## Saturday, April 04, 2015 ... //

### John Napier: an anniversary

For decades, my Australian uncle lived in the Napier Street, Melbourne. I guess that the street was named after a different Napier than John Napier, however.

John Napier, the father of natural logarithms, was born on an unknown day of 1550. He died on April 4th, 1617 i.e. 398 years ago.

This Scottish laird of Merchinston (a member of gentry) was known as the Marvellous Merchinston and his education may serve as a good model for everyone. Why?

He only entered school when he was 13 years old. He dropped shortly afterwards. And then, at the age of 24, he bought a castle at Gartness. You may see that Peter Thiel is right when he says that schools are pretty much useless. ;-)

His aristocratic background allowed him to do some very clever and some very weird things, however. For example, he invented Napier's bones, an unusual mechanical device for calculations.

He wrote a great mathematical book, Mirifici Logarithmorum Canonis Descriptio (1614), which contained not only the logarithmic stuff but also an excellent presentation of theorems in spherical trigonometry. He improved Simon Stevin's decimal system and standardized the decimal point, too. That would already be important.

But the most important contribution with "beef" were his logarithms. He introduced the function, the Napierian logarithm, that I will call${\mathrm {NapLog}}(x)=\log_{{{\frac {10^{7}}{10^{7}-1}}}}10^{7}-\log_{{{\frac {10^{7}}{10^{7}-1}}}}x$ Note that $\log_b(a)=\ln(a)/\ln(b)$. His function is clearly a linear function of $\ln(x)$. More precisely, it is the logarithm of $10^7/x$ with base $10,000,000/9,999,999\approx 1.0000001$. These constants surely sound weird. I think that it's natural to ask: Why he didn't define $\ln(x)$ right away?

Well, I think that he was able to see that every positive number is close to an integer power of $1.0000001$. Integer powers may be calculated by repeated multiplication which is why the question "what is the required exponent to get a certain result" seems to be a well-defined definition of the logarithm even if you only know how to multiply numbers. And the exponent may be identified with the natural logarithm as we know it (times 10 million – a large enough number that he probably chose randomly).

Napier's bones used to calculate $6\times 425=2,550$. You combine the three relevant single-color column "bones" and read $2,550$ in the correct row: can you reconstruct how?

He could have figured out that the dependence on the arbitrary constant $10,000,000$ may be eliminated by a rescaling and a limit but you know, it was just the early 17th century and he was just a lower aristocrat.

While his original function had the funny linear redefinition involving the constant 10 million, it was "morally" the natural logarithm as we know it. And the letter "n" in the modern symbol $\ln(x)$ actually stands for Napier, and not for "natural" as people like to say.

At any rate, he had "some" natural logarithm which is why he had to be aware of the number $e\approx 2.718\dots$. So this number appeared in an appendix of his book; the number $23,025,850$ (ten million times $\ln(10)$) is omnipresent in his work (it's the ${\rm NapLog}$ of one million, for example).

We should appreciate how much ahead of time this guy was. The first "serious" discussion involving the constant $e$ which was called differently,$b = \lim _{{n\to \infty }}\left(1+{\frac {1}{n}}\right)^{n},$ is known in letters from Leibniz to Huygens in 1690 and 1691, over 75 years after Napier. And our modern symbol $e$ has been used from a much later, 1736 book by Euler. Here, we tend to think that $e$ stands for "Euler" but here the origin is impersonal and Euler chose the first letter of the word "exponential".

So Napier did know quite something about the exponential and logarithmic (as well as trigonometric) functions. Such talented old guys (including the smartest guy of all times, Isaac Newton) often had another face. Napier was a theologian. Well, this noun is a euphemism.

He was as obsessed with some religious delusions as the climate alarmists today. In his 1594 booklet Plaine Discovery dedicated to the king, he urged "justice to be done against the enemies of God's church". The booklet which included some verses was as successful as An Inconvenient Truth. He really resembled the climatic loons who want to punish the "deniers".

Just like the climate nuts, he was also predicting the end of the world based on his analysis of the Book of Revelation. The end of the world was predicted to come either in 1688 or 1700 – 328 or 316 years before the end of the world according to Al Gore. Note that Napier could have been pretty sure that he wouldn't see whether his prediction was right: his age on the doomsday would be 138 or 150 years.

Napier wasn't just a theologian, doomsday cultist, and mathematician. He was also known as a magician and an alchemist and he was very experienced in necromancy (talking to the dead). He never traveled without his magic black spider and was guided by a black rooster who was Napier's "familiar spirit". In fact, this rooster was capable of telling Napier which servant was stealing the employer's assets.

The address of these spider killers is ironic, isn't it? If you need your fantasy to be put on steroids, let me mention that my uncle's address contains not only the same street name but also the same number as the address above. ;-)

It gets pretty hardcore here so let me stop. I would guess that this guy has done some impressive things in mathematics but as his other interests indicate, it was probably because he had lots of time to play, not because of his intelligence. The latter was probably low.

#### snail feedback (63) :

reader Tony said...

Somewhat off topic: well, in those days to live to be 67 years old was quite an accomplishment. I would like to know what was he eating and drinking, since, by now, quite a few of my elementary school friends died in their 50s of heart attack.

reader Tony said...

He had 2 kids with the first wife, who died few years after the marriage, and 10 kids with his second wife. Lord Almighty! Can you imagine Chinese or Indian of his stature in those times? We are talking like, 50-60 kids.

reader Mike said...

I think Napier was highly intelligent, or at least quite above average in intelligence. It's a mistake, I believe, to think that it's improbable for highly intelligent people to believe strange things. Take Newton, for example; he also dabbled (or perhaps even was enthusiastic about) alchemy, interpreted the Bible literally (and tried, I believe, to calculate when the end of the world would come from it), etc.

reader MikeN said...

No, Obama spent many years in Indonesia, not with white Americans, before he was in Hawaii.

reader dreamfeed said...

Yes, Democrat pacifism is a post-Vietnam phenomenon, like I said. Since then we've had three wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq 2), all of which were started by republican presidents.

I didn't make any claims about "war operations" or wars that we "kickstarted" - I'm just talking about actual wars that we fought. Maybe that wasn't clear.

reader MikeN said...

Libya is perhaps the most distressing war. Not authorized by Congress, opposed by Democrats there as well. The bigger problem is that Pres Bush made a deal for them to give up their weapons programs, and then Obama reneged on the deal.

reader dreamfeed said...

True, but he was also guaranteed not to win the nomination.

reader MikeN said...

They didn't just bomb Iraq, they had a large ground force.
Really, they could have let Saddam keep Kuwait, and indeed they had given him a greenlight to take the border area, where the emir was stealing their oil.

Pulling Syria towards Iraq and away from Iran would have shut down Hezbollah and Hamas.

reader MikeN said...

Iran shut down its program for a few years when Bush invaded Iraq.

reader MikeN said...

This is a good deal for the United States," Clinton said at the press conference.

"North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program.
South Korea and our other allies will be better protected. The entire
world will be safer as we slow the spread of nuclear weapons.

reader Gordon said...

Well, I think Thiel is mostly wrong. Schools are mostly useless for self-motivated geniuses, or even for the highly curious.
For the above group, they can be highly boring and depressing.

IMO, Napier was obviously a genius, and Lubos is just messing with us :)

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Tony, people have never had "mostly" 50-60 kids. In those times, countries like Scotland *were* the India while India's population was stable. So the situations were interchanged.

Curiously, I just read a rant (an unrelated one) about this very point 5 minutes ago

http://capitalistimperialistpig.blogspot.cz/2015/04/wealth-and-population.html

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Mike and Gordon, yup, maybe, in principle. The most important difference in the achievements of Napier and Newton resides on the mathematics and physics side where Napier is, despite his contributions, a tiny dwarf in comparison with Newton.

Both the mathematical and occult things were more ordered in Newton's case. For example, Napier wanted a punishment for the enemies of the church but he was, ironically enough, a witch - with the spider and rooster whose role was the same as it is for other witches. He could have been burned for that. The Bible provides us with ample evidence that this is the case.

There's significant gap in the creativity even in the occult activities. It may sound OK to many contemporaries to simply dismiss all of alchemy as a pseudoscience but it was really a less developed version of chemistry of that time, an era which didn't discriminate science and pseudoscience sharply.

By using spiders and roosters, Napier was retarded by several centuries relatively to Newton, I think. It may be a subjective matter but while I really hate Christian scholastics etc., I do think that it was intellectually by several centuries more advanced than the paganic superstitions that dominated e.g. on the Czech territory 1300 years ago or so.

Don't get me wrong, I think that Napier was smart but he could have been as intrinsically smart as an average PhD today. He couldn't make it to any sensible short list of the smartest guys of all times.

reader Gordon said...

When the US signs this deal with Iran and the sanctions are removed, the price of oil will plummet as Iranian oil floods the market. This will destroy the US fracking industry (I shed no tears) because it is not profitable at low oil prices (or even at current prices).

reader Gordon said...

LOL-I have no masters, unlike you, who have an infallible master. Believe it or not, I am not even very interested in jewish stuff or Israel. I just don't like mindless bigotry. Humans are all animals (a compliment, not an insult), even the deluded institutional religious ones--of ALL faiths. (note the "institutional"--if you are a "good" Catholic, you likely can't even read the books of Huxley I mentioned because they are likely on the index librorum prohibitorum of your Master.... Yeah, Ireland was "sorted" after how many deaths and knee-cappings by Catholics and Protestants?
Let's give it a rest. I am seeming too much like an advocate about something that has no place in my mental life outside of this blog when you mouth off.

reader BobSykes said...

Seems to me that Napier is quite the modern scientist in all of his characteristics.

By the way, once upon a time when I taught engineering, it always seemed to me that students found logarithms to be the hardest mathematical concept.

That, and, of course, significant figures.

reader BobSykes said...

Reaching 60 or 70 was not really unusual. In premodern societies, it is mostly young children who die. Go visit any really old cemetery and look at the ages of death. Once you reached five or so, your chances of getting to seventy weren't so bad.

reader cynholt said...

This deal with Iran is part of the Asian pivot and has little to do with peace. The more sensible faction of the US ruling class knows it cannot fight the entire world at once, and it sees China as the main obstacle to US world domination.

The US needs Middle East detente to clear the decks for a confrontation with China.

Obama is just a smarter imperialist than Bush and the neo-cons, or at least, his paymasters are smarter imperialists than Bush's paymasters, including a whole host of other neo-con paymasters.

reader davideisenstadt said...

so...5 standard deviations above the mean isn't good enough?

reader cynholt said...

The US had no choice but to cut a deal with Iran because
of the relationship that Iran has with both Russia and China.

As megalomaniacal as the US has become, they know
a land war with Iran would not be winnable, as long as Iran has
the support of Russia and China. And the US can always play
its trump war card - Israel - if Iran does not follow the terms of the
deal. This deal also gives the US increased leverage with Saudi
Arabia, if the Saudis ever decide they no longer need the protective
umbrella of the US military.

reader cynholt said...

We should have never left the Bush/Cheney administration off of the hook so easily. Now, we have no precedent for our government to be held accountable. Instead, we support Nazi coups, and place the blame on Putin. Still we hold Iran’s feet to the fire, and yet there is no blaze to extinguish. If we the people of the United States are to be judged in the wrong for anything, it will be for us not holding our government officials to task for all we have allowed them to do to the world.

reader Ann said...

Yes and it was also FDR a Democrat whose administration imprisoned American Japanese citizens in camps during WW2, some were sent overseas never to return to their country or families. Disgraceful episode, I am so tired of the conceited phony moral high ground of progressive democrats.

reader cynholt said...

That the fracking ponzi was about to collapse was obvious when commercials for own your own oil well (for accredited investors only, of course) started to hit the neocon-owned AM radio stations about a year ago.

Shale is the subprime of energy. It's a bunch of hype that will never payoff as long as there is one normal working oil well.

reader john said...

Do you have such a list ? Of course it is very hard to compare them without knowing history of science and mathematics very well. I think Newton should be top on that list and Gauss should also be included. Riemann is a question mark for me, he may be smarter than Gauss (his life progressed in a very unlucky way, I believe he could also discover many things like Gauss when he was young but he started to learn math at age 18!). Of course there are also people like Poincare, Hilbert, Weyl, Euler.... I think all of these guys were both physicists and mathematicians I believe. Feynman was also incredibly smart but he was very original, it is difficult to compare him to others. There is Maxwell also who I think done everything he can do expect relativity. And I don't know anything about Witten.

I think that in this type comparisons physicists has a disadvantage because what they can do is limited by technology of that time. Therefore when you look at the end, Gauss produces much more thing than, for example Maxwell. I think this changed with string theory.

reader Tony said...

Ah, I see. I remembered the expectancy at birth:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy

reader Luboš Motl said...

I don't believe that he was more than 3 std deviations above the mean.

reader AngularMan said...

I really see no alternative in the long term. Bringing Iran out of isolation is essential. Of all the nations in the middle east it's the one with the most potential.

It's a nation with a rich culture that has foundations that go way deeper than Islam. The population is surprisingly open and the political system shows an astounding complexity.

The current domination of religious fundamentalists was created as a reaction to outside forces. An end to isolation could weaken or moderate that influence in the long term. Trade is a way better tool for changing a nation's political climate than sanctions are.

Israel's current politics are very risky. They rely on the current leadership in Sunni states, a leadership that could easily be toppled one day. Then Iran would be their only natural ally in the region, as in the enemy of their enemies.

reader davideisenstadt said...

hah hah.
;-)
happy Easter Lubos.

reader MikeNov said...

So Bosnia, Kosovo, Libya, Syria don't count as US wars.

I'm sure Khadafy would agree with you.

reader MikeNov said...

They didn't have much of an issue when their 'country' was invaded and conquered by Egypt and Jordan.

reader Luboš Motl said...

You pretty much explicitly recommend a planning of the Middle East policies based on the assumption that the Iranian regime will change in some particular way, and independently of that, the governments of the Sunni states will also change in a certain way.

It's wise for the Israeli government not to build on similar speculations and deal with the region as it is now instead of imagining that the countries are controlled by someone completely different.

You live outside reality and you seem to be proud about it.

reader Angular said...

Emotional baggage like prowess is not part of my considerations. I just find it irrational to put all eggs into one basket.

A state like Israel needs long-term planning in order to ensure its prosperous existence beyond political shifts. Deepening the rift between Iran and Israel is counterproductive. Israel is not even in the focus of Iran anymore, now that ISIS is running rampant in Iraq and Syria. It's a golden opportunity.

There are plenty of indications inside current reality for my assumptions. The events in Syria, Libya, Tunisia and Egypt have shown that the authoritarian rule in Arab countries is more unstable than ever.

The public opinion in major Sunni countries is heavily biased against Israel. In a 2007 poll, 81,7% of the people living in Saudi-Arabia had a "very unfavorable" opinion of Jews.
(http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/arabs/saudipoll.html)

So if a toppling of the authoritarian rule in these countries happens in the next few decades, the attitude towards Israel is likely to change.

The likelihood of such changes in Israel's neighbourhood is not small enough to ignore it.

And whether such a change happens or not, the Sunni countries have shown that they are unreliable allies at best, funding Sunni extremism wherever they can. Once the Sunni terrorists are finished with Shiites, Christians and other non-believers in Iraq and Syria, Israel is the next target.

The difference between the Irani government and the Saudi Arabian government is small even now. Both are funding terrorism, both are fostering religious fundamentalism. Why choose one over the other when it is not necessary?

reader lukelea said...

In the past I've seen estimates that Goethe had the highest IQ ever. Of course I don't believe it. His theory of color for example is not quite up to Newton's. And his dinner table conversation was, if not dull, not terribly interesting either. What is it with the cult of Goethe?

reader lukelea said...

That's about where I am (or was) I suspect. Poor me!

reader mozartian said...

Napier 3 SD above the mean? I think 4 SD, at least. 3 SD people are still quite stupid, I know cause I am close enough.

reader Carrie Rubidge said...

Dear Lubos Motl, John Napier may not have been one of the most intelligent individuals but i think it is incorrect to refer to him as having a low intelligence. Even if the mathematical theory was discovered through time consuming trial and error, a level of intelligence is still required to comprehend the logarithmic relationship he discovered. As Bob Sykes stated, logarithms are not a concept that is easily grasped.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Angular, Saudis and Iranians are similar from many viewpoints but a good enough reason - for us and obviously for Israel - to pick the Saudis over the Iranians is that they act as allies of the only true free democracy in the region while the Iranians act like archenemies.

You don't care about these "details" but I do and for obvious reasons, so does Israel.

You use the term "long-term" but what you mean by this adjective instead is "detached from reality".

reader Mike said...

Recently I saw a website that grouped, by IQ (I believe 200+), Newton, Shakespeare and Goethe. Like you, neither Vladimir Nabokov, the famous author of 'Lolita,' nor his wife, Vera, could understand the cult of Goethe. Stacy Schiff, who has written a definitive biography of Vera ('Vera (Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov'), relates the following story in it (I paraphrase): 'In the spring of 1958 a professor at Cornell invited the Nabokovs with Eric Blackhall, a visiting professor of German literature, to cocktails. The host lead the new professor to Vera, who asked after his field. "Goethe," he replied. "I consider 'Faust' one of the shallowest plays ever written," declared Vera, as much to the visitor's astonishment as to her husband's manifest delight.'

reader AngularMan said...

I agree with you that the future of Saudi Arabia cannot be a democracy. It just isn't possible in the foreseeable future. But it could easily be a state controlled by religious fundamentalists. The population would support it.

And no, I am not a Jew, but I have some Jewish ancestry. I shouldn't really care about it, but for some reason it makes me interested in the future of Israel. I like the idea of a Jewish state, I don't like the idea of a Jewish state surrounded by enemies, because the location was chosen based on an old religious text. But well, what's done is done. They should make the best of it.

The state Israel is a project that should span many generations. Israel is in danger and it will be in danger for a very long time, so to ensure Israel's safety one must look beyond current politics. We don't know what is going to happen in that time frame, but we know the Shia-Sunni divide will most likely exist for a significant amount of time. It must be used wisely, if Israel is to succeed.

Iran is currently vulnerable, because it is assailed by Sunni forces on all sides. In Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen (an interesting move by the US btw). People in Iran yearn for an economic upswing. If there was ever a time for them to make concessions, it's now.

What guarantees are there that Iran will not be capable to build a nuclear weapon despite sanctions and being isolated? North Korea did it. I don't think the current approach will work long enough. Additionally isolation and sanctions seem to stabilize fundamentalist regimes. North Korea's regime is keeping the country poor and backward and yet is incredibly stable.

I am convinced the politics of Israel towards Iran must change. Unfortunately it will not happen and this opportunity might be wasted. It makes me sad, that's all.

reader Gene Day said...

Our current trajectory is not risk free but I think AngularMan is basically correct in his assessment of the situation. Iran is relatively stable and undergoing significant internal changes, which offer hope of a freer and more open future for that country.
No one expects the Iranian clergy to disappear but it is true that the Revolutionary Guards and, especially, the Basij are losing political influence.
We can support the reformists in Iran and it is our best interests to do so. In the long run Israel, too, will be safer if Iran rejoins the community of nations.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Gene, I admire your wisdom and opinions but sorry to say, I don't think that with your Iranian relative, you are impartial in this question.

There is no good reason to think that Iran has become or is becoming less dangerous for the region - and perhaps for the world.

Also, the term "community of nations" seems dangerously ill-defined to me. Is it some community of the "politically correct ones" who are being chosen by the U.S.? If the term is mean to be more universal than this description, then the U.S. opinions and U.S. deals with Iran don't decide whether Iran "rejoins the community of nations".

Obama and you may sign friendly treaties with Khamenei but Iran may remain the top pariah for the bulk of the nations, can't it?

reader Gene Day said...

We are not picking Saudi Arabia over Iran and we are not picking Iran over the Saudis. The best policy of the US and our allies is to support a sustained balance of power between the three major powers in the mid-east. These are Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The main change that is needed is an increased role for Turkey and that is slowly taking place.
It will take decades for the mid-east to join the modern world but unless we can achieve a degree of stability in its failed states it will take longer and the danger to Israel will increase.
We should not even think of these failed states as states. The divisions within each of them may well result in new national borders but civil order has to be the first objective and that will require cooperation among everyone with an interest in achieving stability there.

reader Gene Day said...

There are “Death to Israel” signs all over Iran but no one reads them any more. They, along with the “Death to America” signs are almost a joke.
My wife and I have a good friend who was in the Shah’s security service in 1979. This was a time during which a single word against the Shah meant certain death (my son-in-law and his family lived in Tehran at the time of the revolution). Everyone in the Shah’s security service was killed if they were caught but our friend escaped. For decades he could not go home without being imprisoned or worse. Now he travels freely and can visit his relatives there any time he wants. Incidentally, he remains a Shah “supporter” to this day.

reader Gene Day said...

You have to take political pronouncements in both countries with a grain of salt. There is a mellowing taking place in both Israel and in Iran, neither of which has very much interest in the other.

reader Shannon said...

Lubos, you must be mad at Poutine for agreeing to deliver S-300 missiles systems to Iran then? Iran shouldn't be allowed to defend themselves against any Israel attacks?

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Gene, if the U.S. were treating Saudi Arabia and Iran on equal footing, as you suggest, that would be a gigantic change of its Middle East policy.

Do you realized that in recent 30 years, the relations of the U.S. to the Saudis and to the Iranians were not similar in any way?

Both countries may do bad things internally but the Saudis *want* to be U.S. allies while the Iranians don't want to. I can't believe that you apparently consider this difference irrelevant.

BTW there is no reason to expect the Middle East to join the "modern world" as soon as in decades. They haven't joined it for 1300 years or so - so why would they do it in decades?

The evolution of these countries isn't an "unavoidable convergence towards the West", as some extremely naive Americans - apparently including yourself - seem to assume. Sometimes they evolve closer to the West, sometimes they diverge from the West. It is totally unpredictable which of these two steps will be more frequent in the next 50, 100, or 200 years.

I don't like your "division of the Middle East" among your favorite 3 powers, either. Is there a reason why you don't want to include Israel among the major powers of the Middle East? I surely do include it. After all, it's the only one in that region that has nukes, not to mention more peaceful advantages.

Were the U.S.-led disruptions in Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Syria, ... supported deliberately by the Americans such as yourself so that you wouldn't need to include them among the "major powers who divide the Middle East between themselves"?

Egypt is by far the most populated Arab country, and it seems the most stable and promising right now, too. Why did you eliminate it from your list of "recommended powers"? Once the Muslim Brotherhood folks were removed from power over there, everything looks bright there again. Do Americans have some plans to undermine the Egyptian government now? And why was Iraq dropped? Before some U.S. actions, it was able to led a balanced war against Iran - after your help, it's eliminated from the list of powers.

I am scared of your proposed meddling with that region. Sorry but people like you are systematically fucking up that explosive region.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Gene, we've already had the very same exchange, I think.

You're clueless. It is totally irrelevant whether someone reads the signs. Iran isn't a democracy so the public opinion is among the most irrelevant pieces of trash over there.

The problem is that someone - the powerful - *writes* these signs. It's these people who decide what Iran will be doing.

Your comments against the Shah are nothing else than a copied dirty propaganda of the Islamic Republic. Opposition was working pretty much just like in Czechoslovakia

http://www.brill.com/iranian-opposition-shah

with 800 books published by it, and so on. It's certainly nonsense that everyone was executed once he slammed the Shah.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Shannon, I am vastly more upset that Greece - which will go bust in a month or less and which is a part of the "confederacy" where I live - is going to buy missiles for the very same S-300 now. They apparently have too much money in search of an application.

http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/world-news/greecetalksrussia-to-buy-missiles-for-s-300-sys_1358946.html

You may have missed it but Iran and Russia actually signed an explicit military alliance. So it is totally natural that they deliver weapons to each other.

Does it make me upset? It's like asking whether viruses that sometimes fill the nose make me mad. Maybe but I am not controlling the viruses, or mosquitoes, or something like that, so it's clearly ludicrous to "complain". It's a law of Nature that such things are happening.

It's totally unsurprising - both Russia and Iran are treated as pariahs by the West, even though the reasons are different, so it's naturally that this drives them closer together. However their signatures under an alliance doesn't make it mandatory for either of our Western nations to treat them on equal footing.

Gene is suggesting that Iran should "rejoin the family of nations". Surely if it is supposed to rejoin, and be actively allowed to enrich uranium, it may surely buy missiles as well, right?

I think it's right that my country is in alliance with the U.S. and not with Russia or Iran today. But that doesn't mean that I will support hostile relationships to every country outside the alliance. What Putin or Khamenei do is clearly beyond our control - but what they do still affects our lives, and what we do sometimes affects their lives and decisions. But the influences are never absolute and it's preposterous to pretend that they are deterministic.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Almost no interest in the other? I can't believe you may write something like that. Have you ever read Israeli and Iranian newspapers?

Search for Israel at

http://english.farsnews.com/

You get seven hits on that random page. Egypt: zero. Iraq: zero. Only Saudi Arabia: twenty now beats Israel because it's just a month when the Iranian-Saudi relationships got more tense, but it may be just temporary and it wasn't the case months ago.

Similarly, take

http://www.jpost.com/

and open the Middle East. Iran is the most represented topic over there. Until recently, there was a special category of the newspapers, "Iranian Threat".

reader Shannon said...

It is not the first time Greece has announced they are buying military equipment despite their deadly financial predicament. I wonder if this is just an "effet d'annonce"... Regarding Iran I guess they might find only fair to possess some kind of defense against Israel, who, you may have missed, have the atomic bomb since 1967 when France agreed to let them steal their bomb.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Shannon, I think it's fair that France allowed Israel to have the bomb.

But the verb "steal" is a bit ironic given the fact that the atomic bomb was primarily invented by the Jews and not the Frenchmen, right?

reader Shannon said...

France didn't really allow them. Something fishy was going on secretely... I doubt the jews engineered/produced the bomb. They did marketing the feasibility of it certainly, making sure their jewish names were right in our faces. ;-). It is the craftsmen vs the seers story, as usual :)

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Shannon, when I said that the bomb was invented by Jews, not Frenchmen, I didn't mean it as some questionable invitation to a controversy but as a well-known historical fact that every educated enough person is well aware of.

Robert Oppenheimer, the boss of the Manhattan project, was a Jew, and so were the physicists at the roots who recommended the project to start - Einstein and Szilard - and so were lots of other people who worked on fission and the Manhattan Project at all stages, including Lise Meitner, the pioneer of fission, Enrico Fermi's wife ;-), Edward Teller, Joseph Rotblat, Richard Feynman, Hans Bethe, Rudolf Peierls, David Bohm, Niels Bohr (1/2), Eugene Wigner, James Chadwick, James Franck, Otto Frisch, Isidor Rabi, Stan Frenkel, Victor Weisskopf, George Koval, David Greenglass, Gregory Breit, Eugene Rabinovitch, George Placzek, Samuel Goldsmit, Louis Slotin, Louis Rosen, Jacob Beser, Theodore Hall, Morris Kolodney, and I could go on and on and on.

These people were the actual ones who gave the atomic bomb to the mankind - and you tell us that the Jews "stole" the bomb from the French?

If you don't understand why the Jews have the near-monopoly to feel threatened by elimination, then you are a Holocaust denier.

reader Shannon said...

1-Very good Lubos. Now give me the list of non jews scientists who have contributed to it.
2-We were talking about Iran and you give me a list of jews who made the atomic bomb.
3-You are a holocausts' denier.
Anyway you are on the wrong side ie warmongers' side. But there again do you have the choice ? I don't think so. You are being logic with yourself.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Shannon,

1) I don't have any comparable list of non-Jewish scientists who were essential for the development of the atomic bomb.

2) I gave the list as a reaction to *your* comment that the Israeli "stole" the bomb from the French. So if it's off-topic, it's your fault, not mine.

3) I am definitely not a Holocaust deniers and I insist that the Jews have the greatest credentials to talk about the threat of their annihilation. This is no warmongering. It's a dream about peace, or a limited magnitude of any potential future war.

reader Rehbock said...

He did. Fermi.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Right. With acknowledgements to his Jewish wife.

reader Shannon said...

Dear Lubos,
1- It doesn't matter if it is not comparable, just give the list some day. Even if it's only one person. But I guess there is not even one ? Maybe because all the others tend to use their IQ for the good of humanity without seeking celebrity. What a beautiful gift to humanity an atomic bomb is indeed, Lubos ;-). I bet you are serious. Typical from immoral use of IQ. Haven't you notice it is always easier to create evil? No, I guess you haven't.
2-Stealing the bomb was a game between secret services in both countries, I wasn't talking about the wrong doing of stealing. It was only an FYI. It is your fault for always taking things the wrong way and bringing this OT.
3- You are definitely a holocaustS denier. You think the jews are the only ones who have endured genocides but every educated enough person is well aware that other holocausts have occured (Armenia, Darfur, Rwanda among others).

reader Luboš Motl said...

I have already told you that I don't possess any list of non-Jewish scientists who worked on the Manhattan Project. So you won't get it from me, today or on any other day.

It's really bizarre that you want such a list from me. It is you who is claiming that the Jews stole the atomic bomb from you so it is you who should give us the list of non-Jewish - and perhaps even French - people who should be thanked for this invention, right?

Sorry, the other genocides are not caused "Holocaust" and I am not denying them in any way. None of them was also meant to eliminate the whole nation.

reader Shannon said...

I don't work in the field science so I thought you would know. Never mind.
By only talking about the jewish holocaust you de facto deny all the others. Eliminating a whole nation is a holocaust, whether it be jewish or other.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Shannon, aside from the Holocaust, there has never been any other credible, nearly realized plan to eliminate the whole nation. The Jews *do* have a monopoly on that.

Moreover, the word "Holocaust" would be incorrect in any other situation for yet another reason: "Holocaust" means "whole is burned" in Greek. Gas chambers may count like burning but shotting and drowning, which e.g. Turks did to the Armenian, cannot.

reader Shannon said...

This is awful. Absolutely awful, Lubos.

reader davideisenstadt said...

Ah...sweet precious memories of the french....doing the work the germans didn't have the time to do:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-holocaust-concentration-camp-lawsuit-20150416-story.html

At least their trains ran on time, i suppose.