Imagine a space traveler who came to Earth from
another galaxy to compare his/her/its observations
with those of another traveler who had visited the
planet 3000 years earlier. The major observable change
would be an immense expansion of all earthly man-made
For the last ten thousand years, the humans have not
acquired an extra eye or finger. The evolution of
their Things, however, has been explosive. One can
wonder if the Things are really theirs or it is the
other way around.
Technos has populated the Earth in an insect-like
swarms, but with much more variety. The kingdom of
Things ranges from the pyramids and the inimitable
cathedrals made of stone—the oldest and largest
survivors—to countless disposable copies of the same
design, for example, paper napkins. Technos supports a
huge taxonomy of hierarchically arranged species,
genera, families, orders, classes, phyla, kingdoms,
and domains. Its abundance has been recorded in books,
paintings, and films, which are also Things, as well
as in the existing Things and old Things kept in
General Engineering, General Civil Engineering
Electrical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering
Motor Vehicles, Aeronautics, Astronautics
Arts and Crafts, Handicrafts
HOME ECONOMICS is divided into:
House: Logistics, Finance, Care Nutrition,
Food and Food Supply Cookery
Home Living Recreational
2761 Computer forms, manifold or continuous (excludes
paper simply lined)
2791 Typesetting, computer controlled
3571 Computers: digital, analog, and hybrid
3571 Mainframe computers
3572 Optical storage devices for computers
3572 Recorders, tape: for computers
3572 Tape storage units, computer
5045 Peripheral equipment computer-wholesale
5045 Printers computer-wholesale
8744 Facilities management, except computer
8744 Facilities support services, except computer
8748 Systems engineering consulting, except
or computer related
nobody knows how many species of Things are there on
Earth. For comparison, there are between 2 million to
100 million biological species, probably 10
about 1.5 million are actually listed. Although many
have not even been discovered, the biodiversity has been
subjected to a terrible and, as some believe,
catastrophic loss. According to some estimates,
600,000 species have been extinct in the last fifty
The decline of biodiversity is an example of the
evolutionary losswhich is
normal in any evolution. The current accelerating loss
of biodiversity is attributed to the competition,
often barbaric, of humans with other forms of life.
The extinction of biological species, from an alien
point of view, can be considered normal within the
framework of the overall evolution on earth,
which drives both Bios and Technos. "Why are you
mourning the loss of so much Bios," the monotheist
alien would say, "if you are gaining so much Technos?
There is only one evolution on your planet and if it
takes away, it also gives tenfold. You, pagans,
worship two gods: nature and Things, plus numerous sex
gods/goddesses." "No, we would object, we worship only
Aren't the humans compensated for the loss of
Bios with the ever growing variety of Things, some of
them even capable of simulating life? Is that variety
really growing? What else are we losing? What are we
really getting instead? Can we control evolution on
the global scale? These questions are for serious
researchers. They cannot be answered in a casual and
Yet the problem bothers me despite my evolutionary and
historical fatalism. On the one hand, I would like all
the pests, such as the two species of caterpillars
that attacked my pines and tomatoes in the summer of
2001, to be gone forever, together with mosquitoes,
termites, and carpenter ants whom I hate as my
personal enemies. On the other hand, the holocaust of
elephants, rhinos, and tigers deeply depresses me,
although I would never want to meet any of them face
A complete extinction of all large animals would not
change my life in any way, and yet I would see it as a
tragedy. Animals are our beautiful relatives, whether
distant or close. Plants are our beautiful food and
shelter. Looking for a rationale, I may argue that the
depletion of biodiversity would make human existence
on the scorched planet boring, bleak, and outright
dangerous, but people learned to live in deserts of
sand and snow. If we believe in evolution, there is
only one Evolution and it is as much loss as gain. As
individuals, we are going to lose our lives. We have
already lost classical (i.e., recognizable as life and
resonating in emotions) music and art. Why to mourn
snakes and spiders? (I
spiders and never kill one in sight. This is the only
lasting effect of my prison experience. )
The loss of biological species, life, art, technology,
ideology, institutions, and professions happens daily.
The year 2001 alone will have on record enormous loss
of life, Technos (in the World Trade Center), art (the
Buddha statues in Afghanistan), and ideas (American
ideology of domestic security), not to mention money
and peace of mind.
How to measure gain and loss and what conclusions to
draw from the difference between them require the mind
of theoretical physicist with interests in
non-equilibrium thermodynamics. It is certainly not a
task for me. All I want is to take a closer look at
the loss as universal phenomenon. What are we
losing and how?
Is the following really happening—or it is just the
eternal generation lag—and if yes, what is so bad about
it, and if it is not bad, what is its significance?
Loss of attention to
fundamental concepts of science
Loss of privacy
Loss of common world
Loss of uniqueness
by standardization, fashion, and assembly
Loss of new
directions of inquiry cut in favor of the proven
direct face to face contact between people
common sense and long term goals
sophistication to life designed for dummies
of simplicity (on tax code see Essay 18, On
courage, ambition, and non-conformism
of categories of shame and honor
Loss of interest in
the rest of the world
Loss of initiative,
risk, and experiment
Loss of news in the
filters of importance and priority
Loss of letters
sacrificed to telephone and email
purity (food, soil, air)
business independence (news, publishing, music,
films, food, retail, etc.)
independence of expression due to political
Each of the
above can generate an Essay, but my interest here is
The difference between the loss and the gain is
fundamental: we know what we have lost but we don't
fully know what we have gained until we lose it. This
pattern of thinking can be attributed to Solon who
Plutarch, that nobody should be considered
happy until he dies: the last moment can change
everything. The loss is all here to judge, while
the gain is to be tested by time.
The loss of human life—death—was one of the most
stimulating facts of human cultural evolution.
In the poor—by our standards—world of prehistory,
death was, probably, the most tragic but also the
easiest form of loss to cope with. By inventing the
other world, completing the rituals of passage into
it, and by maintaining symbolic links with the
deceased ancestors, the complete loss of existence was
prevented. The pyramids of Egypt look like monumental
experiments with personal immortality, not without
success. In the East, the loss was denied by the
circular or cyclic concept of time.
We are shifting from the mystical polarity of life and
death to the businesslike polarity of
gain and loss.
There seem to be a whole taxonomy of loss. The following
inventory of major classes could be regarded as a seed
of a nonexistent philosophy of nonexistentialsim.
Entropic loss. A material object can be
destroyed due to accidental factors or simply by wear
and tear. It can be a unique piece of art or a carrier
of ideas, as, for example, a manuscript, or its
author. The range of this loss spans from large
geological formations to an accidental destruction of a
unique museum object and to a never saved computer file.
Digital information can be accidentally and
instantaneously erased without destroying the carrier,
while information chiseled in stone can survive
millennia. Stones, tablets, and steles die, too.
As its name indicates, this most universal type of
loss seems to follow from the second law of
thermodynamics, which says ...well, there are at
least four major definitions, based on the concepts of
energy, entropy, heat, and universe, see APPENDIX 2.
"Universe" sounds exciting, but we still do not know
what it is. Heat and energy are not applicable to
human relations and ideas unless defined in a special
way. Entropy, or disorder (uncertainty) is the only
one of interest for us.
It turns out that the Second Law of thermodynamics
applies only to closed systems, which do not
communicate or exchange in any way with other systems.
Human civilization is not isolated in any way because
it ultimately takes from solar radiation its creative
energy ("free energy" is the correct but misleadingly
sounding physical term). It also discharges heat into
space and waste into soil and water.
It would take a lot of space to examine the universal
extra-physical aspects of the Second Law, but there is
a lot of discussion on the Web and in numerous books.
In the very long run, everything obeys the Second Law,
but the Second Law does not tell us how soon the loss
is going to happen. I even suspect that it is a
logical consequence of the concept of infinite time: anything
can happen in infinite time, for example, an
incredible order of life arises from the chaos of the
primeval Earth. I am not really interested in what
happens after ten thousand years, not to mention
millions. This is the subject that could never be
tested because the reality of a faraway future could
not be compared with today's predictions: they will be
One of the best sites on the Second Law belongs to Frank L.
in 2016, but his name is worth Googling; see this.]
not accidentally, a chemist. The answer to the
question "when," regarding the Second Law, cannot be
found in classical thermodynamics, but in the kinetics
based on the concept of transition state. It has been
my main obsession for many decades that transition
state is the key to the scientific picture of history,
sociology, and psychology.
In any particular case of destruction, for example,
when a glass breaks, the irreversibility of the loss
is the consequence of the nature and circumstances
of the process. Thus, chemical bonds between the
atoms of the glass are not simply disengaged so that
the atoms can be in principle reconnected as in snap
fastener or zipper. The free unbonded atoms
immediately react with each other and molecules of
the air. Besides, while the pieces scatter on their
own as result of the impact, somebody has to bring
them together from different points in the space.
This is possible when a Thing is held together not
with chemical but with mechanical bolts and nuts and
if it falls apart, it can be reassembled. The snap
(and especially the magnetic snap) is an ideal
contraption that beats the Second Law for as long as
The Second Law may be responsible for the overall loss
in millions of years, but not in the short run and not
in the presence of human hands. The wear and tear
takes its toll simply because we accept it. We cannot
fix the material decay because our hands are too large
and clumsy to fix all the misplaced chemical bonds one
by one. Instead, we resurrect the Thing from its code,
and we can do the same by cloning organisms.
Anyway, "this bloody tyrant, Time," as Shakespeare
called it, brings the irreversible loss, which is as
accidental as it is necessary. What we really observe
on the time scale comparable with the duration of
human life is that everything falls into disrepair and
malfunction, the less we spend work on maintaining
order, the sooner. This is equally true of machines
and individual humans. In the end, every individual
object is lost.
The types, classes, and categories of objects—anything
immaterial and existing only as idea that could not be
measured with a yardstick and weighed on a scale—are
very resilient to entropic loss, see Essay 32, The
Split. But something can happen to ideas,
too, see Competitive Loss.
Deliberate destruction by war, terrorism, sabotage,
vandalism, and interference falls into this category of
loss. Humans are dangerous neighbors of unique Things.
Why would anybody have a desire to destroy a life or a
Thing or to deface the Great Sphinx of Giza?
Herostratus burned the temple of
Artemis, one of the
Seven Wonders of the World, in 356 BC, to make himself
I believe, it is related to the temperature of the
social environment. Destructive urge rises not only in
times of social unrest, but even among fans after a
sports competition. Uncontrolled rage of animals is,
probably, of the same nature.
A mass destruction of books and cultural artifacts
happened during the fall of the Roman Empire in 5th
century, Baghdad in 11th,North India
in 12th, China in 13th and 20th, and Russia in
When temperature comes up, the laws of thermodynamics
are nearby on guard, waiting to be called to the
2. Evolutionary loss. Life exists in
spite of thermodynamics. This does not mean that
physical laws are violated by life, but some of them are
not applicable to open systems for however long but
finite periods. Life creates an impression of escaping
the entropic loss by making multiple copies and
experimenting with them. Each individual copy, however,
is vulnerable and mortal. Even species are mortal
because they change. Evolutionary loss is the loss of
species, not individuals.
An object or entire species can be lost because of the
constant evolutionary drift within a larger systematic
unit. The mammoth had been extinct, but the elephant
survived. Both are members of the order Proboscidea.
Everybody is mortal, but the humankind lives on.
Most prehistoric species of life, perishable artifacts
of past civilization, old laws, customs, manners, folk
art, and technology, like mechanical calculator, quill
and inkwell, manual telephone switchboard, absolute
monarchy, and ancient weaponry were lost to evolution.
The loss of Technos can be partially reversed by
making new samples of the same species, unless the
entropic loss destroys all descriptions and samples.
Each such loss occurs inside a larger and more
resilient class of objects: a species could be easily
lost, but genus, family, and order are incomparably
more stable. The fountain and ball pens displaced the
quill and inkwell, and they get along well with
computer as a modern writing device.
Evolutionary loss makes objects obsolete. New Things
take place of the old ones, while Art and Ideas simply
pile up to be slowly leached out by the rain of years.
The old Things pile up, cracking and rusting, in the
lofts, basements, and flea markets, as the extinct in
the nature and Technos species will concentrate in the
zoos, botanic gardens, and museums. The fading manners, ideals, and traditions
are catalogued by historians. Same happens
with institutions, moral norms, and fashion: they are
preserved in old books which someday will become
endangered species, too.
For more about this type of loss, see Essay 32, The
Split. It is as much
loss as gain. The trick is that the wise alien was
right, there is really one evolution for the entire
planet, and the plants and animals must go without
anything to replace them because they are not made by
humans. When they are, as it is the case with
artificial selection and breeding, the time to produce
a new breed is too long for the fast metabolism of
industrial society. There might be a separate kind of
irreversible loss that is intrinsic to capitalist
economy: competitive loss.
3. Competitive (selective) loss.
That capitalism brings variety and expands consumer
choice is one of the modern mantras.
Even remembering the miserable poverty of the socialist
choice, I don't feel enthusiastic about joining the
chorus. This may be true about competition but not
always about the overall result. I suspect that the plot
of choice versus competition looks like the bell curve.
Variety increases only until the competition
reaches a certain intensity, after which the
Probably, this idea has been already expressed or
refuted. As consumer, I see the depletion of choice
everywhere: in publishing, movies, supermarket, car
design, and computer industry. The
consolidation of the market goes on until the forces
of concentration are balanced by the government
anti-trust forces. There is another couple of
opposite forces: to maintain choice costs money, and
the desire to offer choice is balanced by its cost.
I believe it is a myth that competition increases
choice. By its very nature, competition must
decrease it. This is the essence of competition: to
Competitive loss occurs as result of an elimination
of extra contenders in a competition for a limited
resource, for example, in a beauty pageant, where
the resource is the single crown.
The contest with one winner is the toughest. A
softer alternative would be a pageant stopped at the
semi-final step: five most beautiful women and ten
runner-ups. Naturally, nobody interested in that
because of the star culture and commercialization.
Commercial advertisement needs a star as a drug
addict a shot.
A species or individual loses competition for space
to the winner simply because there is not enough
space for both. This also happens if there is no
resource of energy to supply both contenders even
though they are at comparable levels of functional
efficiency. Competition runs for both space and time
(Essay 2: On the chronophages or time-eaters).
Competitive loss is part of the mechanism of the
evolutionary loss. Before a biological species loses
and exits the wrestling ring, it is guaranteed an
access to the fight. In human society and
Technos, however, selection happens even before the
species or individual even comes to existence
because of the dramatic ability of humans to imagine
The way of a newcomer into existence consists of two
stages: the stage of the code and the stage of
expression. With the exception of codes that are so
garbled that they cannot be expressed, the DNA
sequences of organisms must be expressed, i.e., born
as organisms before they enter competition. Social,
cultural, managerial, and technological projects,
and sometimes even children, are first selected at
the stage when they exist only as ideas, models,
simulations, or just dreams. This gives most
mental (and some live children) no chance to be
born, especially, when the criteria of selection are
of business nature.
A material contender lucky enough to come to
existence, for example, a new model of a Thing, can be
later eliminated from contest by the winner.
Competitive loss is not necessarily destructive. It
simply eliminates data and Things from the focus of
attention, which is crucial at the conception stage.
Thus, the former presidential candidate who lost the
elections, loses most of attention, but he can still
try to regain it. Some news are never delivered
because of assumed lack of importance or because they
are overshadowed by other news. Some data can be moved
into deeper layers of the storage, like most books
printed ten years ago, not to mention all documents.
Information can be retrieved if necessary. The
competitive loss is the loss of interest because new
Things and data occupy the limited space and push out
earlier ones. As result, topics and items are lost in
“comprehensive” handbooks and reviews.
History, by convention, starts with Herodotus. In
one of his books, page after page, he describes the
Scythians, people living around the Black Sea, their
way of life and war, and customs, such as drinking
wine from the sculls of their enemies.
Here is the list of topics on Scythians in History
by Herodotus (the Fourth
Book, Melpomene; the list is taken
from The History of Herodotus, Chicago:
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952, p. 339. Series:
Great Books of the Western World.)
Scythia, its geography
and people; unknown regions beyond; rigor of its
winters; rivers in; hemp grown in; population of;
measurements of its sea-shore; its
Scythians, their conquest
of Asia; they plunder the temple of Venus; are
massacred by the Medes; lords of Upper Asia;
overthrow the Medes; their wives intermarry with
slaves during the men's absence; their
method of obtaining mares' milk, and habit of
blinding their slaves; their conflict with the
slaves on their return home; account of their
origin; Greek legend concerning; they conquer the
land of the Cimmerians; Scythian husbandmen;
wandering Scythians; the Royal Scythians; they are
unconquerable; gods worshipped by; their
sacrifices; special rites paid to Mars; their
warlike customs; the skulls of their enemies used
for drinking-horns; their soothsayers;
ceremonies accompanying their oaths; the
royal tombs; burial of their kings; ordinary
burials; mode of cleaning them selves; their
hatred of foreign customs; send to the neighboring
tribes for help against Darius; their plan of war;
they march to meet Darius; they continue to draw
him on through their country, their haughty answer
to the message sent by Darius; they assault the
Persian camp; their horses alarmed by the braying
of asses; send symbolic gifts to Darius; they
march to the Ister and advise the Ionians to break
the bridge; they miss the Persian army; their
marauding expedition as far as the Chersonese;
send ambassadors to Sparta; drink wine unmixed
with water; their equipment for war; serve under
Herodotus used to be the encyclopedia for the Ancient
and Medieval worlds. He is no more one.
For comparison, Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia
gives a lot of new knowledge about Scythia in a
wider context, but, of course, all Herodotus is
Novels, poems, and stories published in millions of
copies are forgotten by the public in thirty or less
years and are used only for graduate theses and
Ph.D. dissertations. It is not because of the fast
changing life—which is fast only because of the
incessant race of Things—but because some time ago
life settled down to a new large pattern. Books
became models of the Thing named Book, like
the model and make of a car. They are worn out, fall
out of fashion, and exchanged for new ones, some
times, in a retro style.
I was really struck by two examples of loss.
Bill Joy, cofounder and Chief Scientist of Sun
Microsystems, who published an excellent essay on the
future of technology, Why
the future doesn't need us. ("Our most powerful
21st-century technologies - robotics, genetic
engineering, and nanotech - are threatening to make
humans an endangered species.") mentions many names
but not Norbert Wiener, the founder of cybernetics,
who was the first to warn about a possible conflict
between a man and a machine, especially if the machine
had a computer inside.
Interestingly, the term cybernetics was
initially invented by André Ampère, (1775-1836), but
was lost, at least to Norbert Wiener.
This is an example of a generation loss: what was
hot for one generation is cold history for another.
Old ideas are either reinvented or appropriated.
The second example is Allan Bloom's book The
Closing of the American Mind, a classical
work of general importance (Essay 19, On Reading
Across the Lines), which I discovered only
accidentally because of a novel by Saul Bellow (Ravelstein)
with Allan Bloom as the prototype. Bloom's
book was published as recently as in 1987 but it
In the red hot competitive atmosphere, the contents
of national memory are as short living as food on
the branch table. Food for thought becomes more and
Some Things (tin cans, newspaper), art (TV
commercials), and ideas (statements of politicians)
are created for a limited life time or a single use.
This entire domain of manufacturing, with its fast
metabolism, is very efficient in terms of making
money, all the more because of the intense recycling.
4. Haystack loss (loss by dilution).
Herodotus, Norbert Wiener, and Allan Bloom still can
be found in the libraries. The procedure of search,
however, is subject to another type of loss, related
to the competition loss. It can be formulated as the
problem of finding a needle in a haystack and is most
typical for modern civilization. It is the phantom
loss, not the actual extinction: the object exists but
cannot be found. While competitive loss occurs because
of the limited space for attention, the haystack loss
happens because of the enormous expansion of the
search space, caused by increased production of data.
In a very large space it was possible to forget a
certain way through it, to lose directions from one
point to another, or totally forget how to get to a
whole continent. In such a space, an undiscovery was
possible. Thus, the medieval art of courtship and
chivalry, the ancient Greek art of philosophical
discourse, the practice of astrology, and
polytheistic religions became desert islands
at some time in the past. Some were rediscovered in
The number of other objects of the same category can
be so large, that the particular object has a very
low probability to be found. This loss concerns
large systems. It is usually caused by competition
for time: anything can be found, but too slow.
A practical impossibility to process all
surveillance data by an intelligence agency is an
example of such loss. Thus, a large volume of spy
information can be lost with vitally important
signals among the waste. Even though the data are
stored, the actual loss occurs when it is too late
to use them.
Most publishers do not read manuscripts anymore: they
rely on agents, credentials of the author, and the
endorsements, as well as on the estimated interest in
This loss seems to be a direct result of the loss of
the social stratification and hierarchy typical for
all societies, but least of all for liberal democracy.
The remedy for it is exactly the hierarchy of
subjects, which is used in Internet search engines. It
works when one knows the object of search.
I believe that this type of loss was the reason for
great changes in philosophy, art, religion, and
politics by the end of the nineteenth century.
An individual who could previously find a stable
space in guild, cast, class, tribe, is now alone.
The barriers seem incomparably higher (not in
business, where it is as easy to borrow money as to
lose it). The individual can amass social energy by
attaching himself to as many names as possible, or
to a single weighty one, or by creating a corg (Essay
33, The Corg).
The statistical loss accompanies democracy and
contributes to its major paradox: all people are
equal, but there is no way to give them equal voice.
The universally accepted old solution was just to
neglect the entire stratum, cast, estate, and race.
Today the voices have to be neglected individually,
one by one.
Modern expansion and entrenchment of bureaucracy has
been a byproduct of computerization. Creating,
copying, and compounding documents turned into a
simple task, so that the documents became
unreadable. Each bill, even at local level, was like
Gibbon's history of Rome: a human had no chance to
keep it all in head even if it was read from
beginning to end. So, paradoxically, the
computerization of bureaucracy had little effect on
creating order, but introduced actually a lot of
Bureaucracy means that papers are never read, and even
never written, but compounded form standard blocks,
with their size and complexity unopposed by any
counterforce. Non-implementation of directives was
another form of loss.
Electronic lossis the back
side of computerization. The electronic data require
little energy to be either created, or copied, or
Large volumes of digital and analogue data are
produced by the current electronic Technos. The
volumes of data exceed not only the human capacity
of processing them but also the computer capacity,
and what is not used is trashed.
Automatic data processing, including classification,
understanding, response, and implementation,
may stimulate delegating these tasks to Technos. But
if the data processing system is faulty, some data
are lost completely and absolutely. The easiest way
to be lost is go on the Web, which is the most
probable fate of these Essays. The survival in the
ocean of loss can be achieved by spreading the
microweb of links.
Digital code is becoming a universal code of all our
knowledge, input from sensors and instruments, and
output in the form of commands to people and
machines. This is a process comparable with the
establishment of the universal genetic code in the
beginning of evolution. The significance of this
event is that loss is "naturalized:" a certain part
of files is expected to be deleted or lost. In the
end, we can arrive at a steady state in which the
amount of all stored information is kept either
constant, or fluctuating, or slowly growing. I
believe, we are witnessing this on the Web where
there is a certain average life time for a page.
We can only guess what fragments of matter are going
to be erased from the face of the earth due to the
uncontrollable but perfectly natural—as death—loss
of files or because of their offhand management.
Having in mind biological evolution, we may expect
catastrophic extinctions of information of the same
magnitude as those on the record of biological
evolution. Electronic wars can inflict enormous
damage amount of this loss in an industrial society
relying on flow of information.
But can the incineration of a garbage dump be called
damage? Information is waiting for a firestorm, as
any overgrown forest.
What could we draw from the nonexistentialist
1. The loss
is unavoidable and natural process. We could not
have working memory if our brain was unable to
specific loss can be prevented by applying
significant efforts of the same type as in
business: advertisement. Mere preservation has
little chance to beat production, unless the
preserved species can be commercialized.
essence of evolution is a continuous drift of
species that enter a larger category and leave it.
The same happens at the level of categories:
smaller categories drift through larger ones, only
very slowly. If we take the category of life, the
ratio of plants and animals to humans and the
entire distribution of species are changing. If we
take the largest category that includes all forms
of life and Technos (i.e., of meta-life existing
as replication of the code and expression), the
distribution of species may be changing there,
4. The loss
is counteracted by forming a hierarchy of species
and individuals instead of free competition and
techno-democracy, in other words, by rigging the
competition instead of equal chances. Hereditary
monarchy was such a fix in the past, aristocracy
later, and elites of influence today.
5. Born out
of idealism, preservation is becoming business and
6. Representation of
species is becoming a political issue. It was
historical limited to humans and products for sale.
nature has become the largest natural reservoir
of stability on earth.
is a dull subject. But the subject of gain is even
NOTE (2016). Here is an interesting
problem. We cannot speak about a loss of anything,
for example, loss
of courage, ambition, and non-conformism or
loss of categories of shame and honor without
numerical data. It is possible to get that
from the Web, but it would be of low value
without an independent source. The Web is limited
memory span. Besides, humans disagree about
O. Wilson is a unique figure in
modern science for many reasons. His books are a
wealth of factual and conceptual knowledge about
biodiversity, biological components of human nature,
the structure of modern science, and other
interesting and important subjects. Together with
Jaques Barzun, he is a figure resisting yet another
ongoing loss: the loss of depth.
biodiversity: Diversity of Life,
W.W.Norton, 1999 and The Future of Life,
Alfred Knopf, 2002.
2. Second Law of
thermodynamics: different formulations