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TagScience After Babel (book)

Titanic at Belfast. Date: 1912

The Titanic: A Sobering Tale About the Fragility of Technological “Progress”

The hopes of the Enlightenment were tragically short lived

By David Klinghoffer The week that the submersible Titan was revealed to have been instantaneously flattened on its way down to the wreck of the Titanic, David Berlinski spoke with James Lileks and Peter Robinson on Ricochet about the wreck of the Enlightenment. Much like the Titanic, and a bit like the Titan, so much was expected at the glorious launch of the experiment in human reasoning — yet down it went to disaster, not least in the 20th century with its horrors. Writing yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan suggested that the story of the Titanic haunts us in part because its demise came two years before the start of the century’s great catastrophe, World War I: “the reason the Titanic endures is that there was an immediate connection Read More ›

man thinking how to solve the problem

Iterations of Immortality

If it is beauty that governs the mathematician’s soul, it is truth and certainty that remind him of his duty

by David Berlinski Editor’s note: We are delighted to welcome Science After Babel, the latest book from mathematician and philosopher David Berlinski. This article is adapted from Chapter 7.  The calculus and the rich body of mathematical analysis to which it gave rise made modern science possible, but it was the algorithm that made possible the modern world. They are utterly different, these ideas. The calculus serves the imperial vision of mathematical physics. It is a vision in which the real elements of the world are revealed to be its elementary constituents: particles, forces, fields, or even a strange fused combination of space and time. Written in the language of mathematics, a single set of fearfully compressed laws describes their secret Read More ›