Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Monumental Proof Settles Geometric Langlands Conjecture

This is wonderful news and certainly informs the ongoing development of mathematics.  I am intrigued to grasp the impact of applying the concept of empirical infinity to all this.  some physical intuitions could pop out.

This will allow us to usefully think about wormholes and lead empirical work.

then it will likely be easy.

Monumental Proof Settles Geometric Langlands Conjecture

In work that has been 30 years in the making, mathematicians have proved a major part of a profound mathematical vision called the Langlands program.


Nan Cao for Quanta Magazine

ByErica Klarreich

July 19, 2024


Agroup of nine mathematicians has proved the geometric Langlands conjecture, a key component of one of the most sweeping paradigms in modern mathematics.

The proof represents the culmination of three decades of effort, said Peter Scholze, a prominent mathematician at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics who was not involved in the proof. “It’s wonderful to see it resolved.”

The Langlands program, originated by Robert Langlands in the 1960s, is a vast generalization of Fourier analysis, a far-reaching framework in which complex waves are expressed in terms of smoothly oscillating sine waves. The Langlands program holds sway in three separate areas of mathematics: number theory, geometry and something called function fields. These three settings are connected by a web of analogies commonly called mathematics’ Rosetta stone.

Now, a new set of papers has settled the Langlands conjecture in the geometric column of the Rosetta stone. “In none of the [other] settings has a result as comprehensive and as powerful been proved,” said David Ben-Zvi of the University of Texas, Austin.

“It is beautiful mathematics, the best of its kind,” said Alexander Beilinson, one of the main progenitors of the geometric version of the Langlands program.

The proof involves more than 800 pages spread over five papers. It was written by a team led by Dennis Gaitsgory (Scholze’s colleague at the Max Planck Institute) and Sam Raskin of Yale University.

Gaitsgory has dedicated the past 30 years to proving the geometric Langlands conjecture. Over the decades, he and his collaborators have developed a massive body of work on which the new proof rests. Vincent Lafforgue, of Grenoble Alps University, likened these advances to a “rising sea,” in the spirit of the preeminent 20th-century mathematician Alexander Grothendieck, who spoke of tackling hard problems by creating a gradually rising sea of ideas around them.


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Dennis Gaitsgory (left) and Sam Raskin led the nine-person team that proved the geometric Langlands conjecture.

From left: Natasha Bershadsky; Charlotte Krontiris


It will take mathematicians a while to digest the new work, but many have expressed confidence that the core ideas are correct. “The theory has a lot of internal consistencies, so it’s difficult to believe there could be a mistake,” Lafforgue said.

In the years leading up to the proof, the research team created not one but many routes into the heart of the problem, Ben-Zvi said. “The understanding that they’ve developed is so rich and so broad, they’ve encircled the problem from every direction,” he said. “It had no way to escape.”
A Grand Unified Theory

In 1967, Robert Langlands, then a 30-year-old professor at Princeton University, laid out his vision in a handwritten 17-page letter to André Weil, the originator of the Rosetta stone. Langlands wrote that in the number theory and function field columns of the Rosetta stone, it might be possible to create a generalization of Fourier analysis with startling scope and power.

In classical Fourier analysis, a procedure called the Fourier transform creates a correspondence between two different ways of thinking about the graph of a wave (such as a sound wave). On one side of the correspondence are the waves themselves. (We’ll call this the wave side.) These include both simple sine waves (which in acoustics are pure tones) and more complicated waves that are combinations of sine waves. On the other side of the correspondence is the spectrum of frequencies of the sine waves — that is, their pitches. (Mathematicians call this the spectral side.)

The Fourier transform goes back and forth between these two sides. In one direction, it allows you to break down a wave into a collection of frequencies; in the other, it allows you to reconstruct the wave from its constituent frequencies. The ability to move across this divide is central to a wide range of applications — without it, we wouldn’t have modern telecommunications, or signal processing, or magnetic resonance imaging, or numerous other essentials of modern life.

Langlands proposed that something similar occurs in the number theory and function field columns of the Rosetta stone, but with more complicated waves and frequencies.

Video: Rutgers University mathematician Alex Kontorovich takes us on a journey through the continents of mathematics to learn about the awe-inspiring symmetries at the heart of the Langlands program.

Emily Buder / Quanta Magazine; Adrian Vasquez de Velasco, Björn Öberg, Rui Braz, and Guan-Huei Wu for Quanta Magazine


In each of these columns separately, there is a wave side that consists of a collection of special functions analogous to repeating waves. The purest of these, which are called eigenfunctions (from the German for “characteristic”), play the role of sine waves. Each eigenfunction has a characteristic frequency. But whereas the frequency of a sine wave is a single number, the frequency of an eigenfunction is an infinite list of numbers.

There’s also a spectral side. This consists of a collection of objects from number theory that, Langlands argued, label the spectrum of frequencies of the eigenfunctions. A procedure akin to the Fourier transform, he proposed, connects the wave side and the spectral side. “That’s kind of a miraculous thing,” Ben-Zvi said. “It’s not something, a priori, we had any reason to expect.”

The waves and their frequency labels come from widely disparate realms of mathematics, so the correspondence between them — when it can be proved — often comes with bountiful rewards. For instance, a proof of the number theory Langlands correspondence for a comparatively small collection of functions in the 1990s enabled Andrew Wiles and Richard Taylor to prove Fermat’s Last Theorem, which for three centuries had been one of the most famous open questions in mathematics.

Langlands’ program came to be seen, in the words of Edward Frenkel of the University of California, Berkeley, as a “grand unified theory of mathematics.” Yet even as mathematicians turned their efforts to proving larger and larger pieces of Langlands’ vision, they were aware that this vision was incomplete. It didn’t seem to be able to tell a story of waves and their frequency labels in the third column of the Rosetta stone — the geometry portion.
A Grain of Sand

Right from the beginning of Langlands’ work, mathematicians had an idea of what the spectral side of a geometric Langlands correspondence should look like. This third column of Weil’s Rosetta stone concerns compact Riemann surfaces, which are spheres, doughnuts, and doughnuts with multiple holes. A given Riemann surface has a corresponding object called its fundamental group, which tracks the different ways that loops can wind about the surface. Mathematicians suspected that the spectral side of the geometric Langlands correspondence should consist of certain distillations of the fundamental group known as its “representations.”

Mark Belan for Quanta Magazine


If the Langlands correspondence was to manifest in the geometric column of the Rosetta stone, then each representation of a Riemann surface’s fundamental group should be a frequency label — but of what?

Mathematicians couldn’t find any collection of eigenfunctions whose frequencies seemed to be labeled by the representations of the fundamental group. Then in the 1980s, Vladimir Drinfeld, now at the University of Chicago, realized that it might be possible to create a geometric Langlands correspondence by replacing eigenfunctions with more complicated objects called eigensheaves — even though at the time, he only knew how to construct a few of these.

Sheaves are much more esoteric than functions, and number theorists didn’t know what to make of this proposed geometric cousin of the Langlands correspondence. But the geometric Langlands program, despite the abstruseness of its wave side, has one big advantage over the number theory version of Langlands. In geometric Langlands, the frequency of an eigensheaf is governed by the points on the Riemann surface, and each point on a sphere or doughnut looks pretty similar at close range. But in number theory Langlands, the frequencies are governed by prime numbers, and each prime has unique qualities. Mathematicians don’t know “how to go in a nice way from one prime to another,” said Ana Caraiani, a number theorist at Imperial College London.

Riemann surfaces play a large role in physics, particularly in conformal field theory, which governs the behavior of subatomic particles in certain force fields. In the early 1990s, Beilinson and Drinfeld showed how to use conformal field theory to build certain particularly nice eigensheaves.

The link to conformal field theory gave Beilinson and Drinfeld a place to start thinking about how to build a version of Fourier analysis for sheaves. “That’s the little grain of sand that this is crystallizing about,” Ben-Zvi said.

Beilinson and Drinfeld set forth a rich vision of how the geometric Langlands correspondence should work. It wasn’t only that each representation of the fundamental group should label the frequency of one eigensheaf. This correspondence, they believed, should also respect important relationships on both sides, a prospect Beilinson and Drinfeld took to calling the “best hope.”

In the mid-1990s, Beilinson gave a series of lectures on this developing picture at Tel Aviv University. Gaitsgory, then a graduate student there, drank in every word. “I got an imprinting like a new-hatched duckling,” Gaitsgory recalled.

In the 30 years since, the geometric Langlands conjecture has been the main driver of Gaitsgory’s mathematical career. “All these years have been nonstop work, getting closer and closer, developing various tools,” he said.

The Rising Sea

Beilinson and Drinfeld had stated their conjecture only loosely, and it turned out that they had been a bit too simplistic about how the relationships in their “best hope” should work. In 2012, Gaitsgory and Dima Arinkin, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, figured out how make the “best hope” into a precise conjecture. The following year, Gaitsgory wrote an outline of how a proof of the geometric Langlands conjecture might go. That outline relied on a host of intermediate statements, many of which had not yet been proved. Gaitsgory and his collaborators set out to prove them.

Over the next few years, Gaitsgory and Nick Rozenblyum of the University of Toronto wrote two books about sheaves totaling nearly 1,000 pages. Only once in the two-volume set is the geometric Langlands program even mentioned. “But its purpose was to lay the foundations, which we ultimately used very intensively,” Gaitsgory said.

When Covid-19 struck in 2020, Gaitsgory suddenly found his calendar emptied. “I spent three months lying on my bed and just thinking,” he said. That thinking eventually led to a six-author paper that, while primarily about the function field column of the Langlands program, held the seed of what would later become a crucial component of the proof of the geometric Langlands conjecture: a way to understand how each eigensheaf contributes to what we can think of as “white noise.”

Clockwise from left: Dario Beraldo, Lin Chen, Kevin Lin, Nick Rozenblyum, Joakim Færgeman, Justin Campbell and Dima Arinkin.

Clockwise from left: Giancarlo Rado; Yau Mathematical Science Center; Wyatt Reeves; Diana Tyszko; Lisa Smith; Jean Lachat; Alex Arinkin


In classical signal processing, sound waves get built up out of sine waves whose frequencies correspond to the pitches contained in the sound. It’s not enough to know which pitches the sound contains — you must also know how loud each pitch is. That information allows you to write your sound as a combination of sine waves: just start with the sine waves of amplitude 1, then multiply each sine wave by an appropriate loudness factor before adding the sine waves together. The sum of all the different amplitude-1 sine waves is what we commonly refer to as white noise.

In the world of the geometric Langlands program, eigensheaves are supposed to play the role of sine waves. Gaitsgory and his collaborators had identified something called the Poincaré sheaf that seemed to be serving the role of white noise. But the researchers didn’t know whether each eigensheaf is even represented in the Poincaré sheaf, let alone whether they all have the same amplitude.

In the spring of 2022, Raskin, together with his graduate student Joakim Færgeman, showed how to use the ideas in the six-author paper to prove that each eigensheaf does contribute to the Poincaré sheaf. “After Sam’s and Joakim’s paper, I was certain we’ll do it within a short period of time,” Gaitsgory said of proving the geometric Langlands conjecture.

The researchers needed to show that all the eigensheaves make equal contributions to the Poincaré sheaf, and that the fundamental-group representations label the frequencies of these eigensheaves. The trickiest part, they came to realize, was handling representations of the fundamental group called irreducible representations.

The solution for these irreducible representations came to Raskin at a moment when his personal life was filled with chaos. A few weeks after he and Færgeman posted their paper online, Raskin had to rush his pregnant wife to the hospital, then return home to take his son to his first day of kindergarten. Raskin’s wife remained in the hospital until the birth of their second child six weeks later, and during this time Raskin’s life revolved around keeping life normal for his son and driving in endless loops between home, his son’s school and the hospital. “My whole life was the car and taking care of people,” he said.

He took to calling Gaitsgory on his drives to talk math. By the end of the first of those weeks, Raskin had realized that he could reduce the problem of irreducible representations to proving three facts that were all within reach. “For me it was this amazing period,” he said. His personal life was “filled with anxiety and dread about the future. For me, math is always this very grounding and meditative thing that takes me out of that kind of anxiety.”

I spent three months lying on my bed and just thinking.

Dennis Gaitsgory

By early 2023, Gaitsgory and Raskin, together with Arinkin, Rozenblyum, Færgeman and four other researchers, had a complete proof of Beilinson and Drinfeld’s “best hope,” as modified by Gaitsgory and Arinkin. (The other researchers are Dario Beraldo of University College London, Lin Chen of Tsinghua University in Beijing, and Justin Campbell and Kevin Lin of the University of Chicago.) It would take the team another year to write up the proof, which they posted online in February. While the papers follow aspects of the outline Gaitsgory developed back in 2013, they both simplify his approach and go beyond it in many ways. “Very bright people contributed a lot of new ideas to this crowning achievement,” Lafforgue said.

“It wasn’t just that they went and proved it,” Ben-Zvi said. “They developed whole worlds around it.”
Further Shores

For Gaitsgory, the fulfillment of his decades-long dream is far from the end of the story. A host of further challenges await mathematicians — exploring the connection to quantum physics more deeply, extending the result to Riemann surfaces with punctures, and figuring out the implications for the other columns of the Rosetta stone. “It feels (at least to me) more like that one piece of a big rock has been chipped off, but we are still far from the core,” Gaitsgory wrote in an email.

Researchers working in the other two columns are now eager to translate what they can. “The fact that one of the major pieces has fallen should have major repercussions throughout the Langlands correspondence,” Ben-Zvi said.

Not everything can carry over — for instance, in the number theory and function field settings, there is no counterpart to the conformal field theory ideas that enabled researchers to construct special eigensheaves in the geometric setting. Much of the proof will need serious adjustment before it can be made to work in the other two columns, warned Tony Feng of Berkeley. It remains to be seen, he said, whether “we can even transport the ideas to a different context where it was not designed to work.”

But many researchers are optimistic that the rising sea of ideas will eventually reach these other domains. “It’s going to seep through all the barriers between subjects,” Ben-Zvi said.

In the past decade, researchers have started turning up unexpected connections between the geometric column and the other two. “If [the geometric Langlands conjecture] had been proved 10 years ago, then the results would be very different,” Feng said. “It wouldn’t have been appreciated that it could potentially have ramifications outside [the geometric Langlands] community.”

Gaitsgory, Raskin and their collaborators have already made progress on translating their geometric Langlands proof to the function field column. (Some of the discoveries Gaitsgory and Raskin made on the latter’s long car drives are “still to come,” Raskin hinted.) If successful, this translation will prove a much more precise version of function field Langlands than mathematicians knew or even conjectured before now.

Most translations from the geometry column to the number theory column pass through function fields along the way. But in 2021, Laurent Fargues, of the Mathematics Institute of Jussieu in Paris, and Scholze devised what Scholze called a wormhole that carries ideas from the geometric column directly over to a part of the number theory Langlands program.

“I’m definitely one of the people who are now trying to translate all this geometric Langlands stuff,” Scholze said. With the rising sea having spilled over into thousands of pages of text, that is no easy matter. “I’m currently a few papers behind,” Scholze said, “trying to read what they did in around 2010.”

Now that the geometric Langlands researchers finally have their lengthy proof down on paper, Caraiani hopes they will have more time to talk to researchers on the number theory side. “It’s people who have very different ways of thinking about things, and there’s always a benefit if they manage to slow down and talk to each other and see the other’s perspective,” she said. It’s only a matter of time, she predicted, before the ideas from the new work permeate number theory.

As Ben-Zvi put it, “These results are so robust that once you get started, it’s hard to stop.”

Earth's Water Is Rapidly Losing Oxygen, And The Danger Is Huge

Not so fast.  Same old problem lasting two hundred years in which we cannot identify biological water which typically makes up five percent of living water.  That is ample to our needs, while dissolved oxygen is a failed idea.

Understand 7 parts per million and go home.  that is what dissolved oxygen can do.  In fact it bounds biological oxygen keeping it stable.

We cannot physically breathe living water, but just about everything else can.

Earth's Water Is Rapidly Losing Oxygen, And The Danger Is Huge

19 July 2024


(Colors and shapes of underwater world/Getty Images)


Supplies of dissolved oxygen in bodies of water across the globe are dwindling rapidly, and scientists say it's one of the greatest risks to Earth's life support system.

Just as atmospheric oxygen is vital for animals like ourselves, dissolved oxygen (DO) in water is essential for healthy aquatic ecosystems, whether freshwater or marine. With billions of people relying on marine and freshwater habitats for food and income, it's concerning these ecosystems' oxygen has been substantially and rapidly declining.

A team of scientists is proposing that aquatic deoxygenation be added to the list of 'planetary boundaries', which in its latest form describes nine domains that impose thresholds "within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come."

So far, the planetary boundaries are climate change, ocean acidification, stratospheric ozone depletion, interference with the global phosphorus and nitrogen cycles, rate of biodiversity loss, global freshwater use, land-system change, aerosol loading, and chemical pollution.

(Azote/Stockholm Resilience Centre/CC BY-NC-ND 3.0/Richardson et al., 2023)

A team led by freshwater ecologist Kevin Rose from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the US is concerned that this list overlooks one of the Earth's most important limits.

"The observed deoxygenation of the Earth's freshwater and marine ecosystems represents an additional planetary boundary process," the authors write, "that is critical to the integrity of Earth's ecological and social systems, and both regulates and responds to ongoing changes in other planetary boundary processes.

"Relevant, critical oxygen thresholds are being approached at rates comparable to other planetary boundary processes."

The concentration of dissolved oxygen in water drops for a number of reasons. Warmer waters can't hold as much dissolved oxygen, for instance, and with greenhouse gas emissions continuing to raise air and water temperatures above their long-term averages, surface waters are becoming less able to hold on to this vital element.

Dissolved oxygen can also be depleted by aquatic life faster than it is replenished by the ecosystem's producers. Algal blooms and bacterial booms triggered by an influx of organic matter and nutrients in the form of agricultural and domestic fertilizers, sewage, and industrial waste, quickly soak up available dissolved oxygen.

In the worst cases, the oxygen becomes so depleted that the microbes suffocate and die, often taking larger species with them. Populations of microbe that don't rely on oxygen then feed on the bounty of dead organic material, growing to a density that reduces light and limits photosynthesis to trap the entire water body in a vicious, suffocating cycle called eutrophication.

Aquatic deoxygenation is also driven by an increase in the density difference between layers in the water column. This increase can be attributed to surface waters warming faster than deeper waters and melting ice decreasing surface salinity in the oceans.

The more distinctly defined those layers are, the less movement there is between those layers of the water column, which the vertical strata of underwater life relies upon. These density fluctuations power the movement of oxygenated surface water into the deep, and without this temperature-powered freight, ventilation in the lower depths of aquatic environments grinds to a halt.

All this has wrought havoc on aquatic ecosystems, many of which our own species rely on for our own food, water, incomes, and wellbeing.

The paper's authors call for a concerted, global effort to monitor and research deoxygenation of the 'blue' parts of our planet, along with policy efforts to prevent rapid deoxygenation and the associated challenges we are already beginning to face.

"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient runoff and organic carbon inputs (for example, raw sewage loading) would slow or potentially reverse deoxygenation," they write.

"The expansion of the planetary boundaries framework to include deoxygenation as a boundary [will help] to focus those efforts."

This paper was published as a Perspective in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

The Ju/’hoansi protocol

Again, it is all about the natural community and this tells us we do need to step out and truly investigate social exchange and governance at the natural community level  We have excellent examples to document.

Again the only improvement that i would promote is a formal concept of the rule of twelve.  might even throw in Roberts Rules of Order.

The fact is that a natural community can negotiate through a problem because it is both big enough to demand respect and also small enough to complete the consensus building phase.  It is also where we certainly must deal with sexual conflicts.  This is an excellent example that was solved by stepping outside accepted forms

And none of it required an act of congress.

The Ju/’hoansi protocol

Hunter-gatherer societies are highly expert in group deliberation and decision-making which respects both difference and unity

Women from the San tribe in the Kalahari Desert, Namibia, 22 August 2010. Photo by Eric Lafforgue/Gamma-Rapho/Getty

is assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Calgary, Canada. He is also assistant director of the Guassa Gelada Research Project in Ethiopia, and the co-founder and co-principal investigator of the Orang Asli Health and Lifeways Project in Peninsular Malaysia.


The Dilemma of the Deserted Husband unfolded in the late 1950s amid a band of G/wi hunter-gatherers, a subgroup of Ju/’hoansi (often known as !Kung San), dwelling in the Kalahari Desert of Southern Africa. According to the South African-born anthropologist and Bushman Survey Officer George Silberbauer, a woman named N!onag//ei had left her husband, /wikhwema, for his best friend. Few were surprised. After all, /wikhwema was a temperamental and pompous man, and a bit of a joke. In contrast, the new husband, /amg//ao, held unconventional charm. He was ‘a virtuoso dancer, a consistently successful hunter and … rumoured to be a bit of a demon as a lover.’

Deserted G/wi spouses usually move on within a few months. But not /wikhwema. Mourning the dual losses of his friend and wife, he complained endlessly. Before long, his incessant whining became a burden on everyone. After more than a year, people were at their wits’ end. Complicating matters, given his role as an ‘owner’ of the band’s territory, /wikhwema could not be expected to relocate elsewhere. The band had no choice but to stick together.

Eventually, a ‘lateral thinker’ proposed a novel solution. Why not permit a polyandrous marriage? This unconventional suggestion meant that N!onag//ei could have both /amg//ao and /wikhwema as husbands, a departure from the monogamous norms of G/wi society. After much deliberation, the innovation was accepted. The new couple’s marriage was salvaged, as was /wikhwema’s pride, and the band was relieved of his whining.

The Dilemma of the Deserted Husband was not solved by the unilateral decision of a single leader. Nor did people raise their hands in a majority vote. Instead, it was the product of long deliberation. For months, there were discussions, disagreements and compromises. The goal of the process was consensus, to find a solution that everyone could live with, even if it was imperfect (the new throuple ‘did not exactly live happily ever after’, according to Silberbauer).

For the vast majority of human history, people made group decisions through consensus. It is perhaps the most conspicuous feature of political life among recent hunter-gatherer societies, from the Ju/’hoansi to the Aboriginal peoples of Australia to the Indigenous societies of the early Americas. As an anthropologist, I have observed consensus-based decision-making myself among hunter-gatherers in the rainforests of Malaysia.

Though the small-world life of hunter-gatherers may seem far removed from our own digitalised and global world, the problems of group life have remained fundamentally the same for hundreds of thousands of years. In the face of conflict and polarisation, ancient human groups needed processes that yielded good outcomes. What can we learn from a political form shaped by hundreds of thousands of years of trial and error? By examining how hunter-gatherers achieve consensus, perhaps we can develop better strategies to solve the problems we face today.

Human prehistory was littered with poor group decisions. Whether it was an ill-timed raid or the wrong choice of watering hole, some of our would-be hunter-gatherer ancestors vanished without a trace. We know this because, among hunter-gatherers today, group decisions are matters of existential importance. As an anthropologist, I have been trying to understand how exactly hunter-gatherer groups succeed – and how they fail.

In the annals of group failure, groupthink is the most common culprit. The phrase was coined by the journalist William H Whyte Jr in 1952, but it is generally associated with the Yale psychologist Irving Janis, who argued that the pressures of social conformity can doom group performance. People may be bullied by their superiors or feel that they risk ostracism from their peers. Important information is left unspoken. By failing to weigh their options judiciously, groups consider only a fraction of the space of possible solutions. Scholars have called this an information cascade. As evidence of groupthink, they often point to famous debacles such as the Bay of Pigs, the Challenger disaster, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

At the other end of the spectrum, groups can fail by fragmentation. This possibility is hardly considered in Western studies of social psychology, but it looms large for hunter-gatherers. Through the centrifugal forces of disagreement, the group splinters, with subgroups or individuals going their own way, thereby forfeiting the benefits of cooperation that come from living in a bigger group. As we saw in the Dilemma of the Deserted Husband, hunter-gatherer bands recognise the benefits of staying together.

The Ju/’hoansi are careful not to entrust key decisions to single individuals or small sub-groups

A few years after Silberbauer observed the Dilemma of the Deserted Husband, the young Harvard anthropologist Megan Biesele travelled to the Kalahari to begin her PhD research. It was 1970, and Biesele was there to study ritual and folklore among a band of Ju/’hoansi in the Dobe area, an inhospitable expanse of sand and bushland seasonally flooded by rain, not far from where Silberbauer worked among the G/wi. As she became proficient in the Ju/’hoan language, Biesele observed many group discussions and decisions, taking special notice of the Ju/’hoansi’s consensus-based decision-making. Together, Biesele’s and Silberbauer’s observations show us how the Ju/’hoansi keep groupthink and fragmentation in check, navigating between what Silberbauer calls ‘the Scylla of excessive interdependence and the Charybdis of fragmenting anarchy’.

The Ju/’hoansi are careful not to entrust key decisions to single individuals or small sub-groups. Leadership is temporary and knowledge-based, shifting even within a single conversation. Leaders refrain from stating their opinions early in the conversation, which could bias the opinions of others who have yet to speak. The role of a leader in group decisions is to guide deliberation, state the group’s mood, and help finalise a decision. Leaders are respected, but they cannot coerce others. Biesele refers to this as ‘sapiential authority’.

With the goal of consensus, the group itself is the decision-maker. Decisions typically start as grassroots affairs between neighbours and friends. Only later does the community gather together for a formal meeting. During deliberation, everyone – man or woman, old or young – is encouraged to state their opinion about important matters. In the egalitarian culture of the Ju/’hoansi, people do their own thing and therefore have their own unique experiences and ways of representing problems that may be relevant to a group decision.

The Ju/’hoansi are not culturally diverse, but their permissiveness of individual differences means their groups are functionally diverse. The social norm of widespread participation ensures the free and open exchange of information, reducing the likelihood of an information cascade. Biesele documented a principle that, if each person’s opinion was not heard, trouble would follow. Repressed opinions, it was said, could cause sickness.

For the Ju/’hoansi, there is little connection between individuals and the ideas they promulgate. As Silberbauer notes in Politics and History in Band Societies (1982): ‘It often happens that the suggestion finally adopted is one which was initially voiced by somebody who has taken no further part in the proceedings, leaving it to others to take up, and “push” his or her proposal.’ No one remembers the lateral thinker who solved the Dilemma of the Deserted Husband. An idea is like a bloody antelope carcass: once in the public square, it is more or less public property. To attribute an idea to a person would contravene the egalitarian nature of the band.

Deliberation also means disagreement. Claims are sceptically evaluated based on evidence, according to the anthropologists Melvin Konner and Nicholas Blurton Jones, who investigated Ju/’hoansi knowledge of animal behaviour in the 1970s. The Ju/’hoansi are careful to distinguish between first-hand knowledge and hearsay or speculation. There was a norm that discouraged rampant speculation: when someone said that children could be killed by fires, an old man said that people should only speak when they have seen things happen. One man was laughed at for his gullibility when he said that he had heard that elephants would bury their babies up to their necks.

One day, while tagging along with two trackers, Biesele heard constant feedback as the two busily corrected each other about where animal tracks were leading. In this dialectic, they responded to evidence and explained their logic. Neither took anything personally. In an email in 2022, Biesele told me: ‘Trackers’ conversations are fully cooperative and open to both new ideas and to corrections by other trackers, specifically to ensure the best-reasoned outcomes. So democracy and science are closely allied in the people’s minds, and closely govern how decisions are made.’

Unlike in modern politics, group decisions are not something to be won or lost

The Ju/’hoansi keep their cool, recognising that anger and heated feelings can lead to impulsive decisions and misunderstandings. According to Silberbauer, ‘the band is reluctant to come to decision under the sway of strong feelings: if discussion becomes too angry or excited, debate is temporarily adjourned by the withdrawal of the attention to the calmer participants until things cool down.’ Confrontation is avoided through a variety of subtle stratagems: pretending to cook, or urgently attending to a thorn in one’s foot. When things get too heated, people disengage, signalling a lack of sympathy for the outburst. The fate of the Ju/’hoansi contrarian is neither exile nor execution. It is to be ignored.

This isn’t to say that debate never occurs. Silberbauer observed ‘a bit of cut and thrust between orators’, however he found that point-scoring ultimately played little role in the ultimate decision. In a highly interdependent band, this makes sense because one’s fate is largely tied to that of other bandmates. As a result, unlike in modern politics, group decisions are not something to be won or lost. Attentive of this, the Ju/’hoansi avoid the mistake of equating rhetorical flourish with truth. The idea of sparring orators dealing knockout blows would be anathema to the Ju/’hoansi. A knockout blow is self-defeating, like punching oneself in the face.

When it comes to finalising a course of action, the Ju/’hoansi are sceptical of voting. In small groups, Biesele has found, the Ju/’hoansi see the act of voting as polarising. As the anthropologist David Graeber explained in Possibilities (2007):
If there is no way to compel those who find a majority decision distasteful to go along with it, then the last thing one would want to do is to hold a vote: a public contest which someone will be seen to lose. Voting would be the most likely means to guarantee the sort of humiliations, resentments, and hatreds that ultimately lead the destruction of communities.

Instead, discussion continues until a consensus is reached. Everyone has to agree on the course of action because it legitimates the decision as belonging to the group. It is not merely the actual result of the decision that counts, but the process itself. Everyone must attend to what Silberbauer calls the social balance-sheet. The social balance-sheet is no less than the promise of future cooperation, perhaps the most important thing in the life of a hunter-gatherer.

Consensus is also about the creation of shared meaning. The Ju/’hoansi, according to Silberbauer, are not only exchanging facts about reality but also values, objectives and ‘logical and causal relationships between items of information’. To decide well, the band must think together.

Perhaps the best illustration of this process of cognitive convergence comes from Kenneth Liberman, who worked among Aboriginal populations of the western Australian desert. Each day starts with the Morning Discourse, in which people take turns voicing concerns, thoughts, ideas. Each comment builds on the previous. The state of affairs of the group becomes publicly available. Nothing is directed toward individuals, only the group. ‘The favoured strategy here is to depersonalise one’s remarks and tone of voice as much as possible,’ wrote Liberman in 1985. ‘The effect is something like acting as if someone else is doing the talking.’ Rather than each person expressing views as an individual, it is almost as if the group is talking through each individual. The Morning Discourse shapes the consensus, when ‘all think in the same way with the same head, not in different ways.’ Sometimes hunter-gatherers don’t even bother to articulate the decision, so clear is the consensus and the subsequent course of action.

The Ju/’hoansi style of decision-making finds echoes in the works of great thinkers. Cicero believed that conversation should be inclusive, allowing everyone a turn to speak. It should also be free of passion and gossip about people not present, and easy-going. John Dewey felt deliberation was critical to a vibrant democracy. Jurgen Habermas advocates for widespread participation of all individuals and for groups to seek ‘rational consensus’. He believes that people should pose rational arguments that are ‘in the best interest’ of all participants, thereby limiting the chances of fragmentation and inequality. These arguments are theoretical but, for the Ju/’hoansi, this philosophy is everyday life.

Understanding the Ju/’hoansi mode of communication from a modern perspective requires investigating the nature of dialogue. The word ‘dialogue’ is derived from the Greek ‘dia’ (through) and ‘logos’ (word or meaning), and is often translated as ‘a flow of meaning’. According to William Isaacs, who teaches workshops on dialogue-based approaches to communication, dialogue is ‘a shared inquiry, a way of thinking and reflecting together. It is not something you do to another person. It is something you do with people … Dialogue is a living experience of inquiry within and between people.’ Contrast this with debate, the root of which comes from the Old French word debatre – ‘to fight’.

When done correctly, dialogue could result in an extraordinary form of human cooperation

One of the most famous advocates of a dialogue-based approach to conversation was the American-born British theoretical physicist David Bohm. Alongside his seminal contributions to quantum theory, Bohm maintained interest in problems such as consciousness and creativity. In On Dialogue, a book he wrote just a few years before his death in 1992, Bohm tackled the problem of communication breakdown in society that seems similar to our current predicament of polarisation: ‘within any single nation, different social classes and economic and political groups are caught in a similar pattern of inability to understand each other.’

To Bohm, dialogue helps to establish a shared common understanding between individuals. It would mean abandoning assumptions, not clinging so tightly to our opinions, and doing a lot of listening. Yet he knew that dialogue was difficult. It required guardrails and open-mindedness. But when done correctly, dialogue could result in an extraordinary form of human cooperation with unparalleled creativity: ‘nobody is trying to win … we are not playing a game against each other, but with each other. In a dialogue, everybody wins.’

Channelling his physicist’s intuition, Bohm analogised the alignment of group sentiment with a laser: in contrast to normal light, which is scattered all about, a laser aligns light beams in the same direction, producing coherence. Bohm believed that ‘thinking together’ had the same effect. There is some empirical support for this idea. Recently, researchers at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire asked business students to watch movies and discuss their opinions. Looking at scans of brain activity before and after the discussion period, the researchers discovered that brain activity aligned after the discussion. As with the Morning Discourse, the students were thinking together.

Bohm believed that dialogue to be an ancient mode of communication, arguing that communities with coherent meaning probably existed ‘in some groups in the primitive Stone Age conditions’. Indeed, the parallels between the Ju/’hoansi mode of communication and dialogue-based methods are hard to miss. I imagine if there were a Ju/’hoansi philosopher, her description of her society’s decision-making process might read something like Bohm’s On Dialogue.

Just because hunter-gatherers do something does not make it necessarily good. But according to social psychologists, the features of Ju/’hoansi decision-making are the very ones that make for high collective intelligence. Consider a 2020 article from the Harvard Business Review outlining the best practices that optimise good decision-making in small groups: heterogeneous groups are better than homogeneous ones; dissent is crucial; people should arrive at their opinions independently; people should feel free to speak their minds; individuals should share collective responsibility.

Taken together, there is robust evidence that the Ju/’hoansi are able to avoid levels of polarisation like we see in our current political moment. This is achieved not necessarily through individual virtue but rather with cultural guardrails and prolonged deliberation. The Ju/’hoansi are well aware that their social norms around deliberation improve the quality of their decisions. As Biesele told me, Ju/’hoansi informants would say things like: ‘It’s necessary to draw on the strengths of each person, to minimise the chances that decisions will be made on the basis of the weakness of one or a few persons.’ In contrast, even though discussion generally improves group reasoning performance, people in Western society are poor at recognising this fact.

One Ju/’hoan said: ‘We never wanted to represent our communities: that was a white people’s idea’

The Ju/’hoansi’s political self-consciousness has informed their responses to jarring changes in their lives. Silberbauer conducted his work on the Ju/’hoansi political process from 1958-66. By the late 1960s, mining, cattle and development had dispossessed them of their traditional territories. The autonomous life they had lived for aeons was effectively over. Their houses, mobility, diet and society would be irrevocably changed. So too would their politics. The ‘close-knit, self-sufficient organisation of band society and the completeness of members’ control of its political processes are gone,’ Silberbauer wrote. ‘The “ethnographic present” is now the past.’

Yet Biesele has found that old habits die hard. As founder and director of the nonprofit Kalahari Peoples Fund, she has devoted her career to documenting and aiding the Ju/’hoansi’s transition to modernity. She recorded and translated meetings of the Ju/’hoan people’s organisation that would go on to become the first internationally recognised Conservancy in the new nations of Botswana and Namibia. Biesele has written eloquently about how the Ju/’hoansi have been resistant to give up their old ways of making decisions through consensus. Challenges arose when individuals or small groups were designated as representatives to act as a connection to the government. ‘This was a very foreign idea,’ Biesele said, ‘but the people could see the need for interacting in this way with the new administrations, so they debated how they could possibly do it successfully.’ This task was undertaken with considerable hesitation. One Ju/’hoan said: ‘We never wanted to represent our communities: that was a white people’s idea in the first place.’ As Biesele documents, the Ju/’hoansi have favoured cooperative institutions that tap into their deep history as decision-makers.

Many anthropologists and archaeologists believe that humans lived in nomadic egalitarian bands for much of our species’ history. If this is true, then the Ju/’hoansi and other hunter-gatherers tell us something important about what politics in the Palaeolithic might have looked like. Amid the crackle and pop of a Pleistocene campfire, under the anonymity of darkness, our ancestors began to think as one. In that moment, we became political animals, the first and only species in the history of the world to grasp how its own collective intelligence could be made and unmade.

Just like any hunter-gatherer today, our ancestors would have been self-conscious political actors. They would have realised the importance of the process to the result. And they would have actively maintained political structures that maximised their collective intelligence. Groups that failed to do so would have perished.

Recognising the self-conscious political agency of hunter-gatherers challenges 20th-century perspectives that ‘primitive’ cultures exhibited a uniformity of belief and personality. Describing Aboriginal Australians in 1915, the French sociologist Émile Durkheim wrote:
The group has an intellectual and moral conformity of which we find but rare examples in the more advanced societies. Everything is common to all. Movements are stereotyped; everybody performs the same tasks in the same circumstances, and this conformity of conduct only translates the conformity of thought.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As Liberman observed in Australia, there is just as much eccentricity and variation in a band of hunter-gatherers as there is among ourselves. This is a critical part of the recipe for high collective intelligence.

We should be gentle with ourselves about the magnitude of our challenge because hunter-gatherers have it easier

Our ancestors would have seen no necessary contradiction between seeking consensus (and compromise) and seeking truth. Yet this is a commonly held view among social scientists who focus solely on a narrow slice of human history – the present; for example, the psychologist Irving Janis, who believed that tight-knit groups were especially prone to groupthink. Or, more recently, the political scientist Jason Brennan, who wrote: ‘Human beings are wired not to seek truth and justice but to seek consensus … They cower before uniform opinion.’ On the contrary, the Ju/’hoansi boast an impressively fertile ecology of conversation that derives, ultimately, from the distinctive combination of high levels of interdependence and egalitarian social norms. With a unified approach to a common goal, along with norms that encourage free and open expression and diverse viewpoints, it is in everyone’s interest to seek the truth.

All of this calls into question our own preoccupation with debate as a form of truth-seeking. In the sphere of communication, prominent book titles include Win Every Argument: The Art of Debating, Persuading, and Public Speaking (2023), Good Arguments: How Debate Teaches Us to Listen and Be Heard (2022), How to Argue and Win Every Time (1995), and The Art of Being Right (1831). Undoubtedly, debate can be useful for presenting alternative viewpoints and hashing out logical inconsistencies. But it often results in little more than hardened views and hurt feelings. Debate is a tool designed to convince, not to solve collective problems. ‘I never yet saw an instance of one of two disputants convincing the other by argument,’ wrote Thomas Jefferson in 1808.

It may seem intractable to scale up insights from the Ju/’hoansi to modern problems of anonymous digital ecosystems and nation-states. Undoubtedly, the Ju/’hoansi style of deliberation is best suited to face-to-face interaction. Lost in the digital world are the subtle cues and gestures that help us to gauge others’ feelings, and to communicate our displeasure. We should be gentle with ourselves about the magnitude of our challenge because, in a sense, hunter-gatherers have it easier: they share similar values and conceptions of the world, their world is smaller, their range of choice narrower and less abstract than ours. Their decisions are more concrete and immediate.

On the other hand, some of our most important decisions still occur in small face-to-face groups, whether it’s in the Oval Office, the corporate boardroom, or the family dinner table. The Ju/’hoansi show us how the best outcomes can be achieved in these groups. Success comes from material interdependence, common purpose and shared meaning. Also critical are the conversational guardrails that enable us to truly think in, and as, groups. This is ancient knowledge that any of us can put into action now: don’t get heated, detach ideas from ego, put yourself in others’ shoes, listen. And always speak your mind.

Mice That Eat Less Live Longer – And We May Finally Know Why

not so simple obviously and we have known this forever.

I am not sure this will lead to superior protocols. ,but the whole weight problem is recalcitrant.  This screams new pathways to focus on

I will take stumbling into good science any day.

Mice That Eat Less Live Longer – And We May Finally Know Why

20 July 2024


We've known for over a century that mice and rats live longer when they are fed less, but a new study reveals the secret might be an imbalance between energy consumed and burned, rather than a lack of energy or protein.

Researchers from the US and UK studied groups of mice put on identical diets, finding those housed in cooler environments lived longer and healthier lives. The important variance was that they had to use more energy to keep warm.

The findings imply confining research to energy intake by itself won't be enough to understand how diet affects health and aging, says the team led by nutrition scientist Daniel Smith of the University of Alabama at Birmingham and biological scientist Sharon Mitchell of the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

It's a discovery that may one day allow people to reap the same longevity benefits without strict diets.

"It's not simply the caloric intake or the macronutrient or protein intake or any one component," Smith explained to Carolyn Beans for a PNAS Journal Club news story about the research.

"It is the interaction of those relative to the energy balance overall."

There's no consensus on the exact mechanism by which cutting back on calories is good for rodents' health and longevity.

One theory is that the advantages stem from just consuming less food or less of a particular macronutrient. Some research does indicate that eating less of some proteins might be a factor. It is also possible that a short-term energy imbalance during calorie restriction leads to long-term health gains.

If benefits come from reduced calorie and protein intake alone, health measures shouldn't vary between the different groups of mice if their food intake is the same, the researchers proposed. But if benefits come from having less available energy thanks to a need to keep warm, then lifespan and health should improve in the 'colder' mice if their food intake matches that of the 'warmer' group.

The study allowed groups of mice in warmer environments to eat unlimited food for 12 hours per day. Mice in cooler environments were 'pair-fed' to match the diet of their warmer counterparts, to make sure the groups got identical calories, protein, and other nutrients.

A short-term experiment studied mice kept at either 10 °C, 21 °C, or 30 °C for 11 weeks. Biomarker tests showed that the mice living in cooler environments experienced hormonal, metabolic, and physiological benefits. They lost weight quite rapidly too and they sustained this weight loss.

A longer experiment followed mice from 12 weeks old for the rest of their lives. Those kept at 22 °C lived about 20 percent longer than those fed the same but kept at 27 °C. Mice that lived in cooler cages were also healthier as they aged compared to the warmer mice, whose balance, coordination, and neurological function declined faster.

"Thus, energy balance (energy intake minus energy expenditure) was the primary contributor to the benefits observed," the team writes.

The cooler temperatures created an energy imbalance for this study without the effects being influenced by drugs or exercise, but cold itself may have its own influence. Of course, most humans won't find it practical to brave the cold to induce an energy imbalance, and we don't know if it's good for us.

The researchers wonder if other factors, like some medicines, could also improve health by throwing the body's energy out of balance. It remains to be seen if the popular GLP-1 analog drugs like Ozempic can achieve similar long-term health improvements.

"These results provide strong evidence that dietary energy intake alone is unnecessary for predicting the health and longevity benefits of sustained dietary interventions," the authors conclude.

Monday, July 22, 2024

Diamond could be the super semiconductor the US power grid needs

The transition from silicon to carbon is well underway.  We are actually mastering it all.

this was predictable with the discovery of graphene and improving synthesizing tech.  We will get there.

now do recall that ufos are manufactured with all this along with amorphous metal to generate hte frequencies needed to drive dark matter out.  just saying.

Also modern battery tech is also fully entering the whole power grid just because it produces a massive jump in efficiency.  Store power on demand in your neighborhood.  no further line loss.

Diamond could be the super semiconductor the US power grid needs

The hidden semiconductor abilities of diamonds could help power grids and electric vehicles manage far greater amounts of electricity more efficiently

16 July 2024

Diamond has excellent semiconductor properties

Richard Kail/Science Photo Library


As the US power grid struggles with a historic rise in electricity demand, diamond semiconductors could greatly improve the energy efficiency of AI data centres and electric vehicles, as well as smaller consumer electronics. That is why the US government is betting millions of dollars on developing new power electronics technologies based on diamond.

People use power electronics, devices that convert electricity between the voltage and current required by the power grid and the levels used in an electronic gadget, every time they charge their phones, tablets or laptops. Power electronics also convert stored battery energy into usable power for EV motors and ensure that commercial solar and wind power can be transported efficiently to distant customers.

But the silicon semiconductors used in modern power electronics cannot handle the mounting pressure being placed on the US electrical grid. In order to supply the growing electricity demand from factories and data centres, and to support more electric vehicles and heat pumps as part of US decarbonisation goals, the grid must transmit more power at a higher voltage level than it currently does. A new generation of power electronics is required to quickly and efficiently manage this surge.

“Those devices have to be capable of handling larger currents and voltages,” says Olga Spahn, program director at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The agency expects that by 2030, about 80 per cent of all electric power in the US will pass through power electronics devices. “That is why we are interested in ultra-wide bandgap materials, and diamond is one of those,” she says.

ARPA-E has dedicated $42 million through the ULTRAFAST programme to improving the performance limits of silicon semiconductors, along with those of wide and ultra-wide bandgap semiconductor materials. Wide and ultra-wide bandgap materials are categories of semiconductors that can withstand much higher temperatures, voltages and frequencies than silicon. As a result, power electronics based on these materials could be more energy efficient and handle significantly higher power levels than silicon ones.

Wide bandgap semiconductors like silicon carbide and gallium nitride are gaining popularity, and devices based on ultra-wide bandgap semiconductors – such as diamond, aluminium gallium nitride and aluminium nitride – have also been in development. Diamond could deliver the greatest benefits of them all.

“Diamond has fundamentally the best properties of any semiconductor material that we have,” says Lars Voss at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. He describes diamond as one of a few out of a “whole zoo of potential material options” that is under serious consideration for future power electronics.

How incredibly simple tech can supercharge the race to net zero

Diamond devices could be far smaller than their silicon counterparts while having three orders of magnitude lower on-resistance – meaning greatly reduced energy loss – and handling far more power, says Can Bayram at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Such diamond devices could also operate at temperatures beyond 700°C (1292°F) and dissipate heat more effectively than other semiconductors, whereas silicon devices typically cannot function beyond 200°C (392°F).

Another key benefit is that diamond as a material can be made in a lab, whereas other semiconductor materials may incorporate rarer mined elements such as gallium. “Diamonds are just carbon, a light and simple element,” says Bayram.

Bayram is currently developing a diamond semiconductor switching device through projects funded by the ARPA-E programme. The diamond-based device is an updated version of a “photoconductive” semiconductor switch – it is triggered by ultraviolet light instead of electrical signals. This design decision avoids the need for control circuitry that may produce electromagnetic interference.

Similarly, Voss and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory team are developing a diamond transistor device that could support more than 6 kilovolts of power – double that of commercial semiconductors – when arranged in a series of several transistors. Their ARPA-E-funded project is also using light to control the device.

A transistor switch made from synthetic diamond

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

But diamond semiconductors still face major developmental hurdles. For example, a typical method of altering a material to make it a better semiconductor involves introducing other chemical elements. But it is still challenging to alter diamond’s properties in this way due to its extremely rigid crystalline structure.

To make this type of semiconductor cost-effective, companies will also need to produce diamond in large wafer sizes suitable for manufacturing many devices at once. Silicon devices, for example, are commonly made from 30-centimetre silicon wafers. But 10-centimetre diamond wafers only became commercially viable last year in the US and Europe, says Bayram.

“I am hopeful that we will see diamond semiconductor solutions in the grid around 2035 with increased effort, and at the latest by 2050,” he says.