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I Have Taken All Knowledge …

January 12, 2007

Here’s something that might tell you more about me than I’d really like you to know.

I’m catching up on Pyramid magazine, a gaming magazine I read weekly (this is not a post about gaming, stay with me non-gamers). The editor-in-chief has a regular column in which he talks about this and than. This week he discussed the vagaries of data; why we don’t have enough / have too much in modern day society. IE: The InterTubes knows a lot about certain things (Government projects, Star Wars, Porn) and very little about other things (birth records, healthy relationships).

He offhandedly made a point about how easy it is to lose data, and I literally had to stand up and walk around the apartment for a few minutes making cringing faces. This just hurts:

There are untold swaths of information that we just don’t have a clue about. Either the information doesn’t exist in an easily searchable format, doesn’t exist in an aggregate form (such as a compilation of all birth certificates in a town) or doesn’t exist, period. For example, have you heard of Albert Einstein, one of the most famous and influential intellectuals ever? Well, we’ll never know what his last words were, because he said them in German and the only other person in the room — a nurse — didn’t understand that language. 

Ugh. Just the thought … the THOUGHT … that no one will never know the last thing Albert Einstein said makes me a little jumpy. I’m okay with me, personally, not knowing everything there is to know. Somehow it’s enough to know that someone knows ‘it’, whatever it is. But no one, ever, will ever know what the last mortal words one of our greatest scientists uttered were.

Damn and blast.

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5 comments

  1. I like to think that Tom Robbins’ Jitterbug Perfume got it right when he speculated that Einstein’s last words were “Erleichda,” which was an ancient Eastern European word that basically meant “lighten up.”

    I know it’s fiction, but there’s something wonderful about the thought that a great mind just told everyone to relax and lighten up.


  2. I think his last words were along the line of, “Fantastic. Here I am making my last utterance on this mortal coil, and my only audience is some lousy nurse that doesn’t even speak German. Wait a minute, I can speak English! Let me just switch over here and… [urk!]”


  3. Data gives us the illusion that we have control over our existance. If we can nail it down and measure it, we can fool ourselves into thinking we can control it. When something gets lost, it challenges our mortality. It’s a very Western concept – I really like the idea of impermanence Zen Buddhism teaches.

    ‘Course, I also really like my Wii and my plasma. So, I think I’m probably missing the point. :)


  4. His last words were: “Either that cosmological constant goes, or I do.”


  5. maybe my email is in your spicedham filter?
    I hope you read comments sometimes.
    Is randomdialougue.net mail dead, or I have to login somewhere and revive it?

    feel free to delete this not-comment



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