Volume 4, Issue 10, page 5

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Down Thru the Ages the Search for "
Yesterday, or Today,' May Be No

M UCH DISCUSSION has been given over
to the subject of knowledge in
the pages of The ABERREE. Let us
pursue the subject a little further. There are many kinds of knowledge.
A partial list would include the sciences, the humanities, the arts, theology,
mysticism, and such hard-to-classify ones
as "the Craft of Dying" and the philosophy expounded in the "Book of Changes".

Faced by such an "embarras du richesses " , as the French say, it would seem a
necessity to discover some method of winnowing the wheat from the chaff. This
subject has been given the name of " Epistemology " -- the theory of knowledge. As a
starting point, we can consider the subjects under the heading of "heuristic " --
often discussed but little written about.
Heuristic has to do with the learning
process used in advancing from the known
to the unknown.

One of the earliest works on heuristic
was a monograph by Pappus, discoverer of
the Pappus Rules, well known to geometers. Another was by Descartes. But the
most complete work I know of was assembled
by Francis Bacon, titled "The Advancement
of Learning". In our own day. Polya of
Stanford University has written "How to
Solve It". The great classic in physics
was Ernst Mach, who wrote the "Principles
of Mechanics" about 1910. Also, Sir Arthur Eddington wrote two books, "The Nature of the World" and "Philosophy of
Physical Science". Equally important is
Schrodinger's "What Is Life, and Other
Essays", published by Anchor in pocket
book form. Schrodinger was the discoverer
of the equation that bears his name
which revolutionized physics -- so much so
that anyone who is not familiar with at
least the broad outlines of his "wave mechanics" must be considered as not completely living in the 20th century.)
There is a vast gulf between the person
who believes that science is rigid and
that the course of matter is predictable
(as the scientists of the last century
believed), and the person who is acquainted with modern methods of indeterminacy,
relativity; and wave mechanics.

From the above we can conclude that a
scientific truth has a life of about 20
years before becoming obsolete. In engineering, about three years is about all a
reference book is up-to-date. As a working rule, when I read a book I always
look at the date of publication. Older
works are nonetheless valuable, as fash... mt _ n ntrnn r r
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ruth" Goes On, but What Was Science
ore than a Whimsicality Tomorrow
ions in books change almost as fast as
do feminine styles. As an example, the
19th Century produced clear and understandable mathematics texts, that being
the period when Cauchy set "The Calculus"
(from the Roman word for stone, hence
counting stone, as counting on fingers --
hence calculus, to count) on a solid
foundation, or when Richard Dedekind and
George Cantor clarified arithmetic w i t h
the aid of the famous Dedekind "split" or
"cut". This has an intimate connection
with The ABERREE, as many readers of The
ABERREE are interested in the "fourth dimension", astrology, numerology. But numerology is a hand-me-down from the Pythagorean cult which said "Number is all".
Now we say "We have his number", meaning
we know "all" about him ; and the Bible
speaks of the "number of the beast". In
Greek thought, numbers could even marry!
But mathematics has progressed from simple numbers to complex numbers, imaginary
numbers, vectors, tensors, matrices, and
determinants. It has been a source of
amusement to speculate on how the numerologist would handle an irrational number, let alone a transcendental...They
seem to get around that by ignoring anything which does not fit into their little scheme. They do not use decimals or
even fractions.

What goes for number theory goes
equally well for astrology -- that decadent
remnant of Chaldean science. But it is
only about three centuries since Theophrastus Bombastus von Hoenheim, otherwise Paracelsus, began to advance medical
science from the miasma of the Middle
Ages. But friend Bombastus still believed
that minerals grew under the earth like
plants, warmed by radiations from the
planets. Personally, I prefer Fred Hoyle's
discussion of the origin of the Earth in
"Frontiers of Astronomy", also available
as a pocket-book.

The present age has produced a rash of
weighty obtuse tomes which delight in
dragging in Greek, German, and other symbols, far different from the delightful
"Two New Sciencesr' by Galileo or Bishop
Berkely. Berkely, on perception, is almost a must for evaluation of reports by
"eye-witnesses". The problems on that are
two-fold. First, the hunan eye is an imperfect instrument with a blind spot,
night blindness, lagging reaction time,
etc. And second, whatever is observed has
to pass thru the brain, where it is subject to all manner of distortion from