Thursday, July 22, 2010


I’ve been quite inspired in reading the introduction to Oliver Heaviside’s “Electromagnetic Theory: Volume 1”. It is surprising to me how little is known or revered by this amazing Applied Mathematician. Then again I am still surprised over the lack of fame Tesla has today. While instead the “Great American Inventor” title is reserved for people like Edison. Anyway, I simply will not rob Heaviside’s words, thus I quote him directly and it appears he had a similar problem that is still rather pervasive in our modern times.

“There are men of a certain type of mind who are never wearied with gibing at mathematics, at mathematicians, and at mathematical methods of inquiry. It goes almost without saying that these men have themselves little mathematical bent. I believe this to be a general fact; but, as a fact, it does not explain very well their attitude towards mathematicians. The reason seems to lie deeper. How does it come about, for instance, that whilst they are themselves so transparently ignorant of the real nature, meaning, and effects of mathematical investigation, they yet lay down the law in the most confident and self-satisfied manner, telling the mathematician what the nature of his work is (or rather is not), and of its erroneousness and inutility, and so forth? It is quite as if they knew all about it.

“It reminds one of the professional paradoxers, the men who want to make you believe that the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of a circle is 3, or 3.125, or some other nice easy number (any but the right one); or that the earth is flat, or that the sun is a lump of ice; or that the distance of the moon is exactly 6 miles 500 yards, or that the speed of the current varies as the square of the length of the line. They, too, write as if they knew all about it! Plainly, then, the anti-mathematician must belong to the same class as the paradoxer, whose characteristic is to be wise in his ignorance, whereas the really wise man is ignorant in his wisdom. But this matter may be left for students of mind to settle. What is of greater importance is that the anti-mathematicians sometimes do a deal of mischief. For there are many of a neutral frame of mind, little acquainted themselves with mathematical methods, who are sufficiently impressible to be easily taken in by the gibers and to be prejudiced thereby; and, should they possess some mathematical bent, they may be hindered by their prejudice from giving it fair development. We cannot all be Newton’s or Laplace’s, but that there is an immense amount of moderate mathematical talent lying latent in the average man I regard as a fact; and even the moderate development implied in a working knowledge of simple algebraically equations can, with common-sense to assist, be not only the means of valuable mental discipline, but even be of commercial importance (which goes a long way with some people), should one’s occupation be a branch of engineering for example.” (Section 8, Electromagnetic Theory, 1893)

Please take the time to note the date in which this writing was published. Even in the late 1800’s men like Heaviside were aware of the spreading of the ignorant, by generating ridiculous concepts like the erroneous representation of Pi. Today, I don’t see many meddle in the realms of mathematics, perhaps the discipline has grown so far beyond the grasp of the charlatans that nothing they say will be believed? For if you look at the time frame the charlatans were arguing mathematics from the 1500’s or so, whereas today it has become such a solidified and widely taught subject that people do not question the mathematical conclusions anymore. If they do question something as mundane as Pi, then it seems they are not studying mathematics very clearly.

What we do experience today is the “paradoxer”, as Heaviside put it, trying to undermine science, especially Biology. Little is argued against Physics these days, perhaps it is so far beyond people (just like math) that no one can argue it. Although, I see all kinds of nonsense coming out of the Quantum Quackery camp, perhaps that is the plight of Physics today. However, as Bob Stanek of CERN, commented on the documentary “Through the Wormhole”: “Most people know about the gravitational force, some people know about the Electromagnetic forces, no one knows about the weak nuclear force, and no one knows about the strong nuclear force.” (Possibly re-ordered by me.) This tells me that the divide between what people know and where Physicists are is very great.

However, people do not act like this when it comes to Biology. With Biology the concept of “natural selection” is even put into question! When I discuss this topic with people they are arguing 19th century Biology. These are the paradoxers arguing old world and already solved problems, yet somehow thinking they are relevant to modern science. For example in a recent discussion someone tried to discuss how Hoeckel’s recapitulation theory was untenable, while my girlfriend would quickly retort: “of course it is, that’s why Evo-Devo exists today”. This is clearly a case of someone NOT keeping up with the field they wish to criticize. If you really want to have something to say about science, especially a critical something, then you must know what the modern science says about the topic. It is, generally, not hard to find out.

You see this happen quite often today and I just ran into it yesterday in a discussion with a tenacious twelve year old named Brianna. She has shown an interest in things like Physics, but instead of finding information that is relevant, she stumbled upon a site filled with all kinds of nonsense. She obviously wouldn’t know any better; luckily for her someone was able to help her out. I looked over this site briefly and on the main page they had a video of someone who invented an “incredible machine” that only runs on magnets. The basic gist is that it was a rotary motor that rotates within a magnetic field. They had a group of people around the table looking on in awe, and they were all amazed at how close we were to having “powerless energy.” I think everyone there missed out on one major fact… Tesla invented that in the late 1800’s. This is how out of touch people are with concepts and inventions related to something as common as Electromagnetism. This simply blows my mind. Instead of progression we have regression, these people could be reasonably smart people, but if they spent less time trying to combine science with spirituality and spent their time working ACTUAL modern science, maybe our species could accomplish even more than we have already!

In sum, I am both awed and dismayed at what I stumble upon in my daily readings and research. While Oliver Heaviside did impressive work with Electromagnetism and really helped further the field, while Tesla gave the world the power of Alternating Current, they still faced dissenters that could not get over the already solved problems. As it is with history… little has changed.

Here’s to progress. Tomorrow I may discuss more on Mathematics and Electromagnetism in terms of Theory and Application.


  1. "This simply blows my mind. Instead of progression we have regression, these people could be reasonably smart people, but if they spent less time trying to combine science with spirituality and spent their time working ACTUAL modern science, maybe our species could accomplish even more than we have already!"

    The failures of modern science can be seen in our degraded societies. Since they deny the existence of anything above the material plane, the higher purpose of life and any transcedental principle, all people are left with is a shallow, meaningless life of consummerism and of satisfying whatever basic impulses and short-term whims may come along the way.
    An over-population of the planet, destruction of the eco-system, enslavement to a corrupt, mercantile system, weak of body and mind, subordinated to technology, all this to no higher purpose, to no ideal or end.
    Actually, the regression has long been here and it developed into a dystopia eventually, a dystopia in which we are living today. And "modern science" and the conceptions of "modern scientists" contributed very much to it. Analytical thinking has broken the study of reality into tiny pieces, set apart from each other, each developing independently as if it had no relation to the others.
    Modern scientists tell us that the world and existence is no more than a mechanical automaton, that everything is random, that nothing above the material plane- perceived by our 5 normal senses- exists, the each of us are just individual units connected in no way to the Whole.

    Traditional natural science, before its overthrough by rationalism and materialism, always started its search of the natural world from the higher, spiritual principles, and sought to understand nature in relation to that which is above it. Of course, modern scientists deny anything above, so what we are left with is a walk through a dark, lightless alley, searching whatever disparaged pieces we find along the way.

    All the advances made by modern science are useless, unless they are put to a wider, higher purpose of real knowledge.

    No doubt, you will claim that I am just an ignorant and deluded fool who lives in a fantasy world and does understand anything of the modern conception of "progress". But I just want to point out the intelectual miopia that the modern world brings to people, until no one can see the forest, seeing instead just some trees thrown at random, with no connection to each-other whatsoever

  2. But what you say of this stuff isn't actually true. The people you claim are living in a dystopia can find fulfilling understanding of the world around them. My complaint is that people don't actually know anything about science or how to wield it, which leads to the laziness and regression. They lack any real appreciation for the world around them and take everything for granted.

    What you propose about the "spiritual" world is just illogical. Science never said there is nothing beyond observed reality, but what it does say is that if it IS part of reality or reacting with reality in anyway way, then we CAN study it and test it etc. People that make spiritual claims about the "higher power" the "whole of consciousness" or whatever must SHOW that their ideas are correct and are actually happening. "Feeling" something is correct is NOT the some as objectively showing it is true. If you feel you are right you must find a way to objectively show, via experiment under the scrutiny of peer review, that your observation is true and repeatable. If you are unwilling to do these things then I am not sure how you could ever have a meaningful discussion about what you claim is true.

  3. Your proposals of exploring what is truth vs untruth is typical of what is called "scientification" that the modern age brought. You start from the conclusion that the so-called "scientific method"- of laboratory, controlled-type of testing- is the best way in which one can study reality, and only it can provide meaningful answers to what we call "reality".
    And since it can only lead to information concerning the material world, observable by the five senses, it denies that there is anything more to reality. Thus, it claims to be the only "real" science that can really exist, while anything connected to the spiritual (such as esoteric sciences) is rejected as pseudo-science and superstition, because it cannot be analyzed by its methods. Few people observe that modern scientists arrive at this conclusion via the use of circular logic.

    Science and modernity share a commun, one-dimensional view of reality. To them reality, existence, time, everything, develops in a straight line (which developed the myth that human existence, hence mdoernity, is one, uninterupted line of progress, of which our modern, technological era, is its apex). They do not see anything above, nor anything bellow. What the "age of reason" has brought us is one metter forward and one kilometer downward.

    Modern science is devoid on an inner purpose when it fails to recognize anything above of itself. Thus, its study and understanding of the natural world, of material reality, will only lead to a single practical aplication- the further development of technology claimed to bring physical and material well-being (because it is the only well-being that it sees logical and meaningful).
    Thus, humanity is caught, not only in a vicious circle, but also in a downward spiral, where they lose all connections to anything above the physical.
    It is true that one can gain, today, a great amount of knowledge about the natural world. But it amounts to nothing if it cannot be put in a wider, higher context, where such knowledge shifts its status from a goal, to a means towards a greater goal, of real progress and evolution- that is inner evolution.

  4. That's not a fair assessment of what I do. I am trained to work on theoretical problems, things that may not necessarily have experiments to verify them. I think science is well aware of the powers of working beyond "known" reality. Look at any study of String Theory.

    My point about scientific experimentation on studying reality means that we should seriously verify the theories. Following mathematics unchecked does not necessarily solve the problems. Mathematics is NOT bound by reality and we can discuss things that may, in fact, not even exist! As a theorist I recognize the importance of experimental verification, the claims of "spirituality" have never been verified. Therefore it is senseless to think they are likely true. No one that understands theory says that String Theory is true, they say it MAY be true. Spirituality is presented as if it IS true. There's a big difference here.