Does Max Tegmark Kill A Daughter In A Parallel World ?

The popular description of virtual particles “borrowing” energy and popping in and out of existence...

From Mindless Physics To Physics Of Mind

       For the sake of clarity, let us consider the two widely known...

Something New On The Illusion Of Time

Look at a fan rotating its blades. Now look somewhat to the side of it. It seems to rotate slower...

Brain Plasticity Tradeoffs and Sascha Vongehr Musician

This may surprise, but Ludwig Wittgenstein, for many the greatest philosopher, or anyway the most...

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Sascha VongehrRSS Feed of this column.

Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙], physicist and philosopher, studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory) at Sussex University... Read More »


How does an electrical torch or flashlight work? According to the usual description, the lamp inside produces light, this light is shone on the objects we desire to see, partially reflected from their surfaces, and finally some of that light is captured by our eyes. This is not wrong, but it somewhat distorts the fundamentals of visual perception, which is not about perceiving light but about perceiving differences.

Actually, all the objects around us send out light all the time, even if the room appears completely dark to us. This light happens to be mostly infrared light. Nevertheless, if seeing was just about detecting light from objects, evolution would have formed us to be able to receive that infrared light.

What is the most popular form of Citizen Science?

Some want to make us believe it is SETI@home, 8 year olds being pressured by overenthusiastic teachers, or people in their backyards looking for comets.

The old discussion about how an airplane, that is many tons of steel, can keep staying supported in mere air, is a perfect example for how discussions way too often polarize into two camps with both sides being wrong. Little headway is possible once any attempt at resolution is portrayed as either a dangerous accommodating that leads onto a slippery slope toward defeat, or worse belonging to the other, the evil side. There are too many such issues, not only in politics or largely yet to be explored scientific fields like climatology. Even in known physics, for instance in special relativity, there are these polarized debates where both sides are wrong. The theories are well known and their domains of applicability are well delimited by both mathematics and experiment.

One more of the many crazy results of the idiotic “war on drugs” is that we have to pay lots of money for chemicals that actually cost next to nothing. For example, adding up time and money spent on health insurance, physicians, and pharmacies, taking care of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is plainly not a viable option for many poorer people or those with a tight schedule, say single mothers taking care of their kids while having a job. Nobody gets a year’s worth of medication; you have to go at least every month again or more frequently, especially in case of ADHD medicines, so to feed your doctor and the pharmacist. Got insurance?

It is that time of the year, the season, and a good excuse to contribute with something that can be at most only very loosely connected with science; maybe just to prove yet again that the life of a scientist is more than science and a square private life, although our official CVs sure look like that. The story I will tell today unfolded around this time of year, and it involves all the makings of a good Xmas story: lots of snow and cold overcome mainly by the warmth of hearts.

This is the last of the four part series about the Edge discussion between Lee Smolin and Leonard Susskind.

I previously discussed the physics and the philosophical issues. You will have by now understood who won the battle in my eyes. However, I would like to use this final opportunity to stress that we have yet again a clear showcasing of that it is, as so often, sufficient to merely analyze the style of argumentation in order to figure out who is not to be trusted.