Bedside Notes

January 6th, 2013

I keep a small notebook next to my bed to record notes I make during my reading hour before bedtime. I just filled it and replaced it with a new one. Leafing through the old notebook, I noticed that it goes quite a ways back, perhaps five years. Here are some of the entries, along with quick explanations of their context.

relative growth rate of populations in Greece & surrounding areas 900 BCE
(refers to research on the Greek development of rationalism)
check Ezekiel for market rates
(more research on trade in pre-classical Greece)

A History of Mien
(how did ‘average mien’ change over time?)
Non-laryngeal phonemes
Bandwidth is conserved -- neutrinos % detection
(pertains to my notion that bandwidth is the true reality, mass & space-time are just manifestations.)
Neutrinos have probabilistic existence. They aren’t really there.
(More on the above)
Origin of life: was there a bottleneck, a single event that forbore all life? Could there have been such a bottleneck? We can be certain that most events in the chain leading to life were taking place in a population of events. But can we be sure that all such events were part of a population, that there was no single lucky event?
(pertains to the stochastic processes that led up to life. Could there have been a lucky jump?)
Was it really possible for T.Rex to run? Travel times for somatic neurons to the brain and back to the muscles are too long for the response time requirements.
(Result is posted here, from 2009)

Particles are markers for space. If you had no particles, you couldn’t measure space, so it wouldn’t exist.
(More on bandwidth as fundamental constituent of the universe)

Given the limited amount of DNA or RAM, what is the optimal distribution of various layers of indirection?

What is the optimal mutation ability rate of DNA?

Sacrifice to gods is universal cultural trait, reflecting cognitive basis of religion?

Is degree of hypernymity (in language) same as degree of abstraction (in thought)?
(For history of thinking)

pronouns are local variables
(language and computing)

Why did hominids arise in Africa and not elsewhere?

Do ancient texts use less nesting or simpler logic than modern texts?
(For history of thinking)

mutability of DNA -- is it variable across species by having compounds that mop up radicals?

Has the percentage of lawyers in Congress changed in recent years? If so, what does that signify?

Is there any relationship between the two different meanings of “siren”?

I’d like to see a sequence of living things ordered by size of genome.

How about crowd-sourcing the logical merits of murder mysteries?

Use cognates and IE roots to measure degree of hypernymity as a function of time.

Laughter: recognizable story pattern suggests one ending, but alternate ending can be made to fit well.

Histogram of number of species in each (average weight) division. The break between endoskeletons and exoskeletons will be clear, but what else will show up?

Should not myths be subject to evolutionary processes? Was there ever a ‘first’ hero legend? Is not Arthur merely the latest version of a hero myth that goes back to the first folktales?

Memoirs of an Amnesiac. Adventures of a Virgin Nymphomaniac.

Use a laser across a great expanse of air with a corner cube reflector. Measure slight variations on the return signal to detect ELF sound from meteors.

Are canine gene pools of different nations significantly different, especially with regard to overall health (effect of breeders)?

Immune systems establish a balance between over-aggressiveness (auto-immune diseases) and under-aggressiveness (succumbing to invasive disease). In the same fashion, cells establish as balance between over-aggressive cell death (aging) and under-aggressive cell death (cancer).

Why is it that girls’ writing is so easy to recognize?

The role of peril in interactive storytelling

Are religions as memes subject to selection pressures? Did Christianity succeed because it had the best social characteristics? Same for other religions? Can religions, both successful and unsuccessful, be sorted by weighted traits in such a way as to reveal the most successful traits (factor analysis)?

Can an atheist competitor to religion be organized? A local institution providing social support and moral discussion?

Recursion also caused language!

Definition of interactivity: (information from computer) * (information from user) / (time of session)**2
(see this resulting essay)

corporate donations. Amendment: “The exercise of political rights is restricted to citizens.”

Is a language’s foreign vocabulary borrowings indicative of the trade volume of its culture?

Build a schemolic system comparing images of text to ASCII equivalents. Teach it to read.

Is ink density of characters constant across written languages?

build mechanical laser
(see this resulting essay)

Why did sex evolve in single-celled creatures? They had no pathogens!

Does a male ladybug suffer from gender identity problems?

Would antibiotics be more effective if we periodically imposed moratoria on their use (one at a time)?

Can God have free will?

Rise of commerce in late 17th century matched rise of rationalism, country by country.

Why didn’t dinosaurs come back?

Latin grammar relied heavily on classification systems; did Chinese grammar do the same?

Azitawattas ruler of Karatepe Pondicherry

Was feudalism anti-correlated with rationalism?

Correlation between number of scientists and trade as a percent of GDP

The degree to which an individual’s economic activity involves other people is a measure of economic progress.

Europe had to make the transition from feudal ethos to mercantile ethos. Big task. China never did.

Competition among multiple European sovereigns for the benefits of merchants permitted capitalism to flourish -- just like Greece.

Why spices in East Indies but not West Indies?

Why has human progress been exponential? Shouldn’t growth have been linear? No other adaptation has led to such extreme growth. What was so extraordinary about cognition?

Forget mass. Forget energy. Forget protons, photons, neutrinos, quarks, etc. Think only in terms of information. What kind of universe do you see?

The concept of the soul is necessitated by the noun-heavy view of the human.

Council of Nicaea as demonstration of a) logic b) democracy.
(See this essay)

irrational numbers require infinite information to specify. How does this comport with quantum mechanics and 2nd Thermo?

The Greeks had no priests. Therefore they had to resolve religion by debate.

Without kings, the Greeks had to make their own laws. That forced debate onto them.

The fact that the Greeks were scattered around the Aegean littoral proves that they were long a seafaring people.

Hesiod was a peasant AND literate. Why?

Young scientists have mental webworks based on new facts and not encumbered by old ideas. Less dense networks are more amenable to altered configurations.