tagNon-EroticCrackpot Spammer Ch. 07

Crackpot Spammer Ch. 07


Disclaimer: The following simulated dialogue is fictional. No resemblance to any person, living or dead, is neither intended nor should be inferred.


Taunus Trumbo: You keep preaching about pi once being a physical and not a mathematical constant. What human difference does that make?

Faustus Mortal: Well, suppose you carefully construct a circle one meter in diameter, as well as humanly possible. Then stretch a string tightly around it. Remove a measure the string with a metric ruler. To the finest tick mark on the ruler it is 3,142 millimeters. This is assuming no error in the construction of the circle or in the measuring of the string. To add another digit we would have to have a circle ten meters in diameter. This would give an approximation to the value of pi to be 3.1415. For another decimal place an impractically giant circle one hundred meters in diameter would have to be constructed. Even doing everything correct, the error would be plus-or-minus 0.0001, the "true value" being between 3.1414 and 3.1416.

Taunus Trumbo: At that rate to get five decimal-place accuracy, you would need a circle with a diameter of an Egyptian pyramid.

Faustus Mortal: Yes; all sorts of errors can creep in then.

Taunus Trumbo: Say you measure the value of pi many times; can't you get a statistical mean and variance? So we can be accurate and precise?

Faustus Mortal: String stretches and the surfaces vary. There are systemic as well as statistical errors.

Taunus Trumbo: So how to do it mathematically?

Faustus Mortal: Use a "limiting process." Construct geometric figures whose circumference is known and which converge to a circle. Then the ratio should converge to pi.

Taunus Trumbo: Sounds like Calculus to me.

Faustus Mortal: It is partially Calculus. It is a true statement that the history of mathematics was, up until recently, the history of pi and its influences. Now we have number crunching digital computers.

Taunus Trumbo: Most students don't even know how to compute the square root of two by hand and almost none know how to compute the cube root of two by hand.

Faustus Mortal: This is very true. But pi is not a root of some rational number or algebraic equation. It is transcendental.

Taunus Trumbo: Something to do with a dentist?

Faustus Mortal: Not that! The point that I'm trying to make is that if pi were still considered to be a physical constant then there would no doubt be a "recommended" value and a Standard Error (SE). And, I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't disagree with the true theoretical number. But for seven significant figures or less, who would care?

Taunus Trumbo: Well, I for one wouldn't care. We used 22/7ths in grade school and 3.14 in High School and everyone seemed pleased with the results.

Faustus Mortal: If you have a calculator, press the "pi" key. If you get the expected number, you are 95% certain that the calculator is working property. To double check, try Exp(1) = 2.718281828.

Taunus Trumbo: So you think some of your approximations are correct?

Faustus Mortal: Possibly. One philosophically correct point is mass defect and mass excess. I base mine on the particle-to-electron mass ratio. Physicists base theirs on the atomic weight-to-atomic mass unit ratio of the constituents. It's the nucleus and not the electrons involved here.

Taunus Trumbo: Who cares?

Faustus Mortal: Well, it generates some nifty formulas.

Taunus Trumbo: Why don't you research them? What would you like to gain?

Faustus Mortal: I claim that the decomposition of the proton is the quintessential and penultimate energy source. Protons are found in interstellar space.

Taunus Trumbo: And you can do this?

Faustus Mortal: I was booted out of graduate school in physics.

Taunus Trumbo: Go back. Now with energy a problem the fossil fuel fellowship no longer has hegemony over the universities and government.

Faustus Mortal: No can do: too old, too poor, I and have Parkinson's disease. Besides, being over seventy years old means that even if I were given a PhD Honoris Causa, it wouldn't be worth the paper it was printed on, unless the paper is made of one hundred dollar bills.

Taunus Trumbo: Ha ha...

Faustus Mortal: Come up with something else in interstellar space to fuel you with. Is there an Arco(tm) station lurking there?

Taunus Trumbo: I don't think so. =)

Faustus Mortal: So that's that.

Taunus Trumbo: You know Faustus, you are just a bluff. Faustus Mortal: That may or may not be true. Suppose that the probability that I'm right is one in ten thousand, like Pascal's Wager, only more realistic. P[X] = 0.0001, where X is event that I'm right.

Taunus Trumbo: OK

Faustus Mortal: What is the probability that some tenured teacher will come up with a solution better than: walk, ride a bicycle, use natural sunlight, be a vegetarian, hug a tree, and so on ad infinitum, ad nauseum... Solar, wind, geothermal, bio-fuel are too iffy, too expensive, and too unreliable... P[Y] =?, where Y is the event that a solution for the energy quagmire would come from academia.

Taunus Trumbo: You have a point.

Faustus Mortal: Remember: "Old King Coal was a dirty old soul and a dirty old soul was he. He called for his pipe(line) and he called for his bowl and he called for his lobbyists three."

Taunus Trumbo: Kinda like an oxymoron: jumbo shrimp, military intelligence, Microsoft works, and "Clean Coal."

Faustus Mortal: Sad but true.

9 Aug 2011 Taunus Trumbo

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