Tuesday, 25 July 2017

If all Scientific Knowlege were destroyed

Richard Feynman once said:

If, in some cataclysm, all of scientific knowledge were to be destroyed, and only one sentence passed on to the next generation of creatures, what statement would contain the most information in the fewest words? I believe it is the atomic hypothesis that all things are made of atoms — little particles that move around in perpetual motion, attracting each other when they are a little distance apart, but repelling upon being squeezed into one another. In that one sentence, you will see, there is an enormous amount of information about the world, if just a little imagination and thinking are applied.

I definitely wouldn't say that! I would say:

"Subtract the qualitative from the physical world, the rest follows patterns described by mathematics".

In a thread on facebook people were suggesting things like "know yourself" and mentioning micro-organisms. 

"Know your self" will not precipitate any scientific discovery. Neither will saying everything is made up of atoms. The ancient Greeks said both. Neither precipitated much scientific progress. I mean "know yourself" has nothing to do with science!

What precipitated modern science in the 17th Century was the notion that physical reality -- at least the quantifiable aspects -- are governed/described by physical laws written in the language of mathematics potentially discernible by us human beings. See my essay:

Science, the Afterlife, and the Intelligentsia

Regarding atoms, micro-organisms and the like. They need to learn to walk before they can run. They need to find out how to conduct science, not tell them about scientific discoveries.

Even if they could make sense of sub-microscopic particles or micro-organisms, remember the saying:

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime".

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