Notes from The Intelligent Universe

July 19, 2007 at 4:33 pm Leave a comment

Notes from The Intelligent Universe: AI, ET, and the Emerging Mind of the Cosmos, James Gardner.

This book was interesting, but a little over the top, or at least over my head.  It covered topics from information as the fundamental unit of the universe, to artificial intelligence to reverse engineering of the brain, to extraterrestrial intelligence, to religion, to black holes, to worm holes to space travel  I found reference to several interesting sounding books though.

p.28 Wolfram from A New Kind of Science “…beneath all the complex phenomena we see in physics there lies some simple program which, if run long enough, would reproduce our universe in every detail.”

p.30 Fredkin describing his theory:
…at the most basic level of complexity an information process runs what we think of as physics.  At the much higher level of complexity life, DNA – you know the biological functions – are controlled by a digital information system.  Then, at another level, our though processes are basically information processing.”

p.32 Newton wrote a 300,000 word commentary on the Book of Revelation –

p.33 Lloyd, Programming the Universe.

p.35 McFadden, Quantum Evolution

p.82 Cairns-Smith has speculated that biological life may have begun as an adjunct to still more primitive life based on crystalline growth.

p.108 A welcome to ETI online at

p.112 Fred Hoyle, A for Andromeda

p.140 “One of the strangest aspects of the human mind is its mysterious capacity to harbor simultaneously two or more contradictory worldviews.  Otherwise rational people, who in their everyday lives would not dream of doubting the quotidian evidence of their senses, willingly and routinely suspend disbelief when it comes to unabashedly affirming the existence of an unseen realm, people by supernatural spirits to whom one can communicate please for merciful indulgence and intervention – pleas that are believed to be heard and at least occasionally answered.”

p.142  Armstrong, A History of God.

p.144 Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate

p.146 The term meme was coined by…Richard Dawkins to denote a unit of cultural transmission functionally analogous to a gene….the memes of religion incorporate an ingenious survival strategy: They are designed to be systematically immune to disproof.

p.162 Faraday, “Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it be consistent with the laws of nature.”  Gardner, Biocosm.

p.179 …”humans crave certainty, even false certainty, in preference to the sense of vertigo induced by a clear-eyed acknowledgement that we are, at least most of the time, stumbling in the dark down an unmarked path through the baffling wilderness of an unknown – perhaps unknowable – reality.”

p.195 Dawkins, River out of Eden, and hierarchical structure of replicators – the final threshold foreseen by Dawkins is Threshold 10 – Space Travel…..might there be a Threshold 11, which we might provisionally call the Cosmic Replication Threshold?  Very Spinal Tap-ish.

Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and…

Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?

Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.

Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it’s louder? Is it any louder?

Nigel Tufnel: Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you’re on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?

Marty DiBergi: I don’t know.

Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?

Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.

Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.

Marty DiBergi: Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?

Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.

p.195 “This book is the story of Replicator Threshold 11 and what the very existence of such a threshold implies about the nature of the universe, its ultimate fate, and the cosmic role of life and intelligence.”



Entry filed under: feed my pet brain.

Freaky notes from Freakonomics, by Levitt and Dubner Web + Carbonspace Treasure Hunt

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