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Daniel20/05/2019 21:28:59
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It is a truism, that one will never have something for nothing.

Phil Whitley23/05/2019 09:13:00
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Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 20/05/2019 21:07:05:
Posted by Phil Whitley on 20/05/2019 20:07:54:

The steam engine was invented , built and used in many forms without any knowledge of thermodynamics, in fact the science of thermodynamics was based on the study of working steam engines. The electric motor was invented by Michael Faraday, who was a well trained book binder who was employed by Sir Humphry Davy to write up and bind his notes. Science and scientists have a very poor record of invention of anything in common use today. It is the people who constantly test the laws of physics and experiment that make the breakthroughs, those who stick within the orthodxy of science discover nothing.

A very unfair criticism of science because the goal of science is understanding, not inventing! It's other people, like engineers, who exploit scientific understanding by inventing new things or improving old ones.

Dave

I don't see it as unfair, pointedly accurate perhaps, science is often understanding for the personal satisfaction of the curiosity of an elite, who never put that understanding into practical use. It can also be the development of very efficient new poisons to kill pests and weeds without any consideration of the future effects. Our entire electrical system was brought to the point it is in today by a small group of brilliant engineers, Tesla, Heavyside, Maxwell and Steinmetz are the main ones, and their work has been advanced very little in the years since their passing, and also no one ever heard of them, except perhaps Tesla. Einstien on the other hand is universally known, and much of his work is theoretical and obscure (and possibly wrong, they are only theories!), he got his Nobel prize for a paper on the Photoelectric effect, which he neither discovered or put to use, he merely "quantified" it. Tesla called Einstein a "Fuzzy haired crackpot" Science, as in the "understanding of the universe" is important, but going to the moon "because we can" turned out to be a pointless waste of resources.

John Haine23/05/2019 11:29:11
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Phil, I'm not sure where to start on your tirade. Maxwell was far from being an engineer, but his scientific contribution was pivotal. Hertz, Marconi, Armstrong, Shockley, Parsons, Edison, Morse, Strowger, Bardeen & Brittain, Shannon, Bode, Wiener, Berners-Lee, Turing, .........the list of key contributors to modern engineering science, some engineers and some scientists goes, on and on. Every experimental test of relativity has confirmed it to high precision, and GPS would not work without relativistic corrections. Properly understanding semiconductors to design better devices needs quantum physics. He did more than "quantify" the photoelectric effect he recognised that it implied a fundamental change in our understanding of what light is, which led to quantum electrodynamics. Thank to that we understand molecular structures and can do chemistry computationally, as just one example. Though Tesla was a bright chap and of course made us realise that DC power distribution was a dead end, he wasted years on his ideas for wireless power distribution.

SillyOldDuffer23/05/2019 12:09:31
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Posted by Phil Whitley on 23/05/2019 09:13:00:
Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 20/05/2019 21:07:05:
Posted by Phil Whitley on 20/05/2019 20:07:54:

... Science and scientists have a very poor record of invention of anything in common use today. ...

A very unfair criticism of science because the goal of science is understanding, not inventing! It's other people, like engineers, who exploit scientific understanding by inventing new things or improving old ones.

Dave

I don't see it as unfair, pointedly accurate perhaps, science is often understanding for the personal satisfaction of the curiosity of an elite, who never put that understanding into practical use. ...

Our entire electrical system was brought to the point it is in today by a small group of brilliant engineers, Tesla, Heavyside, Maxwell and Steinmetz are the main ones, and their work has been advanced very little in the years since their passing, and also no one ever heard of them, except perhaps Tesla. Einstien on the other hand is universally known, and much of his work is theoretical and obscure (and possibly wrong, they are only theories!), he got his Nobel prize for a paper on the Photoelectric effect, which he neither discovered or put to use, he merely "quantified" it.

Gosh Phil, we must agree to disagree. That seems a warped view of science and scientists to me! It's a dangerous view too, because our economy can't exist without scientific method. It's fire the goalkeeper because he never scores and he lets a few in.

Einstein is a good example. At the end of the 19th century most scientists thought a complete understanding of Physics was in sight. It appeared that Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Magnetism and Electricity were nearly complete with nothing else to study. Only a few anomalies like black body radiation, why the sun is hot, and the photoelectric effect needed to tidied up. As it turned out, these are doorways to new vistas of investigation and studying them made 'High Technology'. Semi-conductors rather than Steam Hammers.

I suppose Einstein's paper on photoelectricity could be written off as elitist, but the work ignited Quantum Mechanics, without which - for instance - GPS wouldn't work. Another theory - Relativity - led to an entirely different insight without which GPS wouldn't work either, and to the potential of Nuclear Weapons. He discovered new worlds of thought and the extent of his genius is 100 years later most people, including me, are incapable of grasping all the concepts.

Einstein got the Nobel Prize for Photoelectricity because his theory of 1905 was confirmed experimentally in 1914. (Experimental confirmation of theory was essential before a Nobel Prize would be avoided.) His other work is much harder to prove experimentally, and although parts have been confirmed in the real-world, it remains a Theory. Einstein was not satisfied the theory is complete or necessarily correct, but so far, with modifications, it's holding up. But, like 19th Century Physics, there are a few embarrassing anomalies to be explained... Failure to find an end is the nature of science, the goal is disciplined enquiry, analysis, and understanding, not making better mousetraps.

Tesla and others made Electrical Distribution practical, and it is the system we have today. But their achievement wasn't the end of the story by far; they did not deliver the internet!

Science, Mathematics, and Engineering are close relatives. When Bessemer invented his world-changing converter, joy turned to misery when customers bought expensive blast furnaces and found they made brittle crap. A job for the chemists, who discovered that the problem lay in high levels of Sulphur & Phosphorous found in some ores. (By chance Bessemer had tested with uncontaminated ore.) Once the cause was understood, chemistry quickly provided the answer by recommending a flux based on science, not guesswork.

Interestingly, not the end of quality issues with Bessemer steel. The modern process blows Oxygen rather than Air because chemists eventually found Nitrogen, normally inert, can react in tiny quantities to make mild-steel brittle. The problem was subtle, and no way could an engineer or furnace-man have fixed it.

Edison gets the credit for being the first to methodically organise scientists, technicians and mathematicians into teams working on sophisticated goals. His approach blurs the distinction between specialisations. Engineers and scientists both make extensive use of advanced maths. Engineers use scientific method and scientific facts to solve practical problems, and experimental scientists have to be good engineers.

The lone inventor is all but extinct. Individuals still have good ideas, but most easy to make inventions have already been done. (Unlikely I shall get Artificial Intelligence working on my dining table.) Instead, most R&D is done by collaborating specialists working in teams, including accountants! And when they've done the R&D, they will almost certainly need a production engineer and practical men to make it work.

Dave

Neil Wyatt23/05/2019 17:06:39
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Most sciences have 'pure' and 'applied' aspects.

Engineering is mostly applied physics.

Neil

Phil Whitley23/05/2019 21:06:20
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Basically, Wot Neil said!! But some observations. Edison invented nothing apart from his telegraph device, that was not already working somewhere in the world, he merely obtained the first American patent on that thing by getting his team to come up with a quick working prototype and rushing to the patent office! Maxwell was a mathmatician, Steinmetz was a mathmatician and experimental engineer. The lone inventor is all but extinct because of the patent system. It has become possible to patent ideas without any proof of concept, and so teams of company scientists are involved in this process daily, (IBM are one of the biggest) with the result that no company will fund research into any area that already has patents owned by another, and if anyone does come up with something that works, they can use their legal and financial clout to make your invention come under their patent. I have a friend deeply involved in traffic management systems, and he and collegues worked on an idea for several years, which they patented, for a bus navigation system, which they showed to a major european bus manufacturer. They changed a chip in it, stole the device, and said, ok so sue us! The possesion of a patent means nothing unless you can afford to defend it succesfully in two or three cases, and as Mr Dyson has found out, that costs millions. There is no such thing as Artifical intelligence, that is the hype that makes people believe it is clever. It is merely a machine functioning as it has been programmed, and you can program a machine to write its own program, but it is not capable of thought, it is just crunching zeros and ones very fast. The self driving car, like nuclear fusion, is only twenty years away, and always will be! It requires consciousness to drive a car, not just inttelligence. I have been looking for some proof of this for some time, and found it in some recent discoveries in Neuroscience. If you take a subject with a damaged visual cortex, who has no vision whatever, but has perfectly working eyes, and sit them in front of a screen, you would imagine that you could play anything on the screen and it would have no effect on them, and you can, except that if you show them an attacking predator, they immediately recoil from it, but when asked, say they saw nothing, and do not know why they recoiled. You need this sense to drive a car, how are they going to build that into a computer? By the way, whilst there are theories about magnetism and electricity (and gravity) no one has come up with an explanation of what they are and why they occur, they have merely been quantified Tesla, Heavyside, Steinmetz and Maxwell all denied the existence of the electron, and their calculations are no less correct for it.

Phil Whitley23/05/2019 21:29:21
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BTW, not intended as a "Tirade" just observations really. I don't get what quantum physics has to do with GPS, we were positioning accurately to a matter of a few feet shortly after ww2 using ground stations, in 2 dimensions, the ability to launch sattelites increased this to three dimensions, and meant that terrain did not get in the way. Turing was a genius mathmatician, but could not have built the computers he needed, but he was able to get his ideas over to a clever GPO telephone engineer, who built the first computer since Babbages attempt at the mechanical one.

Neil Wyatt24/05/2019 00:38:16
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Posted by Hopper on 19/05/2019 12:23:53:

Posted by SillyOldDuffer on 19/05/2019 12:09:08:...

...It's so much easier to believe everything is 'simples' than it is to understand challenging subjects well enough to debate them sensibly, or to expose one's own shortcomings.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect at work: "... people with substantial, measurable deficits in their knowledge or expertise lack the ability to recognize those deficits and, therefore, despite potentially making error after error, tend to think they are performing competently when they are not ..."

That's the science of it.

Approximately half the population are of below average intelligence.. most people think they are above average...

Neil

Chris Trice24/05/2019 01:33:44
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Posted by Neil Wyatt on 24/05/2019 00:38:16:

Approximately half the population are of below average intelligence.. most people think they are above average...

Neil

By definition, "exactly" half the population are below average intelligence. That's the definition of average.

John Olsen24/05/2019 03:52:44
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Posted by Chris Trice on 24/05/2019 01:33:44:
Posted by Neil Wyatt on 24/05/2019 00:38:16:

Approximately half the population are of below average intelligence.. most people think they are above average...

Neil

By definition, "exactly" half the population are below average intelligence. That's the definition of average.

Actually not so, this is only true if the population truly follows a normal distribution. If it does then the median will be the same as the mean. If the distribution is skewed, with say a very few ultra high intelligence people and then a lot of people just below the mean, then you would have more people below average than above. For example, if we had 100 people with an IQ of 99, and one with an IQ of 200, the mean would be 10100/101, or 100. 99 people would be below average and one would be above. That is an extreme somewhat contrived example but many things do not actually really fit a normal distribution, but they are often close enough for practical purposes, especially in large numbers of samples.

The median value is the one where half the population are above and half below. The mean, or average, is the sum of all the scores divided by the number of samples.

John

Michael Gilligan24/05/2019 05:45:46
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Thank you, John ... You saved me the trouble yes

I would just add that a classic test for a Normal [Gaussian] distribution is that the Mean, Median, and Mode all have the same value.

MichaelG.

.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mean#/media/File%3AVisualisation_mode_median_mean.svg

Edited By Michael Gilligan on 24/05/2019 05:49:16

John Haine24/05/2019 09:14:09
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Actually any symmetrical distribution has the same mean, median and mode - for example the binomial with equal probabilities. Testing for "normality" is a bit more subtle.

Getting a bit tired of this, but GPS relies on atomic clocks which work using "hyperfine splitting of grounds states in Caesium" - a quantum effect. And corrections for relativistic time dilation caused by motion and gravity are needed to achieve accuracy.

Michael Gilligan24/05/2019 10:23:46
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Posted by John Haine on 24/05/2019 09:14:09:

Actually any symmetrical distribution has the same mean, median and mode - for example the binomial with equal probabilities. Testing for "normality" is a bit more subtle.

.

Yes, John ...

I realised, whilst out for my walk, that someone was sure to pick-up on that point.

I should have made clear that the test will distinguish a Gaussian distribution from a skewed approximation of one.

MichaelG.

.

Edit: For those who may wish to pursue this further: 

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normality_test

Edited By Michael Gilligan on 24/05/2019 10:32:57

SillyOldDuffer24/05/2019 12:00:55
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Posted by Phil Whitley on 23/05/2019 21:06:20:

...

But some observations. Edison invented nothing apart from his telegraph device...

Tesla, Heavyside, Steinmetz and Maxwell all denied the existence of the electron, and their calculations are no less correct for it.

I won't address everything in Phil's post between Edison and the electron because anyone who is interested can check the facts for themselves on the internet or - even better - at a library.

But to illustrate why I think the post is generally off-target, let's take a close look at Phil's thoughts on the electron.

That something like an electron might explain physical phenomena was first suggested in 1838 when Maxwell was 7 years old. I doubt he had an opinion at that stage of the game.

Scientists debated the unknown nature of the electron throughout the 19th century. Several hypotheses were investigated. Maxwell had been dead for 11 years before understanding was solid enough to coin the word 'electron' in 1891. Maxwell had been dead for 17 years before Thompson successfully measured electrons at the Cavendish Lab in 1897. Given the time-lines it's not surprising Maxwell's equations do not depend on the electron, and it's very naughty to claim he denied electrons in a way that makes sense today.

Heaviside took both sides of the real-or-not electron debate, and although Phil's right he wasn't keen on the idea electrons actually exist (rather than being a useful model), he was the first scientist to suggest what an electron's mass would be.

It's dangerous to draw firm conclusions from limited data and inappropriate examples. Tesla and Steinmetz were interested in electric power where the existence or not of electrons is almost irrelevant to the sums. But they're not the whole story. Electron theory matters in electronics, high magnification microscopes, and lasers - all technologies developed long after Tesla and Steinmetz were dead.

Dave

Hopper24/05/2019 13:11:26
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What's interesting about many early famous scientists and lone inventor types is that the ones who were good at commercializing and/or publicizing their efforts got remembered. Others who beat them to the punch were forgotten in the rush.

For example, Gustav Whitehead who flew a manned airplane under power in Connecticut USA two years before the Wright Brothers. But the Wright Brothers were formidable businessmen who took out patents and legal injunctions against competitors while Gustav was a brilliant but humble mechanic dinking around in his shed. And the Wright family to this day have a contract with the Smithsonian Institution that all the original Wright Bros exhibits are on permanent loan, as long as the brothers are credited with inventing and flying the first aircraft. As the Wright Brothers' display and the original "Flyer" are the Smithsonian's number one drawcard for millions of visitors annually, they get their way. See more details here : LINK

 

Edited By Hopper on 24/05/2019 13:20:02

Edited By Hopper on 24/05/2019 13:20:29

Phil Whitley24/05/2019 18:16:34
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I would recomend everybody to do some research, especially on Edison, a brilliant self publicist with a very active worldwide network of offices that fed information back to him and his team about what was in development throughout the world, so he could get first US patent. A very smooth operator with a very musky odour!

SillyOldDuffer24/05/2019 18:43:01
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Posted by Phil Whitley on 24/05/2019 18:16:34:

I would recomend everybody to do some research, especially on Edison, a brilliant self publicist with a very active worldwide network of offices that fed information back to him and his team about what was in development throughout the world, so he could get first US patent. A very smooth operator with a very musky odour!

We can all agree about that! Another example would be Alexander Graham Bell, whose claim to have invented the telephone depends entirely on dishonest jostling at the US Patent Office.

The world is littered with misleading claims. Samuel Morse didn't invent the Morse Code or the electric telegraph. Edison didn't invent the light bulb. Radar was invented by Hulsmeyer, not Watson-Watt. Marconi didn't invent Radio, Watt didn't invent the steam engine, Rocket wasn't the first steam locomotive, and Colt didn't invent the revolver etc etc. Not that these chaps were complete fakes, if nothing else they delivered when others failed, even if their methods were dubious.

Dave

Nigel Graham 202/06/2019 17:49:11
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A point indicated but not really raised almost at the start of this was the nature of the claims.

Those who claim to have "invented" perpetual motion that works on flat planets etc; clearly have a poor understanding of basic science. All the illustrious names, both engineers and scientists, quoted did either understand, or were seeking to understand properly, their particular fields.

Shady dealings and patents manipulating to steal intellectual property or personal credit is another matter - that is blatant dishonesty.

The example of bees that can't fly is different again, and turned out to have been based on people not asking the right questions because the paper was correct on the face of it. The notion was proposed by someone who'd tried to apply equations for fixed-wing flight, but it would be interesting to know what was genuinely asked by readers understanding the science but not spotting the weakness in the argument. Unfortunately, all the publicity focussed on the self-evidently mistaken notion, not why it was mistaken.

In a way it was the scientists' version of the fairy-photographs hoax: everyone looked at the evidence but failed to ask if the right evidence was used or had been gained in the right way. The method seemed inherently safe if the maths was right - bumblebees can't fly, but no-one's told the animals. No-one thought for a long time to question the choice of method and why the original researcher had taken his results as proven. An attitude less common now, but shown by the "computer error" excuse and over-reliance on said computer.

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