On human greed



  • In 2007 and early 2008, I happened to work as a server guy at a local radio station. I had to mostly maintain existing infrastructure, but was free to do my thing on two of the big servers. One of which was not so big, in fact, and it would happen to be the mail server for the place and a firewall/gateway to the outer world.

    The boss had objections (like, "We're a bit short on cash") for upgrading the old Celeron 1.2 GHz box with 256 MB of RAM and a 40 GB PATA drive (it didn't have any SATA slots inside, you see). They had a 1 Mbps network connection to the outside world, and they were happy. When one Sunday a FreeBSD 4.11 installation didn't bring itself up because someone happened to crack it from the outside and change all passwords which were there (before then, I was told not to change anything, even the root password, because "if it works, don't fix it"), I was more than happy to replace it with Debian which at least I do have some knowledge of. I put there postfix, tied it up with MySQL, and hardened it where I could, because people kept complaining about spam. Then I installed there SpamAssassin, for good measure, and everyone was happy again.

    When I complained to the boss that the machine is running near its limits, I was told that nothing is going to be replaced until there's a need to, and there's no need.

    Then it happened: you know, 1 Mbps/s Internet is not anywhere near broad enough for 40 people. So a broader channel was ordered, four times that bandwidth. As you may predict, if you host a mail server there, most of your inbound traffic will eventually be spam. And boy oh boy, what a lot of spam was there. A poor machine with its scarce RAM couldn't become instantly four times as efficient. It was a DNS server, it was a mail server, it was a web proxy, and it had big fat SpamAssassin running, preventing people from having to read about breathtaking deals on v1@gra and C1@L15. And the most important thing was that they had their web site, yes, running on that same machine! Naturally, their domain was popular enough both among the local audience and among the spammers to saturate the bandwidth and resources on the gateway...

    The load average, at rough estimate, was just slightly over 9000 and I could not even log in on the physical console, SSH constantly timing out: it was so busy that getty and friends got swapped out and were beyond hope to ever swap in.

    It's no surprise that after some time spent on fixing emergencies which happened due to the management making us use almost failing hardware with no hope of replacement, I waved them goodbye.



  • While this is a WTF, it really sounds like the same pattern of how a small shop handles its IT in general. In an ideal world no shop should handle their IT this way, but in the real world this is frequently what happens.



  • This is ridiculous! A new and better machine would've cost a few hundred dollars. Probably less than the monthly cost of coffee and office supplies.

    This isn't greed, since the amount of money involved is minimal, just plain stupidity.



  • @wf_tmro said:

    This is ridiculous! A new and better machine would've cost a few hundred dollars. Probably less than the monthly cost of coffee and office supplies.

    This isn't greed, since the amount of money involved is minimal, just plain stupidity.

     

    But it ain't broke!!!

    Where I work is just like this. Trying to explain to them that a $1k machine would save me way more than $1k worth of time in a year is like trying to explain... something simple to a stupid person, sorry I'm terrible with analogies. They hire the absolute dirt-cheapest offshore programmers because hey, a programmer is a programmer right? We all use keyboards, screens, and mice, so it must all end up the same. I believe management sees programmers like manual labor, just give them enough time and they'll dig you a ditch worth of code. They don't understand (or don't want to) that coding requires skill and artisanship. So I have to explain to them why the code they spent $30 on sucks donkey balls and ends up taking me 40 hours to get to do what they wanted in the first place, and then they're happy with the end result after I work it over, so they look at it as "hey I only spent $30 on this, I'm an awesome manager!". I feel like a stupidity enabler sometimes, but I do like my paycheck, and I'm so jaded by it at this point that I don't give a fuck.

    EDIT:

    Another stupid thing they do is not hire anybody to do IT. The programmers are IT, because it's all computers and we know how to do all that stuff right? I've started saying "no" to stuff when I know I could probably figure it out, but it's way outside of my comfort and knowledge level.  So we have a bunch of ill-maintained "servers", maybe we have backups if someone remembered to, etc. 



  • I still remember showing top(1) screen to the boss. After briefly explaining the figures, especially for memory and LA, I told that the machine has just too many functions on it, and is cranking near its limits.

    “But it does keep up,” the boss said.

    “But it won't be too long,” me and the CTO replied in unison.

    “But it does work and I see no reason to replace it,” that was the reply.

    And then they ordered four times their current bandwidth. It was just as if, after it was confirmed that you can handle a cocktail straw, you were forced to drink from a thick tube plugged to a hydrant. At least SpamAssassin behaved so.

    Now I have to say that SpamAssassin is a creepy semi-WTF, but there was nothing better at filtering at the time. I offered an option to move everyone to Google Apps for business, but extra ~2000 bucks a year, you know, that was much for a radio station...



  • @EJ_ said:

    Another stupid thing they do is not hire anybody to do IT. The programmers are IT, because it's all computers and we know how to do all that stuff right? I've started saying "no" to stuff when I know I could probably figure it out, but it's way outside of my comfort and knowledge level.  So we have a bunch of ill-maintained "servers", maybe we have backups if someone remembered to, etc.

     

    QFT. My job is officially "web developer", but extends to both one-man "IT staff" and "tech support". It's difficult to finish projects when someone is constantly complaining that they can't connect to the fileserver without trying to click on the icon, or that they deleted the shortcut to the Desktop, or that they don't get an IP because they unplugged the ethernet cable (that's all just today).



  • @Schlagwerk said:

    @EJ_ said:

    Another stupid thing they do is not hire anybody to do IT. The programmers are IT, because it's all computers and we know how to do all that stuff right? I've started saying "no" to stuff when I know I could probably figure it out, but it's way outside of my comfort and knowledge level.  So we have a bunch of ill-maintained "servers", maybe we have backups if someone remembered to, etc.

     

    QFT. My job is officially "web developer", but extends to both one-man "IT staff" and "tech support". It's difficult to finish projects when someone is constantly complaining...

    We were like that when I started my current job. We now have 4 people in 'IT' and they are still struggling to keep up with new stuff needed, let alone trying to fix existing stuff.



  • FWIW, if I were in OP's situation I'd have done the following: (And I've seen this done many times before)

    • Make postfix/exim/whatever stop. This sends people into a state of panic.
    • Corallary to this is
    • dd out enough of a few random files so that the rest of the disk is filled, save for a few megs.
    • or worse
    • Set /var/mail to be owed by nobody:nobdy, with a permissions block of 330
    • Stop apache.
    • Watch the chaos ensue. Explain that this is caused by a critical hardware failiure.
    • start MTA again, People have email, people are not /quite/ as unhappy,at least until they can't send or receive mail..
    • Write up the cost of everyone leaving for 2 days. Present this as a bill, with a comparison for building a new box
    • ???
    • Profit.

    The interesting point is that people are not promoted on skill, but on lack of competence. Good job, Upper Managment!



  • The title seems a little bit inaccurate to me.  I hardly doubt that "human greed" was the reason for a radio station to have a shitty budget in 2008.  It's not like everybody in that business is swimmingin a Scrooge McDuck style pool full of gold coins.



  • Management probably had a nagging thought that they were going to shell out for a new server when the old one probably would have coped - and that someone higher than them would kick up a stink. The only way they know they need a new one is when the current one breaks.

    I don't think (sadly) that this mode of thinking is unusual but it's still a WTF.

    There's no excuse for taking a machine that they are told is at breaking point and giving it more work to do.



  • I wonder how much of the blame for situations like this rests at our feet? Maybe as an industry we need to get better at writing CBA (cost benefit analysis) documents?



  • +1 to Indrora, but I wouldn't go to those extremes. The easiest way to solve a problem is to make it someone else's problem. While it's all "we are going to have problems", they can easily respond with "we will worry about it later". When it affects them, it's harder for them to not think about it.

    Show them the problems. Not the ones you're having. The ones that are caused by your problems.



  • @fourchan said:

    +1 to Indrora, but I wouldn't go to those extremes. The easiest way to solve a problem is to make it someone else's problem. While it's all "we are going to have problems", they can easily respond with "we will worry about it later". When it affects them, it's harder for them to not think about it.

    Show them the problems. Not the ones you're having. The ones that are caused by your problems.

    I think what Mr Furry is suggesting is otherwise known as "sabotage." No, it's not a good idea.

    If your communication skills are not up to snuff to explain the problem in such a way that boss-man understands it, then you have two choices:
    1) Find a way to communicate to him
    2) Leave before the system dies and you're running around in a panic trying to cope with it

    I've had to take option 2 before, but option 1 is far better for everybody involved. Sabotaging your employer's systems to make some kind of point is *never* the right way to do it, and is probably illegal.



  • @Indrora said:

    The interesting point is that people are not promoted on skill, but on lack of competence. Good job, Upper Managment!
     

    Even if people are promoted based on competence, it tends to competend for the job they're in, not the job they're being promoted into. Hence the "Peter Principle": people get promoted into jobs they aren't good at and stay there because they're not competent enough to get promoted out.



  •  Hey I heard someone talking about dicks and jobs and I thought I'd say something.



  • @blakeyrat said:

    I think what Mr Furry is suggesting is otherwise known as "sabotage." No, it's not a good idea.

    What I'm describing isn't /sabotage/ its a means by which for people to listen. Sabotage implies permenant and irreprable damage.

    @blakeyrat said:

    If your communication skills are not up to snuff to explain the problem in such a way that boss-man understands it, then you have two choices:

    1) Find a way to communicate to him

    2) Leave before the system dies and you're running around in a panic trying to cope with it

    How about I put this into perspective. this is the equivelant to your boss having their car keyed (after someone gets paid $50 under the table) when they deny that there's a vandalism problem In the parking lot. its not /sabotage/ its a /conversation catalyst./

    @blakeyrat said:

    I've had to take option 2 before, but option 1 is far better for everybody involved. Sabotaging your employer's systems to make some kind of point is never the right way to do it, and is probably illegal.

    Again, not sabotage



  • @Indrora said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    I think what Mr Furry is suggesting is otherwise known as "sabotage." No, it's not a good idea.

    What I'm describing isn't /sabotage/ its a means by which for people to listen. Sabotage implies permenant and irreprable damage.

    1. No it doesn't

      2) No matter what you call it, it's still almost certainly illegal in almost all jurisdictions

    @Indrora said:

    @blakeyrat said:

    If your communication skills are not up to snuff to explain the problem in such a way that boss-man understands it, then you have two choices:

    1) Find a way to communicate to him

    2) Leave before the system dies and you're running around in a panic trying to cope with it

    How about I put this into perspective. this is the equivelant to your boss having their car keyed (after someone gets paid $50 under the table) when they deny that there's a vandalism problem In the parking lot. its not /sabotage/ its a /conversation catalyst./

    That's also illegal, both parts. (The paying, and the keying.) Again, regardless of what word you use to describe it.

    I can't find a way to work the furry mocking into the post itself, so I'll just have to close with: haha, go stroke your tail, furry. I apologize for the lack of wit.



  •  I would call it an unannounced stress test.



  • @Indrora said:

    this is the equivelant to your boss having their car keyed (after someone gets paid $50 under the table) when they deny that there's a vandalism problem In the parking lot. its not /sabotage/ its a /conversation catalyst./
     

    You're not serious, are you?



  • @Indrora said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    I think what Mr Furry is suggesting is otherwise known as "sabotage." No, it's not a good idea.

    What I'm describing isn't /sabotage/ its a means by which for people to listen. Sabotage implies permenant and irreprable damage.

    @blakeyrat said:

    If your communication skills are not up to snuff to explain the problem in such a way that boss-man understands it, then you have two choices:

    1) Find a way to communicate to him

    2) Leave before the system dies and you're running around in a panic trying to cope with it

    How about I put this into perspective. this is the equivelant to your boss having their car keyed (after someone gets paid $50 under the table) when they deny that there's a vandalism problem In the parking lot. its not /sabotage/ its a /conversation catalyst./

    @blakeyrat said:

    I've had to take option 2 before, but option 1 is far better for everybody involved. Sabotaging your employer's systems to make some kind of point is never the right way to do it, and is probably illegal.

    Again, not sabotage

     

    Call it what you will; it doesn't make it (a) ethical, (b) likely to succeed, or (c) career-enhancing.  Sure, it will be a "conversation catalyst", but if they know that you did what you described, the conversation will be extremely short:

    You: Here's the report/result/etc.

    Boss: You're fired.



  • @Indrora said:

    @blakeyrat said:
    I think what Mr Furry is suggesting is otherwise known as "sabotage." No, it's not a good idea.

    What I'm describing isn't /sabotage/ its a means by which for people to listen. Sabotage implies permenant and irreprable damage.

    Having the business website down for a day probably will cause permanent and irreparable damage in the form of lost face for the company and potentially lost revenue.

    Same for taking email down. 



  • Indrora, if you feel like you can justify the intentional (if temporary, which is questionable) destruction of service for which it is your job to provide, then I honestly feel bad for you.  Beware! for that path leads to delusions and extremism!  Turn back while you still have some capacity of rationality.  Don't let postmodernity and moral relativism blind you: the ends do not justify the means. (Truly, there are no "ends".)  By amplifying the problem so that others suffer, directly or indirectly, you become part of the problem.





  • @dhromed said:

    @Xyro said:
    also moral relativism is self-contradictory but whatever
    Eh, it depends.
    The basic premise of the problem is that moral relativism depends on moral absolutism, and thus a contradiction.  This goes for all forms of relativism: to claim there are no absolutes is itself an absolute claim.  In this case, the implied claim that "moral relativism is moral" is a morally absolute claim, which undermines the whole point of avoiding moral absolutes.  Conversely, if moral absolutes are not supportable, then it cannot be said that moral relativism is moral.  Either way is a contradiction.

     ...

    </thread-hijack>



  • @dhromed said:

    @Xyro said:

    also moral relativism is self-contradictory but whatever
     

    Eh, it depends.

     

    I see what you did there.



  • @Steve The Cynic said:

    Call it what you will; it doesn't make it (a) ethical, (b) likely to succeed, or (c) career-enhancing.  Sure, it will be a "conversation catalyst", but if they know that you did what you described, the conversation will be extremely short:

    You: Here's the report/result/etc.

    Boss: You're fired.

    Probably his assumption is that nobody will find out it was him. However, in every single place I've worked at (that isn't a mom-and-pop shop) you have to give an "incident report", stating exactly what was the cause for the downtime. If the downtime was for something really critical, you should expect to be asked for evidence supporting your claim. That means syslogs, which will show stuff like "admin666 logged in" followed by "apache shutting down". Surefire way to get fired.



  •  And if your boss lets you log in as "admin666", I'd say stick with it.



  • @Xyro said:

    if moral absolutes are not supportable, then it cannot be said that moral relativism is moral. 
     

    If we abandon the idea of morals, then the problem goes away. The problem only exists to illustrate that this thought-experiment of moralism is not quite up to snuff and should probably be replaced with something that describes reality more accurately, or is at least useful as a tool to guide one's decisions.

     

    I don't really do philosophy intimately. What popular viewpoint—for I'm certain I'm not the only one to come up with this—did I just express?



  • @dhromed said:

    @Xyro said:
    if moral absolutes are not supportable, then it cannot be said that moral relativism is moral. 
     

    If we abandon the idea of morals, then the problem goes away. The problem only exists to illustrate that this thought-experiment of moralism is not quite up to snuff and should probably be replaced with something that describes reality more accurately, or is at least useful as a tool to guide one's decisions.

    I don't really do philosophy intimately. What popular viewpoint—for I'm certain I'm not the only one to come up with this—did I just express?

    I'm pretty sure that's just plain old moral nihilism.  I'd posit that it doesn't seem to model human behavior, and that strict adherence to "true neutral" has a curious tendency to fall into "chaotic evil", but perhaps that's a hijack for another thread...

    (Edit: Now that I read the Wikipedia article, maybe what you're describing is better called amoralism. I guess it depends on the nuances...)





  • @Xyro said:

    ...strict adherence to "true neutral" has a curious tendency to fall into "chaotic evil", but perhaps that's a hijack for another thread...
     

    This was a key theme in the movie Pandorum, if I recall correctly.



  • @Xyro said:

    This goes for all forms of relativism: to claim there are no absolutes is itself an absolute claim.

    You sound an awful lot like this guy. Also, since you have just proven to anyone that claims there are no absolutes that there are, their claim can obviously not be absolute.



  • @Faxmachinen said:

    @Xyro said:

    This goes for all forms of relativism: to claim there are no absolutes is itself an absolute claim.

    You sound an awful lot like this guy. Also, since you have just proven to anyone that claims there are no absolutes that there are, their claim can obviously not be absolute.

    No, their claim is absolute, that's the crux of the matter. Their claim is absolute, and it is also false (or at least self-contradictory, which some folks may be okay with).

    (And yeah, after cursory exploration of that site, I think its author uses the same vein of logic, except imho inappropriately extrapolated... But I am always in awe of how much the reality of nature should bind itself to mathematics. Is there any reason why that should be? I don't think you could bend that thought to whether or not the ends justify the means, however.)



  • @Someone You Know said:

    @Xyro said:

    ...strict adherence to "true neutral" has a curious tendency to fall into "chaotic evil", but perhaps that's a hijack for another thread...
     

    This was a key theme in the movie Pandorum, if I recall correctly.

     

    While that grid of neutral/lawful/chaotic/good/etc looks nice on paper, it's the same boat as that morality stuff earlier. It's a internally inconsistent floating entirely human construct.

    The idea that true neutral may "degrade" into chaotic evil is the result of a dimensional view of personal properties; that there is a sliding scale, or cartesian grid on which we can accurately plot the properties and with points on which an individual exists exclusively. It's attractive and seems simple, but there is no such thing and leads to severe definition and reconciliation issues. It's an abstraction too high, if you will.

    Like the periodic table before the atomic structure was known, you can only achieve an understanding if you stop adding different flavoured element balls and call it a day. Something more fundamental is needed that underpins the whole and explains what the flavours are made of, so that after that you may revisit the higher-level flavour system and judge whether tasty new flavours are actually producable by the system.

     

    But still, you know, if there was an I Were A Magic Deck online test, I'd be Green or Blue, definitely. Maybe some White sprinkled in.



  • @dhromed said:

    But still, you know, if there was an I Were A Magic Deck online test, I'd be Green or Blue, definitely. Maybe some White sprinkled in.
    Interestingly enough there is one made by WotC



  •  All my idea are belong to someone else. :</p>


    Take the Magic: The Gathering 'What Color Are You?' Quiz.



  • @Xyro said:

    But I am always in awe of how much the reality of nature should bind itself to mathematics. Is there any reason why that should be?

     

    It would be far more strange if nature and mathematics weren't related. They're both results of the same underlying world, and their forms are both dictated by processes which approximate an optimal solution. It's not a miracle that they're interconnected - it's a foregone conclusion.



  • Since this conversation already devolved to relativism and similar, I'm reminded of a recent quote by some guy about the use of natural resources (in the particular instance I'm recalling, it was helium): paraphrased it was "no generation has the right to use all the resources they want to use."  I'm still trying to understand the thought process that results in that conclusion (I'm not saying I agree or disagree with the conclusion, but making a statement about all generations is pretty far-reaching). 

    An entertaining reversal on that question is, "Do future generations have a right to tell us that we can't use (or get angry at us for using) all the resources we want to use?"

    Also, do we have a right to tell future generations that they cannot use all the resources that they may want to use (e.g., by establishing laws today that ration certain resources)?

     

    (By the way, I observe that This train is TOTALLY OFF ITS RAILS!)




  • @Perisoft said:

    It would be far more strange if nature and mathematics weren't related. They're both results of the same underlying world...

    Um, what underlying world is that?



  • @Joeyg said:


    @Perisoft said:

    It would be far more strange if nature and mathematics weren't related. They're both results of the same underlying world...

    Um, what underlying world is that?

     

    Uhh... the world. You know - the whole universe, man.

    Put it this way: Math and biology play by the same set of rules. Similarities shouldn't be surprising.



  • @PeriSoft said:

    @Joeyg said:


    @Perisoft said:

    It would be far more strange if nature and mathematics weren't related. They're both results of the same underlying world...

    Um, what underlying world is that?

     

    Uhh... the world. You know - the whole universe, man.

    Put it this way: Math and biology play by the same set of rules. Similarities shouldn't be surprising.

    Why not? Why on earth would you expect the ratio between a circle's euclidean circumference and diameter to be found in practically every equation that predicts every level of physics in our universe? Why should emergent or statistical phenomena like gravitation and thermodynamics be so finely predictable and measurable by small, simple equations? I find it simply mystifying that mathematical models of nature tend to be so concise. Why should mathematics and reality be any more intertwined than art and reality? Yet they are deeply, deeply symmetrical. And the more we understand about our universe, the more deep and beautiful the mathematics become. I think I'm not expressing myself very well, so I'll just quote Einstein instead: @Einstein said:
    How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality?


  • @too_many_usernames said:

    I'm reminded of a recent quote by some guy about the use of natural resources (in the particular instance I'm recalling, it was helium): paraphrased it was "no generation has the right to use all the resources they want to use."

    Cut to a dystopian future with children dragging balloons around



  • @Xyro said:

    @PeriSoft said:

    @Joeyg said:


    @Perisoft said:

    It would be far more strange if nature and mathematics weren't related. They're both results of the same underlying world...

    Um, what underlying world is that?

     

    Uhh... the world. You know - the whole universe, man.

    Put it this way: Math and biology play by the same set of rules. Similarities shouldn't be surprising.

    Why not? Why on earth would you expect the ratio between a circle's euclidean circumference and diameter to be found in practically every equation that predicts every level of physics in our universe? Why should emergent or statistical phenomena like gravitation and thermodynamics be so finely predictable and measurable by small, simple equations? I find it simply mystifying that mathematical models of nature tend to be so concise. Why should mathematics and reality be any more intertwined than art and reality? Yet they are deeply, deeply symmetrical. And the more we understand about our universe, the more deep and beautiful the mathematics become. I think I'm not expressing myself very well, so I'll just quote Einstein instead: @Einstein said:
    How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience, is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality?
    I think you're looking at it back to front. Our math was created by us to describe the physical universe, so it should describe it consistently. Incidentally, I think you might make most artists' heads explode if they heard you say that art was not intertwined with reality.


  • @davedavenotdavemaybedave said:

    Our math was created by us to describe the physical universe, so it should describe it consistently.
     

    Not quite.

    The mor intricate properties of numbers are something that mathematicians explore just as unwittingly as any other field. We did not "create" it in the sense that we understand everything about it.

    @Xyro said:

    Why not? Why on earth would you expect the ratio between a circle's euclidean circumference and diameter to be found in practically every equation that predicts every level of physics in our universe?

    Because oscillators are sine waves and sine waves are equivalent to time-mapped radial rotations around a unit circle which implies π automatically.

    You having a bad batch of weed?



  • @davedavenotdavemaybedave said:

    Our math was created by us to describe the physical universe, so it should describe it consistently.

    No, it wasn't. They're completely different fields, with completely different methods. You'll never hear a mathematician claim to have "proved" something because it worked on all the numbers he had laying around the lab, or if it predicts a shitload of other results with pretty good accuracy. (Though John Carmack will happily run with it.)

    Nor will you see a mathematician ignore a proof just because it goofs up some physicist's model.

    Mathematics is truth.

    And dhromed, ignoring any or all drugs I'm on, why are oscillations sine waves? There's more than one function you could expect could arise from slapping a capacitor onto an inductor, or a rock into the water, or a pick onto a guitar.



  • @Joeyg said:

    ignoring any or all drugs I'm on
     

    I couldn't possibly ignore all drugs you're on.

    @Joeyg said:

    why are oscillations sine waves? There's more than one function you could expect could arise from slapping a capacitor onto an inductor, or a rock into the water, or a pick onto a guitar.

    A sine wave is the name we have given to the thing that comes about as a graph when we plot some scalar value of certain classes of systems against time onto a grid.

    You may have noticed that most math doesn't actually accurately describe reality. It just adds decimals as the accuracy of our experiments increases.

    The mathematical theory of an oscillating string deals with ideal strings, ideal oscillators, ideal environments, ideal pluckings. It's a Good Enough approximation to obtain practical results and build physical structures that won't fall apart, be it a guitar or a skyscraper near a fault line.

     

    What's weird about it all is not the relationship with reaility. That's just about fixing up the right symbols and making sure your quantum computer works and your spaceship gracefully flings around some planet to save fuel.

    What's weird is that it appears to be a field of exploration in its own right. Certain mathematcians disagree with others on whether certain aspects of arithmetics actually exist or not, and it becomes a whole kind of abstract meta-physics where we build mathematical tools to probe the mathematical cosmos, not knowing what we'll find.



  • @Joeyg said:

    @davedavenotdavemaybedave said:
    Our math was created by us to describe the physical universe, so it should describe it consistently.

    No, it wasn't. They're completely different fields, with completely different methods. You'll never hear a mathematician claim to have "proved" something because it worked on all the numbers he had laying around the lab, or if it predicts a shitload of other results with pretty good accuracy. (Though John Carmack will happily run with it.)

    Nor will you see a mathematician ignore a proof just because it goofs up some physicist's model.

    Mathematics is truth.

    And dhromed, ignoring any or all drugs I'm on, why are oscillations sine waves? There's more than one function you could expect could arise from slapping a capacitor onto an inductor, or a rock into the water, or a pick onto a guitar.

    I think you've misunderstood me. The numbers themselves, everything the maths started from - that's what was created to describe the world we live in. This is like being surprised that anthropologists have something to say about human culture, because you think it's coincidence that they deal with our species. So oscillations of various kinds tend to share a form, and we worked out a way to describe it mathematically - that's why we have the concept of a sine wave. The real question is why things tend to share that form.


  • You can create the natural numbers from observing reality, no problem - and then the rational numbers, by replacing "one" with "one fifth" or "one tenth" or whatever.

    But how are the real numbers, or the complex numbers, connected to reality, except by coincidence? (Here is one answer, for the curious.) You need an answer to that before we can talk about sine waves or cosine waves in a pure non-mathematical sense, because those functions produce an infinity of irrational numbers.

    I'm a mathematician, not a physicist. Physics delights me, but I maintain there is a huge rift between the math, which is always correct, and reality, which is merely described by math, to an astonishing degree.



  • @Joeyg said:

    huge rift between the math, which is always correct, and reality, which is merely described by math
     

    Having been a math teacher (for a very short while), I can guarantee you that it is not always correct. Or possibly my students were realists.



  • Oh, English...

    I meant "the math" to mean "math" - ie, the field and its proven results.

    Of course, in this opposite-day-universe of a language, "the math" means "this specific math that somebody wrote down". (And "a math" is meaningless.)

    My bad.


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