Of super-intellects and a super-intellect

Of super-intellects and a super-intellect March 4, 2019


At Harvard on a sunny winter's day
Harvard’s Museum of Natural History:  The mammoth skeleton obtained by Dr. Webster is on display here.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


It reads like a detective story from the television screen.


The very human side of a once-prominent scientist:






Does sexism explain underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics?  Does such “underrepresentation” really even exist?


It’s refreshing to see a discussion of this topic that is actually based upon facts:


“Lies, Damned Lies, and STEM Statistics”




New evidence regarding hominin evolution?


“First Confirmed Denisovan Skull Piece Found”




“Complex Life Might Require a Very Narrow Habitable Zone”




Here, I offer some more practical science news:


“Sleeping in on the weekend can’t make up for lost sleep: Lack of Zs increased weight, late-night munchies and insensitivity to insulin”


“Eating a lot of fiber could improve some cancer treatments: The same can’t be said for taking probiotics, researchers suggest”


“Bears that eat ‘junk food’ may hibernate less and age faster: Wildlife raiding human foods might risk faster cellular aging”


“Five advantages of being left-handed: From playing hard to thinking hard, a southpaw bias can have a major impact on performance”




Sir Fred Hoyle in a mosaic
“Pursuit” (1952), by Boris Anrep, is part of a series of mosaics of the Modern Virtues located in the entrance hall of the National Gallery in London. It depicts the astronomer and physicist Sir Fred Hoyle as a steeplejack climbing up to the stars.  Hoyle (1915-2001) was an atheist but, as his career went on, he appeared to have Doubts.


Would you not say to yourself, in whatever language supercalculating intellects use, “Some supercalculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be less than 1 part in 1040000.”  Of course you would. . . .  I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 Mev energy level in the nucleus of 12C to the 7.12 Mev level in 16O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix . . .  A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.  [Sir Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 20 (September 1982): 16]



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