Yet another weird SF fan

I'm a mathematician, a libertarian, and a science-fiction fan. Common sense? What's that?

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Yet another weird SF fan

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lots of Old Ideas in Science

The article 20 new ideas in science gave me a feeling of deja vu as I considered how old some of the allegedly-new ideas were. For example:

Humans are still evolving

This has been around at least since Nietzsche. It became unpopular (at least outside comic books) owing to its use by the Ideology That Must Not Be Named … especially since the supposed “supermen” got their butts kicked by us mongrels.

There's no such thing as time

This has been around since H. G. Wells and has had scientific backing starting with Einstein.

Enhanced humans are coming

This will only cost 6 million dollars. On a more serious note, we've had physical enhancements ever since the invention of peg legs and eyeglasses. We've had mental enhancements ever since the invention of writing.

Everything is information

In the beginning was the Word … (I am dubious on the grounds that I think hardware had to come first.)

Understanding consciousness is no longer an impossible dream

This is a repeat from the psychoanalytic era if not the phrenology era. Maybe we understand our minds (and maybe we can jump over our shadows) this time but I'm not betting on it.

Prepare for aliens

We've been preparing for centuries. We're still waiting.

Humans are not special

This dates backs at least to Charles Darwin (on a scientific level) and Jeremy Bentham (on a philosophical level).

We can do big physics in small labs

This is the old idea. Traditionally, With love and string and sealing wax was physics kept alive. The big labs were a formerly-new idea that's ebbing.

Language is the key to thought

Isn't this the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis?


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