hyperbolic surfaces

Hello, readers.

The Guardian wrote about a collection of Jillian Tamaki called SuperMutant Magic Academy which, by the end of reading the title, you probably know whether you should take a look at it or not and the answer is of course you should in case you were still wondering which I don’t know what to do with you if that’s the case.

In essence, this is a book about raging hormones – think existential crises, black moods, impossible crushes and extreme lethargy – that just happens to come with a little magic on the side. (One character is too lazy to get up off the sofa and grab his wand, for all that he’s longing to use it to conjure up some nachos and guacamole.)


In the 21st century, only corporations get to own property and we’re their tenants

Also. Also.

I listened to THE GRANDEUR AND LIMITS OF SCIENCE on the walk to The British Library. It’s the episode of On Being wherein Krista Tippet talks to my new favorite person in the world Margaret Wertheim. I’m not sure why I bother to point out that this is my current favorite person in the world as though there are other worlds with other people which might result in my having different favorite people on different worlds and now that I think about it there’s a certain One Direction-al logic to it.

Wertheim writes, and acts, to place the worlds of math and physics in the context of their role in the world of experience (culture, crochet, what have you). She’s published books: Pythagoras’ Trousers: God, Physics, and the Gender Wars and The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace: A History of Space from Dante to the Internet, to name two. She started an institute called the Institute for Figuring, whose acronym (IFF) recalls the logic of if and only if and works to bring the aesthetic dimensions of science and mathematics to people. She gave a TED talk: The beautiful math of coral, about the beauty of coral and hyperbolic space and how that can best be understood through crochet.

About cyberspace.

Well, you know we do so much online. We’re in chat rooms. We’re in video games. I think generations of people bought up experiencing literally a sense of themselves existing or being and acting in a virtual universe. I think that generation will not accept pure materialism. And I think this is the great revolution of the cyber era, of the Internet era. The coming into being of virtual realities is representing that reality is not just matter in motion through physical space. And I think that’s absolutely wonderful.

She said smart things about god.

So what is my beliefs? And I’d like to put it this way: I don’t know that I believe in the existence of God in the Catholic sense. But my favorite book is the Divine Comedy. And at the end of the Divine Comedy, Dante pierces the skin of the universe and comes face to face with the love that moves the sun and the other stars. I believe that there is a love that moves the sun and the other stars. I believe in Dante’s vision. And so, in some sense, perhaps I could be said to believe in God. And I think part of the problem with the concept of, “Are you an atheist or not?” is that our conception of what divinity means has become so trivialized and banal that I think it’s almost impossible to answer the question without dogma.

About particles and waves.

Yes. Physics, for the past century, had this dualistic way of describing the world. One in terms of waves, which is usually conceived of as a continuous phenomena. And one in terms of particles, which is usually conceived of as a discrete or sort of digitized phenomena. And so quantum mechanics gives us the particle, as it were, discrete description. And general relativity gives us the wavelike, continuous description. And general relativity operates at the cosmological scale. And quantum mechanics operates so brilliantly at the subatomic scale. And these two theories don’t currently mathematically mesh. So the great hope of physics for the last 80 or so years has been, “Can we find a unifying framework that will combine general relativity and quantum mechanics into one mathematical synthesis?” And some people believe that that’s what string theory can be. And it’s often — when contemporary physicists write about the world, they talk about this as being a fundamental problem for reality. But it’s not a fundamental problem for reality. It’s a fundamental problem for human beings. The universe is just getting on with it.

One of the things that occurred to me while listening is how this is one of the places I live. In this particle/wave world in which depending on how you ask the question, I might answer in one or another or a third way. And thinking about the word “live” the thing I thought was that I really enjoy traveling between different worlds of thought in the way I enjoy traveling between different countries. Restless in body and mind. Descartes would probably say it that way. But with more words about stuff.

Happy travels, readers.