inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #51 of 67: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Fri 17 Jun 05 12:26
    

It's been two weeks since this discussion began and I want to thank John
Markoff and Howard Rheingold for joining us here. Though our virtual
spotlight has turned to a new conversation, this topic will remain open and
available for additional comments and/or questions.
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #52 of 67: J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Fri 17 Jun 05 14:47
    
I wish John and Howard had joined us more often!
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #53 of 67: It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Fri 17 Jun 05 19:28
    
Although it's assumed, let's not forget that most of us traveled
"East" during those years of spiritual searching...so many of us were
idealistic Kennedy kids, going through the trauma of a system that
seemed to be lying to us, a change in consciousness about who we were
and what we really wanted, before we even had a brownie or got on a
hookah or dropped or were dropped or whatever...it was a pretty mixed
cosmic bag where everything was up for review...
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #54 of 67: Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Sun 19 Jun 05 10:18
    
somewhere above it was mentioned that the whole earth effort might
have been the first time people realized computers could be used for
something besides number crunching.  if by people is meant a group of
savvy but non-computing types, maybe (though even this is not quite
right). 

in 1945 konrad zuse, on the wrong side of ww ii, published a
programming language called plankalkul, which he wrote could be used
for solving mathematical problems, but also for other kinds of symbolic
processing, such as chess.  a number of chess programs were written in
the 1940s, not only by turing (who saw the possibilities of symbolic
processing including machine intelligence at least as early as 1947)
but also a slew of others.

at bell labs, a favorite dictum of richard hamming in the 1950s was
"the purpose of computing is insight, not numbers," which his
colleagues parodied as "the purpose of computing is not yet in sight."

and of course the entire effort of artificial intelligence was about
symbolic processing, the first such working program realized in 1955.

the whole earth/sri/stanford ai effort had many antecedents, and it
takes nothing away from their collective brilliance to point this out.
 
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #55 of 67: J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Sun 19 Jun 05 10:43
    
I believe Ada Byron (http://www.well.com/user/adatoole/bio.htm) is credited
with the first recorded insight that computational devices could be used for
almost any purpose that can be mathematically described.
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #56 of 67: Lee Felsenstein (lee) Sun 19 Jun 05 15:32
    
To put in my two cents, (belatedly because of a crushing work load readying
a truly meaningles product for production) , I want to makethe case that I
stated in an unpublushed Letter to the Times, responding to a stupid review
of Dormouse.

My primary point was that the Whole Earth Catalog and its derivatives
deserve credit for creating the demand for personal computers. The reviewer
(in the busiiness section) derides Stewart for having been useless, and
notes that the Altair was produced in Albuquerque. QED. But MITS (the
manufacturer of the kits) was swamped ed with unexpected orders. Why?
Stewart had been thumpoing the tub for years about how the coutnerulture
needed to be conversant with technologies, up to and including.

My secondary point was that Englebart's 1968 "Mother of all Demos" would
havebeen sufficient in itself to have culminated his work, or at least to
have propagated his basic ideas far and wide. The "obtuse" (my word)
reviewer derided him for never getting to product development, and I pointed
out the significant differences between the two disciplines.

I remember being jazzed by the range of posibilities when I heard what had
to be at least a third-hand account of the demo while participating inthe
potlucks at People's Computer Center in 1973. Multiply that out and
Englebart had a massive impact on the shape of products to come.

My acid was the realization, at about age three, that allthe bricks in the
wall _actually fitted together_ and the vision I had of the row of brincks
breaking the surface of the back yard to form the border to the path
actually could have gone _all the way down_ to whatever we all rested  upon.
Who needs the chemical stuff?
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #57 of 67: Allegro ma non tofu (pamela) Sun 19 Jun 05 15:58
    
ada was perceptive, but i decided not to go quite that far back.

lee, agreed on both points you make
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #58 of 67: David Gans (tnf) Mon 11 Jul 05 09:04
    


Nobel Prize genius Crick was high on LSD
when he discovered the secret of life


BY ALUN REES
August 8, 2004


FRANCIS CRICK, the Nobel Prize-winning father of
modern genetics, was under the influence of LSD when
he first deduced the double-helix structure of DNA
nearly 50 years ago.

The abrasive and unorthodox Crick and his brilliant
American co-researcher James Watson famously
celebrated their eureka moment in March 1953 by
running from the now legendary Cavendish Laboratory in
Cambridge to the nearby Eagle pub, where they
announced over pints of bitter that they had
discovered the secret of life.

Crick, who died ten days ago, aged 88, later told a
fellow scientist that he often used small doses of LSD
then an experimental drug used in psychotherapy to
boost his powers of thought. He said it was LSD, not
the Eagle's warm beer, that helped him to unravel the
structure of DNA, the discovery that won him the Nobel
Prize.

Despite his Establishment image, Crick was a devotee
of novelist Aldous Huxley, whose accounts of his
experiments with LSD and another hallucinogen,
mescaline, in the short stories The Doors Of
Perception and Heaven And Hell became cult texts for
the hippies of the Sixties and Seventies. In the late
Sixties, Crick was a founder member of Soma, a
legalize-cannabis group named after the drug in
Huxley's novel Brave New World. He even put his name
to a famous letter to The Times in 1967 calling for a
reform in the drugs laws.


More:

http://www.mayanmajix.com/art1699.html
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #59 of 67: J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Mon 11 Jul 05 09:09
    
holy shit.
cool.

Some day, I hope, real proper research on psychedelics will resume. There is
a lot to learn.
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #60 of 67: Low and popular (rik) Mon 11 Jul 05 09:49
    
That is just wonderful.
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #61 of 67: Andrew Alden (alden) Mon 11 Jul 05 10:05
    
Has this been corroborated anywhere else? It's just the kind of thing that
friends-of-drugs would want to believe. Also, I don't appreciate the slam on
English-style "warm beer."...
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #62 of 67: Gail Williams (gail) Mon 11 Jul 05 10:24
    
That does hurt the credibility a bit.  Funny how a little ignorant
opinionated assertion can tarnish an interesting story!  Then again, it is
possible that Crick himself described cellar temperature beer as "warm" and
the thing is an odd paraphrase.  

If accurate this adds to the lore of the orbweaver spider's overly-perfect 
web and Doc Ellis's no-hitter, each done on LSD.  Along with a lot of 
music and visual arts compositions, and some computer innovation, of course.
I think these storeis will start to emerge now as people get to a certain
time in life when they feel safe telling such tales.

It oddly ties in to this study somebody pointed out in The WELL <news.>
conference today:

Are Genius and Madness Related? Contemporary Answers to an Ancient Question
 http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleId=164902206

The description of the creative cluster in the article sheds some light
on how a little bit on controlled "madness" has possible value (leaving
aside the dangers of madness, which we all know about) 

Very interesting!
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #63 of 67: Dan Levy (danlevy) Mon 11 Jul 05 14:21
    

I think I am going to have to  unearth some of the hypotheses that I have
come up with under the influence of psychedelics.  Perhaps I discovered
something important.
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #64 of 67: nape fest (zorca) Thu 14 Jul 05 10:58
    
that made my day.
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #65 of 67: virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Tue 2 Aug 05 07:20
    
Andrew Brown writes from off-Well:

I have no idea whether it is true that Crick used acid in his attempts to
crack the double helix, but I doubt it because it would surely have come out
earlier. What I do know is that there were at one stage lots of drugs around
one of Crick's spinoff projects, the dissection, and later the sequencing,
of the nematode c. elegans. The following story, pulled from my book,
(http://www.thewormbook.com) came to me in 2001 from a very distinguished
source describing the early Seventies at the Medical Research Council lab in
Cambridge:

"each of the newly identified mutants had to be further tested, for touch
sensitivity (you tapped them with an eyelash hair), tolerance of different
temperatures,  and drug resistance. 'These were still the Sixties, really'
said someone who was there: when they were testing for drug resistant
mutants, they used every drug they could get their hands on hands on, legal
or not. But the worms never did anything very interesting on cannabis or
LSD, and one morning, so the story goes the lab’s stock of acid had
quietly disappeared from the refrigerator. 'The worms did not consume it', I
was gravely told."

I have seen a photograph of one of these parties in which one Nobel Prize
winner is smoking an unusually fat and irregularly rolled cigarette.

But no one ever attributed their insights to anything more than hard work
(and brilliance).
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #66 of 67: It's a new sun to me (nukem777) Tue 2 Aug 05 10:12
    
We are what we are, going into and coming out of the casual drug
experience. These guys and girls were all brilliant before they took
drugs...maybe a few walls came down and some boxes were broken while
they were relaxed and took their minds off their various projects for a
time, but it still all came back on them to do something with the
various insights that may have arisen during a good 'session' of drugs
or partying...most of just filed it all under "wasted time".
  
inkwell.vue.246 : John Markoff, WHAT THE DORMOUSE SAID
permalink #67 of 67: from ANDREW BROWN (tnf) Wed 3 Aug 05 08:53
    



Andrew Brown writes:




Another comment for the discussion

Now that I have looked at the original story, it is clearly not true, and for
the following reasons.

1) It appeared in the Mail on Sunday. I have done enough work for them not to
believe a word they print without corroboration

2) The timing is very odd: the work on the double helix was done in 1952 and
53, which is a long time before any real knowledge of LSD spread in the
world.

3) The original source is reporting a story third-hand

4) Crick denied it. The "Print a word and I'll sue you" is not a non-denial
denial. It's a straight-up denying denial. After all, he is not just accused
of having taken LSD (which would make his life as a Brit difficult at La
Jolla) but also of being the inspiration, albeint possibly unwittingly, of a
gigantic criminal enterprise. I believe that the couple who made all that
acid got something like 20 years. In British terms, that's fantastically
libellous and someone as respectable as Crick would sue.

I wouldn't be in the least surprised if Crick and Sydney Brenner experimented
with acid in the Sixties. But that would be a different story, and I've got
no evidence for my suspicions, just a feeling for what that milieu was like
and a suspicion that almost all the consciousness researchers got interested
in the subject from bending their own. Certainly, one British consciousness
researcher of my acquaintance is a heroic consumer of dope, and partial to
acid as well. But I'm not going to <mmmmph>.


--
Andrew Brown
  



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