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 [F] New York Times on the Web Forums  / Science  /

    Missile Defense

Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars" defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an application of science be successful? Is a militarized space inevitable, necessary or impossible?

Read Debates, a new Web-only feature culled from Readers' Opinions, published every Thursday.

Earliest Messages Previous Messages Recent Messages Outline (5525 previous messages)

rshow55 - 03:49pm Nov 7, 2002 EST (# 5526 of 5541) Delete Message
Can we do a better job of finding truth? YES. Click "rshow55" for some things Lchic and I have done and worked for on this thread.

Sometimes, if arguments are to be made, some understanding about math and its limitations has to exist. Some of the basics are not complicated - and no more difficult than a lot of things baseball or football fans understand comfortably. But it takes a little time to discuss them - via a workable shared space with the people involved.

Here are key things:

All the math that is applicable to engineering comes from these mutually reinforcing, interacting fields - each old - each informing each of the others dialectically, in focusing fashion - every which way

. Geometry . . . . Calculus

. Arithmetic . . . Algebra

Each of these fields stands, and relates to the others - in an entirely abstract way.

But there are analogies - very, very often essentially exact correspondences - between what is seen in this abstract logical world of mathematics and the real, tangible world we live in - which includes things we sense and measure.

We need to clarify the bridges that make those correspondences, these analogies happen.

We need to understand what the bridges are - how the connections occur and exist - so we can use math better, and better judge when math may "fail" - as any system of assumptions will "fail" - when misapplied.

It seems to me that this is the sort of thing that might be better explained.

. . . . . . .

I wish I was faster, smarter, and more eloquent, but I'm doing the best I can - - and I happen to believe that - if people at the UN, the Bush administration, and elsewhere just keep at it, and think in detail about what can actually work, we could be in a much safer, more comfortable, and more humane world soon - without asking anyone to do anything so very difficult.

If this is to happen, it seems to me, there will be some times where issues of "how much?" have to be considered with some sense of math.

As I'm working through Graham and McRuer - there are times I'm finding that only so much can be explained to "ordinary folks" - - unless they have some sense of what the bolded parts below are

. Geometry . . . . Calculus

. Arithmetic . . . Algebra

and some sense of why there have to be a set of relations for dealing with things that have to be described with geometry that includes curves in addition to straight lines. A set of relations that we have given the name of calculus .

Without that, you can't say anything at all useful about what a differential equation is - and how a problem in differential equations might come to exist - or be worth solving.

bike-novo1 - 04:17pm Nov 7, 2002 EST (# 5527 of 5541)
"Any cares for the window place" ? ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~~

Yet any who cannot express himself 100 to be understood has some to learn :-|

commondata - 05:00pm Nov 7, 2002 EST (# 5528 of 5541)

Calculus? Maybe the world is fundamentally discrete. [IE users copy to notepad]

But for all of its power, mathematics, even armed with the power of calculus, has failed to fully answer the problem of complexity. The universe is far messier and more unpredictable than any equation can capture. Mathematics, as the language of physics, enables science to describe the movement of bodies in space, but what it cannot do is describe the full complexity of those bodies in anything but equations as complex as the subject itself.

manjumicha - 07:39pm Nov 7, 2002 EST (# 5529 of 5541)


Your common sensical suggestion re: potentially devastating impact of E-bomb trend on future US war strategy is, in case you haven't noticed, completely lost on mazza and kalter....(example: how a cruise missile tiped with tactical nukes and areial detonation device can be the most effective and cheap EMP bomb against US carrier groups, awacs, and even satellite networks if carried in multistage rockets)......that is the sure sign of an idealogue. They don;t let the facts & common sense interfere with their "convictions."

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