Sat. Feb 23rd, 2019

False phoenixes and false fallacies | Science

False phoenixes and false fallacies | Science

The phoenix words, which - like the "phoenix" itself - do not rhyme with any other, have been compared with prime numbers; Is it a successful comparison or a very close one? They are not scarce in Castilian, although some have ceased to be so with the incorporation of new words: neologism related to new technologies and barbarisms fostered by the growing interculturality. So, last week (see comments) some of the readers' proposals they turned out to be false phoenixes, like "zenith", which rhymes with "bit", or "azimuth", which rhymes with "kamut" (and also with "mammoth", so it has long since ceased to be phoenix). Other words ex phoenix are "cofre", which for a few decades has been rhyming with "waffle", or "quisqui", which rhymes with "whiskey". At the opposite end of the false phoenix, the terms of everyday use and common appearance that however are, such as "tree", "body", "thigh" or "time".

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And speaking of linguistic singularities, the words hapax deserve special mention, which are those that appear only once in a language, or in a book, or in the work of an author (such as the term "golem", which appears only once). in the Bible). Is there any hapax word in this article (without counting the terms in quotes)? Is "hapax" a phoenix word? And in what non-trivial context would a "hapax" word be "phoenix"?

And the phoenix ideas, the ones that do not "marry" with the others? Our readers have pointed out several, such as superconductivity or ether. But perhaps the most singular idea of ​​current science is the very concept of singularity (with what "singularity" would be, in addition, a self-referring term), in the same way that those extreme singularities that are black holes are the most singular objects of the universe. Or not?

Deceptive fallacies and coupled clocks

And from the false phoenix to the false fallacies, which the mathematician and popularizer Ian Stewart calls ycallaf (fallacy upside down). As we have seen in previous chapters of The game of scienceSometimes it is not easy to distinguish between paradoxes and fallacies, and to further complicate things are the fallacies apparent and ambiguous. For example, the statement "In this sentence to four errors" is true or false?

In addition to excellent math books, Ian Stewart has published important works on coupled oscillators and biological synchronization, a subject that goes back to the mid-seventeenth century, when the great Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens, inventor of the pendulum clock, casually observed that a A pair of watches that he had recently built, and that were hanging on the wall a short distance from each other, oscillated in a totally synchronous way. To discard the possibility of a fortuitous coincidence, he untied them again and again, but the clocks always returned to synchronize in a short time, as if an invisible hand were coupling them. Why? And what does that have to do with biological synchronization?

Carlo Frabetti He is a writer and mathematician, a member of the New York Academy of Sciences. He has published more than 50 scientific dissemination works for adults, children and young people, among them Damn physics, Damn mathematics or The big game. He was a screenwriter The Cristal ball


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