Some important question about us and the world

The first issue of the journalDelta (in its printed version, of course) came out in January 1974. Its 250th issue appeared more than twenty years later, in March 1995. What has changed in the meantime? The journal itself is not essentially different now from what it had been at the beginning. It seems, though, that the world outside has undergone some visible evolution.

A simple question Why? is too general and difficult to produce an illuminating answer; most probably, no better response than something like tempora mutantur could be expected. We have therefore decided to turn to some of our eminent Colleagues with questions of the same flavour, though differently formulated, hoping that they would inspire them to present their points of view on the changes which our journal's natural environment has been subject to.

The scientists were asked to choose some questions from the list of seven which they would like to comment upon. We have received many answers. You are also encouraged to send your opinions on the topics included in our questions. This may lead to the creation of a forum for general discussion on these problems.

Here are the questions:

  1. What good will the knowledge of the small Fermat Theorem, of Oersted's rule or of Hubble's constant do to somebody, whose occupation is fish-culture or abstract painting?
  2. What's the good of teaching sums to people, if a calculator can do all the calculations quicker and better?
  3. In the real world there is no perfect gas, no vacuum, no rectangle nor number e. Why then does science speak of these ideal objects with such pertinacity?
  4. In Greek, the word "physics" means visible objects, natural objects or phenomena of nature. Why is this name considered nowadays adequate for a science concerned with objects which are creations of the human mind, as for instance elementary particles and fields?
  5. Years ago everybody dreamed of cosmic flights. Why has the interest in extraterrestrial voyages been lost after the first men landed on the Moon?
  6. Why is it good form to boast of one's failures in learning mathematics or physics at school, while nobody would publicly admit being a failure in arts?
  7. Why is parascience taking the lead over real science at present?
One of the most interesting answers has arrived from Łukasz Turski,
Centre for Theoretical Physics of the Polish Academy of Sciences.