Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Beautiful Minds

I have been making an arduous attempt at reading "The Elegant Universe," and feel I am only slightly closer to understanding string theory or, for that matter, physics in general. The theories are fascinating, and have certainly given me great insight into why so many scientists love the often stigmatized genre of sci-fi, but my brain just doesn't understand science. It is a curse I have been burdened with ever since attending the Bronx High School of Science where I was forced to attend no less than six science classes, in which I did poor to middling, while surrounded by the future Einsteins and Cricks who saw everything my bewildered brain could not. The humbling experience of taking chemistry THREE times and finally being given a D (clearly out of pity), is something from which I have never quite recovered.

So I have moved on. I am currently reading "On Intelligence" by Jeff Hawkins. He is the creator of the palm pilot and, along with his groundbreaking work in the technological field, he has simultaneously studied neurology in the hopes of creating Aritificial Intelligence. Specifically, he is trying to figure out how intelligence works within the brain. Up until now, AI research has concentrated almost completely on behavior, the end result, as opposed to how the brain actually thinks and processes information. It turns out that the entire brain works by recognizing and repeating patterns (like the Game of Life, see below). Does this explain why we find humor in patterns? Hmmm.

The only problem with this book is that, as I read about how my brain is working and processing information, I realize that my brain is working and processing information. It is a proverbial hall of mirrors and more than once it has made me dizzy enough to put the book down and take a nap. That said this is, hands down, the most fascinating book I have ever read in my life.

This was a heady entry. My next entry will be about shoes or Bedazzlers or soft drinks or something equally non-taxing.

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