virus: Truth

Reed Konsler (
Tue, 25 Feb 1997 23:11:21 -0500

>I think it's like teaching kids the chemical equation:
> Ca(OH)2 + CO2 -> CaCO3 + H2O
>(Huge apologies if this is balanced wrong, I'm old and vague)
>This equation is okay as an approximate explanation, but doesn't reflect
>what actually goes on in a test tube (and certainly not what'd happen in the
>seas of pre-life Earth, where effectively you'd be dealing with a huge,
>worldwide dynamic chemical equilibrium which still hasn't settled).
>Dave Pape

Doesn't it depend on what those symbols mean to you? That equation may be
a short-had way of eliciting ALL the information you are talking about. I
agree that a Senior in high school probably doesn't have so sophisticated
an understanding and a 3rd grader would be mystified.

In Chemistry, at least, teaching is primarily about getting students to
make the same association to a symbol as that which is commonly accepted.
I ought to be able to ask a Chemistry major in college about that equation
and get a more sophisticated answer.

What, exactly does E=mc2 mean, anyway? Someone has to explain that to you.
The equation is just a brain-starter for the initiated, not a store of

Another way of saying this is that symbols of any sort only have meaning in
context..."the medium is the message". The content is a little bit a data
within the sea of context.


Reed Konsler