Musings/Träumereien/Devaneios

Falsifiable Multiverse: “The Emergent Multiverse: Quantum Theory According to the Everett Interpretation” by David Wallace

The Emergent Multiverse: Quantum Theory According to the Everett Interpretation - David     Wallace


"Readers familiar with typical discussions of the measurement problem may be surprised that I have mentioned neither the 'eigenstate-eigenvalue link' nor the 'collapse of the hidden variables' theories.”

In “The Emergent Universe: Quantum Theory According to the Everett Interpretation” by David Wallace



Surprising statement to say the least. If one accepts the truthiness of the eigenstate-eigenvalue link it follows that if states are relative, then so are the values of observables. Not accepting this. what have we got? If an observable has got a value at a certain moment, is that observable-relative or not? 

Uhm…

A long time ago I remember Fred Hoyle asking "Are there any constants for all the universes?” I thought the universe was a put up job. There always being "something" is what shivers my timbers. I know they say energy is eternal but what is energy?


If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Samsung Steps Challenge: Lavender (Mai)

If you're into Fitness, read on.

 

The Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI): "The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III - Multiple Universes, Mutual Assured Destruction, and the Meltdown of a Nuclear Family” by Peter Byrne

The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III: Multiple Universes, Mutual Assured Destruction, and the Meltdown of a Nuclear Family - Peter  Byrne


"This is the mystery: when we measure the position of an atomic particle we record it as existing in a definite place, not in all of the many places it occupies according to its smoothly evolving wave function. The emergence of a single position from the set of all physically possible positions is inescapable; it creates a logical discontinuity, a gap, a fissure, an interruption in the flow of the Schrödinger equation; it creates a problem.”

In “The Many Worlds of Hugh Everett III - Multiple Universes, Mutual Assured Destruction, and the Meltdown of a Nuclear Family” by Peter Byrne



I suspect that the reason why the Copenhagen and Many Worlds interpretations of QM are the most well-known is that they are the easiest to explain in classical terms, and therefore most accessible to those who have not already completed an undergraduate level course in QM. You can also find a discussion of the different interpretations in The Road to Reality, by Roger Penrose, but it is heavy going and not recommended unless you have a background in Physics (or Math) to degree-level.

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Star-gazing SecUnits: “Artificial Condition - The MurderBot Diaries 2” by Martha Wells

Artificial Condition - Martha Wells


“But you may have noticed that for a terrifying murderbot I fuck up a lot.”

In “Artificial Condition - The MurderBot Diaries 2” by Martha Wells



The very unfamiliarity of SF is one of its attractions for me. It slows down the reading and speeds up the need to think, both within and across books (intertextuality). Familiarity, similarity? Try reading these in a row, then come back and tell me you were on familiar ground all the while and that your mind is still in the same shape: "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", "Ubik"; "Version Control"; "The Gradual", "The Dispossessed" and "The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories" (no author names).

Setting a story in another place or another time enables speculative fiction like the one Martha Wells attempts with her MurderBot series to explore ideas that literary fiction might really struggle with. I'm interested in divided societies … Irish … English … Dorset … Croatia … Bosnia … Israelis and Palestinians …


If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Space Opera Made Simple: "Embers of War" by Gareth L. Powell

Embers of War - Gareth L. Powell

Space Opera Made Simple: " Embers of War" by Gareth L. Powell


I can't believe all the people who want to see the SF establishment have a hack at Iain M. Bank's Culture novels. If ever there were novels that I hope Hollywood will never be let anywhere near it's those ones. The books are usually quite long and always involve considerable subtlety. Seeing that rendered down to a brainless action movie would just be heart breaking. Worse would be the fact that no screen-writer seems capable of restraining themselves from fucking around with stories. So that something totally out of character for the Culture World would be bound to intrude. For me the Culture is alive and well in my imagination. I can visit it any time I want by picking up one of the books. Why would I want some Hollywood Muppet wreck? Ideally any space opera movies will be original stories. The best movies are always written as movies, with the media and format in mind. Novels work best as novels. Almost without exception novel adaptations are terrible. Some are so terrible as to be whispered about, on full moon nights, surrounded by pentagrams... *Dune*...
 
 
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

 

The Western Canon: "Living with Shakespeare - Essays by Writers, Actors, and Directors" by Susannah Carson (editor)

Living with Shakespeare: Actors, Directors, and Writers on Shakespeare in Our Time - Susannah Carson

My long time fascination with Shakespeare started a long time ago when I was attending the British Council. I won’t dwell on it again.

 

In this “Living with Shakespeare” I didn’t get much on Hamlet, but I kept thinking about Hamlet's five soliloquies; the humour and poignancy of Kent's words in King Lear; the horror of what happens to Gloucester and the heart-rending ending of the same play. The mixed emotions of the finale to MacbethMark Antony's speeches in Julius Caesar. Iago's words inOthello. Shakespeare gave the world a literary water-fountain around which to gather when engaging with the great issues of each passing generation. His heroes and villains, his comedies and his tragedies make up an unerringly eloquent compendium of human frailties/motives as the world changes - and yet nothing changes. And I've hardly scratched the surface of how Shakespeare's words have the power to move and shock and create laughter like no one else has been able to before or since. The naysayers should take the time to experience a play performed live or, at the very least, watch a film version. It will hopefully change their minds. 

 

 

If you're into Shakespeare, read on.

Wearing Mismatched Socks at Work is Empowering: "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius, Gregory Hays (trans.)

Meditations - Marcus Aurelius


“Concentrate every minute like a Roman— like a man— on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions. Yes, you can— if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centered , irritable. You see how few things you have to do to live a satisfying and reverent life? If you can manage this, that’s all even the gods can ask of you.”

In “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius


“Para ser grande, sê inteiro: nada
Teu exagera ou exclui.
Sê todo em cada coisa. Põe quanto és
No mínimo que fazes.
Assim em cada lago a lua toda
Brilha, porque alta vive.”


In “Odes de Ricardo Reis” by Fernando Pessoa


Word of caution: this "review" is going to be all over the place.


I translated this into German a long time ago. I’m not sure I’m up to the task of translating this into English this time around…

Let’s give it a go:

“To be great, be whole: nothing
Of yours exaggerate or exclude.
Be all in everything. Put all you are
In everything you do.
Be like the moon that
Shines whole in every lake
Because it lives up high.”

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Femalessness SF: "Needle" by Hal Clement

Needle - Hal Clement

Clement’s later novels included females because people had pointed out to him that his novels had no females in them. To be fair, his work is not ardently sexist; it was just often focused on a group of scientists going to an alien planet to study the aliens ... and at the time Clement was writing, "group of scientists" largely meant "group of male scientists". There are female characters in “Iceworld”, and also in “Needle”, but those are set on Earth (with the aliens visiting us), where a complete absence of female characters would be a bit glaring. I think 'Needle' would be an interesting book to make a film from ... and (spoiler alert) given that the aliens are just amorphous blobs that live inside the body of a human host, it wouldn't be that expensive to make. If it had been the point of the book, a space-mission with fewer than 40% female crew would have been a different story and, concomitantly, much longer if added to the voyage to Mesklin.

 

 

If you're into SF, read on.

Ana: 20 Years

 

20 years

Reading a Book Over and Over: “Devices and Desires” by P. D. James

Devices and Desires - P.D. James

“’The victim's hair was damp, which suggests she died after her swim and not before it’"

 

In “Devices and Desires” by P. D. James

 

 

I’m no detective but that is some incredible deduction Dalgliesh…

 

 

I'm only going to be on this earth for a limited amount of time, and in all likelihood I won't manage in that time to get through all the great books that have ever been written. But I should at least try my best to. I only re-read books if it's so long since I read them that I barely remember them at all, (and even then it's rare). My bookshelves are heaving with books, and I buy them quicker than I read them, so I've got to try my hardest to keep up. And I certainly can't help thinking that if one is re-reading the same book every year, one could do with broadening our horizons a bit. Nevertheless, re-reading should be adopted by all serious readers. Last year I went through some of my favourite SF books of all-time, and what a joyous ride it’s been. Unfortunately that particular objective kept me away from reading some new stuff coming out. Moreover, to re-read a good book lifts the soul, but to re-read one twice or more puts authors on the dole….lol.

 

 

Read on, if you're so inclined.

 

Indistinguishable SF: "Nightflyers and Other Stories" by George R.R. Martin

Nightflyers and Other Stories - George R.R. Martin


Dragons have always been cool, Video games have always been cool, real ale has always been cool. (Union) Rugby has always been cool, Science Fiction has always been cool, and Fantasy has always been cool. Football has always been shit, same as radio 4 depressing plays that the controller seems to think everyone has been to Cambridge/Oxford and therefore they like this sort of thing as it’s so highbrow. Kill a mockingbird yada yada, the Royal Shakespeare Taliban society again shit. Give me dragon slaying and space ship battles any day of the week. There's very little in life that can't be improved by adding dragons. Anyway, since when was a game of thrones considered to be fantasy? To me, it is fantasy with the guts ripped out of it. Take away the undead and the dragons, and you would see no difference to the overall story. It is a medieval soap drama with fantasy elements tacked on. Fair enough, Martins wants to move the genre on - he wants to go beyond epic sagas and doomed heroes, and the romance that underpins all fantasy, but what has he replaced it with? Sex and misogyny.

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Quantum Ontology: "What is Real - The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics" by Adam Becker

What Is Real?: The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics - Adam Becker

The Universal-Wave-Function vs. The Pilot-Schrödinger-Wave-Function vs. the Collapsing-Schrödinger-Wave-function as a Stab at Explaining Reality.

 

 

 

The diversity of possible comments on this book reflects ironically the Everett paradigm of quantum ontology. There are as many views of reality as there are observers. Thankfully in all instances, given the depth of some of the possible interpretations, the interaction of the observer state wave and that of the rest of the universe is extremely asymmetrical - the universe has a great effect on the observer but the latter's effect on the universe is mercifully, infinitesimally small. There is no doubt that the philosophical implications of the developments in modern scientific thinking are in lagging mode. This is because of the extreme complexities of the formalisms created to describe the reality as seen by human observers with a certain evolved sense of perception. The modern philosopher has to tread wearily through the theory before emerging tired and almost at wit's end to be in a position to even expound a valid opinion, least of all an emerging new philosophy, on the ontological basis of the quantum world. This is the first time I’ve read a book on Quantum Mechanics wherein three of the major outlier physicists appear: David Bohm, Hugh Everett III, and John Stewart Bell. 

 

 

If you're into the Measurement Problem in Quantum Mechanics, read on.

Joys of Re-Reading: "A Certain Justice" by P. D. James

A Certain Justice - P.D. James

I too read Asterix comic books that I've read before. The memories of reading them as a child, the familiarity of the characters and the incidents, the dialogue even. Of course, there are lots of reasons why we might want to return to a book. Reading a book again is not just reading it for a second time, it involves a reflexivity: reading your earlier reading of the book (assuming you remember reading it before or if you’ve got a review of that previous reading).

 

It’s by re-reading certain authors with greater clarity than I have apparently mustered, the very self-conscious act that lies behind the public use of the verb 'to re-read'. Is it related to the fact that to describe someone as well read is a bigger compliment than remarking on how someone has been to a lot of opera or surfed a lot of the internet? Do we measure intellectual merit by number of books read? Is that a good thing? (I imagine for the readers of a books blog, the answer is “Yes”).

 

 

If you're into Crime Fiction, read on.

Plebiscitum: “Disco Sour” by Giuseppe Porcaro

Disco Sour - Giuseppe Porcaro

"My new app, Plebiscitum (®), will allow anyone to express their opinions anytime, anywhere, and will include geolocalisation systems"

In “Disco Sour” by Giuseppe Porcaro
 


This novel at first sight provokes in me worry of "assessing someone's democratic ability" and if people don't match to certain criteria, what, no right to vote? I agree Democracy should be a "very important school subject"; moreover, education in general should be about creating inquisitive minds in the young, only then can there be any hope of people becoming able to see through the shortcomings of politicians and the shortcomings of representative democracy. However education at present is exclusively directed (with some notable exceptions) at formatting young people to fit in to a wholly capitalistic society, in other words to become the little soldiers of capital for the benefit of the few. Alas, the 'born to rule' class still exists, this is the caste that needs breaking up, this poison which has insidiously infiltrated the minds of so many. To a point where the electorate will continue shooting themselves in the foot in a sort of perverse admiration saying 'if they can, so can I!' And even if they don't think in this way, others get caught up in a viscous circle of simply surviving. An important aspect of this education should be that policies are more important than personalities, that the choice of a policy is the political will of the electorate; who is, or are, employed to execute this policy is a separate issue. Higher education in Democracy should be freely available. It should be compulsory for everyone who wants to be a councillor or MP, complete with official exams.
 
 
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

 

Over-the-top World-building: "The Hammer" by K. J. Parker

The Hammer - K.J. Parker


The main character, Gignomai met'Oc, is as memorable as was Bassianus Severus. Gignomai is the youngest member of a sentenced family of exiles on account of the political betrayal of an aristocratic family and he's clearly different from his relatives - he does not enjoy the birth privileges due to his birth, and he willingly spends time with the colonists, and with the passage of years he foments a revolt against hypocrisy and the game of appearances. From here on it is only a few steps away from initiating a political revolution and industrial revolution, and the reader is fortunate to be a witness to the whole process, described in the smallest details. It is worth paying special attention to the image of the world presented; K.J. Parker avoids the mistake of many other fantasy writers, i.e., not boring the reader with the history of past ages, dozens of geographical names, and complex genealogy. Parker is much smarter than that. He goes in a completely different direction, smuggling further information in dialogues or skimping data in descriptions, thanks to which he constantly keeps the reader's attention. We construct the subtle details in our minds.

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Triteness and Boringness: "Cover Her Face” by P. D. James

Cover Her Face - P.D. James


“The cultured cop! I thought they were peculiar to detective novels.”

In “Cover Her Face” by P. D. James


Sometimes people just like to talk about the books they're reading. Not boast. Just talk. I realise such plebeian behaviour may not be acceptable in the rarefied circles some people move in, but for the rest of us mere mortals it happens quite a lot. Given that reading is becoming less and less common, one would think you'd be happy people are reading at all, without feeling the need to bitch about the fact that they happened to have enjoyed something so much they might want to read it again. Unless you think reading should just be restricted to the real intelligentsia, among whom some people obviously count themselves. So, unless those people have evidence that re-reading causes cancer or blows up the WC, why not back off and let the rest of us do what we like. Or better, why not direct that scathing anger at something that really matters? "Oh, I'm re-reading ‘Cover Her Face’.” Yes, there are people who like to brag about re-reading the Shakespeare plays, but most of us are just trying to be accurate. If you say, "I'm reading such-and-such," people assume you mean "reading for the first time.

 

 

If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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