Thursday, April 24, 2014

Science and Mathematics have created (a revolution in) Technology,
and consequently in our way of lives  (an issue much discussed in this blog, is that
they have not and probably cannot solve the basic problem of dukkha (suffering\unsatisfactoriness)
but that's a discussion for another time)

An exciting revolution, that we seem to be in the beginning of,
is technology creating a revolution in how we do math and science.

A beautiful post by Tim Gowers on this subject

initiated the polymath  project, where a large group of mathematicians jointly solved
a research problem, mainly via a sequence of comments in the comment section of the blog post.

One of many points in this insightful post:
Gowers purposefully encouraged people  not  to think in depth and in length
before posting a comment, and instead writing partial ideas that were likely to be wrong.
Thus, creating a process of doing mathematics that is indeed inherently different
than what was possible before the technology of the internet -
one giant interconnected brain consisting of many mathematicians with constant rapid feedback between the different parts of the brain.

Another point addressed is the issue of credit.
Mathematicians, and people in any field, are sometimes afraid
to publicly discuss their ideas before they are fully developed
as someone else might make the last step and quickly publish it as work of his own.
Here, Gowers says,
`is where the beauty of blogs, wikis, forums etc. comes in: they are completely public, as is their entire history'.

So, you have proof of your contribution.
The one potential problem here, is that the blog\forum\wiki owner could alter this documentation
of history, giving credit to himself or others.

It is interesting how ideas that are in the spirit of the time arise concurrently from different sources.
Satoshi Nakomoto wrote a paper a few years ago about how to implement a digital currency called a bitcoin, that requires no centralized banks.
In fact, his ideas are not limited to electronic money.
They give a general method to document history in a way that unless more than half of the people involved in the documentation collude together, it is impossible to falsify the account of what happened.
In the case of the bitcoin it is the history of a sequence of financial transactions,
but it could be just as well the history of a math research project.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I like sometimes to believe I am cursed,
because then, nothing you do matters,
you have an excuse to be lazy, to be bitter, to be negative to people,
to blame certain people for your pain.
Not having to make any effort.
But when you experiment, you see that what you do matters,
up to a resolution of a *minute*:
Watching 50 minutes of hard-core porn and meditating for 10 minutes
will leave you in a much worse mental state
than watching 30 minutes of hard-core porn, and mediating for 30 minutes.

and it seems that it's not just your mental state, somehow the  *events* for the continuation of the day
will vary according to if you chose option a or b above.

A friend of mine helped a blind person cross a road (yes of course anyone I associate with is a complete saint)
and he told her a saying I like very much:
`Don't worry, there are more obstacles than directions"

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Denied the happiness of waking up next to her smile, hearing her voice,
you turn to spirituality not out of choice.
You are not really an exception, almost everybody is lazy and hypnotized by pleasantness.
They will only truly search within when all other paths are blocked.
You search for something that can lift this blanket of sadness.
You start to meditate, and think at first it's an illusion that anything but her can truly help.
15 minutes pass..20 minutes pass.. and then , it starts to work; like a stream of water arising
from within; a stream flowing in the body, like a flood drowning negative emotions.
Soft tears flow through your eyes. Not really crying, just a few drops of water cleaning the eyes.
Would you trade this cleansing stream for the pleasure of being with her? Those intense emotions
that nothing can compare to? You would at any given moment.
But the choice is not yours.. God, fate, or bad luck has forced you to take the hard way.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Waiting at Amsterdam airport for a flight to Bergen, Norway,
I am delighted to discover that Bikkhu Bodhi's book
The Noble Eightfold Path, can be found online

I remember reading just the first one or two pages a while ago,
and feeling they resonated so perfectly with me.
I think of the analogy of having a really simple mathematical proof
of a theorem.
Then, someone finds a small bug in the proof.
You hope there is an easy fix.
But although you try to deny it, in the back of your mind you already know:
The path leading to the correct proof is completely different, deep and long.
So it is, with the issue of happiness and suffering.
You are not completely happy, and you are hoping there is a quick fix:
Oh, your career must be not what your real calling is.
Oh, your partner is not the your true soulmate.
Oh, you need to exercise and eat right and then everything will be perfect.
Of course - quick is `relatively quick' :)
I think a big problem, is that once you have a glimpse of the spiritual path
you doubt that these things will  make you 100% happy, but you are not sure they
won't make you 100% happy.
The only way you could be sure is if you had the job\partner you fantasize about,
and discover - ohh , I'm still not happy.
But since you at the same time doubt these things will make you happy,
your motivation to go after them is not as high as other people..
so you don't get them! and then you stay with this doubt..
you use half your energy for the spiritual path, and half for obtaining the things you fantasize about
and keep taking one step in one direction than one to the other.
If you are in this situation, reading the intro of Bodhi's book can really help :)
..well I'm not completely sure it will help but read the first page anyway. It's awesome.

Friday, January 24, 2014

I remember asking a meditation teacher: Does a cat generate bad karma by killing?
I expected the answer: No, it's just his instinct. He has no choice.

But instead he slightly smiled and said something like `It's hard to get out of being an animal'

It's easier to make money when you already have a lot.
It's easier to generate good karma at moments when you are experiencing the pleasure of previous good karma.

But when you are not. And you are looking around, envious. Why did he get the relationship he wanted?
Why did he get the job he wanted?
You find yourself wanting to be bitter.Wanting to be the victim and tell yourself how everybody uses and mistreats you.
You find yourself cutting people on the road. Not stopping when a mother with her baby wants to cross.
You have a day where you feel as miserable as you did as a teenager.
No hope, only darkness.
You go get some coffee to help you finish some work.
Or perhaps, you think of some work you need to finish to have an excuse to drink more coffee.
Especially soy-milk capuccinos can be watery and tasteless if not done right.
But you get a cup that is thick and tasty.
You wait for a second for the guy to end a phone call and say
`You guys always make the best coffee around!'
You feel better than you did all day.
For a moment, you are not poor or envious.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Suffering is like a beast inside you.
And ignorance is confusing the beast with the beast's food.
It's food - anything in the external world that is not pleasant to you
Even a thought that is not pleasant.
You feel the suffering inside you clearly only when it is feeding.
So you confuse the suffering with the unpleasant situation.
You think the unpleasant situation is your enemy,
You think the person causing the unpleasant situation is your enemy.
But practicing Vipassana, you reach a stage when you can feel
the beast inside you almost continuously.
You start to consciously fight the real battle.
Real in the sense that every small victory brings happiness.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Some amazing math

There has been a video on the net claiming that the infinite sum 1+2+3+4... = -1/12.
Initially I thought this was nonsense.
But just read an amazing blog post (in Hebrew) explaining the matter.

I thought it was nonsense because I thought we already know that 1+2+3+4.. is equal to infinity,
and infinity is clearly not equal to -1/12.

But it is not true that we know this.
What we know is that when embedding the rational numbers into the real numbers,
and taking distances between them as real numbers - for example the distance between 4 and 1 is 3,
then the sum 1+2+3+4+.. is just not defined! It does not `get close' to anything.
(For an example of `getting close', look at 1+1/2+1/4+1/8+1/16... we see that this sequence `gets close' to 2, and indeed you can prove in mathematics it is equal to 2.)

What they prove is that in any embedding of the rational numbers to a metric space such that
1+2+3+4+.. is defined, then it would have to equal -1/12.

A simpler example given in the post:
Suppose S= 1+2 +4+8 +16... (all powers of 2)
suppose we are in a world where S is really well defined.
Then we can write

1+2S = 1+ 2*(1+2+4+8+16..) = 1+2 +4+8 +16+32.. = S

So 1+2S =S and S = -1

The amazing thing is that there is  a mathematical world called the 2-adic numbers
where this sequence S indeed equals -1.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Those small moments where you override your habit,
and do something that makes you say `yes!! I Rock!!' inside.
The moment when you go talk to that cute girl instead of chickening out.
The moment where you go the gym at night instead of stuffing yourself and browsing the net.
The moment where you do that annoying complicated calculation you were afraid of.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The key to transforming yourself -- Robert Greene at TEDxBrixton

You get up in the morning,
you try to convince your self it doesn't really matter
if I start working or meditating now, or watch half an hour of YouTube before.

Then the YouTube video you end up choosing reminds you that
there are no fast and external revolutions,
that true change and improvement is from within, and not sudden,
but a day to day improvement of small patterns,
a day to day drilling deeper into your unique talents and tendencies
leading to the unique contribution to this world you were designed to make.

The most important lesson from 83,000 brain scans: Daniel Amen at TEDxOr...

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

You go to a job interview.. you know more or less where it is,
but you put on waze GPS to be extra careful. Since you know more or less
where it is you hesitate whether to listen to the directions.  You end up taking some `average'
of your route and waze's route, which leads you on the way to some natural reserve called hermon
rather than hermon science park.
You start screaming in your car .
Meanwhile you think to yourself, so disappointing that I'm screaming like this over
something like being late to a job interview after so much meditation. I'm supposed to not be concerned about death by now, which is at least as serious as being late (since you have no chance of arriving on time after you're dead)
You find yourself accidentally passing a red light.
Then you stop at a coffee shop to ask for directions.
The coffee barista is so smiley and calm, which makes you feel so spiritually immature
(I'm upset about petty things while she knows how to enjoy life)
Here your addiction helps, because the possibility of having a cappucinno completely overrides any concern about being late to a job interview.
Driving, sipping this coffee everything seems perfect.

About Me

My Photo

Hi! I am a computer science postdoc. For some reason google is not finding my new homepage so I added a link from this profile