Last fall I took a class at MAS 714J: Systems and Self; it was a look into meta-cognition and application of technology to learning. Harvard Ed School Technology in Education kids. (I have things to say about the program, but I guess I’m not supposed to slander my own school, right?) I’ve heard the Media Lab called the “dot com of academics.” I can appreciate what they were saying, but it’s important not to discount the whole program because of a few, failed flashy projects. If anything, the Media Lab is a lesson in avoiding bad ideas. But nothing I have said has been substantiated.
The point is, snuck in among the TIE kids was a very sharp, very well-spoken woman named Bella. She was a spy from WGBH doing research for a new spin-off called Nova scienceNOW!. The social engineers on Western Ave were trying to stage and science revolution. Introduce science into bars. Don’t replace trivia night. Add live demonstration night to the rotation. Get scientists sloppy drunk and explain decentralized systems to the masses.
I can only imagine what would happen if Ian and I got drunk in the presence of a real cosmologist. Things are bad enough as they are. Ask Danny, or Tey. We’ve hit a real, horrible block in our mathematical cognitive philosophy debates. (To speak nothing of the Nature of Space and Time debates by Penrose and Hawking.)
Which leads me, perhaps a bit forcedly, to this article whose reference I stole from Peter Woit’s blog over at Columbia, which I recently learned Gopal reads, too. It’s an article in the archives about the need for a background independence in a successful theory of quantum gravity. Something I’ve said blindly for at least a year because of a quantum loop gravity book I got a hold of. I, however, quickly put the book down when I realized the amount of algebra I’d need to read it. But everyone should read this artcile. Much of it is a history of science lesson mixed with a survey of contemporary theories. If anything, it’d impress most of the guests at the next cocktail party you attend.