Kyoto Prize Laureate Symposium Talk at SDSU

From Viewpoints Intelligent Archive
Revision as of 23:38, 5 December 2017 by Ohshima (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search
good morning I'm Nancy Marlin the University Provost and on delighted on
behalf of San Diego State University I'm delighted to welcome all of you to this
first lecture event of the 2005 Kyoto laureate symposium this symposium as I
think most of you are aware from the program is a three-day celebration of
the lives and works of those receiving the Kyoto Prize Japan's highest private
Award for lifetime achievement award Adana Lee to individuals and groups
worldwide in hosting the symposium jointly with the University of San Diego
and the University of California San Diego we hope to provide an opportunity
for an international audience to learn about the current Kyoto Prize laureates
and to contemplate the relationship between their remarkable accomplishments
and the common quest for peace and harmony in our world before we turn to
today's speaker Alan Kay the 2004 Kyoto
Prize laureate in advanced technology I have the pleasure of introducing some of
the esteemed guests who are with us today to share this occasion we have
with us the three 2004 Kyoto Prize
laureates dr. Alan Kay for Advanced
Technology dr. Alfred Knutson for basic
sciences and professors Jurgen Habermas
for arts and philosophy with the three of you please stand and be recognized
[Applause] [Music]
we also are extremely honored to have the founder and chairman emeritus of
Kyocera corporation advisor to KDDI corporation the president of Japan's
Inamori foundation which Awards the Kyoto prize dr. Haas ooh Oh
ena mori there are also several
directors of the Inamori foundation with us and as i college name i would ask
that they stand and that applause be withheld until all have been introduced
dr. hero amaura dr. shinji fuku Korra
mr. Toyama ena ena more a mr. meet Hyo
okano mr. aza Shaughnessy
leading our symposium events from the community we have with us mr. Malin
Burnham chairman of the San Diego's keota symposium organization and also
mr. Tom fat who co-chaired with Malin Vernon last night's wonderful Kyoto
symposium Gala and finally I think we
all are the beneficiaries of the organizational committee here at San
Diego State University and especially the wonderful work of miss Kristen doute
Kristen where did you go she's in the back thank you today madam
Kaneko bishop would like to honor this important occasion through a symbolic
flower arrangement Madame Bishop is professor of the Oh moco sink a school
of tea the Japanese tea ceremony is combined art in which flower arranging
is an integral component she has chosen
the container in the form of a circle to represent the universities and they'll
be Flor flower stems inserted the first
flower stem will be inserted by dr. you
no more anomaly for his great vision and philosophy I will insert the second stem
on behalf of San Diego State University to symbolize wisdom and guidance the
third flower stem will be inserted by dr. Alan Kay for his knowledge and
contribution to humanity and the fourth stem will be inserted by Dean Thomas
Scott for his leadership and inspiration madam Bishop will then add water to
symbolize the symbolic arrangement and nurture it
I have chosen
[Applause] plus them will be inserted by provost
and vice presidency burden for her
wisdom and guidance
knowledge and the contribution to society
in certified in Thomas Scott for his
leadership and is spread
again our additive
to nurse the simple arrangement we are
most honored to participate in this morning me name upon pages I truly
believe that the contribution of these
dedicated people will a better life for
all match our colony may perspective on
this memorial teeny sample desiderata master photos I will coil government
matter for takka takka takka till she
nearly 2nd distr butanol newsela yet upon us
my assistant the Hiroko students will she's the instructor for Soviet school
with school of Alabama and the director
of the San Diego Chapter also me Anna
she's the dis University graduate student
now to give you some perspective on the nature of the ward that Alan Kay
recently received we will show a short video introducing the Kyoto Prize
the Inamori foundation is proud to present the Kyoto prizes each November
10th in Kyoto Japan the Kyoto prizes are presented to individuals and groups
worldwide whose work has shown a significant contribution to the betterment of society and mankind Kyoto
prizes recognize three categories of human achievement advanced technology
basic sciences and arts and philosophy
the Kyoto prizes consist of academic honors a 20 carat gold Kyoto Prize medal
and a cash gift totaling 50 million yen about $450,000 per category
dr. Kazuo Inamori --zz belief that mankind's future depends on the balance
of science technology and the human spirit is reflected in the Kyoto prizes
which promote this balanced development of science and sanity they are designed
to recognize outstanding achievers globally and to inspire people to even
greater achievements the Kyoto Prize ceremonies have long been attended by
members of Japan's Imperial Family the
audience includes international dignitaries and elite representatives of academia science technology the arts
business and government permit me now to convey to you a message
from george w bush President of the United States of America each year
global heads of state offer their thanks and congratulations to the Kyoto Prize
laureates for their important contributions to society these leaders
recognition and support underscore the importance of balancing technology and
humanity especially as we face the challenges of the new millennium Kyoto
Prize laureates are selected from specific fields within the three categories the ena Mori foundations
rigorous nomination process ensures unbiased consideration of the nominees
and the laureates are then selected with the approval of the foundation's board
of directors the Inamori foundation was
created in 1984 with a personal endowment of twenty billion yen from dr.
Kazuo Inamori dr. ana mori is the founder of Kyocera corporation a
multi-billion dollar global enterprise that he established with the equivalent
of just ten thousand dollars in 1959 dr.
Inamori created the foundation in reflection of his philosophy he has long
said that human beings have no higher calling than to strive for the greater
good of humankind and all the world with
dr. Inamori subsequent donations the foundation's net assets by 2004 total
more than 64 billion yen or about 600 million dollars for 20 years the
foundation has awarded the Kyoto prizes to recognize outstanding contributions
to scientific progress cultural advancement human achievement the Kyoto Prize
laureates are people completely devoted to their work they hold a deep reverence
for the human spirit they've dedicated
their lives often with little recognition or encouragement to creative
work that benefits all humankind their
continued devotion to learning to excellence and their outstanding
accomplishments for the common good
establish them as truly deserving of these awards to build a future based on
a balance between science technology and the human spirit to encourage balanced
development of mankind's cognitive and spiritual sides to help ensure peace and
prosperity we honor our laureates for their extraordinary efforts and
outstanding contributions to humanity
this is the mission of the shadow prize
I'm Thomas Scott Dean of the College of Sciences at San Diego State University
December 6th 1962 was the last day of classes in the
first semester that I spent at a rarefied Eastern University and that the
time when the semesters work really began the tradition was to have a 12-week semester followed by a two-week
reading period during which we were given an independent assignment in each
of our five classes to carry out during that ensuing two weeks in anticipation
for the final exams that came in January and the assignment that I was given in
my mathematics class was to write a computer program in Fortran that could
be used to calculate the fourth root of my University store number what would
correspond to a read ID today which seemed a rather daunting task the 12 of
us in the class were taken somewhat ceremoniously to be introduced to the
awesome adjudicator of whether or not we had met with success in our in our
attempts and this was an IBM I believe 79 T though I've probably repressed the
numbers and mangled them in some way and
it was a hallowed occasion the computer
occupied a thousand cubic feet in its
own larger room it was all encased in glass temperature controlled humidity
controlled all set on Springs to guard against the violent upheavals of central
New Jersey and we were told that it had
cost the university three million dollars which was about the price of a major building in those days we all
pressed our teenage ears against the glass and listened to the humming of
this mechanical mind and our instructor
said to us gentlemen it was an all-male University at that time gentlemen in a
tone that he had of respect that he had never shown for any human being during
the semester this is the future of
computing he didn't know that Alan Kay was on the loose
at that time with the the breeze of
Moore's law at his back Allen set off to create a computer that you didn't have
to have an appointment to meet a computer that you could take with you a
personal computer he unveiled his
concept as the Dynabook in 1972 such a 70s name this was followed by the alto
as in Palo Alto Research Center which
defined much of the progress that was subsequently made in the production of the Macintosh computer and the Windows
operating system Allen helped create a high-speed
Ethernet over which computers could be connected in local area networks which
then on steroids became the Internet the
Mac Windows the Internet this was truly
a paradigm shift such as the world sees only occasionally several weeks ago four
of us from San Diego State drove up to Glendale where Allen's laboratory is to
visit this shifter of paradigms we
discovered a casual sociable
intellectually vibrant thoughtfully
opinionated man who seemed not so much to notice all that he had accomplished
but rather to concentrate on what he still had to do to use computing power
as an educational tool always in the service of intellect in the service of
imagination as Allen noted during our
discussions you get about 30,000 days you've got to use them well Allen's only
used perhaps not even 24,000 of his and yet the world is already a better place
I'm honored to introduce Alan Kay whose
Kyoto lecture title has been before you for nearly half an hour now
understanding powerful ideas and how computers can help
thank you very much it's wonderful how stories improve in the telling 10 years
from now I will have reached back and
done be credited with everything that Babbage did as well but actually people
in our field work in a community and so
the citations for awards in our field
are really a tacit way of acknowledging
many many people who work together in
our fields a practical field and that in theory you're supposed to build your
claims and one person doesn't get to
build very many claims and so the
unusual thing about technology is the way it sort of combines ideas about the
real world that we think of as having to do with science and ideas from the world
of art and story which we think of as
being more in internal and in fact the the root of the Greek word for
technology means things that people make and some of the some of the ancient
Greeks thought of it as being the same word word with the same meaning as Epis
team which is loosely translated as having to do with knowledge and other
Greek writers and philosophers thought
of the technique as being rather
different as being a having to do with practical arts and and so forth
so what I'd like to do as soon as we can
get bill to cooperate here is to talk a
little bit about why we might be
interested in computers beyond the simple practicalities of recreating the
world of physical representations in the world of bits and recreating the world
of accounting in the worlds of bits and actually most important idea is that the
computers actually bring something new to the table and it's not easy to
explain at least I haven't found it easy to explain just just what that is
so the Kyoto Prize gave an opportunity to come up with many lectures and so
each lecture i've tried to take a slightly different slant on this to
explain why i think this is vitally important for the future especially of
children and the human race so my
conversion went from having worked on
this desktop computer with my friend Edie Cheadle which we thought of as
being like a kind of advanced tool or maybe even a vehicle like a car for
doing things with information and because we intended it to be a personal
computer for professionals millions of
professionals we started looking around at people who are not computer
professionals but we're professionals and other fields and during that process
I ran into Seymour Papert who was actually working with children about age
12 in those days and papper was a mathematician and my background was in
mathematics and biology and I saw papper
do something just astounding on that visit in 1968
and he was trying to get children
you are
programs see more challenging property
circle of course to a high school student a circle analytically is a
circle our fans interesting to document high
school students and their teachers see if they actually understand what that
actually means and that means America most people have no idea what
experiments monsters are so
[Music] mathematician deity circle did not have
to have her concordance back we
restructure his drawers
and the language that Packard helped
originate called logo going a little as forward five turning a little is turn
five over and over as repeat if you tell the turtles to do that with the pen down
[Music] why it will draw a circle notice it
draws it without reference to where the center might be this warmer mathematics
main forms of animal science today
differential geometry vectors and Patricks genius was to realize that this
thing that is so easy to do on a computer actually is also in
psychological children whose mathematics is much easier for children to learn
then the arithmetic we tried to teach them in school and it's much more powerful so it's actually quite possible
to teach children the powerful ideas of the calculus to carry out the
implications of that so that was one of the greatest shocks I've ever had in my
life because my image of what the computer was went completely from
thinking of it as a tool or a vehicle to
something cosmic something more like the printing press or something like the
invention of science itself a new way of looking at things that could have a
tremendous positive benefit earlier age
with a very different as high schoolers with a less like a person with briefcase
where they actually have some [Music]
all those things flashed in my mind and I'm the plane going back to have this
idea that children could actually learn alcohol I guess by making their own
models in this enormous
games but games about reality is a mic
so that was going to grant me [Music]
well I don't want to do that I know I know so Bridget then we have the chance
of a lifetime to go with a bunch of
wonderful colleagues and one of them's here tonight Ted Cael are raised in
Hanover there many many years ago but
about two dozen people not me two dozen
of us together made a lot of the
fundamental inventions and personal computing today it was actually rather
easy and it was a heck of a lot of fun it was easy in part because the
technology had turned an important corner right around 1971 was easy partly
because this group was supremely well set up for doing it and the funding was
perfect and that the scientists were allowed to
follow their own noses on these projects and were able to work well with each
other and had a strong sense of destiny so that was a lot of fun but the
interesting question is what are of all
of the practical and Monday names we could have for this new set of
amplifiers what what are some of the more interesting ones and the thing I
thought would be really interesting was if we gave this machine to children with
a way of making things on it'd be very interesting to see if we could actually
get them not just to learn mathematics which is relatively easy but to learn
science which is much harder because of
its partly because of the three pounds of messed up porridge we have between
our ears that persists in seeing the
world not from the standpoint of reality but from the standpoint of ourselves as
human beings and so the that became an
interesting challenge and one of my favorite lines about science
is niels bohr who said science is not there to tell us about the universe but
to tell us how to talk about the universe in other words as human beings
we have representation systems physically in our brain and we have
invented various kinds of languages and ways of using that we use to reason with
but those have no necessary connection with what's out there and so science is
actually a relationship between what's out there and what we can talk about and
reason about you can think of this as a different way of critiquing the notion
of pure reason I also like Professor Xavier mosses much more subtle approach
so I'm hoping you will all go to his lecture because the the tricky thing
about learning how to reason little is it leads people to think that they can
reason a lot and even the Greeks got
caught up with us they thought for a long time that God must have must be a
mathematician because math was so neat and therefore you should be able to
deduce the struct the physical structure of the universe by just using
mathematical reasoning it turned out not to be the case at all and yet math has
been tremendously useful in representing ideas as we find them out another way of
looking at this is dr. in a more ease
approach which we heard the other day in the business lunch and to paraphrase
what he said he said the more talent ability and knowledge we have the more
careful control is needed and he calls this he says this control is what we
call character so character development is critical in any of the hundred
thousand years that humans have been on earth but it's absolutely critical now
that we're much more powerful than it than a cave of us with a club I think of
science as something that is philosophically interesting in fact it
is a part of philosophy because of this peculiar self-questioning nature it has
about its own methods and the fact that messy human beings are involved so
somehow science tries to find a way of saying reasonable things using a set of
materials including including us that are not terribly reasonable and we
should use that approach I believe much
more in dealing with social situations and understanding ourselves so here's an
example of something interesting about
real human beings this was a visit to a different East Coast University Harvard
University which prides itself on being a top place right after graduation about
ten years ago NSF took a camera person
and an interviewer and ran around interviewing the graduating seniors
their parents and some professors and here's what happened
we ask these recent graduates some simple questions in astronomy
consider for example that the cause of the seasons is a topic taught in every
standard curriculum okay I think the seasons happen because as the earth
travels around the Sun it gets nearer to the Sun which produces warmer weather
and gets farther away which produces colder weather and that's and hence the seasons how hot it is or how cold it is
at any given time of the year has to do with the the closeness of the earth to
the Sun during the seasonal periods the earth goes around the Sun and and it
gets hotter when we get closer to the Sun and it gets colder when we get further away from the Sun these
graduates like many of us think of the Earth's orbit as a highly exaggerated
ellipse even though the Earth's orbit is very nearly circular with distance
producing virtually no effect on the seasons we carry with us the strong
incorrect belief that changing distance is responsible for the seasons I took
physics planetary motion and relativity
background whatsoever and I and I got through school without having it I've
gotten very far without having it I had quite a bit of science in high school
yeah through physics want first year in
two years of chemistry regardless of their science education 21 of the 23
randomly selected students faculty and alumni of Harvard University revealed
misconceptions when asked to explain either the seasons or the phases of the
Moon when it's further away from the Sun then it gets colder the earth position
interferes with the reflection of the Sun against the moon
[Music] so does anybody we recognize his Rickett
where his regalia is from Harvard mm-hmm
this guy has probably never been off the quad so now I think that people have
people who are familiar with this know that this can be done randomly almost
anywhere and you get about the same results I kept on waiting for NSF to ask
the next obvious questions but on this video they didn't but a few weeks after
I first saw this video I was giving a talk over at UCLA and found out that my
audience was mostly seniors and a few first-year graduate students so I asked some of them to come out on the lawn
after the talk so I could try these
questions out on them and I got about the same result about 95% had severe
misconceptions on one or both of the seasons and the phases of the Moon but
of course I got to ask the next obvious question so let me ask the audience here
what is the next obvious question about the seasons that you would ask anybody
yeah so I asked them I said when it's winter up here in North America what's
the season down below you know southern part of the earth and every single one
of them said it was the opposite season every single one of them remembered that
but of course they had no idea why [Music]
and then there's this interesting process of about 20 seconds when they
gradually realized that the the opposite
seasons answer completely contradicted there but none of them were able to come
up with that thing that they that fact that they knew when they were answering
the original question and same thing what about with the phases of the Moon
what's the next obvious what what should we ask this professor as the next
obvious question this is a trickier one
so the no good one is to ask them have
you ever seen the Sun and the moon in the sky at the same time have you as the
moon sometimes been in phase so they're
not at opposite ends of the horizon the moon is always in phase and again the
twenty second pause as they realize there is no pseudopod sticking up from
the earth that could be causing that
shadow so so this is an Internet so this
is not a science problem and we should be very happy because the NSF people
actually would not have made this video if the kids had remembered the right
answer because that's all they're asked
to do today but the so this is actually
a thinking problem because in both of these cases the people who have
misconceptions actually had a way of
doing something about their misconception which is they had a counter example for their theory and yet
they couldn't find that counter example there was not in their set of heuristics
for thinking about anything to search for counter examples so it's kind of
interesting and
but it's not unusual in fact it could not be more natural when anthropology
first started studying differences of cultures and they then they started
finding out that cultures underneath the next level underneath the culture had
many many similar characteristics every culture had a language every culture
used stories as a way of thinking and
communicating and remembering and so forth many different things called
cultural universals and then there's
also another collection of things that are not found universally upon cultures
around the world so things like reading and writing that's not built into us in
any direct way it had to be invented agriculture had to be invented the math
and science that we have even the idea of equal rights is not found in
indigenous cultures somebody invented that and boy it's a hard idea to learn
and the discouraging thing perhaps is that the things that are natural to us
don't have any particular correlation with what we call civilization and the
these very very hard to come up with and
hard to learn inventions in various ways of thing no ways of thinking that are
not particularly natural to us are things that we tend to think of as being
part of the process of trying to put together a civilization and per my
opinion is that what's cool is about if we should have school at all is to try
and teach these hard to learn ideas and
in fact human beings are not only easily easy to
fool and shakespeare pointed out but we love it we have stories and theater and
magic and a whole bunch of other
activities that are enormous fun in which we want to be fooled so we go into
situations where we want to suspend our belief in order to have a transcendent
experience of some kind and actually with us today is one of the great
teachers in America today Betty Edwards who wrote the drawing on the right side
of the brain books I didn't see Betty but I'm pretty sure hey there you are
so we learned so much from Betty and one
of the things she does when she teaches drawing is to explain to the class first
thing that the problems that they're having with drawing don't have anything to do with whether they can move their
arms around with a pencil in them the
problems they have with drawing are largely to early perception of the forms
out in the world and not enough attention paid to the actual shapes of
the forms so this is an illusion that she uses in which she tells the class
for example the size and shape of these
two tabletops is exactly the same and
everybody says no that can't be and Betty does this with cardboard but I
have expensive digital cardboard here so
she takes one tabletop here and brings
it over to the other tabletop and rotates it
and puts it on there like that and I've
done this hundreds of times and I still can't see that they're the same size and
and neither can you however you can
satisfy yourself if they are I don't really have time enough to leave it on much longer but the way an artist would
deal with this situation an artist is a person in part who's willing to admit
that they're blind so in it if you think
about it you can't learn to see until you until you admit you're blind and
this applies in science as well so if you admit you're blind you say okay I'm
going to use an instrument and what they do is to measure off the exact
substantial of the angle from the eye to the object and then transfer over to the
other object and they notice oh yeah this is exactly the same length I just
can't see it my brain can't deal with it directly and it turns out the whole
universe is like that so if you want to teach somebody about science a good
start is teaching them to draw because drawing forces the suspension of
perception and the attention to the more
microscopic details in which many many interesting things lurk and another one
that's good that if we have more time I do this works very well with oranges if
you take two quarters and put one twice
as far away as the other you can see by
the diagram here that the farther away
quarter compared to the near quarter should look like that
so those quarters should be tiny but in fact unless you do this very carefully
what you see is that the one that's twice as far away is only about eighty
percent the size and it's fun to actually take the quarters and fix them
in place so you can control them exactly and in fact you still get that illusion
until you exactly close one of the eyes and look very very carefully with the
other eye and you can start see that this one is actually much much
smaller than your brain wants to make out of it and this is called size
constancy and it's one of the problems that plagues artists you know probably
for the last 10,000 years you have to have some way of defeating it so seeing
shouldn't be believing that brings us to what school systems want children to
learn with regard to science and math
and I'm confining the discussion about understanding here just the science and
math for this talk it's a large subject
here's as of last Sunday and for the
previous 10 or 12 years the standard 1 be in the 5th grade science content for
California has this interesting sentence students know all matter is made of
atoms which may combine to form molecules now anybody have a reaction to
that well ok so one question is what do
they mean by know given that atoms are still controversial 100 years ago but
even more the people in the physical sciences here will know quite well that
science today does not think most manner in the universe is made of atoms not
even a majority of the matter in the universe is made of atoms and what's
interesting about this standard is this has been pointed out to the state of California for more than a decade and
they have not changed the standard all I have to do is make a change matter to
elements and get something more like if
in fact the reason they won't change it we found out is because this standard is
taken from a textbook and they don't want to try to go through the process of
changing the textbook the other way of looking at it is that
this standard implies that nothing that is important about science has to be
taught to children in order to succeed in teaching science in California
nothing about what science actually is nothing about how you do it nothing
about the difference in meaning of the word no math is similar so the overlap
of school math with real math is almost non-existent perfect example example is
this the idea of invert and multiply used to be called cross multiply when I
was in school it's taught to children as a principle to be applied not as
something to be understood the children don't have enough algebra and 5th grade
to do the manipulations that will derive and very multiply and thus understand
what it is and where it came from and what they do have algebra in 8th grade
this is not revisited because in simple
the school system absolutely does not care what the children understand the stuff at all the math is taught as
really as an arithmetic or calculation using case based patterns and science is
taught as a new catechism for a secular religion and both of these are both
quite natural because if you think about
how life was 80,000 years ago we didn't
have the grand principles and abstractions and processes people were
trying to find out what would work to keep them alive and so it's quite
natural that the dominant way of dealing
with ideas in our brain is like a cookbook full of recipes and in fact
that is why the children that you saw in
the movie could not retrieve the related facts they are off on a different page
of the cookbook which you could prompt them to get to but in fact they were not related
in any systemic way and of course we
still do this everything is done cookbook style but now we have
additional processes that want to look beyond the simple particulars to try to
find if there are unifying forces and in fact the Greeks were among the first
people on earth to want to reduce the many to the few and so a longer talk
along these lines could pick any or all of these words and talk about how their
meaning has changed over the years the people who invented science I think
we're not worrying about whether reusing old words for with new meanings would
actually cause confusion but in fact I believe that people would have been much
better off if they'd simply made up new words for it instead of using knowledge
or know over again make up a different word for it instead of using theory over again make
up a different word for it that has the modern meaning attached to it
and when I was about 10 or 11 one of my
favorite my hero was irritant ease and
this is an often told story you'll find it in hundreds of different forms on the
internet and in most books on elementary
science about how irritant is who was the librarian of Alexandria at the time
had heard about a well sign here is
where as one is today so about 500 miles south there is a well and on a
particular day of the year the sunlight would go straight down the well and be
reflected back up and on that day Eratosthenes stuck a staff in the ground
or use the Tower of the lighthouse to see that the shadow was
cast and to look at it in slightly more detail here he the angle he measured was
around seven degrees and that is about a
50th of a circle and so multiplying the distance to a swan which is 500 miles by
50 gives you about twenty five thousand miles and they had a pretty accurate
value for pi by then in 240 BC Archimedes was about 48 years old so and
he had done a good value and so they're able to get to the earth was about eight thousand miles in diameter I just love
this story when I was a kid and when I was 14 I encountered it again
and all of a sudden I realized hey wait a minute is that really could that
possibly be so what about this case what
if the earth is flat and the Sun is near and small then of course the Sun will go
straight down the well and of course that will cast my 7° shadow 500 miles
away so why didn't they tell me that in
the story and the answer is it's a story stories do not have to be true in order
to sound good that's the problem in fact they rarely are true and in fact nowhere
on the internet could I find this case
this is taught as here's how are Eratosthenes did it but not revealing
how it was actually done so when I was 14 or so I set off to find well how did
Eratosthenes actually do it him I'm going to show you as quickly as I can
how this actually happened so the two things we need to find out is is the
earth round or flat and is the Sun near
and small or large and far Aristotle who
lived before Eratosthenes had remarked that if you're on land you can see the
sails of a ship before you can see the hull and I think it was a landlubber
because Mariners actually have crow's nest up on the top and they know that
they're the ones who really care about seeing land and if you ever been on a
sailing ship you do not look for land while you're standing on the deck you get up to the highest possible mask and
the reason is is that you get to see further further over the horizon you
have a chance of seeing the island that where you're trying to go
so that was one indication they had that the earth might be round and somewhat
somewhat large more interesting one was
noticed by several people including another hero of mine Aristarchus of
Samos and that is if you look carefully at a lunar ellipse this is where the
Earth's shadow is doing something to the moon you can actually see the curve of
the Earth's shadow indicating Oh something that we are on when you put a
big Sun behind it is casting a circular shadow so the earth is probably round
then the question is where is this where
is the actual Sun and in order to understand that we have to look at
something that most chill is one of the areas where most children check out in
fifth or sixth grade because they're
told that similar triangles have proportional sides but they're never given a reason for it so this is one of
those simple simple elementary things that remains a mystery for most people
one way of looking at this is if you take a triangle and measure it with a
particular ruler here you get 60 180 and
then the thing that Greeks realize one of their greatest inventions was to
realize that the gods don't care what ruler you use they could not care less
and so if you make a different ruler that is gradated the same way you can
measure off the same distances 180 here
and 60 and you have your creating the same triangle and because
you're creating the same triangle the angles have to be the same it is the same triangle this is one of the great
it's amazing to think of being able to
understand this and what you once you get this many many other things can can
help and now we have this interesting idea of because we because we know about
seeing similar triangles we can actually
do something really interesting simple one to do with the child is to first
take a diamond a quarter now we're not trying to see if they're the same size
we're trying to find the distance where the the dime occludes the quarter so we
get something like this and if we measure the distant distance in dimes
it's about seven dime diameters and because this large triangle is similar
to this one the dot the distance to the quarter is seven quarter diameters and
we can do that without having to measure the quarter that's the key because you
can't go out there and measure the moon so somebody in Alexandria
maybe Aristarchus took an Alexandrian
coin here and did this with the moon
it's a way to do this with your kids has put put the thing when the moon can be
seen through a window scotch tape a dime to the window and then back up until the
dime is exactly the including the moon and then measure that distance and
you'll find it's a hundred and ten dimes and what that means is the moon's
distance is a hundred and ten times the
diameter of the moon amazing is to me
because these guys are reaching out to a place that they can't go to so it's a
hundred to ten away and
we have this little idea here let's
measure this a little more carefully so
they would do it by drawing a picture let's make an earth is here that that
looks like it fits pretty well if we measure that carefully it's about two
and a half times the size of the moon that helps right because if we could
just allow Eratosthenes to do his work then we'd know how big the earth is we
know how big the moon as we know how far the moon is way and to give you an idea
of the what we're looking at here is one
of Aristarchus is great ideas so he said
ok the Sun could be near and small and
what I really want to do is look at this Sun as when the moon is actually half
full so I have this relationship the Sun is pointing in this direction and then
if I measure this this is when the moon and the Sun are in the sky at the same time so if I measure this angle here I
will get some sense of where the Sun actually is and so the angle was not
sixteen or eighteen or twenty or 58 or
63 Aristarchus star kiss actually measured 87 so the Sun is way the heck
out there and large how do we know it's
large because the moon occludes it so
the Sun has to be a hundred and ten Sun diameters away and the actual state of
affairs here is this if you measure it accurately today it's eighty nine point
eight degrees way out there much further than Aristarchus thought but getting it
out there is sufficient to go back and say okay let's get rid of that guy now
we get twenty five thousand miles around eight thousand miles in diameter
and because of that we should be able to start thinking about what the actual
size of the moon is now the important thing to realize here is that the Sun is
not infinitely far away it's not infinitely large so the shadows taper
and Aristarchus realize this so this is
out of scale here because member of the moon is a hundred and ten moon diameters away this helps us see and here's a
blown-up picture of it and notice that the parallel lines that are the size of
the earth and the size of the moon here give us an indication that we should be
able to take half of this moon shadow
notice the moon shadow tapers down to nothing that's why it occludes the Sun
so we can the angle of that moon shadow just goes perfectly in there and the
angle of the moon shadow goes perfectly in here and these are complementary
angles and that means this is the same angle as this and that means I can copy
this guy and just flip him over like
this and put them in here okay and I can
copy this guy and flip him over
and put him in here and we can see that
approximately the Earth's shadow tapers one moon diameter to produce its image
on the moon and we should worry a little bit about the four thousand miles of
difference here for where the shadow starts doesn't go all the way out here
but the real state of affairs is this remember the moon is 110 diameters and
so the four thousand miles difference here allows us to say yeah it's just about one moon diameter and just to give
you here if we wait
but what the [Music]
here so this is the earth weight so it's
worthwhile thinking that these scales are bigger than we think and the angles
are much much smaller than we think but that allows us to go back and say okay
we actually have to we have to add one
moon diameter here so let's do this
calculation again here right about like
that and by adding one here we see that the three it's really 3.5 it's about
2200 miles in diameter let's go back to
Aristarchus diagram of the moon earth system put in plug in 2200 here and so
it's about 240,000 miles away this is done without telescopes this is done
just by attitude and change your perspective and constructing a chain of
reasoning from the simplest things you can do with tiny physical objects this
is why the triumph of this way of thinking is so astounding that it can be
done at any time in history it could have been done a hundred thousand years ago but nobody thought to do it okay and
then now the Sun is a hundred and ten Sun
diameters away what does that actually mean and
[Music] hold up and what he's holding up is not
the earth but the orbit of the moon the
earth is about one hundredth the size of the Sun so the earth is actually the
size of a pinhead in the center of that
93 million miles away see pixels are not
enough for getting an idea of these huge
scales you can't really show it on it on a screen okay thank you
just to give you an idea of what we were comparing there is the Sun and the earth
is about this size and this is the orbit of the moon that Ted was holding up there
so we had this interesting thing in history that the Greeks could make
fairly accurate this is actually Eratosthenes map of the world another
thing that he did so in 235 BC or so
they had a pretty good sense of the explorable world in a way that was
actually useful to people 1,500 years
later the maps in the Middle Ages where stories again that essentially showed
the world as it had to be that is the
Garden of Eden is right here in the center and is very very hard on these
maps to see that this is actually Italy here and this is Greece and England is
squeezed out here in the corner and this is Jerusalem here so these are maps that
were made from deduction about what had
to be true according to what the beliefs were a few hundred years later we start
seeing maps looking like your itas Sinise because people were starting to explore the world again and they needed
maps that were not about the way the world had to be they needed maps that
were more like the world actually was it was this change into map making that an
exploration and maybe even the physical dangers involved that got people
thinking again about how to get past our
perceptions and how to get past our stories to understand much more about
what might actually be there this is a nice map of India as it was mapped in
the 19th century by a series of interlocking locking triangles very
similar to the way the Greeks map the Sun Moon and Earth system and then in
our time we're back a little bit in a story world for most people this is
Tolkien's middle-earth and the important
thing to realize that it is not possible to look at any of these maps and know
without other knowledge whether these maps are depictions of reality or
depictions of stories so maps are just stories and whether a map is useful for an
explorer or not depends on the science involved that is the relationship to the
to the real world and in the 18th
century people carried around little globes in their pocket that when they
were having coffee they would take the globes out and they could see what the
world would look like from space two hundred years later we went out there
and took a picture and it looked very very much like what the 18th century
thought so science is like that it's kind of a way in which the maps it makes
are never entirely accurate but the important things about the maps are that
we understand quite a bit more about what what the inaccuracies are about and
so we don't have to completely understand in the biblical sense of
truth and falsity what molecules and atoms are in order to make insulin to
save a 12-year olds life who has infant onset diabetes so the triumph of science
is by giving up old ideas about truth
and falsity it actually finds a way of splitting false into a thousand
varieties of false some of which are incredibly useful and important now just
to give you a glimpse of how this relates to children the probably the
most astounding thing to many adults
particularly when they consider what is actually being done in most schools is
how capable young children are so here's
an example of a very unusual teacher with six year olds and she did these are
after they've been in her classroom for about three or four months and this teacher was an unusual first-grade
teacher in that she had a very very strong feeling for mathematics
she loved math she thought math she was a mathematician and she loved first
graders and kindergartners so the idea here is pick a shape that you like and
make the next larger shape just out of those shapes and make the next larger
shape and make the next larger shape you can see trapezoids are somewhat
challenging you have to twist them around so the kids all do this
independently then one of the things this teacher did is kind of interesting
is to treat mathematics in this grade as
a an empirical science so the kids are making artifacts they make the artifacts
and then they look to see what they did so and they do this by not using the
tiles directly but making a representation of what they did so here's the diamonds made out of
cardboard now then they look to see what is actually happening in the process
when they did this and here's six-year-old Lauren said okay the first
one took one tile and they're a total number of one next one took three more
tiles and there were total number of four the next one took five more tiles in there a total number of nine seven
sixteen and up to about 25 or maybe 36
the child could see that well these are all the odd numbers so I'm just adding
two to get from here and these are the
square numbers probably not sure about seven times seven at this age but these
are the square numbers and the progression here is incremental we build
on the thing that we had before and then
the teacher had all the children bring their projects up to the front of the
class and put them on the floor and
everybody went or at least I did holy
because they suddenly realized that the
shapes were different but the growth law was exactly the same every child had
made a table like this and they realized that what they had discovered was a way
of making things larger out of things in a progressive way and the materials that
you used were used in a very very simple way this whole thing can be generated
simply by taking the number that's here adding 2 to it get that and then add
these 2 to get this 1 add 2 to it and so forth just keep on adding your way down and
the scientists and mathematicians in the crowd will recognize this as a first
order discrete differential equation and they'll recognize this as a second order
discrete and the people who likes physical science here will realize that
an enormous amount of physical science is just handled by this kind of math and
you don't this is a form of calculus that doesn't involve continuous
functions and it's a form that children can actually deal with so what does this
mean so an example of what children do
is to essentially make toys things that
they like to do on the computer and they
play with these toys they can make these toys do things and so for example they
will draw a little car here
just do this quickly put some wheels on
and so far it's just a picture but this picture can have properties for instance
it has a let's call it car here so one
of the properties here is where is it pointing it's pointing to North now but
if I change this number over here you can see it counting up and the car is turning if I turn the number here the
those numbers will change here's a behavior go forward
here's another behavior turn if I want to combine those I can write a little
compound expression here that combines these guys and click on the clock and
get it going and to see what it's doing
I can actually drop a pin down because
these are logo turtles in disguise and
so we see it's actually drawing a circle
here and in fact I can change this so if
I change the angle of turn here to make it something like three kids always
wonder is this going to spiral but in fact if you think about if the numbers
stay constant then it will have constant curvature and circles are all of the
things that have constant curvature so you're always going to get circles okay
another interesting idea is how can I
make my car go down the middle of the road here's a script done by these two
kids the idea is that I'm going to ask whether this blue guy sees the road if
so I'm going to go forward if I see one curb I'm going to turn in if I see the
other curb the yellow color I'm going to turn out and so you get something like
this notice this can deal with very sharp curves because it does not go forward
until it makes a turn so they made a little robot car using the principle of
feedback which is found both in human technology and in nature so this is the
kind of math that these kids do I'm gonna need some sound here
here's Jenny who had an artistic temperament but it was also a terrific
mathematician it looks like it's a rough
time today the pink thing crashing into the wall I'll watch her tell me what
speed they're going oh and the blue pigs coming in the lead
I have my own head I named it Jackson
and is catching up so one of the neat
things she did was you know how do you keep the pigs in the lane well you saw
previously kind of how they did in she and she thought oh I can use the
nostrils the colors of the nostrils on my pigs to sense whether I'm going to go
out of the lane or not and turn back in so that's how so that was that was fun
for them to do and then the idea is to think about well what is it that we just did so we look at this where the cars
speed is always going to be 30 and we're going to increase our horizontal
position by whatever the car speed is we let it go we get something that looks
like this with dropping little dots and
we can see these dots are evenly spaced or 30 apart and that's a way of thinking
about what velocity means looked at in the history another thing I could do is
to for example put a random tile in
there I'll generate some random numbers maybe from 0 to 40 and see what that
looks like and of course this is more
fun for races because not clear how
these are going to generate out and so you get some uncertainty in what's
actually going on and another thing I
could do here is to try increasing the
cars speed by something let's suppose I increase the cars speed by 15 so each
time now the cars speed is going to count up by 15 and I'm going to go that distance and we set that off we get a
pattern that looks like this takes off
really fast so this is a pattern that we associate with the acceleration and the
children learn their ideas about velocity and acceleration by playing
with the computer and then the question is what do these
things mean in the out in the outside world so I want to finish by just
showing you a science experiment done by fifth graders and this is about the
400th anniversary of this Galileo did this about 400 years ago and the objects
that you think will fall to the earth at the same stopwatches
the softball just really don't work when did he let it go we didn't actually get
okay I think we should do the shot and
the sub balls because they're two totally different weights and if you
drop them at the same time but maybe they'll drop at the same speed drop
yeah so we found that in every class of about 30 children there'll be one
Galileo child it's an interesting ratio
so the the estimate of scientific
literacy in the United States not just counting scientists but people are scientific literate is about five
percent so that says you should find one Galileo child in each class of about
thirty and so she just cut to the chase realizing hey forget about measuring it
we're interested in the result that we
can listen for the result just as Galileo did but if you want to look at
it closer today we have inexpensive handheld video cameras and so we can
actually take a video of what actually
happened and we see right away that even
single stepping and it's kind of hard to see what's going on but we can extract
the frames from the film this is every fifth frame from the video and we can
even stack them up and as soon the kids see this what do you think they say
acceleration what kind of acceleration well let's measure so one of the ways of
measuring is taking the these translucent rectangles and adjusting the
height of the rectangle so they're measuring from the bottom of one ball to
the bottom of the next ball so this is kind of what they do it's hard hard to
do it really accurately when I'm giving a talk but and this is kind of what they
do then you have this nice thing where
you don't have to do arithmetic you can do it geometrically by just stacking up
these guys and just a little thought
says okay each one of the heights of these things is the velocity and that time interval and what I'm seeing here
is the difference between one time interval to the next that difference looks equal and remember what the first
graders did difference there was two here the difference is minus four point
seven so you make a simulated ball do the same program
we had with the car just a few months ago there but how do we know that we
actually are looking at nature so let's
take a look at what Tyrone did here and to make sure that I was doing it just
right I got a magnifier which would help me
figure out if the size was just right after I'd done that I would go click on
the little basic category buddy and then a little mini would pop up and one of
the categories would be geometry so I click on that and here it has many
things they have to do with the size and shape of the rectangle so I would see
what the Heidi and I kept going along the process until I had them all lined
up with their height i subtracted the smaller one from the big one to see if there was a kind of
pattern anywhere there could help me and my dentists weren't so in order to show
that it was working I decided to leave a dot copy so that it would show if the
ball was going at the exact right speed acceleration is that cool so anybody who
doesn't have tears in their eyes right now you don't understand what's going on
because 70% of college students fail to
understand this particular set of ideas part of it is because the math that
they're portrayed in in college and in high school is a not the best form of
math for thinking this way this is a better way of thinking about it but part
part of it is because this is not an easy thing to do and yet the 5th graders
because they have a much more appropriate form of math in which to
think have plenty of brain power to do this Lily McDermott here is a physicist at
the University of Washington who has studied high schoolers and college
students for more than 25 years and their difficulties in learning these
idea these new ways of thinking about the world that were invented just a few hundred
years ago so when we think about
education in the 21st century we have to
pay heed to two important things one is
that it's not just the way it was eighty thousand years ago and trying to teach
things as they were taught a thousand
years ago or five hundred years ago may not be appropriate if we want children
to understand them we have to heed the fact that children's minds are set up
differently than adults but they're no less able than adults they just think
differently so we have to find the frameworks that the children can think
in and the children in fact can learn a form of calculus that allows these ways
of thinking about them Newtonian dynamics of various kinds to be dealt
with in a way that most college students can't today the key to this is that the
computer is happy to add up millions and
millions of little quantities and so must much of the thinking here in this
different form of calculus can be done looking directly at the differential
equations in their discrete form and simply thinking of what's going on as
incremental addition which in fact seems to be the way the real world handles
most of these things this changes tremendously the kinds of things that we
can hope to do with children and it also opens the door for thinking that
children might grow up to think in a very very different set of ways in
addition to the normal ways that their brain is bringing about so maybe the
next time you think about technology think about it perhaps not as just all
the practical things that can do for you but think about technology as a kind of an amplifier that when used properly
these amplifiers make us much much
smarter than we seem to be and in fact the the difference between the kinds of
things we can do and the kinds of things that were done 20,000 years ago is not
in a change in IQ as far as anybody can tell it's actually in a change of
perspective and a change of point of view that allows us to think in a new
way thank you very much
okay [Music] [Applause]
in this Kyoto marathon that our awardees
are entered in the next event that Alan has is a lecture at the Rotary Club
downtown at noon so we are limited to just a couple of minutes for questions
graph the house lights up please thank you a couple of minutes for
questions do we have some yes
of course that's always the interesting question
and ever since Montessori a lot has been known about how to deal with children
differently and to get tremendous changes compared to ordinary schooling
and the the plea I usually make at the
end of a talk and I certainly will at the rotary thing is that in in many ways
the the prime need is to help the
helpers so we have many people who have dedicated their lives to helping
children but because they are embedded
in the same system that doesn't teach this stuff most of the people that are
helping the children are not invested in
these other ways of thinking and so you get this rather long drawn-out seemingly
conservative approach so the idea has
changed much faster than the system's ability to take them up
but there are a couple of approaches to the one of the most important things
something that we have tried a couple of times haven't quite found the right
place is that just like you need to
start earlier with the children why not start earlier with the teachers if you
want to find a busy person look at a teacher in a classroom then ask yourself
how they're going to learn something that is even more foreign than a foreign language while they're doing all this
other stuff so maybe a better place to do it is to at least go to the teachers
colleges maybe a school district could give preferential hiring to the teachers
in the teacher College who have been willing to go through a special program
to learn this stuff but again the the
the printing revolution in many ways
certainly was a big factor in the Reformation certainly was a big factor
in the sixteenth century but the full power of what the printing press
catalyzed is seen in the 17th century now is about 150 years
after the technology was actually introduced into Europe so the this is
not unusual for these long legs as soon as you can get a larger
percentage of children who understand the stuff some of them will become
teachers and immediately starts working so one way of short-circuiting the
process is do peer teaching fifth
graders and seventh graders love to help second graders this has been studied
quite a bit why not do much more of that why not do more things over the internet
why not do more things in after-school programs where you don't have to worry
about state legislators and random ideas
about education and so forth there's a lot of things that need to be done and basically the parents and the concerned
citizens of a community can make the change in spite of the difficulties in
the state and the nation about this stuff someplace just has to make a stand
and the idea would be to pick a place that's large enough to have for instance
like here that has a major source of
teachers who most of which wind up in the school system here that is a recipe
for success so that's one set of ideas
but the other way of looking at is I've been doing this for more than 35 years
and it is not easy for instance even convincing the National Council of
teachers of mathematics that this is mathematics because unfortunately the
NCTM is not full of mathematicians it's full of math teachers which is
absolutely not the same thing yes
there's a fella named John Bradshaw you don't have folks that programs it was
big in the late eighties young grad probability he talks about the
dysfunctionality to someone else with a dry Martin back
[Music] about the white country
chuckling the laggy credits to keep out the events where they eat it and of
course no doubt and as we discussed in college what the wagons except jargon the
mathematics for physics on premises where faculty and literally opera states
any understanding of outside I couldn't
really more in for instance the you know
just a good one of many candidates to bypass is trick because what's important
about trick can be done just by thinking about triangles and you really don't
need all of the jargon of trig when you're doing the formation any other
questions no more okay thank you
thank you for sharing your insights with us Alan I would like to express our
universities thanks to the Inamori foundation to Inamori sensei for their
continued support of San Diego State University and for the San Diego and to
the San Diego community to the representatives of University of San
Diego UCSD and our representatives from
our sister institutions in Mexico and finally thanks to the members of the
Curia the Kyoto laureates symposium planning committee the San Diego State
University planning committee Kaneko Bishop and all the volunteers
have provided their expertise and support there our SDSU volunteers
waiting outside the lecture theatre to escort you back to your cars if you came
in one thank you very much for joining us this morning [Applause]