Thursday, January 03, 2008

Wizards at War - III

World War II is known as the "physicists war". I believe you can describe nearly the entire subsequent era as the "physicists era" - inclusive of the energy and geopolitical precipice at which we presently stand. I once read an interesting piece of correspondence in which it was asserted that a physicist, working at a high enough level of engagement, with broad and deep enough access and exposure to the "state of the art" really has only himself as an epistemologist;
Much of the debate in this field has focused on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to similar notions such as truth, belief, and justification. It also deals with the means of production of knowledge, as well as skepticism about different knowledge claims. In other words, epistemology primarily addresses the following questions: "What is knowledge?", "How is knowledge acquired?", and "What do people know?"
The limits of a high-level physicist's philosophy of knowledge will be largely self-determined. Understanding the philosophy, morality, religious convictions, and other subjective points of view of folks with such a deep understanding of reality mechanics can be very illuminating, and, sheds considerable light - IMOHO - on the world view and behaviour of the political power elite. (and by that, I'm not referring to elected officials).

The Elizabethan magus John Dee, for example, basically invented the construct of the corporation, and with that, contributed in HUGE measure to the economic renaissance of formerly impoverished and nativist England transforming it into the Brytysh Impyre. As in the 15th century, so also in the 20th and 21st. This list goes on and on - and of course includes the Nazi scientists exhonerated of Nazi complicity and imported en masse into the U.S. under the rubric of Operation Paperclip, and satirized by Kubrick in the character of Dr. Strangelove.

OK, so this has been a rather lengthy and rambling setup, but there's a method of sorts behind what I'm trying to express. To recap briefly, I've noted a little bit about the life of comparatively obscure but particularly effective and influential physicist (wizard) - because this wizard exerted an exceptional amount of influence. Everett founded and presided over a wizardly think tank for a number of years spanning the middle and end of the Vietnam War;
The four founders of Lambda Corporation were Hugh Everett III, Dr. George E. Pugh, Dr. Lawrence B. (Larry) Dean (who worked on the Manhattan Project), and Dr. Robert J. (Bob) Galiano. George Pugh and Hugh Everett collaborated on extension of the GLM method to the case of two-sided constrained optimization problems, which includes the realm of mathematical games. Their articles on this are found in later issues of Operations Research. Prior to forming Lambda Corporation, these men worked for the Weapon Systems Evaluation Division (formerly Weapon System Evaluation Group, and known as WSEG, pronounced “wessig”) of the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA), in the “paperclip” building on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Lambda’s offices were first at 1401 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia, and later at 1501 Wilson Boulevard.
Everett became a millionaire thanks to the success of Lambda and the applied operations analysis and game theoretical research he did on behalf of the Department of Defense. Lambda extended the reach of his influence into many worlds. A number of the folks on whom Everett in both his applied and theoretical roles exerted a profound influence have been prodigious writers and have prepared lengthy, detailed, and fascinating expositions on the current state of the world and what's around the signpost just up ahead.