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Re: starship-design: Re: FTL travel

"Kyle R. Mcallister" wrote:

> > Was that an off the cuff bash, an emotional bash, or just a plain stupid
> > one? Since you obviously haven't even tried to find out who the people
> are
> > who wrote the book, it might help you to know that they are the
> preeminent
> > scientists in the field of relativistic physics.
> What your status is does not justify the use of dogmatism. I am sorry, but
> I have this book, and have read it quite thoroughly, and I agree with
> Curtis...it does contain dogma. The basic knowledge the book gives is good,
> but the way it is presented can leave something to be desired. Edwin Taylor
> and John Wheeler are great scientists, yes. But they are not gods. For one
> of them to say "this is possible/not possible because some numbers say so
> or I say so" is not a professional attitude. What they _should_ have said,
> was something like this: "we don't think this-that-the other is possible,
> because of this theory and the evidence which supports said theory."
> > Even a simple search turns
> > up more papers by these men than almost any others. Not just rehashes
> > either, but critical new theories and basic research.
> That is all fine and well. But there is more to life that idly theorizing
> and tabulating. One should strive to conduct new experiments to find out
> how things _really_ work, not how we like to think they work. I don't know
> if superluminal travel is possible, but it is certainly more worthy of
> investigation that a so-called "theory of everything."
> > If you are going to
> > bash someone, at least learn who it is you are bashing before you go and
> put
> > your foot in your mouth.
> I didn't think he was bashing anyone...just the way the book was written.
> Example: I can certainly disagree with a friend, but still be their friend
> nonetheless. There is a difference.
> > Please be so kind to recommend one since you are so certain of this
> > subject....
> I can do that: _Relativity_ , Albert Einstein. I found it quite
> enlightening.
> --Kyle R. Mcallister

Thank you, Kyle; I'll try it. Thanks also for your more moderate response. To
clarify further, what chased me off was primarily the supercilious tone of the
book. This is exemplified by a statement very early in it which says, more or
less, "you don't need to know how this works, you can start using it now." This
is in contrast to the tone of the course materials I used in getting my
associate degree in electrical engineering; the tone in those was as one adult
to another, and things were explained step by step in such a way that, when you
finished the course, if you forgot a formula, you could derive it again for
yourself on the spot. Of course, I admit that such treatment may have been
outside the scope of Taylor & Wheeler's book.

As to these people's preeminence in their field, that is not to be assumed as
an automatic qualification for being a teacher, nor is it an excuse for

As well, we have to be careful to remember the role of politics and money in
science and academia, as Tom (not to mention NASA) has been reminding us
lately. A lot of the preeminent scientists have their life's careers invested
in supporting their favorite theories, and they (and their supporters) tend to
react vehemently to even the slightest criticism of same. This is politics, not

We obviously have yet to finish what's been started, and our understanding of
physics may change radically in the coming years. Work with what you know
works, yes, but don't be afraid to honestly evaluate new ideas, even if they
threaten your old favorites. This is how we grow, and the term "growing pains"
encompasses this. It can hurt very much to have to start over from scratch, if
that's what it takes, but the willingness to do so is a mark of maturity.