Saturday, October 24, 2015

Quantum Entanglement between Soulmates

Soulmates are often defined as those individuals who share a deep natural affinity. When most think of soulmates, they instantly think of star-crossed lovers who magically find their way back to one another, and when they do, fireworks explode! 

Film 'Marie Antoinette' by Sofia Coppola
depicting Marie Antoinette and Count Hans Axel von Fersen the Younger


Quantum entanglement is the notion that a single particle or object can exist in more than one state at once. A particle can have two different positions, orientations, and charges at the same time, but will only specifically reveal one of these states when observed or measured.

This theory also suggests that two particles, miles, or light-years apart, can be linked by their quantum state. If one particle at one end of the universe switches its orientation, another particle on the other side would instantly change as well.

Assuming that Einstein's galactic speed limit - the speed of light - is not strictly enforced, assuming that it is the particles that are linked and not only some field or wave affecting the particles, then the idea of quantum entanglement, that 'spooky action at a distance' concept would expand our perspective of local-realism. In other words, our realism would extend far beyond our localized experience or perception of existence.


For fun, let us hypothesize that separated quantum systems exist in an entangled state, and let us also hypothesize that these states are held or flow through the human body. 

The dynamics of the combined theory (quantum entanglement + soulmates) would characterize the affinity or shared state reported by people for centuries. 

But that's not all, folks! 
Let us introduce an additional concept into our scientifically absurd theory:


The doctrine of reincarnation was formulated in India sometime around the 9th century BCE, when the Brahmana writings were composed. The Upanishads defined the concept in clearer terms between the 7th and 5th centuries BCE. The idea was later adopted in other Eastern religions (Jainism and Chinese Taoism) due to the spread of Buddhism in Asia. 

Pythagoras (ca. 570-490 BCE) also reportedly proposed that the soul* was immortal and went through a series of reincarnations, a long cycle that results in many lives and bodies.

Quantum Entanglement 
+ Soulmates 
+ Reincarnation 

We now have the foundation for the next question:

What if we are our own soulmates? 

If we play around with the theory of reincarnation and its possibility residing in proving quantum entanglement true, then:

  1. Quantum entanglement makes possible the notion of soulmates
  2. The notion of soulmate is not limited to the entity with whom we may or may not be cosmically predestined 
  3. Therefore a soulmate could extend to a former incarnation, an entity with whom we are quantum-ly sharing a common soul or particle(s)

These concepts represent a mind a play. They cannot be proven by classical physicists and are therefore indulgent hypotheticals.

Back Story

Wise men speak because they have something to say; 
Fools, because they have to say something.

Plato in his dialogue The Symposium, has Aristophanes recount a story about soulmates. Aristophanes describes soulmates as those early humans who had four arms, four legs, and a single head with two faces. There were among these early humans three genders: man, woman and the "Androgynous". The men were children of the sun, the women children of the earth and the Androgynous children of the moon, which was born of the sun and earth.

The gods were jealous of the power the early humans possessed and thus feeling concerned, split them apart. One side benefit was that this would double the tributes humans paid to the gods. However, after being split apart, these new humans were utterly miserable and unable to do anything but wallow for the love they had lost.

Finally, Apollo took pity upon them and sewed them back together; the navel being the physical reminder of their original existence.

From this day forth every human instinctively searches for his or her other half. It is said that when the two find each other, not even death can divide them.

Star-Crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet

*Socrates gave us the modern notion of the soul as being something that resides within us rather than the ghostly alternative that exists separate from us, hanging out at the entrance of the underworld.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Visualizing Data

I love information, but like most people, I process information faster with pictures, graphs, graphics, charts, and meaningful images.

About ten years ago I came across the work of Edward Tufte, an American statistician and professor emeritus of political science, statistics, and computer science at Yale University. He is also an artist (his Feynman diagram sculptures are interesting), and an expert in the presentation of informational graphics (think charts and diagrams). His books Visual Explanations, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (the first of his books I read), Envisioning Information, and Beautiful Evidence bring together science and art in a way that generates what we call visual information.

Everyone talks about information, but what exactly is information? 

Information is an abstract concept, a notion or idea we intuit. What we intuit could be a theme embodied in a design or a concept through which we mentally travel. As we do, we focus on the data points and associate meaningful images to represent those points. 

Take for example the above infographic which only provides us with numbers and a small iconographic representation of a human being in a specific occupation or stage of life. 

But we don't just read this infographic, we visualize the data it provides. We think of little kids playing in the park and of the people working at our favorite restaurants. We're probably all surprised that there are 1.4 billion people working in agriculture around the world. Next we mentally scan the list of industrial jobs and think about what people do in those jobs. We visualize baby boomers and senior citizens, and some of us are concerned about all the unemployed people (and their families) in the world. Then we imagine what life might be like if we forge our own path, make our own mark on the world ... Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Walt Disney, Sam Walton, Larry Page ... 

When data is presented in meaningful terms, we contribute to the visual experience with our own knowledge of the world. In other words we interact with the data. 

Of all the words in the two above paragraphs 'we interact with the data' stood out to our brains because of the way space is represented in the brain. 

Bold text makes a greater impression than ordinary text. 

The more information we produce, the more visual our language will become. When we want to compare and contrast information, the fastest way to process this information is to compare the data side by side. No one has time to waste reading through countless pages of consumer reports. 

Graphic information is only as sound as the data supporting it, and is often times presented with a bias. Companies wanting you to buy one product over the other will highlight certain information and leave other information out. 

Processing, analyzing and communicating data presents a variety of ethical and analytical challenges. Data scientists admit that data visualization is both an art and a science. Given the rate we are generating "Big Data" (data created by internet activity and an expanding number of sensors in the environment, such as satellites and traffic cameras), making information more meaningful and more easily digested becomes one of our next greatest challenges. 

The way in which we present information or design it should support the analytical task, showing the comparison or causality. 

In this respect, graphic displays should: 

  • show the data
  • induce the viewer to think about the substance rather than about methodology, graphic deisgn, the technology of the graphic production or something else
  • avoid distorting what the data has to say
  • present many numbers in a small space
  • make large data sets coherent
  • encourage the eye to compare different pieces of data
  • reveal the data at several levels of detail, from a broad overview to the fine structure
  • serve a reasonably clear purpose: description, exploration, tabulation or decoration
  • be closely integrated with the statistical and verbal descriptions of a data set

Essentially graphics reveal data. 

Information can also be presented in humorous ways. The more engaging the graphic, the higher the likelihood someone will invest the time to read it. 

When information is presented in very simple terms such as in this happiness flow chart, it is almost impossible not to read it. Our brains instantly scan the words, while the interrelatedness needs to be conceptualized. 

But data still has to be abstracted in some schematic form. Its attributes and variables have to be extracted and transformed into units of information. As with any form of communication, the intention of the message and the audience to whom it is delivered are key factors. 

The primary goal of presenting information with graphics, plots, information graphics, tables, and charts is to communication information clearly and efficiently. Visualizing information is something we do naturally. Visuals that speed up the process help us make faster decisions. We also remember this information longer. Even a familiar quote is more memorable when we see it presented in a more visually engaging format. 

In a nutshell ...

We can more easily distinguish differences in line length, shape orientation, and color (hue) without significant processing effort; these pre-attentive attributes are what save us time and effort in attentive processing. 

Effective graphics take advantage of pre-attentive processing and the attributes that strengthen this processing. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Language of Silence

What does silence say?
Why do we use language in such a way?
To transcend from its logical form and informative purpose,
or to reflect times when we are unable to articulate?

Should we fill it up with words?
Shall we confront silence with language,
or visa versa?

What world does silence encompass?
What limits of language redefine it?
Is it a nihilistic inner logic,
or pure reflective consciousness, unmediated by thought?

Is silence bereft of meaning,
or only comfort?
Is language the mundane physicalness of things we sculpt?

How is silence understood?

As a denial of what it is not,
as a contrasting role between what we say 
and what we keep for ourselves...
Can we preserve silence,
through the conjunction of one upon the other?

Can formal theories of language define it?
Which states serve its purpose?
Against which reality can we measure it?

Without proof of its existence,
does it collapse?
... and then find itself later recognized essentially as meaningless?
since meaning consists precisely in our ability
to connect through language...

Is silence the boundary of language?
Is the idea of silence our concern with the ineffable?

Is silent reading silence?
Is silence the unutterable where nothing gets lost?
Can something be contained in silence?

What can silence say clearly?

To answer such a question,
we find ourselves in a place where language is shorn of its ability
to make sense of silence.

Is keeping silent in the context of hearing?
Does it require a full understanding of itself?
Does it travel at a faster pace than sound?

Is it still silence if we are listening for it?
Is it part of dialogue?
A deeper part of listening?
Do we learn about language through silence?

Is it a state-of-mind or a mood?
Is it a loss of self,
or conscious discourse?

Can we hear it?

Is silence an awareness of it's own impending annihilation?
Destroyed by sound...

Is it freedom from sound,
in harmony with its own nature?

Is it an inverted form of metaphysics?
An inner logic belonging to thinking and not speech.

Is it asound?
Does it have a nature?
Is it a flaw of language?

What does it control?
Is it illusion or reality?

Does thinking fill the space of silence?
Are monologues running hysterically rampant within it?

Is it a profound meditation on the impact of itself?
Or is it merely sound ceased?

What does its reflection look like?
Do we recognize it in duality?

Is a pause silence?
How long does the pause have to last before it becomes silence?

Is silence merely our respective response to disruption?
Is it finalizing or conceptualizing?

Is it awe-inspiring and beyond our grasp?
Is it a confrontation with words?
Is it art?

Can anything exist within it?
How can we tell?

Can we have silence more than once?
Is all silence the same?
Is it a coming or going, or is it continuous?

Is it an imperfect evidence of nothingness?
Expanding and contracting in our atmosphere
like a lung...

It is imagery, detachable from its inherent physical nature?
Will it stand still forever?

Why are we affected by it so?

Does tension take the place of it?
Does movement bring it to an end?

Is it transcendent?

Does it speak to us directly?
Is it an indirect discourse that can only be experienced
when we break it down?

How can we engage with it?
Is it a higher value than truth?

Is silence more authentic than language?
Is it thinkable or unthinkable?

If we are unable to capture it,
how do we know it exists?

Can we conjure it?
Is it disruptive?
Is it meaningful?
Does it bring us together with self and world?

Whatever silence is or is not,
it is in its own unique way,
something that provides us with an opportunity
to discover its modality.

This is when we break the silence,
the source and fountain from which language spills forth ...