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    Missile Defense

Russian military leaders have expressed concern about US plans for a national missile defense system. Will defense technology be limited by possibilities for a strategic imbalance? Is this just SDI all over again?

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rshowalter - 11:08am Mar 19, 2001 EST (#1172 of 1175) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

7.2. Philosophical Remarks -- Toward the Future

“I have introduced the Guideline for Scholarly Controversy primarily for two reasons: (i) it can help us see the future more clearly and (ii) it can help avoid repeating some of the difficulties in past work for several reasons.

“First, I do not know of any other process in naturally-occurring physical events where the key events operate through two parallel modalities. As a result, boundary layer turbulence is a complex phenomenon that no one kind of eddy or effect can describe adequately.

“Second, as Robinson notes and the Guideline suggests, once a more complete picture was obtained from querying the DNS data base, there was much more agreement than had been recognized. That is, many pieces that had seemed separate fit together into the overall picture.

“Third, the controversies between the various pictures of the eddies that characterized the late 1970’s and early 1980’s involved several different kinds of incomplete models. Controversies of this sort are not the result of malfeasance or stupidity. Given the limitations of the human mind, they are expectable. The human mind is incapable of thinking about complex matters without formation of what many researchers call “schemata” - -- a picture that is simple enough so that the mind can understand it, and hopefully also captures the main features of what we are studying. To put this differently, we cannot think about a complex process (or system) without appropriate schemata. Thus, given a choice between an oversimple schemata, and no schemata at all, the human mind will nearly always accept the oversimple schemata. (emphasis added) The history of science is littered essentially everywhere with oversimple schemata. Kuhn’s “paradigms” are schemata. (For more discussion on this point, see Kline 1995, op. cit. Ch. 3.)

“At 1996, the structure results now seem to provide, at long last, a reasonably complete picture of how turbulence is produced and maintained in the boundary layer and of the major eddies in the various regions of the layer. In nearly every other case in physics such increased knowledge has translated into improved models for computation. That has not been the case in turbulent boundary layers. Computational accuracy in boundary layers using DE models has become far more adequate in the 1990’s, but the methods still rely on ad hoc models, rather than the underlying physics. (Note: Steve and I worked together to discover, and explain, the basic mathematical tools needed to link fundamental physics to mathematical models under coupled circumstances.) “This seems to be because the physics is so complex. Whether models will ever be able to incorporate the complex structure results, only time will tell.

“What does this survey of the history tell us about appropriate paths to the future? In my own view, two things are of first importance.

We need to build and study DNS databases . . . . .. (details omitted here )

We need to hold clearly in mind the Guideline for Scholarly Controversy. The human mind is a wonderful associative engine, but a weak logical engine. As a result we all tend to emphasize the data we have taken and know well. For example, my own group overemphasized for a time the role of sublayer streaks and ejections. We need to keep asking ourselves two questions: (i) What are the credible data from ALL sources? (ii) How can we formulate a model or solution that is consistent with all the credible data?

Kline closes with this:

"It will be interesting to look at the papers in this volume with these ideas in mind."

rshowalter - 11:09am Mar 19, 2001 EST (#1173 of 1175) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

On issues of nuclear balances and war and peace, both as they concern the future and as they concern a necessary understanding of the past, these ideas are important as well.

Under circumstances of much misunderstanding, and particularly in cases were deceptions may occur, the questions Kline ends with are particularly important.

(i) What are the credible data from ALL sources?

(ii) How can we formulate a model or solution that is consistent with all the credible data?

rshowalter - 11:10am Mar 19, 2001 EST (#1174 of 1175) Delete Message
Robert Showalter

  • *****

    . . . . To repeat from 1163 -- here is

    "a specific example that is interesting, that can be checked, and that has things in it that may be helpful in understanding current problems -- including those where the word “misunderstanding” may be neutrally used, and circumstances where moral issues also arise. For judging what is misunderstanding, and what is fraud, usefully and in context, one needs to know some detailed things about how the human systems involved work.

    "Steve Kline led the fight, over fourteen years time, that eventually supplanted one paradigm in fluid mechanics with another. It was, in detail, a bloody business, showing almost all the ugly aspects of the interaction between Russia and the United States, played on the much smaller, nonlethal stage of academe. I wish Russian historians, or scholars, could understand in detail the “behind the scenes” interactions that actually occurred, in this specific case, or some other specific case, and did so in detail. If they did so in detail, they’d see similarities between American and Russian usages, but would also see patterns of cooperation and coercion enormously different from their own. If they understood the patterns, they’d not wish to imitate them in Russia –and in many ways, could not do so, because the cultures, each very valuable, are nonetheless very different. But they’d be able to interface with American usages more effectively, and be better able to judge notions of “bad faith” and “good faith” with more reliability and sophistication.

    I'll be a little while, perhaps an hour, before I can continue . ..

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