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09/23/2011

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Dave from Philadelphia

Atomic baffletrons ... where do you get this stuff? I just had the best laugh I have had in a week.

Mike Peterson

After Further Review: Okay, I tried to find out who it was that was lowered into the well and found out that it wasn't anybody. It was that legacy-philosopher Aristotle, in one of his works discussing how the world would operate if half the things he believed were really true. Like Linus, Aristotle did his best work in subjects that were mostly a matter of opinion. The Poetics, the Politics, the Ethics are good, but his natural philosophy is largely composed of thumbsucking bafflegab where you think you're the fool because you can't understand him, but then you finally dig through it and realize there just ain't no pony at the bottom of that pile.

And then you KNOW you're a fool.

In any case, there wasn't anybody lowered into any well.

Dave from Philadelphia

Shucks ... sounded like a neat experiment. I had begun to figure out how to replicate it! (Reference to the discussion a few days ago.)

Mike Peterson

Younger son notes this blog posting, which may clarify the matter a bit for those who understand some but not all science and which includes a comment saying that the original researchers don't think they got it right.

http://scienceblogs.com/startswithabang/2011/09/this_extraordinary_claim_requi.php

Nostalgic

And you still won't tell us what was in the cardboard box?? OK, i'm thinking it was not simply air, even though there would have been atoms in it, since shaking and turning it provided some kind of information...? Or does that apply anyway? Sheesh, yesterday's earworm had nothing on this.

DSL

Apropos of the PS: Dog Eat Doug did the joke better. Hagar ain't been the same since Dik Browne died.
And if you really want to include Twain in your discussion, he compared scientific efforts to understand the workings of the world to people in a cave, just deep enough to see light on the walls but unable to approach the mouth of the cave, and trying to figure out what was going on outside from the play of light and shadows on the wall of the cave. I always thought that was a pretty good explanation of, well, a lot of things.

Mike Peterson

Yep, that Mark Twain was one of the best. Too bad he never married that nice girl Heloise. In-law problems, as I recall.

Nostalgic

If he had, he might have gotten some hints.

Sherwood Harrington

Hey, you remembered something about an old Greek guy and a well, which is probably more than my students will a few decades hence. Google "Eratosthenes well Syene" to refresh your memory.

Mike Peterson

Okay, thanks, Sherwood, because you just restored my faith in my brain cells and some professors I really respected. I had apparently conflated Aristotle's bogus story about seeing the night sky with the real story about Eratosthenes, which explains why I can remember my prof talking about a guy in a North African well.

I was pretty disillusioned to think anyone taught us that other story, but I probably came across it when I was slogging around in some Aristotle, looking for that elusive pony.

But I still think it was probably Ptolemy, because I can't spell Eratosthenes.

Mike Peterson

And Heloise was about to pass along a hint, when, unfortunately, he got cut off.

Mark Jackson

Gav hit it yesterday:

http://www.nukees.com/d/20110926.html

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