Chairs into tables…

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Turning a chair into a table, or vice versa, might sound like somewhat of a magic trick. In this case, zero magic is involved, just plenty of complex geometry and machine learning.

Called LOGAN, the deep neural network, i.e., a machine of sorts, can learn to transform the shapes of two different objects, for example, a chair and a table, in a natural way, without seeing any paired transforms between the shapes. All the machine had seen was a bunch of tables and a bunch of chairs, and it could automatically translate shapes between the two unpaired domains. LOGAN can also automatically perform both content and style transfers between two different types of shapes without any changes to its network architecture. (1)

Chair… Table… Human… Cosmos…

Look at any shape.

Imagine any shape.

There are ways to go from one to the other. But there is nothing natural about it. All changes are abrupt. Raw. Untamed. Whenever something becomes something else, the first one dies. Completely and utterly. There is no gradual change. No “natural” way of dying. No “natural” way of changing. This is the secret we have chosen to ignore. And we keep on believing in the ability to change. This is the essence of our civilization. The cornerstone of our existence. That we can “change”. That things “change”.

Imagine a cosmos where everything is stable.

A perfect cosmos.

We hate this cosmos. For it nullifies existence.

Free beings we are.

And if we choose, we can choose to be!

And die…

So have we done.

So shall it be…

Hunger…

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Researchers discovers how hunger might make food tastier: Using optogenetic and chemogenetic techniques, researchers have identified brain circuits underlying hunger-induced changes in the preferences for sweet and aversive tastes in mice. These circuits involved Agouti-related peptide-expressing neurons, which projected to glutamate neurons in the lateral hypothalamus. From there, glutamate neurons projecting to the lateral septum increased sweetness preferences, and glutamate neurons projecting to the lateral habenula decreased sensitivity to aversive tastes. (1)

Humans are always hungry for life…

We are always hungry for knowledge.

But be careful.

Question whatever you wish.

For one day you might get it.

And you will never question whether there was anything to get in the first place…

Self-assembling

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Chemists have created a new material that self-assembles into 2D networks in a predictable and reproducible manner. They have successfully synthesized a complex material by design — paving the way for its suite of new properties to be applied in many fields. (1)

Self-assembling materials…

Self-assembling continents…

Self-assembling planets…

Self-assembling stars…

Look everything from above and you will see. That what you see is nothing but an illusion. Not because it does not exist. But because what you believe you did NOT see*, actually existed everywhere in the first place. Inside a self-assembling cosmos…

* Check for example the case of humans believing there is no water on the Moon (now we have started discovering it everywhere), that there are no other planets like Earth (now we have started discovering them everywhere), that life is rare in the universe (now we have started discovering indications for it everywhere) et cetera.

Hard to exist?

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Astronomers have discovered the most massive neutron star to date, a rapidly spinning pulsar approximately 4,600 light-years from Earth. This record-breaking object is teetering on the edge of existence, approaching the theoretical maximum mass possible for a neutron star. (1)

Should it be there?

According to what we knew, perhaps no.

But then again, we know more now.

Day by day, the possibilities for its existence rise.

Year by year, the probability for the existence of anything increases.

At the end, we will know an infinite number of things.

At the end, we will be able to believe everything.

And at that moment, we will realize…

That we shouldn’t believe anything in the first place…

Watch the stars.

You know…

The only reason they are there.

Is because the sky is dark…

Santa Claus exists. And tooth fairies. And mermaids. Oh, and so do you…

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Small children believe in Santa Claus. They are thrilled when the presents arrive and even try to find proof that he exists by placing cookies for the saint to eat along with a glass of milk…

But we are grown ups. We know that he doesn’t exist.

And we all struggle and question ourselves. Should we let them be? Should we perpetuate the lie or should we inform our children that he is just a fantasy, along with fairies and unicorns?

Such a wrong dilemma.

Rational people tied up into the chains that they created.

Could we be more wrong?

I am not going to get into the ‘Saint Nicolas was a real person’ line of thinking. Indeed Saint Nicolas was a real person and he indeed gave gifts to the poor. One could simply argue (and he would not be far away from the truth) that it is the spirit of Saint Nicolas – a very real person that did exist – that still endures and makes all those presents be. Every parent follows his example when dressing up like Santa Claus (a name Saint Nicolas came be known by because of his Dutch nickname, Sintar Klaas – see here).

I could also go into more extreme arguments, like the quantum superposition argument. One can read here an interesting article on how Santa Claus exists and is in fact a macroscopic quantum phenomenon, with its wavefunction collapsing when into ‘dad’ when Santa Claus is observed. It is quite amusing to see how our definition of reality and the limited knowledge we have about it can give birth to multiple ideas that question the most common of our beliefs. Do not take this article as an amusement article only. Our knowledge for reality IS limited. Our senses and NOT reliable. We know NOTHING about being or existence per se. As Oscar Wilde once said, the most serious things are said in jokes…

But there is a more fundamental line of thinking that can explain and justify the existence of Santa Claus. As Harmonia Philosophica has tried to explain for years and years, asking the simple questions is the way of true philosophers. And as many of you know, philosophers have been trying to find out answer to the most fundamental questions of humankind but with no success. Many might believe that this means they have failed. But that would be incorrect. For the purpose of true philosophers is not to lead to the truth, but to make it clear that we can know nothing about it. Because such thing as the ‘truth’ does not exist. (Non-thinking is the way towards the cosmos, try to read more in Harmonia Philosophica about it).

So let us re-examine our question.

“Does Santa Claus exist?”

Aristotle once said that any question contains its answer. So true. “Does Santa Claus exist?”. A phenomenally simple and innocent question that is loaded with so many beliefs and so much dogmatism. A question saying so many things about the people who ask it. It implies that we know about existence. It implies that we know who and what exists and what does not. It implies that non-existence is also… existent. Last but certainly not least, by asking about the existence of Santa Claus we clearly imply that he might not. We wouldn’t be asking for the existence of our self for example, would we?

“Does Santa exist?”

Let me ask another thing though.

What about you?

Do YOU exist?

Foolish question it seems. But not so foolish after careful consideration. How do I know you are there? Perhaps because of some undeniable proof? Should I take your word for it? Why should I believe you are a human and not a perfectly programmed robot? How could I know you are saying because of your own free will and not because your cells are programmed to do so? Could you convince me your are not a zombie? (The Zombie argument is a cool argument by the way for the existence or non-existence of consciousness)

Mermaids exist. They just hide beneath rocks when we look for them…

~ unknown kid

What is more, what IS existence? What does it mean to exist? Philosophers for thousands of years have not solved that problem so how could you even consider saying that you exist? What IS Being? The greatest philosophers of all times failed to give an answer. So how could you be so arrogant to claim that you “are” and others not? What IS reality? Who can claim that he or she has access to that magical thing called ‘reality’ without discarding thousands of years of philosophy trying and failing to find out what that thing is? Even for the phenomena we observe, the surface of the ocean we swim in, our senses and science can only explain a minor fraction of that world we capture with our senses; let alone things that lie beyond them. So what makes you so arrogant as to ask such a dramatic question?

The only argument you have for your existence is your feeling and knowledge that you do. Feelings and knowledge that you cannot transmit to others no matter how hard you try.

Guess what.

Santa Claus exists for children for exactly the same reasons!

This is not a shallow trick-argument to solve the problem. No. As already mentioned above, our total lack of knowledge regarding what existence and being are is totally true. Our total inability to know what ‘reality’ is also is something totally true. What we really KNOW are the things we have immediate experience of. Our existence. Our thoughts. Our consciousness. A peach we eat. A lonely summer night. The love of our parents that are here. Santa Claus bringing gifts which we sleep…

Something magical.

And because of that, truer that anything can ever be.

You see, magic in life is something we forgot. And yet, it still drives our destiny.

Love is magical. Our own life is magical. Santa is magical.

But we got carried away. And again we forgot the simple question we started with. “What about you?” we asked. Tell me my child, do you exist? How do you know? More importantly. How do I know? All my science, all my knowledge, all my philosophy cry out loud that I could never be certain for the existence of anyone else than me. And yet, I am certain for your existence. More than I am certain about my own!

You see…

It is not Santa Claus that is magic.

It was never a question of whether he existed.

It is all about you my child.

It was about you from the beginning.

You are magical!

Believing in good in a place full of evil. Loving and caring without expecting anything in return.

You DO exist!

Now go get your presents.

Santa was here while you were asleep…

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