# B Royal Society revives a strange old document

1. May 12, 2018

### slow

Hi. I want to show a publication from the middle of the 20th century.

http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/253/1025/205

I have been surprised by the subject it deals with. I would like to understand why the Royal Society digitizes that old document, which has never been received by the mainstream. I suppose that the lack of reception is a consequence of serious errors in development. And I would like to have some idea of those errors, if they exist. Your comments on this will surely help me. Best regards.

2. May 12, 2018

### robphy

I think the Royal Society is digitizing its journals for archival purposes, without judging the various papers on their merits or faults.
I have no comment on the content of that particular article.

3. May 12, 2018

### slow

I agree And I have the following question: does someone want to archive what is not useful ?
Edit: Now I am noticing that historians could be interested in everything, what is useful and what is not useful.

4. May 12, 2018

### Staff: Mentor

Right. in addition to being difficult and time consuming to judge what is worth saving and what isn't, our judgement could change in the future. It is easier and safer to save everything.

5. May 12, 2018

### robphy

It’s also good to see what folks were thinking at the time, especially by following the web of references and citations.

In research, it would be a timesaver to know that one is going in the wrong direction... unfortunately such results aren’t published or at least acknowledged.

6. May 12, 2018

### olgerm

I couldn't open the document. PDF link took me back to the same page. Have anyone read the actual document?

Last edited: May 12, 2018
7. May 12, 2018

### sophiecentaur

Of course. You have to consider just who would be doing the digitisation. They wouldn't be using subject experts but clerical staff. It would be far more dangerous to allow potentially useful stuff to be ditched.

8. May 12, 2018

### slow

Last edited: May 12, 2018
9. May 13, 2018

### sophiecentaur

What a different world we would live in if we just assumed we would be paying for all the data we get from the Internet. Micropayments would be an accepted way of getting information and we would then not be subjected to the antics of Cambridge Analytica. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

10. May 13, 2018

### Staff: Mentor

That note on his retirement from the University of Sheffield was published in 1940. A Google search for "s r milner physics sheffield" turned up a Google Books link to a list of former professors at the University of Manchester which indicates that he was there 1898-1900. So he received his education through his doctorate before then, in the late 1800s. At that time, the structure of matter (before QM!) was a wide-open question with many physicists trying to make sense of it using classical mechanics and electrodynamics. One might speculate that Milner "returned to his roots" in retirement.

The article of his that you linked to, was published 17 November 1960 but "received May 31, 1954" I wonder what the story is behind that.

11. May 13, 2018

### slow

Regardless of the dates, I liked that someone managed to formulate 100% of $m C^2$ as electromagnetic wave energy. Why did I like it? First, because then the universal validity of the mass / energy ratio and the wave properties of the particles are understood naturally. Second, because the abstract says that the mathematics go well. Third, because there says it allows to derive the discrete distribution of the electric charge. And there says that, in the case of the atom, the scheme implies a distribution by layers with well-defined energy levels. All derived from classical electrodynamics. Today all that is not part of the mainstream. Then we can not grant it validity. That's why the Royal Society surprised me by reviving a document that, in advance, is doomed to be scientifically useless. But historically, epistemologically, it might be interesting to keep it. Only that.

12. May 13, 2018

### Mister T

That is correct. You might be surprised at how much good stuff there is out there that is never taught or learned in mainstream academia.

I don't see how that follows. There's lots of valid stuff out there. The fact that most of it is not taught in the mainstream is certainly not a criterion for validity. Rather, the appeal is made to Nature for that determination.

13. May 14, 2018

### sophiecentaur

It's usually the other way round: loads of stuff isn't taught because it's just wrong or superceeded. There is a tendency towards conservatism in Science which is actually very efficient. Just think of the 99% of nonsense that gets proposed, as against the useful 1%. If something in the 99% happens to be valid, it will surface again and get considered.
Scattergun Science just doesn't work and any hint of 'conspiracy' against alternative theories is largely misplaced. Yes, personalities are involved and established egos account for reluctance to change paradigms but it's the least worst system.

14. May 14, 2018

### slow

I do not despise the fact of taking a look at non-mainstream sites. In fact, the image of my avatar appears in a non-mainstream monograph, written in Spanish, which is my native language. But my subjective taste for what that monograph says is one thing and granting validity to a non-mainstream proposal is another very different thing.

Last edited: May 14, 2018
15. May 14, 2018

### Mister T

Validity is determined solely by Nature. There are a lot of models that are valid in the sense that the model's behavior matches Nature's, within the limits of that validity. My point is that the majority of those things are not part of a mainstream education. There is too much of it to fit within a curriculum. It takes a few years to get a degree, not a few lifetimes. And it would take more than one lifetime to learn it all.

16. May 14, 2018

### slow

You have expressed an epistemological conviction. I agree with that.
I suppose I can agree with that too. I say I suppose and I do not say I confirm, because my outlook on that matter is relatively small. I also take into account that only in exceptional cases, something that is initially non-mainstream, is incorporated into mainstream because no other available scheme is better suited. Some examples of such exceptions are famous, such as the work of Faraday, or in older times, the work of Fermat. I would like to have an exception detector to use it every time I go through non-mainstream sites, something able to sniff out what has real physical flesh and, as a consequence, has a future.

17. May 14, 2018

### sophiecentaur

But that's life, isn't it? Fact is that it's been well over a hundred years since one person can know it all. Mainstream education can't be aimed at the exceptionally able and there will be stuff that most people will have no chance of ever understanding. It is also a fact that Science is hierarchical and it is not possible (as many PF contributors seem to expect) to leap in and have a meaningful discussion about cutting edge Science without a good basic knowledge. On being told gently that "it's just too hard for you", people take offence and say that the establishment is cutting them out.
Some difficult politics involved there because PF wants to nurture anyone who comes in with the right attitude and respect for the subject.

18. May 15, 2018

### 256bits

It seems the article will become "free" in the future.

http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/faq