Reality Conditions

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Link and Notes

I've been a Bad and Lazy blogger lately, and I am likely to remain so for some time. The reason is that I've started to write a new paper, and when I pass most of my working hours writing I don't feel like writing for fun in my free time. Writing for fun works better as a rest after a day spent calculating. (What, you say I should also consider the possibility of getting a life? What is that?)

So here a few interesting links I have collected lately, all of them on the kind of subjects you might have seen at some time discussed in this blog:

-The FQXI Community webpage for fundamental questions in physics looks very cool. I recommend especially Matt Leifer's post "Is the world made of wave-vectors?", an extremely clear and concise summary of the pros and cons of "ontological" and "epistemic" interpretations of quantum mechanics.

-I don't intend to become any sort of chronicler of the new papers appearing in the quantum gravity community (the guys at Physics Forums take care of that) but given that this new spin foam model appeared today and seems possibly important, I thought I might just as well link to it. Also there is this recent one by Ashtekar, based on his "LQG FAQ" talk at MG11, which I blogged about last year.

-At the n-Category Cafe, a fun quiz to give your probability estimates for whether a number of quasi(?)-mythological(?) figures (ranging from Gilgamesh to Robin Hood) actually existed. The discussions in the comments involve both what it means for X "to have existed" (descriptive vs. causal theories of proper names) and what it means to assign a probability to it (Bayesianism vs. others).

-Via Thoughts, Arguments and Rants I found this interesting paper, which describes a recent mathematical result which may be of unexpected relevance for the centuries-old philosophical problem of induction. Would old David Hume ever have guessed that there is a rule which, given any function on the real numbers and its values up to (but not including) a certain T, can predict its value at T correctly, for almost all values of T? I'm sure not! What I'm not sure is how relevant this is for the traditional problem -especially given that the theorem only assures the existence of a rule, without explicitly providing one.

-Talking about Hume, Brandon has been putting up some notes on reading and interpreting his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion. This is one of my favourite philosophy books, so I am following this series of posts with great interest. The posts are: Part one and two, Part two and three, Part four and five.

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