IEEE Spectrum, Dec 1, 2014, had an overview of the work of James Clerk Maxwell and of those who brought his equations to practice. The title says a lot: The Long Road to Maxwell's Equations. Not only is there a timeline, but the story describes steps along the way and identifies the contributors (Maxwellians).
It was 150 years ago that Maxwell presented his thoughts to the Royal Society of London. Maxwell is revered as providing the means to understand electromagnetism such that we could have operational success, to wit, the Internet (allowing bloggers such as myself) and more. But, Maxwell made other contributions that will be important to our themes (kinetics and control). Too, though, his work allows us to follow the trends of science and technology, in the past century and one-half and in an overall sense, so as to set up for further discussion and work.
James Clerk Maxwell deserves his place(s) on the great wall of contributors to human progress. Too, he stands as an example of thought preceding experience, perhaps, even, the most prominent one that we can think of.
Imagine, his work was on l50 years ago; from this work there have great strides. And, do most even think of Maxwell as they encounter, and use, modern technology (IEEE members do)? Definitely, he is an unrecognized guy (so many ways to characterize this).
Links for the paper (A Dynamical Theory of the Electromagnetic Field):
The article said this: Today, of course, we’re willing to accept physical theories, such as quantum mechanics, that defy our everyday physical intuition, so long as they are mathematically rigorous and have great predictive power.
Within the context of what we need to do, that little statement is quite meaningful and representative of a much needed focus that has to be brought forth. Firstly, many now do not have counter-intuitive reactions when thinking of Maxwell-related phenomena. You see, human common sense grows along with the general knowledge base through time (memes, for one). This particular trait of humans will bear more study.
To boot, there are many things going on with consciousness that are very much poorly understood. Can it be ever be other than that? Yes, an area of our focus.
Aside: given Turing's work (We needn't fear the machines), one might say there is a lot that we do (or can) not know (old time minds knew this, such as Newton, ...); somehow, though, hubris leads those of the modern mind to think that we have tamed the unknown.
If you would, such hubris has thrown out intuition; yet, we need trained intuition to become a factor in resolving hard problems. How to show this?
As the statement says, we like those things that are rigorous and have predictive power. Nowadays, that rigor is, to a large extent, accomplished via computational devices that are, broadly, out of control. In fact, some exalt in that lack of control (singularity arguments).
Otherwise, the "rigor" can be found (reigns) in realms of abstract'd regions that can border on nonsense (their terms); there has been a counter effort by some (see quasi-empiricism). One issue: how is (can be) predictive power related to self-fulfilling prophecy?
You see, interposed twixt ourselves and reality, many times and increasingly so, are our own devices that were (have been) couched in metrical notions and developed to allow our perception. Unfortunately, we are far removed from direct observation; so, we walk a fine line of circularity.
So, that brings in the "ism" part of the subject line. So much to discuss there.
One might say that the post offers some remarks about "What I learned from Hitchens" or even about what the recent look at Hawking's life might be telling us. But, not. The former will be revealed at some future point (perhaps, nearer than not). The latter would deal with quasi-empiricism's role as one of many viewpoints that are important; yet, these get little more than a distracted look.
Distracted? Well, one phrase is of note: head in the apps. Yes, lose one "p" and convert the other to "s" and you will get the drift.
This post does do this: announce a change of venue (mental, spiritual, mathematical, computational shift, so to speak). Now, what is all of that? Did evolution happen overnight?
Let's just say that a new school has been formed. Compared to those, say the illustrious one of 1636, that are behemoth'ic now, this school is not much more than an idea that has increased in importance, the energy source necessary for its fruition, and credentials affording the facilitation.
Say what? Unlike Hawking with his current interest in being the one mind that we are to listen to, the new school is non-elite, open to all of humanity that might catch its drift, and very much grounded (at the same time, oriented toward inspiring the best that people can grasp).
For starters, a rant is necessary to begin a description of the current state of affairs. Thank God that the filth encapsulated in TV ads has ceased, for the moment (they will be back and more negative -- think "black holes" as Hawking might see if it was presented correctly). These two were written firstly in the FB milieu but then cut over to this post which will be pushed back as a link.
1: FB user: I have a question about Facebook. There are two choices for reading your Timeline, "most recent" (which I tend to think of as chronologically reading the comments) and "Top Stories" (which I assumed were the most popular). After being suspicious about these choices, and switching back and forth all week, this is today's timeline: Most recent - top 5 comments were Sept. 10, 20 hours, 5 minutes, Nov. 1, 48 minutes. Top Stories - 12 minutes, 15 minutes, 50 minutes, 1 hour, 1 hour. OK, what is going on here?
Response: No mystery. Behind the scene are pimple-faced youngsters of little ethical/moral education or leaning (speaking from decades of experience - at one point, opening email would have not been considered to be okay - do we expect the post man to open and read our snail mail?). Under the current scheme, there is not even a way to ask for an accounting (use at your own risk). Is there someone somewhere thinking of a robust, trustworthy platform. Of course, perhaps, given the current environment, even asking such a question might be considered laughable. Sad, sorry, state of affairs.
How did we get to where adults trying to communicate in a mature manner are subjected to psychological (however couched, it still stinks) testing, with our information being used for unknown ends, all the while getting further entrapped with each little bit transmitted?
Whence such thoughts? In 1215, King John was forced to seal/sign the Magna Charta. Internet/cloud users have as much right, many rights, as did those Lords of old (their concerns did not include serfs - of which class, internet/apps users, today, are, most likely, the modern variant).
2: All this media talk about the infrastructure being at risk through hackers? Gosh, guys, where was this attention when the genie was let loose (as in, a defense-developed system put out for general use with little thought given to security - everyone seemed to be so gaga about the web, which turned wild real fast)? Where were you when utilities (dumb bosses running after big pay for themselves) were stupidly putting critical systems on what is, essentially, a flimsy framework? Oh, then, what can we say about the m/billionaires who have raked in the dough from exploiting the system and those who get pulled into morass? ... Actually, media, look back and see if there were foresighted people who were castigated, at the time. Tell us about these "heroes." Perhaps, we could learn something of use (actually, the same thing goes for NSA).
The first was a reaction that has been expressed before. Like we see with the world, led by mathematcians/physicists (and many others), like Hawking, everything is fluid and situational. People, some, have grasped after the chimera (different connotation than used with the ca-pital-sino, but not that dissimilar) as if it has some value ("spiritual" and otherwise) that is of a lasting nature. How many find such? Well, many have found sufficient lure to completely forget the wondrous world offered them by the Creator (yes) or to suppress such reality beneath their abstract'd overlay that comes via the augmentation via ubiquitous computing and the uber (cloud). More will be said here. Now, too negative. Well, that is why this post denote a demarcation point (no more following those who fall into the valley of filth - ah, again, thank God, it's over - not, we now will watch new personality dynamics unfold (while Janet ponders unwinding, later than was needed). The truth in those comments is there, to be lifted.
Truth engineering. Perhaps, we'll rephrase the concept, but there will be additional effort put into describing (yes, not created, rather discovered - actually, it's either/or).
Now, the second. How did we get to this state of affairs? The general adoption of abstraction as more real than that which is extruded by mammals (and others) such that we can step in it. Think of this. One deep view of such matter may just have more to say to us than a whole lot of abstracted nonsense. Hyperbole? Perhaps from one view, but, we'll get to that (multi-verse implies multiple viewpoints - in an active sense (yes, psychology and physics) -- the kids actually get it - we drum it out of them).
Remarks: Modified: 11/14/2014
11/14/2014 -- One very good example is a major hotel chain whose founding family sold out to private equity which let existing properties decay (through neglect) while focusing on new; then, the going public bit (can be characterized so many way) put 10s of billions in the pockets of the private equity people (and their cronies) who laughed on their way to the bank (which they own) while employees labor, in a Sisyphean manner, to keep customers (some of long time loyalty - stupid jerks that the clients are) happy so that they might return despite the deteriorating conditions. And, customer reviews, perhaps too strongly but perhaps not, all talk of the state of affairs not being up to the exalted name of the chain's founder.
The progression in the world of ideas somewhat has parallels which can be seen to be like those of the markets. Which means that there are downturns in thought, just like we see with the ca-pital-sino.
So, thought downturns? Well, we see this several ways, all of which bear a look. One that is really prominent deals with data, as in big data, and all of the truths there. Well, that would not even be possible without computing.
So, computing is the next thing in line. How can it be problematic? You mean, "heads in the apps" living (and driving) is an adorable trait, to be emulated?
Too, computing plays heavily in the issues related to the ca-pital-sino. So, that theme will be central to a lot of discussion.
Going forward, though, how is it that we have lost any grasp on truth? DC? Public stances and spin, essentially. Banking? Well, it is nowhere near the utility (as in piping, folk) look that it ought to have. Even with wheeling and dealing (which would be outside of the plumbing), we still need to have a robust system (without the systemic risks inherent in what has evolved with technology).
And, what is truth? Exactly. Can it be engineered? Ought it be? We'll have to get back to our fundamentals.
Remarks: Modified: 11/03/2014
11/03/2014 -- So, we, here, need to get away from the monied view. You see, it very much is limiting (for many reasons). The proper thinking needs one's mind divorced from things economic. Now, our problem is that the Harvard-ites of the world (and the FBers) are very much tied into money. In terms of the latter, that is due to the current blindness of the web'd. In terms of the former, ah, "how did it happen?" I have to ask the folks in Cambridge. So much to discuss.
Actually, this video caught my eye since it represents a new way to discuss matters. And, I was astounded at how well it does cover the issues. But, there are several points where the video ought to be stopped, to allow discussion. Perhaps, at some point, I'll get to that where comments point back to the particular second/frame in the video.
Now, to the question. It is both discovered and created, as we find with all human endeavors which are embedded in the natural systems. Think of it this way: this issue is very much analogous to the discrete/continuous debate. In fact (if there is a fact that can be claimed in regard to things like this), the question really is a continuum (we'll get back to that).
The problem has been trying to determine where the demarcation line ought to be placed (fuzzy existence) in specifying where we go from discovered to not. In an operational sense, many of the choices taken for people to do things work and, thereby, resolve the problem from that perspective.
Of course, some workarounds (math is full of these) have worked better than others. Yet, the underlying conditions that prompt the query and debate do not abate.
Aside: Here is a recent Common core op-ed. It applies (no, there is no digression here). In this op-ed, there is an implied criticism of fuzzy techniques (a system, if you would). So, this is another of those age-old bifurcations. The view expressed in the op-ed stresses, too much, numeric foundations which then lead to all sorts of mis-guided mathematical shenanigans (yes). That "demarcation line" mentioned above? By necessity, it is fuzzy (in a metaphoric sense, okay?). That we have been overlaid with an insidious mesh that entraps, in part, is the responsibility (karmic) of bad math. That the advertising (marketing) ilk have spawn so rapidly, and, essentially, ruined the Internet is one of the direct results of those bad choices.
I love the emphasis on rules (very much inconsistent, in this op-ed). Learning to follow someone else's footsteps implies rules. Success in mathematics requires memory abilities as well as the other facilities, such as pattern recognition, etc. We cannot get rid of that.
Why don't we try to be peripatetic and teach via play (yes, as in acting out what those abstract notions are supposed to be representing - actually, we're talking a strong type of intuitionism (say what?) that has not been tried, that I can see.). For one thing, it would meld with a whole lot of problems that we see related to trying to get some kids to keep still.
As long as we're on the subject, having mathematics based upon a less pure platform goes right along with this is/or (discovered/not) paradox. You see, it's AND (has always been). Along with the play attempt suggested above would be an almost flip-flop of the model (advised use). But, no one seems to have been allowed to try this, that I know of.
A larger ramification? When choices have a large sphere of influence, then more care is needed. Yet, everywhere we see cowboy (no offense to the real cattle persons) acting as if the world (despite the potential impacts on us) is their lab and little play thing. Care, in that sense? Unfortunately, we have gotten to the point where "care" is not part of the model (lots to discuss in this regard).
Beside pointing to the quasi-empirical (it's briefly alluded to in the video - extra points if you find this -- later, I'll put in the frame) issues, we'll weigh in, soon (PTIME, perhaps), with a novel approach, on the question in the title of the post.
09/21/2014 -- Very important subject. Watch the video.
11/03/2014 -- We'll be getting back to this, but some feel that progress comes from those who can see patterns in a new light or bring them to light. Almost like the Flynn effect, subsequent thinkers can see more clearly, especially if patterns are handled in a manner that persists. That is, patterns can be chimera-like as can any problem of the human mind (and, that is not in any way meant to criticize imaginative efforts -- nope, some patterns may only be accessible within the framework of fiction - sci fi, for instance). Now, to the crux, how one handles the issues of either/or is very much pattern'd and ought to be thought of that way. We'll go on, in time. Choosing on the side that does not relate well to reductionism is as amenable to reason as is the stance denier (remember, perception is very much dependent upon one's time and resources).
The post is motivated by the fact that the most-read post is "Best and brightest of what?" from almost a year ago (10/03/2013). There has been much change in the world since then that ought to be of interest to the theme.
Let's recap a few of these changes:
We had the Olympics in Russia. Despite some infrastructural problems, things happened enough to allow the record books to continue. Yet, right after, the Ukraine became a hotspot.
There was a loss of an airliner (777, which has had no major crashes during the program's long life - kudos to engineering) which has never been explained. Then, another plane was lost to a ground-to-air missile over the Ukraine.
We now have solidification of an Islamic-based organization and society to contend with. If you have to ask, it's ISIS (lots to discuss regard this emergence).
Janet has seen to it that savers (flayed to the bone, if you would) are still the fall guy. The ca-pital-sino rages along nicely due to a continual filling (spiking) of the punch bowl. Yes, QE is easing; the coo-coo (goo-goo) talk has not (yes, they need a continuation of the soft-handling - and do not even think of removing the training wheels from the bike).
Google said that creativity and other attributes trump that which leads to good (and perfect) SAT scores. The theme will continue (many reasons - best of what?).
Early responders (9/11) are reporting after-effects related to health.
One thing of interest will be to look at the posts from early on. The problems are still there, not having been resolved by the political wags (leveraging is up, dark pools are seen as necessary, ..., a very, very long litany whose elucidation attempt might be a worthy expenditure of time and energy).
Over the years, we have had many opinions of Finance (see Remarks at this post on how it goes toward non-realistic models - how is it to not get so entrapped, given funny money is our norm?) Now, let's stop and look at FAME. In short, Finance and Accounting MEmos.
Nice, like the business model which expends the effort to condense, summarize academic papers in order to present these little overviews in a coherent form. And, on-line access is free. The printed copy requires one to come up with money.
To date, there have been two publications. These will be the source for coming posts.
We will have to give a nod to editors and supporters. Great idea.
As an aside, CALPERS seems to want to downplay equities. Perhaps, they're seeing that the aerated property causes things like the Minsky dump.