Monday: Hili dialogue

March 2, 2020 • 7:02 am

Professor Chat du Plafond here (my nom de plume in France). Matthew is “poorly” today, as he wrote me:  “I should be walking the picket line but I’m at home in bed with the dreaded lurgy.”

Ergo, PCdP will handle today’s Hili dialogue, which has added Szaron for lagniappe.

Hili is going upstairs to see the lodgers, which means that Szaron is outside:

A: Paulina is not at home.
Hili: I will wait for her on her bed.

In Polish:

Ja: Pauliny nie ma w domu.
Hili: Poczekam na nią w jej łóżku.

And Andrzej has some good news about Szaron, who is almost fully tame now:

Andrzej’s comment: Sharon is starting to feel at home.
(In Polish: Szaron zaczyna czuć się w obejściu jak u siebie w domu.)

9 thoughts on “Monday: Hili dialogue

    1. Yes. I would have mentioned it, but I don’t know enough about the guy to say anything meaningful, except that he was soft on religion and won the Templeton Prize. About his physics I know bupkes.

      1. He was also soft on global warming. He said if CO2 got out of hand we could breed a new tree that would cleans the air. I think he was a bit of a kook and contrarian.

      2. His achievements are probably not worth bothering with.

        For example, Schwinger (& Tomonaga) and Feynman proposed two different formulations of quantum electrodynamics (QED). Dyson solved the problem by showing they were equivalent, which S & T and F hadn’t realised.

        Of course, it probably wasn’t too hard, since S & T and F are regarded as amongst the dumbest physicists of the Twentieth Century, despite winning the Nobel Prize for their work.

        Soon after, Dyson was invited by Oppenheimer to become a life-time member of the Institute of Advanced Study. There he slummed it with dullards such as Hermann Weyl, John von Neumann, Kurt Gödel, and, of course, Albert Einstein.

        Feynman claimed that being paid simply to sit and think (as at the Institute) meant you would soon run out of ideas. This didn’t seem to be a problem for Dyson. Indeed, the complaint, often, is that he had too many. And so on…

        Finally, an interesting exchange with Dawkins.

          1. My problem with your initial post was this: “a bit of a kook and contrarian”.

            Iconocast, certainly, if you mean challenging received ideas. That’s to be encourages, surely? Kook? Show your workings.

            On CO2, Dyson’s first paper was (1977):

            TITLE: Can we control the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?
            ABSTRACT: The carbon dioxide generated by burning fossil fuels can theoretically be controlled by growing trees. Quantitative estimates are made of the size and cost of a plant-growing program designed to halt the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

            Who else was worrying about such matters then? Well, a few of us, including me (who didn’t matter), but who understood CO2 as a greenhouse gas and had seen the Keeling curve. On the other hand, Mauna Loa is pobably a sacred site and science there should probably be banned.


            1. I read parts of Dyson’s book, “The Scientist as Rebel”, which I found problematic where he ventures beyond his own area of expertise.

              Dyson talks about the “role of science in human understanding”, which reveals his quite unorthodox views. For example, he says “paranormal phenomena may really exist…not that is true, but that it is plausible”. He explains that there is a scale of understanding science from a reductionist or a traditional point of view. Reductionism sees science as the only way to gain knowledge of the universe, and traditionalism points to the arts and religion as sources of knowledge.

              He further argues that the paranormal may be outside the reach of science so, while it could be true, it is not possible to disconfirm it – so that leaves it open to being true. You can’t object to this position on logical grounds, but does seem a bit wistful to consider everything that might be true. Russell’s tea pot, might be real. If you take this kind of thinking too far you might just screw up the world while waiting for problems to be solved by prayer (mightn’t it work?). Watch tRump and his stable of evangelical loonies pray away the Corona virus.

              So, I am a reductionist on his scale. Meaning, I don’t believe you can obtain knowledge outside of science (broadly construed).

              Dyson claims knowledge also comes from good and evil, grace and beauty, ethical and artistic values, history and literature, etc. But nowhere does he explain how these modes gain knowledge of the universe.

              My take-away was that Dyson throws dust in the air more than he clarifies many of these issues. I’m sure some of his thinking is of some value, it’s just that there’s a lot of chaff with the wheat.

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