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Friday, March 16, 2007

Room 13A1

The crematorium





were turned into



A picture showing pictures of and or including the illustrations in Bronowski's book on my desk

showing a picture of the picture of the picture of the crematorium at Auschwitz and partly

obscuring the graphic EYE and other matters scattered (including some scraps of perhaps

puerile fragments of texts.)


all of this is inside an image or images.

Taken by a camera.

The whole - which it is not - being an idea or an image of some kind.

Seen by your eye or eyes.

somehow processed and in process or in progress

precious little

Room 13

‘I beseech you, in the

bowels of Christ, think it

possible you maybe


The author at the pond of
Auschwitz prison camp.

It is said that science will dehumanise people and turn them
into numbers.

That is false, tragically false.

Look for yourself.

This is the concentration camp and crematorium at Auschwitz.

This is where people were turned into numbers.

Into this


were flushed

the ashes

of some four million people.

And that was not done by gas.

It was done by arrogance.

It was done by dogma.

It was done by ignorance.

When people believe that they have

absolute knowledge,

with no test in reality, this is how they


This is what men do when they

aspire to the knowledge

of gods.

Science is a very

human form of knowledge.

We are always


the brink of

the known, we always

feel forward for what is to be




in science stands on the

edge of error,


is personal.



a tribute to what we can know although we

are fallible.

In the end the words were said by Oliver Cromwell:

‘I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may
be mistaken’.

I owe it

as a scientist

to my friend Leo Szilard,

I owe it as a

human being to the many members of my family who died at

Auschwitz, to stand here by the pond as a survivor and a


We have to

cure ourselves of

the itch for absolute knowledge



We have to close the distance between the push-button



the human act.






Room X

Room 10A The Descent of .... ?

Hiroshima - failure or victory for "the ascent of man"?
Could we caption this "The Descent of Man"?

(And the title - what of the role of women in all of this? Ascent of People? "The Ascent of Everest" ... and so on...)

The United States is the only country to have dropped an atomic bomb on a country - to have used a WOMD. The injures caused were horrific . J Bronowski was an official observor of this aftermath. The picture above shows Hiroshima blasted. It is controversial as indeed the US faced a vicious, indeed merciless, foe. It also probably saved the lives of thousands of heroic US soldiers. We have the paradox of the US victory over Japanese fascism (but it is also true that the Chinese and the Vietnamese defeated the Japanese in their respective countries, losing far more lives than the US) and this terrible and controversial event in human history.
Room 9A Knowledge or Certainty

Leo Szilard teaching and Fermi. Szilard invented and patented the chain reaction. He later stongly and actively opposed the use of the atomic bomb as the war was over. See Richard Rhodes (Pulitzer Prize winning book) "TheMaking of the Atomic Bomb" and "The Ascent of Man" by J Bronowski.

“When Hitler arrived in 1933, the tradition of scholarship in Germany was destroyed, almost overnight. Europe no longer hospitable to the imagination.

…all knowledge is limited.

It is an irony of history that at the very time this was being worked out, there should rise, under Hitler in Germany and tyrants elsewhere, a counter-conception: a principle of monstrous certainty. “

[Leo Szilard rejected Rutheford’s assertion of the impossibility of the usage of radioactivity (hence Moonshine the extraordinary book by Alan Brunton of New Zealand) – his comment was that that idea was “moonshine”). Szilard invented the chain reaction and then pushed theUS and Britain to make an atomic bomb, as he feared that Hitler was or could be building one]


“When in 1945 the European war had been won and he realized that the bomb was now about to be used on the Japanese, Szilard marshaled protest everywhere he could. He wrote meorandum after memorandu. One memorandum to President Roosevelt only failed because Roosevelt died during the very days that Szilard was transmitting it to him. Always Szilard wanted the bomb to be tested openly before the Japanese and in front of an international audience, so that the Japanese should know its power and should surrender before people died…

As you know, Szilard failed, and with him the community of scientists failed…

Room 8A Knowledge or Certainty

Earlier in the 1800s Johann Friedrich Blumenbach had put together a collection of skulls…there is no suggestion that this [was a racial or racist motivated] division…”

But Gauss pushed on to ask what the scatter of the error tells us. He devised the Guassian curve [this is still used by scientists, engineers, mathematicians students of or practitioners of statistics, and others – it is in the indispensable Eton’s tables.] in which the scatter is summarized by the deviation, or spread, of the curve. And from this came a far reaching idea: the scatter marks an area of uncertainty. We are not sure that the true position is the center. All we can say is that it lies in the area of uncertainty

The riddles of the sub atomic articles – are mental riddles.

Max Born [used to say]: ‘ I am convinced that theoretical physics is actual philosophy.’

…meant that the new ideas in physics amount to a different view of reality.

The information that the electron carries is limited by it’s totality.

The Principle of Uncertainty – The Principle of Tolerance.

Earlier in the 1800s Johann Friedrich Blumenbach had put together a collection of skulls…there is no suggestion that this [was a racial or racist motivated] division…”

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Room 7A

Karl Friedrich Gauss
1777 - 1885 German mathematician and philosopher.

We are here face to face with the crucial paradox of knowledge. Year by year we design more precise instruments with which to observe nature with more fineness. And when we look at the observations, we are discomfited to see that they are still fuzzy, and we feel that they are as uncertain as ever.

We seem to be running after a goal which lurches away from us to infinity every time we come within sight of it.

…and ever since astronomical instruments have been improved. We look at the position of a star as it was determined then and now, and it seems to us that we are closer and closer to finding it precisely. But when we actually compare our individual observations today, we are astonished to find them as scattered within themselves as ever. We had hoped that the human errors would disappear, and thus could ourselves have Dog;s view. But it turns out that errors cannot be taken out of the observations. And that is true of stars, or atoms, or just looking at somebody’s picture, or hearing…

Gauss recognised this with that marvelous boyish genius that he had right up to the age of nearly eighty when he died…

But Gauss pushed on to ask what the scatter of the error tells us. He devised the Guassian curve [this is still used by scientists, engineers, mathematicians students of or practitioners of statistics, and others – it is in the indispensable Eton’s tables.] in which the scatter is summarized by the deviation, or spread, of the curve. And from this camea far reaching idea: the scater marks an areaof uncertainty. We are not sure that the true position is the center. All we can say is that it lies in the area of uncertainty

Friday, March 09, 2007

Room 6A

from The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski

X-rays showing the human skeleton (but not other parts of the body) and the proof that x-rays are electromagnetic waves - on the RHS there is a picture of that x-ray diffraction pattern of a crystal of DNA - from the pattern of waves set up as the x-ray particles hit the molecules the arrangement of atoms can be deduced. The photograph shows the "regular pattern of ripples" from which the position of the obstructing atoms can be inferred.

My comment - as an Engineering-tech - and also as someone who watched this programme by Jaocob Bronowski avidly when it first came out on TV via the BBC (about 1973) - I know that measurement is always problematic. In measuring a voltage or a current (or any quantity) we are always only getting an approximation - this is due to the errors of observation and this is related to and a part of the fact that the "thing" or the Being measuring if you like (or, if the "thing": an ammeter, voltmeter, oscilloscope, x-ray device, electron microscope - whatever) also always affects the thing measured. One might say - but reading errors are no problem to this theory (statistics actually ensures that there are always such kinds of errors) - but even reading a digital meter - none of these are absolutely accurate - look at any technical specifications for a meter or an oscilloscope etc and you will see the limits of accuracy always given by the manufacturer - for practical purposes we can make useful measurements and we do so all the time - but if we are talking about investigating the fundamental nature of matter for example it doesn't matter what device or instrument we use - there is always error and there is always distortion. The effect of observation on events is also central to the Theory of Relativity by Einstein. Mathematics BTW - wonderful and as exciting a symbolic and magical Mystery it is - can only speak after the event - it cannot predict per se.

The problem of measurement and instrumentation is central to science and the problem of truth. It crosses into many fields and is not confined to engineering, science or technology. It is also related to Information Theory. These theories are related to philosophy, sociology, art, poetics, linguistics and politics - and then we link back to science and to the field I was at one time most interested in - telecommuncations and electronics and in particular problems of sig/noise ratios, channel capacity and various transmission systems.

Bronowski was an incredible man who became ill while making his classic documentary the Ascent of Man. He had wide interests and wrote abook about Blake and was greatly interested in poetry and culture - he also wrote poetry - and he was caught up in events leading to the Spanish Civil war - later he was involved with work and maths in similar arena to Leo Szilard, Fermi etc. He witnessed the aftermath of the Hiroshima bomb. (He was an offcial observor there.) At Auschwitz he is seen almost literally scooping up the possible molecules, mud and ashes of his relatives who died there. He was a passionate and deeply compassionate man.

for Jacob Bronowski from my poem: "Continue"

'Life was so darkened by your death...'

"What is the matter with the matter?" (Eyelight).

“This probing of the human body made x-rays exciting as soon as Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen discovered them in 1895, because her was findgin in physics that seemed designed to serve medicine…he was the hero who won the first Nobel Prize in 1920. [For physics.]

[Madame Curie, who won 2 Nobel prizes, used this discovery and an x-ray device to help save the lives of many soldiers in WW1 – but Roentgen’s x-ray device was used to cure many cancers and to diagnose diseases even before that time – this actually saved many many lives – the paradox is the dangers of these rays if wrongly used, and also of the awesome dangers of radiation in general. It is indeed the paradox of knowledge – and the moral dilemma – we all have: “Hands that can murder or create.” T. S Eliot in Prufrock.]

[To divert again my review (at the time this brilliant book was published I was the only person to review it) of Moonshine by Alan Brunton (which focuses or is predicated on the Life of Rutherford) gives an account of Curie and an insight into the intersection of poetry and culture (travel, exploration, etc) and science. Moonshine by Alan Brunton is one of N.Z.’s greatest literary texts by one of our greatest writers, performers, playwrights, or poets.]

"The smallest object that has ever been seen is a single atom of thorium [this may have been surpassed but the validity of the concept remains] ... And yet the soft image confirms that …even the hardest electrons do not give a hard outline. The perfect image is as remote as the distant stars.

Room 5A from The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski

"Knowledge or Certainty"

"...These pictures do not so much fix the face as explore it; that the if by touch; each line...strenghtens the picture but never makes it final. We accept that as the method of the artist...

...But what physics has done is to show that it is the only method to knowledge. There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claimit, whether they are scientists or dogmatists open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. That is the human condition; and that is what quantum physics says. I mean that literally.
Room 4A

Room 3A

the hand that holds a pen is as subtle as a billion flies

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The pure products of America go crazy. The mind's a queer sponge. The descent beckons -

Room 2A of Cell 1A

Is there - after?

Can there be?


the inquiry was which came first - but despite that - knowledge preemts decison, derision, power and politcal piracy: or does it? who'se missile site? who'se 'universe of anterooms'? was he? eh? did he? well well well, I'll be nevered! I'll be a bloody meatball! bugger me days it's hot this side of entropy. look white you right-side of inside. who are you where are the is the bad why because lack? no, not minus, it's not yet, Vector. if only we could eat. if only. if - if song then -( it did)

'stone dank green in rock when groan, she is not now, then, a tree can only see, as only if only a frog could croak: it's this we fake: for our light, was, a habit, desiring death (quite prior to the cathedral flower), because, of, tinge, tinge.'

It was early, but at least the mathy word men were busy chopping.


he looked death straight in his bloody boodshot eye

Room 2 of Cell 1A

they couldn't kill you

the seeding words
the human thud by dark wire


" blue blown up on yellow "

turn the human scroll


t u r n



by darkwire, barbed

the seeding words