20 May 2015 | bdwilneralex
used to be a ten, quickly degenerated to zero: result is FIVE
I used to love this show. It revealed fascinating developments at the forefront of neuroscience, genetics, exobiology, and so forth.
It has degenerated to nearly useless. I shall provide an example drawn from this evening's new episode, "Do We Live in the Matrix?" whereby it is opined--and, ostensibly, justified--that we could very well be living in a computer simulation.
We meet a renowned Swiss AI expert. He tells us there's no need to express pi in so many zillions of digits that wrap around the globe ad infinitum: we can just put "C/d"--where, of course, C is circumference and d is diameter.
Uh . . . the difference is that the first one is practical (I can measure off 3.14159... inches.) The other is purely notational (I cannot measure off C/d inches.)
The same expert tells us that, "I can express the entire universe in ten lines of code," and beams with pride as he presents an extremely vague and general algorithm in an ALGOL-like PDL.
Uh . . . in a suitably high-level language, I can express the entire universe in ONE SYMBOL of code. SO WHAT: what PRACTICAL, IMPLEMENTABLE purpose is accomplished?
Another scientist shows some symmetric matrices to mathematicians without any commentary and is disappointed that they don't get excited. When he builds corresponding models of atomic structures, then everyone's excited.
Perhaps if he had TOLD them they were looking at symmetric spin tensors within a Lie algebra, they would have achieved a meaningful apotheosis. Instead, we hear snippets of some meaningless argument about bits and bytes and shmits.
(I recall from a previous episode--although it's in the same vein--that some physicist claimed that, if he builds such and such a fiber optic circuit, he can go backwards in time by 10 to the -18 seconds. I presume that even a physicist realizes that this is completely unmeasurable and thus unverifiable: sending the data from the measuring device to the managing computer takes literally billions of times longer than the 10 to the -18 seconds putatively recovered. I know, I know, physicists pooh-pooh anything that isn't physics as beneath them, but I don't think that's the issue here.)
I SEE WHAT THE PROBLEM IS HERE: the producers of the show have ZERO understanding of the concepts being discussed, Morgan Freeman's golden throat notwithstanding. This, combined with the PERPETUAL problem that participating experts in TV shows experience, viz., that pieces and snippets of their cogent essays are quoted out of context, results in a stream of meaningless dribble that endeavors to sound technical in its misapplied terminological splendor but ends up delivering just so much imbecility in sheep's clothing, albeit dressy and richly ornamented.
What a PROFOUND disappointment!
(FYI, the popular go-back-in-time theme is utterly impossible. This is trivially easy to demonstrate. Suppose I set a box on my kitchen table and send it into the past. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN THERE YESTERDAY! Case closed.)