Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Do you have a hero?

Have you ever played the game where you ask someone if there is a person that they would like to meet? I guess its a little like the game where you are stuck on an island and you have to choose a person to live on it with. I think I have two people who I would like to meet. I don't think I'd like to be stuck on an island with either, but it would be very nice to pick their brains. I would like to meet Isaac Newton and Nikola Tesla. I've often thought that the world as we experience it is in large part due to the two of them.

It's difficult for me to find much that I do each day that hasn't been a touched by their scientific work. Oh, I'm not a scientist or anything close to that. It's just that their work facilitated the development of ANY technology that you are using day to day.

I was watching a show about Newton the other day and it talked about how he proved the elliptical orbit of the planets in our galaxy. He had done the math using calculus, but he had not yet presented it to the world (inventor of calculus). So, he had to use the conventional mathematics of the day, Euclidean geometry. This caused me to think about something else. If he was able to prove our orbit with geometry, its likely that someone else would have figured it out as well. A fellow scientist had already come up with the theory but did not have the mathematical skills to prove the theory. This is why Newton did the calculation. Maybe it would have taken several more years, but it would have been figured out. Again, Tesla patented the invention of the radio just prior to Marconi coming up with the same idea. It would have occured anyway.

Where I'm going here is that maybe the world we live in is likely to be as it is regardless of specific individuals. Like rows of sharks teeth, as one as lost there are three more there to take its place. Or here's another way to think about it. Have you ever driven home from work and when you arrived you couldn't remember a bit of the drive. You couldn't tell me what happened on the way or where you turned. You have no memory of it. While I realize you did experience it and you did make all the turns, its more of a metaphor of a process. You arrive at your destination unwittingly. Now if you arrived without really taking part in the process, what would happen if you didn't know the final destination? This is something I think about in life sometimes. Is the journey an unwitting process? Is there a known destination? Would it be recognized if/when the destination was arrived at? Another words, do you know if you are where you are supposed to be at any given time and how do you prove it?

I'm certain calculus won't be of any use here.


Post a Comment

<< Home