Quote for Today: Leonard Mlodinow

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Perception requires imagination because the data people encounter in their lives are never complete and always equivocal. For example, most people consider that the greatest evidence of an event one can obtain is to see it with their own eyes, and in a court of law little is held in more esteem than eyewitness testimony. Yet if you asked to display for a court a video of the same quality as the unprocessed data captured on the retina of a human eye, the judge might wonder what you were trying to put over. For one thing, the view will have a blind spot where the optic nerve attaches to the retina. Moreover, the only part of our field of vision with good resolution is a narrow area of about 1 degree of visual angle around the retina’s center, an area the width of our thumb as it looks when held at arm’s length. Outside that region, resolution drops off sharply. To compensate, we constantly move our eyes to bring the sharper region to bear on different portions of the scene we wish to observe. And so the pattern of raw data sent to the brain is a shaky, badly pixelated picture with a hole in it. Fortunately the brain processes the data, combining input from both eyes, filling in gaps on the assumption that the visual properties of neighboring locations are similar and interpolating. The result – at least until age, injury, disease, or an excess of mai tais takes its toll – is a happy human being suffering from the compelling illusion that his or her vision is sharp and clear.

We also use our imagination and take shortcuts to fill gaps in patterns of nonvisual data. As with visual input, we draw conclusions and make judgments based on uncertain and incomplete information, and we conclude, when we are done analyzing the patterns, that out “picture” is clear and accurate. But is it?
Leonard Mlodinow, The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives

Public Domain Image via Pixabay.com

 

Quote for Today: Katja Michael

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I’ve read somewhere in a book when something happens that is unbearable to you, sometimes, time stops. Like your inner clock just stops working, even if the world keeps spinning you will stand still for the rest of your life.
― Katja Michael, She Came at Dawn

Public Domain Image: Indonesian boy traumatized by tsunami

Quote for Today: Howard Spring

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If you have never come up against Nothing you have no idea how it can scare you out of your wits. When I was a child I used to be afraid of Something in the dark. I know now that the most fearful thing about the dark is that we may find Nothing in it.
Howard Spring, The Mammoth Book of Modern Ghost Stories

Public Domain Image: Night Sky via Pixabay

Quote for Today: Mark X.

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That black, maddening firmament; that vast cosmic ocean, endlessly deep in every direction, both Heaven and Pandemonium at once; mystical Zodiac, speckled flesh of Tiamat; all that is chaos, infinite and eternal. And yet, it’s somehow the bringing to order of this chaos which perhaps has always disturbed me most. The constellations, in their way, almost bring into sharper focus the immensity and insanity of it all – monsters and giants brought to life in all their gigantic monstrosity; Orion and Hercules striding across the sky, limbs reaching for lightyears, only to be dwarfed by the likes of Draco, Pegasus, or Ursa Major. Then bigger still – Cetus, Eridanus, Ophiuchus, and Hydra, spanning nearly the whole of a hemisphere, sunk below the equator in that weird underworld of obscure southern formations. You try to take them in – the neck cranes, the eyes roll, and the mind boggles until this debilitating sense of inverted vertigo overcomes you…”
―Mark X., Citations: A Brief Anthologyedited by Jasper Siegel Seneschal

Public Domain Image via Pixabay

Quote for Today: Ray Bradbury

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“I got a statistic for you right now. Grab your pencil, Doug. There are five billion trees in the world. I looked it up. Under every tree is a shadow, right? So, then, what makes night? I’ll tell you: shadows crawling out from under five billion trees! Think of it! Shadows running around in the air, muddying the waters you might say. If only we could figure a way to keep those darn five billion shadows under those trees, we could stay up half the night, Doug, because there’d be no night!”

― Ray BradburyDandelion Wine

Public Domain Image via Pixabay

Quote for Today: Hugh Laurie

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People talk about nightfall, or night falling, or dusk falling, and it’s never seemed right to me. Perhaps they once meant befalling. As in night befalls. As in night happens. Perhaps they, whoever they were, thought of a falling sun. That might be it, except that that ought to give us dayfall. Day fell on Rupert the Bear. And we know, if we’ve ever read a book, that day doesn’t fall or rise. It breaks. In books, day breaks, and night falls.

In life, night rises from the ground. The day hangs on for as long as it can, bright and eager, absolutely and positively the last guest to leave the party, while the ground darkens, oozing night around your ankles, swallowing for ever that dropped contact lens, making you miss that low catch in the gully on the last ball of the last over.
Hugh Laurie, The Gun Seller

Image: Night Rises,  Great Sand Dunes National Park © Katherine McDaniel