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Author Topic: How much of what can be known is already known?  (Read 1654 times)

Jeffrey J Denning

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How much of what can be known is already known?
« on: 12/01/2011 14:30:02 »
Jeffrey J Denning  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
At risk of putting you into that "let's close the patent office" situation, if you had to guess, what proportion of what can be known is already known?
 
Jeffrey J. Denning

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 12/01/2011 14:30:02 by _system »


 

Offline graham.d

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How much of what can be known is already known?
« Reply #1 on: 12/01/2011 16:45:55 »
Hi Jeffrey. There is not really a suitable measure of things that can be known so getting a quantitative answer is not a practical goal. However, the universe is very large and very complex. Gaining knowledge about it is like peeling an infinitely large onion; you just get to another level but there are still an infinite number of levels to go. Personally, I like this; it would be boring if we could know everything :-) That may not even be possible (even theoretically) and it may be that there is stuff that cannot be known, but that is getting deeply philosophical.
 

Offline imatfaal

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How much of what can be known is already known?
« Reply #2 on: 12/01/2011 17:33:22 »
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"There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.  We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.  But there are also unknown unknowns the ones we don't know we don't know."
Donald Rumsfeld

I think on this rare occasion Rumsfeld was correct.  And as we don't know about the unknown unknowns we cannot really speculate about their proportion with the knowns.  Also - I agree with Graham - its a good situation to be in - even without getting religious its important to be humble about how little we know.   
 

Offline RD

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How much of what can be known is already known?
« Reply #3 on: 12/01/2011 18:39:47 »
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Charles H. Duell was the commissioner of the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 1899 and is famous for purportedly saying "Everything that can be invented has been invented."[1] However, this has been debunked as apocryphal by librarian Samuel Sass.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_H._Duell
« Last Edit: 12/01/2011 18:42:03 by RD »
 

Offline Don_1

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How much of what can be known is already known?
« Reply #4 on: 13/01/2011 09:33:23 »
There can be no doubt that we have come a long way over the past few thousand years and I am sure that every once in a while it must have been wondered if there was anything left to learn.

As our knowledge data base grows, it must become more difficult to find that doorway which leads to a whole new cavern of knowledge. This is more likely to be because each new line of learning has so much more potential that we concentrate on exploring the new knowledge rather than moving on to find the next doorway, than the new knowledges being dead ends. (Does that make grammatical sense? I keep reading it and doesn't sound right even to me!)

It is understandable that we should explore every nook and cranny of the new knowledge we find, since it has been shown that previous new knowledges were not explored in their entirety and we can today still be filling in the gaps.

I don't think we know the half of it yet. As for me personally, I'm as thick as two short planks!
 

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How much of what can be known is already known?
« Reply #4 on: 13/01/2011 09:33:23 »

 

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