Can philosophy be dangerous?

Philosophy at its most benign is the search for clarity (although many would contest that assertion, I’m sure). Philosophy at its most proactive is a method of attempting to convince readers that a certain walk of life is right or wrong (and again, I concede, this is quite debatable). However can philosophy ever be dangerous? Certainly political philosophies, whether from the right or left, can be dangerous as anyone who has lived under an oppressive political regime would be able to testify.

But what of other forms of philosophy, such as moral philosophy? Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844 – 1900), love him or loath him (I for one am not a huge fan), is often cited as one of the great modern philosophers, credited with such concepts as the will to power, the death of god, master-slave morality and his often cited and more often misinterpreted concept of the Übermensch. Along with his title as one of the great modern philosophers I believe he can be gifted the title of one of the Continue reading “Can philosophy be dangerous?”

Decoding Plato

Bust of Plato
“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.”

Philosopher and historian of science, Dr. Jay Kennedy – currently a visiting academic in Manchester – has recently put forward the provocative thesis that Plato’s texts are based around a secret cipher; a kind of Platonic Bible Code. Each book of Plato’s major texts, he contends, is structured in such a way as to represent relative musical harmonies according to the ancient Greek scales.

The twelve note musical scale is the foundation of Western music, and is rooted in the mathematical relationships between different soundwave frequencies, their inter-relation, and the effect they have upon the listener.   Music theory is based upon the observation that Continue reading “Decoding Plato”

‘Best Worst Movie’: So Bad it’s Good?

“Best Worst Movie” is a new documentary about one of the worst movies ever made: Troll 2. This particular 1990 movie has achieved cult status due in large part to the qualities that cause it to rate as one of the worst films ever produced. The movie review website Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 0% freshness rating (a rating that indicates terrible reviews across the board).

In a recent New York Times article documentary director Michael Paul Stephenson, who was 10 years old when he starred in Troll 2, claims that the cult following of the movie shows that despite the bad reviews the film is valued. Stephenson acknowledges that as a movie it was a complete failure “The acting – we were horrible. The directing, the writing, special effects. But it did not fail to leave an impression.” He also acknowledges that the movie doesn’t live up to its narrative or aesthetic goals. Nevertheless “Twenty years later you have hundreds of kids coming to a theatre to have a shared communal experience. How many films, really, would kill for something like that?”

The director of Troll 2, Claudio Fragasso has a different view of the quality of the movie. Fragasso claims that “In Italy you need to die before people can really admit that your movie was good. In America people can change their mind and then appreciate the movie.”

So how do we make sense of these differing interpretations of the movie? Continue reading “‘Best Worst Movie’: So Bad it’s Good?”

Quantum Effects are Getting Observably Bigger

Thought you were big enough to escape quantum superposition?  A recent demonstration by physicist Andrew Cleland and his colleagues at UC Santa Barbara suggests otherwise.  Tiny particles have always been subject to quantum effects, but many physicists were skeptical those effects could be reproduced in larger objects.  In an amazing leap, Cleland and his team succeeded in demonstrating quantum effects in an object with trillions of atoms, beating the previous record (fewer than 100 atoms) by a factor of over a billion!

Quantum mechanical experiments have long revealed that a particle can exist in a state of superposition, a state that seems to allow it to be in two contradictory states at once.  It seems as if a particle can pass simultaneously through two slits, or be in a ground state and an excited state at once, or even take two wildly different paths through an experiment.  There are many different explanations for such odd behavior (see below) but the important thing is that until now, these effects were unimaginably small.

According to a recent article in Nature, Cleland’s experiment Continue reading “Quantum Effects are Getting Observably Bigger”