The Three Body Problem by Liu Cixin
Selection of quotes that caught my attention
(Listened as audiobook)

When the members of the Frontiers of Science discussed physics, they often used the abbreviation "SF." They didn’t mean "science fiction," but the two words "shooter" and "farmer." This was a reference to two hypotheses, both involving the fundamental nature of the laws of the universe.

In the shooter hypothesis, a good marksman shoots at a target, creating a hole every ten centimeters. Now suppose the surface of the target is inhabited by intelligent, two-dimensional creatures. Their scientists, after observing the universe, discover a great law: "There exists a hole in the universe every ten centimeters." They have mistaken the result of the marksman’s momentary whim for an unalterable law of the universe.
The farmer hypothesis, on the other hand, has the flavor of a horror story: Every morning on a turkey farm, the farmer comes to feed the turkeys. A scientist turkey, having observed this pattern to hold without change for almost a year, makes the following discovery: "Every morning at eleven, food arrives." On the morning of Thanksgiving, the scientist announces this law to the other turkeys. But that morning at eleven, food doesn’t arrive; instead, the farmer comes and kills the entire flock.


^[ME] I believe J Gleick also discusses this turkey story in The Information



NOTES Sept 15

"Hardness roughed away so she was gentle like water"
3Body simplified complexity into the game, vs other video games that try to brighten and make more complex

It's not possible to get to the truth if you can only hear one side
Gradual vs s---- progress
S---- = significant leap forward from fundamentals to applied technology (example = atom bomb)

On the Red Coast project: It’s important to take a step back to do something entirely unrelated to our immediate needs.
This project allows us to give some thought to things we never have time for. Indeed can only think thru them when we take a sufficiently high vantage point. This alone is enough to justify the red coast project.

What does it mean to "gain perspective"?


NOTES Sept 22

What do you feel when you see numbers?
[ME]: Similar to J Lanier on dancing into mathematical equations, or N Case on unexplained abilities for Einstein to feel the equations

"Emptiness is a type of existence." Realized it wasn't Buddhist philosophy at all, but more akin to some modern physics theories
[ME]: Like space filling

Evolutionary algorithm

In the game: The West is not more intelligent than the East but you can see the right path. East cannot for now match it, doesn't have ability to conquer West.

Von Neumann: "That's why we can't give up. Must continue to develop. Make most of each stable era. And avoid damage brought by each chaotic area. This way progress will be much faster. Store data and resume after pause.
[ME] Same as… build stable systems that can persist through the chaotic era, a la H Simon

"Even most complicated objects of the universe are made from the simplest elements"

Army as a computer
CPU: Core computing
Memory: Increase memory capacity by XYZ
System: Transmit info between systems; Upgrade and expand easily
External storage (hard drive): Virtual memory; Store intermediate calculations; Bottleneck for speed of calculation
Display: Show in real time most important parameters

Newton: "Your imperial majesty, in order to improve system stability, you should take certainly maintenance measures with regards to faulty components."

Lesson: Shooter vs. the Farmer
So obsessed with theory that can't see when theory is wrong
[ME] Lesson to self…


NOTES Sept 23

So much is hidden beyond a simple representation

"The majestic sight of the universe was like music made material"

Pendulum monument: yearning for order or surrender to chaos?
[ME] Optimism?

Learning: Goal has changed. New goal.

Closest star tri solaren is earth.
[ME] Nearest neighbor?

"They would not know the results of their efforts"

The study of interference
  • Solar flares
  • Noise in early telephones at Bell Labs

"The ignorant often lead the knowledgeable"
[ME] Although, if you make a practice of hiring better than you, this is certainly true! How to address? Be open about ignorance. Build system so when sufficnent knowledge and ignorance met, knowledge can overcome. Like simple water over lever (see toilet for mechanism example)

Energy mirrors. Study in depth, create a stable subsystem. What is stable? Depends. Enough that can create a signal in the future if come across something that might relate. Might not use the subsystem right away but might be used in the future.

Speak in analogies
[ME] When stuck, use vignettes. This is an experiencing self trick

"In her memory these months belonged to someone else. Like a segment of another life that had drifted into hers"

This period condensed her memory into a series of classical paintings. Not Chinese brush paintings but European oil paintings. Chinese brush paintings are full of blank spaces. But life [there] had no blank spaces. Filled with thick rich solid colors.

3D plus dimension of time
[ME] Like G West, although he’d say 3D + fractals

Tri-solaren strings could not be felt or seen…
[ME] Funny commentary on dark matter?