Don’t rely (solely) on your external provider

Something incredible occurred last week in France…

Most mass media companies in France lost their subscribers database in seconds.

Actually the main provider for subscriptions management lost all of their data, from production data to source code and backups. The cause still remains to be determined.

The event points out a strong need for control over companies’ data. More and more companies put their data in the cloud and outsource data management. However, (client) data is the single biggest asset of a company. Since data are now a kind of capital, highly strategic and monetizable, companies should become aware that they must keep control over their data.

Data loss occurs so easily and data breaches are so abundant that you put your company at risk by relying exclusively on a few providers and not to keep control over your data. Any company should keep dedicated teams of specialists when outsourcing or putting critical systems in the cloud. I have heard about companies that had to pay huge amounts of money to pursue their activity after another company service failure or conflict.

There is also a need of intense negotiation to obtain good agreements (especially regarding service-level agreements). But only after wide concertation between IT decision makers and not only business decision makers… but also data specialists. By the way, remember that every big companies must have true data specialists (data manager, data scientist, data analyst, …) lead by a chief data officer if they want conduct efficient and effective data projects and have a data-driven activity.

Think about it next time.

Picture credits: Newspapers B&W by Jon S




First mammal species wiped out by global warming

I recently heard of very bad news.

A mammal species (Bramble Cay melomys, Melomys rubicola) discovered in 1845, which was the only one to be endemic to Great Barrier Reef, has been wiped out… because of human-induced climate change.

It was estimated there were several hundred on the small island of Bramble Cay, an uninhabited one which belongs to the Torres Strait Islands. These islands are a group of 274+ small islands located in the waterway separating far northern continental Australia’s Cape York Peninsula and the island of New Guinea.

The species used to live in a 3.62-hectare (8.9-acre) sand cay which is predominately grassland and populated by seabirds and green turtles.

Since 2007 it was not seen, despite a search by a team of scientists. A report has recommended the animal’s status be changed from “endangered” to “extinct” in 2014. An extensive search has then been conducted without success.

In their report, Natalie Waller and Luke Leung from the University of Queensland, recently concluded that the root cause of the extinction was sea-level rise and extreme climate events.

« According to our predictions, 10,000 island will be under water by the end of the century. »

– Franck Courchamp, CNRS Senior researcher

Picture credits: Bramble Cay melomys by State of Queensland




Weird black holes to reveal a new physics

A new discovery (to confirm) tends to show that some large regions of the universe were rotating.

Astronomers in South Africa discovered mysterious alignment of black holes (they are also spinning synchronously):

black holes alignment

They were observing the ELAIS-N1 region of the space with the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) when they unexpectedly discovered the weird orientation of all black holes in the region.

The only explanation for now is that this space region was rotating at the early stages of galaxies formation for hundreds of millions light-years.

Reasearchers speculates on what caused the phenomenon. It could be: primordial cosmological magnetic fields or a new physics that involes cosmic strings or fields of axions. But no one knows.

Some people even suggest that it could be aliens harbouring energy from black holes or synchronizing them for kind of GPS positioning system. It is highly speculative!

The only fact is that nobody were able to predict these observations.




Do we live in a discrete world?

Today, I will share with you some recent thoughts I had.

Do you remember of analog chips (a.k.a linear integrated circuits)? These circuits are almost no longer in use and have been replaced by semi-conductors and discrete processing chips (digital ones). Some kind of analog signal processing still remains in use in vacuum tubes and may be soon integrated in some current devices thanks to recent improvements.

To sum up, we have the following kind of computers: analog, digital, quantum.

The ubiquitous type is digital computer (even your smartwatch is basically a computer). Analog almost disappeared (they are still in use in aircrafts) but may become more prominent due to interest in very-large-scale integration. Quantum ones are more theoretical than common.

I already mentioned that our universe behaviour is either mathematical or a quantum, perhaps both.

Nick Boström even suggested that we are most likely living in a computer simulation.  Some go further, hypothesizing in a thought experiment, that some of us may be p-zombies.

digital

The real nature of our universe is a prolific question in physics, philosophy, metaphysics, spirituality and even cognitive science since we extensively rely on our sensors and the perception of a physical world (a perception that is easily tricked, even at integration levels).

If the world is quantum, then it can be reduced to a quantum computational system. If it is analogous, it can be reduced to an analogous computational system. Both are not exclusive at all.

What if our universe were discrete?

The discrete option is really interesting in that it supports the metaphor of a computer and, ultimately, of a simulation. It is theorized in digital physics.

One can notice that if the universe processes information, then it can also generate and process knowledge. We know that information and knowledge spread in societies by well-known social processes and networks dynamics. Oriented and labelled graphs can organize knowledge just like ontologies in information science. I found the analogy quite interesting since both societies and ontology-based systems in computer science can generate knowledge.

Graph

In my humble opinion, it tends to extend the computer metaphor from the universe to societies: the same process underpinning the quantum level, the cognitive level and the social level. It explains why discrete graph models succeed to explain some levels’ information processing (1, 2). Information processing would be the essential nature of the universe and knowledge discovery (perhaps?) a goal for us. Enaction and embodiment taught us that this appropriation of knowledge is not necessarily academic but can be achieved from everyday life or manual work.

It also reminds me the Plato’s theory of Forms (and its limitations) and how to access the ultimate reality.

“We come here to a difficulty which has troubled many philosophic theologians. Only the contingent world, the world in space and time, can have been created; but this is the every-day world which has been condemned as illusory and also bad. Therefore the Creator, it would seem, created only illusion and evil. Some Gnostics were so consistent as to adopt this view; but in Plato the difficulty is still below the surface, and he seems, in the Republic, to have never become aware of it.”- Bertrand Russel, philosopher (sorry for the mention of a Creator, you can replace it by every concept that suits your beliefs).

social interaction

What is the intermediate level: human being. As you may already know, fractals are everywhere in our universe. The information processing is everywhere. So, it sounds interesting to explore the possibility that the same processes can be observed at all levels: from atoms to societies.

The point is that if our universe is discrete, then each level is discrete too.

Societies are discrete in the sense that information processing and knowledge spreading occurs temporarily by discrete steps. The processing speed is increased in our connected society.

Our brain is also discrete (a counterintuitive idea): from post synaptic potential triggering to time slices of perception as we recently discovered.

What about the quantum level?

Humanity might never be able to prove with certainty whether the universe is simulated, Chalmers said.

“You’re not going to get proof that we’re not in a simulation, because any evidence that we get could be simulated.” – David Chalmers, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University

But we have evidences for a simulation since universe has probably error correcting codes, just like in computer science.

“Error-correcting codes are what make browsers work, so why were they in the equations that I was studying about quarks, and leptons, and supersymmetry? […] That’s what brought me to this very stark realization that I could no longer say that people like Max [Tegmark] are crazy.” – James Gates, a physicist at the University of Maryland

We may also be able to prove that our universe is discrete by nature. The question is, ultimately: is there a smallest unit of length, beyond which you can’t divide any further?

It will probably be possible to confirm soon Giovanni Amelino-Camelia observations of Hubble’s quasar shift in high frequencies.

Pi

We should even not be required to deeply observe the universe since discrete and continuous may be two sides of the same!

“The most significant level of interaction is when one and the same phenomenon appears
in both the continuous and discrete setting. In such cases, intuition and insight gained from
considering one of these may be extremely useful in the other.” – László Lovász, Microsoft Research
If all the phenomenons we observe can be modelled (and perfectly predicted) in both discrete and continuous mathematics then we are justified to ask whether the universe is discrete rather than continuous (due to the low possibility that discrete succeed at modelling every essential phenomenons).



Why are men stronger than women?

Hope you’re doing well! I’m back for this first post of 2016 (sorry for being late).

I often hear of opponents to gender equality saying that inequality is natural because of biological differences. Saying that gender is not linked to biological sex and that feminists and pro-feminists want solely gender equality of rights, the opponents’ argument is required to be tackled.

Bisexuality symbol

Gender differences are socially induced

Actually, in terms of cognitive and social skills women differ almost only when a pressure of social environment is observed. That’s true in several aspects of life: patriarchy influences skills and can be counterbalanced by education, civil right movements, … Women often performs as well as men (even better) in working life when self-confident or well-educated.

There also exists a bias in evaluating skills as a second explanation to differences. I know that scientific papers are often gender-oriented when observing or explaining a gender difference but I came across the best example ever of this bias: women source code gets more often accepted than men source code but the opposite occurs when evaluators are aware of the gender of developers.

social interaction

The main cause of differences is socially induced (either for the observed ones and for the evaluation bias) that’s why gender equality is necessary to ensure rebalancing.

But what about “natural” men’s superiority in terms of strength?

I must admit that the main argument of opponents to gender equality is that there may exist an ontological difference that would justify inequality. The fallacious argument is that men are biologically stronger than women. Besides the fact that this argument falls in the domain of explaining extremum sex differences (sex can be viewed as a continuum) instead of justifying gender differences (gender is also a continuum, thanks to human complexity) it is extremely interesting. Let me explain.

Arm wrestling

Interestingly human male is, on average, stronger than female which is the exact opposite in the vast majority of the animal reign. The question is, why?

In fact, the question is essentially why women are smaller than male because the main explanation is muscular strength which is related to one’s height. So why are they smaller than males?

The difference is called a dimorphism, which cannot be explained by genetic differences because size genes can explain only 5% of the observed phenotypic variation. So what can explain the size differences and, ultimately, the strength differences?

As usual, the environment. At the species point of view, tallest females should have been selected (mainly regarding the contribution to gestation and breastfeeding, moreover a larger pelvis eases childbirth).

What we know is that short people are favoured in case of famine because they need less energy to survive. What if an organized penury of food has led to the size differences? We observed that kuru was more predominant in women in anthropophagic ethnic groups because they eat the worst meal rations, just after men. And more interestingly, it is noticeable that historically and in all cultures where women are shorter, they always used to eat less and worse than men.

A gender order

The explanation is that size differences are not explained by natural selection but also by pure inequality in food access. That is the only one explanation that resists to multidisciplinary analysis.

The height difference between women and men is currently explained by both socially-induced male preferences those are now fully internalized (men prefer small women and women prefer tall men)… and division of labour (see Challenging Popular Myths of Sex, Gender and Biology). In fact, men often control women’s protein intakes by gender division of labour (see here and here].

This food access pressure which is a side-effect of patriarchy (a gender order) may act epigenetically (because genes only cannot explain the stature differences).  But the epigenetic aspect hasn’t been proven yet. An epigenetic effect would mean that genes are switched off by the induced food intakes but are still available. It is then possible that gene expression can be restored by normal food intakes across several generations. That is supported by the fact that we started to observe taller women.

Why does this epigenetic effect not affect men since women can give birth to either a boy or a girl? An explanation would be that this effect is sex-specific (just like the BPA effect over generations).

The lesson to be learned…

To conclude, even the fallacious argument that women are ontologically weaker is false. The mean difference in strength between women and men is actually due to male pressure and can probably be counterbalanced by equal access to food, a right. Therefore, gender equality applied to food access is more than necessary to allow women to have full rights over their own bodies. Promoting healthier food has changed habits in women. Raising awareness about the consequences of normal food intake among women may help them to (more) freely choose the physical appearance they want.

This post is evidently not the best argument in favour of gender equality. There are plenty of better arguments. I just wanted to tackle one of the favourite arguments of opponents to equality.




Pi

Some hints for a mathematical world

Max Tegmark, a cosmologist, considers the external reality to be essentially mathematical.

In that sense, the mathematical entities (such as groups or varieties) may not be different from physical entities (photons, magnetic fields, etc.) by nature, explaining why the mathematics are so successful at describing the physical world. In other words, the so-called “universal structural realism” asserts that our physical universe is isomorphic to a mathematical structure.

Pi

pi number by J.Gabás Esteban

A link between quantum physics and mathematics

I personally believe in the power of loop quantum gravity, combined to the idea that physical laws are reducible to a quantum circuit.

Therefore the universe may exhibit fundamental mathematical properties inherent in the quantum circuit’ subroutine “archetype”. That’s it for the theoretical digression.

If the universe has fundamental mathematical properties then we must be able to find similar patterns in formulas.

And that is the case: researchers found the same formula in quantum mechanical calculations of the energy levels of a hydrogen atom as in the derived formula for pi as the product of an infinite series of ratios in a book of the mathematician John Wallis (the so called Wallis product for π in the Arithmetica infinitorum from 1655).

It reminds me of something…

The formula links π and the quantum mechanics. That’s a fact.

I recently read an article in french that talked of the tau manifesto, saying that the value of pi is wrong and should be 6.28…

Interestingly, if we use π = 2π then several classical formulas in mathematics and physics exhibits the same appearance:

area of a disk = ½ π r2

Ec = ½ m v2

d = ½ g t2

Physics and mathematics are maybe two sides of the same coin…




Arecibo Observatory

KIC 8462852 is kind of Wow!

Today I will talk about astrophysics, exobiology and, somehow, metaphysics. I will also submit a personal (counterintuitive) hypothesis that needs confirmation: the Wow! signal, the best clue on extraterrestrial existence ever recorded, may be topologically linked to the star what is hypothesized to be surrounded by a swarm of megastructures!

You have certainly heard of KIC 8462852 recently. It is a star located in the constellation Cygnus which exhibits some strange behavior. More explicitly, unusual light fluctuations were observed by the Kepler telescope (e.g. small non-periodic dips in brightness of inconsistent intensity occurs frequently, up to 22% down).

NGC 6866

Map of NGC 6866, Roberto Mura (KIC 8462852 is nearby)

Amongst the proposed scenarios, these fluctuations could notably be explained by a Dyson swarm which is a hypothetical structure that an advanced civilization might build around a star to intercept some of the star’s light for its energy needs (Type II civilization on the Kardashev scale).

That is why KIC 8462852 raises some hopes in finding an extraterrestrial civilization.

Is it serious to talk of extraterrestrial civilization?

As you may know, water and organic compounds are abundant in the universe. It is realistic to think that the life emerges where conditions for the emergence of life are found. Lee Smolin, a physicist and quantum gravity scholar even proposed a Cosmological natural selection theory (CNS), also known as fecund universes which I personally find interesting.

The hypothesis is cosmological natural selection, and its power, beauty and logic provide what may be the best scientific explanation for the existence of complexity and life in the universe.

 

CNS with intelligence (CNS-I) are models which attempt to bring intelligence and information theory into the CNS framework. They propose that accumulated end-of-universe, or more precisely, end-of-black-hole evolutionary intelligence may somehow aid in universe/black hole replication and selection within the multiverse. These models assume that any universe where emergent intelligence was able to play a less-than-random role in replication or selection might become replicatively favored, more resilient, or perhaps dominant in some multiversal environment, over lineages where emergent intrauniversal intelligence does not increasingly factor into replication, as in Smolin’s original CNS model. – Cosmological Natural Selection, evodevouniverse.com

Some people go further and defend the idea of an intrinsic support for intelligence emergence through a strong anthropic principle. Giulio Tononi of the University of Wisconsin–Madison proposed the Integrated information theory (IIT) which is a framework intended to understand and explain the nature of consciousness. According to this theory, even subatomic particles possesses subjective experience. I admit it is a strong hypothesis that can sounds weird to you.

Arecibo Observatory

More interestingly, several scientists think that the dominant life form in the Cosmos is probably superintelligent robots which is not a stupid idea. Actually the most recent advances in NBIC tend to suggest that we are near the singularity, the moment where artificial intelligence overtakes human thinking (e.g. System that replaces human intuition with algorithms outperforms human teams and Kurzweil predicts that by 2045 computers will be a billion times more powerful than all of the human brains on Earth). I personally believe in the powerful combination of AI, information theory and semantic Web.

Considering all I have mentioned, and the tendency to break down barriers between scientific disciplines and even between metaphysics and science, I think that we will see both the singularity and the discovery of simple forms of life on potential candidates in our solar system (Enceladus and Mars for the best candidates… Titan or even Pluto for a radically different biology, maybe based on methane and tholins). Since we may soon reach the technological singularity, and considering both the number of potential habitable worlds in the universe and the age of some solar systems, the eventuality of advanced alien lifeforms should not be discarded so easily.

But, (yes, there is still a but), the so-called Fermi paradox that is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for such civilizations. Amongst all the hypothetical explanations, several allow the eventuality of abundance of alien life which would be really difficult to identify.

Detection of advanced civilization and the Wow! signal

One of the well-known techniques to identify an “advanced” civilization is to monitor electromagnetic radiation for signs of transmissions from civilizations on other worlds. It is hypothesized that we are able to discover a civilization through their radio signals.

Wow! signal

To my opinion, such a civilization would emit in a detectable manner on rare occasions. That is precisely the point. The Wow! signal “was a strong narrowband radio signal detected by Jerry R. Ehman on August 15, 1977, while he was working on a SETI project at the Big Ear radio telescope of The Ohio State University”. The best candidate of extraterrestrial radio emission that hasn’t been detected again.

A link between the Wow! signal and KIC 8462852?

Disclaimer: The following hypothesis needs further investigations but is still interesting to be shared with you.

The Wow! signal appears to have come from the northwest of the globular cluster of M55 in the constellation Sagittarius, near the Chi Sagittarii star group.

How the Wow! signal and KIC 8462852 could possibly be related? Let me explain it.

Almost everyone think that the universe is infinite and flat. In the Poincaré Dodecahedral Space (PDS) model, the universe is a dodecahedron (a spherical 3-manifold). Such a topology can be detected.

An international team of cosmologists, led by a researcher from Paris Observatory, has improved the theoretical pertinence of the Poincaré Dodecahedral Space (PDS) topology to explain some observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). In parallel, another international team has analyzed with new techniques the last data obtained by the WMAP satellite and found a topological signal characteristic of the PDS geometry.

– The Poincaré Dodecahedral Space model gains support to explain the shape of space, Observatoire de Paris

The correlated circles of universe from WMap data suggests that the universe is a dodecahedron. It means that several directions in the space would actually be the same.

PDS

Visualization of the matched circles solution reported in Roukema et al. 2004

In an ideal world, KIC 8462852 and the Wow! signal would be located in the same area. Which could be the case in a universe with a PDS topology.

Guess what?

If you superimpose the WMap correlated circles (“they would represent the same physical points but observed from different directions due to topological lensing”) onto a sky map then you will see that the Wow! signal and KIC 8462852 are possibly in the same direction in a PDS topology !

As far as I know, both maps were made according to the galactic coordinate system that make the superimposition a valid one. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Superimposition

Tadaa! The maps superimposition.

As you may see, the Wow! signal & KIC 8462852 are located in different directions… but in a PDS topology these directions are actually the same. Indeed, the Sagittarius area where the Wow! signal has originated and the Cygnus area where KIC 8462852 is located are in two correlated areas (i.e. the same physical point in a dodecahedral universe).

I must confess, there is uncertainty in the exact location (still large area considered) and the PDS theory is still not fully proven but this raises new hopes for finding extraterrestrial life!

PS:

The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanation of complex facts. We are apt to fall into the error of thinking that the facts are simple because simplicity is the goal of our quest. The guiding motto in the life of every natural philosopher should be “Seek simplicity and distrust it.” – Alfred North Whitehead




Sparkling water

Hi everyone!

This is the starting point of a new journey…

I start today a new blog intended to share with you some interesting thoughts on trending tech topics, philosophy and science. While having in mind considerations on humanity the posts should have the potentiality to act as a catalyst for your ideas and sparkle your imagination.

I hope that sounds interesting and I will try not to disappoint you.