Re: virus: Memetic evolution

C. David Noziglia (
Wed, 20 Mar 1996 21:54:50 -0800

Mitchell Porter wrote:
> > Task: You are one of the caretakers of 20th century scientific knowledge,
> > and a severe budget crisis is forcing your program out of existence. You
> > may save the knowledge of only 5 twentieth century scientific ideas or
> > technologies for posterity. What ones do you choose and why?
> Here's an initial proposal, on the plane of ideas only:
> 1. General relativity

Let me play the part of devil's advocate, critic, and gadfly. On this one,
why General and not Special? Can you understand General without Special?
Are they one idea, or two?

> 2. Quantum field theory

Which one? QED? The Standard Model? Superstrings? Whose version?
Feynman? Schwinger? Tomonaga?

> 3. DNA and the genetic code (or: the "New Synthesis" of Mendel + Darwin,
> if this included the knowledge that genes are encoded in DNA)

Absolutely, and I agree that Darwin is 19th century.

> 4. Goedel's theorem -or- the concept of the Turing machine

This would be my first choice. At least it would save some poor soul from
repeating the pain of writing _Principia Mathematica_ again!

> 5. The neuron hypothesis - published by Ramon y Cajal (sp?) in 1900, I think!
> -or- the connectionist concept
> I am assuming that pre-20th century ideas like atomism and evolution will
> survive.

Clever about that. Fortunately, thermodynamics and electrondynamics survive,

Atomism as an idea was around since the Greeks. It wasn't really PROVEN
until some unknown amateur did it in a paper in 1905, one of four that he
wrote that appeared in the same issue of the Physical Review. Name of

C. David Noziglia
Wellington, New Zealand

"Blessed are those who have no expectations, for they will never be disappointed." Kautiliya Shakhamuni Sidhartha Gautama Buddha

"Things are the way they are because they got that way."