# Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
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### AuthorTopic: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea  (Read 65989 times)

#### ariel

• Newbie
• Posts: 2
##### Re: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
« Reply #140 on: December 19, 2007, 01:00:03 PM »

When an alien civilization first encounters our hypothetical radio message (or we detect a similar message ourselves), all they will see is an apparently endless stream of binary numbers. At first, the message will appear to be hopelessly jumbled and devoid of meaning. If it is not formatted so that it contains clues about its structure, the party on the receiving end may never figure out how it is organized, and will never be able to get beyond receiving the signal. The first step on the path to comprehension is to figure out how the series of numbers is organized into the equivalent of words, groups of words, groups of groups of words, and so on. A good metaphor to use is the general format of the information encoded in DNA. Learning the format of DNA is not the same thing as learning the meaning of the instructions encoded in DNA. The first step is to figure out how the information encoded in a genome is broken down into smaller subunits of information. Knowing how genetic information is organized doesn't mean that we understand what every gene does, but merely that we know how to parse this data into the equivalent of words and sentences.

DNA does this by using special sequences of base pairs, the genetic equivalent of letters, to denote the end of a sequence of instructions. We will do something similar with our series of binary numbers by using special sequences of binary digits to play the role of parentheses. We'll use these parentheses to bracket other numbers and to create groups of numbers, and groups of groups of numbers, as in the following example:

(((1001)(1010)) ((1000)(1010)) ((1001)(0101))
((1000)(1100)) ((1001)(0101)))

Which can be read in decimal form as:

(((9)(10)) (( 8 )(10)) ((9)(5)) (( 8 )(12)) ((9)(5)))

This example, thanks to the parentheses, is easy to break down into words and groups of words, and groups of groups of words. While this doesn't tell us anything about what this statement means, it does tell us where to start in breaking the message down for analysis. Now compare the above example with the following statement:

10011010100010101001010110001 10010010101

This is merely the first example without the parentheses. Imagine that you had received a message like this, except that instead of a few digits, you were looking at millions or billions of digits. Where does one word end and the next begin? How could you tell whether words are combined to form groups or groups of groups? Without a clue about how the message is organized into subunits, it would be very difficult to interpret. This type of structure tells the receiver how to parse the message, or break it down into its basic units.

Kidding aside, I think the search for aliens is not such a good idea... I mean, we don't know what any extraterrestrials might be like -- hoping that they might be friendly, evolved enough to be wise and beyond violence, is an assumption upon which we could be betting our entire existence. The late Carl Sagan, the American astronomer who died a decade ago, also worried about so-called "First Contact". He recommended that we, the newest children in a strange and uncertain cosmos, should listen quietly for a long time, patiently learning about the universe and comparing notes. He said there is no chance that two galactic civilisations will interact at the same level. In any confrontation, one will always dominate the other.

#### l o c u s

• Newbie
• Posts: 4
##### Re: Before, Meanwhile and After the BIG BANG -- (M-Theory)
« Reply #141 on: December 19, 2007, 06:49:53 PM »

In the first seconds after the Big Bang, there was no matter, scientists suspect. Just energy. As the universe expanded and cooled, particles of regular matter and antimatter were formed in almost equal amounts. But, theory holds, a slightly higher percentage of regular matter developed -- perhaps just one part in a million -- for unknown reasons. That was all the edge needed for regular matter to win the longest running war in the cosmos. When the matter and antimatter came into contact they annihilated, and only the residual amount of matter was left to form our current universe.

Wow, great video, O!

#### l o c u s

• Newbie
• Posts: 4
##### Re: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
« Reply #142 on: December 19, 2007, 07:42:55 PM »

[...] Freud then went on to outline for Einstein his theory of Eros, the life instinct that "seeks to preserve and unite" and of Thanatos, the death instinct. For Freud, aggression was the manifestation of Thanatos and thus an essential element of human nature. For that reason, he characterized Russian communism as "an illusion trying to make human aggression disappear."

[...]

Russian Communism and Marxism were not identical.

Care to explain a bit?

#### marygo

• Newbie
• Posts: 3
##### Re: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
« Reply #143 on: December 25, 2007, 01:31:50 PM »

Keyboard commands are indeed important to know ... I'm pretty sure you will have to work one day with the keyboard commands alone ... a friend of mine had an instance when the screen froze completely and the mouse simply wouldn't work ... the only way to save a few files before actually shutting down the computer (and losing everything after a system restore was executed) was to use the functioning keyboard...

Right on! I mean this seems quite unimportant at first sight, but believe me, it is the most important thing in the world in those moments when you just can't make the computer work!

Yeah right, hang on that! How could you possibly think you can make the computer work using the keyboard commands??? ARE YOU NUTS?

Don't you think it's time to wake up and run down the street to your technician, buy the piece of equipment that's needed and do the whole thing the way it can be done?

#### contrapedal

• Newbie
• Posts: 1
##### Re: Before, Meanwhile and After the BIG BANG -- (M-Theory)
« Reply #144 on: January 01, 2008, 04:30:59 PM »

In the first seconds after the Big Bang, there was no matter, scientists suspect. Just energy. As the universe expanded and cooled, particles of regular matter and antimatter were formed in almost equal amounts. But, theory holds, a slightly higher percentage of regular matter developed -- perhaps just one part in a million -- for unknown reasons. That was all the edge needed for regular matter to win the longest running war in the cosmos. When the matter and antimatter came into contact they annihilated, and only the residual amount of matter was left to form our current universe.

Wow, great video, O!

#### inter alia

• Newbie
• Posts: 1
##### Re: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
« Reply #145 on: January 03, 2008, 02:37:10 PM »

Kidding aside, I think the search for aliens is not such a good idea... I mean, we don't know what any extraterrestrials might be like -- hoping that they might be friendly, evolved enough to be wise and beyond violence, is an assumption upon which we could be betting our entire existence. The late Carl Sagan, the American astronomer who died a decade ago, also worried about so-called "First Contact". He recommended that we, the newest children in a strange and uncertain cosmos, should listen quietly for a long time, patiently learning about the universe and comparing notes. He said there is no chance that two galactic civilisations will interact at the same level. In any confrontation, one will always dominate the other.

Who cares anyway, if we were to be taken over then we get taken over. There is no point sitting and waiting because it's just a waste, this planet will die soon anyway might as well explore as much as possible. And even if we were taken over there is always trying to survive or outlast it, Maybe!!

#### Sceptic

• Newbie
• Posts: 3
##### Re: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
« Reply #146 on: January 05, 2008, 04:56:51 PM »

#### 39729

• Jr. Member
• Posts: 7
##### Re: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
« Reply #147 on: January 08, 2008, 03:09:03 PM »

Keyboard commands are indeed important to know ... I'm pretty sure you will have to work one day with the keyboard commands alone ... a friend of mine had an instance when the screen froze completely and the mouse simply wouldn't work ... the only way to save a few files before actually shutting down the computer (and losing everything after a system restore was executed) was to use the functioning keyboard...

Right on! I mean this seems quite unimportant at first sight, but believe me, it is the most important thing in the world in those moments when you just can't make the computer work!

Yeah right, hang on that! How could you possibly think you can make the computer work using the keyboard commands??? ARE YOU NUTS?

Don't you think it's time to wake up and run down the street to your technician, buy the piece of equipment that's needed and do the whole thing the way it can be done?

Thank you!!!

#### basha

• Newbie
• Posts: 3
##### Re: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
« Reply #148 on: January 15, 2008, 04:59:57 PM »

Einstein's socialism was distinctly democratic. He feared that a society based on a planned economy (which he consistently advocated) could crush the rights of the individual with an "all-powerful and overweening bureaucracy." He expressed his "passionate opposition" to the idolatrous, bureaucratic and anti-democratic Soviet state. However, such statements were lost on the FBI, which in the early '50s collected 1,500 pages of material on Einstein's allegedly pro-Soviet activities. In 1958, "Life" ("Time"'s sister publication) listed Einstein as one of America's leading Communist "dupes and fellow travelers." Yet nowhere in Time's 15 pages devoted to Einstein does the magazine bring itself to acknowledge the great physicist's explicitly socialist views. For "Time" to concede that the century's greatest thinker naturally and elegantly rejected the dominant political-economic system would not square with the conventional wisdom that the dominant theme of the 20th century is the glorious triumph "free-market" capitalism.

Democratic socialism, along with libertarian socialism, can be seen as forms of anti-authoritarian "socialism from below," in contrast to Stalinism and social democracy, variants of authoritarian state socialism. It is the active participation of the population as a whole, and workers in particular, in the management of economy that characterises democratic socialism. The state would be a centralised government, although anarchists and some libertarian socialists favor decentralized communes and other forms of non-statist social organization.

The free market is socialism for the rich — free markets for the poor and state protection for the rich.

Can you expand a bit, ayn?
The severity of the itch is proportional to the reach.

#### :|

• Newbie
• Posts: 4
##### Re: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
« Reply #149 on: January 17, 2008, 03:34:45 PM »
When I get bored I go to a 7-11 and ask for a 2-by-4 and a box of 3-by-5.