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By Lieutenant Breakfast

October 17, 2006

From: David Bryson, MD (Yale ‘ 63) aka Lieutenant Breakfast

To: Potential Participants in this Project

The great futurist and science-fiction writer H.G. Wells, who died 70 years ago, wrote, "Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe."

My first Cosmopolitics column presents an exponential time series called "human history in a hurry." The race between education and catastrophe is now being littered with casualties. Katrina was a catastrophe. So is the mess in Mesopotamia. Polar bears in the Arctic and elephants in Africa are in rapid decline and disruption. We watch and worry as the world gets worse.

Enter education to the rescue! The intellectual content of the first 2 columns will be turned into a web-based curriculum and conversation anticipating Darwin 2009, the worldwide celebration 200 years after his birth and 150 after the publication of the Origin of Species. Focus on Darwin brings the question: Who Are We & How Did We Get Here? My panoramic pedigree from the birth of the earth to the beginning of this uncertain century (September 24 column), mixed well with the Circadian Theory of Learning (October 1 column), is cognitive cooking for global whistleblowers. Bring us on!

At this grand scale of awareness, no one is to blame. Since the onset of urban civilization, we are flying faster and faster without a flight plan. The age of the earth (5x10^9) is about a million times older than the first cities on its surface (5x10^3). If the Darwinian world could speak, it would proclaim that aliens have arrived, driving cars and dropping bombs.

The goal of this project is not peace and love, nice as that would be. The goal is produce an unbiased neutrality about who we are and how we got here - a big picture of time past with a big question mark for time future. The urge for a creation story has been universal in all cultures, and here for the first time is a creation story with a scientific basis and an exponential timeline.

Walter Smith is a professor of physics at Haverford College and the host of http://physicssongs.org . His response to Cosmopolitics: "Congratulations! Very interesting! I'll definitely pass the web address to a few friends."

From David Christian, author of "Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History" and featured in Wikipedia's "Big History". That's very neat! My instinct is that perhaps its slightly too neat, but then I'm a historian and historians are trained to be very suspicious of neat conclusions. And when I look closely I must admit that each of the turning points looks plausible to me."

Nigel Eady is Science in Society Officer for the British Association for the Advancement of Science, said by email, "I enjoyed reading your article and wish you all the best with your writing."

Please read the first 2 columns and listen to the NPR interview. A second NPR interview has been recorded and will be posted next month.

I'm now ready to hear from you directly. Email: davidbry@ktc.com



By Lieutenant Breakfast

October 1, 2006

Aldous Huxley suggested that bureaucracies behave stupidly because, unlike its individual members, a bureaucracy nevers sleeps and therefore never benefits from a fresh start in the morning of the mind.

Sleep deprivation in most mammals promotes aggression as well as stupidity. The cosmopolitical headline here: International Sleep Disorder Causing Epidemic Dumbness and Hostility.

Almost 40 years ago a dream starring Darwin and Freud led to the publication of the Circadian Theory of Learning (University of Chicago Press).

That dream was both brief and silent. As the dreamer watches from behind a tree, Darwin puts his index finger to his lips indicating silence is required. Then he wiggles that finger telling Freud to follow him, and it is apparent to the dreamer that Darwin is leading Freud into “the forests of time.”

Darwin’s finger then points to a host of many types of mammals sleeping peacefully all around them, and then finally admonishes Freud by wagging his finger. The dreamer gets the message: Darwin is instructing Freud that mammals have been sleeping and dreaming for at least a hundred million years and, therefore, must have some important evolutionary function, something Freud never considered when he studied and wrote about dreams in Victorian Vienna.

The dreamer awakes with a great sense of scientific adventure ahead, and already has a one word clue... the Darwinian function of mammalian sleep and dreaming is Learning.

Galileo discovered that the earth has two great motions – revolving around the sun, producing the cycle of the seasons, and rotating around its own axis, producing the circadian cycle of day and night.

Cosmopolitics corresponds with two radical notions of time – the exponential time series based on our annual revolution around the sunstar, and now ciradian time which gives equal billing and importance to waking and sleeping.

The engines of human history would not have started without dreams – dreams of discovery (what is) and dreams of invention (what if).

The circadian theory provides the best explanation of free will. Dreams interrupt the linearity of the previous waking state, converting a when-based record (one damn thing after another) to a what-based record (the gestalt of categories, concepts, and constructs).

Example for parents: when your toddler in her highchair is pushing everything – food, drink,and utensils overboard and watching each fall to the floor – at some point during dreaming the toddler realizes that everything falls, regardless of what it is, and having now acquired a functional appreciation of gravity the behavior recedes and disappears.

When writing, inductive logic, and non-subjective analysis appeared about 5000 years ago, it was no longer essential for humans to dream in order to think with power and flexibility. But if a scientist, even with a full arsenal of mental heuristics, cannot solve a problem or see it in a new light, then dreaming again provides the breakthrough.

The astoundingly brilliant mathematician Ramanujan, when asked at Cambridge how he was coming up with his perfect gems, said that he was dreaming of the Hindu goddess of his youth and would awake with “the theorems written on my tongue.”

30 minute NPR interview about the theory at http://sciencestudio.org/bryson.wma



By Lieutenant Breakfast

September 24, 2006

Suppose that an alien comes into orbit around our planet, and requests that a single human come aboard and in less than one hour brief the alien about the human history of planet earth. Here is Human History in a Hurry…

LB would first show the alien his 10 fingers, and explain that this is why we use a 10-based counting system. It is a nice coincidence that the exponential time series 5x10^9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1,0 works perfectly for the base 10, has 10 elements, and needs each element to be multiplied by 5 to fit the planetary, evolutionary, and post-Darwinian headlines.

To conclude the intro to the briefing, LB would note that mathematical concepts of Approximation and Scaling are embedded in the series, and that so far neither of these concepts can be simulated by Artificial Intelligence. Only the human mind can grok the informational value of approximation and scaling.

With 55 minutes to go, the briefing begins…

5x10^9 (about 5 billion years ago) – a supernova explosion just 1 light year away from the solar nebula sends a massive shockwave into the solar/planetary disc, resulting in a large number of planets (about 10, more at first in unstable orbits). Shortly thereafter one of these protoplanets crashes into the early earth, and like a billiard ball hit on its side, the collision produces a rapidly spinning earth, setting the stage for the evolution of a biphasic (waking and sleeping) system of learning, two time zones ahead.

5x10^8 (about 500 million years ago) – the first fish, our vertebrate ancestors.

5x10^7 (about 50 million years ago) – the first monkeys, beginning the brainbranch of evolution with a prominent cerebral cortex equipped with a biphasic/circadian system with its continuous interaction of learning from the waking state, reorganized during sleep. (LB now gives the alien a copy of the theory of learning, published by the University of Chicago Press, in 1969, when the first humans were landing on the moon. The moon is the result of collision described at 5x10^9.)

5x10^6 (about 5 million years ago) – the first humans, the big brained biped.

5x10^5 (about 500,000 years ago) – the first helpless offspring, for at least 5 years. The pelvic outlet within the hips of the human female can get no bigger, due to biomechanical restrictions for walking and especially for running. For the first time in evolution, there is huge brain growth after birth, inside the cranium of the helpless neonate/infant/toddler.

5x10^4 (about 50,000 years ago) – the first language and the first symbolic thought..

5x10^3 (about 5000 years ago) – the first writing, the first cities, the first top-down/top-dog hierarchies, and the first post-Darwinian dynamics inside cities, inside hierarchies, and from the military activities of permanent armies. (LB uses the example of pyramid building, where the afterlife of the pharoah is more important than the life of the slave who builds the pyramid. This is patently post-Darwinian.)

5x10^2 (starting about 500 years ago) – the first printed books with movable type, the merging of the hemispheres with the Voyages of Discovery, the modern world (Copernicus and Columbus et al).

5x10^1 (starting about 50 years ago) – the first computers for purchase, everything escalates, especially human population and environmental damage.

5x10^0 (the first 5 years of the 21st Century, 2001-2005) – global warring anywhere and global warming everywhere, bookended by 9/11 and Katrina.

With the briefing now completed, LB tells the alien of the converging consensus that the next 10 years (2006-2015) are critical to somehow avoid irreversible damage and even more human suffering, and asks the alien for help




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