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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: October 08, 2021 08:37PM

I've read Einstein's name a bit here but I agree with this article. Johnny was much more relevant than Albert for the world we live in.

https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/the-forgotten-einstein-how-john-von-neumann-shaped-the-modern-world

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Posted by: cinda ( )
Date: October 09, 2021 11:05AM

Impressive. By age six, he could multiply two eight-digit numbers in his head!? I certainly can't do that today and I would venture to guess that very few adults are able to do so. And yet the name, vonNeumann is not bandied about as is Einstein. I agree with you that his contributions are more relevant to our world today. Thank you for this enlightening link :)

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Posted by: caffiend ( )
Date: October 10, 2021 03:05PM

Maybe with a large erasure.
Or a high-capacity calculator.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: October 11, 2021 10:46AM

You are welcome. I'm not advocating hero worship but in our society there were people in the past that had giant impacts in how we exist today. Einstein I believe was like a sports star. In the realm he worked in he did some amazing things. Other than those he shouldn't be the icon he is but slam dunking on Newton makes people put him up into the heavens. It doesn't really matter who it was.

We like stars in our firmament and we have for many many thousands of years.

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Posted by: Henry Bemis ( )
Date: October 09, 2021 01:31PM

"I've read Einstein's name a bit here but I agree with this article. Johnny was much more relevant than Albert for the world we live in."

COMMENT: One way to put this is that von Newmann was much more relevant than Einstein to the *world* we (as human beings) live in; but Einstein was much more relevant to the *universe* we live in. In this regard, we can note that not much scientific theory, as it relates to the universe at large, is relevant to human beings living in the world. As such, maybe "relevance to human beings" should not be the final criteria in evaluating and comparing scientific achievement.

Moreover, if we are talking about contributions of scientists to the world we live in as human beings I would suggest that Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, and Paul Dirac (and arguably several others) would all come in ahead of von Newmann; as brilliant as he was. These scientists pioneered the establishment of electromagnetic radiation and associated field theory (Faraday and Maxwell); as well as the dynamic quantum properties of the atom (Dirac). These contributions provided the backbone of quantum electrodynamics and chemistry, which together encompass virtually everything technologically relevant to human beings. The von Newmann universal computer architecture would be nowhere without these contributions. (Not to mention his reliance on Alan Turing, another pure mathematician.)

Finally, if we are talking about relevance to "the universe we live in," or even to scientific contributions generally, no one tops Einstein, and von Neumann is not even in the top ten! Don't take my word for it, ask any physicist. Well, how about just in intellectual prowess? Note, the following statement from Eugene Wigner who know both men intimately:

"Einstein's understanding was deeper even than von Neumann's. His mind was both more penetrating and more original than von Neumann's. And that is a very remarkable statement."

[One final note: A recent attempt by a poster to undermine Einstein's person character--particularly as it applied to social responsibility-- was outrageous and entirely misplaced. He was not morally perfect in his private life; but he showed a consistent regard for humanity generally, and was often outspoken in his condemnation of social policies and injustices; while many of his collogues turned a blind eye. I regret that I did not respond in detail to that post.]

See Abraham Pais, Subtle is the Lord: The science and life of Albert Einstein; who, incidentally, was himself a physicist who also knew both Einstein and von Neumann personally.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: October 09, 2021 03:49PM

So Einstein didn't dump his first daughter in Eastern Europe and never mentioned nor saw her again? He didn't cheat serially and openly on his wives? He wasn't abusive to Elsa? Or don't you consider such things relevant to a "person character?"

As for social issues per se, yes he had much to say. Was that virtuous? Perhaps. But no more so than if you or some other poster were to say "nuclear war is bad." The truth is Einsten knew virtually nothing about social and political matters and had almost no impact on policy after the development of the bomb.

But I'm curious, more generally, why you assume a man who is great in some ways must be assumed to have been great in other ways as opposed to letting the facts speak for themselves. You're presenting something like a defense ad hominem.

Willful blindness is not virtuous.

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Posted by: cinda ( )
Date: October 09, 2021 10:16PM

Thanks, LW!

You succinctly and wisely summed up my feelings on Henry's post far better than I could :)

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: October 09, 2021 10:31PM

Yeah, I don't understand the sensitivity. Einstein's combination of great strengths and great weaknesses is well documented: his sense of empathy was not well developed. I guess those of hagiographic inclination may want their saints as pure as Caesar's wife, but Einstein's achievements are not diminished by the truth.

To the contrary, the truth sheds some degree of light on the structure of his intelligence (he was almost surely dyslexic and possibly autistic as well) and perhaps on the nature of genius more generally. Hero worship obstructs that perspective.

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Posted by: bradley ( )
Date: October 10, 2021 12:42AM

As great as Einstein was, he had many contemporaries just as good. Lorentz and Minkowski, for example. So, why did he get to be the rock star? Not because of his goodness, but because he served the right masters.

David Bohm did not serve those masters. He may be the only physicist in history awarded a PhD without a dissertation. Why? Because his dissertation became classified after his advisor used its findings in the Manhattan Project. Turns out making bombs wasn't Bohm's thing, which didn't help his career.

Going further back, to the Enlightenment, consider the character of Rene Descartes. His contemporaries included Gottfried Leibniz, the co-inventor of Calculus and a polymath. A real Renaissance man. Why wasn't Leibniz the Father of Modern Science? Because Descartes was a warrior. The powers that be wanted Science to serve power. Had the world followed the path of Leibniz instead of Descartes, the last 400 years would have been drastically different.

So here we are, 400 years on, with mainstream science firmly entrenched in physical materialism. I would call it a cult of materialism, promoted by another rock star physicist, Richard Feynman. Another womanizing attention hound who greatly pleased his establishment masters.

Choose ye this day whom ye will serve, as they say. Whom did Joseph Smith serve? I will tell you. A lying womanizer who chases anything with a skirt does not serve God. A man who uses his sexuality in that way lives in his lower energy centers. JS and BY were carnally minded, all hypocrisy to the contrary. Mormonism is not your friend. It's a mental prison that provides you with friends in the form of cellies.

Mormon leaders pretend to speak for God so they want you to serve them. This feature is common to fundamentalist religions. They are God's middlemen. God is inside you, is you, is everyone and everything. To serve God is to serve that connection. Mormons adopted all of their good tricks from Christianity and took their bad tricks from cults and maybe a few from old scratch himself. Teaching self-sabotage makes a Mormon compulsively serve the wrong master.

Christianity seems to have been made for the animistic world. The Enlightenment was not kind to it, as Nietzsche pointed out when he said "God is dead, and we killed Him". However, Christian mysticism seems to be making a comeback. There is a lot of cross pollination with Eastern traditions like Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. I can see Christianity evolving to meet the needs of the 21st century.

As you point out, a serial cheater isn't someone to place on a pedestal. My mystical view is that anyone in a position of authority should be faithful to their spouse because otherwise the personal self-sabotage that results from living that way scales up to the limits of their authority. That’s why the United States finds itself in its current situation. But as Trump's appeal illustrates, we want leaders who make us feel good about being bad. No wonder selling democracy to the world can only be done at gunpoint.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 10/10/2021 01:32AM by bradley.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: October 10, 2021 01:34AM

I quibble with a few of your minor points.

First, I don't think Einstein, Newton, and some of the other famous physicists became rock stars solely because they served the authorities. At least as important was their marketability, their control of their public images. Newton used his position in the royal society (? I forget the actual name) to block some of his rivals and even to take credit for their work. Einstein presented a marketable, even iconic, image who wrote some books on pop politics and geopolitics which are embarrassingly shallow but appealed to the reflexive pacifism of the nuclear age. He was probably more attractive to the public after he turned against the authorities.

Second, just as Henry is wrong to offer Einstein a defense ad hominem, so too must we avoid rejecting someone's achievements for his unethical conduct. Everyone you mention except JS (although I guess charlatans can be great too) was a prodigy in his particular field and should be recognized as such even as we denounce their shortcomings.

Finally, and not contrary to your views, a word about pedestals. Perhaps we should dispense with those structures altogether. That would enable us to look at people based on the congeries of incompatible facts that comprise each individual rather than insisting on simplistic tendentious glosses. That Einstein was a bad husband and father does not diminish his stature among physicists. They are merely two facets of a complex personality.

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Posted by: Soft Machine ( )
Date: October 10, 2021 02:06AM

I think the name was "The Royal Society" ;-)

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: October 10, 2021 02:08AM

Yeah, well Paris is the Prague of France. So there.

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Posted by: Soft Machine ( )
Date: October 10, 2021 01:42PM

It is indeed. Whenever French TV series need footage of pre-war Paris, they usually go to Prague, which is cheaper and easier to "privatize". My thespian BIL was in a Maigret episode which was filmed there.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/10/2021 01:43PM by Soft Machine.

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Posted by: Lot's Wife ( )
Date: October 10, 2021 02:33PM

Ah yes, the glories of Soviet economic policy: there's not enough economic progress to necessitate tearing down the old city. That Mozart movie, Amadeus, was also filmed in Prague.

I love that city. It's gorgeous and historically rich.

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Posted by: bradley ( )
Date: October 10, 2021 03:08AM

"so too must we avoid rejecting someone's achievements for his unethical conduct."

Why? Christopher Columbus "discovered" the New World, making the world safe for slavery. It wasn't so great for the people who were already living here.

Likewise Einstein's selling FDR on the feasibility of atomic weapons. Not so great for the residents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Or Bikini Atoll.

But all of this is beside my point, which is that personal lives are not separate from professional lives for esoteric reasons. You see an ethical problem, I see a technical problem. The problem involves the energy body and nonlocal consciousness, which is very fringe Physics and also spiritual tradition. Besides, what profits a man if he should gain the world but lose his own soul?

My other thought is that we get the leaders we deserve. It's not so much meritocracy (Trump again), but the vagaries of the collective unconscious. So these thought leaders get manifested for unfathomable reasons.

Although I keep circling back to the end game, which is planetary ascension. That would be a good reason. The quickest way to drive social evolution is through evil men.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/10/2021 03:14AM by bradley.

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: October 11, 2021 10:42AM

bradley Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The quickest way to drive social evolution
> is through evil men.


Then we get what we deserve. Why do we need a "quickest way?"

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Posted by: Kathleen ( )
Date: October 12, 2021 01:23PM

Bradley wrote:
---------------------------------------------
^ It's a mental prison that provides you with friends in the form of cellies.


So true.

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