Mike    Jeffrey

R.

Hamilton's Diabolical Legacy

Physics in Autumn
In 1831 Hamilton used mathematics, that strange abstract language of symbols and axioms, to predict something truly absurd, and obviously physical nonsense. He was right. It was the first time mathematical prediction preceded experiment. It was a sensation... for a while. It would take 170 years to fully understand, and not surprisingly. Because mathematics is still alive, still evolving, still new and full of mysteries even two centuries later.
1831, while the fight between wavy and lumpy views of light was at its climax, before we had vectors or Hamiltonians, before radiation or electricity, a man had a foolish notion that continues to stretch the capability of lasers and computers of the modern age, that embodies all of the complexities of multiple-scales and singularities that plague modern science. Classical does not mean Obsolete, Old does not mean Finished. In Science, we are all young and never done learning.

Nothing is so fatal to the progress of the human mind as to suppose that our views of science are ultimate; that there are no mysteries in nature; that our triumphs are complete, and that there are no new worlds to conquer..

Sir Humprhey Davy

Updated April 2015 by MrJ.