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Submission + - The origin of the Waffle Iron

apwith writes: Does the history of a specific technology start when a patent is filed? A fortune snippet on Slashdot claiming that "in 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles", prompted me to look into the matter. Wikipedia quickly disabused me of this notion, informing me that "the earliest waffle irons originated in the Low Countries around the 14th century". However, it also told me that "in 1869, American Cornelius Swarthout (also spelled as Swartwout) patented the first U.S. waffle iron". The misunderstanding is clear, but it does raise an interesting issue, which is credit for inventions going to people who file bogus patents. (Not bogus in the legal sense; rather, I mean, bogus in the sense that the invention is not new.)

How To Communicate Faster-Than-Light 265

higuita writes "With faster technologies showing up everyday, people need to prepare in advance the problems of faster-than-light communication. The main problem is that packages will arrive to the destination before they are sent, forcing a huge redesign of most protocols. Read here the first draft RFC. Any network expert is free to help fine tune this draft."

Comment Re:That's What You Think It Said (Score 1) 503

First let me say that I'm very glad your post was modded up. I don't agree with you, but I still think it was interesting, and it generated interesting replies.

My religious ideas are nowhere near Judeo-Christian (and, like it or not, this label includes Muslims and Sikhs, at least for me), but that doesn't mean the bible is wrong or false. I do believe there are truths in most holy texts, after all they don't get to be holy if too many people disagree (it seems to me, but I'll admit some memetic research might debunk this hypothesis). The question really is: what kind of truths do they contain?

I believe man's natural mode of discourse is metaphoric. It follows from this that most ancient texts are written in this fashion. This means that when they are taken literally they are being misunderstood. I don't think the original writers realised this. I don't think they thought all that much about their mode of discourse, but formal logic and its close cousin (scientific discourse) are very modern creations. (Some of this ideas are taken from
George Lakoff, but their application to religion is very much my own. If he has any thoughts on the matter, I haven't read them.)

What I'm saying doesn't mean that historical, common sense, or other types of facts can't be found in these text, only that they are beside the point. You don't need these assertions to be true for the metaphysical claims to pan out, and furthermore, to fixate on these "facts" detracts from the proper analysis of metaphorical arguments.

(I don't mean any disrespect. Your trip may be very different from mine. You're welcome to fixate on whatever you like, but I think its counter-productive.)

Now, as to Science. I am a scientist and a mathematician, and what many of my colleagues don't realise, is that this disciplines are quasi-religious. Sort of like Zen Buddhism, they don't talk about god, but many adherents act as if they did. Scientists should realise (some of them do, but in my humble experience, most of them don't) that they pick such intense fights with fundamentalist because they themselves believe in a sort of revealed truth (revealed by man, but revealed nonetheless). Scientific papers are very much the opposite of sacred texts, and people do both religion and science a disservice when they discuss them as if they shared a mode of discourse. I'm not saying that scientists should stay out of religion, but they should argue religion in the native mode of discourse, which is metaphorical.

So, to sum up, religion shouldn't be argued literally, and science shouldn't be argued metaphorically. Though, of course, it can be quite fun to mix and match, but it is ultimately flawed, it leads nowhere.

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