Albert’s imagination and the significance of information

The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination (Albert Einstein) As you no doubt know, this year marks the hundredth anniversary of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, first presented by him in 1915 to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Even among physics enthusiasts, general relativity has a daunting reputation, largely because of its… Continue reading Albert’s imagination and the significance of information

The Fermi paradox and the information society

The Fermi paradox has long troubled people who wonder if there is life elsewhere in the universe. The paradox relies on two evident facts, both of which have become very much more evident since Enrico Fermi first posed the question which took his name in 1950: “where is everybody?”. The first fact is that it… Continue reading The Fermi paradox and the information society

The Sampo: the constructor in the Kalevala

While on a recent visit to the Information Studies department at Oulu University, I happened to read an interesting article by Jorma Leppänen in the Finnish Airlines magazine. This dealt with the Kalevala, the Finnish epic poem, and my eye was caught by his mention of the Sampo, of which I have to admit I… Continue reading The Sampo: the constructor in the Kalevala

Information about information

One of my long-standing interests, as shown by its frequent appearance on this blog, is the idea of information as a constituent of the physical world. I am, of course, particularly interested in the relations which this may have with the concept of recorded and communicable human information. A valuable new resource for discussing these… Continue reading Information about information

On becoming historical: time and the non-classical ion

As I have written in an earlier post, my undergraduate degree was in organic chemistry. For my dissertation, I elected to do an experimental study (the only time I had a serious relationship with the practical aspects of science) in support of a rather abstruse argument within theoretical organic chemistry in which my supervisor was… Continue reading On becoming historical: time and the non-classical ion

As long as we don’t pretend that it is science?

This is an adaption of an editorial to appear in Journal of Documentation, jointly written by myself and Lyn Robinson Ever since Rolf Landauer famously announced that “information is physical”, there has been an increasing tendency by scientists including David Deutsch, Seth Lloyd and Anton Zellinger to claim a place for information as a fundamental… Continue reading As long as we don’t pretend that it is science?

Dr Nicholson and his metabolic maps

Many years ago, in another life, while I was studying organic chemistry, my eyes often wandered to the colourful and complicated maps of biochemical pathways which often hung in lecture rooms and laboratories. I’m sorry to say that I paid them little attention, other than to reflect that I was lucky to have avoided the… Continue reading Dr Nicholson and his metabolic maps

Remembering Ludvik Finkelstein

Rather belated, this posting marks the death in August this year of Ludwik Finkelstein, formerly Dean of Engineering at City University London. Finkelstein was born in Lvov in Poland (now Lviv in the Ukraine) in 1929, and seemed destined for a career in his family's iron and steel business. Like so many from that part… Continue reading Remembering Ludvik Finkelstein

The case for Pluto

The makers and maintainers of classifications, thesauri and other tools for indexing and arranging human knowledge have to tread a delicate balance. On the one hand, they want to keep things stable as much as possible; users are annoyed if major changes are made too often, particularly if it means that hapless librarians have to… Continue reading The case for Pluto

Portrait of the Author as a Young Information Scientist

I try not to talk too much about myself in this blog, but make an exception here. This post gives a brief account of how I came into the library/information professions, as a contribution to the excellent Library Routes project. When I was young, I was fascinated by science, and science fiction, and imagined I… Continue reading Portrait of the Author as a Young Information Scientist