Rants from the Silver Fox

Welcome to the sporadic rants of the Silver Fox.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Not forgetting Ted and Carol

This post is about quantum entanglement and related matters. But it may not appear to be at first. We begin with a diversion, allowing us to view the topic from a different angle.

To those familiar with Unix/Linux (Ixux) computing, the use of an aliased folder is almost second nature. Yes, I do know that Windows has shortcuts that are at least similar but I'll stay with the Ixux setting.

Now any folder, alias or not, has properties. These include contents and location, e.g. in a folder structured hierarchy.

The base folder and its alias have the same contents, different location - putting it crudely.

And so I read with interest in a recent issue of New Scientist how Alice had (putting it into a crude summary) a beam of light and another entangled beam, which she gave to Bob, thereby providing for secure quantum entangled communication. Then the entanglement was apparently 'broken' yet it was found that the two (shall we now call them 'separate') beams still mirrored each other with higher than classical probability. A puzzle.

Not so, I thought, because I use the Ixux alias folder analogy. (See ... it WAS related).

Let's suppose that we detect crudely and so we are sometimes dealing with a particle and sometimes with an 'alias' and because we are focussing on some of the properties (like folder contents) we view things incorrectly. Let's suppose that aliases are created under some situations. Say the classic dual gate where we get either two-particle interference or one particle measurement at one gate. What if our set-up results is an alias being formed. Here we have an opportunity to say it is the 'same' particle (the folder contents are the same) with differences between its 'instances' (the folder location is different). Our actions trigger the alias formation so I am happy to let complementarity stay if you like.

So we do not have two entangled particles at all. We have some mixture of zero to 1 particles with 0 to many aliases.

So Alice and Bob, in their particular setup, possibly created TWO aliases. No matter which of the three - actual particle and 2 aliases - you take, entanglement is demonstrated. Now the glitch comes when they think they have destroyed the entanglement but have in fact only decommissioned ONE of the aliases. As there remains the original and one alias, entanglement properties are still detected.


The challenge then would be to work out how we (a) distinguish a particle from its alias and (b) determine the rules that lead to the creation and destruction of one or more aliases. The philosophers can have another set of field days...

I look forward to seeing the results.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Meaning of Life

What is the meaning of life?

Don't try to answer this. It rests upon a prior assumption, namely that there is one and only one meaning.

Let us first ask: Is there at least one meaning of life?

After that we are on good ground to pose the second question if, that is, the first answer is "yes".

But for me, the answer to the prior question is both no and yes. Let me explain.

For me, the bare answer is no!

Meaning is ascribed to things by human beings. So there is no meaning inherent in life in and of itself. That is the "no" answer.

But I also maintain that each human being is able to ascribe meaning in answer to the heading question. And that chosen meaning can change from time to time for the same person. So also lots of "yes" answers.

So for me the original question is either ill-formed and consequently meaningless (sic) or the original question has a legion, a multitude, a veritable plethora of answers.

So I don't ask it any more.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

If the guilty party does not own up ...

... the whole school will be kept in.

So it started here - punish the many innocent because of the 1 or 2 guilty.

And so, what some people learn in school they take into their adult life. And some become law- and rule-makers for the rest of us.

Soon, you will not be able to get beer in a glass in an aussie pub. For a tiny number of people, you see, the glass become a weapon. So to prevent this - no one can have glass.

If you are not a beer drinker, or if you have destroyed your taste buds with excessive and indiscriminate consumption, you might think that there is no difference in taste between beer in glass and beer in specifically engineered plastic.

There is.

And has anyone paid attention at all to the research that shows traces of polymers in liquid that is kept in plastic containers?

So - I guess we get take-away and drink at home out of glasses.

Well, if this was the only example of punish the innocent on account of the guilty we might just say ho hum and move on. But it isn't. I am sure you can provide your own examples, whether you support the principle or not.

So much for democracy. So much for 'the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few'.

I look forward to the next eample....

For pity's sake, Scotty - beam me up.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Beaver, Beaver, Beaver

Oh look. There are some beavers doing their thing, munching into trees, felling them, damming the river, making their homes and guaranteeing their food supply.

I wait and wait. I look and I look.


I do not see another group of beavers holding signs saying "save the forests", "save the river".

I am a creature of earth just as they are, no more, no less.

Our earlier human hubris that led us to believe we had lordship and ownership of this earth and all on it caused problems. That is gradually passing.

Now it is a human hubris that leads us to believe we have responsibility and guardianship of the earth and all on it.

No change.

We do not have these things. We are the same as all living things in that respect. We err when we set ourselves apart, instead of just doing what all the other living things do - getting on with changing the environment to suit our needs. Need for shelter, need for food, need for quality of life.

Hey, who says that beavers are not taking quality of life into account? Let's assume that food and shelter are the only driving forces and then examine their locations on the basis of that model alone. I bet you we would find at least one case where we would ask ourselves: "Why did they settle there? This other spot would be more logical, would fit that model better."

Don't like the idea? OK. Do the research and then show me I'm wrong.

Until then ... just maybe.

Friday, July 15, 2011

You ought to read ...

I'm over it.

I am sociable. I have conversations with people. We discuss many things of mutual interest. And then I express a view on the topic.

"Oh, have you read ...?".


"You ought to."

And that is that. Because I have not found an easy way to point out something that all the people I talk with  seem not to know.

You can make a list of key books in different disciplines. These books contain ideas and insights that appear to be presented for the very first time by the author.

This is often not the case. The author draws on what is around at the time. But the readers are not aware of that, especially a few years after publication.

So please don't tell me I should read this book about, say,  Object-oriented approach to creating computer systems. The books grew out of best practice by people already in the industry and using the principles even though the tools to make it easier had not yet been created. I mean, Larry Constantine proposed essential elements of the approach in 1973 and professionals in the industry were, on his advice and guidance, using them and refining them long before the later publications on the topic. Larry is still presenting at symposia. He is still leading edge. Listen to him.

Please don't tell me I should read this book on Agile approaches to system development. They were resurrected out of practices put in place in the mid-late '70s. In Australia, Rob Thomsett was a teacher and exponent of such and other development methodologies and these were put in place in a number of Government departments in that country. Rob is still a leader in the Agile field today. Listen to him.

And please don't tell me I should read "Atlas Shrugged". And... and... and...

It is admirable that a person is informed about a field. It is also admirable not to assume that your sources were the originators of the ideas and practices, but the collators and presenters who have a secure grasp of the subject area and have insights into the essentials. It is admirable, in my opinion, if you also know the history of the field and can see the development of that discipline, albeit with Popperian paradigm shifts.

Just check first the experience of the person you are talking with before recommending a book. They may have actually lived through and practiced the pre-cursors to the ideas or practices in the book. They may have been part of the water behind the dam wall or obstruction that added to the spill-over that you know about.

OK. I do really appreciate that I am being offered something in good faith. It's just a case of already been there, already done that, my insights, thoughts and experience already went into the pot with the others.

None of this denies or diminishes the value of the recommendations made by the authors of the books of the type I mention here, nor the value of the contributions made by the authors to the general good. That much I want to make clear.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why Men this and Women that

Despite the publication of the results of a 25 year study in development, concluding among other things that the way the nervous system of a human being is hard-wired depends on the amount of testosterone in the womb at a certain point of embryo development, people still insist on saying 'men this' and 'women that'.

It ain't that simple.

First, you have to consider a continuum between the high testosterone leves at that time and the low levels. A continuum. Not either/or.

So what if male gender humans tend to be more to one end and female gender humans tend to be more at the other. That's just a correlation that is not high enough to draw all the Woman's Day conclusions that people bandy about.

Better, perhaps, to classify people as High-T and Low-T. Or maybe remove possible pejorative evaluations and call them T and N.

What is more, you can now do a normalised test to see where on the continuum your own nervous system sits. Wow.

I am about 60% T and 40% N.

No. That does not mean I am a big girl. It means I can read maps without turning them around and I don't lose my keys as often.

The T nervous system allows its owner to unthinkingly, naturally and without thought or effort make maps of reality and respond to those.

When the T puts his or her keys down, it is recorded in the map. If someone else moves them, that person, male or female, will not be able to easily find them. This is because they are working with the map they made, not the reality in front of them.

The N puts something down, again male or female, and makes no map. That step is not there. They see the reality directly. So if someone moves it, no problem.

I reckon there is a great opportunity here for researchers - redo ALL the research that has compared gender males with gender females. Do it on the basis of T - N, after testing the participants.

This will separate out the differences that are actually based on physical gender and those that are based on T-N nervous system differences. Across a continuum.

Research grants anyone?

Anyone got money to fund this?

It might not look important but the results could be staggering if we find much higher correlation N-T than we do M-F.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


ADD, Attention Deficit Disorder.

Neither a deficit nor a disorder.

ADD covers a lot though. So I will deal with a subset. This is made up of those who have the following characteristics:

Capable of broad wide-ranging all-inclusive attention AND pin-point exclusive attention.

It is like there are people who have just these two modes and nothing 'in-between'.

Between the ages of 10 and 14 I read extensively and all the time I could find. My mum used to say that when I had my nose in a book, the house could burn down around me and I would not notice.

I guess in this mode, it looks very like a deficit of attention.

In my workplace, the day came when 'open plan' became popular. So I would be sitting at my desk doing my work and someone at the opposite end of the floor would ask a question. Not of me you understand. Just to someone nearby. But I found myself answering without missing a beat in what I was doing.

This is the other mode.

I hear that Alan Watts was at a symposium and for some of the time he was apparently talking with the person next to him. At the end, for 'any questions', he posed his question.

The presenter scathingly remarked that had he been paying attention he would have heard it covered at such-and-such a point.

So Alan repeated what the presenter had said at that point word-for-word and asked where in that was the answer he was seeking. Of course, it wasn't there.

I like this unverified story.

If you prefer verified, I was learning Welsh in a class, laughing sotto voce in a semi-flirting set of asides with another student. This was triggered when we were introduced in passing to the word for a frog and at the same moment, noticed only by me and my friend, the frogs in the pond outside starting their 'broga, broga' song. Both she and I had heard everything the persenter had said, every nuance and tut-tut from one or two class-mates, every 'broga', the velvet feel of the outside summer evening, the layout of the classroom, and so on.

This is the other mode.

Even this mode is deemed 'deficient' because the self-important person decides "He/she is not paying attention to me'. Get over it. You are right and you are wrong.

So as this type of ADD person I had to learn strategies.

Full awareness - my strategy became withhold response. Can't prevent being aware.
Pin-point awareness - teach other strategies to deal with it and with me in that state.

I repeat - it is not a deficit.

And disorder? I don't think so.

There was a particular paper published in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology some time during the '70s. Sorry. Don't have my copies with me at the moment, or even in the same country as me! Otherwise I would give the reference.

But the discussion was on 2 styles of meditation, which for here I will term Atman and an-Atman. Some schools favour one, some another. I think I recall that the sound of a bell was used as a stimulus with some long-time practitioners of each method.

But I will gloss and say that the an-Atman, non-self, approach will produce the full attention mode, eventually as a normal state of being.

The Atman, purified/perfected self method will produce the intense zero-point centred mode.

Some at least diagnosed as ADD have access to both of these.

It is not a disorder. From their point of view, not being able to do those things is a disorder. Not being able to understand and appreciate those modes is benighted.

Note: I am not saying that it is not difficult while these type of ADD are growing up. I guess it would be nice if they could be guided in that by peers or those who at least understand. When in one mode they are processing everything in their awareness. Please do not say they are 'easily distracted'. In the other mode they have excluded all from attention except the one thing of focus. Please don't say they are 'ignoring' you, 'refusing to pay attention'.