ME and Ophelia

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Powers of Ten and Just Six Numbers

Posts in this weblog are usually just cryptic notes to myself, on issues I think about, that are dressed up incase they prove useful to readers passing by. Often I wonder what it is that's so great about democracy. Twenty years ago I used to think and talk of the multi-nationals running the world, and about what could happen next: maybe something completely different, like a New World Order. My interest in communications technology began twenty-five years ago - I felt sure then, and still do now, that it would change the world.

Twenty years later, and even more so after 9/11, I became interested in trying to understand the Muslims, what they believe in and why. I've been online daily since June of last year, and often find my eye drawn towards news of ongoing battles involving Christians, Muslims, Jews and Arabs.

Recently I had three long phone discussions with a friend re Iraq, Bosnia and the Sudan, and why people should care. Basically, I raised four questions: (1) are the Muslims trying to take over the world? (2) is the genocide of black Africans by Arabs in the Sudan anything to do with oil being found in Africa? (3) did World War III begin on 9/11? (4) and why we should care about our fellow man whether he is next door or in Africa.

My friend is a staunch atheist and takes every opportunity to rubbish religion, so naturally God cropped up. My friend is very clever and silly me - trying to conserve energy whilst explaining why there is a God - cut to the chase by blurting out "God is Love" and "Love is within all of us." Because my friend scoffed at this, I asked him to explain why we should care, and what then is love. He said they were complicated questions and my explanations were too simplistic. Next day, he swiftly responded by sending me this stack of reading material:

1) "The New Penguin History of The World" by J.M. Roberts. I've been asked to please start with pages 1 to 38, covering The Foundations, Homo Sapiens, and The Possibility of Civilization. And then to read pages 991 to 1148, covering The Latest Age.

2) "Just Six Numbers - The Deep Forces that Shape the Universe" by British Astronomer Royal Professor Sir Martin Rees, an international leader in cosmology and Royal Society Research Professor at Cambridge University.

3) "Powers of Ten" - explains the relative size of things in the universe and illustrates relationships of size among objects. (btw I have a hard copy up in my attic given to me 20 years ago by physicist - with a bit of a story that I'll recall in a future post.)

4) National Geographic Millennium Supplement, October 1999, featuring "Secrets of the Gene".

5) Five articles in May 8, 2004 issue of The Economist:

i) on economics: "Feeding the hungry" is the fourth of a series of articles on the Copenhagen Consensus project which is basically to do with a series of proposals for advancing global welfare [See]

ii) on entomology: "Invasion of the Brood" about the 17-year cicadas that are about to emerge in force in the eastern part of the U.S.

iii) on crime prediction: "Time bandits" prospective "hot-spot" maps that show where criminals are going to be active.

iv) on human evolution: "It figures" in terms of fertility, geometry seems to matter.

v) on decontamination: "Phages are your friends" features killing bacteria the natural way; it's the first time that phages have been proposed as a way of decontaminating land - although there are few sites that need to be liberated from anthrax spores, it is not exactly a coincidence that the research is happening at a time when the American government is worried about the idea of terrorists launching an anthrax attack.

In order to get this reading started, I'm taking a blogging break for a few days. My previous two posts tie in with this. Bye for now. With love from Ingrid and Ophelia - who's having fun outdoors getting all dusty and covered in pollen. We're enjoying great weather: blue sea and sky, no wind - motor boats zooming by and the yacht club out in numbers. Carpenter will be back tomorrow to complete work on new front balcony, painter will follow to decorate exterior, two weeks of groceries arrive on Tuesday, a friend will be visiting and this new Mac works great. My cup runneth over...

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 5/23/2004
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