Safest drivers are aged 75 and the young are much riskier than even the 90-year-olds

August 20, 2017

Age discrimination against the elderly is widespread and institutionalised in Europe.

There are calls in some countries (including Sweden) for elderly drivers to be retested. Sweden does suffer from a youth fetish and the experience of the elderly is often wasted and replaced by younger incompetence. Yet, the statistics do not support these bigoted calls.

Aftonbladet:

Above 80, the risk of causing a traffic accident increases. But those who call for testing of the  driving ability of the elderly have not studied the statistics. The risk of a traffic accident is least at 75, according to insurance claims statistics. ………. 
By a long way the really young have the highest risk of causing a traffic accident with their own car.  The risk that an 18-19 year old will cause a car accident is 3.5 times higher than the average. The risk then falls sharply down to around twice the average at the age of 30 according to the claims statistics of the insurance companies. These are statistically sound figures, largely confirmed by Folksam, taking into account, for example, that older people drive less. From around 40 to 80 years, the risk is close to the average. The lowest risk behavior is reached at 75 years, when the risk of having a car accident …. is about 20 percent lower than the average before it rises again and increases with age. …… 
But even though the risk increases at the end of the age curve, a 90-year-old is no more dangerous in traffic than a 35-year-old.  Last year, the Transport Agency initiated an investigation to see whether the regulations should change. One way to go is mandatory health checks at a certain age, another is an extension of the doctors’ reporting obligation. According to the Transport Agency, the investigation is expected to be completed sometime in spring 2018. But Tania Dukic Willstrand, who is studying the elderly in traffic at the State Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI), is doubtful. Other countries have introduced mandatory tests by elderly drivers. “And it has not shown increased road safety,” she says. 
Those over 80, just as younger drivers, pay a higher premium for insurance as a reflection of the risk. Even 40-50-year-olds have slightly higher insurance rate. “It’s the age when the youngsters begin to borrow mothers and dads cars,” said Dan Falconer.

Data from the US also shows much the same thing. The safest drivers are around 75 years old. But even at 90 years old they are much safer than the 18-19 year old drivers. (AAA study).


 

Counting on fingers leads naturally also to base-60

August 19, 2017

We have forgotten what it was like to count on our fingers. We have forgotten that counting itself was a mystery long before the mysteries of manipulation of numbers and the magic of mathematics. Yet the use of base-60 lies deep in our psyches. We still use it for time measurement and for geographical and spatial measurements. Attempts to use decimals for time and angle measurement have all failed miserably. Sixty still occurs in ancient Chinese and Indian calendars.

Today the use of 60 still predominates for time, for navigation and geometry. But generally only for units already defined in antiquity. A base of 10 is used for units found to be necessary in more recent times. Subdivision of a second of time or a second of arc is always using the decimal system rather than by the duodecimal or the sexagesimal system.

Usually the origin of sexagesimal systems of counting are traced back to the Babylonians (c. 1,800 BCE) and even to the Sumerians (c. 3,000 – 2,500 BCE). But I suspect that it goes back much further and that base-60 long precedes the Babylonians and the Sumerians.

I observe that twelve and then sixty come naturally from three factors:

  1. using fingers for counting,
  2. maximising the count with only one hand free, and
  3. the growth of trade and the need for counts of greater than 20

That five comes naturally from the fingers of one hand is self-evident. With only one free hand, a count to twelve using the thumb and the digits of the other four fingers is also self-evident. I saw my great grandmother, and my grandmother after her, regularly count to twelve using only one hand. Sixty comes naturally from a hand of five of a hand of twelve. Counting to five and twelve would have been well known to our hunter-gatherer ancestors. It seems very plausible that a hunter would look to maximise the count on a single hand. So, it is not necessary to look for the origins of base-60 in the skies or in the length of the year or the number of its divisors or the beginnings of geometry. If the origins of counting lie some 50,000 years ago, the use of twelve and then of sixty probably goes back some 20,000 years.

The origins of base 60

I like 60. Equilaterals. Hexagons. Easy to divide by almost anything. Simple integers for halves, quarters, thirds, fifths, sixths, tenths, 12ths, 15ths and 30ths. 3600. 60Hz. Proportions pleasing to the eye. Recurring patterns. Harmonic. Harmony.

The origins of the use of base 60 are lost in the ancient past. By the time the Sumerians used it about 2,500 years ago it was already well established and continued through the Babylonians. But the origin lies much earlier.

hand of 5I speculate that counting – in any form more complex than “one, two, many….” – probably goes back around 50,000 years. I have little doubt that the fingers of one hand were the first counting aids that were ever used, and that the base 10 given by two hands came to dominate. Why then would the base 60 even come into being?

The answer, I think, still lies in one hand. Hunter-gatherers when required to count would prefer to use only one hand and they must – quite early on and quite often – have had the need for counting to numbers greater than five. And of course using the thumb as pointer one gets to 12 by reckoning up the 3 bones on each of the other 4 fingers.

a hand of 12 - image sweetscience

a hand of 12 – image sweetscience

My great-grandmother used to count this way when checking the numbers of vegetables (onions, bananas, aubergines) bought by her maid at market. Counting up to 12 usually sufficed for this. When I was a little older, I remember my grandmother using both hands to check off bags of rice brought in from the fields – and of course with two hands she could get to 144. The counting of 12s most likely developed in parallel with counting in base 10 (5,10, 50, 100). The advantageous properties of 12 as a number were fortuitous rather than by intention. But certainly the advantages helped in the persistence of using 12 as a base. And so we still have a dozen (12) and a gross (12×12) and even a great gross (12x12x12) being used today. Possibly different groups of ancient man used one or other of the systems predominantly. But as groups met and mixed and warred or traded with each other the systems coalesced.

hands for 60

And then 60 becomes inevitable. Your hand of 5, with my hand of 12, gives the 60 which also persists into the present.  (There is one theory that 60 developed as 3 x 20, but I think finger counting and the 5 x 12 it leads to is far more compelling). But it is also fairly obvious that the use of 12 must be prevalent first before the 60 can appear. Though the use of 60 seconds and 60 minutes are all pervasive, it is worth noting that they can only come after each day and each night is divided into 12 hours.

While the use of base 10 and 12 probably came first with the need for counting generally and then for trade purposes (animals, skins, weapons, tools…..), the 12 and the 60 came together to dominate the measuring and reckoning of time. Twelve months to a year with 30 days to a month. Twelve hours to a day or a night and 60 parts to the hour and 60 parts to those minutes. There must have been a connection – in time as well as in the concepts of cycles – between the “invention” of the calendar and the geometrical properties of the circle. The number 12 has great significance in Hinduism, in Judaism, in Christianity and in Islam. The 12 Adityas, the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 days of Christmas, the 12 Imams are just examples. My theory is that simple sun and moon-based religions gave way to more complex religions only after symbols and writing appeared and gave rise to symbolism. ……… 

If we had six fingers on each hand the decimal system would never have seen the light of day. A millisecond would then be 1/ 1728th of a second. It is a good thing we don’t have 7 fingers on each hand, or – even worse – one hand with 6 fingers and one with 7. Arithmetic with a tridecimal system of base 13 does not entice me. But if I was saddled with 13 digits on my hands I would probably think differently.

 


 

Some realism returns to the Indian energy debate

August 18, 2017

There has been a demonisation of carbon dioxide which goes beyond the ridiculous. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere lags temperature amd man-made carbon dioxide emissions are largely irrelevant to climate. Allied to the bloated hype about renewables, this has led to an anti-carbon imperialism which represents politically correct dogma. India has also been overwhelmed – in public – by the new religion. Of course India managed to ensure that domestic coal utilisation could be tripled while still complying with the sanctimonious, but meaningless, Paris agreement (note that China can double its coal consumption under the agreement). Publicly, however, it was not acceptable to admit reality. Fortunately, there are some signs of reality creeping back into the public energy utterances in India.

The Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India has confirmed the importance of coal and criticised the “carbon imperialism” that is being religiously disseminated. The hidden costs of renewables are not to be ignored.

Arvind Subramanian slams carbon imperialism, calls for global coal alliance

Arvind Subramanian says coal will remain the primary source of energy for India in the short to medium term as it remains the cheapest energy source for development needs

Coal will and should remain the primary source of energy for India in the short to medium term as the fossil fuel remains the cheapest source of energy for India’s development needs, chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian said on Thursday.

Renewable energy, on the other hand, comes with hidden costs, Subramanian said in a lecture organised by think tank The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Subramanian called for setting up a global coalition for clean coal technology, mirroring the international solar alliance, which could find ways of sustainable use of coal in power generation.

“India needs coal in the short to medium term. Renewable sources must be part of the energy mix but they also come with hidden costs, which should not be overlooked in our headlong embrace with renewables,” said Subramanian.

India cannot allow the narrative of “carbon imperialism” to come in the way of realistic, rational planning for the country’s energy future, he added.

Subramanian’s call for caution in the adoption of renewable energy comes at a time when many state power utilities are forcing solar power developers to lower their power tariffs in a market where tariff discovered in subsequent auctions keep declining.

Although the solar power tariff keeps declining due to a fall in imported solar panel costs, renewable power projects bear the extra cost of power storage equipment. However, industrial consumers, which bear cross-subsidy for domestic consumers, find solar power cost attractive. This leads to reduced capacity utilisation of coal-based thermal power plants, adding to the stress in the power sector.

“Coal will remain and should remain. The time is ripe for creating a green and clean coal coalition mirroring the (international) solar alliance. That, rather than unconscionable calls to phase out India’s cheapest source of energy, will serve the cause of climate change and India’s development needs,” said Subramanian.

The chief economic advisor also said that policy decisions on coal and renewable sources of energy have to be taken jointly as these two are connected. Declining prices of renewable energy is threatening to upend the thermal power sector as prices are renegotiated by distribution companies, which themselves are in stress, Subramanian said. This renegotiation could transfer the stress in the power distribution sector to the renewable energy sector.

Railway minister Suresh Prabhu, who was present on the occasion, said the country’s energy policy was forward looking and was adequate to achieve overall economic growth as it captures the linkage between economy, environment and social development.

India meets its Paris emissions commitments (which are measured per capita) not so much by reducing coal use but by increasing the proportion of nuclear and renewable stations.

Institute of Energy Research

Between 2006 and 2016, 139 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity was brought on-line. A record 21 gigawatts of new coal capacity was built in 2015, and almost another 18 gigawatts in 2016. The planned construction of an additional 178 gigawatts would make it nearly impossible for India to meet its climate promises. By developing all of the planned coal-fired capacity, India would increase its coal generating capacity by 123 percent.


 

History is always just a story

August 17, 2017

History is nothing but a story, a current story giving current judgments about past events shrouded by diminishing knowledge about the events themselves and of the motivations and causes of past behaviour.

The past is immutable but history is an ever-changing narrative about the past and is always subject to  a current agenda. Even current reporting of past histories has an agenda. The narrative is political – current politics and not the actual politics of the past. The only constraints that the stories of history have is that they not violate evidence that still remains. As we go back into time the hard evidence available diminishes rapidly and the scope for the historian to make up a narrative to suit his agenda increases.

How and why does history get rewritten?

If you read a history book written in the United States from the 1950s, on the origins of the Cold War, you’d get a definitive answer on which country was to blame, backed up with extensive evidence to justify its points. The book would say it was the fault of Soviet Russia, under the leadership of Stalin, …. If you picked up a US history book from the late 1960s, the chances are, you’d get a very different view. You’d read of America’s desire to take over economic control of Europe and tie the countries there to the dollar. …. By the 1980s and 1990s, the story would be retold again. Historians would point out that the Cold War was inevitable, given the ideological differences that existed between East and West, and it is futile to try to blame one person or even one country in particular. 

The point is, that our retelling of what happened in the past changes constantly, and this is true with just about every major event in history. The causes of the Second World War used to be straightforward. Hitler was to blame. But then along came the British historian AJP Taylor, and iconoclastically revised our view by suggesting that Hitler was only doing what he was allowed to do, …… 

Some historians claim to be objective. But they are fooling themselves. Any person who even recites his own history ascribes behaviour and motives to himself and to others to suit the needs of the present. The only constraint is that events for which evidence survives cannot be contradicted. Motivations are always malleable. There are events from my childhood for which there is evidence that the events occurred, but there is infinite scope available in the ascribing of motives which led to the behaviour of that time.

History is not bunk, but it is not about truth. It is always a story about the past to suit the politics of the present.


 

Adages updated: The pen is mightier after the sword

August 16, 2017

The wisdom of yesteryear is not necessarily wisdom today.


 

Misleading science: How a 1980 publication led to US opioid crisis

August 14, 2017

Not all of science is built on the shoulders of giants.

Sometimes science stumbles when it is based on political agendas, on fake science, on exaggerations and even – in this case – on mistaken conclusions.

Eventually science gets corrected, but much damage can be done till then.

In January 1980, the New England Journal of Medicine published this letter from scientists at the Boston University Medical Center (Vol 302, No 2).

This “letter” has been cited extensively in justifying the use of opioids and in the assumption that this would be non-addictive.

Now the same journal has published a new study (Vol 376, June 2017) which traces the current opioid crisis to this letter which has been “heavily and uncritically cited as evidence that addiction was rare with long-term opioid therapy”.

Leung et al, A 1980 Letter on the Risk of Opioid Addiction, N Engl J Med 2017; 376:2194-2195, June 1, 2017, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1700150

The prescribing of strong opioids such as oxycodone has increased dramatically in the United States and Canada over the past two decades.1 From 1999 through 2015, more than 183,000 deaths from prescription opioids were reported in the United States,2 and millions of Americans are now addicted to opioids. The crisis arose in part because physicians were told that the risk of addiction was low when opioids were prescribed for chronic pain. A one-paragraph letter that was published in the Journal in 19803 was widely invoked in support of this claim, even though no evidence was provided by the correspondents (see Section 1 in the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this letter at NEJM.org).

We performed a bibliometric analysis of this correspondence from its publication until March 30, 2017.  …….. 

In conclusion, we found that a five-sentence letter published in the Journal in 1980 was heavily and uncritically cited as evidence that addiction was rare with long-term opioid therapy. We believe that this citation pattern contributed to the North American opioid crisis by helping to shape a narrative that allayed prescribers’ concerns about the risk of addiction associated with long-term opioid therapy. In 2007, the manufacturer of OxyContin and three senior executives pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges that they misled regulators, doctors, and patients about the risk of addiction associated with the drug. Our findings highlight the potential consequences of inaccurate citation and underscore the need for diligence when citing previously published studies.

Without skepticism there is no science.


 

Remembering an escape from Singapore — 75 years on

August 12, 2017

Capt. Mark Pillai c. 1950

My father would have been 106 years old yesterday.

Seventy five years ago he was the first Allied officer (the first of only five) to escape from being a Japanese prisoner-of-war and successfully return to India. He left Singapore on 7th May 1942 and managed to reach India on 26th August 1942.

First Allied POW escape from Singapore in 1942

He was the first Allied prisoner of war to escape from Changi and return to India. He used to tell us that he had travelled a thousand miles on foot, a thousand miles by boat and a thousand miles by train to make his journey of 3000 miles to freedom. In 1968 he tried to get a copy of his official debriefing report from the War Office in London to cross-check his manuscript written from memory long after the event. But he found that the report had been classified to be held secret for 50 years.

In 1942, the Allies were desperate for “good news” and the story of the escape was widely distributed – though labelled top secret – and only within Allied military circles. Recognition was rushed through as “Most Urgent” and he was awarded the Military Cross. However, the official documents remained secret for 50 years and were not released till 1992. Apparently the 50 year secret classification was because his debriefing included not only the names of people who had helped him along the way but also the names of people he felt were Japanese collaborators.

The documents below are the Royal Approval for that award initialed by King George VI on 11th September just two weeks after his return. He received the award from Field Marshal Wavell.

“3000 Miles to Freedom” by Brig. M. M Pillai M.C.

 


 

Did religions originate as death rituals long before we were human?

August 7, 2017

The roots of religion lie very deep and probably go back to before our ancestors had become hominids.

The sequence probably began with rituals, possibly death and birth rituals in that order. The gods came later. They were likely invented and invested with magical powers to call for desired weather or to avoid natural disasters. Organised religions and their troublesome priests came even later. The use of death rituals most likely goes back to before our ancestors came down from the trees which would be before bipedalism and before the control of fire.

Animals may have religion:

First, animal responses to death show striking similarities to how humans religiously respond to death. For instance, magpies, gorillas, elephants, llamas, foxes, and wolves all use ritual to cope with the death of a companion. Magpies will peck the dead body and then lay blades of grass next to it. Gorillas hold something so similar to a “wake” that many zoos have formalized the ritual. Elephants hold large “funeral” gatherings and treat the bones of their deceased with great respect. Llamas utilize stillness to mourn for their dead. Foxes bury their dead completely, as do wolves, who, if they lose a mate, will often go without sex and seek solitude. In all of these cases, the animals rely on ritual to ease the pain of death. Even if one will not grant their rituals the title “religious,” at the very least the overlap between animal and human death rituals stands out as striking.

Hominids first appeared around 7 -8 million years ago. It is quite likely that they already had death rituals not unlike what we see in gorillas today. These rituals probably became quite complex over the next few million years as communication within and between social groups increased. It is also during this period that the “awe” engendered by natural catastrophes and nature in general was probably formalised into rituals.

…. primates respond to what appears to be the “awe” of nature in ways that could be described as “religious.” The chimpanzees of Gombe “dance” at the base of an enormous waterfall in the Kakombe Valley. This “dance” moves slowly and rhythmically alongside the riverbed. The chimps transition into throwing giant rocks and branches, and then hanging on vines over the stream until the vines verge on snapping. Their “dance” lasts for ten minutes or longer. For humans, this waterfall certainly instills awe and majesty. Obviously, no one can know the internal processes of a chimpanzee. That said, given the champanzees’ reaction to the waterfall and their evolutionary nearness to humans, it is not far-fetched to think that they too may experience feelings of awe when they encounter that waterfall.

Another set of primates, the savanna chimps of Senegal, perform a fire dance. Most animals flee from wildfires, fearing for their lives. To the contrary, these chimps only slowly move away from it, and at times even move closer to it. One dominant male went so far as to make a slow and exaggerated “display” at the fire.

For one last example of primates possibly exhibiting a reaction to the awe of nature, Gombe baboons perform a “baboon sangha.” Without signal or warning, these baboons sat in silence before a stream with many small pools and simply gazed at the water. They did this for over 30 minutes, without even the juveniles making a peep. Again without signal or warning, they resumed their normal activities.

The first god?

The control of fire only comes with homo erectus around 1.6 million years ago. By this time the idea of a sun-god and a moon-god and wind-gods had probably been established. The advent of fire gave rise to fire-gods as offshoots of the sun-god. Initially, I have no doubt, the priority was that the gods were to be placated. With survival the primary objective, natural disasters were to be avoided at all costs. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and storms unleashed unimaginable and inexplicable power and were ascribed to angry gods. Angry gods needed to be placated. It seems to me that explicitly seeking the favour of the gods – prayer – must have come much later.

The idea of priests as having a special position as the mediators between the rabble and the gods, probably coincides with the organisation of rituals and gods into religions. That, of course, is much more recent and probably no more than around 20,000 years ago.

Related: Do Animals Have Religion? Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Religion and Embodiment


 

There is a cognitive limit (the Wordsmith number) to the number of words you can know?

August 5, 2017

Most people know around 20,000 – 35,000 words (in any language). Extremely gifted people – very rarely – may approach a vocabulary of 60,000 words. Even multi-lingual people seem to have a total vocabulary not exceeding the limits of mono-lingual people. Twenty years ago when I lived in Japan, my English conversations included many words which I no longer have in my active memory. Similarly Chinese, Hindi, Tamil and German words that I once used regularly as part of my social conversations in English, are no longer in my active memory.

But why does each of us know so few words of all the words that are available?

It cannot be memory capacity in the brain that sets the limit. My hypothesis is that just like there seems to be a cognitive limit to the number of significant social connections a person can maintain (the Dunbar number – averaging around 150 with a minimum of around 50 and a maximum of perhaps 250), there is a cognitive limit (the Wordsmith Number) to the size of the active vocabulary that a person can maintain. (I note that the number of Facebook friends or Twitter followers do not represent significant social relationships).

The more you read the bigger your vocabulary. The more you write the more likely you are to have a larger vocabulary. The more diverse your social connections the larger vocabulary you need and have. But yet, each of us knows only a fraction of the active words available in any language. The active words in a language form only a fraction of the total words in that language. And the total words in a language are a tiny fraction of all the words that could be formed by an alphabet a and a set of rules.

In any language, the rules of grammar together with about 2,000 base words would be sufficient to get by.  In any language a degree of proficiency would have been achieved with a vocabulary of around 10,000 base words. Over 20,000 words would be considered a high level of fluency.

The number of words needed to enable most communication needs is thus not so large. Equally, knowing words that are not used is pointless. Words that others don’t know is of no great use either. Yet, we have all at some time complained of  “not having the words to express our feelings”. We are often “lost for words”. Our eyes can distinguish shades of colour for which there are no specific words. But we use adjectives and combine words to express emotions or shades of colour rather than invent specific words for just that shade or that emotion.

In any alphabet where the length of a word is not restricted, there are an infinite variety of ways of creating combinations of letters to be words. In practice most languages have working vocabularies of a few hundred thousands and even if all possible variations and forms, past and present, are counted, the vocabulary may be around one million words. The Oxford English Dictionary has around 177,000 words as being in current usage and another 50,000 as obsolete. Similarly German has around 150,000 words as being in current use and Swedish has around 125,000. However current usage is not the whole story. Current usage is only a part of the total number of words available in a language where the total number depends on the age of the language. It is said that Japanese has around 100,000 active words in a total vocabulary of around 500,000. The OED estimates the total number of words in English to be around 750,000. Other estimates put the total English vocabulary at just over one million words.

Atkinsbookshelf:

According to the Global Language Monitor’s (GLM) “English Language WordClock,” there are 1,005,366 words in the English language. …… The Google/Harvard Study of the Current Number of Words in the English Language also arrived at a similar number — 1,022,000 (a difference of .o121%) ……… The Oxford English Dictionaries (OED) comes up with an estimate of 750,000, when counting only distinct senses and excluding variants.

The number of words that any person knows in a language is also not so easily determined. I would generalise to say that all modern languages have each around 100 – 200 thousand active words with a total vocabulary depending upon the age of the language and ranging from 300,000 to about 1 million. But, in most extant languages today, any single individual generally has a personal vocabulary which is only around 10 – 20% of the active words (or 2 – 5% of the total number of words) available in that language. An exceptionally gifted person might come up to around 30% of active words (or less than 10% of the total number of words). Depending on how words are defined Shakespeare is thought to have had command over about 8% of all the English words of that time but only used about 4% in an all his writings. In modern times James Joyce is thought to have had an extraordinarily large personal vocabulary and perhaps it was even a little more than 10% of the total number of English words. Ulysses alone – by one count – contains a larger vocabulary than all of Shakespeare’s works.

According to lexicographer and Shakespeare scholar David Crystal, the entire English vocabulary in the Elizabethan period consisted of about 150,000 words. ……… Crystal believes that Shakespeare had a vocabulary of about 20,000 words (13.5% of the known lexicon). Compare that to the size of the vocabulary of the average modern person (high school-level education) that is 30,000 to 40,000 words (about 6% of the 600,000 words defined in the Oxford English Dictionary). Other lexicographers estimate that Shakespeare’s vocabulary ranged from 18,000 to 25,000 words.

….. In their 1976 study, “Estimating the Number of Unseen Species: How Many Words Did Shakespeare Know,” statisticians Bradley Efron (Stanford University) and Ronald Thisted (University of Chicago) used word-frequency analyses to predict more accurately Shakespeare’s actual vocabulary, including the words he used in his writing (active or manifest vocabulary) and the words he knew but didn’t use in his writing (passive or latent vocabulary). Efron and Thisted turned to the Harvard Concordance and the 31,654 different words from a grand total of 884,647 words, including repetitions. …….. Thus to calculate Shakespeare’s total working vocabulary, we add 31,534 different words found in his writings to the 35,000 words he probably knew, to arrive at an estimate of 66,534 words. 

Taking only current words in English as an example (< 200,000) , most individuals considered fluent would have between 25,000 – 40,000 words in their personal vocabularies. (There may be the extremely rare person with a personal vocabulary approaching 60,000 words, though that is doubtful. But there is surely nobody with a personal vocabulary greater than that). Even for those who are multilingual, the sum of the words they command in all languages seems to be limited to be no different to those who are monolingual.

Psychologytoday:

the rate and pace of development of the bilinguals’ lexical knowledge were similar to those of monolingual children. In addition, the total vocabulary count of these children (taking into account both languages) was not different to that of the monolinguals, but their single language vocabularies were somewhat smaller. So we have known for some time that bilingual children do have as many words as their monolingual counterparts when both languages are taken into account but maybe not so when one examines only one language.

Why this apparent limit to the number of words one can know?

 

My hypothesis is that there is a stable level – the Wordsmith Number – which the brain establishes. It is a cognitive limit to the size of the active vocabulary that a person can maintain. It is established by the manner in which the brain learns, stores and retrieves active and passive words. It is a dynamic level and varies as our activities change (reading, writing, speaking, diversity of social relationships ..). Words that are not active are shunted out of active memory. In very rare circumstances is a Wordsmith Number of greater than about 30,000 established.


 

Time precedes existence

August 4, 2017
While Ilya Prigogine (Nobel prize in 1977 for nonequilibrium thermodynamics) claimed that time precedes existence, Einstein, Newton, and others held a symmetric view of time where time and existence occur simultaneously.
I am inclined to Prigogine’s view.
Causality, time, entropy, heat transfer, plastic deformation and spontaneous chemical reactions are all examples of irreversible processes.
I note that even in the statement “I think, therefore I am”, a “before” and an “after” is implied.
In fact, even the statement “I exist” implies that I exist “in time”.
Real time precedes the Big Bang.
Thereafter we have perceived time.
Time is causal.
It is not just past events which cause future events, past time causes future time.
Time precedes existence.


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