So, it turns out, that [black holes may not exist], and in getting rid of them the math comes out better. And, perhaps just as importantly, you can read all of the work for yourself on Arxiv.org: [first paper], [second paper]. (Hello, Humanities? No one’s the nineteenth century called, and it wants its communication infrastructure back. Or, rather, it’d rather you didn’t use it exclusively, but, you know, try using something from the twentieth century.)
[black holes may not exist]: http://unc.edu/spotlight/rethinking-the-origins-of-the-universe/
[first paper]: http://arxiv.org/abs/arXiv:1406.1525
[second paper]: http://arxiv.org/abs/arXiv:1409.1837
> According to physicist Jeremy England, the origin and evolution of life are processes driven by the fundamental laws of nature — namely the Second Law of Thermodynamics. He’s come up with a formula showing how a group of atoms, when driven by an external source of energy (like the sun) and when surrounded by a heat bath (like the ocean or atmosphere), can sometimes restructure itself as a way to dissipate increasing rates of energy. ([io9])
I wonder how far of a leap it is from this kind of notion of evolution of order to the kind of order we call culture?
My dad sent me a link to the Harvard Natural Sciences Lecture Demonstrations that features a 15-pendulum setup, apparently based on a Russian design of some age, in which each pendulum is of a monotonically increasing length. The video, linked below, shows what happens when all the pendulums are set in motion at the same time: they change from swinging in sync, to swinging in a wave, in double waves, in apparent discord (or randomly), and then back again.
It’s the “and back again” that is so fascinating. One full expects to move from order to disorder, or even from disorder to order, but my brain was not fully prepared for events to transition from one state to the other and then back again, and then back again. What it seemed to suggest to me in the moment is that apparent randomness in some contexts is simply a transitional state between two different kinds of order. (This may be the intended function of the demonstration for all I know.)
[The video is 1:46 long. Well worth your fascination.](http://sciencedemonstrations.fas.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k16940&panel=icb.pagecontent216589%3Ar%241%3Fname%3Dindepth.html&pageid=icb.page80863&pageContentId=icb.pagecontent341734&view=view.do&viewParam_name=indepth.html#a_icb_pagecontent341734)
Do the Math is for my father-in-law, a physicist, who also likes tackling real-world problems. He’s a great guy, and if you like great guys, then you should read Do the Math, because it’s smart and you get a glimpse of how physicists think and what they think about when they are not doing physics.