20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Re: 20160208 Author Culture: Database of Topics

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Sep 11, 2016 5:21 pm

A repository of personal knowledge might include notes on Information Management.

This series of messages started out with a clean slate of possible topics to consider. However, over the weeks since February of 2016, it has turned out to be difficult to avoid repetition.

To address this concern, a small database was created, with the objective of avoiding or at least managing repetition.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Sep 18, 2016 1:59 pm

A repository of personal knowledge might include examples of problem solving.

There are a number of answers to the question put to Google: "Too soon old, too late smart"

The answer noted as best on Yahoo Answers for July 3, 2008 is "Dutch Proverb"

Today I'll offer an example of a bit of knowledge that fits that proverb.

There was a need to replace the cosmetic front of an oven door. The glass panel had shattered when the oven was to be moved away from the wall, and the door handle was unwisely used as a lever.

It turned out that the mass produced glass is no longer available, and a custom article would cost $600 to $700 in 2016 US dollars. Plastic was considered but the risks of deformation or combustion were considered too great. The solution was a sheet of aluminum 1/8 inch thick, 23 inches tall and 28 inches wide (approximately). Holes for the door handle were easy enough to drill with a small drill press, but the larger holes for viewing into the oven were centered at 9 inches, and a 20 inch drill press was not available.

The solution was suggested by a sales person at a local home improvement store. This gent suggested using a brace and bit to drive the 3.5 inch hole saw.

This suggestion matched something I had read about how holes were drilled by hand before electric motors became available. The slow speed of cutting is beneficial for working with metal.

A YouTube video showed use of a spray of water to lubricate the hole saw operation with aluminum. I chose to use oil because that had worked well for hard metal drilling in the past.

The brace and bit combined with the hole saw made short work of the drilling operation, and after a bit of finishing the edges, the oven door cover plate is now installed with a contact paper veneer.

While no one has yet begun a personal knowledge repository here on The Knowledge Forum, perhaps this little anecdote might show what is possible.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Mon Sep 26, 2016 2:28 pm

Today's message is tailored to a specific individual and a (more or less) specific topic.
This individual has spent decades supporting the Coolspring Power Museum in Pennsylvania, and has expressed an interest in writing a book about a specific line of engines which has (apparently) not already been documented by others.
From the standpoint of preservation of knowledge, I hope that this book (if it comes to pass) will include both the history of this interesting line of engines, but (if possible) enough technical detail so that a future reader could re-create the line.
The Coolspring Power Museum is dedicated to the preservation, operation and exhibition of engines designed primarily for gas as a fuel, so this particular museum does not have steam engines in the collection. It does have a working model of the Nikolaus Otto atmospheric gas engine.
(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Mon Oct 03, 2016 3:06 pm

For most of the previous posts in this thread, I've been depending upon inspiration as each weekly posting opportunity approaches.

There are (potentially) an infinite number of topics that might be suggested for authors here in the Knowledge Forum. However, no one has undertaken a weekly posting regimen to begin accumulation of knowledge on any of the previously suggested topics, or on ANY topic for that matter, as of 2016/10/03, so I've decided to begin using Dr. Dartnell's book itself as a framework for future weekly postings.

My interest is in the future of human expansion away from Earth and out into the galaxy. While the primary theme of Dr. Dartnell's book is recovery from a massive loss of civilization, the challenges posed in "The Knowledge" are immediately at hand, as human beings undertake attempts to maintain settlements away from Earth.

A few months after starting this thread, I began study of Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations", and started a series of weekly messages on the content of "Wealth of Nations" and thoughts that came to me from the perspective of 240 years later. Partly as a result of that study, I've gradually become aware of the need for some minimum number of people to maintain the level of civilization we have achieved in a spotty way here on Earth in 2016. We have a long way to go before patches of barbarism are less common than at present on Earth.

My intention is to attempt to examine "The Knowledge" closely, in a series of posts that will not be in any way hurried, to try to uncover or to develop the facts and ideas Dr. Dartnell has set forth.

Fortunately, Dr. Dartnell has created a Category for building a civilization away from Earth, and an exploration of that topic set is underway there, where the voyage of Ferdinand Magellan provides a framework.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Oct 09, 2016 5:21 pm

2016/10/09
Reference #1, Pages 1-2

Dr. Dartnell set up his book with the premise of loss of civilization.

The situation of a group of people trying to build a sustainable community on Mars is worth considering, in light of the stated intention of NASA (in recent years) to mount a campaign to land people on Mars, and the recently outlined concept of Elon Musk to build a capability to transport thousands of people to Mars starting as soon as ten years from now.

Begin Quotation from Reference #1, Page 2:
The world as we know it has ended. The crucial question is: now what?
End Quotation.

As I have pondered economics with Adam Smith over the past year, and the state of our existing (somewhat spotty) "civilization", it has become more and more clear to me that the challenge of transplanting some recognizable version of our Earth-based "civilization" to Mars will require more than a few thousand people.

I am beginning to wonder of 100,000 people is enough to support a level of actively practiced knowledge that exists on Earth today. The question was expressed in the remarks of a gentleman who was born in Scotland, who lives today in the United States, and who just shared a Nobel Prize in Chemistry with two other researchers of nanometer sized molecular machines. This gentleman took the opportunity to warn his former countrymen of the folly of their decision to leave the European Union. The perspective he brought to his remarks was his having recruited talented researchers from all over the world, and especially from the European Union, to help with the myriad details of the research he was leading.

I think that Adam Smith would recognized this as an example of the Division of Labor carried out to a degree unimaginable in his time. The global community has achieved the ability to support people who are able to dedicate their lives the accumulation of knowledge not seen before. However, it is not just the fact of a single individual the community can support in this way, but the sheer numbers that have been marshaled to tackle complex problems on this order.

Germany of the late 1900's was wealthy enough, and populous enough, to support a small cadre of what I will call "world class" researchers.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_c ... on_in_1900

According to the reference above, Germany had a population of approximately 56 million in 1900, and Austria/Hungary a population of approximately 51 million (and change).

While this is no more than a very rough estimate, and taking into account that the culture of a country is a major factor in the success of its citizens, I note that approximately 100 million people were available as a resource pool at the time Albert Einstein and his peers were growing up.

The size of a population which would be needed in the future to create conditions favorable for intellectual achievement at this level may well be smaller than 100 million, because much of the labor needed to sustain the society will (presumably) be carried out by automation.

Never-the-less, I am having difficulty imagining how a society of even as many as 100,000 people could produce and support people able to achieve at an Earthly "world class" level.

To build on Dr. Dartnell's question, what would it take to re-create in a population on Mars the conditions that would be favorable to participation in research at the level demonstrated by the recent Nobel laureates?

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Mon Oct 17, 2016 5:28 pm

2016/10/16
Reference #1, Page 2, Paragraph 4

I am approaching the problem Dr. Dartnell poses from the perspective of a software developer. The challenge before the human race is to install a working copy of the existing civilization (such as it is) onto a "new" piece of hardware.

While the Moon remains a potential site for such a vision, and while numerous science fiction authors have explored such a scenario, in 2016, the momentum appears (to me) to be towards Mars.

While early visions of a settlement on Mars have been constrained by what was perceived to be "reality", someone like Elon Musk (or Jeff Bezos eventually) is able to create a new "reality".

Thus, Musk has created a (reasonably sturdy) alternative future in which 100,000 persons relocate to Mars, and extensions of that vision have reached as far as 1,000,000 people.

Now we're talking! One million people ** should ** be able to replicate a decent quality civilization on Mars.

Dr. Dartnell poses the question:
Begin Quotation:
What crucial knowledge would they need to recover as rapidly as possible?
End Quotation.

The advantage of the Mars replica scenario is that it is of a positive nature, not encumbered by the emotionally draining apocalypse negative images that come with the nuclear winter or other disaster scenarios.

Thus, a framework such as the Knowledge Forum is (potentially) capable of hosting the greater part of the 1,000,000 people (or their sponsors) to define precisely the attributes they hold sacred for a replica civilization, and equally importantly, what knowledge and skill, and what resources are needed to achieve the objective.

A "Project Manager" is usually hired or appointed to carry out the leadership function for a data processing conversion from one set of hardware to another.

In history, Moses can be thought of as the "project manager" who guided the relocation of a group of people from one habitat to another.

In the case of Mars, the terrain to be inhabited is much more challenging than even the desert where the followers of Moses meandered for 40 years.

Even the time frame of the relocation of Moses' project is about right for the Mars replication.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Oct 23, 2016 8:26 pm

2016/10/23
Reference #1, Page 2, Paragraph 5 (wrapping to Page 3)

Begin Quotation:
--- but one that teaches how to orchestrate the rebuilding of a technologically advanced civilization.
End Quotation.

I am approaching this thread with a very similar but definitely different point of view .... the task that I see ahead is to "build" a technologically advanced civilization on Mars, and elsewhere.

However, I am interested in looking at the possibility of replicating the aspects of existing human culture far beyond mere technology. The population of Earth in 2016 is supporting remnants of cultural practices that originated hundreds and sometimes thousands of years ago. At the very same time, we are (collectively) busy creating conditions that have already destroyed many of the artifacts created in past ages, and that have already destroyed species that have co-existed with humans for millennia.

Dr. Dartnell closes the section I am considering today with this observation:
Begin Quotation:
...fundamentals of science and technology ... feel very remote to most of us.
End Quotation.

The nature of a replication of a portion of Earth culture onto Mars intrigues me. I am thinking about the arts, such as music, theater, sculpture, painting and countless other specialties that have been and are still being created by human beings. While building and maintaining a comfortable infrastructure on Mars (or in habitats) is going to take a fair percentage of the population, it seems to me that while there may be some overlap, there are likely to be entire segments of the population which will NOT be directly involved with building or maintaining the infrastructure.

If a population of 1,000,000 persons is installed on Mars (or in a cluster of 100 habitats), it seems to me that the distribution of talents, capabilities and interests to be found in the population may not differ greatly from the distribution of those same features in the Earth population.

Thus, responsibility for maintaining UNDERSTANDING of the operation of the Universe along with KNOWLEDGE of physical laws will fall upon a (relatively) small proportion of the population, just as it does today on Earth.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Mon Oct 31, 2016 6:24 pm

2016/10/31 Reference #1, Page 3, Paragraph 2

Begin Quotation:
People living in developed nations have become disconnected from the everyday processes of civilization that support them.
End Quotation.

Out of curiosity I visited Google to see how many cultures still exist on Earth in 2016 which are self-sustaining entirely or partially. It appears that there are still a number of tribes in the Amazon rain forests which do not interact with the outside world. The future looks bleak for these tribes, because disease wipes them out when they do come into contact with outside people, whether those outsiders are well intentioned or not.

Google revealed a significant number of cultures which are still largely self-sufficient in the Pacific Islands, subsisting as they have done for centuries on the bounty provided by the ocean.

Apparently tribes which maintain herds of reindeer in the far Northern regions of the former Soviet Union are self-sufficient, with the caveat that they trade for modern goods.

None of these living situations strike me as particularly attractive.

Looking forward to successful communities away from Earth, it seems to me that a population of at least a million people within convenient distance would have a reasonable chance of maintaining what in 2016 might be considered a reasonable level of civilization.

However, getting back to Dr. Dartnell's point about the degree to which people in developed countries tend to be disconnected from the basic functions that underlie their creature comforts, I do not see that as likely to change as humankind replicates it's institutions away from Earth.

I observe that the ability to raise crops (as just one example) is not gifted to every child born into the present world. In carrying this idea a bit further, I would guess that it would turn out that civilization has advanced, not just through the Division of Labor as Adam Smith would have us believe, but through recognition and nurturing of individual talents which cannot be replicated easily or at all.

Since the theme of this thread is the growth of an "author culture" on the Knowledge Forum, I would like to point out that it is quite likely that anyone who decides to contribute a thread of personal knowledge will have a unique perspective which will have a chance of being of interest to a later reader, and potentially of value at some point.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Thu Nov 10, 2016 6:07 pm

2016/11/10 Reference #1, Page 3, Paragraph 3

Dr. Dartnell describes here the situation that would face a person born after a collapse of civilization. From my perspective, we are already in the situation described. I am pretty sure that no one person on Earth today, or who could be imagined to be born even without a collapse, can understand (let alone replicate) the infrastructure that underlies the technology we take for granted in 2016.

Human society has taken Division of Labor to extremes unimaginable just a few generations ago. At the same time, conditions have favored Specialization of Knowledge to a degree similarly unimaginable.

In Adam Smith's time (and Benjamin Franklin's), it was thought possible for an educated person to comprehend the totality of human knowledge. While that was probably a stretch even then, it is certainly NOT possible today.

The lesson I take from these observations is that it (probably) takes a few billion people living in harmony to achieve the level of civilization we have achieved (in a spotty way) in 2016.

It may be possible for a community as small as a million people to sustain the civilization of 2016 (for example, on Mars) but that would require cultivation of intellectual capability in most members of the population.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Nov 13, 2016 6:42 pm

2016/11/13 Reference #1, Page 4, Paragraph #2

Per Google >> wordsinasentence.com/quotidian-in-a-sentence/
Begin Quotation:
Definition of Quotidian. everyday events that are normal and not that exciting. Use
End Quotation.

Since this is my second reading of "The Knowledge" I admit to having forgotten Dr. Dartnell's citation of Leonard E. Read and his essay on the technology of a simple graphite pencil.

However, this paragraph reinforces a conclusion I had reached and reported earlier in this series, that if we humans would like to replicate our existing civilization elsewhere (let alone on Earth), we will need some number of people to maintain the knowledge and skills that are currently in play. For now I am estimating that population should be at least 1,000,000 people, but that number may well be low.

That being said, it should be possible to generate graphite pencils that look a lot like the ones we have today, by programming an atom assembler. The number of people who would be needed to understand the program to generate such a pencil, and the chemistry to gather the needed atoms would presumably be small, and conceivably a single person could encapsulate that knowledge.

On the other hand, the number of persons needed to understand and replicate the atom assemblers would (presumably) be considerably greater.

A replica of our existing civilization would require human beings to sustain the arts, above and beyond the knowledge and skills needed to sustain the physical infrastructure. My guess is that the number of people who would be needed to sustain the arts would far exceed that needed to sustain the physical infrastructure, but happily those two domains of knowledge could overlap nicely.

(th)
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