Archive for February, 2011

February 23, 2011

« Because natural selection operates on pre-existing living organisms, novelties will initially arise as add-ons to systems already in existence, almost guaranteeing some redundancy. Thus, man-made machines, which are generally intelligently designed, will differ from the logic machines found in life. Living machines are not intelligently designed and will often be redundant and overly complex. We should anticipate these differences and be prepared for the additional complexity to be found in the logic circuits that manage information in cells. Lessons will also be learned from the higher levels of biological organization seen in communities of individuals, in ecological systems and during evolutionary change. The principles and rules that underpin how information is managed may share similarities at these different levels even though their elements are completely different. Studies at higher system levels are thus likely to inform those at the simpler level of the cell and vice versa. » ~ P. Nurse, “Life, logic and information”, Nature 2008.

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February 18, 2011

« Una religione impoverisce nel suo intimo quando perde o diminuisce i suoi paradossi; se invece li aumenta, diventa più ricca, poiché solo il paradosso è capace di abbracciare, anche se soltanto approssimativamente, la pienezza della vita; mentre ciò che è univoco, che non ha contraddizioni, è unilaterale, e quindi inadatto a esprimere l’inafferrabile. »

« I simboli religiosi sono fenomeni vitali, sono fatti puri e semplici, non opinioni. »

« I riti sono tentativi di eliminare il distacco della coscienza dall’inconscio che è la vera e propria fonte di vita, e di provocare la riunione dell’individuo con la matrice delle sue disposizioni ereditarie, istintive. »

~ Carl Gustav Jung, “Psicologia e alchimia”.

February 18, 2011

« Ars totum requirit hominem! »
« Horridas nostrae mentis purga tenebras, accende lumen sensibus! »

~ Alchemist epitaphs

Leonardo’s resume

February 18, 2011

« Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things which, in part, shall be briefly noted below.
1. I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
2. I know how, when a place is besieged, to take the water out of the trenches, and make endless variety of bridges, and covered ways and ladders, and other machines pertaining to such expeditions.
3. If, by reason of the height of the banks, or the strength of the place and its position, it is impossible, when besieging a place, to avail oneself of the plan of bombardment, I have methods for destroying every rock or other fortress, even if it were founded on a rock, etc.
4. Again, I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry; and with these I can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and with the smoke of these cause great terror to the enemy, to his great detriment and confusion.
5. And if the fight should be at sea I have kinds of many machines most efficient for offense and defense; and vessels which will resist the attack of the largest guns and powder and fumes.
6. I have means by secret and tortuous mines and ways, made without noise, to reach a designated spot, even if it were needed to pass under a trench or a river.
7. I will make covered chariots, safe and unattackable, which, entering among the enemy with their artillery, there is no body of men so great but they would break them. And behind these, infantry could follow quite unhurt and without any hindrance.
8. In case of need I will make big guns, mortars, and light ordnance of fine and useful forms, out of the common type.
9. Where the operation of bombardment might fail, I would contrive catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other machines of marvellous efficacy and not in common use. And in short, according to the variety of cases, I can contrive various and endless means of offense and defense.
10. In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.
11. I can carry out sculpture in marble, bronze, or clay, and also I can do in painting whatever may be done, as well as any other, be he who he may.
Again, the bronze horse may be taken in hand, which is to be to the immortal glory and eternal honor of the prince your father of happy memory, and of the illustrious house of Sforza. And if any of the above-named things seem to anyone to be impossible or not feasible, I am most ready to make the experiment in your park, or in whatever place may please your Excellency — to whom I comment myself with the utmost humility, etc. »

~ Leonardo da Vinci to Ludovico il Moro, 1482.

February 16, 2011

February 14, 2011

« Most of you are familiar with the virtues of a programmer. There are three, of course: laziness, impatience, and hubris. » ~ Larry Wall

« If debugging is the process of removing software bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in. » ~  Edsger Dijkstra

February 14, 2011

« The rub for women in computer science is that the dominant computer science culture does not venerate balance or multiple interests. Instead, the singular and obsessive interest in computing that is common among men is assumed to be the road to success in computing. This model shapes the assumptions of who will succeed and who “belongs” in the discipline. » ~ “Unlocking the clubhouse: women in computing”, J. Margolis, A. Fisher.

De divina proportione

February 12, 2011

« Mi sembra, o Eccelso Duca, che il titolo conveniente al nostro trattato debba essere La Divina Proporzione, e questo a causa del gran numero di somiglianze che trovo in questa nostra proporzione, di cui si tratta in questo utilissimo discorso, che sembrano effettivamente corrispondere a Dio. Per il nostro proposito sarà sufficiente considerarne quattro, tra le tante. […] La terza è che, così come Dio non può propriamente essere definito né compreso da noi attraverso le parole, la nostra proporzione non può essere determinata attraverso un numero intelliggibile né espresso attraverso alcuna quantità razionale, rimanendo sempre occulta e segreta, così da essere chiamata irrazionale dai matematici. » ~ “De divina proportione”, Cap. V, Luca Pacioli, 1500.

February 12, 2011

« Nessuno che non sia un matematico legga le mie opere. » ~ Leonardo da Vinci

February 10, 2011

Oh, life is bigger
It’s bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up

That’s me in the corner
That’s me in the spotlight, I’m
Losing my religion
Trying to keep up with you
And I don’t know if I can do it
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I haven’t said enough

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

Every whisper
Of every waking hour I’m
Choosing my confessions
Trying to keep an eye on you
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool
Oh no, I’ve said too much
I set it up

Consider this
The hint of the century
Consider this
The slip that brought me
To my knees failed
What if all these fantasies
Come flailing around
Now I’ve said too much

I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try

But that was just a dream
Just a dream

~ REM