From the Icosahedron to E8 - Here is a little article I’m writing for the Newsletter of the London Mathematical Society. The regular icosahedron is connected to many ‘exceptional objec...
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Ecology studies the relationship between living organisms and the environment in which they develop. This necessarily entails reflection and debate about the conditions required for the life and survival of society, and the honesty needed to question certain models of development, production and consumption. It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected....We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.
Driving into Iraq just after the 2003 invasion felt like driving into the future. We convoyed all day, all night, past Army checkpoints and burned-out tanks, till in the blue dawn Baghdad rose from the desert like a vision of hell: Flames licked the bruised sky from the tops of refinery towers, cyclopean monuments bulged and leaned against the horizon, broken overpasses swooped and fell over ruined suburbs, bombed factories, and narrow ancient streets. With “shock and awe,” our military had unleashed the end of the world...In this hellish environment, Scranton learned to face the apparent inevitability of death.
I found my way forward through an 18th-century Samurai manual, Yamamoto Tsunetomo’s “Hagakure,” which commanded: “Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily.” Instead of fearing my end, I owned it.In fact he made it back to the US. But something continued to gnaw at him. Growthist civilization was bringing about its own demise.
Many thinkers have argued that studying philosophy is learning how to die. If that’s true, then we have entered humanity’s most philosophical age — for this is precisely the problem of the Anthropocene.The essay is an impassioned plea to heed the challenge of climate change at an existential, not merely a technical, level. Read it here.
So what is Points of Inflection about, anyhow? It started out with my involvement in the GreenFaith program. I wanted to think in a num...