January 2006

Uncool Cat


Ahhhh, Melbourne! I sit at my keyboard with windows open to welcome the cool change.

Lights dim and flicker. Three out of four computers reboot pulling brave adventurers out of their otherworldly quests. My computer was lucky, having just enough capacitance to ride out the power glitch. Just as well too. I didn't want to have to restart the OEDILF.com backup, which has been taking an age.

It's 8:50pm and there's still enough light to see leaves and small branches being blown up in the air over our neighbour's house. The storm's destructive, but I welcome it. After 41 degree heat yesterday and 43 today, the sudden cool is bliss—violent bliss, but one takes what one can get.

The backup's nearly done now. 120Mb so far. Oh, fragile overhead powerlines, hold out for another few meg, please.

Evidence of the Designer

In the Sydney Morning Age this morning:

Mathematical Evidence of a Designer

"There's no use saying pigs can't fly when you see them catching swallows," quips an Australian scientist about his ground breaking work on Intelligent Design. Dr Christian Ruse of the University of Woolloomooloo in Sydney has been working quietly on complexity theory for the last fifteen years, and "bloody scientific revolution" are the words he uses to describe what is about to happen.

"Pioneers of the Intelligent Design movement, like Dr William Dembski and Dr Michael Behe, have been extraordinarily patient and committed. Those diggers have stood up and faced the barrage thrown at them by the ultra-conservative establishment. They've taken a few flesh-wounds but they're still standing tall. While they've born the brunt of the political storm, nerds like me can get on with the job of serious ID research."

Dr Ruse's discovery is bound to upset the closed minds of traditional science, and as he says, "inject chaos into academia's smug meritocracy." The evidence he's uncovered provides unmistakable mathematical proof of a designer's hand in nature. Dr Ruse says, with understandable exuberance, "Dr Behe identified the flagellar motor in the bacterial flagellum, and I've found one of the designer's blueprints for it in the mathematics of the Mandelbrot Set! Something clicked when I saw the Budding Turbines area of the Set. They're all there, tiny machines layed out in elegant mathematical precision!"

The Mandelbrot Set, first shown in graphic detail by Benoît Mandelbrot, has bemused artists, mathematicians and philosophers for the last three decades. It's only through the work of Dr Ruse that we can begin to glimpse the significance of the infinite complexity contained in the Set. And where else would we expect to find evidence of the designer but at the intersection of mathematics and art, at the boundaries of philosophy and aesthetics?

"It's an area that many scientists find daunting. There is just so much detail and so many ways to look at it. Mysteries lie just beneath the surface of the Set and nobody knows they're even there. You have to have some idea of what you're looking for before you start, but you must, must, must keep a completely open mind at the same time," emphasizes Ruse.

What else lies hidden within the chaos of fractals? Dr Ruse is optimistic about his collaboration on sea horse anatomy with zoologist Dr Ophelia Rorschach, although he was reluctant to discuss their findings at this early stage. He was also unwilling to name the many other researchers who are following up on his discovery. "The political environment is still too hostile," he says, "and it's better that they be allowed to continue their research in peace rather than attracting the nay-sayer sharks before they're ready for them."

There is a tide in the affairs of science and, in good Australian form, Chris Ruse is determined to surf it, regardless of the sharks. Mark my words. Christian Ruse will be remembered for centuries to come.

Laze, laze

Go and read

By Hyena Fanciers Francis Heaney

Here's a brief glimpse of his brilliance:


Wilma, Wilma, in thy blouse,
Red-haired prehistoric spouse,
What immortal animator
Was thy slender waist’s creator?

When the Rubble clan moved in,
Was Betty jealous of thy skin,
Thy noble nose, thy dimpled knee?
Did he who penciled Fred draw thee?

Wilma, Wilma, burning bright, ye
Cartoon goddess Aphrodite,
Was it Hanna or Barbera
Made thee hot as some caldera?