A First Course in String Theory

Rather than speculate on the ideas that might have developed in the absence of string theory, we can celebrate the remarkable insights that have emerged from it. It has explained, for example, why black holes have entropy and temperature. It has also demonstrated a surprising fact: theories of strong nuclear forces are equivalent to theories of gravity. Over the last two months, several new papers use string theory to describe the motion of quarks in the plasma created by the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven! Not bad for a theory whose critics say is pie in the sky.

— Barton Zwiebach: a letter to the editor

2010.08.25 Wednesday ACHK

Bureaucracy 2

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The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.

* Eugene McCarthy, quoted in Time magazine, 12 February 1979

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2010.08.25 Wednesday ACHK

防止被騙系統 3

讀心術 5

自然定律 6

雖然,這個「防止被騙系統」的執行只有一步:「不要相信任何『違反自然定律』的宣稱」,但是,要事先了解哪些是「自然定律」,哪些不是「自然定律」,並不是容易的事情。你可以做的,就是細心觀察世事。

我以前因為不知這一個「防止被騙」的方法,而受到嚴重的傷害。當年,我的其中一份工作,是要建構一隻機械人。前後我總共花了一年多的時間才能完成。在那段時間中,上司不斷責罵我:「如果是我以前的員工,三個星期就可以完成這件任務。」那時,我自己的工作經驗很少,所以想:「上司有多年的『建構機械人』的經驗,他說的話一定有背後的道理。我一定是有些地方做錯了,才導致遲遲未能完成那隻機械人。」因為他的說話,我自卑了兩年。

後來,我有一位工作經驗比我多的同事,要建構同類的機械人,結果失敗收場。我才發現,要建構當年的那種機械人,花一至兩年的時間,不單是很正常的事情,而且,「能夠完成」本身,就已經代表我的工作表現,比一般的同事好。我上司所謂「三個星期就可以完成這件任務」的言論,完全是信口開河。

這類不負責任的人的言論,有一個模式:「你竟然要花這麼多的時間在這件事情上。如果是我,十分一的時間就可以完成。」他們會把一些明明是很花時間心神的事情,描述到彷彿是完全沒有難度,從而打擊別人,提高自己。他們宣稱可以短時間內完成事情,並不是因為他們有較豐富的工作經驗。反而,他們是完全沒有相關的經驗,所以不知道對應的難度。因為這種無知,他們會充滿自信地胡說八道。

— Me@2010.08.25

It has often and confidently been asserted, that man’s origin can never be known: Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

— Charles Darwin

2010.08.25 Wednesday (c) All rights reserved by ACHK