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Tagged with “long now” (81)

  1. James Gleick: Time Travel - The Long Now

    Time travel is time research

    Gleick began with H.G. Wells’s 1895 book The Time Machine, which created the idea of time travel.

    It soon became a hugely popular genre that shows no sign of abating more than a century later.

    “Science fiction is a way of working out ideas,” Gleick said.

    Wells thought of himself as a futurist, and like many at the end of the 19th century he was riveted by the idea of progress, so his fictional traveler headed toward the far future.

    Other authors soon explored travel to the past and countless paradoxes ranging from squashed butterflies that change later elections to advising one’s younger self.

    Gleick invited audience members to query themselves: If you could travel in time, would you go to the future or to the past?

    When exactly, and where exactly?

    And why.

    And what is your second choice?

    (Try it, reader.)

    “We’re still trying to figure out what time is,” Gleick said.

    Time travel stories apparently help us.

    The inventor of the time machine in Wells’s book explains archly that time is merely a fourth dimension.

    Ten years later in 1905 Albert Einstein made that statement real.

    In 1941 Jorge Luis Borges wrote the celebrated short story, “The Garden of Forking Paths.”

    In 1955 physicist Hugh Everett introduced the quantum-based idea of forking universes, which itself has become a staple of science fiction.

    “Time,” Richard Feynman once joked, “is what happens when nothing else happens.”

    Gleick suggests, “Things change, and time is how we keep track.”

    Virginia Woolf wrote, “What more terrifying revelation can there be than that it is the present moment?

    That we survive the shock at all is only possible because the past shelters us on one side, the future on another.”

    To answer the last question of the evening, about how his views about time changed during the course of writing Time Travel, Gleick said:

    I thought I would conclude that the main thing to understand is: Enjoy the present.

    Don’t waste your brain cells agonizing about lost opportunities or worrying about what the future will bring.

    As I was working on the book I suddenly realized that that’s terrible advice.

    A potted plant lives in the now.

    The idea of the ‘long now’ embraces the past and the future and asks us to think about the whole stretch of time.

    That’s what I think time travel is good for.

    That’s what makes us human—the ability to live in the past and live in the future at the same time.

    —Stewart Brand

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02017/jun/05/time-travel/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  2. Adam Rogers at The Interval at Long Now | San Francisco

    "Proof: The Science of Booze": Wired Magazine editor and author of "Proof: The Science of Booze", Adam Rogers leads us on a tour of the 10,000 year story of alcohol. With deep historical research, expert testimony, and solid science he discusses the accidental discovery of fermentation, an alternative American whiskey history, and his own role in the pre-history of Long Now’s Interval bar. This talk was the first ever in The Interval’s salon talk series; it took place in May of 02014, 2 weeks before The Interval officially opened. From May 02014.

    https://theinterval.org/salon-talks/02014/may/27/proof-science-booze

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  3. Geoffrey B. West: The Universal Laws of Growth and Pace - The Long Now

    Why cities live forever

    West focussed on cities in his discussion of the newly discovered exponential scaling laws that govern everything alive.

    “We live,” he said, “in an exponentially expanding socio-economic universe.”

    Global urbanization has reached the point that there are a million new people arriving in cities every week, and that rate is expected to continue to midcentury.

    What is the attraction?

    One reason for constant urban growth is that the bigger the city, the more efficient it is, because of economies of scale.

    With each doubling of a city’s size, the numbers of gas stations and power lines and water lines, etc. increase at a rate a little less than double.

    In other words, with every size increase there is a 15% improvement in energy efficiency.

    “That‘s why New York is the greenest city in America,” West said.

    The same dynamics of networks explain how what is called “power-law scaling“ works in biology.

    The bigger the animal, the slower and more efficient its metabolism is, at a rate lower than 1-to-1 (“sublinear” in West’s terminology).

    This leads to some remarkable constants.

    Shrews weigh 2 grams, and in their 14-month life their heart beats a billion times.

    Blue whales weigh 200 million grams, and in their 100-year life, their heart beats the same billion times.

    Ditto for all mammals (except humans, who have achieved a lifetime average of 2 billion heartbeats, presumably for cultural reasons.)

    In physical terms, cities are like organisms, enjoying sublinear economies of scale with each increase in size.

    But when you look at cities in terms of their social-economic networks, an astonishing finding emerges. Once again there is power-law scaling if you count patents, wages, tax receipts, crimes, restaurants, even the pace of walking, but instead of slowing down with increasing size, cities speed up with increasing size.

    Their increase is greater that 1:1.

    It is superlinear.

    “Bigger cities are better,” said West.

    Each time they increase in size, they are 15% more innovative socio-economically at the same time they are 15% more efficient in terms of energy and materials.

    Furthermore, they apparently live forever.

    They create most of civilization’s problems, but they are capable of solving problems even faster than they create them.

    However, when you compare companies with cities, companies have similar metabolic efficiencies of scale as they grow, but their innovation rate, instead of increasing with size,

    slows down as they get ever bigger. And they are mortal.

    The average lifespan of a publicly traded companies is 10 years.

    They can grow prodigiously, but their net income, sales, profits, and assets can’t quite keep up—they are sublinear.

    Successful new companies start off like cities, full of innovation, but over time the nature of corporate growth leads them to focus ever more solely on exploiting their success, and eventually they taper off and die like animals.

    The city feeds on their corpses and creates new companies.

    —Stewart Brand

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02017/may/23/universal-laws-growth-and-pace/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  4. Kim Stanley Robinson at The Interval at Long Now | San Francisco

    "Adapting to Sea Level Rise: The Science of New York 2140": Legendary science ficiton author Kim Stanley Robinson returns to The Interval to discuss his just released novel New York 2140. Robinson will discuss how starting from the most up to date climate science available to him, he derived a portrait of New York City as "super-Venice" and the resilient civilization that inhabits it in his novel. In 02016 Robinson spoke at The Interval about the economic ideas that inform New York 2140. He will be joined by futurist Peter Schwartz in conversation after his talk.

    https://theinterval.org/salon-talks/02017/may/09/adapting-sea-level-rise-science-emnew-york-2140em

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  5. Frank Ostaseski: What the Dying Teach the Living - The Long Now

    In one of Long Now’s most moving talks, Ostaseski began: “I’m not romantic about dying.

    This is the hardest work you will ever do.

    It is tough.

    It’s sad and it’s messy and it’s cruel and it’s beautiful sometimes and mysterious, but above all that, it’s normal.

    It’s a boat we’re all in.

    It’s inevitable and intimate.“

    He said that people think it will be unbearable, but they find they have the resources to deal with it, and “they regularly—not always—develop insights into their lives in the time of dying that make them emerge as a much larger, more expansive, more real person than the small, separate self they’d taken themselves to be.”

    That is one message that dying gives to living.

    “Reflection on death,” he said, “causes us to be more responsible—in our relationships, with ourselves, with the planet, with our future.”

    Ostaseski summarized the insights he’s learned from the dying as “five invitations to be present.”

    1) Don’t wait.

    2) Welcome everything, push away nothing.

    3) Bring your whole self to the experience.

    4) Find a place of rest in the middle of things.

    5) Cultivate don’t-know mind.

    For 2), Ostaseski quoted James Baldwin: “Not everything that can be faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed that is not faced.”

    An example of 4): a woman who was panicking at her difficulty breathing was encouraged to try resting in the moment between breaths, and there she found the handle on her panic and relaxed into the situation.

    Ostaseski ended with a story.

    One day at Zen Hospice in San Francisco he was in the kitchen reading a book called Japanese Death Poems.

    A tough old lady from the streets named Sono, who was

    there to die, asked him about the book, and he explained the tradition of Japanese monks to write on the day of their death a poem expressing the essential truth discovered in their life.

    He read her a few.

    Sono said she’d like to write hers, and did, and asked that it be pinned to her bedclothes when she died and cremated with her.

    She wrote:

    Don’t just stand there with your hair turning gray,

    soon enough the seas will sink your little island.

    So while there is still the illusion of time,

    set out for another shore.

    No sense packing a bag.

    You won’t be able to lift it into your boat.

    Give away all your collections.

    Take only new seeds and an old stick.

    Send out some prayers on the wind before you sail.

    Don’t be afraid.

    Someone knows you’re coming.

    An extra fish has been salted.

    —Mona (Sono) Santacroce (1928 - 1995)

    —Stewart Brand

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02017/apr/10/what-dying-teach-living/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  6. Neal Stephenson at The Interval at Long Now | San Francisco

    "SEVENEVES at The Interval reading and signing": A special daytime talk by celebrated speculative fiction author
 Neal Stephenson on the occassion of his just released novel "SEVENEVES". After a reading, Long Now co-founder Stewart Brand joins Neal to discuss the research and writing of the new book, plus a little bit about what is coming next.

    https://theinterval.org/salon-talks/02015/may/21/seveneves-interval-reading-and-signing

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  7. Jason Scott at The Interval at Long Now | San Francisco

    "The Web In An Eye Blink": A filmmaker, historian, and self-proclaimed rogue archivist, Jason Scott discusses his personal history of preserving the digital commons which began with rescuing his favorite BBS-era "text files" and continued with saving gigabytes of the first user-created homepages (i.e. GeoCities.com) which were about to be trashed by their corporate owner. Today his mission, in his role at the Internet Archive, is to save all the computer games and make them playable again inside modern web browsers. And that’s where things get really weird.

    https://theinterval.org/salon-talks/02015/feb/24/web-eye-blink

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  8. Jennifer Pahlka: Fixing Government: Bottom Up and Outside In - The Long Now

    Code for America was founded in 02009 by Jennifer Pahlka “to make government work better for the people and by the people in the 21st century.”

    The organization started a movement to modernize government for a digital age which has now spread from cities to counties to states, and now, most visibly, to the federal government, where Jennifer served at the White House as US Deputy Chief Technology Officer. There she helped start the United States Digital Service, known as "Obama’s stealth startup."

    Now that thousands of people from "metaphysical Silicon Valley" are working for and with government, what have we learned? Can government actually be fixed to serve citizens better—especially the neediest? Why does change in government happen so slowly?

    Before founding Code for America, Jennifer Pahlka co-created the Web 2.0 and Gov. 2.0 conferences, building on her prior experience organizing computer game developer conferences. She continues to serve as executive director of Code for America, which is based in San Francisco.

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02017/feb/01/fixing-government-bottom-and-outside/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  9. Steven Johnson: Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World - The Long Now

    Inventing toward delight

    Humanity has been inventing toward delight for a long time.

    Johnson began with a slide of shell beads found in Morocco that indicate human interest in personal adornment going back 80,000 years.

    He showed 50,000-year-old bone flutes found in modern Slovenia that were tuned to musical intervals we would still recognize.

    Beads and flutes had nothing to do with survival.

    They were art, conforming to Brian Eno’s definition: “Art is everything you don’t have to do.”

    It looks frivolous, but Johnson proposed that the pursuit of delight is one of the prime movers of history—of globalization, innovation, and democratization.

    Consider spices, a seemingly trivial ornament to food.

    In the Babylon of 1700 BCE—3,700 years ago—there were cloves that came all the way from Indonesia,

    5,000 miles away.

    Importing eastern spices become so essential that eventually the trade routes defined the map of Islam.

    Another story from Islamic history: when Baghdad was at its height as one of the world’s most cultured cities around 800 CE, its “House of Wisdom” produced a remarkable text titled “The Book of Ingenious Devices.”

    In it were beautiful schematic drawings of machines years ahead of anything in Europe—clocks, hydraulic instruments, even a water-powered organ with swappable pin-cylinders that was effectively programmable.

    Everything in the book was neither tool nor weapon: they were all toys.

    Consider what happened when cotton arrived in London from India in the late 1600s.

    Besides being more comfortable than itchy British wool, cotton fabric (called calico) could easily be dyed and patterned, and the democratization of fashion took off, along with a massive global trade in cotton and cotton goods.

    Soon there was an annual new look to keep up with.

    And steam-powered looms drove the Industrial Revolution, including the original invention of programmable machinery for Jacquard looms.

    Consider the role of public spaces designed for leisure—taverns, coffee shops, parks.

    Political movements from the American Revolution (Boston’s Green Dragon Tavern) to Gay Rights (Black Cat Tavern in Los Angeles) were fomented in bars.

    Whole genres of business and finance came out of the coffee shops of London.

    And once “Nature” was invented by Romantics in the late 1800s, nature-like parks in cities brought delight to urban life, and wilderness became something to protect.

    Play invites us to invent freely.

    —Stewart Brand

    http://longnow.org/seminars/02017/jan/04/wonderland-how-play-made-modern-world/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  10. What’s the 10,000 Year Clock?

    In a desert in Texas a 200-feet-tall clock is being constructed deep inside a mountain. Once completed, it will keep time for the next 10,000 years, even if there are no humans around to use it. Tune in as Chuck and Josh get to the bottom of the Long Now.

    —Huffduffed by adactio

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