[ExI] Silence in the sky-but why?

spike spike66 at att.net
Mon Sep 23 04:01:17 UTC 2013

>... On Behalf Of Tomasz Rola
Subject: Re: [ExI] Silence in the sky-but why?

On Sun, 22 Sep 2013, Eugen Leitl wrote:

> >>... without the ability to develop or even maintain current
technology... spike  
>>... We already been unable to maintain our current technology for several 
> decades. The regression is not uniform, and sufficiently slow so that 
> it can be ignored by many.

>...I'm not sure what exactly you mean by this (example[s] would help) but I
am willing to believe it, to some extent at least...Tomasz Rola


This is a difficult question, because some of what we call lost technology
is just older technology being replaced by newer or more efficient

Examples:  if we recreated the very best farm from 1500, then grabbed a
dozen modern people and put them there, they would be near starvation before
they realized those filthy beasts in the barn were food.  The strange
looking implements all around them are the 500 year ago version of our
microwave.  Good chance they would eventually figure out how to butcher the
beasts, but you can be sure they would need to get hungry first.

This example has a point: we have lost some technologies that were so common
500 years ago those ancients would be astonished at our helplessness.  It
takes a lot less knowledge to feed ourselves today than it did back then.

In my own field of aerospace engineering, I have witnessed what looks to me
like a definite retrograde technology.  Aerodynamics using closed form
equations: complicated as all hell.  Now it is done entirely by finite
element code.  Controls engineering, oh how very laborious to learn it and
to use it, the old 12 step program, develop a root locus plot, Nichols
chart, Bode diagram, Nyquist procedure, zero the poles in the right half
plane, start again, yakkity yak and bla bla, oh the sweat on the brow.  None
of this is done now, or rather it is not done that way.  You just throw it
in Matlab and Simulink, and the computer does the work.  Young engineers
don't need to learn how to do classical controls, and you can't afford to
train them in those techniques anyway.  

So is classical controls an example of a lost technology?  Not really, it is
an example of a technology that has been coded into software.  Now we don't
need to know how it is done, any more than we need to know how to extract
square roots by hand (yes I remember how to do that, no it is not necessary

If that is happening in the areas I know, is not this happening in every
other field?


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