the Greeks Addressed and Most Modern Scientists Avoid
by Carl R. Littmann, written 12-20-2000
I have only studied Greek philosophy a little bit. But in a sense,
that's O.K., because even if I studied it greatly, I still could not
to Greek philosophers and to their great intellectual efforts and accomplishments.
(Optional—see Addendum 2 at end of my
paper.) A variety of Greek philosophers, from
a variety of regions of Greece, produced many
great schools of thought. See early "Physics
or some other of your choice:
The following is from my point of view:
(One "notion" which is incompatible with Democritus' "incompressibility concept" is the "extreme" "Black Hole" theory, where "mass" allegedly shrinks to Zero volume, losing all of its extension.) Although I think Democritus is right, I sympathize with those tempted to associate with mass a very slight amount of compressibility.
Article's Concluding Remarks:
In many cases, it seems to me that "modern" philosophers go
astray by over simplifying and underestimating the scope, limit,
and capability of the human intellect. Some philosophers even totally
deny all human intuition, with regard to so called "physical"
Irwin Stone wrote a book about evolutionary changes in mammal and primate organs. I sometimes wonder if the human brain, while perhaps expanding in some areas, has receded in other areas, since Democritus.
3) Optional (Added 1-20-2005): Let us imagine, say, one cubic inch of this “sponge”, but with many spherical-shaped cells in it, instead of cubic-shaped cells. We can imagine it--either with very many cells, each with a thin wall; or alternately--with a fewer number of cells, each with a thick wall. In both cases, let us imagine that various cells are spinning at the same speed. We can then imagine that, in both cases, the one cubic inch contains about the same total mass and energy.
Changing the subject some, I would like to make some comments about some other concepts: I do not believe that are real "pull" forces in the universe. I think that the many, many instances of what seems to be pulling forces, in this universe, are really due to "pushing" actions. We simply can not "see" the ultra small masses which are doing the "pushing". I also do not believe in the "dogma" of "attractive" "action at a distance". Neither the "concept" of "action at a distance" nor even "attractive" forces seem "intuitive" to me. A few great modern scientists (such as Linus Pauling) have written "against" the "dogma" of "action at a distance." But it is not clear to me if they are also "uncomfortable" with the "concept of "pull" forces as well, probably not.
It is likely that some other scientists in history eventually began
to question the dogma of "action at a distance", but not in
time to express any doubts in their major works, in many cases.
What follows, now, is an extremely speculative discussion of the "incompressibility" of mass and related issues. It may lack relevance, be too "far out", and may not justify the readers' time:
We might "imagine" six "wedges" of "pure mass" "flying" through "pure, empty" space toward a point where they all collide, and then rebounding back toward where they came from, with the same energy and opposite velocities. This would not violate the "Law" that the product of (force x time) equals the change in momentum. It would, however, bother me that there may be an instant, however "short", where the "pure mass" is subject to "near" infinite force and pressure. ((Of course, one can avoid thinking about it by "imagining" pure mass as having a limited, slight degree of compressibility, "beyond" which it "holds firm" without further "compromise." This, however, regardless of its other merits, would tend to "violate" my "concept" of "the incompressibility of pure mass", (as if my feelings mattered). Yet, without compressibility of mass, one would seem to be left with the uncomfortable notion of such mass subjected to infinite force and pressure, for an instant.)) One of perhaps several "ways" out of this "dilemma", may be as follows: We are familiar with the concept of "centrifugal" force, and the high, but not infinite, forces applied to high speed objects "whipped" 90 deg. or 180 deg. around a very sharp, but not zero radius, turn. Perhaps, in this universe, "pure" mass does not "collide" in a "perfectly" hard way, but is rather "whipped" around such ultra small radii. Perhaps a "De Broglie wave" and/or Planck's constant (with "dimensions" of angular momentum) relates to this. Consider the possible fact that particles don't seem to have hard, well defined surfaces, but matter may tend to extend out into space from particles, yet it perhaps tends to be associated with such particles. Perhaps this tends to "assist" the more compact particles, or mass accumulations, so that they avoid "hard, pure" collisions with one another. (Electrons are supposed to be "attracted" to protons, yet seldom collide with them.)
Addendum 1 (9-30-2001):
Addendum 1.1 (1-20-2005): There was one other very remarkable theory developed by some Greek Atomists. I will briefly describe it below, even though it seems to have been developed by “Epicurus”, rather than Democritus and Leucippus; and even though it is not perfectly correct and has been modified somewhat in recent times.Epicurus’ belief seems to have been this: Vast numbers of atoms make up the things, say, that we handle; and since there is mostly empty space between these atoms, the atoms are free to move faster than anything else in the universe. And that, therefore, in fact, they do! (That speculation seems amazing to me, since the Greeks could not see individual atoms; and what they handled must have seemed rather unmoving and calm!)
In fact, most scientists today think that most atoms or molecules do spin at (or near) the speed of light! Or, together with other vibrations, are in motions at very high velocities. Even if we suppose that such speeds are somewhat less than the velocity of light, and that Epicurus was not quite right; he was still remarkably close! And there is the natural implication, from his work--that his atoms would have each had an energy of almost mc2 , in magnitude! (Epicurus even believed in a partial “indeterminacy” of atomic movement, a kind of Heisenberg “free will”; somewhat like the “uncertainty principle” of modern physics. Although neither Einstein nor I agree with that, it still is incorporated into modern physics.)Addendum 1.2 (1-20-2005): Todd Kelso wrote many articles, and some of them pertain to the Greek schools of thought: (Ref. http://home.att.net/~zei/TMKelso/index.htm Copyright 2004 Estate of Todd Matthews Kelso.)
In my opinion, Todd Kelso was a master of logic and extremely knowledgeable. I agree with most of his writings on most topics. But in some instances; my emphasis or opinion is different--and I reiterate the following: I believe that there is no “absolutely” indestructible basic, small, building block in the universe--that is, in the exact sense of what the Greek “Atomists” contemplated, when they coined the word “Atom”. But instead, I believe that there is a statistically average, i.e. a very likely “aether” condition in space--that causes certain particles (electrons and proton) to be extremely stable. But there are still occasional great (statistical) aether fluctuations (together with rare and extreme particle velocities or conditions nearby). This can alter even a very “stable” particle’s stability, at least momentarily!
Addendum 2 (Optional and rather lengthy) 9-15-2003:
Examples of Greek Philosophers-Scientists--from the various parts of Greater Greece, are:
From the island of Samos, (180 miles east of Athens and almost touching Turkey)—Aristarchus, Pythagoras, Epicurus; (Pythagoras finally settled in Crotona, a town on the east coast of southern Italy, a.k.a. Croton, Cotrone, and now Crotone).
From Miletus (an ancient seaport on the West Coast of Turkey, near the island of Samos)—Thales, Anaximenes, Anaximander. From other towns in Turkey, (on or near the Turkish West Coast) came Heraclitus, Anaxagoras, Eudoxus, Strato.
From Abdera, a.k.a. “Avdira”, (near the northeastern coast of Greece, below what is now Bulgaria)—Leucippus, Democritus, Protagoras. (Most Greeks considered people from Abdera to be stupid).
From Elea (on the western coast of southern Italy)--Zeno, Parmenides, ((These philosophers, like quite a few others, visited Athens, on occasion--either to teach there, or to learn from there. (Of course, the famous Socrates and Plato were from Athens).))
From the large island of Sicily: (from Syracuse, Sicily)--Archimedes; and ((from Agrigentum (now Agrigento), Sicily))—Empedolcles.
From Massalia (now Marseille, France)—Pytheas; and from Syrene (now Shahhat, Libya)--Eratosthenes.
As Greek city-states warred against each other, Greece declined. And Macedonia (to the north of Greece) became more important. Macedonia’s famous king, “Alexander the Great”, received a Greek education, and also founded the famous city of “Alexandria” in Egypt. Many “Philosopher-Scientists” did important work in Alexandria, such as Euclid. Others, like Aristotle, were born in Macedonia, itself, and traveled widely and learned and taught in many places (like many philosophers). It would lengthen my already overly long list, if more names and places were added. But, of course, there were many others, ((such as the Greek island of Rhodes (near southwestern Turkey)--with it own philosophers, also)).
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Carl R. Littmann
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