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Speed of change

Think for a second about the atomic bomb. There's a big, just gigantic, technological change. But when did it happen? We can argue that the "speed of change" was really slow until July 16, 1945, when the first atomic bomb exploded in New Mexico--the speed of change was super-fast on that particular day. This would be silly. So we have to average out the "speed of change" somehow. But over what timescale? So many industrial inputs (precision machining, computing and the like) and basic scientific insights (being able to calculate the likelihood that a neutron hitting an atomic nucleus will cause it to split in two) went into building the bomb that it's unclear where to start.

The claim that some forms of knowledge are fundamentally resistant to quantification (memorably described as a "bitch-goddess" by Carl Bridenbaugh in this essay) is anathema to policymakers today, who've emerged from business schools and management consultancies convinced that Excel macros will let them give reality to the shadows on the walls of Plato's cave.

How MBA-speak is hurting the scientific academy.
From: Konstantin Kakaes |Posted Tuesday, April 3, 2012


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