14.0210 naming God & submarine mysteries

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: Tue Sep 05 2000 - 08:55:34 CUT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 210.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: "Gerda Elata" <gerda@bgumail.bgu.ac.il>
             Subject: Re: 14.0196 what if we succeeded?

       [2] From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com> (23)
             Subject: The Newton-Fermat-Submarine Mystery


             Date: Fri, 01 Sep 2000 14:20:32 +0100
             From: "Gerda Elata" <gerda@bgumail.bgu.ac.il>
             Subject: Re: 14.0196 what if we succeeded?

    According to a Jewish mystical tradition, the Torah - read aright - consists
    of all the names of God.
    When the Torah was revealed to Moses, he "saw" its letters written in one
    single sequence in black fire on white fire, and "heard" (from the mouth of
    God) the division of the sequence into words. The division into the names of
    God will be revealed at the end of time.

    Gerda Elata-Alster


             Date: Tue, 05 Sep 2000 09:44:12 +0100
             From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com>
             Subject: The Newton-Fermat-Submarine Mystery

    Dear Colleagues:

    The Newton-Fermat or Fermat-Newton mystery of earlier discussions has a new
    twist - submarines. To refresh your memory, Newton and Fermat had
    remarkable similarities including extreme secretiveness, "meteoric" rise in
    government service, invention/discovery of many branches of physics and
    mathematics, considerable interest in optics/light (to which they
    contributed greatly), etc. Fermat was in the 1600s, earlier than Newton
    except for a short insignificant period. Fermat was about 350 years ahead
    of his time, and Leonardo Da Vinci seems to have been the only creative
    genius who came close in that respect. Newton was definitely far ahead of
    his time, but it is difficult to estimate exactly how far ahead. Both men
    had rather curious historical connections with the special theory of
    relativity of Einstein, which was not invented until the 1900s, and probably
    with his general theory also. I had raised the question of whether the
    British and French governments respectively might have subsidized or at
    least been interested in the work of these two for practical applications
    but with secrecy in mind - as a partial explanation of the secretive
    characteristics of Newton and Fermat, but also for other reasons including
    the fact that phase differences, as between liquid and solid as gas phases
    of matter, are important in optics/light and the possible
    military/technological applications are attractive. Phase differences
    happen to also be key to logic-based probability (LBP), which I introduced
    in 1980.

    It now appears unquestionable that submarines, which would be a natural
    outgrowth of interest in liquid versus solid phase differences, were known
    in the time of Fermat and had just been invented by William Bourne in 1578,
    a British mathematician and naval writer. Cornelius (van) Drebbel
    constructed the first real submarine around 1620 and successfully sailed it
    beneath the surface of the Thames river from 1620 through 1624 - just in
    time for Fermat to notice it. In the first 30 years of the 18th century,
    numerous types of submarine had been patented in England and other

    In the earlier discussion, I described a science fiction scenario in which
    both Newton and Fermat turned out to be time travelers, and it is certainly
    the case that phase differences yield some remarkable results equally as
    unusual if not greater. LBP research indicates that the speed of light and
    the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principles may both involve phase differences
    rather than absolute upper limits on either light speed/velocity or
    uncertainties/products of uncertainties. If so, then science fiction
    hyperspace would be possible, and with it very rapid travel to stars and
    even distant galaxies. It would not be surprising if time can be conquered
    as directly, and likewise miniaturization to the quantum level and below
    (the "sub-Planck" level).

    The relevance of this to Humanist Discussion Group is multifold. Science
    fiction, a branch of literature and science, kept the idea of hyperspace
    alive when almost all of physics and mathematics had abandoned it. In fact,
    science fiction (Jules Verne, etc.) inspired many innovations in submarines
    and other technological developments of great importance. It inspired me
    throughout my childhood and adulthood. The historical study of genius and
    creativity, which I have emphasized in Humanities Discussion Group (along
    with others), becomes much more urgent in relationship to technological
    innovations, discovery, and so on. Genius and creativity cross science and
    humanities. Interdisciplinary study becomes very important in practice as
    well as theory.

    Most interesting, perhaps, to detective novel readers like me, is the
    question of what happened to the French and British government knowledge
    about Fermat and Newton, if it existed. The French Revolution may have
    destroyed it in France, but that revolution or its aftermath eventually lost
    out in time thanks to Great Britain. Was the Scarlet Pimpernel only a
    figment of a Countess' imagination in writing novels? Was there a French
    Secret Service that survived the French Revolution? Why did Germany start
    heavily pioneering in mathematics and physics in the 1700s after Newton was
    gone? Was some of the knowledge carried to Germany from France, there to
    ripen with A. Einstein in the early 1900s? I suggested Sir Arthur Stanley
    Eddington as the British Secret Service's Man alongside Einstein in an
    earlier discussion, but what about George Francis Fitzgerald of 1801-1901
    Dublin whose formula Einstein used in special relativity and Henrik Antoon
    Lorentz of 1853-1928 Arnhem in the Netherlands (who won the Nobel Prize in
    1902 and who was the other half of Einstein's Lorentz-Fitzgerald
    contraction, although Fitzgerald was first). Where in the world did the
    Italians come from - Tullio Levi-Civita of 1873-1941 Padua/Rome and Gregorio
    Ricci-Curbastro of 1853-1925 Papal States/Bologna, whose tensor analysis
    (invented by Ricci mostly) was used by Einstein as the mathematics of his
    general theory of relativity? Hundreds of years after Leonardo Da Vinci's
    400-year-ahead-of-his-time genius, their mathematics was conveniently in
    place so that Einstein's friend, the geometry expert Marcel Grossman, upon
    being asked by Einstein what mathematics to use for general relativity,
    could cite it as the one to use. The French-Italian connection, is it? The
    French-German-Austrian-Italian connection?

    Osher Doctorow

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