If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mastering complexity | CERN | World Economic Forum

I have just returned from an interesting few days at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, where my main message was that science needs to be far higher up the political and business agenda than it is today. This is only the second year I’ve participated, but I have the impression that this message is being heard: one of the things I raised this year is the importance of linking the scientific content of the meeting more closely with the political thread, and I’ll be taking that forward with the Forum before next year’s Davos meeting.

Science is complex. There’s no getting around that. But it’s essential that everyone engage constructively with it. That’s particularly true of the political and business leaders in Davos, whose decisions on science-based subjects can influence everything from the well being of our children to the future of the planet. It’s vital that those decisions are taken from an informed position and on rational grounds.

The challenge that science faces is that we live in a world where it’s de rigueur to know your Shakespeare, Molière or Goethe, but quite all right to be proudly ignorant of Faraday, Pasteur or Einstein. It hasn’t always been that way, and it doesn’t have to be that way. But right now, there’s a trend in society towards scientific apathy, and even antagonism. This is dangerous for us all and it’s incumbent on the scientific community to address the issue.

There was a time not so long ago when science was a fully integrated part of society, discussed in the same breath as football matches and front-page news. In the early part of the 20th century, news of Einstein’s advances were accompanied by cartoons in the press, and as recently as the 1960s science grabbed the popular imagination, thanks largely to NASA’s Apollo programme. But the moon shots bucked a trend of increasing distance between science and society, which is leaving society ill equipped to make the science-based decisions it needs to make.

Among the biggest challenges to society today are climate change and energy. Both are highly complex political and scientific issues. The climate is changing. There’s no doubt about that, and it is equally incontrovertible that human activity has something to do with it. Yet in the public sphere, the debate still rages on. Similarly, it’s a simple fact that renewable energy does not currently have the capacity to supply the increasing demands of the world. That’s not to say that renewables do not have a place. Of course they do, and that place will grow with time. But the current timescale for delivery is longer than that for demand. Is society equipped to make the difficult decisions that need to be made on issues of global importance such as this? In my opinion, we’re far from it.

On the personal level, there’s a range of issues that leave people confused and forced to take ill-informed decisions that can literally have life-or-death consequences. Take mad cow disease, scares over the MMR vaccine, and the safety of mobile phones, for example.

Of course, at CERN, we’ve had our own experience of this phenomenon. When starting up the LHC in 2008, the world was in the grip of black hole fever. According to a small handful of people, our flagship accelerator would create a black hole that would devour the Earth. The idea went viral on social media, and was also widely reported in the mainstream media, many of which conveniently left the normal journalistic code of ethics to one side as they explored the comic possibilities of the story. Unfortunately, science has left society alone for too long, and many people were unable to see the funny side. There were even stories of schools being closed for the day to allow children to be with their parents, just in case. And all this was based largely on the testimony of a man who, when asked about his concerns on television, explained that the LHC would either destroy the Universe or it would not, therefore the probability for disaster was one in two. If this were not so tragic, it would be laughable.

What can science do about it? In my opinion, a great deal. At the institutional level, things are changing. The recently created Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University includes science as an obligatory part of its course on public policy, to cite just one example. We need to use exciting science projects like the LHC to engage people with science, not just through the science pages, but also in new ways such as the arts residency programme we recently launched at CERN. And scientists in positions of influence need to use that influence to shape political debate in the world’s Capitals and in places like Davos.

Broad engagement has been our approach at CERN for a number of years, seizing the opportunity offered by the visibility of the LHC to engage more fully with everyone from decision makers to our neighbours and the general public. As a result we’re seeing our science being covered responsibly, and once again we’re seeing people talking about it along with football and front-page news. Sometimes the stories are not exactly what we’d like to see, but what’s important is that people are talking about science.

When the LHC started up, and the world continued to exist, at least one newspaper boldly declared that the LHC would be the new Apollo, set to engage a whole generation with science. While I take such headlines with a healthy pinch of salt, they do make good reading. More recently, another newspaper declared that physics has the X-factor, that elusive quality that makes it part of the zeitgeist.

Science as a whole needs to capitalise on this, to ensure that the LHC is not science’s one-hit-wonder, and that engagement with society is sustained. As scientists, we owe the world this, helping people to master the complexity of their own science-based lives. Twelve months from now, I’ll be taking this message back to Davos.

Rolf Heuer

Source: Quantum Diaries: Mastering complexity

Friday, January 27, 2012

Society Pending

A documentary film made to encourage the public to start their own research into the inherrant dangers and problems within a monetary based system, whilst highlighting the possibilities of new society types, using a resource based economy as an example.

Made by Luke Robertson, Rory Okey, Stephanie MacIndoe and Ryan Dawson at the University of Portsmouth.

Society Pending

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Are We Ready For the Coming 'Age of Abundance?' | Dr. Michio Kaku

Dr. Michio Kaku discussing economics, technology, and the future full video of conference/discussion.

Are We Ready For the Coming 'Age of Abundance?' - Dr. Michio Kaku

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

AWE-INSPIRING - The Feynman Series

The Feynman Series (part 1) - Beauty

The Feynman Series (part 2) - Honours

The Feynman Series (part 3) - Curiosity

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Revolution Continues

Cops shoot protesters at UC - Riverside

'We want him out': Anger burning in Romania

Hungary anti-EU protest: 100,000 march in Budapest

Police use flashbang grenades and tear-gas against Occupy Oakland

Raw Video: Occupy March in New York City

Riot police violently disperse Occupy DC with batons

'Eurocratic fantasies push Greece to agony'

Friday, January 20, 2012

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think

Providing abundance is humanity’s grandest challenge — this is a book about how we rise to meet it. We will soon be able to meet and exceed the basic needs of every man, woman and child on the planet. Abundance for all is within our grasp. This bold, contrarian view, backed up by exhaustive research, introduces our near-term future, where exponentially growing technologies and three other powerful forces are conspiring to better the lives of billions. An antidote to pessimism by tech entrepreneur turned philanthropist, Peter H. Diamandis and award-winning science writer Steven Kotler.

Since the dawn of humanity, a privileged few have lived in stark contrast to the hardscrabble majority. Conventional wisdom says this gap cannot be closed. But it is closing — fast. The authors document how four forces — exponential technologies, the DIY innovator, the Technophilanthropist, and the Rising Billion — are conspiring to solve our biggest problems. Abundance establishes hard targets for change and lays out a strategic roadmap for governments, industry and entrepreneurs, giving us plenty of reason for optimism.

Examining human need by category — water, food, energy, healthcare, education, freedom — Diamandis and Kotler introduce dozens of innovators making great strides in each area: Larry Page, Steven Hawking, Dean Kamen, Daniel Kahneman, Elon Musk, Bill Joy, Stewart Brand, Jeff Skoll, Ray Kurzweil, Ratan Tata, Craig Venter, among many others.

Visit: http://www.abundancethebook.com

Abundance - The World Is Getting Better At An Accelerated Rate

Why The Future Is Better Than You Think

Peter Diamandis shares his new book Abundance

ABUNDANCE - The future will be better than you think! - by Jason Silva

DLD 2012 - Abundance

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Humanity Overdue

Short Documentary exploring the current state of the world and some of the social, environmental and economic changes which could be put into place to create a better quality of life globally.

Interviews from Occupy London, The Eden Project and Ben Mcleish and Will Dixon from The Zeitgeist Movement.

Humanity Overdue

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Dr M: Value currencies against gold instead of US dollar

Go back to gold, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad tells economies entangled in a financial crisis.

The world should re-look at valuing their currencies against the precious commodity instead of the US dollar, Dr Mahathir said at the International Conference on Global Movement of Moderates dinner yesterday.

He added that the price of gold had been rising while the US dollar suffered a devaluation.

If the world needed a new financial blueprint, said Dr Mahathir, reviewing the Bretton Woods system would be the best thing to do.

“You don’t really have to exchange gold but to value your currency against it.

“Then you can have a business based not on speculation or manipulation, but on real value,” the senior statesman told an audience of about 500 at a hotel here.

The Bretton Woods Agreement is an international trade agreement signed after World War II, which benchmarked the currencies of its signatory countries against gold and the US dollar.

Earlier in his speech, Dr Mahathir blamed the global financial crisis on manipulation and abuses by certain players in the financial market.

He said there were people who made huge sums of money at the expense of the world.

“Malaysia became poor because of the abuses in the financial market during the 1997-1998 crisis.

“Paper currency has little value. But an ounce of gold at one point was worth US$35. Its current price for the same weight is US$1,700.

“If we want to have a new financial architecture, the best way is to get back to the beginning,” said Dr Mahathir.

Source: Dr M: Value currencies against gold instead of US dollar

US REVOLT - Occupy Movement Turns Its Anger on Congress

The "Occupy" movement turned its sights on the federal government Tuesday as several hundred protesters marched to the Capitol, the White House and the Supreme Court.

Law enforcement officials said protesters threw a smoke bomb over the north fence at the White House, where demonstrators had marched. The Secret Service responded and examined the object, but it didn't appear to pose a danger, officials said. No arrests were immediately reported in the incident, which took place between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

At the Capitol, the protesters, who were marking four months since the beginning of the "Occupy Wall Street" protest on Sept. 17, outlined a list of grievances—from political campaign spending to favorable tax treatment for hedge-fund managers—that was as diverse as the places they hailed from.

On the other side of the National Mall, near the White House, "Occupy DC" encampments remained in place as the National Park Service, which controls the sites being used by the protesters, said it would meet with city officials about alleged unsanitary conditions.

House Republicans announced they would hold a hearing on the "Occupy DC" protest next week, raising the stakes in a budding debate about the Obama administration's decision to allow protesters to remain in McPherson Square, a federal park.

The protesters at the Capitol said they were frustrated with Congress and the perceived influence of money on politicians. Many said they had no plans to stop their demonstrations.

Another protest was scheduled for Friday in front of the Supreme Court, on the anniversary of its Citizens United ruling, which struck down federal limits on corporate and union political spending and which the protesters said paved the way for extra infusions of corporate cash into the political process.

On Tuesday evening, throngs of protesters left the Capitol lawn and went to the steps of the court, chanting "money is not free speech." Then the crowd marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, where dozens grabbed hold of the wrought-iron fence around the mansion. One group held an "Occupy Wall St" banner. Some protesters wore masks or bandanas to cover their faces, while others posed for photos.

Continue reading - WSJ - Occupy Movement Turns Its Anger on Congress

Occupy Congress: OWS takes a run at Capitol Hill

Occupy Congress video: Police arrest OWS protesters

Protesters get arrested at Occupy Congress

The Great Depression | Professor Chesterton

"Many volumes have been written about the Great Depression of 1929-1941 and its impact on the lives of millions of Americans. Historians, economists and politicians have all combed the wreckage searching for the "black box" that will reveal the cause of the calamity. Sadly, all too many of them decide to abandon their search, finding it easier perhaps to circulate a host of false and harmful conclusions about the events of seven decades ago. Consequently, many people today continue to accept critiques of free-market capitalism that are unjustified and support government policies that are economically destructive." - Lawrence W. Reed

Text based on the essay "Great Myths of the Great Depression" [PDF]

The Great Depression - Professor Chesterton

Monday, January 16, 2012

South Carolina State Senator Tom Davis Endorses Ron Paul for President


“It’s easy to campaign on lower taxes, less spending and fewer regulations – it’s another thing entirely to stand up for these limited government principles when the entire Washington establishment is aligned against you. Yet for more than three decades Ron Paul has cast thousands of lonely votes in our nation’s capital based on the constitutional principles that this country was founded on – and that the Republican Party has promised to protect. Yet while generations of politicians – including far too many Republicans – were losing their way or caving to the status quo, Ron Paul was standing as a Tea Party of one against a towering wave of red ink.”

“2012 marks the fifth consecutive year in which the federal government is going to spend well over $1 trillion in money it doesn’t have. Each and every American taxpayer is now on the hook for $135,000 worth of federal debt – and last year’s debt deal adds another $7 trillion in deficit spending over the coming decade. Meanwhile the U.S. Senate hasn’t passed a budget in nearly 1,000 days.”

“I’m endorsing Ron Paul because enough is enough. Despite this wave of unprecedented government spending, our unemployment rate has remained above 8 percent for the last 34 months and 146.4 million Americans – one out of every two people in this country – are now classified as poor or low-income.”

“Government activism and government intervention clearly hasn’t fixed our economy – which is why the Republican Party needs a nominee who isn’t wedded to that failed approach. We won’t chart a path to fiscal solvency or victory in November by running toward the failed ideas of the left – we will achieve those victories by returning to the principles that the Republican Party once stood for.”

“That is why I am proud to endorse Ron Paul for president.”

“Ron Paul’s record matches his rhetoric, his fiscal plan matches the fiscal challenges that our nation is facing and his movement represents the taxpayers whose interests have been ignored in the political process for far too long.”

“I’m also endorsing him because unlike what the pundits have led you to believe, he is the candidate who gives the Republican Party the best chance to beat Barack Obama in November.”

“We have a choice: We can keep electing c candidates who talk about change only during political campaigns as a way to get elected, or we can finally elect a candidate who will walk the walk and make that change a reality – restoring our bottom line, our individual liberties and our national pride in the process.”

Source: Sen. Tom Davis Endorsement Announcement

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Tom Davis endorses Ron Paul in Myrtle Beach, SC 1-15-12

Senator Tom Davis elaborates on his endorsement of Dr. Ron Paul for President

Ron Paul Speech After Endorsement from Senator Tom Davis


Four South Carolina Senators Endorse Ron Paul for President 2012

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Peter Boettke on Austrian Economics

The professor of economics discusses the contributions made by the Austrian School. He introduces recent books by Austrians, explains what we can learn from Mises and Hayek, and argues that economics is the sexiest subject

What is Austrian economics? How does it differ from standard economics?

Like a lot of things in economics, it’s the opponents that give the labels to people. The people who were practising economics at the University of Vienna thought they were just doing economics. It’s the critics who said, “Oh! That’s those Austrian economists.” It’s a label that gets to be associated with a set of propositions, both analytical – about the way you study economics, its methodology – and about the policy conclusions of economics. Representatives of that tradition came out of Vienna in the late 19th and early part of the 20th century. They then migrated to the London School of Economics, and to Switzerland, and eventually to the United States, where they held positions at places like Harvard, Princeton and Chicago. They coalesced around New York University, which became a hub of teaching Austrian economics.

So where are most Austrian economists now? Are they in the US?

It’s a worldwide movement, but I would say the place that has the strongest concentration of Austrian economists in the US is George Mason University. Outside the US, it’s probably Madrid, at King Juan Carlos University, and there is also Universidad Francisco Marroquin in Guatemala. Then there are a lot of people sprinkled here and there. It’s not necessarily full-blown Austrian economics. Here at George Mason as well, it becomes a mix and match of different ideas in economics that people find interesting.

Analytically, the biggest difference between the Austrians and their mainstream brethren is a focus on processes of adjustment and changing conditions, as opposed to static or equilibrium states of affairs. In a supply and demand curve, a standard economist would focus on the price and quantity vector that would clear the market. The Austrians want to talk about all the exchanges and activity that take place that results in that vector being discovered and the market being cleared.

Can you give an example?

Imagine if refrigeration wasn’t an option and you had some fish to sell. You start selling them at $10 a fish, and this many people buy the fish. After a while it slows down and you still have some fish remaining. As the day wears on you’re trying to get rid of the fish because they’re going to spoil. So you adjust your price down, you sell it at $8 a fish, or $6 a fish or $5 a fish. Eventually the market clears and all the fish find a buyer. In standard economics, we talk about the price and quantity vector that would clear that market, and the formal techniques of economics – a series of simultaneous equations – would get us to that vector. The Austrians don’t disagree with that price and quantity vector. But they want to talk about all the activity, a lot of which is what we call entrepreneurship – people adjusting the price, arbitrage opportunities and so on. Eventually you get to that vector, but your focus isn’t on the vector, it’s on all the stuff that goes on before it’s discovered.

From this example, and also from the books you’ve recommended, I get the sense that it’s a lot broader than regular economics?

Yes, because Austrians want to talk about the institutional environment within which economic activity takes place. They want to talk about cultural frames of reference that form the priors that rational actors have. They want to talk about the fact that we each have different priors, because we’re diverse individuals who have different perspectives on the world. Somehow, we have to reconcile these differences through the exchange processes in the market. So, the books series that I edit at Cambridge with Timur Kuran – it’s not an Austrian series, it’s just a straight-up economics series, but its title is “Cambridge Studies in Economics, Cognition and Society”. It’s a very broad notion of social science, of which economics is a part, rather than the idea that economics is somehow separated from all the social sciences.

Is Austrian economics considered “heterodox” by the mainstream establishment?

This is complicated because on the one hand it is. If you go to the official classifications in economics, and look up Austrian economics, it will be listed under modern heterodox economics. But in most cases, when people think of heterodox economics, it’s economics that challenges the basic presumptions of economists. So if you follow the debate that has been going on at Harvard, they had the walkout on Greg Mankiw’s class [Ec10, the basic economics class that Harvard offers as part of its core curriculum for undergraduates]. What the students object to is that Greg Mankiw teaches the invisible hand, ie how through the exchange process individual interests can be reconciled in the overall public interest. People think that’s too ideological. Then Steve Marglin [who teaches a course called Economics: A Critical Approach] did his talk on heterodox economics. He talks about the fact that markets are exploitative, there’s injustice, there’s irrationalities. For heterodox economists, markets don’t satisfy, they exploit. They deny the invisible hand. The Austrians don’t.

Imagine a two-by-two matrix, in which the rows are defined by whether you are dealing with a simple problem situation, or a complex problem situation. The columns are social order or social disorder. Then you look at the individuals pursuing their individual self-interest. What’s going to result? In simple problem situations – where agents are perfectly informed, they live in large number situations and are dealing with homogeneous products – you can get social order, because no one individual can influence the effect on any other individual. But once you introduce complexities into the system, the system no longer generates the invisible hand, and you can get disorder. So in a simple problem situation with free markets everything is popcorn and candy canes, and then we move to a complicated problem situation and we get unemployment and irrational exuberance etc. This is Keynesian economics and market failure theory – all very mainstream.

What Marxists believe is that even under simple problem situations, the market can’t do its job – you get monopolies, you get exploitation. Classical economists, Austrian economists, and New Institutional economists reside in the box that starts with a complex problem situation but nevertheless gets you social order. The way you do that is not based on the behavioural assumptions of the actors, but on the institutional assumptions underlying them, ie things like the political, legal and cultural context within which individuals engage and exchange. If that context is the right context, then even in the most difficult of situations, individuals can generate social order. They can cope with their ignorance, they can take care of uncertainty. When the market goes astray, it’s not because there is something wrong with the market mechanism, it’s because the rules under which the market mechanism operates have got distorted.

Are you saying mainstream economics can’t handle the complexities of the real world?

This is why methodology of the social sciences matters. It defines not only what we consider to be good questions, but probably more importantly what we consider acceptable answers. A lot of people within mainstream economics would like to handle complexity, and we see them constantly striving to do it, but they constrain their efforts by certain methodological straitjackets. They claim they have to fit things into formalistic models, otherwise it’s not a good answer. One of my favourite books is by Richard Nelson, who teaches at Columbia, about evolutionary economics. In that, he makes a distinction between what he calls “appreciative” theory and “formal” theory. What he means is that there is a theory that all economists agree to when they talk to one another about what goes on in markets, about entrepreneurship, about innovation.

Schumpeter uses the phrase “creative destruction”. For example, you have Tower Records, it does very well, then innovation comes in and eventually Tower Records goes out. We can tell the story about how markets operate in that way, and we can develop an appreciation for it. What we can’t do is put it in a model, and our formal, official theory is the modelling exercise. So there is this disjoint between the appreciative theory we can talk about, and the formal theory which limits what we can talk about to only those things that we can formally prove in a deductive model. Austrians aren’t challenging the appreciative theory of neo-classical economics. In fact they’re very much part of the neoclassical tradition. It’s just that the Austrians want to talk about things like dispersed knowledge, heterogeneity, uncertainty – not just risk, but real uncertainty – and institutions, how institutions arise to allow us to cope with our ignorance and our uncertainty and to ameliorate the frictions that exist in the world. Rather than seeing the frictions as the thing that destroys the model we have, or prima facie evidence that the market is not very efficient, they play a positive role.

Continue reading - Peter Boettke on Austrian Economics

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Rise of 3D Printing

Lisa Harouni: A primer on 3D printing

TEDxHamburg - David F. Flanders - 3D Printing: This Century's most disruptive innovation?!

Scott Summit — The Future of 3D Printing

Freedom of Creation
MakerBot Industries
Bits From Bytes
Felix Printers
Contour Crafting

Senator Jim DeMint: “I’d like to see a Republican Party that embraces Libertarian ideas.”

Ron Paul did pretty well in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday. He placed second, slightly outperforming pre-election polls, and – perhaps more importantly – he tripled the number of votes he got in the Granite State when he ran for president in 2008. More and more, many in the GOP are realizing that this time around Ron Paul is a significant phenomenon that’s not going to fade away once the early primaries are over.

They’re also realizing that it’s counterproductive to dismiss the Texas libertarian’s followers as cranks, college students in favor of drug legalization, or disaffected liberals. The 2012 general election is likely to be close, and the GOP will need all the voters it can get.

Thus some in the GOP are beginning to make conciliatory noises about the Paulites. Tea party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina on Wednesday said that the Republican presidential candidates need to listen to Ron Paul and might do well to adopt some of his ideas, particularly on economics.

“One of the things that’s hurt the so-called conservative alternative [candidates] is saying negative things about Ron Paul,” said Senator DeMint on conservative Laura Ingraham’s radio show. “I’d like to see a Republican Party that embraces a lot of the libertarian ideas.”

Continue reading - Ron Paul - How badly does GOP need his voters?

Jim DeMint: The GOP should listen to Ron Paul

Ron Paul and the Libertarian Revolution

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Where Did Language Come From? | Peter Russell

It is commonly assumed that modern languages evolved from grunts and groans into the complex forms we know today. Over the eons, vocabulary expanded and grammatical structures became increasingly more organized. Yet the history of modern language points towards the very opposite. The complex grammatical structure of language tends to decays over time.

English is the newest of the modern languages. It emerged some 800 years ago after the Norman invasion of Britain, a synthesis of French and Anglo Saxon, with its primarily German roots. In French, nouns have gender, either masculine and feminine. In German nouns have three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter. But in English nouns have lost their gender (apart from a few exceptions such as ships being referred to as "she".

Similarly the grammatical case of nouns has been lost in English. In German nouns have four cases: nominative (subject), accusative (object), dative (indirect object), and genitive (possessive). We do still have these cases in pronouns: who, whom; they, them; she, her. But otherwise nouns don't change their spelling according to case.

If we go back even further to ancient Greek, we find five cases. And in Latin there were six cases. Going back even further to Sanskrit, which is considered to be the root of Indo-European languages, we find 8 cases. The older the language, the more cases there were.

We see a similar trend with verbs. In French and German verbs change their endings according to the person - first, second or third person, singular or plural - e.g nous arrivons, vous arrivez, ils arrivent. And the same happens in German, ancient Greek, Latin and Sanskrit. There are remnants of this in English where we add an "s" for the third person singular - she comes - but other than that verb endings don't change. Except in irregular verbs such as "to be" - I am, you are, she is.

In short, grammatical structure appears to decline over time, losing a lot of its complex rules and decaying into simpler and simpler forms. Left to human beings and the passage of time, language does not evolve into more and more complex forms; the evidence suggests the exact opposite. The most complex grammatical rules are in the oldest known languages.

So the question is: How did these complex grammatical structures arise? Where did the eight cases of nouns in Sanskrit come from? Or the variety of verb endings?

I have posed this question to various linguists, historians, and intellectuals of various persuasions, but no one has been able to give me a satisfactory answer.

Some schools of Indian philosophy maintain that Sanskrit was divinely inspired. And there might possibly be some truth in this. Erich von Däniken and others believe that thousands of years ago humanity was visited by ETs, who appeared as gods to the people of the time. He proposes that they interbred with human beings, jump starting civilization. However, as we now begin to map our genome and those of related species, we find no evidence of any such intervention; there are no sudden gaps or intrusions of new genes.

On the other hand, when we consider the origin of modern languages there does indeed seem to be a gap, a missing link. Could it be that visiting ETs noticed we were beginning to use language, and decided the time was right to introduce to us a sophisticated language with a complex grammar. If so, and if we ever do come in contact with an extraterrestrial civilization, we may do well to try communicating with them in Sanskrit rather the modern English into which it has devolved.

Source: Where Did Language Come From?

MUST WATCH! TROM Documentary: The Reality of Me

The TROM documentary is trying to present, in a simplistic way, the world in which we, human beings, live. The world discovered so far, not some idea or personal choice. Moreover we tried to present alternative solutions to current problems and took into account the future, which promises to be more than interesting. An informative documentary, perhaps shocking and disturbing to many, depending on how you digest the information.

The documentary is divided into chapters and sub-chapters due to documentary's excessive length (12 hours). Also all the parts are connected.

Visit: TROM Documentary: The Reality of Me

The Reality of Me (2011) Trailer

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ron Paul - Predictions in Due Time

This is Ron Paul's famous Predictions speech from April 24, 2002. This is the original video compiling recent images and video to give his speech a chilling effect.

"I have no timetable for these predictions, but just in case, keep them around and look at them in 5-10 years. Let's hope and pray that I'm wrong on all accounts. If so, I will be very pleased. "

Ron Paul - Predictions in Due Time

Cyborg Interfaces | Kevin Warwick [TEDx]

In this talk Kevin Warwick, professor of Cybernetics at Reading University presents his talk on Cyborgs at TEDxOxford on 26th September 2011. He presents ideas on bringing back sight to the blind, allowing humans to see with sonar, and communicating with thought alone by combining artificial components with humans.

TEDxOxford - Kevin Warwick - Cyborg Interfaces

Christmas Lecture 2011: Kevin Warwick- Neural Interfaces


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Quantum Physics & Harry Potter

An evening of science and magic presented by the Institute for Quantum Computing, "Quantum Physics and Harry Potter" explores real-life science that mirrors the fantastical phenomena of Harry Potter's realm.

IQC postdoctoral fellow Krister Shalm teams up with magician Dan Trommater to demonstrate quantum concepts such as teleportation and entanglement, and their analogies in J.K. Rowling's fantasy world.

Quantum Physics & Harry Potter

The Richard Feynman Trilogy: The Physicist Captured in Three Films

It’s another case of the whole being greater better than the sum of the parts. Between 1981 and 1993, documentary producer Christopher Sykes shot three films and one TV series dedicated to the charismatic, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988).

Richard Feynman - The Pleasure Of Finding Things Out

Feynman 'Fun to Imagine' 1: Jiggling Atoms

Richard Phillips Feynman - The Last Journey Of A Genius

Horizon: Richard Feynman - No Ordinary Genius

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ponzi Planet: The Danger Debt Poses to the Western World

Countries around the world, particularly in the West, are hopelessly in the red, with debt rising every day. Even worse, politicians seem paralyzed, unable -- or unwilling -- to do anything about it. It is a global disaster that threatens the immediate future. But there might be a way out.

When Carlo Ponzi, a dishwasher from Parma, Italy, immigrated to the United States in 1903, he had $2.50 in his pocket and a million-dollar dream in his head. He was able to fulfill that dream, at least temporarily.

Ponzi promised people that he would multiply their money in a miraculous way: by 50 percent in six weeks. With his carefully parted hair and charming accent, Ponzi beguiled investors and fueled their avarice. The first investors raked in fantastic returns. What they didn't know was that Ponzi was simply using the next investors' money to pay them their profits.

The scheme continued. Ten investors turned into 100, and 100 investors turned into 1,000, until the scam was discovered. Ponzi spent many years in prison, and he died a pauper in 1949. But his name remains important to every criminologist today -- and every economist.

Economists use the term "Ponzi scheme" to describe a disastrous mechanism in which someone pays off old debt by constantly taking on new debt. The repayment of the debt -- the most recent loans, plus interest -- is deferred into the distant future, fueling an eternal process of debt refinancing.

It's the classic pyramid, or snowball scheme, practiced by thousands of con artists after Ponzi. The most spectacular case was that of New York financier Bernard Madoff, who was responsible for losses of about $20 billion by 2008. Snowballs are set into motion, becoming bigger and bigger as they roll along. In the worst case, they end in an avalanche that takes everything else with it.

Western economies have not acted much differently than the fraudster Madoff. In 2011, they were virtually inundated with bad news and old sins. Almost everyone -- in Europe and in the United States -- has been living beyond their means, from consumers to politicians to entire countries. Governments have become servants to the markets upon which they have become dependent.

Bigger Snowballs

On an almost weekly basis, the reports have become more worrisome and the sums of money involved more staggering. Many are now concerned that, as 2012 begins, the snowballs will only get bigger -- and roll faster:

There are the banks in Europe, which will have to repay about €725 billion in combined debt in 2012, including €280 billion in the first quarter alone. With the private market largely off-limits to them, the banks have had to rely on the European Central Bank (ECB) to bail them out. The ECB is now lending them fresh money -- as much as they want -- at minimal interest rates.

There is a country like Italy, which has an exorbitant amount of debt to service at the beginning of the year. About €160 billion in debt will mature between January and April; the total for the entire year is about €300 billion. The government in Rome is already having trouble finding buyers for its bonds.

There is the ECB, which is creating billions essentially out of nothing. On an almost weekly basis, it is acquiring bonds that no one else would buy from Portugal, Spain and Italy and, in the process, it is turning into a reluctant financier of nations. This financial aid already amounts to €211 billion.

There is the European Commission, whose president, José Manuel Barroso, supports the use of so-called euro bonds. These bonds, which would be issued jointly by the countries in the monetary union, would amount to an accumulation of collective debt on top of national debts.

There is the €440-billion euro bailout fund, of which €150 billion are already promised to Greece, Ireland and Portugal. But because this amount is still not enough, the finance ministers have decided to "leverage" the fund, a seemingly harmless term for bringing in additional lenders, thereby multiplying the volume of credit.

And then there is the United States, which only remains solvent because the Congress in Washington keeps raising the debt ceiling. The American government already owes its creditors about $15 trillion. Stay tuned for the next installment.

In other words, there are plenty of snowballs that have started rolling and getting larger with each rotation. Some aspects of the economic system in the industrialized countries resemble a gigantic Ponzi scheme. The difference is that this version is completely legal.

Living on Credit

Old debts are paid with new ones, with borrowers giving not the slightest thought to repayment. This has been going on for a long time, far too long, in fact. It was only with the eruption of the financial crisis in 2007 and the outrageously expensive bailouts of banks and economies that many people realized that the entire world is living on credit.

"Debt is rising to points that are above anything we have seen, except during major wars," economists at the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) concluded in a recent study. "The debt problems facing advanced economies are even worse than we thought."

This is even true of seemingly rock-solid Germany. In the third quarter of 2011, German public debt amounted to €2.028 trillion, an increase of €10.8 billion over the debt level just three months earlier. Germany's public debt grew by about €120 million a day -- or more than €80,000 a minute -- between July and September.

To make matters worse, this increase occurred in a quarter marked by plentiful tax revenues and a significant decline in unemployment. But debts increase independently of whether times happen to be good or bad.

The End of the System

The same thing is happening almost everywhere. In the first decade of this century, which was by no means a weak period economically, countries more than doubled the level of debt -- to an estimated grand total of $55 trillion by the end of 2011.

The United States leads the pack with its national debt of $15 trillion, followed by Japan with about $13 trillion. Germany's €2 trillion looks almost paltry by comparison. Today, the three major rating agencies award their highest credit rating to only 14 countries in the world.

The fact that nations are continually spending more than they take in cannot turn out well in the long run. The word "credit" comes from the Latin "credere," which means "to believe." The system will only function as long as lenders believe in borrowers. Once the belief in the creditworthiness of borrowers is destroyed, hardly anyone will be willing to buy their securities.

When that happens, the system is finished.

This is precisely what happened with Carlo Ponzi's scheme. And now entire countries are suffering suspiciously similar fates. They are no longer being taken seriously.

Greece is effectively insolvent. Italy and Spain are forced to offer higher interest rates to find buyers for their government bonds. And France threatens to lose its impeccable credit rating. The debt crisis has arrived in the heart of Europe.

Meanwhile, it is also flaring up in the United States once again, with Democrats and Republicans blaming each other for the nation's debts. Instead of taking responsibility and consolidating the budget, President Barack Obama prefers to rail against the Europeans' approach to crisis management. They, in turn, refuse to tolerate any interference, especially from the United States, which they blame for being the source of the financial crisis in the first place.

In this fashion, the Old World and the New World are tossing the blame back and forth, while confidence in politics and its ability to avert collapse is dwindling on both sides of the Atlantic. Is there still a way to stop the avalanche, or at least to diminish is destructive force? Why do countries that collect taxes have to borrow money in the first place?

Continue reading - SPIEGEL - Ponzi Planet: The Danger Debt Poses to the Western World

Europe on the Brink | A WSJ Documentary

In this documentary, Wall Street Journal editors and reporters examine the origins of Europe's debt crisis and why it spread with such ferocity to engulf much of the continent and threaten the entire world.

Europe on the Brink -- A WSJ Documentary

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Towards the Paranormal | PIMCO

Bill Gross starts 2012 with a bang in a new note titled "Towards The Paranormal", with "paranormal" being an international successor to PIMCO's famous 'new normal' descriptor.

Gross' letter is very gloomy.

The world has too much debt, too little trust, and is vulnerable towards total collapse.

He writes:

How many ways can you say “it’s different this time?” There’s “abnormal,” “subnormal,” “paranormal” and of course “new normal.” Mohamed El-Erian’s awakening phrase of several years past has virtually been adopted into the lexicon these days, but now it has an almost antiquated vapor to it that reflected calmer seas in 2011 as opposed to the possibility of a perfect storm in 2012. The New Normal as PIMCO and other economists would describe it was a world of muted western growth, high unemployment and relatively orderly delevering. Now we appear to be morphing into a world with much fatter tails, bordering on bimodal. It’s as if the Earth now has two moons instead of one and both are growing in size like a cancerous tumor that may threaten the financial tides, oceans and economic life as we have known it for the past half century. Welcome to 2012.

The Old/New Normal

But before ringing in the New Year with a rather grim foreboding, let me at least describe what financial markets came to know as the “old normal.” It actually began with early 20th century fractional reserve banking, but came into its adulthood in 1971 when the U.S. and the world departed from gold to a debt-based credit foundation. Some called it a dollar standard but it was really a credit standard based on dollars and unlike gold with its scarcity and hard money character, the new credit-based standard had no anchor – dollar or otherwise. All developed economies from 1971 and beyond learned to use credit and the expansion of debt to drive growth and prosperity. Almost all developed and some emerging economies became hooked on credit as a substitution for investment in tangible real things – plant, equipment and an educated labor force. They made paper, not things, so much of it it seems, that they debased it. Interest rates were lowered and assets securitized to the point where they could go no further and in the aftermath of Lehman 2008 markets substituted sovereign for private credit until it appears that that trend can go no further either. Now we are left with zero-bound yields and creditors that trust no one and very few countries. The financial markets are slowly imploding – delevering – because there’s too much paper and too little trust. Goodbye “Old Normal,” standby to redefine “New Normal,” and welcome to 2012’s “paranormal.”

2012 Paranormal

This process of delevering has consistently been a part of PIMCO’s secular thesis but “implosion” and “bimodal fat tailed” outcomes are New Age and very “2012ish.” Perhaps the first observation to be made is that most developed economies have not, in fact, delevered since 2008. Certain portions of them – yes: U.S. and Euroland households; southern peripheral Euroland countries. But credit as a whole remains resilient or at least static because of a multitude of quantitative easings (QEs) in the U.S., U.K., and Japan. Now it seems a gigantic tidal wave of QE is being generated in Euroland, thinly disguised as an LTRO (three-year long term refinancing operation) which in effect can and will be used by banks to support sovereign bond issuance. Amazingly, Italian banks are now issuing state guaranteed paper to obtain funds from the European Central Bank (ECB) and then reinvesting the proceeds into Italian bonds, which is QE by any definition and near Ponzi by another.

So what does it all mean? Basically that the future could be characterized by horrible, zero-rate growth on one hand, or implosion on the other hand.

This new duality – credit and zero-bound interest rate risk – is what characterizes our financial markets of 2012. It offers the fat-left-tailed possibility of unforeseen – delevering - or the fat-right-tailed possibility of central bank inflationary expansion. I expect the January Fed meeting to mirror in some ways what we have first witnessed from the ECB. It won’t take the form of three-year financing by a central bank – but will give assurances via language that the cost of money will remain constant at 25 basis points for three years or more – until inflation or unemployment reach specific targeted levels. QE by another name I suggest. If and when that doesn’t work then a specific QE3 may be announced – probably by mid-year – and the race to reflate will shift into high gear. But the outcome of left-tailed delevering or right-tailed inflation is not certain. Both tails are fat.

Source: WELCOME TO THE PARANORMAL: Bill Gross Warns Of Financial Market Implosion And The End Of Economic Life As We Know It

Read his whole letter here: Towards the Paranormal | PIMCO

"Tectonic Shifts" in Employment

Information technology is reducing the need for certain jobs faster than new ones are being created.

The United States faces a protracted unemployment crisis: 6.3 million fewer Americans have jobs than was true at the end of 2007. And yet the country's economic output is higher today than it was before the financial crisis. Where did the jobs go? Several factors, including outsourcing, help explain the state of the labor market, but fast-advancing, IT-driven automation might be playing the biggest role.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, people have feared that new technologies would permanently erode employment. Over and over again, these dislocations of labor have been temporary: technologies that made some jobs obsolete eventually led to new kinds of work, raising productivity and prosperity with no overall negative effect on employment.

There's nothing to suggest that this dynamic no longer operates, but new research is showing that advances in workplace automation are being deployed at a faster pace than ever, making it more difficult for workers to adapt and wreaking havoc on the middle class: the clerks, accountants, and production-line workers whose tasks can increasingly be mastered by software and robots. "Do I think we will have permanently high unemployment as a consequence of technology? No," says Peter Diamond, the MIT economist who won a 2010 Nobel Prize for his work on market imperfections, including those that affect employment. "What's different now is that the nature of jobs going away has changed. Communication and computer abilities mean that the type of jobs affected have moved up the income distribution."

Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee study information-­supercharged workplaces and the innovations and productivity advances they continually create. Now they have turned their sights to how these IT-driven improvements affect employment. In their new book, ­Brynjolfsson, director of the Center for Digital Business at MIT's Sloan School of Management, and McAfee, its principal research scientist, see a paradox in the first decade of the 2000s. Even before the economic downturn caused U.S. unemployment to rise from 4.4 percent in May 2007 to 10.1 percent in October 2009, a disturbing trend was visible. From 2000 to 2007, GDP and productivity rose faster than they had in any decade since the 1960s, but employment growth was comparatively tepid.

Brynjolfsson and McAfee posit that more work was being done by, or with help from, machines. For example, Amazon.com reduced the need for retail staffers; computerized kiosks in hotels and airports replaced clerks; voice-recognition and speech systems replaced customer support staff and operators; and businesses of all kinds took advantage of tools such as enterprise resource planning software. "A classically trained economist would say: 'This just means there's a big adjustment taking place until we find the new equilibrium—the new stuff for people to do,' " says McAfee.

We've certainly made such adjustments before. But whereas agricultural advances played out over a century and electrification and factory automation rolled out over decades, the power of some information technologies is essentially doubling every two years or so as a consequence of Moore's Law. It took some time for IT to fully replace the paper-driven workflows in cubicles, management suites, and retail stores. (In the 1980s and early 1990s productivity grew slowly, and then it took off after 1996; some economists explained that IT was finally being used effectively.) But now, Brynjolfsson and McAfee argue, the efficiencies and automation opportunities made possible by IT are advancing too fast for the labor market to keep up.

More evidence that technology has reduced the number of good jobs can be found in a working paper by David Autor, an economist at MIT, and David Dorn, an economist at the Center for Monetary and Financial Studies in Madrid. They too point to the crucial years of 2000–2005. Job growth happened mainly at the ends of the spectrum: in lower-paying positions, in areas such as personal care, cleaning services, and security, and in higher-end professional positions for technicians, managers, and the like. For laborers, administrative assistants, production workers, and sales representatives, the job market didn't grow as fast—or even shrank. Subsequent research showed that things got worse after 2007. During the recession, nearly all the nation's job losses were in those middle categories—the positions easiest to replace, fully or in part, by technology.

Brynjolfsson says the trends are "troubling." And they are global; some of the jobs that IT threatens, for example, are at electronics factories in China and transcription services in India. "This is not about replacing all work, but rather about tectonic shifts that have left millions much worse off and others much better off," he says. While he doesn't believe the problem is permanent, that's of little solace to the millions out of work now, and they may not be paid at their old rates even when they do find new jobs. "Over the longer term, they will develop new skills, or entrepreneurs will figure out ways of making use of their skills, or wages will drop, or all three of those things will happen," he says. "But in the short run, your old set of skills that created a lot of value are not useful anymore."

Continue reading - Technology Review - "Tectonic Shifts" in Employment

George Carlin - Why You Are In Debt


George Carlin - Why You Are In Debt

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Society 2.0 - Entering a World Without Money | Prof. Franz Hörmann [TEDx]

Prof. Franz Hörmann is Assistant Professor and Lecturer at the department for Business Taxation and Tax Planning, of the Department for Accounting at the University of Economics and Business Administration, Vienna.

Works on further development of the semantical accounting theory, an approach studying accounting information systems from a linguistic perspective (the main proponents being Yuji Ijiri, Ahmed Riahi-Belkaoui).

The results of those researches should lead towards more usable accounting information systems in the future, resulting in knowledge management in the fields of accounting and semantic business modelling using predicate logic. Development of network-based cooperative software tools for "Economy 2.0".

TEDxPannonia 2011 - Prof. Franz Hörmann - Society 2.0 - Entering a World Without Money

Monday, January 2, 2012

AWESOMENESS - Ron Paul Grassroots Energy

Ron Paul Grassroots Energy

Riots & Rallies: RT picks biggest events of 2011

With the hours counting down to the New Year, and with celebrations gearing up in all corners of the world, we remember what made 2011. It was a year of rallies and uprisings, as people around the globe went out onto the streets to demand justice, freedom and economic equality.

Riots & Rallies: RT picks biggest events of 2011

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The History of Austrian Economics | Dr. Israel Kirzner

The History of Austrian Economics, Part 1 | Dr. Israel Kirzner

The History of Austrian Economics, Part 2 | Dr. Israel Kirzner


Competition and Entrepreneurship | Dr. Israel Kirzner

Beyond Efficiency | Dr. Israel Kirzner

Why Ron Paul Matters

The controversy surrounding decades-old newsletters to which GOP presidential aspirant Ron Paul lent his name is regrettable. First, it is regrettable because the sometimes bigoted, intolerant content of those newsletters is inconsistent with the views of the congressman as understood by those of us who know him. Yet, while Mr. Paul disavows supporting those ideas, he refuses to repudiate his close association with their likely source, Lew Rockwell, head of the Alabama-based Mises Institute.

Second, the New York Times editorialized recently that these unsavory writings "will leave a lasting stain on . . . the libertarian movement." That is wishful thinking on the part of the Times, but it adds to the background noise surrounding Mr. Paul's candidacy, obscuring the real libertarian policy initiatives that have made his candidacy the most remarkable development of the 2012 campaign.

Ron Paul's libertarian campaign has traction because so many Americans respond to his messages:

• Tax and spending. If ever there were sound and fury signifying nothing, it has to be the recent "debate" over the budget. Covered by the media as though it was negotiations on the Treaty of Versailles, the wrestling match between Republicans and Democrats centered on the nearly trivial question of whether the $12 trillion increase in the national debt over the next decade should be reduced by 3% or 2%.

Mr. Paul would cut the federal budget by $1 trillion immediately. He can't do it, of course, but voters sense he really wants to. As Milton Friedman once explained, the true tax on the American people is the level of spending—the resources taken from the private sector and employed in the public sector. Whether financed from direct taxation, inflation or borrowing, spending is the burden.

• Foreign policy and military spending. As the only candidate other than Jon Huntsman who says it is past time to bring the troops home from Afghanistan, Mr. Paul has tapped into a stirring recognition by limited-government Republicans and independents that an overreaching military presence around the world is inconsistent with small, constitutional government at home.

The massive cost of these interventions, in treasure and blood, highlights what a mistake they are, as sensible people on the left and right recognized from the beginning. Of course we want a strong military capable of defending the United States, but our current expenditures equal what the rest of the world spends, which makes little sense. It is futile to try to be the world's policeman—to try to create an American Empire as so many neoconservatives promote. And we can't afford it.

• Austrian economics. Mr. Paul is often criticized for references to what some consider obscure economists of the so-called Austrian School. People should read them before criticizing. Nobel laureate Friedrich von Hayek and his mentor Ludwig von Mises were two of the greatest economists and social scientists ever to live.

Modern Austrian School economists such as Lawrence H. White, now at George Mason University, and Fred Foldvary at Santa Clara University predicted the housing bubble and the recession that followed the massive, multitrillion-dollar malinvestment caused by government redirection of capital into housing. Mr. Paul, like Austrian School economists, understands that we would be better off with a gold standard, competing currencies or a monetary rule than with the arbitrary and discretionary powers of our out-of-control Federal Reserve.

Mr. Paul should be given credit for his efforts to promote these ideas and other libertarian policies, all of which would make America better off. He'd be the first to admit he's not the most erudite candidate to make the case, but surely part of his appeal is his very genuine persona.

Which is not to say that Mr. Paul is always in sync with mainstream libertarians. His seeming indifference to attempts to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, his support for a constitutional amendment to deny birthright citizenship to children of illegal aliens, and his opposition to the Nafta and Cafta free trade agreements in the name of doctrinal purity are at odds with most libertarians.

As for the Ron Paul newsletters, the best response was by my colleague David Boaz when the subject was raised publicly in 2008. About them he wrote in the Cato Institute's blog:

"Those words are not libertarian words. Maybe they reflect 'paleoconservative' ideas, though they're not the language of Burke or even Kirk. But libertarianism is a philosophy of individualism, tolerance, and liberty. As Ayn Rand wrote, 'Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism.' Making sweeping, bigoted claims about all blacks, all homosexuals, or any other group is indeed a crudely primitive collectivism. Libertarians should make it clear that the people who wrote those things are not our comrades, not part of our movement, not part of the tradition of John Locke, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass, Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, Ayn Rand, Milton Friedman, and Robert Nozick. Shame on them."

Support for dynamic market capitalism (as opposed to crony capitalism), social tolerance, and a healthy skepticism of foreign military adventurism is a combination of views held by a plurality of Americans. It is why the 21st century is likely to be a libertarian century. It is why the focus should be on Ron Paul's philosophy and his policy proposals in 2012.

Continue reading - WSJ - Why Ron Paul Matters