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Friday, August 5, 2022

The Philosophy Of Crimes Without Memory, by Michael Paul Kozlowsky, CrimeReads

Imagine being arrested for killing someone. Imagine that there are witnesses to the crime, that there is evidence, a trail and trial. The extensive details are presented before a jury of your peers and you are found guilty without a shadow of a doubt. And now imagine that you cannot remember any of it. Not the murder, not what led to it, not even who the victim was. Imagine being put in prison for years, decades, waiting to be executed, and you sit there day in and day out, alone, scared, confused, trying to figure out what exactly you did and why. You feel like you were framed. It’s a slow torture. You beat your head against the wall trying to remember, trying to put the pieces together. But it’s like it happened to a different person. It’s not you. You know you’re being punished but you want to scream you’re innocent even though you’re not. You miss your friends, your family, your old life. You feel your sanity slowly slipping away. Death awaits.

Is this justice? Undoubtedly. A crime was committed and the family of the deceased deserves to see such repercussions—this is one of the goals of prison, along with being a deterrent and to provide rehabilitation. But how do you rehabilitate a person who believes they did nothing wrong? And what purpose does execution serve when the murderer doesn’t even remember doing it?

Can We Build A Quantum Clock That Is Entirely Quantum?, by Nicole Yunger Halpern, New Scientist

Take quantum computers. A basic part of performing any computation is executing certain tasks at certain times. External classical control systems keep time for today’s quantum computers, but a control system that could operate entirely within the quantum realm would open up new possibilities. Giving our imaginations free rein, we might envision tiny quantum drones that can tinker with or deliver molecules. Such autonomous machines would have to carry their own clocks and those clocks would have to be quantum too to prevent the machines from losing their quantum character. For instance, quantum technologies benefit from entanglement, strong correlations that sync quantum particles. The more a quantum drone interacted with ordinary devices, the more its entanglement could dissipate.

The question is, can we build such a quantum clock that would do the job?

The Problem With Wine Bottles, by Eric Asimov, New York Times

Glass bottles have historically been the perfect containers for wine. They are inert and handily sealed, so wine can age and evolve for years free of influence. They are easy to transport and store. A 750-milliliter bottle is the perfect size for two people.

Yet glass bottles have never been more of a problem than they are today, at a time of global trade disruptions and climate crisis.

For The Art Of Love And The Love Of Art, by Brandon Taylor, New York Times

Alejandro Zambra’s “Bonsai” (translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell) begins with an ending: “In the end she dies and he is alone, although really he had been alone for some years before her death.” What follows is a truly sublime novella as we watch Julio (the aforementioned “he”) and Emilia (the aforementioned “her”) encounter each other, fall in love, then fall out of touch, until Julio discovers in the novella’s last, beautiful pages that Emilia is dead.

Heard The One About The Hole That Swallowed Part Of Chicago?, by Dan Chaon, New York Times

“Mount Chicago” is one of those sweeping, polyphonic, absurdist epic novels like they used to make — think, for example, of “A Confederacy of Dunces” or “The Bonfire of the Vanities” — though to me Levin most closely resembles his fellow Chicagoan Stanley Elkin. Like Elkin, he has a boisterous yet mournful sensibility, nihilism backed with vaudeville shtick; like Elkin, he has a gift for the riff and the digression, the labyrinthine shaggy-dog joke that roves and ranges until you’ve almost forgotten the setup.

Every Version Of You By Grace Chan Review – Would You Want To Live In The Metaverse?, by Imogen Dewey, The Guardian

Confronting what might one day be left on a ruined, “offline” Earth is a powerful way to refocus the lens on the world we are presently creating, and the politics informing what we build – whether it’s from bricks or code.

A Beloved City Of Music And Magic: The Ballad Of Perilous Graves By Alex Jennings, by Tobias Carroll,

But in the same way a great piece of music leads you to a place you didn’t know you needed to go, this novel arrives at its destination with empathy and verve.

The Big Bang Created The Universe. What Created The Big Bang?, by Daniel Stone, Washington Post

In the past century, astrophysicists have coalesced around the notion that our universe resulted from a big bang, when our prenatal universe was so small, hot and compressed that matter and time effectively did not exist. The evidence of this has mostly come from calculating several known quantities of universal expansion, chiefly its speed and contents, and running the tape in reverse to arrive at the universe’s first minuscule fraction of a second.

In her book, “Before the Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe and What Lies Beyond,” quantum cosmologist Laura Mersini-Houghton focuses on the prequel to this galactic episode, pondering what happened beforehand that put our universe in the position to be banged open. There is no physical evidence for this era, so it’s a little like investigating a murder before the murder’s taken place. But this quandary is still possible to explore, at least in the field of theoretical physics.