In How Change Happens, law professor Cass R. Sunstein, formerly a senior adviser in the Obama White House, draws on behavioral science to describe the actions that lead to social change, whether for good or ill. In this excerpt, he describes the power of breaking with convention and challenging the seemingly entrenched norms that “leash” and inhibit us.
A World Beyond Physics: The Emergence and Evolution of Life Stuart A. Kauffman Oxford University Press (2019)
His key insight is motivated by what he calls “the nonergodic world” — that of objects more complex than atoms. Most atoms are simple, so all their possible states can exist over a reasonable period of time. Once they start interacting to form molecules, the number of possible states becomes mind-bogglingly massive. Only a tiny number of proteins that are modestly complex — say, 200 amino acids long — have emerged over the entire history of the Universe. Generating all 20020 of the possibilities would take aeons. Given such limitations, how does what does exist ever come into being?
Nature 569, 36-38 (2019)
In science, concepts such as organism, evolution and life, are used almost every day. Every scientist knows the general meaning of such concepts. At the same time, nature is complex, and for this reason, it is difficult to draw stringent lines around classes of things. Scientists therefore accept the use of so called ‘working definitions’ for many concepts. It is frequently advocated that working on definitions has little use for practical research.
This book explores a different viewpoint, in which definitions are compared with tools. If your toolbox contains too few tools, tools that are worn down, or tools that don’t fit, it becomes difficult to carry out even the most easy maintenance or repair job. Experts know: suitable tools make the work easier.
The aim of this book is to examine much-used concepts in science as if these are tools in a scientific toolbox. Do the current definitions represent quality tools? To explore this question, this book uses a recently developed hierarchy theory, the operator theory, as a reference. This theory is explained in the first chapter. Whenever the analyses suggest to do so, the ScienceBites offer directions for improvement of current definitions.
A fresh take on commonly used terms in science
Gerard Jagers op Akkerhuis
Published: 2019 Pages: 142
eISBN: 978-90-8686-887-2 | ISBN: 978-90-8686-336-5
As I elaborate extensively in my new book, The Idea of the World, none of this implies solipsism. The mental universe exists in mind but not in your personal mind alone. Instead, it is a transpersonal field of mentation that presents itself to us as physicality—with its concreteness, solidity and definiteness—once our personal mental processes interact with it through observation. This mental universe is what physics is leading us to, not the hand-waving word games of information realism.