my university education in History allows.
Enter, the Singularity. If we can get this process started, I can get to work on these Schrodinger equations and feed them to my maybe dead, maybe alive cat. The daunting task of learning this high level of math in my mid-thirties makes my brain squirm, so I really want some electronic help. And maybe I can learn to play that damned guitar quicker too. I still have a few good years left to be a Rock Star.
And here’s a trippy thought. Because of parallel universes, and I am convinced one of these theories is correct, there is an alternate version of me who knows this stuff already, and I am an inferior Doppelganger in this Universe, like a Coe and Vance Duke from one too many seasons of the Dukes of Hazard. I AM TOM WOPAT!!!
Sorry, but they were cool, especially with the dynamite on the bow and arrow. I could care less about the racist automobile when I could fire dynamite from my bow and arrow. Let’s see you do that Legolas.
Oh boy, these tangents are getting silly.
I want to download shit into my head so I can do math problems. (Blog post summary)
Thanks for listening, in all the Universes.
BRANES, BRANES! I WANT TO EAT YOUR BRANES!