Few days without any posting thanks to several glorious days in the mountains of UK Lake District (Facebook album here.) Never seen such conditions for hiking and views in dozen or more trips over 40 years. As usual I’m using down time to read, two books this time.
I mentioned Martin Robinson’s Trivium 21c already, but I also started on David Deutsch’s Beginning of Infinity.
Loved Deutsch’s Fabric of Reality some years ago, but despite a common Information Quanta thread, I largely lost contact with his Quantum Computing and Constructor Theory work, except for brief interest in his colleague Chiara Marletto. [Links]
I’m reading Beginning of Infinity primarily for a single chapter referred to in a Twitter thread about the evolution of culture, but in fact from the off, it is a fascinating book. Several threads right on my own agenda, as well as more of what I liked in Fabric of Reality on the power of explanation as the core (if not the distinguishing feature) of scientific enlightenment. His Infinity refers to the basic principle that good explanation covers not just a rationalisation of experience in a falsifiable form and open to critique, but a potential infinity of not yet even conceived future experiences.
How else could we know what is really happening in stars? This statement comes very close to where I’m at on the anthropic significance of humanity in the grand scheme of reality:
Base metals can be transmuted into gold by stars,
and by intelligent beings who [unlike the alchemists]
understand the processes that power stars
and by nothing else in the universe.
And more generally:
In this book [he argues] that all progress, both theoretical and practical, has resulted from a single human activity: the quest for what [he calls] good explanations. Though this quest is uniquely human, its effectiveness is also a fundamental fact about reality at the most impersonal cosmic level – namely that it conforms to universal laws that are indeed good explanations. This simple relationship between the cosmic and the human is a hint of a central role of people in the cosmic scheme of things.
Also published on Medium.