Tag: Marcus du Sautoy

The core relationship; with ourself.

A reposting of an item from this place some three years ago.

On Sunday, in recognition of Valentine’s Day, I posted a selection of articles under the post title of Loving Relationships.

Then yesterday my day that should have been quiet and uneventful turned out to be anything other than that! So it was well after 3pm that I sat down in front of my PC wondering what to publish today. I thought that as there had been a steady flow of new readers signing up to follow this place (and a huge thank you – it really does mean a lot to me) I might see what I published three years ago.

To my surprise it was a post about the most important relationship of all; the one with ourself.

So please do enjoy what was published on February 15th, 2012.

ooOOoo

Do you or I really know who we are?

The strangeness of this species Homo sapiens.

My writings of the previous three days have explored the nature of man. The many ways that we struggle to understand so many issues in our lives. In particular the biggest issue of them all since we abandoned the life of the hunter-gatherer. Our very survival.

It would be so easy to beat oneself up. To stare in the mirror and despair at all the unfinished ideas that one has about being ‘sustainable’ shortly before jumping on one’s shiny new tractor, yet another symbol of our industrial civilisation. The hypocrisy, the double standards!

New tractor being delivered last December.
New tractor delivered last December.

But the mistake in any attempt at self-awareness is the assumption that you know who you are! Therein lays the problem.!

Marcus Peter Francis du Sautoy is a very smart person. This is how WikiPedia describes him.

sautoy
Prof. Marcus Sautoy

Marcus Peter Francis du Sautoy, OBE (born in London, 26 August 1965)[3] is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. Formerly a Fellow of All Souls College, and Wadham College, he is now a Fellow of New College. He is President of the Mathematical Association.

Prof. Sautoy came to the realisation that the thoughts that make us feel as though we know ourselves are easy to experience. But where do those thoughts come from? Marcus Sautoy acknowledged that they are notoriously difficult to explain.

So, in order to find out where they come from Marcus subjects himself to a series of probing experiments. With the help of a hammer-wielding scientist, Jennifer Aniston and a general anaesthetic, Professor Marcus du Sautoy goes in search of answers to one of science’s greatest mysteries: how do we know who we are?

He learns at what age our self-awareness emerges and whether other species share this trait.

Next, he has his mind scrambled by a cutting-edge experiment in anaesthesia. Having survived that ordeal, Marcus is given an out-of-body experience in a bid to locate his true self. And in Hollywood, he learns how celebrities are helping scientists understand the microscopic activities of our brain.

Finally, he takes part in a mind-reading experiment that both helps explain and radically alters his understanding of who he is.

All of this is covered in a fabulously interesting episode from Horizon, the excellent and long-running BBC TV science and philosophy series. Thankfully, it made its way onto YouTube.

(NB: In the intervening period, that BBC Horizon programme has been removed from YouTube for copyright reasons. That’s a great shame. However, the following documentary from the good Professor will, I am sure, be equally fascinating.)

The Secret Rules of Modern Living Algorithms

Published on Oct 30, 2015

Without us noticing, modern life has been taken over. Algorithms run everything from search engines on the internet to satnavs and credit card data security – they even help us travel the world, find love and save lives.
Mathematician Professor Marcus du Sautoy demystifies the hidden world of algorithms. By showing us some of the algorithms most essential to our lives, he reveals where these 2,000-year-old problem solvers came from, how they work, what they have achieved and how they are now so advanced they can even programme themselves.

As Confucius reportedly wrote: Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.

ooOOoo

Do you or I really know who we are?

The strangeness of this species Homo sapiens.

My writings of the previous three days have explored the nature of man.  The many ways that we struggle to understand so many issues in our lives. In particular the biggest issue of them all since we abandoned the life of the hunter-gatherer.  Our very survival.

It would be so easy to beat oneself up.  To stare in the mirror and despair at all the unfinished ideas that one has about being ‘sustainable’ shortly before jumping on one’s shiny new tractor, yet another symbol of our industrial civilisation.  The hypocrisy, the double standards!

New tractor being delivered last December.
New tractor delivered last December.

But the mistake in any attempt at self-awareness is the assumption that you know who you are!  Therein lays the problem.!

Marcus Peter Francis du Sautoy is a very smart person.  This is how WikiPedia describes him.

sautoy
Prof. Marcus Sautoy

Marcus Peter Francis du SautoyOBE (born in London, 26 August 1965)[3] is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. Formerly a Fellow of All Souls College, and Wadham College, he is now a Fellow of New College. He is President of the Mathematical Association.

Prof. Sautoy came to the realisation that the thoughts that make us feel as though we know ourselves are easy to experience.  But where do those thoughts come from? Marcus Sautoy acknowledged that they are notoriously difficult to explain.

So, in order to find out where they come from Marcus subjects himself to a series of probing experiments.  With the help of a hammer-wielding scientist, Jennifer Aniston and a general anaesthetic, Professor Marcus du Sautoy goes in search of answers to one of science’s greatest mysteries: how do we know who we are? ,

He learns at what age our self-awareness emerges and whether other species share this trait.

Next, he has his mind scrambled by a cutting-edge experiment in anaesthesia. Having survived that ordeal, Marcus is given an out-of-body experience in a bid to locate his true self. And in Hollywood, he learns how celebrities are helping scientists understand the microscopic activities of our brain.

Finally, he takes part in a mind-reading experiment that both helps explain and radically alters his understanding of who he is.

All of this is covered in a fabulously interesting episode from Horizon, the excellent and long-running  BBC TV science and philosophy series.  Thankfully, it made its way onto YouTube.

It is just under an hour long but I promise you it will capture you from the very first moment.

Enjoy.  Even if you end up realising, as I did, what a strange person you are!

As Confucius reportedly wrote: Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.