Friday, May 18, 2012

Quotes from Frederick W. Kantor

One of the most interesting things to come out of teaching a New York Academy of Sciences after-school math program at Ronald Edmonds middle school in Brooklyn was quite entirely unexpected.

As I was introduced to people on the first day of the program, some pride was shown by the administrator when she indicated a heavily bearded, wizened old man sitting next to a girl having trouble with fractions or some such thing. Doctor Kantor, she said, who had all those things published in the journals.


The very same Dr. Frederick W. Kantor of Columbia University, famous in some circles for originating the field of Information Mechanics. (The wiki page is now called Digital Physics; I don't think Dr. Kantor would approve.) The astonishingly low chance of running into an innovative physicist at a New York City public middle school, and then one whose work I find so interesting, was enough to make me think the universe was having a laugh with me.

I don't always follow everything Dr. Kantor says, but just yesterday after the last of this after-school program's sessions we chatted for a bit and it was really quite enjoyable. Here are two quotes, the second of which is him quoting Chien-Shiung Wu:

"A theory that tries to explain its assumptions is a tautology."
- Fred Kantor

"They forget that mass is an assumption."
Madame Wu to Fred Kantor

Dr. Kantor also spoke of some newer work of his, especially that relating information mechanics and the foundations of mathematics, which I really hope he publishes soon. I'm no expert, but I think information mechanics is a candidate for being a Really Good Idea that people have been neglecting.

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