A Most Fitting Name

Sir Vincent Brian Wigglesworth (17 April 1899 – 11 February 1994) was a British entomologist who made significant contributions to the field of insect physiology.


The Question of Why

Philippe Petit Walks Over Jerusalem

NPR’s TED Radio Hour latest podcast was titled “To The Edge” where adventurers discussed, amongst other topics, why they did what they did. One wanted to escape the mundane life of a management consultant. Philippe Petit wanted it for the beauty. The most famous answer is the quintessential “because it is there.”

There are actually thousands of adventurers among us who make that aphorism their motto. They eat, drink, sleep at places we think cannot be the mark of a swashbuckler though, and scale great obstacles we cannot see. Those people are the researchers who teeter at the edge of human knowledge.

To do research is to literally step off the edge of what humanity knows, and try to expand that swath just a tiny bit so that someone can stand on where there use to be nothing. For most of them in science, they might see their work used by a doctor at some point, or become an intricate cog in the unifying proof of everything. Their goals might be similar to my own, in bettering the world to a visible extent.

On the other hand, those who toil in philosophy, history or language, I never can fully understand why do they do it? Maybe they do it simply for the beauty (though as a mathematician, I’m biased that mathematics is the most beautiful). The best reason reason that I have construed is simply “because it is there”; that knowledge for the sake of knowledge is innately useful.

And I find that beautiful too.

The End Times

I agree the world is shitty right now. There are civil strifes in Syria, ISIS in Iraq and Putin is flexing the unused Russian muscles. It is not the end times though.

It seems ridiculous that more than almost HALF of Americans said that recent natural disasters are the results of the apocalypse rather than climate change according to a study by PRRI. Thankfully, a good 60% agreed that God tasked humans to take good care of the Earth.

This doesn’t seem to be a fluke either. I took a look at their methodology, and it seems to be fine from a cursoury glance. They sampled some 3000 people via a phone survey with a seemingly good distribution of people. The Jewish people are overrepresented slightly, but that’s a small perturbation.

What this means is that science holds such little sway in the American public that explanations from Revelations outweighs what scientists has to say. The thousands of years of technological advances means almost nothing to half of the public, even as their lives are better than ever. This is absolutely terrifying to me.

You know what else is terrifying? Applying to graduate school and hoping I get in somewhere.

Her and Bioshock

After watching the movie “Her“, I can’t help but think what the implications are for technology and human interaction in the future. What happens when artificial intelligence, on the scale of Samantha, is created? Will we as a being really turn towards that “perfect” relationship with a computer instead of nurturing (and suffering through) one with another human?

Those serious and interesting questions aside, I had no idea the voice of Samantha was of  the beautiful Scarlett Johansson. In my mind, I pictured someone who was quite beautiful just from the voice alone.

Same thing happened in Bioshock Infinite: the voice of Elizabeth seemed to be from a pretty attractive women (of course, the fact that the character itself was meticulously crafted to be pretty helped).
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Turns out this isn’t a coincidence that a more pleasant voice goes along with a more attractive face. From paper:

Men were in strong agreement on which was an attractive voice and face; and women with attractive faces had attractive voices.

Whelp, I guess I’ll never voice a video game character.