David Heinemeier Hansson was bored until the day he met Ruby, and then his life changed forever. No, this isn't a love story—not a conventional one anyway—it's a story of boy meets code. Hansson, the creator of web application framework Ruby on Rails, says that before when he was developing with PHP and Java, he was "always looking for something else."
In his Big Think interview, part of our Shadowy Nerds series, Hansson explained exactly what drew him to the Ruby programming language in the first place: "Ruby has just a deep emotional appeal of how beautiful you can write something." Good programming, like good writing, is concise, and with Ruby, you can express an operation in one line that would take up to 10 lines in Java. Even someone who doesn't understand the code can look at a line of Ruby and see that it is more elegant than Java, just like a non-native speaker knows French is prettier than German.
And for those of us for whom Ruby and Rails are just plain Greek, Hannson offered a helpful analogy to explain their relationship: Ruby is the basic language, whereas Rails is a genre or form that the language can take, like a thriller, he explained. "If you want to write a love story, then you probably use another framework or something else entirely. Ruby is great for both of those things, but Rails is really the tool that sits on top of Ruby that just makes Ruby great for web development." And in the process, he added, Rails lowers the amount of technical expertise necessary to create web applications.
Hannson also talked about the highly anticipated release of Rails 3, saying they're "incredibly close" to unveiling it. And he admitted to us that he feels "let down personally" by Apple's choice to restrict what programming languages can be used for smart phone apps. It was an "insecure move," which Hansson finds strange because Apple is "winning on their merits." It's another case of absolute power corrupting absolutely, just like with Microsoft in the 90s, even though now Microsoft is "irrelevant" to Hansson.
Research in plant neurobiology shows that plants have senses, intelligence and emotions.
- The field of plant neurobiology studies the complex behavior of plants.
- Plants were found to have 15-20 senses, including many like humans.
- Some argue that plants may have awareness and intelligence, while detractors persist.
Most people think human extinction would be bad. These people aren't philosophers.
- A new opinion piece in The New York Times argues that humanity is so horrible to other forms of life that our extinction wouldn't be all that bad, morally speaking.
- The author, Dr. Todd May, is a philosopher who is known for advising the writers of The Good Place.
- The idea of human extinction is a big one, with lots of disagreement on its moral value.
Since the idea of locality is dead, space itself may not be an aloof vacuum: Something welds things together, even at great distances.
- Realists believe that there is an exactly understandable way the world is — one that describes processes independent of our intervention. Anti-realists, however, believe realism is too ambitious — too hard. They believe we pragmatically describe our interactions with nature — not truths that are independent of us.
- In nature, properties of Particle B may depend on what we choose to measure or manipulate with Particle A, even at great distances.
- In quantum mechanics, there is no explanation for this. "It just comes out that way," says Smolin. Realists struggle with this because it would imply certain things can travel faster than light, which still seems improbable.