Author Topic: Episode #598  (Read 2207 times)

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Offline Steven Novella

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Episode #598
« on: December 24, 2016, 12:31:42 PM »
Interview with Brian Switek; Movie Review: Arrival; News Items: Better Outcomes from Female Doctors, Wet Ceres, Light from Anti-matter, Purple Food; Who’s That Noisy; Science or Fiction
Steven Novella
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Offline Soldier of FORTRAN

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #1 on: December 24, 2016, 03:04:18 PM »
Listening now, re: Arrival -

Military: They can immediately provide you with disciplined personnel, good security, good information control, etc.  I thought this was reasonable.

Language: The speed with which we learned their language can definitely be explained by their having already learned ours. 

A fun bit of speculation I found elsewhere is that there was only one ship.  Twelve ships having one-and-a-half hour meetings at 18 hour intervals?  Well, 12 * 1.5 = 18!
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Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #2 on: December 24, 2016, 03:05:23 PM »
I have not seen Arrival, but I enjoyed the movie review. Now I don't feel bad at all about not seeing it in the theater. I might even decide to take it off my NetFlix queue.

Since the review was full of spoilers, I'll put my comments behind the spoiler tag.

(click to show/hide)

Steve asked for an example of an alien-contact movie where the military is not the lead in the encounter. I'll point out the movie Paul, where Sigourney Weaver's character is some kind of secret government spook, maybe NSA, but not military. It's just her and one other agent and a couple of bumbling cops. Maybe folks will object that Paul is a comedy, and not a "real" alien-contact movie, or that the movie is not a first-contact movie since he's been here for many years. Still, no military.
Daniel
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Offline Soldier of FORTRAN

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2016, 03:08:30 PM »
Yeah, I'd definitely say the film straddles magical-realism and sci-fi a bit. 

Edit: Very atmospheric and contemplative with a strong melancholic bent, too. 
Every soup ladled to the hungry, every blanket draped over the cold signifies, in the final sense, a theft from my gigantic paycheck.

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #4 on: December 24, 2016, 04:24:00 PM »
I'm melancholic enough these days without help from movies.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #5 on: December 24, 2016, 04:33:00 PM »
I like purple grape juice. But I hate eggplant. I agree that eating many different-colored foods is a good idea, and that there's nothing special about purple. Except that it's relatively rare in foods. Blue also is rare, though wild blueberries eaten right off the mountainside, are really good. I once discovered a big patch of them, at the perfect stage of ripeness, when I was alone, and I stuffed myself with them. Yum.

Steve made an excellent point about anti-oxidants: Adding them to your food will just throw your chemistry out of balance, assuming they actually make it into your bloodstream. Your body gets energy by oxidation. Why would you want to interfere with that?
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline Gravity Allen

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #6 on: December 24, 2016, 04:34:27 PM »
I'm glad they took the time to review 'Arrival,' and in spite of how much I enjoyed it, I still appreciated some of their criticisms. But I was a little disappointed that they didn't spend more time on the science, with Cara even lamenting how little of it there was in the film. The monolingual demonstration that Louise uses is a great representation of linguistic fieldwork. And a well-trained linguist can uncover many facts about a language in just 30 minutes, despite how unrealistically quick some seem to have found the process.

(click to show/hide)

And I wouldn't have minded them dwelling on the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis a little more, and how it's been discredited (at least in its strongest form). Though, to be clear, I actually didn't mind it in the movie.

I wish the idea that language really can be studied scientifically -- and that there's a fact-of-the-matter to it -- had been talked about more. :-\ As long as the methods are right, there's no reason it shouldn't be taken seriously.

Edited: for spoiler-y stuff!
« Last Edit: December 24, 2016, 09:46:19 PM by Gravity Allen »

Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #7 on: December 24, 2016, 06:02:54 PM »
... the whole seeing through time thing isn't *that* crazy. As discussed in the video in the blog post I linked to above, our own temporal boundedness isn't a good reason (by itself) to suppose there's something special about time -- as compared to the spatial dimensions. ...

Time is dealt with precisely and mathematically in Relativity physics. Time is not absolute in the Newtonian sense we all experience intuitively. It moves at a different pace for different observers. But the only way you can alter the rate at which you move through time is to subject yourself to acceleration or gravitation. Events whose separation is "space-like" cannot communicate with each other and events whose separation is "time-like" can communicate only in one direction. You cannot see the future because that would involve communicating in the wrong direction. (Which is a Relativistic way of saying that you cannot see the future because it has not happened yet. You cannot see the future because the future does not exist. "Future" is an abstract concept we use to refer to regions of time that do not yet exist.) And I repeat that being able to see the future because you learned a special language is as loony as Scientology.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Online Sawyer

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #8 on: December 24, 2016, 06:43:01 PM »

I wish the idea that language really can be studied scientifically -- and that there's a fact-of-the-matter to it -- had been talked about more. :-\ As long as the methods are right, there's no reason it shouldn't be taken seriously.

This to me was the shining beacon of science and rationalism promotion in the entire film, and it's something I've literally NEVER seen in a movie before (or at least seen done well).  Despite a few initial unpleasant quips, both Renner and Adams' characters are on the exact same page in how to approach communication in a scientific way, and how this approach is an absolute necessity over any alternative.  The scene where Adams deconstructs a sentence and explains all the work that needs to be done to have any hope of asking a question clearly resonates with the hard-science approach that Renner is used to performing.  And later we see Renner playing around with the "info dump" sentences from the heptapods in order to discern their meaning, and his approach is clearly appreciated by Adams.  I know a lot of that is just textbook screenwriting, but it really provides a nice reminder for anyone in the audience that thinks that either the hard/soft sciences are superior to the other.

Offline Gravity Allen

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2016, 07:33:52 PM »
Time is dealt with precisely and mathematically in Relativity physics. Time is not absolute in the Newtonian sense we all experience intuitively. It moves at a different pace for different observers. But the only way you can alter the rate at which you move through time is to subject yourself to acceleration or gravitation. Events whose separation is "space-like" cannot communicate with each other and events whose separation is "time-like" can communicate only in one direction. You cannot see the future because that would involve communicating in the wrong direction. (Which is a Relativistic way of saying that you cannot see the future because it has not happened yet. You cannot see the future because the future does not exist. "Future" is an abstract concept we use to refer to regions of time that do not yet exist.) And I repeat that being able to see the future because you learned a special language is as loony as Scientology.

Right. And, I think that's my point. Relativity is entirely deterministic, no? So, if we had access to all the information available, and all the laws of physics, we could map out the future. From the right perspective, time and space are one 4-dimensional object; if you could observe it from that perspective, like the "bulk space" in 'Interstellar,' time would be much like another spatial dimension. And free will, of course, ends up playing a part in the story.

(click to show/hide)

I don't think learning a language could ever make you experience reality this way; I'm not sure any biological organism could ever experience reality this way. But I also don't believe magic space rectangles can make monkeys smarter or give people superpowers, or that we could ever break the laws of physics as we know them, to travel faster than light, or that laser swords exist, or . . .

I don't think it's fair to single this movie out, when it at least bases its speculation on nature as we currently understand it. Linguistic determinism is a thing, though not to the extent depicted in the movie. And the laws of our universe -- at least, the macroscopic ones -- appear to be deterministic. I'm not saying this movie's necessarily for you, but . . . you seem awfully determined to neither see nor like it. I mean, comparing it to Scientology?!? I'm not sure any greater insult could have been levelled! ;)

Edited: for spoiler-y stuff!
« Last Edit: December 24, 2016, 09:48:04 PM by Gravity Allen »

Online Tassie Dave

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2016, 08:30:50 PM »
Who's That Noisy?

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Offline 2397

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #11 on: December 25, 2016, 06:06:49 AM »
Plot twist: The SGU did not record an episode this week.

Online Tassie Dave

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #12 on: December 25, 2016, 06:34:26 AM »
Plot twist: The SGU did not record an episode this week.

Yes they did  ??? This weeks (#598) was recorded on Wednesday, the 21st.

They won't record one next week (#599 was recorded on the 17th) and is up on their Facebook. Steve is going to edit it down for the Podcast version released next Saturday.


Offline daniel1948

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #13 on: December 25, 2016, 08:40:58 AM »
Time is dealt with precisely and mathematically in Relativity physics. Time is not absolute in the Newtonian sense we all experience intuitively. It moves at a different pace for different observers. But the only way you can alter the rate at which you move through time is to subject yourself to acceleration or gravitation. Events whose separation is "space-like" cannot communicate with each other and events whose separation is "time-like" can communicate only in one direction. You cannot see the future because that would involve communicating in the wrong direction. (Which is a Relativistic way of saying that you cannot see the future because it has not happened yet. You cannot see the future because the future does not exist. "Future" is an abstract concept we use to refer to regions of time that do not yet exist.) And I repeat that being able to see the future because you learned a special language is as loony as Scientology.

Right. And, I think that's my point. Relativity is entirely deterministic, no? So, if we had access to all the information available, and all the laws of physics, we could map out the future. From the right perspective, time and space are one 4-dimensional object; if you could observe it from that perspective, like the "bulk space" in 'Interstellar,' time would be much like another spatial dimension. And free will, of course, ends up playing a part in the story.

(click to show/hide)

I don't think learning a language could ever make you experience reality this way; I'm not sure any biological organism could ever experience reality this way. But I also don't believe magic space rectangles can make monkeys smarter or give people superpowers, or that we could ever break the laws of physics as we know them, to travel faster than light, or that laser swords exist, or . . .

I don't think it's fair to single this movie out, when it at least bases its speculation on nature as we currently understand it. Linguistic determinism is a thing, though not to the extent depicted in the movie. And the laws of our universe -- at least, the macroscopic ones -- appear to be deterministic. I'm not saying this movie's necessarily for you, but . . . you seem awfully determined to neither see nor like it. I mean, comparing it to Scientology?!? I'm not sure any greater insult could have been levelled! ;)

Edited: for spoiler-y stuff!

I don't think it's accurate or fair to say that Relativity is deterministic, since it does not deal with events on the atomic and sub-atomic scales, where QM rules, and is probabilistic. Relativity deals with spacetime and gravity, not with the interactions of particles.

Quote
you seem awfully determined to neither see nor like it.

Not at all. I actually was looking forward to seeing it when it comes out on disc. The review left me disappointed and unsure whether I will rent it or not. I am definitely not as much of a sci-fi buff as the rogues and many of the folks here. I love some, hate some, and I'm in between on some. I loved HGttG (the original radio version and the book) and Firefly (the short-lived TV show). Also Guardians of the Galaxy and Galaxy Quest and Paul. I guess I like sci-fi most when it doesn't take itself seriously. When it takes itself too seriously I'm much less likely to like it.

Give me a good raucous comedy or crazy-wild adventure over magic-black-box sci-fi any day.
Daniel
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"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think long and hard before starting a war."
-- Otto von Bismarck

Offline Gravity Allen

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Re: Episode #598
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2016, 01:37:27 AM »
I don't think it's accurate or fair to say that Relativity is deterministic, since it does not deal with events on the atomic and sub-atomic scales, where QM rules, and is probabilistic. Relativity deals with spacetime and gravity, not with the interactions of particles.

That's an interesting question, that I don't know the answer to: is a system considered deterministic only relative to its applicable domain? Or does it fall outside this category when there exists a domain -- a probabilistic one, no less -- that it can make no determinations about.

And to avoid straying too far off topic:

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