global issues, language, philosophy, politics, science

On the Definition and Usage of Words

1. Philosophical Underpinnings

As a fledging apologist, my earliest experiences in the debate sector led me to frustration with people who couldn’t quite see the argument I was trying to make. They would often misinterpret and misunderstand what I had to say, taking ideas and twisting them. It seemed we had no common ground, so I endeavored to find that common ground – some set of ideas we ALL know are true. With such a common ground, I would hopefully be able to prove my points.

One of the first things I did was try to define words. In highschool, I read Socrates, and one of his famous lines that I took to heart was “the beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms”. What Socrates found was that people never really had a clear definition of anything, and thus no one really seemed to know what they were talking about. However, as I tried to come up with some philosophical terminology for defining words, I found the whole endeavor fruitless and meaningless. The truth was, words on their own had no exact definition.

That’s an important conclusion that can be and is very often misinterpreted. The underlying problem was that I was trying to find something “exact” and “specific”, defined in terms of words. But defining words in terms of words is philosophically identical to the problem of putting a rigid box into an identical copy of itself.

However, you’re reading this right now, which says that words are not as arbitrary as they seem. Let’s talk about that.

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science

Argument For A Universal Reference Frame From Newtonian Physics

An exercise for fun.

Copernicus argued that the earth revolved around the Sun. What’s odd about this statement is that the Sun is presumed to be static. However, the Sun itself resides within the universe and occupies a location, which, oddly enough, is presumed to be an absolute location. However, does the Sun move? And if it does, how? Isn’t the Sun outside the center of the Milky Way Galaxy? Does it revolve around the core of this galaxy? Does the Milky Way itself revolve around a central galaxy?

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science

Neuroscience, Sandberg, and the Illusion of A Better Society Through Tech

Now and then, I explore my old subscription emails to IEEE to find some nugget I may have missed out on. Recently, I ran across an article on prosthetic limbs, which was fascinating and talked about the progress in neuroscience with regards to enabling the sensation of touch in the mind of the prosthetic wearer. This led me to a couple of other articles. The first was of DARPA (the US governments military research arm) wanting mind-reading technology. The second was a Q&A session with Anders Sandberg in regards to the ethics of “upgrading” your brain. These articles are a testimony to the hope people have in technology solving their problems. However, the truth is, technology will never solve the underlying problem, and for the historically-aware, it would seem only dystopia is on the horizon. To understand why, we have to take into account historical trends, psychology, and legitimate ethics. But I’m not interested in solving the unsolvable. I’m interested in a better response to all this. In this article, I’d like to analyze the aforementioned articles and then provide my own positive response.

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global issues, science, tech news and opinions

Genome Slicing Could Slice Society

My blog usually entails writing about stuff more like Gnome, but today, I can write about real genomes. Recently, the NY Times reported that scientists had found an easy way to slice and edit genes. The same scientists have also started talks in limiting usage of these techniques for fear of their consequences. There are multiple reasons for such limitations, from scientific to social, which I would like to discuss.

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generic news, global issues, history, science, tech news and opinions

Mach > X – The flight industry in the hypersonic range

Popular Science artist impression of the mysterous warplane over southern cal

Introduction

Ever since Concordes were abandoned, there hasn’t been much talk in daily society about aircraft traveling high speed. Most of the time, the aviation industry is overshadowed by the computer industry. Really, who can ignore Apple and Microsoft shoving gadgets in one’s face. Nevertheless, the industry has been very active. Since World War 2, nations have realized the benefits of air superiority. Critically important to air superiority is the ability to go fast. If you can move faster than your opponent can shoot, you can hit him quicker or get away from him more easily. That’s the thought behind some of the recent developments in aviation.

This article will discuss supersonic airplanes and technology, including recent developments, design, and considerations. This is a technical article and thus will not discuss the political implications of such aircraft.

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science, tech news and opinions

Rock Solid Source of “Joules”

A recent article on Arstechnica got me thinking about alternative energy. Pardon the pun in the title: “joules” are units of energy, not jewels (though jewels have alot of joules). In as much as some of us may think the world will end before we run out of fuel, there is a chance that it won’t, and we’ll be forced to utilize other sources of energy (unless, of course, you don’t mind giving up your air-conditioning, amongst all those other benefits that come with power and a functioning economy).

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