• Freeman Dyson: Regarding famous meeting with Enrico Fermi that was a tu

    From Aether Regained@21:1/5 to All on Tue Mar 19 11:32:00 2024


    The first link contains the full anecdote of Freeman Dyson's meeting
    with Enrico Fermi, where Fermi said the memorable words:

    "I remember my friend Johnny von Neumann used to say, with four
    parameters I can fit an elephant, and with five I can make him wiggle
    his trunk."

    Also said Fermi in the same meeting:

    "There are two ways of doing calculations in theoretical physics:

    One way, and this is the way I prefer, is to have A CLEAR PHYSICAL
    PICTURE OF THE PROCESS that you are calculating.

    The other way is to have a precise and self-consistent mathematical

    By the way, there is so much similarity between this Spring 1953 meeting between Freeman Dyson and Enrico Fermi, and that between Wilhelm Weber
    and Frederich Gauss about a century earlier in Spring 1845. There too,
    Weber met with his mentor Gauss to discuss his new theory of
    electrodynamics (now known as Weber's electrodynamics), and Gauss
    expressed a similar sentiment as Fermi:

    Gauss: "... the actual keystone is lacking: namely, the derivation of
    the additional forces (which enter into the reciprocal action of
    electrical particles at rest, if they are in relative motion) from the
    action which is not instantaneous, but on the contrary (in a way
    comparable to light) propagates itself in time. ... However, [to arrive
    at this] it would first be necessary to make A CONSTRUCTIBLE
    REPRESENTATION of the way in which the propagation occurs."

    (for full content, see: Letters between Weber and Gauss in 1845).

    Also it is interesting, that in the current theory of electrodynamics,
    this fundamental equation describing the force between two charged
    particles in relative motion is so difficult to derive, it is only
    covered in the most advanced post graduate courses on electrodynamics,
    and is given without any derivation in Feynman Lectures Vol. II as Eqn.


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