Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Who are you who are so wise in the ways of science?

Brad Plummer's blog has this interesting post on what he could contribute to society if he were transported back in time to the Dark Ages. His conclusion: not much.
Let's start with what I know: A lot, it seems, about Galois Theory and algebraic topology. I can explain, step by step, why Hilbert's Tenth Problem is unsolvable. But who would care?...Meanwhile, I have nothing to offer them on the engineering front. Nothing. I know what gravity is, and they wouldn't. But I'm not sure I could figure out how to "produce" electricity, or explain the principles of bridge-building (there's...a keystone...right?). Certainly no amount of fiddling on my part would ever produce a light-bulb, or a telephone, or the steam engine.
I have a recurring fantasy where I host a time traveler from the past and show him around our modern world. My favorite fantasy guests are scientists, like Isaac Newton. It would be great fun to explain modern science and technology to him. Of course this would be much, much harder If I were on his turf rather than he on mine.


Blogger Nikki said...

Out of all the people I know Ed, you have the most encyclopedic knowledge of how things work. I'm sure you would have a lot to teach Isaac even if you were on his turf.

1:51 PM  

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