Using Reasoning to Learn New/Old Words

“Only strong characters can resist the temptation of superficial analysis.”

Albert Einstein

Quantum mechanics, with its leap into statistics,
has been a mere palliative for our ignorance.

Rene Thom

When logic and proportion fall soggy dead,
and the white knight is talking backwards,
with the Red Queen is on her head,
Remember what the dormouse said:
Feed your head.
Feed your head!

We typically learn many words from context, rather than looking them up in a dictionary. Each person knows and uses many words which they cannot define exactly. Most of the words we know are not learned by someone telling us the definition. More typically, we learn words by extracting its meaning from context. The first encounter with a given word is usually not sufficient to gain any real understanding of the word.

Understanding can be achieved by comparing several examples. Each successive example can either augment understanding, confirm the understanding, or in some cases, uncover misunderstanding.

Learn, Unlearn, Learn

If you don’t understand something said,
don’t assume that you are at fault.
David West Keirsey

Wandering towards Scientific Enlightenment

Understanding can always be improved.

Problem comes when learning old fast ideas.

The trouble with specialists is that they tend to think in grooves
Elaine Morgan

In 1900, Max Planck had created a theoretical explanation of Wien’s formula on black body radiation. But in that process, experimentalists aware of Planck’s interest in the matter, had recently looked into the matter at longer wavelengths and higher temperatures, and told Planck that the infrared region at high energies violated Wien’s formula — so his original explanation was wrong. To quickly solve the problem, Planck added a “correction” to his analysis. A resulting derived formula proved to correct, no matter the increase in frequency (looking at a wider range of energies) and the improved accuracy of experimental results. Planck went back to his quickly modified analysis and reformulated his ideas to justify the semi-ad-hoc correction and found that it implied that energy was emitted or absorbed in discrete units based on Boltzmann’s combinatorics. He had solved a problem by simply creating a “chimera:” adding a factor in his equation — but he did not realize its consequent was as significant until he tried to justify his change theoretically. Even then, he did not consider it as profound, until Niels Bohr and others started to apply his new idea “a quantum action” to atoms and molecules. Another problem was there was a flaw in Planck’s reasoning for which Satyendra Bose corrected later, but the idea of quantum action has proved to be one of the two key and major ideas of physics in the 20th century.

Niels Bohr became very successful in applying Planck’s quantum action idea when examining the spectrum of the hydrogen atom. The failure of Rutherford’s simple analog “orbit” model, whereas the precise predictions of Bohr using Fraunhofer spectral lines, signaled the death of 19th century physics in the realm of small. However, for more complicated atoms, Bohr’s model wasn’t as accurate, so his original fast idea [quantum theory] needed modification or to be added to. The initial progress of the ideas: Einstein’s 1) lichtquanten, 2) special relativity, 3) general relativity; 4) Schrodinger’s recursive function equation; and 5) Dirac’s delta functional; petered out into the “particle and force zoo” ending up with the not very well understood statistical and probability based Standard Model of particle physics.

Wandering towards Scientific Enlightenment 2.0

Time, Space, Mass, Energy, Charge, Spin? What do these words mean?

Gestalt Science related blogs: Gestalt Science, Reimagining, Feynman, That Relational Thing, The Digital Sand Reckoner, Towards Quantum Formatics, The Ring that Binds and Grinds, Prime, On the Question of Learning Words, One Ring that Binds Them All, The Functional, Within the Edge of…

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