Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Thursday, March 15, 2007day link 

picture Slashdot on a speech by Stephen Hawking a few days ago:
Speaking to a sold out crowd at the Berkeley Physics Oppenheimer Lecture, Hawking said yesterday that he now believes the universe spontaneously popped into existence from nothing. He said more work is needed to prove this but we have time because 'Eternity is a very long time, especially towards the end.'
Uhm, yeah, but it sort of goes faster in the middle. And who doesn't love spontaneous popping-into-existence.
[ | 2007-03-15 01:04 | 0 comments | PermaLink ]

 Structural holes
Howard Rheingold on Smart Mobs:
Ronald Burt pointed out the importance of "structural holes" -- those nodes (people) that connect networks. If I know person A and person B and person A and B ought to know each other, but don't, I am occupying a "structural hole" in their intersecting social networks, and making that introduction could create social capital for me as well as them. Substitute "idea" for "person." This is where I live and why I hang out online for no really well-defined purpose. Burt's paper is a 58 page PDF.
Ah, love that. I want to be a better structural hole.
[ | 2007-03-15 01:06 | 1 comment | PermaLink ]  More >

picture Researchers studying laughter say that..
It's an instinctual survival tool for social animals, not an intellectual response to wit. It's not about getting the joke. It's about getting along. It's a way to make friends and also make clear who belongs where in the status hierarchy.
What I think is funny is the thought of serious scientists in lab coats wracking their brains to try to make sense out of laughter.

Are they right? Hm, I don't know. One can very well laugh for no reason at all. That's an old sort of meditation technique, for that matter. But that doesn't mean it is just a social thing.

What is humor? I'd say it is when one notices something that is off, out of place, and one notices it within a certain rhythm where it produces a freeing up of ... something ... emotional energy, I suppose we could say. It is not mental per se, but it does have something to do with perception, how one sees and experiences things. A joke is not per definition funny or not. All depends on the circumstances and the rhythm of delivery, and whether there's something that gets liberated from it. And something can well be liberated without any particular logical reason.

It is when you see the sillyness of reality, any kind of reality, imagined or not. It is when you look through the world and realize that it isn't really as serious and coherent as it pretends to be. It is a joke. It is a bit of enlightenment to notice that. Might have nothing directly to do with what somebody just said.

But just about getting along? I don't think I buy that. Why would one laugh alone, then?
[ | 2007-03-15 01:47 | 5 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 You live longer if you have a sense of humor
Laugh and the world laughs with you. Even better, you might live longer, a Norwegian researcher reports.

Adults who have a sense of humor outlive those who don't find life funny, and the survival edge is particularly large for people with cancer, says Sven Svebak of the medical school at Norwegian University of Science and Technology...

In a subgroup of 2,015 who had a cancer diagnosis at the start, a great sense of humor cut someone's chances of death by about 70% compared with adults with a poor sense of humor, Svebak says.
And, in case you didn't live longer, you'd have had a better time of course.
[ | 2007-03-15 14:46 | 4 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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