RE: future language

From: Trupeljak Ozren (
Date: Wed May 01 2002 - 19:34:43 BST

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    From: Trupeljak Ozren <>
    Subject: RE: future language
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    --- Vincent Campbell <> wrote:

    > Sorry to butt in, but isn't weather "prediction" actually a bit of a
    > misnomer, as all that's happening now is that we have satellites
    > giving us
    > images showing us weather long before it reaches us- that's not
    > really prediction, that's observation.

    If you talk to the meteorologists (and I did, quite a bit, simply
    because I fly often), you find out exactly how much thought and
    calculation goes into weather prediction. You also find out exactly how
    useful it is today, and how accurate. I feel perfectly confident in
    stating that if for some reason no one did weather predictions for a
    day, our civilization would stop being a civilization, for a day.

    > There's no way to actually predict,
    > what's
    > going to happen on any particular day, beyond a few days, and IIRC
    > that's because the weather is a chaotic system.

    There is actually a number of ways. They differ mostly in accuracy of
    prediction. The fact that the weather system might be chaotic (there is
    a difference between our models of w.s., which usualy turn out to be
    chaotic, and actuall weather, that might or might not be so) doesn't
    change a bit the fact that we can today predict weather with accuracy
    unheard of even 50 years ago.

    > Besides, they still get it totally
    > wrong, as the BBC's met trained weathermen did famously in 1987, when
    > the
    > day before the 'great storm' hit Britain, forecasters said it wasn't
    > going to come near Britain.

    You are engaging in the well-known human propensity for focusing mostly
    on the exceptions. :)
    And anyway, I never claimed that w.p. is perfectly accurate all the
    time. :)

    > Prediction of, say, the motions of the planets is different because
    > one can predict the position of the planets with accuracy.

    Nope. Anyone who has ever been involved in orbital mechanics of the
    asteroid watchers, or modelling the moons and rings of Saturn and
    Jupiter, is going to tell you that this is again just a question of
    timescale. Quite a few bodies in our system exhibit chaotic behavior.
    And I won't even go into the orbital mechanics of some of the more
    complex human exploration missions, like Galileo (where you had a
    spacecraft use gravity-assist slingshots to tour the moons of Jupiter -
    a n-body problem with asymptotic chaotic solutions)....

    > Social phenomena
    > are more like the weather than the planets in that sense, so
    > predicting
    > future social changes is difficult in the extreme.
    > Vincent

    Difficult is not equal to impossible. My point about the predictive
    tools that we have today still stands. All of our science is here
    mainly because we have biological urge to ask "And what then?".

    There are very few men - and they are exceptions - who are able to think and feel beyond the present moment.

    Carl von Clausewitz

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