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Patrick LockerbyRSS Feed of this column.

Retired engineer, 73 years young. Computer builder and programmer. Linguist specialising in language acquisition and computational linguistics. Interested in every human endeavour except the scrooge... Read More »

The Chicken, the Egg and The Hermeneutic Circle.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

It is often difficult when analysing a problem to know where to start. Cause and effect sometimes seem to chase each other around in a circle. In the study of language, should we look first at the meaning of the words, or the sentence? This is a chicken and egg problem, the hermeneutic  circle.
Intelligence Made Simple: Part 2
Please see also Part 1
Are there other intelligences in the cosmos?  
How would we know?
By what universal standard can we know intelligence when we see it?

A Universal Definition of Intelligence.

This is what I call 'square one'  analysis.  Putting aside all unanswerable questions about metaphysical entities, let us look at the basic building blocks of, not life as we know it, but the chemistry of the cosmos.
An open Letter to the World's Leaders

Honorable Leaders,

As our climate continues to change due to our extravagant use of fossil fuels, new sources of those fuels are being discovered in the Arctic regions.

Given that it is our own profligate use of fuels that has caused these new sources to be revealed, does it not make sense to conserve them?  Is it not blindingly obvious that burning these fuels will make climate change  worse?

And yet there is a race to be first to reach, extract, and profit by this new 'wealth'. Some of the Arctic oil and gas is already in the pipelines. Much has already been consumed.
Intelligence Made Simple
Part #1 of 2

What is Intelligence?

I intend to show how intelligence is best understood by getting well away from ideas based on human intelligence. I shall work from humans down to primitive life-forms and then the atom itself.  I hope to demonstrate a useful definition of intelligence, but there are some essential underlying ideas that need to be discussed first.

I shall start by turning the question around. The question to be answered now is:

What is Stupidity?
Part 1, which begins our examination of the question 'what is time?' can be viewed here.
Part 2 Some travels through time.

This is a slightly whimsical interlude, presented as a break from the 'hard' stuff.

The first part of what follows is a speculation about a journey back through time. 
At some point in this fiction-science journey, fact begins to creep in.

"the end of our exploring,
Will be to arrive where we started,
And know the place for the first time."
TS Eliot, 'Little Gidding'

A Brief Journey Through Time
It is commonly held that if floating ice melts, then it makes no difference to sea levels.

This is true only of free-floating ice.

When a sheet of ice is attached to  land, basic principles of mechanics show that the weight is partially supported by that land.  A sheet of ice attached to land is a semi-cantilever. 
A cantilever is a beam supported at one end only.