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Re: [ontolog-forum] Time representation

To: "[ontolog-forum] " <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: Pat Hayes <phayes@xxxxxxx>
Date: Thu, 24 Jan 2008 14:15:57 -0600
Message-id: <p0623090bc3bea0dc8f58@[]>
At 11:44 AM -0700 1/24/08, Sharma, Ravi wrote:
>Valuable comments -in my opinion. I would only add that like everything
>in the universe, each object and phenomenon, including usefulness of
>research has time-bound relevance and validity.
>Inverse square Coulomb laws are still OK in most situations but for
>moving electrons relativistic corrections are necessary.
>Hence, new discoveries are bending our perception of matter such as
>after quarks and gluons rather than mesons, bosons for proton-neutron
>Many times science gets stuck in a loop due to overwhelming
>personalities that actually help retard the progress and it is hard for
>counter-opinions to survive because of ridicule or fear?    (01)

While this has happened, I think the era of 
Eddington-sized personalities being able to bend 
an entire field is now over in the hard sciences. 
More recent examples have tended in the other 
direction: a revolutionary idea (tectonics, 
catastrophic large-flood geologic events, birds 
descended from dinosaurs, single-generation 
evolutionary wolf/dog shift, prions, 
non-Darwinian epigenetic inheritance...) is 
effectively suppressed by being perceived by the 
'community' as unacceptable or 'fringe'. In such 
cases, the lonely proponent needs to have the 
strong personality.    (02)

Pat    (03)

>(Chandrasekhar-Eddington case is an example!)
>(Dr. Ravi Sharma) Senior Enterprise Architect
>Vangent, Inc. Technology Excellence Center (TEC)
>8618 Westwood Center Drive, Suite 310, Vienna VA 22182
>(o) 703-827-0638, (c) 313-204-1740 www.vangent.com
>-----Original Message-----
>From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
>[mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Ed
>Sent: Thursday, January 24, 2008 12:31 PM
>To: [ontolog-forum]
>Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Time representation
>Chris Partridge wrote:
>>  Among philosophers of science, I believe that the notion of
>fruitfulness is
>>  reasonably well established. Examples of it would be applications of a
>>  theory to things that the progenitor had no conception of when he or
>she put
>>  the theory forward. There are lots of quoted examples from Newton's
>>  Einstein's work. There is also a lot of material on the web (and ones
>>  library), if one has time to research it. I understand that among many
>>  working scientists fruitfulness in this sense is regarded as a key
>test of
>>  whether a theory is good/useful or not - so at least some people hold
>it in
>>  high regard.
>But surely this is always in hindsight.  Mathematicians and physicists,
>like software engineers, have some sense of "elegance" in developing a
>new theory, but elegance doesn't guarantee fruitfulness.  150 years
>later, we can say that simple atomic theory was fruitful, even though we
>now know that simple atomic theory was a vast oversimplification of
>atomic physics.  OTOH, plate tectonics was rejected for 50 years, until
>we were able to make enough reliable seismic measurements to see that it
>actually explained them -- in a sense, it was experimentally validated.
>At the other end of the spectrum, we have Lee De Forest, who fiddled
>around with vacuum tube arrangements until he found one that did a
>better job of picking up radio waves than Marconi's device.  It was a
>very fruitful invention, even though it was founded on very little, and
>mostly erroneous, understanding of the actual phenomenon.  Fruitfulness
>isn't restricted to carefully developed theories.  10 years later, Edwin
>Armstrong developed a theory that explained how the device actually
>functioned, and went on to make much better ones, but (patent disputes
>aside) he started from De Forest's accidental insight.  Many assert that
>Armstrong's work is what made De Forest's "audion tube" fruitful, but
>the value of a theory or device to the later work of others is how we
>define "fruitful".
>What we are talking about in this forum is design, not prophecy.  An
>engineer designs a device to perform a particular function, to be "fit
>for a purpose".  A scientist devises a theory to be consistent with all
>the knowledge s/he has and to explain/predict a particular set of
>phenomena (i.e., to be fit for those purposes).  Similarly, we can
>design an ontology to be consistent with all the knowledge we have and
>to be fit for a set of known purposes.  Any fruitfulness beyond that is
>serendipity, in all cases.  And it is probably fair to say that
>fruitfulness will be a function of:
>   (a) the quality and extent of the knowledge we had at the outset
>   (b) the insight we had that generated the design/theory/ontology
>   (c) the acceptance and use of the design/theory/ontology by others,
>whether purposefully, grudgingly, or unwittingly.
>One designs for fitness to a set of known purposes, not for potential
>"fruitfulness".  (It is my impression that Matthew and Paola almost
>agreed to that.)
>I have seen a number of instances of persons who design a theory to
>support what they understand well and also phenomena for which they have
>some awareness but no expertise.  Without exception, those theories have
>been useless or counterproductive for the extended phenomena. (What
>inevitably happens is that the proponents force the square pegs in the
>extended domain into the round holes in the theory, thereby divorcing
>the theoretical results from the realities.)  My former mentor, the late
>Dr. Selden Stewart, described this effort to achieve fruitfulness beyond
>one's knowledge domain as "the seductiveness of simple cases", a form of
>"false induction": the theory works for lots of simple cases that we are
>now familiar with; therefore it must work for more complex cases that we
>haven't studied so well.  The examples include the unix (v5) model of
>peripheral stores, reactive hierarchical control, object modeling,
>reusable components, orchestrated processes, and several bizarre ideas
>that have wrecked adoption of what might have been worthwhile standards.
>   So I would in fact caution *against* attempts to design for
>"fruitfulness" beyond one's domain of expertise.
>P.S. In 1994, the UK editor of ISO 10303-11 (the information modeling
>language EXPRESS) announced the results of a survey of needs for version
>2, and the set was so diverse in direction that I asked whether he had
>in mind one project or two.  The editor said, "one, of course", and the
>senior U.S. delegate (Peter Wilson, of Boeing) said, "Oh, I was sure you
>would say two."  A German delegate asked why Peter thought there should
>be two projects, and Peter answered, "Because I have the grey hair,
>that's why."  (And OBTW, 7 years later, the "one" project failed.)
>Edward J. Barkmeyer                        Email: edbark@xxxxxxxx
>National Institute of Standards & Technology
>Manufacturing Systems Integration Division
>100 Bureau Drive, Stop 8263                Tel: +1 301-975-3528
>Gaithersburg, MD 20899-8263                FAX: +1 301-975-4694
>"The opinions expressed above do not reflect consensus of NIST,
>   and have not been reviewed by any Government authority."
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>    (04)

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