Ask A Genius 342 – Samaria’s and Judah’s God, Big Bang, Steady State, and IC (1)
December 15, 2017
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, how has your philosophical view evolved? Because we’ve talked about, in previous sessions, growing up as Jewish and not questioning things, thinking of some of the stuff as not necessarily true.
Rick Rosner: The Jewish have much to do with my philosophy about the nature of the universe. I had various earlier philosophical views, but they weren’t sophisticated. They were little kid views.
Like on everything, I was nerdy and bad on the play-ground and bad at sports. I understood that this was fitting, but I didn’t like it because the Declaration of Independence says that all men are created equal.
I understood that to mean – I was seven-years-old – but I took that to mean that I was good in school, but there had to be a countervailing bad thing. So, everybody much equaled out. So, like, my being good in the classroom was countervailed by being terrible socially.
Jacobsen: And you were the top kid at your school?
Rosner: When you are seven years old, nobody knows whether you were the top kid, nor should anybody know if you are the top kid, every kid is different, but this was the IQ era. Eventually, I found out I had the top IQ scores at my junior high, but that’s a ridiculous criterion.
But I took to art when other stuff went wrong; in gym class or whatever, though, that was probably a crutch. I should have kicked out from under myself earlier realized that regardless, I needed to make some social compromises or at least develop a more sophisticated understanding of how to get what I wanted socially.
Perhaps, I should have done that at an earlier age rather than defiantly being nerdy. I wasn’t trying to be nerdy, but I wasn’t trying to change myself drastically until high school, the last years of junior high.
But then it was ninth grade and by then it was much too late, or at least given how clueless I was, it was too late, because not only was my social taste naïve, I wanted all the things that dumb guys wanted, which was to have a cute girlfriend from amongst the group of university acknowledged, popularly cute girls.
Because I didn’t know better. That’s when you are young and socially dumb; that’s who you get crushes on. Anyway, at a young age, say six or eight, I remember asking myself the standard physiological question of “Why am I not seeing as somebody else?”
There is an answer to that, but I couldn’t answer it. I forget how completely I answered. I can probably think of that, but the answer to why you are you and not anybody else is because all the information in your brain pertains to you, all your sensory information, all your thoughts.
You are you because you live within your consciousness. Every person lives within his or her own consciousness and for you to be somebody else, then we would have to be that person. There is no escaping.
Everything you are comes from your perception of your own thinking and to get glimmers of somebody else, then you’ll have to be some supernatural movie phenomenon, where you start getting information piped in first from somebody else.
That doesn’t happen. From starting a few years before age ten, I was thinking about the structure of the universe, in the mid to late sixties, which is much of what we think of the structure of the universe now, which is the Big Bang Theory.
Until the early sixties, the Big Bang Theory competed with other theories for the predominant theory about how the universe works, probably with Big Bang Theory winning; it has the best physics and most observational evidence in favour of it, but the victory wasn’t definitive until nineteen sixty-four or sixty-five.
When background radiation was discovered, I started reading about how the universe was structured a few years after that. At age ten, I started writing little notes to myself on scraps of paper about my naïve and dumb thoughts about how the universe could have come to be in a Big Bang sense.
Or in a sense of coming to be at all, I didn’t have a problem with the Big Bang at age ten. Then was nerdy; I wanted to be more popular; I wanted to come up with a great big theory that would make me famous.
Then I figured that if I were famous, then I could be more popular and I could have a girlfriend that looks whatever a ten years old version of a girlfriend is, except I didn’t have a standard ten years old version of what a girlfriend is.
Being nerdy I run into adult material and naked ladies playing cards and other gentle porn and some porn that was less gentle. So, I was already horny, which is a sad thing to be at age ten because there is nothing you can do with it.
But in any case, that led to me wanting to get famous or thinking about the universe. So, I had all sorts of not good theories. That was one way to get famous, by solving the four colour theorem. That is, you will only need four colors to colour any two-dimensional map.
My theorizing was on the level of that its ninety degrees divide of the circle into the four parts, somehow that had something to do with the four colour theorem. That’s not even garbage; that’s little baby do-dos.
When about the origin of the universe, that, maybe, the entire universe did pop out from a single point as the naïve Big Bang Theory would have it, but, that, maybe, the entire universe may have popped into existence via being extruded, more or less, in another invisible dimension.
That the universe somehow went from non-existence to existence by the separation of the eliminations, though this was not the terminology used in my dumb 10-year-old head, but it popped out from nothing via going from a zero – with the zero thickness to some dimension that we don’t perceive to a non-zero thickness.
Somehow, that brings the universe into existence. Again, this is dumb, baby, pre-thinking. For a while, my friends and I tried to trisect the angle, which is a famous insoluble geometry problem. I don’t think it was a standard tool of an ancient Greek geometry of a compass and a straight edge.
I don’t think there is any way to try and perfectly trisect an angle. That has been long proven, but my friends and I tried to come up with a technique to do that for a couple days. My friends that were as nerdy as I was.
So, my philosophy on form, but at age ten and through the years after that, it was the Big Bang. As far as I can remember, my thinking would have been somehow contaminated with Steady State Theory.
But I was doing no super helpful thinking about that. I was probably doing some thinking that was prefatory to doing productive thinking about that stuff. I was taking physics in high school. Then eventually, college in a fairly half-ass way, so in a lazy way.
I was preparing to think about all this stuff. Then at age twenty and eleven months, I was sitting in the cafeteria in my dorm and eating red Jell-O. I was always trying to get bigger in those days. This was nineteen eighty-one. The late seventies, early eighty’s.
People were aspiring to be muscular as did I. Nobody was walking around trying to look like a superhero, but I wanted to look muscly and thinking that it would help me, get girlfriends. A girl or something.
So, I go to my first semester in college. I ate eight meals a day, the cafeteria was all you can eat, all you can eat; you show up and you present your ID. They allow you to go through the line as many times as you want.
So, I eat two breakfasts, three lunches, three dinners, trying to bulk up. So, I was in the cafeteria a lot. So, I was in college now. This is my third semester. I started the semester late because I had gone back to high school.
Anyway, I’m in the cafeteria, eating a bowl of red Jell-O cubes. I must have read an article or was looking at an article. I was thinking about an article that I had read previously in the library about the difference between short-term memory and long-term memory.
Thinking that there was a certain amount of bullshit in looking for structural theory, structural stuff in the brain architecture, to exploit short-term versus long-term memory, or you might be able to use geometrical arguments to explain why not everything that enters short-term memory can be retrieved via long-term memory.
The geometrical argument being that remembered memories are more central to thoughts and can be accessed via a variety of combinations of stimuli of related ideas and memories that the things in long-term memory are accessible from more angles with the angles being determined by the relationship amongst the things.
That the short terms memories aren’t always recallable later because there are fewer angles to them. It takes more of a specific context to get to making that short-term memory more retrievable on a long-term basis.
When the initial condition of the formation of that memory is no longer present, if you remember a thing a lot, there is a lot of different contexts; that memory becomes accessible in a lot of different contexts.
Something like, on an average day, the greatest accessibilities of some memories through third grade. I remembered when the books at the other end of the classroom, the words on their titles become blurry to me.
I remember that. I was becoming near-sighted. I can remember the teacher being blonde and hot. I remember drawing a naked lady then freaking out that I had a picture of a naked lady in my possession.
Then sticking it through the window of a car to get rid of it. But I can’t specifically recall a day in April in third grade; the context. I don’t have any context for retrieving memories from a specific, the memories from third grade…other than the ones that has some meaning to me biographically or remembered repeatedly that has more angle on.
I could tell you quite a bit about the night I lost my virginity because I reviewed that memory a lot of times. So, that memory or at least the memories of the memory because it’s probably overwritten to a certain extent, remembered it a gazillion times.
That memory is easily accessible because I accessed it a lot in different contexts. So, I can get at it. So, twenty years and eleven months, I’m thinking the information in your head should have geometry with the more easily retrievable stuff.
The more relevant information being at the centre of some structure. The less relevant, less retrievable information being on the outskirt, on the periphery. Then, eating my Jell-O, I had the thought that maybe the geometry of the universe is the geometry of information within awareness.
That was the beginning of my hardcore, philosophizing and thinking about physics without being necessarily fantastically diligent. There has been a lot of laziness; there has been a lot of doodling around; there has been a lot of wasted time, but the idea of the universe being made of information, of being a map of information within an awareness, the idea that the information can be mapped within its own space, all those related ideas are what I’ve come to believe.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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