Monday, February 27, 2017

the Power of One, and Zero


Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) is recognized as the father of calculus, but he also discovered kinetic energy, and transformed physics with his idea that the universe is a hologram, even though physically it is a fractal (in which each drop of water hanging from a tree in a garden contains another tree in a garden with a drop of water). Leibniz was an early and prolific inventor of mechanical calculators and believed that since all thought is symbolic, then symbols rather than language is the best representation of human thought. To this end he attempted to build an alphabet of human thought - a universal language based on algebra. For Leibniz, it eventually reduced to a binary system, that he figured out by age 20, that forms the basis for all modern computing. Leibniz himself saw binary less as a computational tool than as a means of discovering mathematical, philosophical and even theological truths. While working on his binary system, Leibniz was in correspondence with Joachim Bouvet, part of a Jesuit mission in China. Bouvet sent Leibniz a woodcut of the Fu Xi arrangement of hexagrams of the I Ching which proved enormously influential to the Leibniz to the extent that he titled his paper, “Explanation of the binary arithmetic, which uses only the characters 1 and 0, with some remarks on its usefulness, and on the light it throws on the ancient Chinese figures of Fu Xi”. This code is the basis for all current computing from iPhones to the Chinese Tihane-2, which remains the most powerful supercomputer in the world.

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