From: firstname.lastname@example.org (N. Thornton)
Subject: Re: Alan Blumlein site
Date: 16 Sep 2002 07:06:44 -0700
References: <email@example.com> <firstname.lastname@example.org> <email@example.com> <6RWg9.101$Fc5.firstname.lastname@example.org>
NNTP-Posting-Date: 16 Sep 2002 14:06:45 GMT
"Kevin Aylward" wrote in message news:...
> "N. Thornton" wrote in message
> > > > > Stereo
> > > > Electronic TV
> > > > High-resolution Radar,
> > > > Ultra high resolution transformer ratio arm bridge
> > > > High speed switches.
> > > > Many, many "standard" circuit configurations.
> > > > And he was dead by the age of 39
> > > > A genius.
> > > But this dont a genius make.
> > Yes it does.
> You must have rather low standards then. Look, twiddling a few
> connections randomly is not an indication of genius. Genius takes hard
I understand he was one of the few people to invent so many things in
his field: something that numerous other engineers never managed to
achieve. He was exceptionally gifted.
BTW are you claiming Blumlein just 'twiddled a few knobs' and did not
put in hard work? I would think that unlikely given his achievements.
If you think thats so... can you support that?
And surely if someone can invent so much without finding it real hard
going, that would only make them, if anything, more of a genius.
> Doing something that is *truly* simple in essence can not, imo,
> qualify as something that special.
Now there I so disagree. Any engineer can add complications to make
something work better. It is genii that work in the opposite
direction, and improve things by _simplifying_ them. Simplifications
that no-one else saw, and thats why they are genii. The concepts that
lie _behind_ the concepts in the invention itself is where the geiuns
is seen with such inventions.
> This is obvious, becuase many others
> could also do it, given that they were in simular circumstancse.
Not at all. 'many others' don't usually improve something by
simplifying it, and many others don't invent what Blumlein did.
> The Cambride dictionary gives:
> (a person with) very great and rare natural ability or skill, esp. in a
> particular area such as science or art
Interesting. I would say thats a false definition, and dictionaries
are prone to that. A dictionary defines something according to its
generally accepted definition, even when that is known to be
A simple example, 'obvious':
Dictionaries define it as self evident. But one thing I have seen
over and over is that what is described as obvious is in 99% of cases
not self evident, it is merely _assumed_ to be. IRL when something is
described as obvious, that really means that the person did not think
of any other possible explanation - and that is all it means. That is
why a dull person will frequently think things are obvious, whereas
smarter ones will say those things are not obvious. They can see other
As for genii, it is popularly perceived that they are rare, but IRL
they aren't that rare, they are just a very small minority %agewise.
There are several genii in this newsgroup imo.
Where do we draw the line? Ultimately its either a matter of personal
opinion, or of popular or informed opinion. Sometimes the 2 don't
align. How do you decide on 'the' definition then? I think we should
accept there are differenes of opinion on it, and that your
view/interpretation seems to be the minority one.
> In science one could state that a key idea is *extreme* cleverness. That
> is, simple being clever on its own is not enough. It must be a rare
> attribute. All very clever people can not be geniuses, even *very*
> clever people.
Only if you buy that definition :) I think Websters has a much better
rate of good definitions FWIW.
> It must be a state that is *overwhelming* more then the
There are lots of those.
0.1% of the population is overwhelmingly smarter than average... 6
million such people.
And other percentages carry diferent numbers... I'm not sure there's a
real knee numerically, but there are some conceptual knees.
> Now if someone has an invention that is basically quite simple,
> such that *many* others, in the same situation would have essential came
> up with a similar invention, then this can hardly be described as
> extreme cleverness. Making 100 or 1000 or 10000 of such inventions does
> not change the situation, usefull as they may be.
One person inventiong 100+ and most inventing zero says something.
That alone puts them in a very small category... kind of like your
> Utility and genius are
> not correlated.
Again, we disagree. The genius will invent seriously useful items, the
less bright tend to invent silly things. And the genius will
understand what is useful ahead of others: so they will sometimes
invent things no-one can see any point to, until their great utility
is explained to them.
> So, being very clever is not enough to be called a genius. Most
> inventors are simple not geniuses, despite being very clever, no matter
> how many inventions they make.
Most so-called inventors aren't even inventors. They come up with
crappy product ideas, or fanciful schemes that don't work. Nothing new
successful and significant about those ideas. An invention is a
Inventors are simple?
> For me genius is actually more mundane. Its systematic hard work.
I know a whole bunch of builders and road workers who are genii then
And if you mean just mentally, I know a whole bunch of mentally
challenged people who find every day pretty hard work on their
thinking cells. Are they genii too?
Are all hard working students genii?
> example, arguable the dude that solved Fermats last theorem is a genius.
> 1000's of people for over 300 years all tried, and failed. This guy
> showed a *rare* and great ability that *no* one else, in the *same*
> circumstances, could achieve. The *only* reason why any competent design
> engineer nowadays can not invent a diff pair, or invent stereo, is
> because someone else beat them to such simple tasks such as this
I dont buy that that's simple. Inventions dont come from random
circuit connections, they come from conceptual development. An
invention can be simple in appearance, yet be derived via challenging
concepts, or concepts no-one else came up with, because the concepts
behind those concepts were challenging.
Now in principle novel ccts could be generated by a computer program
producing random ccts and testing them: but it would have to
comprehend utility, or be evaluated by a whole army of insightful
experts. So expertise is still involved, even in what _appears_ to be