The Corpus Callosum

Let Us Calculate!

The Ubuntu craze is sweeping SciencBlogs: href="http://scienceblogs.com/aardvarchaeology/2008/04/tech_note_ubuntu_linux_804_har.php">Aardvarchaeology,
href="http://scienceblogs.com/thescian/2006/11/ubuntu_for_your_parents_uncles.php">Scientific
Indian, href="http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2008/02/ubuntu_804_the_hardy_heron_is.php">Greg
Laden, href="http://scienceblogs.com/corpuscallosum/2008/03/yet_another_gentoo_defector.php">Corpus
Callosum, even href="http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2007/10/the_ways_children_let_you_down.php">PZ’s
kid.  

At SB, we strive for logic and precision.  Enough so, that we
swoon over passages such as href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gottfried_Leibniz">this
one, from href="http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Leibniz.html"
rel="tag">Gottfried Leibniz:

“The only way to rectify our reasonings is to make
them as tangible as those of the Mathematicians, so that we can find
our error at a glance, and when there are disputes among persons, we
can simply say: Let us calculate [calculemus], without further ado, to
see who is right.” (The Art of Discovery 1685, W 51)

Even though Leibniz predated empiricism, scientific types are drawn to
his love of logic.  Computer users, too, are fond of Leibniz:
he invented the binary number system.  

Leibniz was a great thinker, as well as a great mathematician.
 Scientists have long used the binary computers Leibniz made
possible, to aid in their computations; however, they have not been
able to use them to aid in their thinking.  Until now:

i-081e1fd5ed4178b3e6469910fe6953f1-sBuntuLogo-with-text-500px.png


Previously, we had ,

(Ubuntu with KDE instead of Gnome), href="http://www.xubuntu.org/" rel="tag">Xubuntu
(Kfce instead of Gnome), rel="tag">Mythbuntu (Ubuntu set up to act as a
media server/home entertainment center), href="http://www.edubuntu.org/" rel="tag">Edubuntu
(specialty version for schools), and href="http://www.whatwouldjesusdownload.com/christianubuntu/splashpage/splash.html"
rel="tag">Ubuntu CE (Christian Edition).

Just to illustrate the possibilities, I’ll show what makes Ubuntu CE
special:

Ubuntu Christian Edition includes the best available
Christian software. The latest release contains GnomeSword,
BibleMemorizer, the e-Sword Installer with Module Manager, The Word
Installer, Firefox Web Browser with Bible Fox Theme and the
WhatWouldJesusDownload Toolbar, and much more.

Ubuntu Christian Edition also includes fully integrated web content
parental controls powered by Dansguardian. A graphical tool to adjust
the parental control settings has also been developed specifically for
Ubuntu Christian Edition. These features are truly what sets Ubuntu
Christian Edition apart.

Imagine that.  What would Jesus download?  

With that as inspiration, we’ve come up with a concept: sbuntu, or
ScienceBlogs -buntu.  It comes with exactly what you need and
expect: presentation software, graphing software, all kinds of
mathematical and publishing tools, citation manager, and it is
preconfigured with links to PubMed, JSTOR, etc.

The personal information manager is special.  The contacts
module has fields for the usual name, address, phone, pet’s name, etc.
 But it also has fields to keep track of information
particular to academia: you can store the person’s CV, publication
list, favorite beer, and more.  You can click on their name to
do a literature search.  After hours, if the person is not
answering the phone, it will call a list of favorite pubs to try to
locate the wayward egghead.

It makes lab management easier.  It keeps track of what
chemicals you use, and what you need.  It can network with
other labs.  So on that Sunday morning when your grant
proposal is nearly due, and you just used your last gram of potassium
permanganate, it can query nearby labs to find some you can borrow.
 

Most importantly, sbuntu forces one to think in a highly logical
fashion.  This is because it economizes on hardware, by using
only binary notation.  You don’t need a keyboard, mouse, or
monitor.   All you need is a telegraph key and a speaker.
 Dot-Dash-Dot=0-1-0.  It’s breathtakingly simple.

By enforcing the rules of logic, it can change the world.  No more
petty arguments. If there is any conflict, merely say “Let us
calculate!”   You can both start dot-dash-dotting away to
your heart’s content.  I can guarantee there will be no more
arguments.  

Any problem can be solved, one bit at a time.

You can see, of course, why scientists are fans of empiricism.
 Using logic, it is possible to figure out anything.
 So long as you know about every bit in the entire universe.
 But it takes an awfully long time to do it that way.
 

After spending a few hours with the bits, you may be tempted to take
shortcuts.  That is the attraction of faith.  So long
as you are not constrained by the need to have your results conform to
observations, it is a quick way to settle things.

As long as everyone believes the same tenets.  

Admittedly, Sbuntu still is in early alpha.  Very early.
 I guess there are no shortcuts.  

Comments

  1. #1 Greg Laden
    April 28, 2008

    I’m in!!!

  2. #2 PhysioProf
    April 28, 2008

    I’m going to invent PPubuntu! It’ll come with a fucking word processor, a fucking spreadsheet, a fucking Web browser, and a whole bunch of other fucking programs!

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    April 28, 2008

    Brilliant. Four profanities in one sentence. I don’t know how you do it! What a talent!

    But seriously, sbuntu must have Gnumeric as a default spreadsheet.

  4. #4 Martin R
    April 28, 2008

    I hear sbuntu will come with calibration software for radiocarbon dates pre-installed.

  5. #5 Chris
    April 29, 2008

    FWIW, there’s already a Scibuntu:
    http://scibuntu.sourceforge.net/