A short story about my first article.

In 1958 I started work on my dissertation (it was in the USSR).

At that time my professor was 82 years old.

As I chose to work on problems of using mixtures of natural and man-made fibres for producing fabrics he told me: “I never had anything to do with man-made fibres but I’ll be able to check your work and to help you to write articles.”

I was very lucky to find explanation why in many cases addition of a stronger fiber to a weaker one (such as cotton) resulted in a weaker yarn. Then I developed formulas that allowed to calculate the strength of any yarn from mixtures of different fibres in different proportions. Then I found everything published in the world about experimental results and compared it with results of my calculations.

It was a very pleasant surprise to find that there was close correlation between the theory and real experimental data. The formulas worked.

I happily told my professor about it. He said that I must write an article about everything as soon as possible. He mentioned that the Soviet government wanted to prove to the world that our scientists were the best and that priority of many discoveries (like wireless telegraph) belonged  to Russians.

He added that after he reviews and approves the article he will ask for the meeting of the faculty. I’ll have to make a report and answer questions. After the faculty approves the article it will go to the magazine of all Soviet universities for publishing.

I wrote the article in two days. It took only five printed pages and I considered it very simple and straightforward.

My professor read the article during two hours and wrote down some notes. Then he said: “I did not understand anything. Please rewrite it.”

After I submitted to him the seventh version of the article he said: “Fine! Now everything is clear! I approve your approach to the problem, method of solving it and prove that your formulas ready for use in the industry! Let’s call for the faculty’s meeting.”

Next week I made a report and was ready to answer questions. All of a sudden one member of the faculty said: “There is nothing new here. I read it and much more a month ago in the book published by professor X.” 

I was about to argue that the book and my article were opposites but my old wise professor stopped me and said: “Why don’t we ask professor X  read the article and tell us his opinion during the next faculty meeting?”

In two weeks professor X visited the meeting of our faculty and during an hour criticized my article. He said that the theory was wrong, that all assumptions I made when I created formulas were unacceptable. He also said that he could not understand why there was so close correlation between data of researchers from different countries and results of calculations using my formulas.

All members of the faculty thanked him for taking time to read my article and let them know his opinion. After he left the faculty immediately approved the article.

The article appeared in the magazine in 9 months (after usual censorship). Only three more months passed and our librarian notified me that the article was fully republished  under my name in the West Germany’s magazine for the textile industry.

Later I met researchers from several countries who told me that they were working on the problem but stopped their work after they read my article and independently verified formulas.

There are several conclusions from this story:

1. When you write something or discuss something think about every word and try to make your thoughts understandable to others. Don’t assume anything.

2. When you are doing something in a new field remember that there are no experts in the field. Experts appear when the field is already not new.

3. Old wise people can make fast and very effective decisions.

4. Censorship and bureaucracy are enemies of science.

Atheist Professor, Einstein and Snopes.com.

There is a well-known story about an atheist professor and a student:

“The university professor challenged his students with this question. Did God create everything that exists? A student bravely replied, “Yes, he did!”

“God created everything? The professor asked.

“Yes sir”, the student replied.

The professor answered, “If God created everything, then God created evil since evil exists, and according to the principal that our works define who we are then God is evil”. The student became quiet before such an answer. The professor was quite pleased with himself and boasted to the students that he had proven once more that the Christian faith was a myth.

Another student raised his hand and said, “Can I ask you a question professor?”

“Of course”, replied the professor.

The student stood up and asked, “Professor, does cold exist?”

“What kind of question is this? Of course it exists. Have you never been cold?” The students snickered at the young man’s question.

The young man replied, “In fact sir, cold does not exist. According to the laws of physics, what we consider cold is in reality the absence of heat. Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-460 degrees F) is the total absence of heat; all matter becomes inert and incapable of reaction at that temperature. Cold does not exist. We have created this word to describe how we feel if we have no heat.”

The student continued, “Professor, does darkness exist?”

The professor responded, “Of course it does.”

The student replied, “Once again you are wrong sir, darkness does not exist either. Darkness is in reality the absence of light. Light we can study, but not darkness. In fact we can use Newton’s prism to break white light into many colors and study the various wavelengths of each color. You cannot measure darkness. A simple ray of light can break into a world of darkness and illuminate it. How can you know how dark a certain space is? You measure the amount of light present. Isn’t this correct? Darkness is a term used by man to describe what happens when there is no light present.”

Finally the young man asked the professor, “Sir, does evil exist?”

Now uncertain, the professor responded, “Of course as I have already said. We see it every day. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.”

To this the student replied, “Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is not like faith, or love that exist just as does light and heat. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.”

The professor sat down.

The young man’s name — Albert Einstein.”

I liked the story but doubted the very last sentence. So I went to Snopes.com to check on it.

The answer is HERE

Ok, I was right. The student was not Einstein and the story could be not a true story. But it is not the end of it.

In this article Snopes.com gives several more stories on the same topic like the one below:

“Navy SEALs are always taught

1) Keep your priorities in order and
2) Know when to act without hesitation.

A Navy SEAL was attending some college courses between assignments. He had completed missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the courses had a professor who was an avowed atheist and a member of the ACLU. One day he shocked the class when he came in, looked to the ceiling, and flatly stated, “God, if you are real, then I want you to knock me off this platform. I’ll give you exactly 15 minutes.”

The lecture room fell silent. You could hear a pin drop. Ten minutes went by and the professor proclaimed, “Here I am, God. I’m still waiting.”

It got down to the last couple of minutes when the SEAL got out of his chair, went up to the professor, and cold-cocked him; knocking him off the platform. The professor was out cold. The SEAL went back to his seat and sat there, silently. The other students were shocked and stunned and sat there looking on in silence.

The professor eventually came to, noticeably shaken, looked at the SEAL and asked, “What the hell is the matter with you? Why did you do that?”

The SEAL calmly replied, “God was too busy today protecting America’s soldiers who are protecting your right to say stupid shit and act like an asshole. So He sent me.”

Then the article says: “Faith can’t be proved (or disproved); if such validations were possible, those concepts would stop being matters of faith and start being matters of fact.”

I recommend everybody to read whole article as I gave only excerpts of it. It is very interesting and thoughts provoking. The link is HERE.

Please don’t get me wrong.

I am for human rights.

We are free to choose our believes.

However, I don’t  support the idea that it is good to be stupid and ignorant or the idea that somebody else (professors, politicians, etc.) should think for us.

Every child asks questions: What? Where? How? Why? He receives answers, evaluates them and grows.

If a living organism stops to grow it dies. We must continue to ask questions at every age.