Automatic Theorem Proving

To Microsoft Research in Cambridge on Thursday, to hear Prof Sir Timothy Gowers lecturing on What are the Prospects for Automatic Theorem Proving?. An example of the English academic at his best: self-deprecatory, cautious, but absolutely certain when on his own ground. Above all, able to explain a complex subject in a way which a…

Free will in Kingston

Went to the Kingston Philosophy Cafe last night for a very interesting talk by Roger Jennings on Free Will. Two things stayed with me: 1. is it possible to imagine how one would act if one was convinced that there was no free will and every action was predetermined? (I can’t imagine that.) 2. Is…

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Cybersecurity… will it ever end?

I’ve been doing a lot of research on cyber security and credit card security recently. There have been a high number of well-publicised failures – such as Target and the US Government Office of Personnel Management– not to mention Ashley Madison. The list seems to grow and grow. These suggest that hackers can access many…

Illusions, sounds and Freud.

Quite interesting evening at the Freud Museum yesterday, as part of their celebration of the Unconscious. Joe Banks spoke about auditory illusions, such as the McGurk effect which show that what we hear is influenced by what we see. (More here. He also referred to the work of Diana Deutsch, such as the phantom words…

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The heavens

We have spent some time this week watching the stars in La Palma, which is renowned for the quality of its darkness. (It is the first UNESCO “Starlight Reserve”.) (Thanks to Ana Garcia Suarez of ¬†www.astrolapalma.com for the guided session and for the image.) Once again, an example of the narrowness of our own perceptions…

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Whale watching

We spent an afternoon watching whales off the Canary Island of La Palma last week, during a family holiday. We saw two schools of pilot whales (or one school twice: both sets appear from my photos to have been globicephala melas, the long-finned pilot whale). We also saw a group of dolphins, and two huge…

Thoughts on the unconscious

The Freud Museum held an exhibition last week to mark the 100th anniversary of the publication of Freud’s paper on “The Unconscious”. Several new media art works were included, for eample: – Theophany by Disinformation – Installation in Freud’s study and consulting room by stage designers from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama…