Montag, 19. Januar 2009

Private: Just two Swiss winter photos from two days ago

Winter road to the Mythen mountain
Horses in snow and sun

Freitag, 16. Januar 2009

Physophy: Cognition in Physics - and we humans don't understand nothing

Logitech G5 Laser Mouse Flickr Photo by Erik Charlton

This post was triggered by a question by my colleague Max:

Philosophy today without this physics base cannot meaningfully talk about nature, world, and men:
Classical thinking in physics - as, e.g., manifested in Newtonian space, time and causality - is only the trivial limiting case of modern understanding (so-called correspondence principle), e.g. for speeds which are small regarding the speed of light. But be careful - this is not always true - sometimes the post-Newton understanding even penetrates our normal life in our position right in the middle between cosmic and nuclear scales!

For us, the non-understandable comes as contradictions or paradoxes: The electron is a wave and a particle, space and time are connected, clock rates depend of velocity, the world depends on the observation, and so on!

There are two guides to construct the model of the world (i.e., the prediction of observations and experiments):

  • the pragmatic guide: experiments,

  • the magic guide: mathematics (in two flavors)
Model of the world (cognition), the accumulated set of agreed experiments, and the system of mathematics evolve and develop together (with technology as necessary co-partner!).

"Understanding" in the rigorous sense (but unsatisfactory) means: Having a system of analytic equations giving the background, resp. performing a computer simulation delivering the observed result (probably after quadrillions of computations, almost repeating the real actions).

"Understanding" for a physicist means (i.e., what does this effect "really" mean?) that the result can be predicted and understood on the base of some other observed and already accepted results.

This can be described by a multilayer model: Then "understanding" means to be able to deduce the properties of phenomen level N by accepting the phenomena of level N-1 (independent if either N-1 or N seem "paradox") . The level N is an "emergence" of level N-1.
Of course, this opens the question of a lowest level - and of the ending of the chain!

I am here using as a picture the computer mouse invented by Douglas Engelhart which everybody (still) knows: The user does not need to know the exact position of the cursor (driven by the mouse) on the screen, or even the physical principles of the mouse sensors. The user just observes the cursor movement and corrects the mouse motion to the desired position. There is no underlying "understanding" - only literally superficial understanding!
It is similar how a child "understands" the computer - but can play games.

PS: Under "Physophy", I understand the [my] naive combination of contemporary physics and thoughts.

Mittwoch, 14. Januar 2009

Innovation: The CEO needs a process

Perfectly boiled egg Flickr photo by cesarastudillo

There is a nice sketch by the everyday philosopher Victor von Bülow alias Loriot (in German) describing the problems to produce a perfectly boiled egg
(video here :

Topic is the conversation of a couple during breakfast: Unfortunately, the egg is hard boiled.

My translation of the central part:

HE: You boiled the egg only by your instinct - then the egg will only be by chance a 4 1/2 minutes egg!

SHE: But it does not make any difference for you if the egg has just boiled by chance 4 1/2 minutes!

HE: I would like to have a soft-boiled egg and not an egg just soft by chance!

This is just the same in an enterprise: It is great to have by chance some innovation - but the CEO would like to have a process for a continuous reliable stream of innovation (a process)!

Innovation: Creative Destruction

Synthetic Diamonds

Innovation has become a terrible buzzword - I am afraid many people don't like to hear it any more; "Innovation" (and, more general, "change") is wanted but not loved ...

One reason for problems in innovation are the inherent difficulties and even contradictions. Innovation management has to handle contradicting goals. The best known is probably the "Creative Destruction" by Joseph Schumpeter (a fellow-countryman from Moravia):

Innovation is in general destroying or at least jeopardizing the established, often in the own company!

The photo shows a nice recent example from Russell Hemley, Geophysical Lab of the Carnegie Institution: It is now possible to produce artificial diamonds of almost arbiratry size. Diamonds can now be every girl's friend (but probably not so good friends anymore) ...

Dienstag, 13. Januar 2009

Private: Swiss Winter Photos

Icy Lake
without snow like a mirror

under construction

Ice sculpture

My wife suffers unfortunately from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Skelorosis) - probably the most cruel soft disease. Our main pleasure is driving by car in the lovely Zurich and Central Switzerland area. I know in the mean time many small roads and many lakes.

Today, we have the typical local 3-zones-climate:
  1. We are under the fog (moderately cold),
  2. a couple of 100 Meters above, the area of icy fog with wonderful frosted trees,
  3. above this, within 50 Meters altitude difference: Deep blue sky and brilliant sunshine (and ice and snow).

Please see above some recent (winter) photos from the sunshine zone...

Sonntag, 11. Januar 2009

IT: Writing a Book (on "Information Technology")

Writing and publishing a book - I mean a paper (hard, real) book - is even in Internet times something special: It means something stable, staying, visible and tangible. In the mean time (from my 2nd book plan), I know the main problem for writing a book: namely, finding a publisher!
For the book "Trends in Information Technology", the start was very convenient for the author (me): When giving a talk (a keynote at the Swiss computer scientists' conference some years ago), Bernd Knappmann - at that time the editor of the publisher VdF of the leading Swiss university ETH Zurich - asked: "Would you like to extend this talk to a book? Should be interesting!"
The talk was my personal version of IBM Research's "Global Technology Outlook" - a talk and ppt-presentation prepared by IBM Research year by year. I had the pleasure to give this talk several hundred times, customized to the occasion and customer, and supplemented by the contributions of world-class researchers and consultants...
For the book, I took what I had learned in my 34 years from physics in IT, gadgets, software and innovation management. And in addition, I was open to non-business ideas on IT-Trends - from Participatory Panopticon, Singularity to Wireless Energy: My intention was to outline the main trends in IT for all areas, from nanotechnology and chip design to software and virtual worlds.
So far, the book received quite good reviews (in several computer magazines, by the Springer IT expert for the German Computer Society GI, even in the newspaper NZZ - the most famous Swiss newspaper).
I am asking every reader for comments, extensions (what is missing), changes or correction of errors!
PS: The book is in German - the publisher is not pushing an English edition.
If someone (an author, a publisher?) is interested to license the book, I would help with a raw translation.
It would not even be mandatory to understand German!
This would also be a chance to make a rework
(and to become a co-author for the English edition).

Begin the Begin

Explaining the CERN cluster 1991

After 34 years as committed physicist, system engineer, software professional, adtech / innovation manager and event manager for customer conferences on the future, it is time to enlarge the circle of interest beyond the hard IT and business world to (almost) everything I think is relevant - still including the business areas

  • Information Technology, Nanotechnology and Software

  • Innovation Management

  • Management Practices

but now also covering for fun

  • Fundamental Physics and Philosophy of Nature

  • Astronomy and Cosmology

  • Philosophy and Psychology of Science, Pseudoscience and Religion

  • Philosophy of Computers

and of course Private Aspects

  • my Wife

  • my Family

  • Switzerland