Thinking as a churning, swarming activity

The Atlantic Monthly just did an interesting piece on Douglas Hofstadter, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gödel, Bach and Escher. Hofstadter’s 1979 book investigates the nature of human thought processes by looking at common themes in the work of the mathematician Gödel, the musician Bach and the artist Escher.  In particular, it addresses the question of […]

Finding ourselves between physics and biology

The Institute of Physics (IOP) Biological Physics Group has a conference coming up June 24 to June 26 in Brighton, UK.  The title of the conference is what first got my attention: Physics of Emergent Behavior/From single cells to groups of individuals.

The following text appears on the conference home page to introduce their interest […]

Life’s music, movement, language and mathematics

Things happen in nature.  Cells socialize and build structure, organisms grow, and move, and interact, and then more things grow – like music, language, and mathematics. Generally, talk about evolution is very pragmatic.  Cell organization, the shaping of roots, leaves, nourishment mechanisms, reproductive drives, are all usually understood as fairly specific purposeful processes.  Perhaps by […]

Kurzweil’s How to Create a Mind, and mathematics

I listened last week to Diane Rehm’s interview with Ray Kurzweil, author of the book “How to Create a Mind: The Secret of Human Thought Revealed”  A transcript of the interview can be found here.

Published in mid-November, it is already a New York Times bestseller, and some of the responses to it from prominent […]

Bees, ants, space and algorithm

In 2011, Science Daily reported on a study done at Queen Mary University of London and published in Biology Letters.  The study examined the foraging strategies of bumblebees and found that “after extensive training (80 foraging bouts and at least 640 flower visits), bees reduced their flight distances and prioritized shortest possible routes.” The bees […]

The solstice, archaeoastronomy and mathematics

Given the arrival of the summer solstice and this post on the EarthSky website, I decided to write a little bit about what prehistoric monuments (like Stonehenge) suggest to me about some of the roots of mathematics.

With a photograph to support the claim, the EarthSky post tells us:

If you stood inside the Stonehenge […]

Turing again, illuminating the path to an insight

I was still a graduate student when I first imagined that mathematics was actually outlining our cognitive potential (what we could see and understand).  I considered writing a paper called An Asymptotic Approach to a Theory of All the Things, convinced that as the mind grew it would continue to approach the reality behind perception, […]

Cognition and Will

I see mathematics as associated with a searching, instinctual will, whose direction is shaped by our biology.   I find some of its roots in the way our visual system constructs what we see, or in the way grid cells (neurons lit by location) tell a rat where it is, or the way ants can find […]

The Nature of Time in physics, philosophy, complexity, neuroscience and Liebniz

I ventured down a series of paths today, no doubt related, but with no quick and easy way to tie them together.  So I decided to invite you to look with me and let your mind play.

I started with a couple of talks at a recent at a recent Foundational Questions Institute conference on […]

Packed oranges, bridges and misunderstandings

David Castelvecchi, at the Scientific American blog network, wrote about a Comment article that appeared in the July 13 issue of the journal Nature.  The author, Peter Rowlett, takes note of what could happen when the mathematician “pushes ideas far into the abstract, well beyond where others would stop.”  He does this with a collection […]