14.0373 science and science fiction

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: 10/18/00

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 373.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
       [1]   From:    "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com>              (30)
             Subject: What's in an Idea?
       [2]   From:    Randall Pierce <rpierce@jsucc.jsu.edu>               (7)
             Subject: Encounters of the Fourth Kind
             Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 09:45:08 +0100
             From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com>
             Subject: What's in an Idea?
    From: Osher Doctorow, osher@ix.netcom.com, Tues. Oct. 17, 2000, 5:34PM
    "What's in a Name?" has inspired me to consider "What's in an Idea?"  The
    answer that I come up with, in contrast to the former, is "surprisingly
    much".  You may know that I dabble in mathematics and physics to an
    inordinate degree, but I think that this relates to Humanist because it says
    nothing specific about mathematics or physics.  I have been finding the most
    amusing new discoveries by making tiny modifications of ideas.  Where people
    put +, I put - (minus).  Where people divide, I multiply or add or subtract.
    Where people draw a graph that looks like a teacup, I ask what happens if
    you turn the teacup upside down.   Believe it or not, you get a totally
    different mathematics if you do any of these things.  If you play your cards
    right, you also get a totally different physics.   It appears to explain
    some of the recent findings on the accelerating universe, on
    information/entropy/knowledge near singularities (black holes, rare or zero
    probability events, etc.), how the Sun captured the planets in elliptical
    precessing orbits, etc.
    Change some assumptions in the humanities and see what you get.  It only
    takes a few changes to get science fiction, which has stimulated many
    inventions.  Somebody wanted food to taste better (spices), and we got the
    New World.  Some proto-human apelike ancestor, if the stories are right,
    asked what would happen if he/she walked on the ground instead of the trees,
    and here we are.  Some politician asked what would happen if we traded with
    the Chinese instead of warring with them, and vice versa, and here we are
    (I'm not sure where, but you know what I mean).  Some French King asked what
    would happen if some harsh consonant were dropped in French, and we have
    ellipsis or circonflexes or whatever they are called (my French decreases as
    my mathematics/physics increases - in one ear and out the other).  Alexander
    the Great asked what would happen if Macedonia were bigger, and he
    "conquered the world" (caution: do not imitate at present).
             Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 09:45:38 +0100
             From: Randall Pierce <rpierce@jsucc.jsu.edu>
             Subject: Encounters of the Fourth Kind
    My congratulations to Arun-Kumar Tripathi for bringing news of the
    "First Contact" seminar before the Humanist community. I wonder how many
    governmental and NGO's have seriously considered all of the
    ramifications of alien contact?. I do know that "conspiracy" buffs have
    determined that all UFO contact has been carefully covered up to prevent
    "widespread panic." Be that as it may, I am glad to see this august body
    considering the problem. How do you think that hyper-text technology
    would aid such a contact(stripped of technicalese? Randall

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