Much of the world will not have a clue who he was or what he did. He was a great scientist, and scientists are not particularly respected in our world. Measurement, data based decision making, and scientific knowledge are not popular right now. They have retreated into the halls of academia, perhaps even locking themselves in the janitor’s closet to avoid attacks from the outside world. In a reality that is focused on how to extract the most money out of our resources, scientific discovery becomes worthless when it doesn’t yield immediate lucrative results. Who wants data when desire, fantasy and prejudice are more economically productive?
The demise of respect for scientific measurement has produced a fantasy world in which it is impossible to learn the truth. People seem to have forgotten how and where to find truth and this shifting reality permeates our interactions daily.
I recently entered two business situations where the truth was clearly available, but nobody bothered to measure. Our neighbor to the east decided to sell a piece of property. The driveway for that property lies on the south border of our property but it isn’t developed. The owners arrived in my yard with workers and their real estate agent and blocked my driveway. I went out and pointed out where they could park and where the boundary lines are. That did no good. They continued to walk through my property, tromp on flowers and drove their vehicles through my flowerbed. They dumped litter on my walking path. When confronted they insisted that they had not encroached because they owned twenty-feet on my side of the other neighbor’s fence. At this time they were about forty feet from the fence in question. The flowerbed they used as a driveway is forty-six feet from the fence they claim as a boundary. They never bothered to measure. They felt that they were on their own property and they were right-end of discussion. They got snooty with me and left in a huff.
The second problem I came up against is a Shrodinger’s Cat problem. All possibilities are equal until measured. Nobody seems inclined to measure. I ordered new kitchen countertops. I signed a contract and the representative from the company came and measured, then he disappeared. After three weeks I called to see if I could get a date for when the countertops could be installed. At that time, the representative told me:
“The material you selected was a limited offer that is no longer produced and we don’t have it in the warehouse.” Since I couldn’t get the material I ordered I cancelled my order.
Next, I was told they did, in fact, have the material in their warehouse.
Next, The material was not in the warehouse and not available.
After that, I learned that the material is in California but cannot be shipped.
Finally, maybe the material could be shipped from California but nobody knows when.
Perhaps one of the above statements is true. They can’t all be true. If someone bothered to look, they might find the material in the warehouse. I bet the manufacturer in California could give them a shipping date, if they bothered to ask.
I’m doing business with people who have lost the ability to use observation and measurement to determine their relationship to our space and time. Perhaps this is some evolutionary adaption to living in a quantum world, but even in quantum physics measurement is possible and necessary. Simple scientific measurement is necessary for the community to work, yet it does not occur to people to measure and observe. We will miss you Steven Hawking. We will miss you scientific observation.