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Re: The Noblest Achievements

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Posted by Alexander on February 27, 2001 03:16:23 UTC

Yes, I agree that lack of quality "translation" from math to English is a noble task and it hurts to mutual understanding/dialogues between humanities and science (and between majority of "normal" people and science), thus creating suspicion among majority that science is a kind of religion/cult thus should not be trusted or given any degree of power or influence.

There is actually constant flow of attempts of such translations around (called encyclopedias, popular books/lectures/programs, etc).

But somehow schientists themselves are so busy with research, papers, conferences, teaching, modelling, arguing, hypothesing, etc that they rarely have time and opportunity to explain others what they do. Probably this is because they do not consider it prestigious and there are no other motivations to "translate" (you can not make even reasonable money this way).

So, then someone else is trying to do "translation" and if he/she has experience in math - then it is OK. But, unfortunaltely, in most cases public gets "aberrated" translation.

And it is not only due to experience of the author, but rather due to EXTREME DIFFERENCE of the very nature of math from English (or math objects from everyday examples to be used to illustrate complex mathematical relationships).

So, the books like "Elegant Universe" or "Brief history of time" are good attempts to popularize complex mathematical structure of Universe, but namely due to lack of math can be interpreted by public in much wider/ambiguous way than the original math/author meant.

The different nature of math and communication aids like language is that the latters were created by people and only out of what people can see, touch, hear, feel or taste. The math exists completely independent from people (or other aliens/animals)and it does not operate with objects which can be seen, touched or tasted.

Thus, I do not know, for example, how to describe Shroedinger or even Newton equations in plain (or even not so plain) English.

Any suggestions/objections/discussion ?

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