Saturday, July 7, 2012

Whaddaya Think?


Black hole caught red-handed in a stellar homicide is the title of a piece I encountered recently in a press release from the Hubble Site. Below is one of the introductory paragraphs:

Supermassive black holes, weighing millions to billions times more than the Sun, lurk in the centers of most galaxies. These hefty monsters lay quietly until an unsuspecting victim, such as a star, wanders close enough to get ripped apart by their powerful gravitational clutches.

Is it possible, I wondered, to present a scientific description of an event or principle to the student or non-academic layman (like me) without employing figures of speech such as the metaphor or an analogy. And I decided that it is not possible simply because to do so it would be necessary to employ mathematics instead of words, and who but a scientist could truly understand such a presentation?

I certainly cannot.

That revelation led me to question whether or not I am capable of even understanding anything unless the thing I am seeking to understand is compared with a similar thing that I already believe I understand.

And I am still considering that question.




The Snottygobble is a species of tall shrub or small tree in the plant genus Persoonia, reaching 1 to 5 metres (3–17 ft) in height. It is found in the Jarrah forests of southwest Western Australia. This species is characterised by its long narrow dark green leaves, dark yellow to orange flowers and distinctive dark flaky red bark.



Robert Heinlein
Born July 7, 1907
Died May 8, 1988

Robert Anson Heinlein, author of Stranger In A Strange Land. was an American science fiction writer. Often called the "dean of science fiction writers," he was one of the most influential and controversial authors of the genre in his time. He set a standard for scientific and engineering plausibility, and helped to raise the genre's standards of literary quality.

Born July 7, 1940

Richard Starkey, MBE, better known by his stage name Ringo Starr, is an English musician and actor who gained worldwide fame as the drummer for the Beatles.

Born July 7, 1949

Shelley Alexis Duvall is an American film and television actress best known for her roles in Thieves Like Us, 3 Women, The Shining and Popeye.



"Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true."
-- Bertrand Russell

No comments:

Post a Comment