How ignorant are we, really?

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by KL7AJ, Sep 2, 2018.

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  1. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    It was little under 250 years ago that Antoine Lavoisier dispelled the notion of "phlogiston" in combustion and discovered oxygen, bringing chemistry, overnight, into the modern age. P.S. : Lavoisier was beheaded during the French Revolution, (after which time he made very few scientific discoveries, we presume).

    Nonetheless....I wonder if our current understanding of chemistry (and the universe) may be just as primitive as that just preceding Lavoisier? Are there any major FUNDAMENTAL discoveries yet to be made, that would make us look like ignorant alchemists? (Actually, the alchemists ALMOST got it right in a lot of areas...close, but not quite).

    Could it be that quantum computing will put everything we THINK we know to shame? Food for thought.
    WD4DXQ, W4KJG, VU3JNM and 2 others like this.
  2. K9STH

    K9STH Platinum Subscriber Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    There is no practical limit on knowledge! Mankind's knowledge increased exponentially in the 19th century and exponentially again in the time frame before World War II.

    Within the 6-years of Wold War II, knowledge increased exponentially again. In the 70+ years since World War II, knowledge has increased twice exponentially and new discoveries are made virtually every day if not every day!

    Things that are obvious today are just the "tip of the iceberg" with layers of knowledge below waiting to be discovered / learned.

    Glen, K9STH
    W4KJG and K1XS like this.
  3. WA7ARK

    WA7ARK Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hey, Newtonian Physics and the Periodic Table and all that derived from those ideas has worked just fine for me. It made me enough money to be able to play with radios, antennas, and airplanes in retirement. Things started going downhill when we handed "smart phones" to 6year-olds...
    NH7RO and KI4AX like this.
  4. K6BSU

    K6BSU Ham Member QRZ Page

    That is true. Not many physicists or engineers on the horizon. These kids grow up using all sorts of electronic "assist" devices. They are no longer taught the basics, so that they can function without help from their hand-held "gadgets". Schools are loaded with computers, but the students have no idea what makes the computer actually work.
    NH7RO and KK5JY like this.
  5. K0RGR

    K0RGR XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    It's a very different world now than it was when I was a kid. We actually have the Dick Tracy Two Way Wrist TV now, or something really similar. Our ideas of space flight have not gone quite as expected, even the view in 2001 - A Space Odyssey hasn't happened. But we're talking about sending men to Mars.

    Quantum computing may, indeed, transcend our current knowledge. Maxwell predicted the existence of radio waves in the early 19th century. He did it through mathematics. If someone can conceive an algorithm to prove or disprove a major scientific conjecture, and the speed of quantum computing can help solve it, then yes, it may advance our understanding.

    Right now, the white whale of the physics and astrosphysics communities is the question of dark matter. If a computer can find dark matter, that would be a significant breakthrough. It would likely prove the coexistence of multiple universes in different dimensions occupying the same space as our universe. That would open up countless new possibilities.
  6. KK5JY

    KK5JY Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    After thinking about it, and then seeing how most kids turn out these days, I have decided that this situation is fine with me -- it means that in a job competition scenario, there will be more technical job opportunities for me. :)
    WA7PRC likes this.
  7. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I agree.

    It's funny, from the days of "cave men" probably 100K -> 500K years ago until the Age of Enlightenment, humans learned stuff but pretty slowly compared with the past 200 years or so. Part of that problem was likely "communication." If old Carl the Caveman discovered something fantastic, who could he tell, other than those directly around him?

    Now, many new discoveries are public and published and circulated worldwide in about a minute.:)

    Indaoldetimes, communication was so incredibly limited that it seems they all played the "telephone game" for tens of thousands of years: Tell something to someone, and they tell the next one...until after 100 repeats, the story is completely different from the original and there's not any semblance of truth to it. Even as recently as 1800-1900 years ago, this was still happening...hence, the Bible.:p
    N2EY likes this.
  8. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Apparently nobody has explained how the Incas cut and transported those huge stone blocks. I read somewhere that some of the walls show repairs with smaller stones which appear more conventional. What happened to the original builders' techniques? Why use such large stone blocks?

    I'd like to think "lost knowledge" vs something extra-terrestrial, but it is still interesting that there isn't a good answer for this sort of thing.
  9. WA7PRC

    WA7PRC Ham Member QRZ Page

    There used to be joke about NASA sending a human to the Sun. The punch line was "To prevent being burnt to a crisp, they're going at night."

    Recently, NASA actually launched the Parker Solar Probe ( toward the Sun. Yes, they launched it at night (8/20/18 @ 6AM EDT). :p
    There's a rumor... they used specially-trained workers, known as "stoners". :p
    KQ9J likes this.
  10. KG7WGX

    KG7WGX XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Well, yes. And locals chew coca leaves to help offset the arduous conditions. However, I'm not sure mental impairment provides an answer to this question. (Though it probably explains a lot of other human behavior...;) )
    WA7PRC likes this.

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