to Kyoto

I had a very nice flight to Osaka, with a power connection to keep working on the talk, and on the Public Lecture in Australia as well. My only regret is that the window glass was not clean enough to take proper pictures… (Because we were flying above the Arctic Circle, passing places like Arkhangelsk!, we got no dark at all. We were always staying clear from the night zone on the map… I may have flown the same route when I went to Shanghai last year, but due to leaving at night then, I do not remember anything like this.) During breaks, I thoroughly read the weekend edition of Le Monde, which has a special central leaflet coverage of Turing’s 100th anniversary. (When I left home, my son was playing with the special applet created for the occasion on the welcome page of Google. Without knowing who Turing was, what an ignoramus!) The paper did not bring me much information about Turing, but covered the main keywords of his too short carreer, from Turing’s machine to Turing’s apple. It also showed a recent implementation of this machine by students at Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, made with 20,000 Lego pieces. Maybe not that helpful to make a general audience understand what a Turing machine is and why the concept is more important than the machine. (Thankfully there was no connection made with the recent flury of Snowhite’s apples in the appaling movie made this year on this most boring of themes…)

There was also an interesting page on the status of philosophy in France: while compulsory in high school, students do not see the point in this subject (ask my son!, he got interested in defending paradoxical perspectives for maybe three weeks and then returned to his lethargy, with a brief awakening when the professor mentioned Hobbes…) and university philosophy departments are threatened of closure. In the same time, general public philosophy magazines prosper and “people” philosophers like Bernard-Henry Levy and Michel Onfray are read (or at least bought!) by hundreds of thousands of people… There is no clear answer to this paradox! I loved philosophy (even more than maths!) when I was in high school and I would have liked so much to take the math-philosophy major after high school, had it existed. But it did not. And I do not see how to make philosophy (as the art of debating, rather than a purely historical knowledge about past philosophers) more palatable to our students or even to my kids…

One Response to “to Kyoto”

  1. Interesting: Tor just posted an entry about a Lego Turing machine…except that it was in the Netherlands this time, made by the CWI,

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