Rant and Rave

Tommy: Ushering in the new Dark Ages?

Steven Quintavalla sent the following letter

Dr. Magliozzi:

Are you quite mad?

I'm sure there is some sort of engineering out there that requires little or no mathematical skills whatsoever (I guess that's what's called "civil engineering" or something). You seem to be making the leap to the idea that nobody (even engineers) needs to know this "higher math." What?! I'd sure hate to own stock in an oil company whose refineries were built and controlled by people who didn't know how to solve differential equations. And while the Wright brothers built a functional airplane with little analysis, I'm sure we'd feel uncertain about flying around in a new Boeing designed by "trial and error."

In a broader sense, though, I think about this all the time and the brilliant minds it took to get mathematics to the state of understanding it is at today. I also think of older cultures in the world's history that "gave up" knowledge as they decayed into dark ages (as an Italian, you should be especially sensitive to this).


Steven Quintavalla (M.S.)
Research Engineer, USGA

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