Re: Information & Power (was: RE: Einstein's Brain on the internet)

Spike Jones (
Fri, 30 Apr 1999 18:18:45 -0700

> Spike Jones wrote: >Granted [the Alexandria library] was a sad loss. However...
> >
> >> What would we know today if we had this information?
> >
> John Marsh wrote:
> That is completely rediculous. Technology can only reveal clues surrounding a culture...
> ...Besides, how can you possibly know the Library of Alexandria contained nothing worth considering? To you claim to know what you don't know? Sounds paradoxical to me. Besides, much of modern science traces it routes directly back to manuscripts recovered from Alexandria. Imagine howe much more time would have been saved, had Alexandria not burned. We could have entered the sceintifc/technological age back in the 12th Century. Imagine
> that!...

John, I could have made it much clearer what I meant. I do not deny that some ancient clever philosopher figured out wire and batteries, etc. I agree that had we not lost the library at Alexandria, the current explosion of technology that we are now enjoying would have happened long ere this, many centuries ere this.

My contention is that pretty much *any* technology found therein has long since been rediscovered and vastly improved. The philosophical insights found therein would be of little value to us today for they are not facing the questions we now face. By this contention, I do not mean to diss the Greeks. There simply were not enough of them. They could not put together the critical masses of brains that we mere mortals of today can do by dialing up our modems.

Before you flame, try to think, *what was in that library* in Alexandria? I have an idea: That library was filled with heroic stories about the brave deeds accomplished by the various heroes of the past. Accounts of battles. Genealogies. History of the great civilization of the Etruscans, Mycenaeans. Political pamphlets on such topics as slavery and why Mycenaeans are better, smarter, braver than Trojans, etc. In short, I suspect it would be reams and reams, scroll after scroll, of material that closely resembles our Old Testament. My contention is that our current society would not necessarily be advanced today, if we had all that stuff. We would have advanced long ere this, had we not lost the art and science of the Greek classic period, but we lost it, and... We recovered. And exceeded.

Nowthen, fast forward to today. Much of the material in paper books today is of little value, because it is not searchable. Consider what we do to our students before we give them engineering degrees. We make them study books of equations, *all of which are encoded in computers*. The software version works right, whereas if you have ever performed the tedious classic version of aerodynamics, you know that... the classic version doesnt give the right answer! The computerized version does, if you model it correctly.

My contention then, is that we have now the equivalent of an Alexandrian fire, burning brightly at this moment, however, this time, the knowledge is not being lost, but rather, transmogrifying itself into a more useful form. spike