Search

"a turre"

Thoughts On And For A Structured Existence

Tag

Shakespeare

“Light Bulbs And Enlightenment”: Thomas Edison’s Ironic And Misguided War On Sleep

  edisons-prophecy-a-duplex-sleepless-dinnerless-world-literary-digest-nov-14-1914

 

      Thomas Edison, perhaps referencing Plato in “Laws” (“By nature, prolonged sleep does not suit either the body or soul, nor does it help us to be active in all this kind of work.“),  ushered in the Age of Electricity and the electric light bulb in 1879. But with the brilliance of the “inventor” came the dogma of the “businessman”:

Everything which decreases the sum total of man’s sleep increases the sum total of man’s capabilities.

The historical irony of Edison’s exhortations are manifest: the man who resisted sleep and promoted sleeplessness, ultimately died of complications of Type 2 Diabetes. Obesity and diabetes are consequences of the electric light’s disruption of sleep/wake cycles and circadian rhythms:

electric-light-particularly-at-night-disrupts-human-circadian-rhythmicity-is-that-a-problem-royal-society

The poets and playwrights of the Age of Enlightenment and Romantic Era knew the value of sleep for health and well-being:

to-sleep-by-william-wordsworth-1770-1850

Sleep allows the brain to process, retain and discard the day’s images and information, a process of “forgetting” stress and strain as Shakespeare’s “Henry VI” bemoans:

henry-iv-part-ii-o-sleep-o-gentle-sleep

Levinus Lemnius (1505-1568) wrote that one should sleep eight hours as it “…repairs and raiseth up the tired mind and spirits that are exhausted with constant studies and lucubrations”. Time will show “….wise men at their end know dark is right.”

“Walking With Plato And Aristotle”: Physicist John A. Wheeler’s Dream To Unwrap Acoustic Memory

“Can a single stone from a time
That used to be
Hold the memories of conversations 
That mean so much to me”

Adapted from “Memory Motel” by The Rolling Stones (Jagger/Richards)

    Theoretical Physicist John Archibald Wheeler (1911-2008) coined the term “black hole”, worked on the Manhattan Project that led to development of Atomic and Hydrogen bombs, and championed theories in gravity and relativity. In an interview late in his life he spoke of receiving a stone from the garden at Plato’s Academy (“Akademeia” c. 385 BC) in Athens:

John Archibald Wheeler Theoretical Physicist on a Machine that could unpeel Accoustic Memory

Albert Einstein wrote that “every true theorist is a kind of tamed metaphysicist”. Wheeler, who collaborated with Einstein, moved productively between Aristotelian Realism (Universals exist in things) and Platonic Realism (Universals can exist in abstraction). This “miracle creed” helped transform theoretical and quantum physics.

Wheeler was consumed by the idea that “human consciousness” shapes the past and present, a topic that he foreshadows might have been a topic of conversation between Plato and Aristotle:

Complexity Entropy and the Physics of Information

He asks: “Is existence thus built on ‘insubstantial nothingness’?”, directly referencing Shakespeare’s “The Tempest“, where Prospero tells us:

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep. The Tempest

Imagine the shadowy voice of Plato asking Aristotle: “How come existence?”. Aristotle might look to John Wheeler for information on that.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑