2011.05.21 01:00 - Tyrannosaurs and actuaries and the wikipedia, oh my

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    Wol Euler was guardian for this session.


    Wol Euler: hello egg
    eggsalad Ormstein: ho wol? wos macht du?
    Wol Euler: habe gerade gefrühstuckt, und brauche jetzt eine tasse Kaffee
    Wol Euler: und dir?
    eggsalad Ormstein: well, I'd be better if I could understand German
    Wol Euler laughs.
    Wol Euler: just had breakfast and now need another cup of coffee
    Wol Euler: so brb
    Wol Euler: take a seat :)


    eggsalad Ormstein: ty
    eggsalad Ormstein: what's on your mind today?
    Wol Euler smiles. Not a lot actually.
    Wol Euler: it's a warmish sunny day, so far, and I'm invited to dinner this late-afternoon, early-evening
    Wol Euler: between now and then, a little shopping ...
    eggsalad Ormstein: upon what will you dine?
    Wol Euler: an easy day
    Wol Euler: probably grilled meat, barbecue inthe back yard
    Wol Euler: but I didn'T ask and they didn'T tell
    eggsalad Ormstein: ah, meat! maybe there will be some wurst
    Wol Euler: almost certainly :)
    Wol Euler: in fact, the only uncertainty about that is whehter it'll be barbecue or indoor cooking
    Wol Euler: if barbecue then wurst
    eggsalad Ormstein: will you bring something, or is your custom to arrive empty-handed?
    Wol Euler: German custom is to bring only little treats, unless the hosts ask otherwise
    Wol Euler: so I found some intriguing little cakes with chocolate filling
    eggsalad Ormstein: that can't be bad!
    Wol Euler smiles.
    Wol Euler: I'll let you know.
    eggsalad Ormstein: yes, you must!
    Wol Euler: perhaps there's a website ...
    Wol Euler: well, how remarkably old-fashioned. No website!
    Wol Euler: hello pema!
    Pema Pera: hi there, Wol and Egg!
    eggsalad Ormstein: hi pema
    Wol Euler: what's new in Kyoto?
    Pema Pera: not much :-)
    Pema Pera: how about Stuttgart?
    Wol Euler: warming up nicely, sunny, gentle breeze from the west. SHould be a good day
    Wol Euler: (10am here)
    Pema Pera: here it's getting summery, warm and humid
    Pema Pera: but another answer would be "everything" (to your question)
    Pema Pera: I was just thinking about our conversation about broken bottles :-)
    Wol Euler: everything is new? interesting.
    Wol Euler: ah :)
    Pema Pera: while I was walking on the streets here
    Wol Euler listens.
    Pema Pera: it just hit me, as more than just an idea
    Pema Pera: that this very moment will never come back
    Pema Pera: you can't put it into your pocket
    Pema Pera: or store it somewhere
    Wol Euler nods.
    Pema Pera: of course, I've known this for a long time
    Wol Euler: but knowing isn't feeling
    Pema Pera: but sometimes you can fall into an idea, letting it get real
    Pema Pera: yes
    Wol Euler smiles.
    Pema Pera: so what does it mean, that a table exists?
    Pema Pera: each next moment it is a (slightly perhaps) different table
    Pema Pera: and the same is true for us
    Pema Pera: so if reality is just a series of epheremal moments, what is real about it?
    eggsalad Ormstein: if, as you say, reality is just a series of ephemeral moments, I definitely overpaid for my carpet!
    Wol Euler: there I would return to my insight (blushes) at the October retreat: that "reality" is just a map of what exists
    Pema Pera: oh, but your money was equally ephemeral :-)
    Wol Euler: :)
    Pema Pera: but what does existing mean -- staying the same over time?
    Wol Euler: on one level that is certainly true, Pema. Apart from a few phyiscal objects, which themselves decay, all we have from reality is our unreliable and incomplete memory of it
    eggsalad Ormstein: I work in a very temporal industry
    Pema Pera: which one, Egg?
    eggsalad Ormstein: Live Entertainment
    Wol Euler: yes, your work is close to purely ephemeral :)
    Pema Pera: ah!


    Pema Pera: and in my job, I predict how galaxies change their shape over a hundred million years :-) cosmic entertainment perhaps?
    eggsalad Ormstein: no moment in time can ever exist again
    Wol Euler: nice to be able to make predictions that NOBODY will ever be able to prove wrong :)
    Pema Pera: :-)
    Pema Pera: well . . . statistically speaking, it can be verified -- by current counts of different types of galaxies
    Pema Pera: like going into the woods and counting present-day tree rings
    Pema Pera: to check theories of tree growth
    Pema Pera: but not on an individual basis, no
    Wol Euler: mmmmmmm yes but :)
    eggsalad Ormstein: like the weatherman on TV
    Pema Pera: or let me put it differently, this time question: if you look back at your life, say, when you're eighty or ninety, what do you think counts as most real, or having been most real?
    Wol Euler: yes, I see what you mean: if all the plane trees in Hamburg are 67 years old, we can infer that something really interesting happened there in 1944
    eggsalad Ormstein: I think interesting things did happen in Hamburg in the early 40's, yes
    Wol Euler: in most of Europe, alas
    Pema Pera: yes, and also if the number of trees with different rings descreases in a clear pattern, that pattern may hold in the future too
    Wol Euler: but not since! so we as a species can sometimes learn
    Pema Pera: yes, I really hope so!
    Wol Euler: but the point of my example of Hamburg was to say that a snapshot is perhaps dangerous as "evidence". You'd ahve a different theory of the growth cycle of plane trees if you looked at Strasbourg instead
    Pema Pera: yes, so we look at the whole sky, at many different galaxies
    Wol Euler nods.
    Pema Pera: and we take what they have in common as likely reflecting typical patterns of growth
    Pema Pera: a shot gun approach, in a way
    Pema Pera: piecing together different partial histories
    Pema Pera: ah, that reminds me:
    Pema Pera: recently read an article about Tyrannosaurus Rex dinosaurs
    Pema Pera: how they reconstructed yearly mortality among them, as a function of age
    Pema Pera: isnt't that fascinating?
    Wol Euler: huh
    Pema Pera: what do you call that, mortuary tables?
    Pema Pera: actuary?
    Pema Pera: something like that
    Wol Euler: mortality?
    Pema Pera: for insurance companies
    Pema Pera: life insurance
    Wol Euler: hmmm, lemme google John Snow
    Pema Pera: there is a term for that
    Pema Pera: :-)
    Wol Euler: actuarial table
    Pema Pera: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actuary
    Wol Euler: right
    Wol Euler: we got there at the same time :)
    Pema Pera: haha, we found it simultaneously, within a second
    Wol Euler: :)
    Pema Pera: highly unlikely of course
    Wol Euler: Dr Johnson said that there are two kinds of knowledge: that which you carry around wiht you, and that which you know how to find
    Wol Euler: "actuary" belongs to the second for both of us
    Pema Pera: anyway, the little tyrants had a high mortality in their first few years and then again when over twenty; in between they were unlikely to die
    Pema Pera: if I remember it correctly
    Pema Pera: so childhood diseases and risk
    Wol Euler: sounds about right, considering big predators today
    Pema Pera: and then fighting with the other bad boys on the block
    Wol Euler: if they survive childhood, old age is what gets them
    Pema Pera: most of them died by violent means
    Pema Pera: not old age
    Pema Pera: competition it seemed
    Wol Euler: erm, yes, badly expressed; I meant being unable to compete
    Pema Pera: ah yes
    Pema Pera: no pension plans
    Wol Euler: heheheheh


    Wol Euler: twenty years is a pretty long time; though I wonder how long e.g. alligators live?
    Pema Pera: Over half of the known Tyrannosaurus rex specimens appear to have died within six years of reaching sexual maturity, a pattern which is also seen in other tyrannosaurs and in some large, long-lived birds and mammals today. These species are characterized by high infant mortality rates, followed by relatively low mortality among juveniles. Mortality increases again following sexual maturity,
    Pema Pera: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyranno...s#Life_history
    Pema Pera: wikipedia is pretty amazing
    Wol Euler: indeed
    Wol Euler: all volunteer, and all free
    Wol Euler: as is so much of what's best in the internet
    Pema Pera: took me ten seconds to find a rather obscure piece of news that I half remembered
    Pema Pera: yes
    Pema Pera: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Tyrantgraph.png is especially telling
    Pema Pera: they stayed small and out of the way for almost fifteen years, and then in a few years more than quadrupled their weight
    Wol Euler: that seems an unusual pattern, but I wonder whether it is?
    Pema Pera: cactussen do the same (cacti?)
    Wol Euler: it applies to us, but I believe not to most other animals
    Pema Pera: hiding under low growth, while vulnerable, and then suddenly growing huge -- the tall cacti in Tucson at least do
    Pema Pera: I don't think we have that dramatic an increas in weight
    Pema Pera: quadruplin in four years
    Wol Euler: and yet being small is part of being vulnerable? -- no, not nearly that dramatic, true
    Wol Euler: I'd like to see a chart like that for humans, how we grow
    Pema Pera: actually, I have to get going -- about to put on some weight myself, hehehe
    Wol Euler: heheheh
    Pema Pera: take care, Wol and Eggsalad!
    Wol Euler: bon appetit, pema
    Pema Pera: (I won't quadruple, I hope)
    eggsalad Ormstein: bye pema
    Pema Pera: bfn
    Wol Euler: indeeed
    eggsalad Ormstein: have fun at your dinner, wol! enjoy your weekend!
    Wol Euler: ty, egg; sleep well and have a good weekend

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