Thursday, 21 August 2014

Science and Intuition - A Collection of Quotations

The most recent Sixty Symbols video was bit of a departure from the standard fare.

Philosopher Jonathan Tallant discusses the role of intuition - or gut feelings - in science.

It is an interesting debate. To what extent should scientists make decisions based on intuition?

There are arguments for and against. Many of these have been appearing in the comments section.

It also raises questions about what is really meant by "intuition".

Here is the main video on Sixty Symbols.

And the interview continues on my occasional philosophy channel, PhilosophyFile.

As part of my preparation, I had some special friends collect some quotes about science and intuition.

I did not use them in the video, but they are well worth sharing. Thanks to the people who found them. Quote finding fiends!

I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research. 
— Albert Einstein Cosmic Religion: With Other Opinions and Aphorisms (1931), 97.

The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you and you don’t know why or how. 
— Albert Einstein Quoted in Forbes (15 Sep 1974). In Larry Chang, Wisdom for the Soul (2006), 179.

The supreme task of the physicist is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience, can reach them. 
— Albert Einstein Address (1918) for Max Planck's 60th birthday, at Physical Society, Berlin, 'Principles of Research' in Essays in Science (1934), 4.

It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover. 
— Henri Poincar├ę In Science and Method (1908) translated by Francis Maitland (1914, 2007), 129.

I’m supposed to be a scientific person but I use intuition more than logic in making basic decisions. 
— Seymour R. Cray In transcript of a video history interview with Seymour Cray by David K. Allison at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, (9 May 1995), 30.

My view of the matter, for what it is worth, is that there is no such thing as a logical method of having new ideas, or a logical reconstruction of this process. My view may be expressed by saying that every discovery contains an 'irrational element,' or 'a creative intuition,' in Bergson's sense. In a similar way Einstein speaks of the 'search for those highly universal laws ... from which a picture of the world can be obtained by pure deduction. There is no logical path.' he says, 'leading to these ... laws. They can only be reached by intuition, based upon something like an intellectual love (Einf├╝hlung) of the objects of experience.' (1959) 
— Karl Raimund Popper The Logic of Scientific Discovery: Logik Der Forschung (2002), 8.

Notion without intuition is empty, intuition without notion is blind. 
— Immanuel Kant In Ralph Keyesr, The Quote Verifier, 52.

Science does not mean an idle resting upon a body of certain knowledge; it means unresting endeavor and continually progressing development toward an end which the poetic intuition may apprehend, but which the intellect can never fully grasp.
— Max Planck In The Philosophy of Physics

Thoughts without content are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind... The understanding can intuit nothing, the senses can think nothing. Only through their union can knowledge arise. 
— Immanuel Kant Critique of Pure Reason (1781), trans. Norman Kemp Smith (1929), 93.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Numberphile2 FAQ

Okay, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about my YouTube channel Numberphile2.

1. What is Numberphile2?

It is the second or supplementary channel to Numberphile.

2. What is it for?

It is designed to host Numberphile material that I do not want to put on "main channel" for various reasons.

3. What sort of material is that?

It could be anything. Mainly it is "extra material" cut from Numberphile videos. It could also just be stuff that I thought did not quite belong on the main channel or behind-the-scenes stuff. Maybe it is too niche, too long, too short, etc.

4. But I love seeing all that stuff, why not just put that on Numberphile?

Because Numberphile has a large following (about one million subscribers) and casual viewers do not want their feeds clogged up with "extra material" or 2-3 videos every time I put something new out. They just want the headline act.

Numberphile2 can be a channel for the real die-hards who want everything. Like a little club for the true believers! :)

5. Why not just put that "extra stuff" on Numberphile (main) and make it unlisted?

I used to do that, but the material then becomes impossible to find in searches. And some people do want to be able to have this turn up in a subscription feed in some form so they don't miss it.

6. Then why is some material on Numberphile2 still marked as unlisted?

There are a few reasons that Numberphile2 videos START as unlisted and become listed later.... The main one is this: When I release a new video on Numberphile, I probably release the "extra material" at the same time and link to it from the main video. If I made them both listed, they would turn up in subscription feeds around the same time, increasing the chances that people might watch them in the wrong order. To get around this, I make the second video unlisted so it does not show in sub feeds... I then list it a few day later.

7. Why is the logo/avatar for Numberphile2 the number 2 and not Tau?

The current avatar for Numberphile is Pi on a brown paper background - a famous "number" everyone recognises and it just looks cool. Now because Tau is 2Pi, many people think that should be the logo for Numberphile2. I agree that people who "get the joke" would appreciate that. But I think it would be confusing for people who do not. For a start, Pi has two "legs" and Tau has one. Some people might think Pi should be the second channel logo? The number two is just really clear and obvious... It says: "This the second channel". Sometimes it is best to not be too clever.

Should I subscribe to Numberphile2?

In some ways, my advice to casual viewers is "no". I will usually link to Numberphile2 material from main videos, either via links or annotations.
I will also let people know about anything great on Numberphile2 via Facebook and Twitter.
However if you are really into all the extra stuff and not want to miss anything, than of course please do subscribe. I appreciate all the support!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Slicing cake all over the place

We made this Numberphile video...

Then this happened:

Hear a discussion about this - and viral videos in general - on Episode 15 of Hello Internet.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Special Roll

From a viewer named Patti...

My class has been studying probability and yesterday we calculated the probability of rolling a Yahtzee on the first roll.  
So, today, we watched your video.  
The students were intrigued and waited for that Yahtzee with close attention.  After the video, I told them, like you said, in the game Yahtzee, you get three tries.  
So I rolled five dice...and got a Yahtzee!  
The class and I were stunned.  Utter silence and disbelieve.  
The look of "did that really happen"  on 30 7th grade faces.  
Thank you for showing the students your perseverence of waiting through 600 some trials.  
And thank you for making my roll look so special!!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Net Neutrality

It's a big deal in the US (and the world) at the moment!

Two recent videos from CGP Grey and Vi Hart are well worth watching (and maybe acting upon?)

This video by Emily from BlinkPopShift from a while ago was also good.


Oh, I missed this excellent video on the topic by Hank Green.


And now here is Mike Rugnetta from PBS Ideas Channel

And the excellent John Oliver piece...

About 100 people sent me the John Oliver piece after we discussed Net Neutrality of EPISODE 12 OF HELLO INTERNET


Friday, 2 May 2014

Hello Internet Podcast

Not been very active on the blog just lately.

Guess that's because I've been busier than usual.

Plenty of new videos have been coming out - will list some of the better ones below.

Some of you may also know I've started working on a new podcast with CGP Grey called Hello Internet.

I've known Grey for a few years now.  He has even cameoed in a few of our videos, most memorably this one.

The podcast has been great fun so far (we've recorded 11 at the time of posting).

The best way to follow the podcast is via things like iTunes and RSS, etc… More details are at the Hello Internet website.

We really discuss everything - but I guess a major theme is life as YouTube film-makers.

Other important topics have included education, freebooting and plane crashes!

Our latest move has been putting the podcasts on a Hello Internet YouTube channel.

These are obviously a bit behind the general release of the audio podcasts, but another way to digest the show!

Anyway, back to may "day job".

Here are just some of the videos to come out in recent weeks.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Favourite Numbers - 7 wins again

A poll by author Alex Bellos has found, unsurprisingly, that seven is the world's favourite number!

He's released the results to coincide with his new book - Alex Through the Looking-Glass.

Numberphile had its own, less formal poll a while back.

It started with this video:

And then we harvested the stats to make this one:

Seven won that poll also.

Here are some previous appearances by Alex on Numberphile…

And his first book is Here's Looking at Euclid (aka Alex's Adventures in Numberland).