Polymaths my arse.

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Drifterwood, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. Drifterwood

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    Apparently there are some smart pholk here.

    So please ask away.

    May I start

    1/ The Piri Re'is and portolani maps?

    2/ Dark energy?

    Please explain.
     
  2. Phil Ayesho

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    Aide from the chance that the Piri Rei may be forged...

    It is pretty well established that the ancient Greeks already had maps compiled in Alexandria that show the world is fairly accurate detail... and that they also show the world laid out in a grid fashion similar to modern day Latitude and Longitude...

    The idea that ancient civilizations were primitive is not supportable by evidence of such things as batteries and the Antikythera mechanism, which reveals a very sophisticated understanding of engineering, math and astronomy.

    It is known, for example the early philosophers had accurately estimated the circumference of the earth by simply measuring the angular difference between shadow cast on the same day at two widely separated points.

    We know that an early astronomer had precisely ONE of his texts survive, but library documents show he had written over 100 works on the subject.

    Thanks to Caesar burning the Alexandrian library- and the onset of the Christian Dark ages, during which any -pre-christian texts were routinely burned... the vast majority of classical and pre-classical knowledge was lost.

    As to the conjecture that the information in the Piri Rei must be at least dating to 4,000 BC... While not beyond belief... we really have no accurate idea how long ago nor how often, the north coast of antarctica was Ice free. Estimates of world temperatures are not the only parameter in play.



    And Dark Energy?

    Its the revival of the Cosmological Constant... an Einsteinian idea that Einstein himself called his biggest blunder.

    Up until about 15 years ago, we thought we understood the universe, despite the standard model being a quilt-work of patched theory.
    Astromomers universally saw the universe as expanding, but slowing in its expansion due to the effect of gravity... and the big question was whether it would eventually stop, and then pull back together in a Big Crunch...

    Then they discovered evidence that they interpret as showing the universe as ACCELERATING in its expansion... the exact OPPOSITE of what all theory predicted.

    This SHOULD have resulted in abandoning their theory as hopelessly incorrect... but, loathe to discard lifetimes of work, they simply PATCHED their cosmology with a NEW idea- Dark Energy- which, in their formulae, has the exact same effect as the Cosmological constant, albeit with a different value.


    Its called dark energy, for the same reason that dark matter is called dark matter... because there is ZERO evidence of this 'energy' of what it is composed or how it is transmitted.

    Dark matter, itself... was originally a term meaning ANY matter in the universe that did not shine, and so was not observable thru telescopes....
    Oneof the older patches to cosmology was the result of even the most GENEROUS estimates of 'non-shining- matter did not add up to enough Gravitational pull to explain how galaxies and stars form.
    This is when the term changed from referring to ordinary matter we could not observe, to an magically invisible matter made of something entirely different and never before detected, but that somehow had mass... that would add up to the amount of missing matter needed to make their math work out.

    So- in fact, Dark Matter is nothing more than a 'fudge factor' inserted to keep their cosmology workable.


    Personally, I find the arguments for Dark matter and Dark energy unconvincing rationalizations to try and keep a cosmology full of holes from falling entirely apart.

    the need for Dark matter, for example, entirely evaporates if we simply MODIFY Newtons laws of gravity just a little bit... in MOND theory- ( MOdified Newtonian Dynamics ) rather than a linear inverse square law... which we observe locally... gravity gets slightly stronger over interstellar scales... this explains observation without having to invent and believe in the Loch Ness Monster of matter.

    Or, say, CDT Causal Dynamical Triangulation... another theory that seems to result in precisely the universe we observe without resort to invisible magical energies or matter...


    Either way... I feel that the Dark energies and matters will eventually be done away with in favor of better models that rely only on that which can be demonstrated to be real.


    The recently uncovered Pioneer anomaly, in which spacecraft on very long voyages are not where Newton SAYS they should be is pretty compelling evidence that Newton came up with a VERY accurate guesstimate of gravity... but the minute we leave our own celestial block, we find that our calculations do not match the wider reality we now can measure.

    The idea that gravity must be as we think it is from earth bound observation, across interstellar scales and eons of time, is rather parochial.

    It would astonish me if we had got things even remotely correct.
     
    #2 Phil Ayesho, Nov 17, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2008
  3. Drifterwood

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    Have you read A E Berriman's Historical Metrology?

    I wonder why it is not generally better known? I may have been a very poor student but I did do some Ancient History and it was never mentioned.

    I also wonder why so little is known about the suppressed Gospels? I am beginning to understand Alex' obsession. So much information can lead to a lack of knowledge, things can slip and we are the poorer for it.

    Regarding Newton, Phil, the Laws may be "correct" but their observation could be different outside our own environment. Doesn't the place in Hawaii spend it's time looking for dark matter and energy?
     
  4. cockoloco

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    Has Metrology got anything to do with metrosexuals?

    Does asking this make me gay?
     
  5. Phil Ayesho

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    Lots of folks spend time and money looking for it...

    All they ever find are things that CAN be interpreted as evidence for Dark matter... but that do not definitively demonstrate it. But, this 'evidence' is also perfectly supporting of MOND and CDT, since both of them result in a model of gravity that does not require Dark Matter to create the phenomena attributed to Dark Matter.

    At present, the neutrino has been ruled out as being Dark Matter.... which means that if extant, it must be an entirely different form of matter.. one that we have absolutely no theoretical explanation.

    On a physics level... there is not even the outline of a theory of what Dark Matter might be or how it has the properties that it must have.

    I think its a snipe hunt.


    As far as newton... his theories accurately explain MOST of the motion we can observe... but we have known for quite some time that Planetary orbits are not following his formula precisely.... Now that we are seeing similar anomalies in spacecraft trajectories... its pretty clear that Newton is, at best incomplete, and most likely simply a little off.

    I have not read the book you mention.... I will look it up, tho.
     
  6. Drifterwood

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    Everything makes you Gay :rolleyes:
     
  7. Drifterwood

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    Why do you think that we need to feel that we know things? and when we don't we create the y factor that explains the inexplicable to us?

    Yes, we move forward, but why this need for orthodoxy? why don't we recognise it and out it?
     
  8. cockoloco

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    Woohooooo!!!:biggrin1::biggrin1::biggrin1:
     
  9. Phil Ayesho

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    My take on epistemology is that we are EVOLVED to need to know.

    We have no claw nor fangs, no armor... our evolutionary edge is the massive cerebral cortex and its ability to MODEL our experience of reality.

    So, we evolved to try and figure out how the world works, as a means of predicting the future based upon our understanding of the world around us.

    Thus, for humans, KNOWING how something works is the only condition that makes us feel satisfied and secure... safe in our assumptions.


    Whenever we are proved wrong in our assumptions, we react with fear and anger... because, evolutionarily, guessing wrong about the future is likely to get you killed.

    But this innate evolved NEED to understand has two significant collateral effects....

    The first is the result of the fact that this need is essentially predicated upon a hard wired perception that events are CAUSAL.

    We Can figure out how things work if we can determine their causes... but this carries with it the implicit assumption that EVERYTHING happens for a REASON.

    Our limited brains have a hard time separating the idea of things happening for a reason as in "cause, and things happening for a reason as in "Intent."


    This is the genesis of a host of human peculiarities ranging from religion to conspiracy theories.

    When we simply can not understand our experiences such as 3000 years ago before we had math and scientific method... what do we do?
    We are unable to accept the conditon of not knowing why people get ill, why people die, how babies come about...

    To live with these issues un-figured out would be far too unsettling...

    So we assuage our fears of the unknown by INVENTING knowledge. We make up Gods, or spirits, or magic, to explain to ourselves those things we simply can not figure out.

    We would rather have the comfort of a make believe answer, than to leave certain questions unanswered.

    Its the same with conspiracy theories... faced with accepting that certain events are meaningless, random, or without reason... we balk... it is more reassuring to believe in a malevolent cabal of masterminds than to accept that NO ONE is in control.



    Of course, the other collateral effect would be the rise of science. I think the whole point of science is to accept that we are all biased observers, and that we must be willing to abandon any cherished idea when confronted with proof that that idea wrong.

    This doesn't mean the scientists are any LESS likely to invest a notion with more belief than is its due, no Less likely to resist change when it comes...

    They are just as human, just as prone to the causal reassurance of believing that they have the answer as are any of us.


    Its just that they have enshrined as tradition a process whereby their ideas are, eventually, always subjected to the Predict or Fail test.

    Thus far, Our standard model cosmology has had several major failures...

    All that is needed at this point is a new theory that makes a more accurate prediction of observation.

    And there are scientists out there looking to make their careers by being the guys who proved Dark matter was malarky...
     
  10. briefs

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    I'm only a philomath at best, if even that, despite yearning since youth to be a true polymath. I might have a bit of polyhistor, too.
    It is frustrating to know about what you don't know, to know others have comprehended and mastered these subjects, whether mathematics, music or whatever, and to fail, despite repeated attempts, to achieve the possible.
    I've wondered recently if a world population six times higher than in 1800 makes it tougher to rise above the tide of humanity.
     
  11. Drifterwood

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    Very interesting observation.

    Why haven't we got six Jeffersons, Franklins, Voltaires, Turners, Byrons, Darwins etc etc?

    Perhaps we have, perhaps we can't hear them above the noise? Perhaps we won't recognise them unless they appear on the X Factor.

    And thank you Phil A. If you take that theory and relate it to your own life, it is extremely interesting. Well, for me at least.
     
  12. jason_els

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    Yet Phil, despite knowing how everything works, we still seek religious answers. New religions are born, existing ones modify or die away. We're still wired for religion. What's interesting though, is how the model of religion changes. We go from gods who are much like humans, each having reign over some supernatural force, to gods who exist in other dimensions and not only reign over supernatural force but moral force as well. Now we seem to be coming full circle, reinventing nature cults based not so much on spirituality as in mysticism because, it seems, mysticism is the one component of religion that neither science nor metaphysics can conquer with reason.

    I also agree completely about the supposed primitiveness of the ancients. It's so easy to look back and be patronizing without being aware we are doing so. I too rank the destruction of the Library at Alexandria as one of the greatest tragedies to ever befall humans. It easily set us back an entire millennium. I can't think of it without a painful tug of despair. Now I focus my hope on the deciphering Linear A within my lifetime though I'm not holding my breath. I am, however, still tantalized by all the unrevealed texts that are occupying the shelves of Mount Athos. I've heard a few stories by art historians who have traveled there and seen ancient texts which appear to have no other known copies. It may be that Mount Athos already holds the Library at Alexandria within its confines.

    My guess, and I base this just upon what I know, and that's likely just enough to be dangerous, there are still a few earth-shattering revelations to be dug-up.

    One of the most fascinating projects has come about with DNA studies. DNA allows scientists to track the movement of people over very large periods of time, like 20,000 years or more. Isolated populations and unique genetic markers along with historical pedigrees are telling us a great deal about the spread of humanity throughout the world and when it happened. When that all gets pieced together, it's going to be eye-opening. We may even find the precise place of the DNA bottleneck which coincided with the Toba eruption about 70,000 years ago when all living human individuals were reduced to a population of no more than several thousand individuals.
     
  13. jason_els

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    We likely do. We just don't see them because of their limited specialization and what few we appear to have, are tough to relate to. Can you honestly describe the importance of works by Derrida or Hawking or Hirst to anyone without a background? We'll know who the really great ones were long after we're dead, when their work becomes so grounded in our education and everyday understanding of the world that their work becomes culturally inculcated rather than didactically educated.
     
  14. D_alex8

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    *lobs a YouTube link to that end at the thread* :rolleyes:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdDtwc9HA7s
     
  15. Calboner

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    We'll know things when we're dead?
     
  16. jason_els

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    Short of faith in an afterlife, I was speaking of humanity. I hope it goes on after I'm dead.
     
  17. Drifterwood

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    I do agree and I would add that we tend to foreshorten long periods of time relative to our own shorter consciousness. However the people in my list did make a very large impact in their own lifetimes without the benefit of our media and I could have added many more names. Perhaps we are somewhat bland in our post modernism.

    Personally, I did think that Hirst's diamond skull is as good a work of art as anything, perhaps not universal and relative only to it's time, but nevertheless, a great work.

    On many levels the Romans were utter barbarians, just shows how important it is to write the history.
     
  18. Phil Ayesho

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    Well, Jason...I would point out that we most certainly DON'T know how everything works. We, for example, have no idea how electrical currents generate magnetic fields... we just know that they Do....


    But beyond that... the vast majority of scientific "answers" are totally invisible or incomprehensible the the average person.
    They lack either the interest, the education, or the intelligence to understand even the questions science is posing, much less the complicated answers...

    But the human brain evolved to WANT an answer it can UNDERSTAND... to use for the purpose of controlling their environment in a way that will enhance their individual survival.

    Thus, for most people, the fact that a guy in a lab coat far away might understand how somehting works is not going to reassure them... is not going to make them feel personally more secure.



    An Answer you can not comprehend nor put to effective use, does not really qualify as an answer at all... Especially when the Answer that the scientist can offer is that "we don't know"... or, worse still, that something is simply random....
    most people are simply not going to be able to accept that uncertainty, that helplessness.

    So, it makes perfect sense that religion still thrives. And that it thrives the strongest among those with the least amount if education or native intelligence, and those with the highest levels of anxiety.

    Religion offers more than just a Kindergarten level explanation that is EASY to understand...
    It ALSO evades the random nature of events by offering the comforting delusion that God can be SWAYED by your entreaties or belief into granting YOU exceptions to that randomness.


    So most folks are faced with a choice...

    Accept a certain level of uncertainty and randomness in exchange for REAL power over a small number of things... a world with no ultimate intent and no one in control...

    OR believe in an Absolute and easy answer to ALL things that promises you can have real influence over events beyond your understanding...and in which there IS 'someone' in control, in which there IS an intent for every event.

    Guess which of the two is more comforting and more self centered?

    Religion is the comforting delusion that you are far more important to the way reality unfolds than science say you are.



    And to Drifter...
    When science was new... it was easy to be a scientist... you could demonstrate your ideas directly, make your observations with the unaided eye and bend new understandings to solve the easier problems that had been unsolvable for ages.

    And you have very little competition.

    Today, you wonder why, with so many more people, we donlt have so many more Newtons and Galileos...

    But we do.
    It is just that they have become SO common, they are not remarkable... and its just that the problems they are addressing are so esoteric, that is hard to understand the questions they are asking, much less the answers they are coming up with.

    Science has progressed from the easily observable and solvable... to progressively harder and less obvious....
    With each generation, the issues being addressed are the ones an earlier generation could not solve.

    Today, 95% or ALL the scientists who ever lived are still living.

    But their work affects every aspect of our lives in such minute and consistent fashion as to have become part of the backdrop of what we have come to expect.


    When Franklin invented the lightening rod... he forever changed a world that had known very little in the way of change.

    For all the things Gallileo and Newton uncovered and made apprehensible, what, really, did they CHANGE?

    Shoes were still made the same way, Ships still used rope and fabric to move goods, writing on rag paper was the the only method of processing information....
    Things changed at glacially slow rates...


    But today... we have come to COUNT on the speed with which new wonders are laid at our uncomprehending feet.

    Everything from how your shoes are made, and of what, to how you process information, communicate, move, work, eat, cook, .... its all in continuous flux.

    The scientists are there in large numbers...
    They come up with real wonders that directly affect your life every single day.

    The only difference is that you have come to expect that of your world, rather than be set back on your heels in wonderment...

    I mean... MRI's? Being able to take pictures of your insides based upon the polarity of the molecules of which you are made?

    How can that not astonish?







    [/QUOTE]
     
    #18 Phil Ayesho, Nov 19, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2008
  19. Phil Ayesho

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    PS-
    Why religion, tho delusional, survives is because pretending you can have influence over events you have no influence over does not have any real negative effect.

    Believing lightening is God's retribution does not affect the chances you will be hit by lightening...

    And believing a magic spell will make a sickness go away does not make you MORE likely to die of that sickness... ( unless you convince yourself to also NOT take the medicine that will work )

    Since 90% of patients complaints self resolve within 2 weeks... Shaking a rattle over a bellyache will SEEM to be effective 90% of the time.

    In fact- to a certain extent, delusional belief actually imporves your chances.
    In medicine, it has a placebo effect... but beyond that...

    How much easier is it to sally forth and face the uncertainty in the world if you are CONVINCED you have an edge?
    That calm and confidence that YOU made the appropriate sacrifice, so YOU will be fine translates into bolder, more confident action... quicker descision making... less hesitation...
    Over a long enough timeline, that translates into a survival advantage over someone paralyzed by uncertainty.


    The difference and the danger, today, is that we now HAVE tools and knowledge that imperil EVERYONE.

    We can not longer afford, as a species, to suffer certainty over a delusion.
     
  20. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Don't take me literally on that, "how everything works," comment. My view is always tempered by the immortal words of Theodoric, Barber of York:
    Joan: Will she be alright?

    Theodoric of York: Well, I'll do everything humanly possible. Unfortunately, we barbers aren't gods. You know, medicine is not an exact science, but we are learning all the time. Why, just fifty years ago, they thought a disease like your daughter's was caused by demonic possession or witchcraft. But nowadays we know that Isabelle is suffering from an imbalance of bodily humors, perhaps caused by a toad or a small dwarf living in her stomach.

    Joan: Well, I'm glad she's in such good hands.​
    I think that people may not know how science works and certainly know that science doesn't know everything. What they do, however, is trust that there is a scientific answer. That's not always been so and, in some cases, got you burned at the stake. Even arguing that there were natural laws could get you time in some cardinal's dungeon.

    In the post-Enlightenment world, there are no monsters or bogeymen, no demons, no charioteer driving the sun across the sky, and no oracles in tea leaves. We've heavily modified our idea of what the supernatural consists of to make it far more removed from our daily lives, far more, "set it an forget it." We've abstracted and deconstructed God in exactly the same way we do that to the natural world. We apply science to God, not God to science. Science won (at least in the westernized world).
     
    #20 jason_els, Nov 20, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2008
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