Wednesday, September 14, 2016

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Cartoon





























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Hitler

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Julia - Gödel 0

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If one reads comics, there is a string of expletives in older ones. We can use this for the state of a problem when we do not know there is a problem – and what comes out is not for general consumption. In our case it begins with a feature which should have been widely known since the Greeks, because ordinarily they would trumpet it loudly. But they hid what we now call the antikythera mechanism. If you know two or more languages when you are very small – as I did, and as most of you who are young did – you know the first glance at a language is the means that they set words against each other. It can be small, it can be large, and the sound is important. People who know just one language do not get this perspective. So ignore the other people who say that one language is good enough for their progeny, and teach at least one language. Greek sayeth the Latin professor should not be taught to young people, because it has a perversion of beginnings and endings. He says it is positively revolting. Joining words by endings and beginnings, to the latinist is revolting. Of course, that will be enough to allure the would be Greek lovers to venture in two the world of paradigms, rather than conjugations.


Because in Greek, there is a wide difference between not- and opposed-. And that difference is prominent here. We say amoral, and antithetical in the English way, where the two concepts are almost similar. But in Greek they are completely different, because something which is a- is different from anti-. And that comes in to sharp focus here. Because anti-still means it has two push against the thing. Where as athantos is completely different from thantos.


Anti- still means that it is near the object, and pushes against it as one of its features. So, antikythera literally means in opposition to Kythera – which is the name of an island. It was found, not a long time ago, But, probably, in 1901. we do not actually know when it was discovered, but we know that it was on a shipwreck. So sometime within the discovery is probable, but what it was was not clear, and would not be clear for a very long time. Because something which was the first analog computer grew in importance as time went on. Especially once a digital computer was discovered, then everything before that loomed large. This is actually the way things work: first one discovers them one discovers how important the discovery was. Sometimes many people, generally men, race to find the answer to a problem, such as John Harrison and the discovery of working longitude. But often someone discovers something which has no value and tell after the fact – then the connections between theoretical and practical are seen only in retrospect. For example, Cantor would have liked to know about it, but from the records did not.

When one looks at it, one sees what looks like an astrolabe. And one could be forgiven this, Because an astrolabe is part of what it is doing, but it is more than that. Then one looks up Feeth and Jones, and sees that there is a fine gearing system – and the result is the first analog computer. Of course they did not know that they were doing that, because the idea that a machine could be used to solve many different problems, was not on their mind. Or they did not have the technology.


So why did they hide this? It is a as if the Greeks had any compunctions about talking. Why did they hide this?


The answer is, it did not work. It would work for a little while, and then would go off in unexpected tangents. So the Greeks, at least enough to pilot a ship, did not want to talk about these things. But there is an important clue – the were taking this machine on a boat. Which means they wanted to test whether it would give them what we would now call “latitude” - on a boat, not just on dry land. Now when the spirit of exploring changed from the Western world to the Arabic world, they developed equations for latitude on land. But remember, they were on land for a journey from the Western tip of Africa, to deep in the jungles of India. And they were in contact with people who commerced on dry land.

But the essential point, the Greeks did not want to talk about failures. The problem, at its start, was they were basing astrophysics on the earth standing still. Now one can do this, but it is a great deal easier to rest everything on the sun. so a geocentric paradigm will yield wildly varying results. It would be 1600 years for Kepler to introduce his three laws of planetary motion. So in one respect, the Greeks had a great deal of time. But if this were only a matter of physics, books have been written about the ins and outs of physics.



But it is a book on mathematics, and how it joins to physics.
 

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