Tuesday, October 10, 2006

On Being Wrong

It appears I was wrong in my assessment of the relative probabilities of nuclear war in the Cold War era and at the present time. The news that the most unpredictable leader in the world appears to have nuclear weapons is very bad news indeed. That the powers that have to deal with the problem are communist China and Bush's US, doesn't make me feel any better about it. Of course, I don't really know what they should do, anyway. There is this little piece in my guts that says "Nuke them before it is too late", but that is such a ludicrously right-wing position that it has to be my appendix speaking, and I wouldn't really want to listen to political advice given by an organ which is only vestigial in humans.

And no, this is not going to turn into another political punditry blog; I just think a scientist is under an obligation to point out their own errors. A fine example of this scientific responsibility was given by Penny Smith, who recently withdrew her announced solution to the Navier-Stokes Millennium Problem due to a crucial flaw in the proof. Admitting to being wrong on such a big and well-known mathematical problem must be immensely painful, especially after it received a lot of premature publicity, but ultimately this is what distinguishes Science from other, less honest, human endeavours such as business or politics. So let us wish her the best success in her efforts to patch up the holes in her proof, if possible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the nuclear test that North Korea conducted was declared unsuccessful by Chinese, South Korean, and Japanese tests. That is that the certain level of nuclear, sub-atomic particles that would usually be present at a successful nuclear test were not found. The USA government has said that they "believe" that the test was successful but have not shown the American people any scientific proof on the issue. They said that it many take another few weeks when they will have the scientific proof.... then why scare everybody now? Even if they did have a successful test, they still have no method of delivery (they don't have a rocket that can carry the nuclear warhead). Hence I do believe that there is plenty of propaganda going on primarly from the USA instilling fear in the people This has been Bush's tool in regards to War and Iraq after all!