Browse Source

Adds blacklisting support

master
Nemo 3 years ago
parent
commit
39401d2f0f
  1. 8
      1900-1930.html
  2. 16
      _data/blacklist.yml
  3. 2
      _layouts/article.html
  4. 25
      _layouts/book.html
  5. 7
      _stories/1900/.md
  6. 78
      _stories/1900/1026018.md
  7. 9
      _stories/1900/16128805.md
  8. 58
      _stories/1901/16128805.md
  9. 64
      _stories/1903/10822133.md
  10. 601
      _stories/1903/14527535.md
  11. 155
      _stories/1905/13944474.md
  12. 14
      _stories/1906/5956404.md
  13. 46
      _stories/1909/10342677.md
  14. 36
      _stories/1909/7637635.md
  15. 56
      _stories/1910/9233016.md
  16. 7
      _stories/1922/4969041.md
  17. 42
      _stories/1928/6545132.md
  18. 26
      _stories/1928/8950404.md
  19. 3
      add-metadata.rb
  20. 4
      index.html

8
1900-1930.html

@ -0,0 +1,8 @@
---
layout: book
start: 1900
end: 1930
---
Hello
{{content}}

16
_data/blacklist.yml

@ -0,0 +1,16 @@
# Things in this list must be terribly broken
# otherwise don't add them here and wait for someone to fix them
# instead
- 1140283
- 11251144
# The principles of mathematics
# is just too big for a anthology
- 14527535
- 10342677 # TODO: This looks cool, fix this
# This is a blurb for a book, while cool
# not worth curating?
- 12394589
- 6512288 # TODO: Get this from another source
- 7637635 # Repeat submission
- 5393142 # TODO: Check this again, might be too long as a book
- 9233016 # Image

2
_layouts/article.html

@ -1,3 +1,4 @@
---
layout: default
---
<article>
@ -7,6 +8,7 @@ layout: default
<tr><th>author</th><td>{{page.author}}</td></tr>
<tr><th>points</th><td>{{page.points}}</td></tr>
<tr><th>comments</th><td><a href="https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id={{page.objectID}}">{{page.num_comments}} comments</a></td></tr>
<tr><th>words</th><td>{{content|number_of_words}}</td></tr>
</table>
</section>
</article>

25
_layouts/book.html

@ -1,2 +1,27 @@
---
layout: default
---
<h1>Hacker News Classics: {{page.start}}-{{page.end}}</h1>
<h2>Table of Contents</h2>
<!-- Do a stable sort of stories -->
{% assign stories = site.stories | sort_by: 'year', 'objectID' %}
<ol>
{% for story in stories %}
{% if story.year >= page.start and story.year <= page.end and story.blacklist != true %}
<li>{{story.blacklist}}<a href="#{{story.objectID}}">{{ story.title }}</a></li>
{%endif%}
{% endfor %}
<ol>
{% for story in stories %}
{% if story.year >= page.start and story.year <= page.end and story.blacklist !=true %}
<h2 id="{{story.objectID}}">{{ story.title }}</h2>
<div>
{{story.content | markdownify}}
</div>
{%endif%}
{% endfor %}

7
_stories/1900/.md

@ -1,7 +0,0 @@
[Source](https://patents.google.com/patent/US787412A/en?before=priority:19030101&after=priority:18900101 "Permalink to US787412A - Art of transmitting electrical energy through the natural mediums.
- Google Patents")
# US787412A - Art of transmitting electrical energy through the natural mediums.
- Google Patents

78
_stories/1900/1026018.md

@ -1,4 +1,5 @@
---
blacklist: true
created_at: '2010-01-01T18:28:57.000Z'
title: Ladies Home Journal (1900) Predictions for 2000
url: http://www.yorktownhistory.org/homepages/1900_predictions.htm
@ -20,72 +21,38 @@ objectID: '1026018'
year: 1900
---
[Source](http://yorktownhistory.org/homepages/1900_predictions.htm "Permalink to
Not Found - ")
#
Not Found -
[Source](http://yorktownhistory.org/homepages/1900_predictions.htm 'Permalink to
Not Found - ')
#
Not Found -
[drugs and their effects][1]
![Revolutionary War Re-enactment Image][2]
* [About Us][3]
* [Calendar][4]
* [Donate][5]
* [Our Books][6]
* [History][7]
* [Home][8]
* [Membership][9]
* [Visit Yorktown][10]
* [Volunteer][11]
* [Member Services][12]
* [Yorktown Museum][13]
* [YHS Blog][14]
* [Contact Us][15]
- [About Us][3]
- [Calendar][4]
- [Donate][5]
- [Our Books][6]
- [History][7]
- [Home][8]
- [Membership][9]
- [Visit Yorktown][10]
- [Volunteer][11]
- [Member Services][12]
- [Yorktown Museum][13]
- [YHS Blog][14]
- [Contact Us][15]
Search
## Page Not Found
We're sorry, the page you are looking for is not on our website. Please check the address, or use the menu at the top or side of the page.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
We're sorry, the page you are looking for is not on our website. Please check the address, or use the menu at the top or side of the page.
©2018 Yorktown Historical Society, All Rights Reserved. Site design: [Taconic Marketing][16]
@ -105,4 +72,3 @@ We're sorry, the page you are looking for is not on our website. Please check th
[14]: http://yorktownhistory.org/home/yhsblog/
[15]: http://yorktownhistory.org/home/contact-us/
[16]: http://taconicmarketing.com

9
_stories/1900/16128805.md

@ -1,4 +1,5 @@
---
blacklist: true
created_at: '2018-01-11T22:48:01.000Z'
title: 'Tesla: Art of Transmitting Electrical Energy through the Natural Mediums (1900)'
url: https://patents.google.com/patent/US787412A/en?before=priority:19030101&after=priority:18900101
@ -20,10 +21,10 @@ objectID: '16128805'
year: 1900
---
[Source](https://patents.google.com/patent/US787412A/en?before=priority:19030101&after=priority:18900101 "Permalink to US787412A - Art of transmitting electrical energy through the natural mediums.
- Google Patents")
# US787412A - Art of transmitting electrical energy through the natural mediums.
- Google Patents
[Source](https://patents.google.com/patent/US787412A/en?before=priority:19030101&after=priority:18900101 'Permalink to US787412A - Art of transmitting electrical energy through the natural mediums.
- Google Patents')
# US787412A - Art of transmitting electrical energy through the natural mediums.
- Google Patents

58
_stories/1901/16128805.md

@ -1,58 +0,0 @@
[Source](http://www.paulgraham.com/cornpone.html "Permalink to Mark Twain: Corn-pone Opinions")
# Mark Twain: Corn-pone Opinions
| ----- |
| ![][1] | ![][2] | ![][3]
| ![Mark Twain: Corn-pone Opinions][4]
FIFTY YEARS AGO, when I was a boy of fifteen and helping to inhabit a Missourian village on the banks of the Mississippi, I had a friend whose society was very dear to me because I was forbidden by my mother to partake of it. He was a gay and impudent and satirical and delightful young black man -a slave -who daily preached sermons from the top of his master's woodpile, with me for sole audience. He imitated the pulpit style of the several clergymen of the village, and did it well, and with fine passion and energy. To me he was a wonder. I believed he was the greatest orator in the United States and would some day be heard from. But it did not happen; in the distribution of rewards he was overlooked. It is the way, in this world.
He interrupted his preaching, now and then, to saw a stick of wood; but the sawing was a pretense -he did it with his mouth; exactly imitating the sound the bucksaw makes in shrieking its way through the wood. But it served its purpose; it kept his master from coming out to see how the work was getting along. I listened to the sermons from the open window of a lumber room at the back of the house. One of his texts was this:
"You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is."
I can never forget it. It was deeply impressed upon me. By my mother. Not upon my memory, but elsewhere. She had slipped in upon me while I was absorbed and not watching. The black philosopher's idea was that a man is not independent, and cannot afford views which might interfere with his bread and butter. If he would prosper, he must train with the majority; in matters of large moment, like politics and religion, he must think and feel with the bulk of his neighbors, or suffer damage in his social standing and in his business prosperities. He must restrict himself to corn-pone opinions -- at least on the surface. He must get his opinions from other people; he must reason out none for himself; he must have no first-hand views.
I think Jerry was right, in the main, but I think he did not go far enough.
1\. It was his idea that a man conforms to the majority view of his locality by calculation and intention. This happens, but I think it is not the rule.
2\. It was his idea that there is such a thing as a first-hand opinion; an original opinion; an opinion which is coldly reasoned out in a man's head, by a searching analysis of the facts involved, with the heart unconsulted, and the jury room closed against outside influences. It may be that such an opinion has been born somewhere, at some time or other, but I suppose it got away before they could catch it and stuff it and put it in the museum.
I am persuaded that a coldly-thought-out and independent verdict upon a fashion in clothes, or manners, or literature, or politics, or religion, or any other matter that is projected into the field of our notice and interest, is a most rare thing -- if it has indeed ever existed.
A new thing in costume appears -- the flaring hoopskirt, for example -- and the passers-by are shocked, and the irreverent laugh. Six months later everybody is reconciled; the fashion has established itself; it is admired, now, and no one laughs. Public opinion resented it before, public opinion accepts it now, and is happy in it. Why? Was the resentment reasoned out? Was the acceptance reasoned out? No. The instinct that moves to conformity did the work. It is our nature to conform; it is a force which not many can successfully resist. What is its seat? The inborn requirement of self-approval. We all have to bow to that; there are no exceptions. Even the woman who refuses from first to last to wear the hoop skirt comes under that law and is its slave; she could not wear the skirt and have her own approval; and that she must have, she cannot help herself. But as a rule our self-approval has its source in but one place and not elsewhere -- the approval of other people. A person of vast consequences can introduce any kind of novelty in dress and the general world will presently adopt it -- moved to do it, in the first place, by the natural instinct to passively yield to that vague something recognized as authority, and in the second place by the human instinct to train with the multitude and have its approval. An empress introduced the hoopskirt, and we know the result. A nobody introduced the bloomer, and we know the result. If Eve should come again, in her ripe renown, and reintroduce her quaint styles -- well, we know what would happen. And we should be cruelly embarrassed, along at first.
The hoopskirt runs its course and disappears. Nobody reasons about it. One woman abandons the fashion; her neighbor notices this and follows her lead; this influences the next woman; and so on and so on, and presently the skirt has vanished out of the world, no one knows how nor why, nor cares, for that matter. It will come again, by and by and in due course will go again.
Twenty-five years ago, in England, six or eight wine glasses stood grouped by each person's plate at a dinner party, and they were used, not left idle and empty; to-day there are but three or four in the group, and the average guest sparingly uses about two of them. We have not adopted this new fashion yet, but we shall do it presently. We shall not think it out; we shall merely conform, and let it go at that. We get our notions and habits and opinions from outside influences; we do not have to study them out.
Our table manners, and company manners, and street manners change from time to time, but the changes are not reasoned out; we merely notice and conform. We are creatures of outside influences; as a rule we do not think, we only imitate. We cannot invent standards that will stick; what we mistake for standards are only fashions, and perishable. We may continue to admire them, but we drop the use of them. We notice this in literature. Shakespeare is a standard, and fifty years ago we used to write tragedies which we couldn't tell from -- from somebody else's; but we don't do it any more, now. Our prose standard, three quarters of a century ago, was ornate and diffuse; some authority or other changed it in the direction of compactness and simplicity, and conformity followed, without argument. The historical novel starts up suddenly, and sweeps the land. Everybody writes one, and the nation is glad. We had historical novels before; but nobody read them, and the rest of us conformed -- without reasoning it out. We are conforming in the other way, now, because it is another case of everybody.
The outside influences are always pouring in upon us, and we are always obeying their orders and accepting their verdicts. The Smiths like the new play; the Joneses go to see it, and they copy the Smith verdict. Morals, religions, politics, get their following from surrounding influences and atmospheres, almost entirely; not from study, not from thinking. A man must and will have his own approval first of all, in each and every moment and circumstance of his life -- even if he must repent of a self-approved act the moment after its commission, in order to get his self-approval again: but, speaking in general terms, a man's self-approval in the large concerns of life has its source in the approval of the peoples about him, and not in a searching personal examination of the matter. Mohammedans are Mohammedans because they are born and reared among that sect, not because they have thought it out and can furnish sound reasons for being Mohammedans; we know why Catholics are Catholics; why Presbyterians are Presbyterians; why Baptists are Baptists; why Mormons are Mormons; why thieves are thieves; why monarchists are monarchists; why Republicans are Republicans and Democrats, Democrats. We know it is a matter of association and sympathy, not reasoning and examination; that hardly a man in the world has an opinion upon morals, politics, or religion which he got otherwise than through his associations and sympathies. Broadly speaking, there are none but corn-pone opinions. And broadly speaking, corn-pone stands for self-approval. Self-approval is acquired mainly from the approval of other people. The result is conformity. Sometimes conformity has a sordid business interest -- the bread-and-butter interest -- but not in most cases, I think. I think that in the majority of cases it is unconscious and not calculated; that it is born of the human being's natural yearning to stand well with his fellows and have their inspiring approval and praise -- a yearning which is commonly so strong and so insistent that it cannot be effectually resisted, and must have its way. A political emergency brings out the corn-pone opinion in fine force in its two chief varieties -- the pocketbook variety, which has its origin in self-interest, and the bigger variety, the sentimental variety -- the one which can't bear to be outside the pale; can't bear to be in disfavor; can't endure the averted face and the cold shoulder; wants to stand well with his friends, wants to be smiled upon, wants to be welcome, wants to hear the precious words, "He's on the right track!" Uttered, perhaps by an ass, but still an ass of high degree, an ass whose approval is gold and diamonds to a smaller ass, and confers glory and honor and happiness, and membership in the herd. For these gauds many a man will dump his life-long principles into the street, and his conscience along with them. We have seen it happen. In some millions of instances.
Men think they think upon great political questions, and they do; but they think with their party, not independently; they read its literature, but not that of the other side; they arrive at convictions, but they are drawn from a partial view of the matter in hand and are of no particular value. They swarm with their party, they feel with their party, they are happy in their party's approval; and where the party leads they will follow, whether for right and honor, or through blood and dirt and a mush of mutilated morals.
In our late canvass half of the nation passionately believed that in silver lay salvation, the other half as passionately believed that that way lay destruction. Do you believe that a tenth part of the people, on either side, had any rational excuse for having an opinion about the matter at all? I studied that mighty question to the bottom -- came out empty. Half of our people passionately believe in high tariff, the other half believe otherwise. Does this mean study and examination, or only feeling? The latter, I think. I have deeply studied that question, too -- and didn't arrive. We all do no end of feeling, and we mistake it for thinking. And out of it we get an aggregation which we consider a boon. Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it the Voice of God.
|
| ----- |
|
* * *
|
|
[1]: http://ep.yimg.com/ay/paulgraham/essays-1.gif
[2]: http://ep.yimg.com/ca/Img/trans_1x1.gif
[3]: http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/paulgraham_2271_3232
[4]: http://ep.yimg.com/ca/I/paulgraham_2202_8864210

64
_stories/1903/10822133.md

@ -1,64 +0,0 @@
[Source](https://www.uky.edu/~eushe2/Pajares/octopus.html "Permalink to William James - The PhD Octopus")
# William James - The PhD Octopus
# The Ph.D. Octopus
### William James
Some years ago, we had at our Harvard Graduate School a very brilliant student of Philosophy, who, after leaving us and supporting himself by literary labor for three years, received an appointment to teach English Literature at a sister-institution of learning. The governors of this institution, however, had no sooner communicated the appointment than they made the awful discovery that they had enrolled upon their staff a person who was unprovided with the Ph.D. degree. The man in question had been satisfied to work at Philosophy for her own sweet (or bitter) sake, and had disdained to consider that an academic bauble should be his reward.
His appointment had thus been made under a misunderstanding. He was not the proper man; and there was nothing to do but inform him of the fact. It was notified to him by his new President that his appointment must be revoked, or that a Harvard doctor's degree must forthwith be procured.
Although it was already the spring of the year, our Subject, being a man of spirit, took up the challenge, turned his back upon literature (which in view of his approaching duties might have seemed his more urgent concern) and spent the weeks that were left him in writing a metaphysical thesis and grinding his psychology, logic, and history of philosophy up again, so as to pass our formidable ordeals.
When the thesis came to be read by our committee, we could not pass it. Brilliancy and originality by themselves won't save a thesis for the doctorate; it must also exhibit a heavy technical apparatus of learning; and this our candidate had neglected to bring to bear. So, telling him that he was temporarily rejected, we advised him to pad out the thesis properly, and return with it next year, at the same time informing his new President that this signified nothing as to his merits, that he was of ultra-Ph.D. quality, and one of the strongest men with whom we had ever had to deal.
To our surprise we were given to understand in reply that the quality per se of the man signified nothing in this connection, and that the three magical letters were the thing seriously required. The College had always gloried in a list of faculty members who bore the doctor's title, and to make a gap in the galaxy, and admit a common fox without a tail, would be a degradation impossible to be thought of. We wrote again, pointing out that a Ph.D. in philosophy would prove little anyhow as to one's ability to teach literature; we sent separate letters in which we outdid each other in eulogy of our candidate's powers, for indeed they were great; and at last, mirabile dictu, our eloquence prevailed. He was allowed to retain his appointment provisionally, on condition that one year later at the farthest his miserably naked name should be prolonged by the sacred appendage the lack of which had given so much trouble to all concerned.
Accordingly he came up here the following spring with an adequate thesis (known since in print as a most brilliant contribution to metaphysics), passed a first-rate examination, wiped out the stain, and brought his College into proper relations with the world again. Whether his teaching, during that first year, of English Literature was made any the better by the impending examination in a different subject, is a question which I will not try to solve.
I have related this incident at such length because it is so characteristic of American academic conditions at the present day. Graduate schools still are something of a novelty, and higher diplomas something of a rarity. The latter, therefore, carry a vague sense of preciousness and honor, and have a particularly "up- to-date" appearance, and it is no wonder if smaller institutions, unable to attract professors already eminent, and forced usually to recruit their faculties from the relatively young, should hope to compensate for the obscurity of the names of their officers of instruction by the abundance of decorative titles by which those names are followed on the pages of the catalogues where they appear. The dazzled reader of the list, the parent or student, says to himself, "This must be a terribly distinguished crowd,-- their titles shine like the stars in the firmament; Ph.D.'s, S.D.'s, and Litt.D.'s bespangle the page as if they were sprinkled over it from a pepper caster."
Human nature is once for all so childish that every reality becomes a sham somewhere, and in the minds of Presidents and Trustees the Ph.D. degree is in point of fact already looked upon as a mere advertising resource, a manner of throwing dust in the Public's eyes. "No instructor who is not a Doctor" has become a maxim in the smaller institutions which represent demand; and in each of the larger ones which represent supply, the same belief in decorated scholarship expresses itself in two antagonistic passions, one for multiplying as much as possible the annual output of doctors, the other for raising the standard of difficulty in passing, so that the Ph.D. of the special institution shall carry a higher blaze of distinction than it does elsewhere. Thus, we at Harvard are proud of the number of candidates whom we reject, and of the inability of men who are not distingues in intellect to pass our tests.
America is thus a nation rapidly drifting towards a state of things in which no man of science or letters will be accounted respectable unless some kind of badge or diploma is stamped upon him, and in which bare personality will be a mark of outcast estate. It seems to me high time to rouse ourselves to consciousness, and to cast a critical eye upon this decidedly grotesque tendency. Other nations suffer terribly from the Mandarin disease. Are we doomed to suffer like the rest?
Our higher degrees were instituted for the laudable purpose of stimulating scholarship, especially in the form of "original research." Experience has proved that great as the love of truth may be among men, it can be made still greater by adventitious rewards. The winning of a diploma certifying mastery and marking a barrier successfully passed, acts as a challenge to the ambitious; and if the diploma will help to gain bread-winning positions also, its power as a stimulus to work is tremendously increased. So far, we are on innocent ground; it is well for a country to have research in abundance, and our graduate schools do but apply a normal psychological spur. But the institutionizing on a large scale of any natural combination of need and motive always tends to run into technicality and to develop a tyrannical Machine with unforeseen powers of exclusion and corruption. Observation of the workings of our Harvard system for twenty years past has brought some of these drawbacks home to my consciousness, and I should like to call the attention of my readers to this disadvantageous aspect of the picture, and to make a couple of remedial suggestions, if I may.
In the first place, it would seem that to stimulate study, and to increase the gelehrtes Publikum, the class of highly educated men in our country, is the only positive good, and consequently the sole direct end at which our graduate schools, with their diploma-giving powers, should aim. If other results have developed they should be deemed secondary incidents, and if not desirable in themselves, they should be carefully guarded against.
To interfere with the free development of talent, to obstruct the natural play of supply and demand in the teaching profession, to foster academic snobbery by the prestige of certain privileged institutions, to transfer accredited value from essential manhood to an outward badge, to blight hopes and promote invidious sentiments, to divert the attention of aspiring youth from direct dealings with truth to the passing of examinations,--such consequences, if they exist, ought surely to be regarded as drawbacks to the system, and an enlightened public consciousness ought to be keenly alive to the importance of reducing their amount. Candidates themselves do seem to be keenly conscious of some of these evils, but outside of their ranks or in the general public no such consciousness, so far as I can see, exists; or if it does exist, it fails to express itself aloud. Schools, Colleges, and Universities, appear enthusiastic over the entire system, just as it stands, and unanimously applaud all its developments.
I beg the reader to consider some of the secondary evils which I have enumerated. First of all, is not our growing tendency to appoint no instructors who are not also doctors an instance of pure sham? Will any one pretend for a moment that the doctor's degree is a guarantee that its possessor will be successful as a teacher? Notoriously his moral, social, and personal characteristics may utterly disqualify him for success in the class-room; and of these characteristics his doctor's examination is unable to take any account whatever. Certain bare human beings will always be better candidates for a given place than all the doctor-applicants on hand; and to exclude the former by a rigid rule, and in the end to have to sift the latter by private inquiry into their personal peculiarities among those who know them, just as if they were not doctors at all, is to stultify one's own procedure. You may say that at least you guard against ignorance of the subject by considering only the candidates who are doctors; but how then about making doctors in one subject teach a different subject? This happened in the instance by which I introduced this article, and it happens daily and hourly in all our colleges. The truth is that the Doctor-Monopoly in teaching, which is becoming so rooted an American custom, can show no serious grounds whatsoever for itself in reason. As it actually prevails and grows in vogue among us, it is due to childish motives exclusively. In reality it is but a sham, a bauble, a dodge, whereby to decorate the catalogues of schools and colleges.
Next, let us turn from the general promotion of a spirit of academic snobbery to the particular damage done to individuals by the system. There are plenty of individuals so well endowed by nature that they pass with ease all the ordeals with which life confronts them. Such persons are born for professional success. Examinations have no terrors for them, and interfere in no way with their spiritual or worldly interests. There are others, not so gifted, who nevertheless rise to the challenge, get a stimulus from the difficulty, and become doctors, not without some baleful nervous wear and tear and retardation of their purely inner life, but on the whole successfully, and with advantage. These two classes form the natural Ph.D.'s for whom the degree is legitimately instituted. To be sure, the degree is of no consequence one way or the other for the first sort of man, for in him the personal worth obviously outshines the title. To the second set of persons, however, the doctor ordeal may contribute a touch of energy and solidity of scholarship which otherwise they might have lacked, and were our all candidates drawn from these classes, no oppression would result from the institution.
But there is a third class of persons who are genuinely, and in the most pathetic sense, the institution's victims. For this type of character the academic life may become, after a certain point, a virulent poison. Men without marked originality or native force, but fond of truth and especially of books and study, ambitious of reward and recognition, poor often, and needing a degree to get a teaching position, weak in the eyes of their examiners--among these we find the veritable chair a canon of the wars of learning, the unfit in the academic struggle for existence. There are individuals of this sort for whom to pass one degree after another seems the limit of earthly aspiration. Your private advice does not discourage them. They will fail, and go away to recuperate, and then present themselves for another ordeal, and sometimes prolong the process into middle life. Or else, if they are less heroic morally, they will accept the failure as a sentence of doom that they are not fit, and are broken-spirited men thereafter.
We of the university faculties are responsible for deliberately creating this new class of American social failures, and heavy is the responsibility. We advertise our "schools" and send out our degree-requirements, knowing well that aspirants of all sorts will be attracted, and at the same time we set a standard which intends to pass no man who has not native intellectual distinction. We know that there is no test, however absurd, by which, if a title or decoration, a public badge or mark, were to be won by it, some weakly suggestible or hauntable persons would not feel challenged, and remain unhappy if they went without it. We dangle our three magic letters before the eyes of these predestined victims, and they swarm to us like moths to an electric light. They come at a time when failure can no longer be repaired easily and when the wounds it leaves are permanent; and we say deliberately that mere work faithfully performed, as they perform it, will not by itself save them, they must in addition put in evidence the one thing they have not got, namely this quality of intellectual distinction. Occasionally, out of sheer human pity, we ignore our high and mighty standard and pass them. Usually, however, the standard, and not the candidate, commands our fidelity. The result is caprice, majorities of one on the jury, and on the whole a confession that our pretensions about the degree cannot be lived up to consistently. Thus, partiality in the favored cases; in the unfavored, blood on our hands; and in both a bad conscience,--are the results of our administration.
The more widespread becomes the popular belief that our diplomas are indispensable hall-marks to show the sterling metal of their holders, the more widespread these corruptions will become. We ought to look to the future carefully, for it takes generations for a national custom, once rooted, to be grown away from. All the European countries are seeking to diminish the check upon individual spontaneity which state examinations with their tyrannous growth have brought in their train. We have had to institute state examinations too; and it will perhaps be fortunate if some day hereafter our descendants, comparing machine with machine, do not sigh with regret for old times and American freedom, and wish that the regime of the dear old bosses might be re-installed, with plain human nature, the glad hand and the marble heart, liking and disliking, and man-to-man relations grown possible again. Meanwhile, whatever evolution our state-examinations are destined to undergo, our universities at least should never cease to regard themselves as the jealous custodians of personal and spiritual spontaneity. They are indeed its only organized and recognized custodians in America to-day. They ought to guard against contributing to the increase of officialism and snobbery and insincerity as against a pestilence; they ought to keep truth and disinterested labor always in the foreground, treat degrees as secondary incidents, and in season and out of season make it plain that what they live for is to help men's souls, and not to decorate their persons with diplomas.
There seem to be three obvious ways in which the increasing hold of the Ph.D. Octopus upon American life can be kept in check.
The first way lies with the universities. They can lower their fantastic standards (which here at Harvard we are so proud of) and give the doctorate as a matter of course, just as they give the bachelor's degree, for a due amount of time spent in patient labor in a special department of learning, whether the man be a brilliantly gifted individual or not. Surely native distinction needs no official stamp, and should disdain to ask for one. On the other hand, faithful labor, however commonplace, and years devoted to a subject, always deserve to be acknowledged and requited.
The second way lies with both the universities and the colleges. Let them give up their unspeakably silly ambition to bespangle their lists of offices with these doctorial titles. Let them look more to substance and less to vanity and sham.
The third way lies with the individual student and with his personal advisers in the faculties. Every man of native power, who might take the higher degree, and refuses to do so because examinations interfere with the free following out of his more immediate intellectual aims, deserves well of his country, and in a rightly organized community, would not be made to suffer for his independence. With many men the passing of these extraneous tests is a very grievous interference indeed. Private letters of recommendation from their instructors, which in any event are ultimately needful, ought, in these cases, completely to offset the lack of the bread-winning degree; and instructors ought to be ready to advise students against it upon occasion, and to pledge themselves to back them later personally, in the market-struggle which they have to face.
It is indeed odd to see this love of titles -- and such titles -- growing up in a country of which the recognition of individuality and bare manhood have so long been supposed to be the very soul. The independence of the State, in which most of our colleges stand, relieves us of those more odious forms of academic politics which continental European countries present.
Anything like the elaborate university machine of France, with its throttling influences upon individuals is unknown here. The spectacle of the Rathdistinction in its innumerable spheres and grades, with which all Germany is crawling to-day, is displeasing to American eyes; and displeasing also in some respects is the institution of knighthood in England, which, aping as it does an aristocratic title, enables one's wife as well as one's self so easily to dazzle the servants at the house of one's friends. But are we Americans ourselves destined after all to hunger after similar vanities on an infinitely more contemptible scale? And is individuality with us also going to count for nothing unless stamped and licensed and authenticated by some title-giving machine? Let us pray that our ancient national genius may long preserve vitality enough to guard us from a future so unmanly and so unbeautiful!
"The Ph.D. Octopus" was published in the Harvard Monthly of March 1903
* * *
**Back to [William James][1] **
[1]: https://www.uky.edu/Pajares/james.html#octopus

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[Source](http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Extras/Poincare_Intuition.html "Permalink to Poincar&eacute; on intuition in mathematics")
# Poincar&eacute; on intuition in mathematics
## Poincaré on intuition in mathematics
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**Henri Poincaré** published _Intuition and Logic in mathematics_ as part of _La valeur de la science_ in 1905. It was translated into English by G B Halsted and published in 1907 as part of Poincaré's _The Value of Science._ A version of Poincaré's article is below.
### Intuition and Logic in Mathematics
by
**Henri Poincaré**
**I**
It is impossible to study the works of the great mathematicians, or even those of the lesser, without noticing and distinguishing two opposite tendencies, or rather two entirely different kinds of minds. The one sort are above all preoccupied with logic; to read their works, one is tempted to believe they have advanced only step by step, after the manner of a Vauban who pushes on his trenches against the place besieged, leaving nothing to chance. The other sort are guided by intuition and at the first stroke make quick but sometimes precarious conquests, like bold cavalrymen of the advance guard.
The method is not imposed by the matter treated. Though one often says of the first that they are analysts and calls the others geometers, that does not prevent the one sort from remaining analysts even when they work at geometry, while the others are still geometers even when they occupy themselves with pure analysis. It is the very nature of their mind which makes them logicians or intuitionalists, and they can not lay it aside when they approach a new subject.
Nor is it education which has developed in them one of the two tendencies and stifled the other. The mathematician is born, not made, and it seems he is born a geometer or an analyst. I should like to cite examples and there are surely plenty; but to accentuate the contrast I shall begin with an extreme example, taking the liberty of seeking it in two living mathematicians.
M Méray wants to prove that a binomial equation always has a root, or, in ordinary words, that an angle may always be subdivided. If there is any truth that we think we know by direct intuition, it is this. Who could doubt that an angle may always be divided into any number of equal parts? M Méray does not look at it that way; in his eyes this proposition is not at all evident and to prove it he needs several pages.
On the other hand, look at Professor Klein: he is studying one of the most abstract questions of the theory of functions to determine whether on a given Riemann surface there always exists a function admitting of given singularities. What does the celebrated German geometer do? He replaces his Riemann surface by a metallic surface whose electric conductivity varies according to certain laws. He connects two of its points with the two poles of a battery. The current, says he, must pass, and the distribution of this current on the surface will define a function whose singularities will be precisely those called for by the enunciation.
Doubtless Professor Klein well knows he has given here only a sketch: nevertheless he has not hesitated to publish it; and he would probably believe he finds in it, if not a rigorous demonstration, at least a kind of moral certainty. A logician would have rejected with horror such a conception, or rather he would not have had to reject it, because in his mind it would never have originated.
Again, permit me to compare two men, the honour of French science, who have recently been taken from us, but who both entered long ago into immortality. I speak of M Bertrand and M Hermite. They were scholars of the same school at the same time; they had the same education, were under the same influences; and yet what a difference! Not only does it blaze forth in their writings; it is in their teaching, in their way of speaking, in their very look. In the memory of all their pupils these two faces are stamped in deathless lines; for all who have had the pleasure of following their teaching, this remembrance is still fresh; it is easy for us to evoke it.
While speaking, M Bertrand is always in motion; now he seems in combat with some outside enemy, now he outlines with a gesture of the hand the figures he studies. Plainly he sees and he is eager to paint, this is why he calls gesture to his aid. With M Hermite, it is just the opposite; his eyes seem to shun contact with the world; it is not without, it is within he seeks the vision of truth.
Among the German geometers of this century, two names above all are illustrious, those of the two scientists who have founded the general theory of functions, Weierstrass and Riemann. Weierstrass leads everything back to the consideration of series and their analytic transformations; to express it better, he reduces analysis to a sort of prolongation of arithmetic; you may turn through all his books without finding a figure. Riemann, on the contrary, at once calls geometry to his aid; each of his conceptions is an image that no one can forget, once he has caught its meaning.
More recently, Lie was an intuitionalist; this might have been doubted in reading his books, no one could doubt it after talking with him; you saw at once that he thought in pictures. Madame Kovalevski was a logician.
Among our students we notice the same differences; some prefer to treat their problems 'by analysis,' others 'by geometry.' The first are incapable of 'seeing in space,' the others are quickly tired of long calculations and become perplexed.
The two sorts of minds are equally necessary for the progress of science; both the logicians and the intuitionalists have achieved great things that others could not have done. Who would venture to say whether he preferred that Weierstrass had never written or that there had never been a Riemann? Analysis and synthesis have then both their legitimate roles. But it is interesting to study more closely in the history of science the part which belongs to each.
**II**
Strange! If we read over the works of the ancients we are tempted to class them all among the intuitionalists. And yet nature is always the same; it is hardly probable that it has begun in this century to create minds devoted to logic. If we could put ourselves into the flow of ideas which reigned in their time, we should recognize that many of the old geometers were in tendency analysts. Euclid, for example, erected a scientific structure wherein his contemporaries could find no fault. In this vast construction, of which each piece however is due to intuition, we may still to-day, without much effort, recognize the work of a logician.
It is not minds that have changed, it is ideas; the intuitional minds have remained the same; but their readers have required of them greater concessions.
What is the cause of this evolution? It is not hard to find. Intuition can not give us rigour, nor even certainty; this has been recognized more and more. Let us cite some examples. We know there exist continuous functions lacking derivatives. Nothing is more shocking to intuition than this proposition which is imposed upon us by logic. Our fathers would not have failed to say: "It is evident that every continuous function has a derivative, since every curve has a tangent."
How can intuition deceive us on this point? It is because when we seek to imagine a curve, we can not represent it to ourselves without width; just so, when we represent to ourselves a straight line, we see it under the form of a rectilinear band of a certain breadth. We well know these lines have no width; we try to imagine them narrower and narrower and thus to approach the limit; so we do in a certain measure, but we shall never attain this limit. And then it is clear we can always picture these two narrow bands, one straight, one curved, in a position such that they encroach slightly one upon the other without crossing. We shall thus be led, unless warned by a rigorous analysis, to conclude that a curve always has a tangent.
I shall take as second example Dirichlet's principle on which rest so many theorems of mathematical physics; to-day we establish it by reasonings very rigorous but very long; heretofore, on the contrary, we were content with a very summary proof. A certain integral depending on an arbitrary function can never vanish. Hence it is concluded that it must have a minimum. The flaw in this reasoning strikes us immediately, since we use the abstract term function and are familiar with all the singularities functions can present when the word is understood in the most general sense.
But it would not be the same had we used concrete images, had we, for example, considered this function as an electric potential; it would have been thought legitimate to affirm that electrostatic equilibrium can be attained. Yet perhaps a physical comparison would have awakened some vague distrust. But if care had been taken to translate the reasoning into the language of geometry, intermediate between that of analysis and that of physics, doubtless this distrust would not have been produced, and perhaps one might thus, even to-day, still deceive many readers not forewarned.
Intuition, therefore, does not give us certainty. This is why the evolution had to happen; let us now how it happened.
It was not slow in being noticed that rigour could not be introduced in the reasoning unless first made to enter into the definitions. For the most part the objects treated of by mathematicians were long in defined; they were supposed to be known because represented by means of the senses or the imagination; but one had only a crude image of them and not a precise idea on which reasoning could take hold. It was there first that the logicians had to direct their efforts.
So, in the case of incommensurable numbers. The vague idea of continuity, which we owe to intuition, resolved itself into a complicated system of inequalities referring to whole numbers.
By that means the difficulties arising from passing to the limit, or from the consideration of infinitesimals, are finally removed. To-day in analysis only whole numbers are left or systems, finite or infinite, of whole numbers bound together by a net of equality or inequality relations. Mathematics, as they say, is arithmetized.
**III**
A first question presents itself. Is this evolution ended? Have we finally attained absolute rigour? At each stage of the evolution our fathers also thought they had reached it. If they deceived themselves, do we not likewise cheat ourselves?
We believe that in our reasonings we no longer appeal to intuition; the philosophers will tell us this is an illusion. Pure logic could never lead us to anything but tautologies; it could create nothing new; not from it alone can any science issue. In one sense these philosophers are right; to make arithmetic, as to make geometry, or to make any science, something else than pure logic is necessary. To designate this something else we have no word other than intuition. But how many different ideas are hidden under this same word?
Compare these four axioms:
(1) Two quantities equal to a third are equal to one another;
(2) if a theorem is true of the number 1 and if we prove that it is true of _n_ \+ 1 if true for _n_, then will it be true of all whole numbers;
(3) if on a straight the point _C_ is between _A_ and _B_ and the point _D_ between _A_ and _C_, then the point _D_ will be between _A_ and _B_;
(4) through a given point there is not more than one parallel to a given straight.
All four are attributed to intuition, and yet the first is the enunciation of one of the rules of formal logic; the second is a real synthetic a priori judgment, it is the foundation of rigorous mathematical induction; the third is an appeal to the imagination; the fourth is a disguised definition.
Intuition is not necessarily founded on the evidence of the senses; the senses would soon become powerless; for example, we can not represent to ourselves a chiliagon, and yet we reason by intuition on polygons in general, which include the chiliagon as a particular case.
You know what Poncelet understood by the principle of continuity. What is true of a real quantity, said Poncelet, should be true of an imaginary quantity; what is true of the hyperbola whose asymptotes are real, should then be true of the ellipse whose asymptotes are imaginary. Poncelet was one of the most intuitive minds of this century; he was passionately, almost ostentatiously, so; he regarded the principle of continuity as one of his boldest conceptions, and yet this principle did not rest on the evidence of the senses. To assimilate the hyperbola to the ellipse was rather to contradict this evidence. It was only a sort of precocious and instinctive generalization which, moreover, I have no desire to defend.
We have then many kinds of intuition; first, the appeal to the senses and the imagination; next, generalization by induction, copied, so to speak, from the procedures of the experimental sciences; finally, we have the intuition of pure number, whence arose the second of the axioms just enunciated, which is able to create the real mathematical reasoning. I have shown above by examples that the first two can not give us certainty; but who will seriously doubt the third, who will doubt arithmetic?
Now in the analysis of to-day, when one cares to take the trouble to be rigorous, there can be nothing but syllogisms or appeals to this intuition of pure number, the only intuition which can not deceive us. It may be said that to-day absolute rigour is attained.
**IV**
The philosophers make still another objection: "What you gain in rigour," they say, "you lose in objectivity. You can rise toward your logical ideal only by cutting the bonds which attach you to reality. Your science is infallible, but it can only remain so by imprisoning itself in an ivory tower and renouncing all relation with the external world. From this seclusion it must go out when it would attempt the slightest application."
For example, I seek to show that some property pertains to some object whose concept seems to me at first indefinable, because it is intuitive. At first I fail or must content myself with approximate proofs; finally I decide to give to my object a precise definition, and this enables me to establish this property in an irreproachable manner.
"And then," say the philosophers, "it still remains to show that the object which corresponds to this definition is indeed the same made known to you by intuition; or else that some real and concrete object whose conformity with your intuitive idea you believe you immediately recognize corresponds to your new definition. Only then could you affirm that it has the property in question. You have only displaced the difficulty."
That is not exactly so; the difficulty has not been displaced, it has been divided. The proposition to be established was in reality composed of two different truths, at first not distinguished. The first was a mathematical truth, and it is now rigorously established. The second was an experimental verity. Experience alone can teach us that some real and concrete object corresponds or does not correspond to some abstract definition. This second verity is not mathematically demonstrated, but neither can it be, no more than can the empirical laws of the physical and natural sciences. It would be unreasonable to ask more.
Well, is it not a great advance to have distinguished what long was wrongly confused? Does this mean that nothing is left of this objection of the philosophers? That I do not intend to say; in becoming rigorous, mathematical science takes a character so artificial as to strike every one; it forgets its historical origins; we see how the questions can be answered, we no longer see how and why they are put.
This shows us that logic is not enough; that the science of demonstration is not all science and that intuition must retain its role as complement, I was about to say, as counterpoise or as antidote of logic.
I have already had occasion to insist on the place intuition should hold in the teaching of the mathematical sciences. Without it young minds could not make a beginning in the understanding of mathematics; they could not learn to love it and would see in it only a vain logomachy; above all, without intuition they would never become capable of applying mathematics. But now I wish before all to speak of the role of intuition in science itself. If it is useful to the student, it is still more so to the creative scientist.
**V**
We seek reality, but what is reality? The physiologists tell us that organisms are formed of cells; the chemists add that cells themselves are formed of atoms. Does this mean that these atoms or these cells constitute reality, or rather the sole reality? The way in which these cells are arranged and from which results the unity of the individual, is not it also a reality much more interesting than that of the isolated elements, and should a naturalist who had never studied the elephant except by means of the microscope think himself sufficiently acquainted with that animal?
Well, there is something analogous to this in mathematics. The logician cuts up, so to speak, each demonstration into a very great number of elementary operations; when we have examined these operations one after the other and ascertained that each is correct, are we to think we have grasped the real meaning of the demonstration? Shall we have understood it even when, by an effort of memory, we have become able to repeat this proof by reproducing all these elementary operations in just the order in which the inventor had arranged them? Evidently not; we shall not yet possess the entire reality; that I know not what which makes the unity of the demonstration will completely elude us.
Pure analysis puts at our disposal a multitude of procedures whose infallibility it guarantees; it opens to us a thousand different ways on which we can embark in all confidence; we are assured of meeting there no obstacles; but of all these ways, which will lead us most promptly to our goal? Who shall tell us which to choose? We need a faculty which makes us see the end from afar, and intuition is this faculty. It is necessary to the explorer for choosing his route; it is not less so to the one following his trail who wants to know why he chose it.
If you are present at a game of chess, it will not suffice, for the understanding of the game, to know the rules for moving the pieces. That will only enable you to recognize that each move has been made conformably to these rules, and this knowledge will truly have very little value. Yet this is what the reader of a book on mathematics would do if he were a logician only. To understand the game is wholly another matter; it is to know why the player moves this piece rather than that other which he could have moved without breaking the rules of the game. It is to perceive the inward reason which makes of this series of successive moves a sort of organized whole. This faculty is still more necessary for the player himself, that is, for the inventor.
Let us drop this comparison and return to mathematics. For example, see what has happened to the idea of continuous function. At the outset this was only a sensible image, for example, that of a continuous mark traced by the chalk on a blackboard. Then it became little by little more refined; ere long it was used to construct a complicated system of inequalities, which reproduced, so to speak, all the lines of the original image; this construction finished, the centring of the arch, so to say, was removed, that crude representation which had temporarily served as support and which was afterward useless was rejected; there remained only the construction itself, irreproachable in the eyes of the logician. And yet if the primitive image had totally disappeared from our recollection, how could we divine by what caprice all these inequalities were erected in this fashion one upon another?
Perhaps you think I use too many comparisons; yet pardon still another. You have doubtless seen those delicate assemblages of silicious needles which form the skeleton of certain sponges. When the organic matter has disappeared, there remains only a frail and elegant lace-work. True, nothing is there except silica, but what is interesting is the form this silica has taken, and we could not understand it if we did not know the living sponge which has given it precisely this form. Thus it is that the old intuitive notions of our fathers, even when we have abandoned them, still imprint their form upon the logical constructions we have put in their place.
This view of the aggregate is necessary for the inventor; it is equally necessary for whoever wishes really to comprehend the inventor. Can logic give it to us? No; the name mathematicians give it would suffice to prove this. In mathematics logic is called analysis and analysis means division, dissection. It can have, therefore, no tool other than the scalpel and the microscope.
Thus logic and intuition have each their necessary role. Each is indispensable. Logic, which alone can give certainty, is the instrument of demonstration; intuition is the instrument of invention.
**VI**
But at the moment of formulating this conclusion I am seized with scruples. At the outset I distinguished two kinds of mathematical minds, the one sort logicians and analysts, the others intuitionalists and geometers. Well, the analysts also have been inventors. The names I have just cited make my insistence on this unnecessary.
Here is a contradiction, at least apparently, which needs explanation. And first do you think these logicians have always proceeded from the general to the particular, as the rules of formal logic would seem to require of them? Not thus could they have extended the boundaries of science; scientific conquest is to be made only by generalization.
In one of the chapters of 'Science and Hypothesis,' I have had occasion to study the nature of mathematical reasoning, and I have shown how this reasoning, without ceasing to be absolutely rigorous, could lift us from the particular to the general by a procedure I have called mathematical induction. It is by this procedure that the analysts have made science progress, and if we examine the detail itself of their demonstrations, we shall find it there at each instant beside the classic syllogism of Aristotle. We, therefore, see already that the analysts are not simply makers of syllogisms after the fashion of the scholastics.
Besides, do you think they have always marched step by step with no vision of the goal they wished to attain? They must have divined the way leading thither, and for that they needed a guide. This guide is, first, analogy. For example, one of the methods of demonstration dear to analysts is that founded on the employment of dominant functions. We know it has already served to solve a multitude of problems; in what consists then the role of the inventor who wishes to apply it to a new problem? At the outset he must recognize the analogy of this question with those which have already been solved by this method; then he must perceive in what way this new question differs from the others, and thence deduce the modifications necessary to apply to the method.
But how does one perceive these analogies and these differences? In the example just cited they are almost always evident, but I could have found others where they would have been much more deeply hidden; often a very uncommon penetration is necessary for their discovery. The analysts, not to let these hidden analogies escape them, that is, in order to be inventors, must, without the aid of the senses and imagination, have a direct sense of what constitutes the unity of a piece of reasoning, of what makes, so to speak, its soul and inmost life.
When one talked with M Hermite, he never evoked a sensuous image, and yet you soon perceived that the most abstract entities were for him like living beings. He did not see them, but he perceived that they are not an artificial assemblage, and that they have some principle of internal unity.
But, one will say, that still is intuition. Shall we conclude that the distinction made at the outset was only apparent, that there is only one sort of mind and that all the mathematicians are intuitionalists, at least those who are capable of inventing?
No, our distinction corresponds to something real. I have said above that there are many kinds of intuition. I have said how much the intuition of pure number, whence comes rigorous mathematical induction, differs from sensible intuition to which the imagination, properly so called, is the principal contributor.
Is the abyss which separates them less profound than it at first appeared? Could we recognize with a little attention that this pure intuition itself could not do without the aid of the senses? This is the affair of the psychologist and the metaphysician and I shall not discuss the question. But the thing's being doubtful is enough to justify me in recognizing and affirming an essential difference between the two kinds of intuition; they have not the same object and seem to call into play two different faculties of our soul; one would think of two search-lights directed upon two worlds strangers to one another.
It is the intuition of pure number, that of pure logical forms, which illumines and directs those we have called analysts. This it is which enables them not alone to demonstrate, but also to invent. By it they perceive at a glance the general plan of a logical edifice, and that too without the senses appearing to intervene. In rejecting the aid of the imagination, which, as we have seen, is not always infallible, they can advance without fear of deceiving themselves. Happy, therefore, are those who can do without this aid!, We must admire them; but how rare they are!
Among the analysts there will then be inventors, but they will be few. The majority of us, if we wished to see afar by pure intuition alone, would soon feel ourselves seized with vertigo. Our weakness has need of a staff more solid, and, despite the exceptions of which we have just spoken, it is none the less true that sensible intuition is in mathematics the most usual instrument of invention.
Apropos of these reflections, a question comes up that I have not the time either to solve or even to enunciate with the developments it would admit of. Is there room for a new distinction, for distinguishing among the analysts those who above all use this pure intuition and those who are first of all preoccupied with formal logic?
M Hermite, for example, whom I have just cited, can not be classed among the geometers who make use of the sensible intuition; but neither is he a logician, properly so called. He does not conceal his aversion to purely deductive procedures which start from the general and end in the particular.
* * *
JOC/EFR August 2007
The URL of this page is:
http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Extras/Poincare_Intuition.html

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[12]: https://svbtle.com/promise

36
_stories/1909/7637635.md

@ -1,4 +1,6 @@
---
# Duplicate
blacklist: true
created_at: '2014-04-23T23:36:51.000Z'
title: The Machine Stops (1909)
url: http://archive.ncsa.illinois.edu/prajlich/forster.html
@ -20,27 +22,25 @@ objectID: '7637635'
year: 1909
---
[Source](http://archive.ncsa.illinois.edu/prajlich/forster.html "Permalink to THE MACHINE STOPS ... E.M. Forster ")
# THE MACHINE STOPS ... E.M. Forster
[Source](http://archive.ncsa.illinois.edu/prajlich/forster.html 'Permalink to THE MACHINE STOPS ... E.M. Forster ')
THE MACHINE STOPS ... E.M. Forster
# THE MACHINE STOPS ... E.M. Forster
THE MACHINE STOPS ... E.M. Forster
| ----- |
| ![][1]
![][2] |
| ![][1]
![][2] |
Anybody who uses the Internet should read E.M. Forster's _The Machine Stops_. It is a chilling, short story masterpiece about the role of technology in our lives. Written in 1909, it's as relevant today as the day it was published. Forster has several prescient notions including instant messages (email!) and cinematophoes (machines that project visual images).
Anybody who uses the Internet should read E.M. Forster's _The Machine Stops_. It is a chilling, short story masterpiece about the role of technology in our lives. Written in 1909, it's as relevant today as the day it was published. Forster has several prescient notions including instant messages (email!) and cinematophoes (machines that project visual images).
-Paul Rajlich ([homepage][3])
-Paul Rajlich ([homepage][3])
*Special thanks to Ken Kruszka for introducing me to this story. |
\*Special thanks to Ken Kruszka for introducing me to this story. |
| ----- |
|
|
# THE MACHINE STOPS
@ -54,7 +54,7 @@ Imagine, if you can, a small room, hexagonal in shape, like the cell of a bee. I
An electric bell rang.
The woman touched a switch and the music was silent.
The woman touched a switch and the music was silent.
"I suppose I must see who it is", she thought, and set her chair in motion. The chair, like the music, was worked by machinery and it rolled her to the other side of the room where the bell still rang importunately.
@ -368,7 +368,7 @@ She shook her head and said:
"But I had got back the sense of space and a man cannot rest then. I determined to get in at the hole and climb the shaft. And so I exercised my arms. Day after day I went through ridiculous movements, until my flesh ached, and I could hang by my hands and hold the pillow of my bed outstretched for many minutes. Then I summoned a respirator, and started.
"It was easy at first. The mortar had somehow rotted, and I soon pushed some more tiles in, and clambered after them into the darkness, and the spirits of the dead comforted me. I don"t know what I mean by that. I just say what I felt. I felt, for the first time, that a protest had been lodged against corruption, and that even as the dead were comforting me, so I was comforting the unborn. I felt that humanity existed, and that it existed without clothes. How can I possibly explain this? It was naked, humanity seemed naked, and all these tubes and buttons and machineries neither came into the world with us, nor will they follow us out, nor do they matter supremely while we are here. Had I been strong, I would have torn off every garment I had, and gone out into the outer air unswaddled. But this is not for me, nor perhaps for my generation. I climbed with my respirator and my hygienic clothes and my dietetic tabloids! Better thus than not at all.
"It was easy at first. The mortar had somehow rotted, and I soon pushed some more tiles in, and clambered after them into the darkness, and the spirits of the dead comforted me. I don"t know what I mean by that. I just say what I felt. I felt, for the first time, that a protest had been lodged against corruption, and that even as the dead were comforting me, so I was comforting the unborn. I felt that humanity existed, and that it existed without clothes. How can I possibly explain this? It was naked, humanity seemed naked, and all these tubes and buttons and machineries neither came into the world with us, nor will they follow us out, nor do they matter supremely while we are here. Had I been strong, I would have torn off every garment I had, and gone out into the outer air unswaddled. But this is not for me, nor perhaps for my generation. I climbed with my respirator and my hygienic clothes and my dietetic tabloids! Better thus than not at all.
"There was a ladder, made of some primval metal. The light from the railway fell upon its lowest rungs, and I saw that it led straight upwards out of the rubble at the bottom of the shaft. Perhaps our ancestors ran up and down it a dozen times daily, in their building. As I climbed, the rough edges cut through my gloves so that my hands bled. The light helped me for a little, and then came darkness and, worse still, silence which pierced my ears like a sword. The Machine hums! Did you know that? Its hum penetrates our blood, and may even guide our thoughts. Who knows! I was getting beyond its power. Then I thought: This silence means that I am doing wrong. But I heard voices in the silence, and again they strengthened me." He laughed. "I had need of them. The next moment I cracked my head against something."
@ -492,9 +492,9 @@ The first of these was the abolition of respirator.
Advanced thinkers, like Vashti, had always held it foolish to visit the surface of the earth. Air-ships might be necessary, but what was the good of going out for mere curiosity and crawling along for a mile or two in a terrestrial motor? The habit was vulgar and perhaps faintly improper: it was unproductive of ideas, and had no connection with the habits that really mattered. So respirators were abolished, and with them, of course, the terrestrial motors, and except for a few lecturers, who complained that they were debarred access to their subject- matter, the development was accepted quietly. Those who still wanted to know what the earth was like had after all only to listen to some gramophone, or to look into some cinematophote. And even the lecturers acquiesced when they found that a lecture on the sea was none the less stimulating when compiled out of other lectures that had already been delivered on the same subject. "Beware of first- hand ideas!" exclaimed one of the most advanced of them. "First-hand ideas do not really exist. They are but the physical impressions produced by live and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy? Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element - direct observation. Do not learn anything about this subject of mine - the French Revolution. Learn instead what I think that Enicharmon thought Urizen thought Gutch thought Ho-Yung thought Chi-Bo-Sing thought LafcadioHearn thought Carlyle thought Mirabeau said about the French Revolution. Through the medium of these ten great minds, the blood that was shed at Paris and the windows that were broken at Versailles will be clarified to an idea which you may employ most profitably in your daily lives. But be sure that the intermediates are many and varied, for in history one authority exists to counteract another. Urizen must counteract the scepticism of Ho-Yung and Enicharmon, I must myself counteract the impetuosity of Gutch. You who listen to me are in a better position to judge about the French Revolution than I am. Your descendants will be even in a better position than you, for they will learn what you think I think, and yet another intermediate will be added to the chain. And in time" - his voice rose - "there will come a generation that had got beyond facts, beyond impressions, a generation absolutely colourless, a generation
_seraphically free
\_seraphically free
From taint of personality,_
From taint of personality,\_
which will see the French Revolution not as it happened, nor as they would like it to have happened, but as it would have happened, had it taken place in the days of the Machine."
@ -654,16 +654,12 @@ He replied:
As he spoke, the whole city was broken like a honeycomb. An air-ship had sailed in through the vomitory into a ruined wharf. It crashed downwards, exploding as it went, rending gallery after gallery with its wings of steel. For a moment they saw the nations of the dead, and, before they joined them, scraps of the untainted sky.
The "Machine Stops" was first published in the Oxford and Cambridge Review in 1909
Copyright ©1947 E.M. Forster
|
|
[1]: http://archive.ncsa.illinois.edu/desk1cut_s.jpg
[2]: http://archive.ncsa.illinois.edu/blank.gif
[3]: http://archive.ncsa.illinois.edu/index.html

56
_stories/1910/9233016.md

@ -18,11 +18,12 @@ _tags:
- story_9233016
objectID: '9233016'
year: 1910
blacklist: true
---
[Source](http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2015/03/16/history_of_the_american_telephone_system_map_of_bell_coverage_in_1910.html "Permalink to History of the American telephone system: Map of Bell coverage in 1910. ")
# History of the American telephone system: Map of Bell coverage in 1910.
[Source](http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_vault/2015/03/16/history_of_the_american_telephone_system_map_of_bell_coverage_in_1910.html 'Permalink to History of the American telephone system: Map of Bell coverage in 1910. ')
# History of the American telephone system: Map of Bell coverage in 1910.
[ Slate logo ][3]
@ -52,7 +53,7 @@ Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
March 16 2015 12:04 PM
#
#
A Telephone Map of the United States Shows Where You Could Call Using Ma Bell in 1910
@ -62,7 +63,7 @@ A Telephone Map of the United States Shows Where You Could Call Using Ma Bell in
[ ][5]
##
##
By [Rebecca Onion][10]
@ -76,13 +77,13 @@ By [Rebecca Onion][10]
[   ][12]
_The Vault is_**_ Slate_**_'s history blog. Like us on [__Facebook_][13]_, follow us on Twitter [__@slatevault_][14]_, and find us on [__Tumblr._][15]_ Find out more about what this space is all about [__here_][16]_._
_The Vault is_**_ Slate_**_'s history blog. Like us on [\_\_Facebook_][13]_, follow us on Twitter [\_\_@slatevault_][14]_, and find us on [\_\_Tumblr._][15]_ Find out more about what this space is all about [\_\_here_][16]_._
There were [5.8 million telephones][17] in the Bell/AT&T network in 1910, when this map was published. It shows the uneven development of early telephone service in the United States, and gives us a sense of which places could speak to each other over Bell’s long-distance lines in the first decade of the 20th century.                          
There were [5.8 million telephones][17] in the Bell/AT&T network in 1910, when this map was published. It shows the uneven development of early telephone service in the United States, and gives us a sense of which places could speak to each other over Bell’s long-distance lines in the first decade of the 20th century.
The Bell Telephone Company, which was [founded in 1877][18], faced some competition early on from Western Union, but then [enjoyed a virtual monopoly][19] on telephone service until 1894, when some of Bell’s patents expired. Sociologist Claude Fischer [writes][20] of the years after that expiration: “Within a decade literally thousands of new telephone ventures emerged across the United States.” Some of those independents went into rural areas that Bell had not covered, because the company had focused on developing service in the business centers of the East Coast. 
The Bell Telephone Company, which was [founded in 1877][18], faced some competition early on from Western Union, but then [enjoyed a virtual monopoly][19] on telephone service until 1894, when some of Bell’s patents expired. Sociologist Claude Fischer [writes][20] of the years after that expiration: “Within a decade literally thousands of new telephone ventures emerged across the United States.” Some of those independents went into rural areas that Bell had not covered, because the company had focused on developing service in the business centers of the East Coast.
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By the time this map was printed, Bell had tried several different strategies, clean and dirty, to fight back against its competition, including (Fischer writes) “leveraging its monopoly on long-distance service,” pursing patent suits, controlling vendors of telephone equipment, and simply using its deep pockets to outlast smaller companies that tried to enter the market.
@ -96,7 +97,7 @@ _Click on the image to reach a zoomable version, or [visit the map's page][22] o
David Rumsey Map Collection.
[Rebecca Onion][24] is a _**Slate**_ staff writer and the author of [_Innocent Experiments][25]_. 
[Rebecca Onion][24] is a _**Slate**_ staff writer and the author of [\_Innocent Experiments][25]\_.
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@ -126,25 +127,25 @@ Load Comments
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@ -180,7 +181,7 @@ Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. All contents
[20]: http://books.google.com/books?id=0yE-CP4SmlYC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA42#v=onepage&q&f=false
[21]: http://www.corp.att.com/attlabs/reputation/timeline/15tel.html
[22]: http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~200183~3000108:Lines-Of-The-Bell-Telephone-Compani?trs=242&sort=Pub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No&mi=124&qvq=q%3Abatch001%3Bsort%3APub_List_No_InitialSort%2CPub_Date%2CPub_List_No%2CSeries_No%3Blc%3ARUMSEY~8~1#
[23]: http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/blogs/the_vault/2015/03/16/TelephoneMap.jpg.CROP.original-original.jpg "TelephoneMap"
[23]: http://www.slate.com/content/dam/slate/blogs/the_vault/2015/03/16/TelephoneMap.jpg.CROP.original-original.jpg 'TelephoneMap'
[24]: http://www.rebeccaonion.com/
[25]: http://www.amazon.com/dp/146962947X/?tag=slatmaga-20
[26]: whatsapp://send?text=A%20Telephone%20Map%20of%20the%20United%20States%20Shows%20Where%20You%20Could%20Call%20Using%20Ma%20Bell%20in%201910%20http%3A%2F%2Fwww.slate.com%2Fblogs%2Fthe_vault%2F2015%2F03%2F16%2Fhistory_of_the_american_telephone_system_map_of_bell_coverage_in_1910.html%3Fwpsrc%3Dsh_all_mob_wa_bot
@ -202,4 +203,3 @@ Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. All contents
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7
_stories/1922/4969041.md

@ -1,4 +1,5 @@
---
blacklist: true
created_at: '2012-12-26T12:30:37.000Z'
title: Why I Quit Being So Accommodating (1922)
url: http://mikecanex.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/1922-why-i-quit-being-so-accommodating/
@ -20,9 +21,7 @@ objectID: '4969041'
year: 1922
---
[Source](https://mikecanex.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/1922-why-i-quit-being-so-accommodating/ "Permalink to 1922: Why I Quit Being So Accommodating | Mike Cane’s xBlog")
# 1922: Why I Quit Being So Accommodating | Mike Cane’s xBlog
[Source](https://mikecanex.wordpress.com/2012/12/26/1922-why-i-quit-being-so-accommodating/ 'Permalink to 1922: Why I Quit Being So Accommodating | Mike Cane’s xBlog')
# 1922: Why I Quit Being So Accommodating | Mike Cane’s xBlog

42
_stories/1928/6545132.md

@ -1,4 +1,6 @@
---
# Duplicate entry
blacklist: true
created_at: '2013-10-14T02:47:46.000Z'
title: On being the right size (1928)
url: https://www.marxists.org/archive/haldane/works/1920s/right-size.htm
@ -20,54 +22,52 @@ objectID: '6545132'
year: 1928
---
[Source](https://www.marxists.org/archive/haldane/works/1920s/right-size.htm "Permalink to Plato&#8217;s Idealism by J. B. S. Haldane 1928")
[Source](https://www.marxists.org/archive/haldane/works/1920s/right-size.htm 'Permalink to Plato’s Idealism by J. B. S. Haldane 1928')
# Plato&#8217;s Idealism by J. B. S. Haldane 1928
J. B. S. Haldane 1928
### On Being the Right Size
### On Being the Right Size
* * *
---
Written: 1928;
Source: On Being the Right Size and Other Essays _Oxford University Press_ 1985;
Transcribed: Harrison Fluss for marxists.org, February 2008.
* * *
The most obvious differences between different animals are differences of size, but for some reason the zoologists have paid singularly little attention to them. In a large textbook of zoology before me I find no indication that the eagle is larger than the sparrow, or the hippopotamus bigger than the hare, though some grudging admissions are made in the case of the mouse and the whale. But yet it is easy to show that a hare could not be as large as a hippopotamus, or a whale as small as a herring. For every type of animal there is a most convenient size, and a large change in size inevitably carries with it a change of form.
---
Let us take the most obvious of possible cases, and consider a giant man sixty feet high-about the height of Giant Pope and Giant Pagan in the illustrated Pilgrim’s Progress of my childhood. These monsters were not only ten times as high as Christian, but ten times as wide and ten times as thick, so that their total weight was a thousand times his, or about eighty to ninety tons. Unfortunately the cross sections of their bones were only a hundred times those of Christian, so that every square inch of giant bone had to support ten times the weight borne by a square inch of human bone. As the human thigh-bone breaks under about ten times the human weight, Pope and Pagan would have broken their thighs every time they took a step. This was doubtless why they were sitting down in the picture I remember. But it lessens one’s respect for Christian and Jack the Giant Killer.
The most obvious differences between different animals are differences of size, but for some reason the zoologists have paid singularly little attention to them. In a large textbook of zoology before me I find no indication that the eagle is larger than the sparrow, or the hippopotamus bigger than the hare, though some grudging admissions are made in the case of the mouse and the whale. But yet it is easy to show that a hare could not be as large as a hippopotamus, or a whale as small as a herring. For every type of animal there is a most convenient size, and a large change in size inevitably carries with it a change of form.
To turn to zoology, suppose that a gazelle, a graceful little creature with long thin legs, is to become large, it will break its bones unless it does one of two things. It may make its legs short and thick, like the rhinoceros, so that every pound of weight has still about the same area of bone to support it. Or it can compress its body and stretch out its legs obliquely to gain stability, like the giraffe. I mention these two beasts because they happen to belong to the same order as the gazelle, and both are quite successful mechanically, being remarkably fast runners.
Let us take the most obvious of possible cases, and consider a giant man sixty feet high-about the height of Giant Pope and Giant Pagan in the illustrated Pilgrim’s Progress of my childhood. These monsters were not only ten times as high as Christian, but ten times as wide and ten times as thick, so that their total weight was a thousand times his, or about eighty to ninety tons. Unfortunately the cross sections of their bones were only a hundred times those of Christian, so that every square inch of giant bone had to support ten times the weight borne by a square inch of human bone. As the human thigh-bone breaks under about ten times the human weight, Pope and Pagan would have broken their thighs every time they took a step. This was doubtless why they were sitting down in the picture I remember. But it lessens one’s respect for Christian and Jack the Giant Killer.
Gravity, a mere nuisance to Christian, was a terror to Pope, Pagan, and Despair. To the mouse and any smaller animal it presents practically no dangers. You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes. For the resistance presented to movement by the air is proportional to the surface of the moving object. Divide an animal’s length, breadth, and height each by ten; its weight is reduced to a thousandth, but its surface only to a hundredth. So the resistance to falling in the case of the small animal is relatively ten times greater than the driving force.
To turn to zoology, suppose that a gazelle, a graceful little creature with long thin legs, is to become large, it will break its bones unless it does one of two things. It may make its legs short and thick, like the rhinoceros, so that every pound of weight has still about the same area of bone to support it. Or it can compress its body and stretch out its legs obliquely to gain stability, like the giraffe. I mention these two beasts because they happen to belong to the same order as the gazelle, and both are quite successful mechanically, being remarkably fast runners.
An insect, therefore, is not afraid of gravity; it can fall without danger, and can cling to the ceiling with remarkably little trouble. It can go in for elegant and fantastic forms of support like that of the daddy-longlegs. But there is a force which is as formidable to an insect as gravitation to a mammal. This is surface tension. A man coming out of a bath carries with him a film of water of about one-fiftieth of an inch in thickness. This weighs roughly a pound. A wet mouse has to carry about its own weight of water. A wet fly has to lift many times its own weight and, as everyone knows, a fly once wetted by water or any other liquid is in a very serious position indeed. An insect going for a drink is in as great danger as a man leaning out over a precipice in search of food. If it once falls into the grip of the surface tension of the water – that is to say, gets wet – it is likely to remain so until it drowns. A few insects, such as water-beetles, contrive to be unwettable; the majority keep well away from their drink by means of a long proboscis.
Gravity, a mere nuisance to Christian, was a terror to Pope, Pagan, and Despair. To the mouse and any smaller animal it presents practically no dangers. You can drop a mouse down a thousand-yard mine shaft; and, on arriving at the bottom, it gets a slight shock and walks away, provided that the ground is fairly soft. A rat is killed, a man is broken, a horse splashes. For the resistance presented to movement by the air is proportional to the surface of the moving object. Divide an animal’s length, breadth, and height each by ten; its weight is reduced to a thousandth, but its surface only to a hundredth. So the resistance to falling in the case of the small animal is relatively ten times greater than the driving force.
Of course tall land animals have other difficulties. They have to pump their blood to greater heights than a man, and, therefore, require a larger blood pressure and tougher blood-vessels. A great many men die from burst arteries, especially in the brain, and this danger is presumably still greater for an elephant or a giraffe. But animals of all kinds find difficulties in size for the following reason. A typical small animal, say a microscopic worm or rotifer, has a smooth skin through which all the oxygen it requires can soak in, a straight gut with sufficient surface to absorb its food, and a single kidney. Increase its dimensions tenfold in every direction, and its weight is increased a thousand times, so that if it is to use its muscles as efficiently as its miniature counterpart, it will need a thousand times as much food and oxygen per day and will excrete a thousand times as much of waste products.
An insect, therefore, is not afraid of gravity; it can fall without danger, and can cling to the ceiling with remarkably little trouble. It can go in for elegant and fantastic forms of support like that of the daddy-longlegs. But there is a force which is as formidable to an insect as gravitation to a mammal. This is surface tension. A man coming out of a bath carries with him a film of water of about one-fiftieth of an inch in thickness. This weighs roughly a pound. A wet mouse has to carry about its own weight of water. A wet fly has to lift many times its own weight and, as everyone knows, a fly once wetted by water or any other liquid is in a very serious position indeed. An insect going for a drink is in as great danger as a man leaning out over a precipice in search of food. If it once falls into the grip of the surface tension of the water – that is to say, gets wet – it is likely to remain so until it drowns. A few insects, such as water-beetles, contrive to be unwettable; the majority keep well away from their drink by means of a long proboscis.
Now if its shape is unaltered its surface will be increased only a hundredfold, and ten times as much oxygen must enter per minute through each square millimetre of skin, ten times as much food through each square millimetre of intestine. When a limit is reached to their absorptive powers their surface has to be increased by some special device. For example, a part of the skin may be drawn out into tufts to make gills or pushed in to make lungs, thus increasing the oxygen-absorbing surface in proportion to the animal’s bulk. A man, for example, has a hundred square yards of lung. Similarly, the gut, instead of being smooth and straight, becomes coiled and develops a velvety surface, and other organs increase in complication. The higher animals are not larger than the lower because they are more complicated. They are more complicated because they are larger. Just the same is true of plants. The simplest plants, such as the green algae growing in stagnant water or on the bark of trees, are mere round cells. The higher plants increase their surface by putting out leaves and roots. Comparative anatomy is largely the story of the struggle to increase surface in proportion to volume. Some of the methods of increasing the surface are useful up to a point, but not capable of a very wide adaptation. For example, while vertebrates carry the oxygen from the gills or lungs all over the body in the blood, insects take air directly to every part of their body by tiny blind tubes called tracheae which open to the surface at many different points. Now, although by their breathing movements they can renew the air in the outer part of the tracheal system, the oxygen has to penetrate the finer branches by means of diffusion. Gases can diffuse easily through very small distances, not many times larger than the average length traveled by a gas molecule between collisions with other molecules. But when such vast journeys – from the point of view of a molecule – as a quarter of an inch have to be made, the process becomes slow. So the portions of an insect’s body more than a quarter of an inch from the air would always be short of oxygen. In consequence hardly any insects are much more than half an inch thick. Land crabs are built on the same general plan as insects, but are much clumsier. Yet like ourselves they carry oxygen around in their blood, and are therefore able to grow far larger than any insects. If the insects had hit on a plan for driving air through their tissues instead of letting it soak in, they might well have become as large as lobsters, though other considerations would have prevented them from becoming as large as man.
Of course tall land animals have other difficulties. They have to pump their blood to greater heights than a man, and, therefore, require a larger blood pressure and tougher blood-vessels. A great many men die from burst arteries, especially in the brain, and this danger is presumably still greater for an elephant or a giraffe. But animals of all kinds find difficulties in size for the following reason. A typical small animal, say a microscopic worm or rotifer, has a smooth skin through which all the oxygen it requires can soak in, a straight gut with sufficient surface to absorb its food, and a single kidney. Increase its dimensions tenfold in every direction, and its weight is increased a thousand times, so that if it is to use its muscles as efficiently as its miniature counterpart, it will need a thousand times as much food and oxygen per day and will excrete a thousand times as much of waste products.
Exactly the same difficulties attach to flying. It is an elementary principle of aeronautics that the minimum speed needed to keep an aeroplane of a given shape in the air varies as the square root of its length. If its linear dimensions are increased four times, it must fly twice as fast. Now the power needed for the minimum speed increases more rapidly than the weight of the machine. So the larger aeroplane, which weighs sixty-four times as much as the smaller, needs one hundred and twenty-eight times its horsepower to keep up. Applying the same principle to the birds, we find that the limit to their size is soon reached. An angel whose muscles developed no more power weight for weight than those of an eagle or a pigeon would require a breast projecting for about four feet to house the muscles engaged in working its wings, while to economize in weight, its legs would have to be reduced to mere stilts. Actually a large bird such as an eagle or kite does not keep in the air mainly by moving its wings. It is generally to be seen soaring, that is to say balanced on a rising column of air. And even soaring becomes more and more difficult with increasing size. Were this not the case eagles might be as large as tigers and as formidable to man as hostile aeroplanes.
Now if its shape is unaltered its surface will be increased only a hundredfold, and ten times as much oxygen must enter per minute through each square millimetre of skin, ten times as much food through each square millimetre of intestine. When a limit is reached to their absorptive powers their surface has to be increased by some special device. For example, a part of the skin may be drawn out into tufts to make gills or pushed in to make lungs, thus increasing the oxygen-absorbing surface in proportion to the animal’s bulk. A man, for example, has a hundred square yards of lung. Similarly, the gut, instead of being smooth and straight, becomes coiled and develops a velvety surface, and other organs increase in complication. The higher animals are not larger than the lower because they are more complicated. They are more complicated because they are larger. Just the same is true of plants. The simplest plants, such as the green algae growing in stagnant water or on the bark of trees, are mere round cells. The higher plants increase their surface by putting out leaves and roots. Comparative anatomy is largely the story of the struggle to increase surface in proportion to volume. Some of the methods of increasing the surface are useful up to a point, but not capable of a very wide adaptation. For example, while vertebrates carry the oxygen from the gills or lungs all over the body in the blood, insects take air directly to every part of their body by tiny blind tubes called tracheae which open to the surface at many different points. Now, although by their breathing movements they can renew the air in the outer part of the tracheal system, the oxygen has to penetrate the finer branches by means of diffusion. Gases can diffuse easily through very small distances, not many times larger than the average length traveled by a gas molecule between collisions with other molecules. But when such vast journeys – from the point of view of a molecule – as a quarter of an inch have to be made, the process becomes slow. So the portions of an insect’s body more than a quarter of an inch from the air would always be short of oxygen. In consequence hardly any insects are much more than half an inch thick. Land crabs are built on the same general plan as insects, but are much clumsier. Yet like ourselves they carry oxygen around in their blood, and are therefore able to grow far larger than any insects. If the insects had hit on a plan for driving air through their tissues instead of letting it soak in, they might well have become as large as lobsters, though other considerations would have prevented them from becoming as large as man.
But it is time that we pass to some of the advantages of size. One of the most obvious is that it enables one to keep warm. All warm-blooded animals at rest lose the same amount of heat from a unit area of skin, for which purpose they need a food-supply proportional to their surface and not to their weight. Five thousand mice weigh as much as a man. Their combined surface and food or oxygen consumption are about seventeen times a man’s. In fact a mouse eats about one quarter its own weight of food every day, which is mainly used in keeping it warm. For the same reason small animals cannot live in cold countries. In the arctic regions there are no reptiles or amphibians, and no small mammals. The smallest mammal in Spitzbergen is the fox. The small birds fly away in winter, while the insects die, though their eggs can survive six months or more of frost. The most successful mammals are bears, seals, and walruses.
Exactly the same difficulties attach to flying. It is an elementary principle of aeronautics that the minimum speed needed to keep an aeroplane of a given shape in the air varies as the square root of its length. If its linear dimensions are increased four times, it must fly twice as fast. Now the power needed for the minimum speed increases more rapidly than the weight of the machine. So the larger aeroplane, which weighs sixty-four times as much as the smaller, needs one hundred and twenty-eight times its horsepower to keep up. Applying the same principle to the birds, we find that the limit to their size is soon reached. An angel whose muscles developed no more power weight for weight than those of an eagle or a pigeon would require a breast projecting for about four feet to house the muscles engaged in working its wings, while to economize in weight, its legs would have to be reduced to mere stilts. Actually a large bird such as an eagle or kite does not keep in the air mainly by moving its wings. It is generally to be seen soaring, that is to say balanced on a rising column of air. And even soaring becomes more and more difficult with increasing size. Were this not the case eagles might be as large as tigers and as formidable to man as hostile aeroplanes.
Similarly, the eye is a rather inefficient organ until it reaches a large size. The back of the human eye on which an image of the outside world is thrown, and which corresponds to the film of a camera, is composed of a mosaic of “rods and cones” whose diameter is little more than a length of an average light wave. Each eye has about a half a million, and for two objects to be distinguishable their images must fall on separate rods or cones. It is obvious that with fewer but larger rods and cones we should see less distinctly. If they were twice as broad two points would have to be twice as far apart before we could distinguish them at a given distance. But if their size were diminished and their number increased we should see no better. For it is impossible to form a definite image smaller than a wave-length of light. Hence a mouse’s eye is not a small-scale model of a human eye. Its rods and cones are not much smaller than ours, and therefore there are far fewer of them. A mouse could not distinguish one human face from another six feet away. In order that they should be of any use at all the eyes of small animals have to be much larger in proportion to their bodies than our own. Large animals on the other hand only require relatively small eyes, and those of the whale and elephant are little larger than our own. For rather more recondite reasons the same general principle holds true of the brain. If we compare the brain-weights of a set of very similar animals such as the cat, cheetah, leopard, and tiger, we find that as we quadruple the body-weight the brain-weight is only doubled. The larger animal with proportionately larger bones can economize on brain, eyes, and certain other organs.
But it is time that we pass to some of the advantages of size. One of the most obvious is that it enables one to keep warm. All warm-blooded animals at rest lose the same amount of heat from a unit area of skin, for which purpose they need a food-supply proportional to their surface and not to their weight. Five thousand mice weigh as much as a man. Their combined surface and food or oxygen consumption are about seventeen times a man’s. In fact a mouse eats about one quarter its own weight of food every day, which is mainly used in keeping it warm. For the same reason small animals cannot live in cold countries. In the arctic regions there are no reptiles or amphibians, and no small mammals. The smallest mammal in Spitzbergen is the fox. The small birds fly away in winter, while the insects die, though their eggs can survive six months or more of frost. The most successful mammals are bears, seals, and walruses.
Such are a very few of the considerations which show that for every type of animal there is an optimum size. Yet although Galileo demonstrated the contrary more than three hundred years ago, people still believe that if a flea were as large as a man it could jump a thousand feet into the air. As a matter of fact the height to which an animal can jump is more nearly independent of its size than proportional to it. A flea can jump about two feet, a man about five. To jump a given height, if we neglect the resistance of air, requires an expenditure of energy proportional to the jumper’s weight. But if the jumping muscles form a constant fraction of the animal’s body, the energy developed per ounce of muscle is independent of the size, provided it can be developed quickly enough in the small animal. As a matter of fact an insect’s muscles, although they can contract more quickly than our own, appear to be less efficient; as otherwise a flea or grasshopper could rise six feet into the air.
Similarly, the eye is a rather inefficient organ until it reaches a large size. The back of the human eye on which an image of the outside world is thrown, and which corresponds to the film of a camera, is composed of a mosaic of “rods and cones” whose diameter is little more than a length of an average light wave. Each eye has about a half a million, and for two objects to be distinguishable their images must fall on separate rods or cones. It is obvious that with fewer but larger rods and cones we should see less distinctly. If they were twice as broad two points would have to be twice as far apart before we could distinguish them at a given distance. But if their size were diminished and their number increased we should see no better. For it is impossible to form a definite image smaller than a wave-length of light. Hence a mouse’s eye is not a small-scale model of a human eye. Its rods and cones are not much smaller than ours, and therefore there are far fewer of them. A mouse could not distinguish one human face from another six feet away. In order that they should be of any use at all the eyes of small animals have to be much larger in proportion to their bodies than our own. Large animals on the other hand only require relatively small eyes, and those of the whale and elephant are little larger than our own. For rather more recondite reasons the same general principle holds true of the brain. If we compare the brain-weights of a set of very similar animals such as the cat, cheetah, leopard, and tiger, we find that as we quadruple the body-weight the brain-weight is only doubled. The larger animal with proportionately larger bones can economize on brain, eyes, and certain other organs.
And just as there is a best size for every animal, so the same is true for every human institution. In the Greek type of democracy all the citizens could listen to a series of orators and vote directly on questions of legislation. Hence their philosophers held that a small city was the largest possible democratic state. The English invention of representative government made a democratic nation possible, and the possibility was first realized in the United States, and later elsewhere. With the development of broadcasting it has once more become possible for every citizen to listen to the political views of representative orators, and the future may perhaps see the return of the national state to the Greek form of democracy. Even the referendum has been made possible only by the institution of daily newspapers.
Such are a very few of the considerations which show that for every type of animal there is an optimum size. Yet although Galileo demonstrated the contrary more than three hundred years ago, people still believe that if a flea were as large as a man it could jump a thousand feet into the air. As a matter of fact the height to which an animal can jump is more nearly independent of its size than proportional to it. A flea can jump about two feet, a man about five. To jump a given height, if we neglect the resistance of air, requires an expenditure of energy proportional to the jumper’s weight. But if the jumping muscles form a constant fraction of the animal’s body, the energy developed per ounce of muscle is independent of the size, provided it can be developed quickly enough in the small animal. As a matter of fact an insect’s muscles, although they can contract more quickly than our own, appear to be less efficient; as otherwise a flea or grasshopper could rise six feet into the air.
To the biologist the problem of socialism appears largely as a problem of size. The extreme socialists desire to run every nation as a single business concern. I do not suppose that Henry Ford would find much difficulty in running Andorra or Luxembourg on a socialistic basis. He has already more men on his pay-roll than their population. It is conceivable that a syndicate of Fords, if we could find them, would make Belgium Ltd or Denmark Inc. pay their way. But while nationalization of certain industries is an obvious possibility in the largest of states, I find it no easier to picture a completely socialized British Empire or United States than an elephant turning somersaults or a hippopotamus jumping a hedge.
And just as there is a best size for every animal, so the same is true for every human institution. In the Greek type of democracy all the citizens could listen to a series of orators and vote directly on questions of legislation. Hence their philosophers held that a small city was the largest possible democratic state. The English invention of representative government made a democratic nation possible, and the possibility was first realized in the United States, and later elsewhere. With the development of broadcasting it has once more become possible for every citizen to listen to the political views of representative orators, and the future may perhaps see the return of the national state to the Greek form of democracy. Even the referendum has been made possible only by the institution of daily newspapers.
 
To the biologist the problem of socialism appears largely as a problem of size. The extreme socialists desire to run every nation as a single business concern. I do not suppose that Henry Ford would find much difficulty in running Andorra or Luxembourg on a socialistic basis. He has already more men on his pay-roll than their population. It is conceivable that a syndicate of Fords, if we could find them, would make Belgium Ltd or Denmark Inc. pay their way. But while nationalization of certain industries is an obvious possibility in the largest of states, I find it no easier to picture a completely socialized British Empire or United States than an elephant turning somersaults or a hippopotamus jumping a hedge.
* * *
---
[JBS Haldane Archive][1] | [Literary Criticism Archive][2]
[1]: https://www.marxists.org/index.htm
[2]: https://www.marxists.org/subject/art/lit_crit/index.htm

26
_stories/1928/8950404.md

@ -1,4 +1,6 @@
---
# Duplicate entry
blacklist: true
created_at: '2015-01-26T23:45:53.000Z'
title: On Being the Right Size (1928)
url: http://irl.cs.ucla.edu/papers/right-size.html
@ -20,21 +22,22 @@ objectID: '8950404'
year: 1928
---
[Source](http://irl.cs.ucla.edu/papers/right-size.html "Permalink to Haldane, On Being the Right Size")
[Source](http://irl.cs.ucla.edu/papers/right-size.html 'Permalink to Haldane, On Being the Right Size')
# Haldane, On Being the Right Size
This paper was originally grabbed from [ the reading list][1] of a course Prof. Kurose taught at UMass.
This paper was originally grabbed from [ the reading list][1] of a course Prof. Kurose taught at UMass.
* * *
---
Note: This essay was originally published in 1928 (long before computer networks were invented :-) ) and discussed size in the natural (biological) world and systems.  As you read it, think about whether there is a "right size" for a network (or a piece of a network such as an Autonomous System), and what aspects of a network determine the "right size."  You might also find the political statements at the end of interest.****
Note on 12/19/2011: we fixed a number of typos and missing words in the earlier version.
[PDF version][2]
****
Note: This essay was originally published in 1928 (long before computer networks were invented :-) ) and discussed size in the natural (biological) world and systems.  As you read it, think about whether there is a "right size" for a network (or a piece of a network such as an Autonomous System), and what aspects of a network determine the "right size."  You might also find the political statements at the end of interest.\*\*\*\*
Note on 12/19/2011: we fixed a number of typos and missing words in the earlier version.
[PDF version][2]
**On Being the Right Size**
---
**On Being the Right Size**
**J. B. S. Haldane**
The most obvious differences between different animals are differences of size, but for some reason the zoologists have paid singularly little attention to them. In a large textbook of zoology before me I find no indication that the eagle is larger than the sparrow, or the hippopotamus bigger than the hare, though some grudging admissions are made in the case of the mouse and the whale. But yet it is easy to show that a hare could not be as large as a hippopotamus, or a whale as small as a herring. For every type of animal there is a most convenient size, and a large change in size inevitably carries with it a change of form.
@ -61,10 +64,7 @@ Such are a very few of the considerations which show that for every type of anim
And just as there is a best size for every animal, so the same is true for every human institution. In the Greek type of democracy all the citizens could listen to a series of orators and vote directly on questions of legislation. Hence their philosophers held that a small city was the largest possible democratic state. The English invention of representative government made a democratic nation possible, and the possibility was first realized in the United States, and later elsewhere. With the development of broadcasting it has once more become possible for every citizen to listen to the political views of representative orators, and the future may perhaps see the return of the national state to the Greek form of democracy. Even the referendum has been made possible only by the institution of daily newspapers.
To the biologist the problem of socialism appears largely as a problem of size. The extreme socialists desire to run every nation as a single business concern. I do not suppose that Henry Ford would find much difficulty in running Andorra or Luxembourg on a socialistic basis. He has already more men on his pay-roll than their population. It is conceivable that a syndicate of Fords, if we could find them, would make Belgium Ltd or Denmark Inc. pay their way. But while nationalization of certain industries is an obvious possibility in the largest of states, I find it no easier to picture a completely socialized British Empire or United States than an elephant turning somersaults or a hippopotamus jumping a hedge.
 
 
To the biologist the problem of socialism appears largely as a problem of size. The extreme socialists desire to run every nation as a single business concern. I do not suppose that Henry Ford would find much difficulty in running Andorra or Luxembourg on a socialistic basis. He has already more men on his pay-roll than their population. It is conceivable that a syndicate of Fords, if we could find them, would make Belgium Ltd or Denmark Inc. pay their way. But while nationalization of certain industries is an obvious possibility in the largest of states, I find it no easier to picture a completely socialized British Empire or United States than an elephant turning somersaults or a hippopotamus jumping a hedge.
[1]: http://www-net.cs.umass.edu/cs653/documents/on_being_the_right_size.htm
[2]: http://irl.cs.ucla.edu/right-size.pdf

3
add-metadata.rb

@ -55,6 +55,7 @@ stories.each do |year, storiesByYear|
story['year'] = fn.split("/")[1].to_i
if File.exists? fn
puts fn
parsed = FrontMatterParser::Parser.parse_file(fn)
# If no frontmatter or if it does not contain the year
if parsed.front_matter.nil? or parsed.front_matter.has_key?('year') == false
@ -63,7 +64,7 @@ stories.each do |year, storiesByYear|
# File is empty
if parsed.content.strip.empty? or parsed.content.strip.split("\n").size == 1
# File.delete fn
File.delete fn
process url, story, fn
end
else

4
index.html

@ -3,6 +3,8 @@ layout: none
---
<ol>
{% for story in site.stories %}
{% if story.blacklist != true %}
<li><a href="{{story.url}}">{{ story.title }}</a></li>
{% endif %}
{% endfor %}
<ol>
<ol>
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