onsdag 17 november 2010

Bloody Serious Games, of Mathematics

Johan Huizinga identifies in Homo Ludens (1938), games and play as the origin of all human culture, while noting that as culture develops, its playful elements get lost: In folk music performing musicians are allowed to play according to their own inspiration, while in serious classical music this is possible only for composer and conductor.

Huizinga also notes that games are played with a "bloody seriousness" (Heiligen Ernst) which goes way beyond the importance of kicking a ball around. This is probably connected to the symbolic function of a game, like Americas Cup, which can be "bloody serious" in the sense that it measures the strength of a superpower. Or a soccer match measuring the relative importance of two villages.

How about science? Yes, science is a form of culture and thus also is a form of game. This falls
into Kuhn's classification of "normal science" as games with set rules, and "shifts of paradigm" about the rules of the game.

Mathematics as the foundation of science is maybe the most bloody serious game of all, and
bloody serious games are called battles. A big battle was fought in the 1930s between the constructivists (Brouwer) and the formalists-logicists (Hilbert-Russell). Scientifically
Brouwer won the game by scoring 2-0 by Gödel's incompleteness theorem and the Turing machine. But politically the formalists-logicists won by taking over mathematics departments and kicking out all constructivists to computer science, the booming new field of constructive mathematics.

In the 1970s the formalists-logicists made a serious push to set a new standard and consolidate their political victory, by introducing set theory already in Kindergarten. But this mass education withered away because nobody could understand why it was so illuminating to construct a set by putting one banana, two shoes and a dog inside the loop of a rope.

Today, the battle reappears in mathematics education as a battle between computational mathematics and classical analytical mathematics, between realism and idealism, between
constructive and formal mathematics, as a paradigm shift battle about the rules of the game,
with the latter really bloody serious.

And so Brouwer and Turing are back again with an IT-society using constructive mathematics in massive computation on billions of computers, day and night all over the globe. The battle to bring politics and science together has started. Brouwer as David against the Mathematics Church as Goliath. My contribution to the game is the upcoming e-book BodyandSoul Mathematical Simulation Technology, which can be downloaded from my home page and inspected. Any comments are welcome.
Another battle is going on, between CO2 climate alarmists and CO2 alarmism skeptics. Again politics has been separated from science. Here David is a skeptic and the IPCC State Church is Goliath. This is also a bloody serious game of mathematics, because global climate follows mathematical physical laws and not climate tax laws by governments.

If you are betting money on this match, check out the new book by David

A resume of the ongoing climate battle is given in Penn and Teller Bullshit: Global Warming.

5 kommentarer:

  1. Long ago my maths professor said complex numbers should be taught in primary school because young children have good imagination. My grandson (just 6) just told me a million has 6 zeros, a billion (US not English) has 9 zeros. I have taught him odd and even numbers, and doubling. Maybe next year I can introduce him to the square root of minus one and vectors and see if the professor was right. The grandson already knows that the sun is a small star and that order of the planets out to Neptune. I think he knows more than most of the so-called climate scientists.
    keep well

  2. I thought this post was going toward a pithy criticism of relying on computer models in climate science, rather than relying on good, fundamental physical insight. In my view, today's climate scientists think physical insight comes from exercising their rudimentary models, robotically, with the obvious result that they don't have any good physical insight anymore. They have literally thrown it away, and teach the eager children, and grasping politicans, their empty games as sacred truth. As for the war in mathematics education, I am from an older and I think finer tradition, and nothing speaks more clearly to me of the dull state of current thinking, than the popularization of "maths" for mathematics. With such easy truncation of an ancient word with ancient meaning, they are turning the children into little Eloi (see "The Time Machine", by H. G. Wells), ever so slightly more cut off from past understanding. And a child of 6 or 7 has no use for complex numbers, don't stifle his wonder with the seriousness of even "cool maths", so young. Teach him to draw well, instead -- that will stimulate his appreciation of nature, and the design inherent in it, leading to lifelong observation and insight into it. And all would-be teachers should learn Piaget's theory, and the development in the child of first concrete, and only much later formal, or adult, thinking.

  3. The problem is not only that they rely on computer simulations for validation and predicting the future. The main problem is that their entire physics is wrong.

    As a matter of fact, today i'm doing experiments with optical pumping. When you read about it in the manual you realise that light is quite remarkable, it carries not only energy, but also momentum, angular momentum and so on. In optical pumping it is actually the conservation of angular momentum that is the key to the entire effect.

    It is when you contemplate over these conservation laws that you understand where it all went wrong.

    According to the greenhouse gurus CO2 absorbs IR-radiation and reeimts it isotropically...
    I don't think so ;)

    In that case momentum is devoid of meaning....

  4. A little bit out of topic, but I suggest you all have a look at this paper:


  5. Anders, Someting similar although S.o.D (Dr Eggert?)thinks he can refute it http://www.google.com.au/#q=chilingar&hl=en&ei=exmSTOSQGdO6ccSmyPAG&start=30&sa=N&fp=4ea4a308ac696def
    It seems that S.o.D does not understand radiation, emissivity, measurements and the errors in measurements. It seems S.o.D has no engineering qualifications. That could be a reason that he does not understand the application of measurements, statistics, mathematics, thermodynamics and heat transfer.
    keep well
    Cementafriend (not sure how one puts that in Swedish- a double meaning a/ cement or zement or ciment which hardens b/ join or unite )