There is a button for “publish”. So what?
I started this open notebook with the goal to disseminate some of my work and ideas. There are always many subjects to write about, this open notebook has almost 500 posts. Lately the rhythm of about a post every 3 days slowed down to a post a week. I have not run out of ideas, or opinions. It is only that I don’t get anything in return.
I explain what I mean by getting something in return. I don’t believe that one should expect a compensation for the time and energy converted into a post. There are always a million posts to read. There is not a lot of time to read them. It is costly in brain time to understand them, and probably, from the point of view of the reader, the result of this investment does not worth the effort.
So it’s completely unreasonable to think that my posts should have any treatment out of the usual.
Then, what can be the motivation to have an open notebook, instead of just a notebook? Besides vanity, there is not much.
But vanity was not my motivation, although it feels very good to have a site like this one. Here is why: from the hits I can see that people read old posts as frequently as new posts. You have to agree that this is highly unusual for a blog. So, incidentally, perhaps this is not a blog, doh.
I put vanity aside and I am now closer to the real motivations for maintaining this open notebook.
Say you have a new idea, product, anything which behaves like a happy virus who’s looking for hosts to multiply. This is pretty much the problem of any creator: to find hosts. OK, what is available for a creator who is not a behemoth selling sugar solutions or other BRILLIANT really simple viruses like phones, political ideas, contents for lazy thinking trolls and stuff like this?
What if I don’t want to sell ideas, but instead I want to find those rare people with similar interests?
I don’t want to entertain anybody, instead that’s a small fishing net in the big sea.
OK, this was the initial idea. That compared to the regular ways, meaning writing academic articles, going to conferences, etc, there might be more chances to talk with interesting people if I go fishing in the high seas, so to say.
These are my expectations. That I might find interesting people to work with, based on common passions, and to avoid the big latency of the academic world, so that we can do really fast really good things now.
I know that it helps a lot to write simple. To dilute the message. To appeal to authority, popularity, etc.
But I expect that there is a small number of you guys who really think as fast as I do. And then reply to me, simultaneously to Marius.Buliga@imar.ro and Marius.Buliga@gmail.com .
Now that my expectations are explained, let’s look at the results. I have to put things in context a bit.
This site was called initially firstname.lastname@example.org . I wanted to start a blog about how is it to live in Rio with wife and two small kids. Not a bad subject, but I have not found the time for that side project, because I was just in the middle of an epiphany. I wanted to switch fields, I wanted to move from pure and applied mathematics to somewhere as close as possible to biology and neuroscience. But mind you that I wanted also to bring with me the math. Not to make a show of it, but to use the state of mind of a mathematician in these great emerging fields. So, instead of writing about my everyday life experiences, I started to write to everybody I found on the Net who was not (apparently) averse to mathematics and who was also somebody in neuroscience. You can imagine that my choices were not very well informed, because these fields were so far from what I knew before. Nevertheless I have found out interesting people, telling them about why I want to switch. Yes, why? Because of the following reasons: (1) I am passionate about making models of reality, (2) I’m really good at finding unexpected points of view, (3) I learn very fast, (4) I understood that pure or applied math needs a challenge beyond the Cold War ones (i.e. theories of everything, rocket science, engineering). OK, I’ll stop here with the list, but there were about 100 more reasons, among them being to understand what space is from the point of the view of a brain.
I got fast into pretty weird stuff. I started to read philosophy, getting hooked by Plato. Not in the way the usual american thinker does. They believe that they are platonic but they are empiricists, which is exactly the poor (brain) version of platonism. I shall stop giving kicks to empiricists, because they have advanced science in many ways in the last century. Anyway empiricism looks more and more like black magic these days. Btw, have you read anything by Plato? If you do, then try to go to the source. Look for several sources, you are not a good reader of ancient Greek. Take your time, compare versions, spell the originals (so to say), discover the usual phenomenon that more something is appreciated, more shit inside.
Wow, so here is it a mathematician who wants to move to biology, and he uses Plato as a vehicle. That’s perhaps remarkabl…y stupid to do, Marius. What happened, have you ran out of the capacity to do math? Are you out in the field where people go when they can’t stand no more the beauty and hardness of mathematics? Everybody knows, since that guy who wrote with Ramanujan and later, after R was dead, told us that mathematics is for young people. (And probably white wealthy ones.)
No, what happened was that the air of Rio gave me the guts I have lost during the education process. Plato’s Timaeus spoke to me in nontrivial ways, in particular. I have understood that I am really on the side of geometers, not on the side of language people. And that there is more chance to understand brains if we try to model what the language people assume it works by itself, the low level, non rational processes of the brain. Those who need no names, no language, those highly parallel ones. For those, I discovered, there was no math to apply. You may say that for example vision is one of the most studied subjects and that really there is a lot of maths already used for that. But if you say so then you are wrong. There is no model of vision up to now, which explains how biological vision works without falling into the internal or external homunculus fallacies. If you look to computer vision, you know, you can do anything with computers, provided you have enough of them and enough time. There is a huge gap between computer vision and biological vision, a fundamental one.
OK, when I returned home to Bucharest I thought what if I reuse the lifeinrio.wordpress.com and transform it into chorasimilarity.worpress.com? This word chorasimilarity is made of “chora”, which is the feminine version of “choros”, which means place or space. Plato invented the “chora” as a term he used in his writings. “Similarity” was because of my background in math: I was playing with “emergent algebras”, which I invented previously of going on the biology tangent. In fact these emergent algebras made me think first that it is needed a new math, and that maybe they are relevant for biological vision.
I stop a bit to point to the post Scale is a place in the brain, which is about research on grid cells and place cells (research which just got a Nobel in medicine in 2014).
Emergent algebras are about similarity. They make visible that behind is hidden an abstract graph rewrite system. Which in turn can be made concrete by transforming it into chemistry. An artificial chemistry. But also, perhaps, a real one. Or, the brain is most of it chemistry. Do you see how everything gets in place? Chora is just chemistry in the brain. Being universal, it is not surprising that we distilled, us humans, a notion of space from that.
There is a lot of infrastructure to build in order to link all these in a coherent way.