Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Colored Bubbles and Knowing What to Do

Have you seen this article: The 11-Year Quest to Create Disappearing Colored Bubbles?

I'll wait a while for you to read it. Would you like a cup of tea?

It really is an amazing story of determination and ingenuity. Tim Kehoe wanted colored bubbles, not an easy technical task. Ultimately, Ram Sabnis, a dye chemist, gave him colored bubbles. All it required of Sabnis, of course, was for him to invent a new dye chemistry. That's all.

Hmmm.....I need a flux capacitor. You know, so I can travel back in time.

The flux capacitor is what makes time travel possible. It requires 1.21 jigawatts of electricity to operate.

I'd borrow shares on October 23, 1929 to short sell the next few days. The world would be my shrimp; I, its Forrest Gump, raking it all in by the nets full. Bwahahaha! Any unemployed physicists out there willing to join me on the high seas of temporal adventure for fun and profit?

Of course there is quite a difference in using the existing rules of nature to do something extraordinary versus violating the laws of nature to do something opprobrious. The latter effort is just wrong...on both accounts.

But an insight came across my mind as I read the article: given enough time, money, and intelligence, we can do anything we want to do! Our universe is plastic, submitting to our minds and malleable in our hands to accomplish that which we desire. If we want colored bubbles, we can have them.

I immediately thought of my friend, visiting scholar, and great American, George P. Burdell, a man known for his time, money, and intelligence. I called him and hurriedly conveyed my new found insight. I waited with pregnant expectation for his approval. There was a long pause.

"Yes, that sounds true enough. But the real wisdom, it seems, is in knowing what to do."

Monday, January 16, 2006

Why "Thales' Press"?

While Thales is regarded as one of the first natural philosophers of the Greek persuasion, scant little is known or written about him. However, there is a fascinating event associated with him that was recorded by Aristotle in his Politics (1259a).

Thales' bust
Who knows if this really is the bust of Thales. There are no remaining photographs with which to compare it. However, as marble busts of pensive Greek men go, this will certainly pass for an ancient philosopher that we can imagine might have looked like Thales.

Apparently, Thales was ridiculed for being poor as a result of his pursuit of truth as opposed to wealth. Thales contended that he wasn't concerned with wealth, but he could use his wisdom to achieve wealth if he wanted to. To prove that he wasn't just whistling The Odyssey, he employed his knowledge of astronomy and other observations to determine that there would be a huge crop of olives in the upcoming harvest (How did astronomy play in this calculation? I haven't a clue.). Using what resources he had, Thales then purchased for a small amount of money the right to lease local olive presses during the harvest time. When the huge crop came in as he predicted, Thales cornered the market of olive presses, leased the presses back out at a higher rate, and made a substantial sum of money. Not only was Thales likely the first natural philosopher, he was also likely the first decision analyst.

Not only did I adopt the title "Thales' Press" to refer to this historic use of systematic reasoning to achieve some goal (namely, the acquisition of olive presses to make a bunch of money), I also intend to press the use of the word "Press" to refer to a means of publishing. The publishing being focused on considerations and observations by myself and others (visiting scholar, George P. Burdell, a great American, may contribute on occasion) about decision analysis and decision management.