Saturday, January 05, 2013

"No thought can perish"

There is (or was), supposedly, a Navajo Wind Chant: "Remember what you have seen, because everything forgotten returns to the circling winds." To this compare:
To Charles Babbage, all nature suddenly resembled a vast calculating engine, a grand vision of is own deterministic machine: "In turning our views from these simple consequences of the juxtaposition of a few wheels, it is impossible not to perceive the parallel reasoning, as applied to the mighty and farm more complex phenomena of nature." each atom, once disturbed, must communicate its motion to others, and they in turn influence waves of air, and no impulse is ever entirely lost. The track of every canoe remains somewhere in the oceans. Babbage, whose railroad pen recorder traced on a roll of paper of the history of a journey, saw information, formerly evanescent, as a series of physical impressions that were, or could be preserved. The phonograph, impressing sound into foil or wax, had yet to be invented, but Babbage could view the atmosphere as an engine of motion with meaning: "every atom impressed with good and with ill.. in ten thousand ways with all that is worthless and base." every word ever said, whether heard by a hundred listeners or none, the complete record of human utterance being encrypted by the laws of motion and capable, in theory, of being reconverted -- given enough computing power.
-- from After The Flood (The Great Album of Babel), Chapter 14 of The Information by Peter Gleick)