30 August 2006


I have known for a long time now that all superstition is bunk. Many people, however, don't seem to realise that they are superstitious. One cannot have any form of blind faith without being superstitious.

In the past there were reasons for superstitions. The further back in time you go the fewer coherent systems for describing the mysteries of the Earth and sky are available. People invented their own types of descriptive 'systems'. Without a scientific basis for those systems they concocted groups of deities (or individual deities) as primitive ways of explaining their environment and understanding themselves. Most saw their future (and therefore all their actions?) as being governed by 'higher powers'. They were helpless pawns at the mercy of wrathful gods. Do good and you got your reward in the next world. Do ill and you got your punishment. Either way it was out of your control.

Today we have no such excuses. Superstition is infantile. I don't just mean the big stuff like believing in a god but also the small, corrosive superstitions of everyday life. Black cats crossing paths and Friday 13ths, dropped cutlery and subtraversed ladders. All bunk and all inexcusable.

Matter to ponder

A lot has happened since my last post. Not in the physical world but in the way I perceive things. My current focus is on 'extravolutionary' technologies. Particulary nanotech or 'minting'. I have been engrossed in a book called 'Engines of Creation' by K. Eric Drexler, which has helped to open my eyes to the implications of the molecular nature of matter.

Matter is made up of molecules of varying complexity. So if we can manipulate those molecules directly we open up an extraordinary new form of technology which will change us and our environment in ways we are only just beginning to imagine. The molecules in a brick, along with the 'positional information' which determine its molecular stucture, make it a brick. The same is true of a human brain. For us the precise 'positional information' of the molecules in our brains makes us who we are. The patterns 'grown' in our brains throughout our lives, those that define us as individuals, are not fleeting. Does that not mean that they can be preserved, perhaps indefinitely?

The above is, of course, a vast oversimplification. But the key point is that there does not need to be a magic ingredient which makes particular types of matter, such as brains, special. Brains are special because of the unique structures formed between the molecules within them. They are the most complex cohesive structures in the world, perhaps in our universe.