Author Topic: Lost in Math?  (Read 788 times)

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Kaspar Hauser

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Lost in Math?
« on: December 10, 2020, 09:23:11 am »
I stumbled upon a book that might cause great discomfort and anxiety among those pretentious hogs our friend Artaud ranted against.



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If you are a theoretical particle physicist, a string theorist, or a phenomenologist — particularly if you suffer from cognitive dissonance — you will not like this book. If you are a true believer in naturalness as the guiding light of theoretical physics, this book will irritate you tremendously. But if you're someone who isn't afraid to ask that big question of "are we doing it all wrong," the answer might be a big, uncomfortable "yes." Those of us who are intellectually honest physicists have been living with this discomfort for many decades now. In Sabine's book, Lost In Math, this discomfort is now made accessible to the rest of us.


http://gen.lib.rus.ec/search.php?req=Lost+in+Math+Sabine&open=0&res=25&view=simple&phrase=1&column=def

As if I needed help in intensifying my discomfort!   :)

I will see if I get around to that one.  It sounds political and mean-spirited, maybe meant to break many spirits; then again, I still have major math texts from Computer Science I would love to devote myself to studying:  Knuth's Concrete Mathematics, for example.  I am still working through the last of the Dolciani texts, injecting methods from my own research on calculating values of trigonometric functions without scientific calculators or tables produced by computers. 

I feel for these theoretical physicists and those who must live as "career scientists."  Theoreticians, yes.   Ahem.

The texts produced by such Computational Physicists as Jay Wang, circa 2016, Computational Modeling:  And Visualization of Physical Systems with Python appears before me like some kind of sacred and mysterious tome.  I have books that I would not be prepared for unless I live into my seventies.  Ridiculous and comical man, I am.  I was ever-so-enthusiastic about diving into VPython and tackling Matter & Interactions.  I still aspire to do so, but I am very into the prerequisites.  Such is the life of an intellectually honest lifelong scholar.

 I have not read Lost in Math, but - what the Hell, might as well take a peak to see if we might heighten my pre-existing sense of discomfort anxiety.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwvLlEtxX3o
« Last Edit: December 10, 2020, 09:47:59 am by Sticks and Stones »
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

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Ibra

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Re: Lost in Math?
« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2020, 09:58:38 pm »
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As if I needed help in intensifying my discomfort!   :)

That is amusing actually. I think Discomfort is  part and parcel of being "intellectually honest".
careerist always show bravado and hollow certainty.
I remember when was young watching science documentaries, there was always something off about comments of pop scientists (pseudo-scientists, or scientists without philosophical disposition). Their smugness as if they decoded the universe, their cringe optimism, their celebrity lifestyle.

Humans have limits, Schopenhauer put a limit to our knowledge of the world, Godel put a limit to any axiomatic system (Incompleteness theorem, to be frank I have Cartoonish idea of it), Shannon put a limit to channel capacity of information.
Now I think about it, I will research this topics of Limits, and anthologize it someday.(sounds fun).
.

Hentrich, thanks for the book link and your honest commentary. It is a blessing to have the opportunity to communicate with you.

Stay well.
Suffering is the only fruit of human race

Kaspar Hauser

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Re: Lost in Math?
« Reply #2 on: December 11, 2020, 08:50:47 pm »
I have been forcing myself to read at least a few paragraphs from the second half of Becker's Denial of Death, at least every other night.  Throughout my life, since childhood, the idea of mathematics and mathematicians intrigued me.  Throughout high school, Physics seemed some distant destination.  Encountering in university later in life renewed an interest in Calculus.

To make a long story short, the world of official physicists, to me, is like the Castle in Kafka's novel.  Even in the university, I felt like a dog in the temple.  That is, even though I could hold my own with math, I was not on the inside of the "priest-craft" --- I am a hobbyist who the State seems to have wasted funds on in educating, although I greatly appreciate the education, especially the community college part where I was able to focus on programming, Calculus, Physics, etc ... but as Thomas Ligotti mentions in Conspiracy, getting the A's in Calculus just did not feel as good as we might have expected it to.  It was non-orgasmic.

The reason I am leaving some notes on how to find values of trigonometric functions without scientific calculators or tables is because there have been things bugging me for several decades now, beginning with high school and the introduction to these transcendental functions.  We were using these functions, but had no idea the math behind defining them.  In the 1980's we were to become proficient in using the scientific and graphing calculators of the day.  We were also expected to know how to use the tables.  Nonetheless, I became quite disillusioned with what it meant to be a mathematics or science student in the "Space Age" if we were so dependent upon the tools. 

I list a handful of memorized values for sin 10, 20, 30, 40, 45, 50, cos 10, 20, 30, 35, 45, and then tan 10, 20, 30, 40, 45 ...

I use formulas I learned studying Doerfler's Dead Reckoning: Calculating Without Instruments.

 The trig stuff is toward the end of that little book.


I have noticed some weird patterns.   401/7 is used as a constant in the formulas.  It serves the same purpose as 180/pi when translating radian units to degree measure.  The numbers are roughly 57.2857 and 57.2958, respectively.

Well, when I was investigating how the tangent goes off into infinity as angle measure approaches 90 (pi/2 radians), I tested tan(89) = 1/tan(1).

1/tan(1) = 57.28996 degrees.  It's that ratio again.  That's a weird zone because from 89 to 90 degrees, the values grow exponentially.  tan(89.9) = 572.957..., tan(89.99) = 5729.57789, etc


I had stumbled upon something weird and probably unrelated, but it has to give some clue to something.  It can't just be a coincidence.  That ratio.

So, I am working with pencil, but also with my homemade calculator, Sage, SymPy, the TI CAS ... always checking to see how many digits of accuracy my approximations have.  I am honest in my documentations.

Maybe I am just living as though someone might appreciate my notes and ways of organizing "work."  Who knows? 

It would be poetic justice if we hobbyists, tinkerers, and burnt-out disgruntled techies end up forming our own coalitions and electronic communities.  Maybe whoever is left in the future might prefer more fundamental, close to the bone, cross-platform source code, math-oriented code over the graphics-rich code demanded by video-games, corny ppporny, and Hollywood-cartoon movies.

I really think the hobbyists and their double-agent professional buddies will be able to salvage Unixland in the form of a Linux From Scratch Revolution.  Maybe not everyone will be going around making their own distro, but the idea of customizing a kernel to one's particular hardware ought to be made a direct and comprehensible operation by many computer users of the future.
Things They Will Never Tell YouArthur Schopenhauer has been the most radical and defiant of all troublemakers.

Gorticide @ Nothing that is so, is so DOT edu

~ Tabak und Kaffee Süchtigen ~