Humans

Sizlere Türk Bilimadamlarını Takdim Ediyorum

Theodore von Kármán (1881-1963), Macar asıllı bir Amerikalı fizikçi. Dinamik konusunda 20. yüzyılın önemli fizikçilerinden biri olarak kabul edilir. Supersonik ve hipersonik uçuşun teorisi ve uygulamaları konusunda çok önemli katkıları olmuştur.

The Wind and Beyond, von Kármán’ın hayatını ve çalışmalarını anlattığı bir anı kitabı.

Kitabın 334-339 sayfaları arasındaki 42. bölümünde Von Kármán 1954 yılında Türkiye’ye gelişini anlatıyor. Bilim ve Savunma konusunda bir seminer vermek ve kitapta anlattığı NATO ile alakalı başka işler için gelmiştir. Bir kaç günlük vaktini Ankara’da Genelkurmay Başkanlığı ve Milli Savunma Bakanlığında zamanın bürokratları ve generalleri ile geçirir. Bu sürede askerler ile von Kármán arasında çok ilginç ve eğitici diyaloglar olur. Askerlerin akademisyenlere bakış açısını ortaya çıkaran bu diyalogların unutulmasına gönlüm razı gelmedi. University of California Santa Barbara kütüphanesinde bir kopyasını bulduğum kitabın 42. bölümünü aşağıda bulacaksınız. Okumanızı şiddetle öneririm.

 

Türkiye ile direkt alakalı bu kısmını tercüme etmeyi faydalı buldum.

*****

Türkiye’ye 1954 yılında Frank Wattendorf ile birlikte geldim ve resmi kişiler beni Atatürk’ün mezarına çelenk koymaya davet ettiler. Kabul edip yapmış olmam herhalde onların üzerinde çok iyi bir etki yarattı. Akabinde “bilim ve savunma” konusundaki seminerimi verdim. Dinleyiciler arasında yüksek rütbeli generaller vardı.

Konuşmamdan sonra bir general ayağa kalktı ve Amerika Birleşik Devletlerinin ne zaman Türkiye’ye bilimadamlarını göndereceğini sordu.

“Amerikan bilimadamları mı?” diye sordum.

“Evet, tabii” dedi. ABD bilimde dünya lideri değil mi?’

İçimi çektim, “Ben sizin bilimadamlarınızdan bahsediyordum”, dedim. “Sizin bilimadamlarınız savunma konusunda ne yapıyorlar?”

Başka bir general ayağa kalktı ve “Türkiye’de bilimadamı yok, dedi”

Şaşırarak, ona İstanbul Üniversitesinde tanıdığım bir çok bilimadamı var, dedim. Arzu ederseniz size isimlerini vereyim, dedim.

General bana teşekkür etti. “Bir daha geldiğinizde, onları bir araya getirelim ve onların neler yapabileceği konusunda konuşalım,” dedi.

“Türkiye’de telefon yok mu?” diye sordum.

“Var, tabii.”

“İyi, o zaman onları telefonla arayalım.”

“Ama, isimlerini bilmiyoruz ve onları buraya getirmek çok uzun zaman alır” diye başka bir general itiraz etti.

“Gece işleyen bir treniniz yok mu?” diye sordum.

“Evet, var ama ..”

“Harika, ben onları arayacağım ve gece treni ile hemen gelmelerini isteyeceğim,” dedim.

Gerçekten de aradım ve geldiler. Türk bilimadamları bundan çok mutlu oldular. Benimle konuşurken hükümet ve ordudan çok soyutlanmış olduklarını söylediler. Ertesi gün toplantıya onlar da katıldı. Salon üniformalı askerlerle doluydu. En önde genelkurmay başkanları oturuyordu.

Ayağa kalktım ve “Sayın beyefendiler,” dedim, “Sizlere Türk bilimadamlarını takdim ediyorum!

*****

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    C. Güner Onay’ın yazmış olduğu Prof. Dr. Egbert Adriaan Kreiken isimli kitaptan (http://cetinkoc.net/earc/EAKreiken.pdf)
    Türkiye 15 Şubat 1952 tarihinde, aşağı yukarı AGARD’ın kurulduğu günlerde NATO’ya girmiştir. Türk Milli Savunma Bakanı’nın katıldığı ilk NATO Savunma Bakanları toplantısında Dr. von Kármán Türkiye’nin AGARD faaliyetlerine katılmasını önermiş, ancak dönemin bakanı Türkiye’nin savunma araştırmaları alanında NATO’ya katkıda bulunacak düzeyde olmadığı için katılmayı düşünmediğini söylemiştir. Bunun üzerine Dr. von Kármán Türkiye’de savunma araştırma faaliyetleri yetersizse AGARD faaliyetlerine katılmanın daha büyük önem taşıdığını, çünkü AGARD’ın, bilimsel yetkinliğe erişmiş ülkelere değil gelişmekte olan ülkelere yardım amacı ile kurulduğunu anlatmıştır. Bu konuşmalardan sonra Genel Kurmay Lojistik Başkanlığı’nda görevli Hv. Yük. Müh. Yb. Fuat Uluğ AGARD’ın Paris’te 19 ‐ 21 Mayıs 1952 tarihinde yapılan ilk “Milli Delegeler Kurulu” toplantısına katılmıştır. Kendisi ile yakın dostluk kuran F. Uluğ, Dr. von Kármán’ın 1954 yılında Genelkurmay Başkanlığı’nı ziyaret etmesini sağlamış, bu ziyaret sonunda 19 Ağustos 1954 tarihinde Genelkurmay Başkanlığı’nda “İlmi İstişare Kurulu Müdürlüğü” ismi ile ilk araştırma birimi kurulmuş ve yöneticiliğine de Alb. Fuat Uluğ atanmıştır12. 1957 yılında Tuğgeneral olan Fuat Uluğ 1958 yılında adı ARGE olan bu teşkilatın başında emekli olduğu 1960 yılına kadar kalmış ve bu sürede AGARD Milli Delegeliği görevi de devam etmiştir.

Predatory publishing

Many universities blindly want their faculty to publish. They measure productivity in terms of the number of papers, rather than their impact which is admittedly hard to measure. The easy street (“how many papers did you publish this year”) is however very harmful and costly for faculty, universities and the society at large. The outcome: Many Academics Are Eager to Publish in Worthless Journals. While it is difficult to measure long-term impact, this is what universities need to do.

Çetin Kaya Koç

Total tyranny

The National Security Agency’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter. There would be no place to hide. If a dictator ever took over, the N.S.A. could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back. — Senator Frank Church (1975)

The impossible happened

Richard Russell reports: Many years ago, when I was still living in NYC, I had a subscriber, a Swiss man named Jay Pfister. Jay owned a chemical company. During the early 1930s Jay sold his company to American Cyanamid. That sale made Jay quite wealthy, and he had a home in NYC and one in La Jolla. It was Jay who first told me about La Jolla. Jay suggested that I leave Manhattan and enjoy “a better life” in La Jolla. I thought a lot about Jay’s advice. In 1961 I followed his advice, and it proved to be one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received.

One day I met Jay at the Plaza Hotel on 59th Street. We were sipping coffee, when Jay said, “I want to tell you an interesting story. My apartment overlooks the Hudson River. Last Sunday I was looking out over the Hudson, and I saw two large boats heading towards each other. They continued to close in on each other, and I said to myself, ‘This is ridiculous’. The captains must be drunk. If they continue on this path, they’re surely going to crash.”

I looked wide-eyed and asked Jay, “So what happened?”

Answered Jay, “The ‘impossible’ happened. The two boats continued toward each other, and they crashed.”

20 July 1969

July 20 is a summer day. My hometown Ağrı, a northeastern border town of Turkey, is not one of the warmest places on earth, however it is still warm in July.

I was only 12 then, just finished elementary school, heading to the the Middle School. There was no TV reception in Ağrı at that time; it was an invention that had not arrived my home yet. The newspapers came daily, but usually a day late due to the time it takes to bring them from Istanbul by bus. Everyday I visited my father’s hardware store and some other nearby places, reading yesterday’s papers and following one of the greatest stories: The landing of man on the moon. Quickly, it became my job to inform my relatives about this extraordinary story. It seems, I was the only person in town who knew what was going on. I knew the names of everyone, from the President JFK, members of his cabinet, the director of NASA, top scientists, engineers, to the astronauts who were locked in that small capsule and sent off of the earth. As much as a 12-year can claim to be an authority on the subject, I became the source of information for my family, my relatives, and our neighbors.

For many, this was an event to which they paid intermittent attention, and perhaps forgot afterward. For me, however, it was an event that shaped the rest of my life. I decided that I wanted to become a scientist or engineer who can be involved in projects like this; the moon may have been captured, but many celestial objects are yet to be reached: Mars, Venus, maybe even Pluto.

After 40 years, humanity still did not figure out an efficient way to send manned spaceships beyond the moon, but the dream remains and our robot machines are already digging the surface of the Mars or heading beyond the solar system. As for me, due to what was available or feasible, I studied electrical engineering and then computer science, but I am still a constant admirer and avid reader of space exploration.

I am grateful to those scientists and engineers who dreamed of and finally accomplished the landing on the moon; without their implicit encouragement, an unpretentious boy from a  northeastern town of Turkey would have never have the courage to dream about a doctorate in computer science from the University of California.

Did Einstein believe in God?

– Do you believe in God?
– If you ask me if there is a God, perhaps I can answer that.
– Is there a God?
– If there is, he erased all possible traces, making it impossible to construct a proof. I don’t know why he did that. He must know better.

On 22 March 1954 Einstein received a letter from J. Dispentiere, an Italian immigrant who had worked as an experimental machinist in New Jersey. Dispentiere had declared himself an atheist and was disappointed by a news report which had cast Einstein as conventionally religious. Einstein replied on 24 March 1954:

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.

Einstein generally spoke and wrote in German, definitely in his earlier years but even after he moved to the US and worked at IAS in Princeton. However, this comment was indeed in English. Page 43 in Albert Einstein, The Human Side: New Glimpses From His Archives, Edited by Banesh Hoffman and Helen Dukas.

My Erdös Number is 2

If you are one of the lucky mathematicians (there are 509 of them) who has written a paper with Paul Erdös, then your Erdös number is 1. If you wrote a paper with a person whose Erdös number is 1, then your Erdös number will be 2. And so on.

My Erdös number is 2, because I wrote a paper (see here) with Professor Charles Chui whose Erdös number is 1, because Charles Chui wrote a paper with Paul Erdös (see here: On changes of signs in infinite series).

Erdös number of 2 is the largest it can be for anyone (from now on) since Paul Erdös is no longer alive. Sadly, he passed away in September 20, 1996. The Wikipedia page about him is here.

The Erdös Number Project studies research collaboration among mathematicians. To find out more about it and possibly discover your own Erdös Number, please go to here. Also, the social graph of Erdös is found here.

PS: For a while, I thought my Erdös number is 3 since I wrote several papers with Ömer Eğecioğlu who wrote papers with Charles Ryavec who wrote a paper with Paul Erdös (see here: A characterization of finitely monotonic additive functions). Thanks to Emilie Menard Barnard and Keith Avery for pointing out my paper with Professor Charles Chui of Texas A&M, who by the way was one of the nicest persons I have ever met in my life. He is now retired. Long live Charles. My best wishes. My best wishes to Emily and Keith too, of course.

Bright versus Gifted

A Bright Child knows the answers, is interested, attentive, has good ideas, works hard, answers the questions, performs in the top group, listens with ease, needs 6-8 repetitions for mastery, understands ideas, enjoys peers, grasps the meaning, completes assignments, is receptive, copies accurately, enjoys school, absorbs information, is a ‘technician’ of sorts, is a good memorizer, enjoys straight forward and sequential presentations, is alert and is pleased with his/her own learning.

A Gifted Child asks the questions, is highly curious, is mentally and physically involved, has wild and silly ideas, plays around yet tests well, discusses in detail and elaborates, is beyond the group, shows strong feelings and opinions, already knows, 1-2 repetitions for mastery, constructs abstractions, prefers adults, draws inferences, initiates projects, is intense, creates a new design, enjoys learning, manipulates information, inventor, good guesser, thrives on complexity, is keenly observant, and is highly critical.

Inverse question

Taleb asks: “You are rich, how come you are not smart?”
I ask: “You are poor, how come you are smart?”
Answer: I chose not to accumulate.

Colonialists with guns and scalpels

As the medical science and practice are advancing, transplanted organs work better in new bodies, making the need for organs more apparent; however, in economic terminology, supply is way behind the demand curve:
“Organ transplants are one of the extraordinary developments of modern science. They began in 1954 with a kidney transplant performed at Brigham & Women’s hospital in Boston. But the practice only took off in the 1970s with the development of immunosuppressive drugs that could prevent the rejection of transplanted organs. Since then, the number of kidney and other organ transplants has grown rapidly, but not nearly as rapidly as the growth in the number of people with defective organs who need transplants. The result has been longer and longer delays to receive organs.” [1]

So, where do we get new organs, if there are not sufficiently many people willing to let go? Perhaps, science can help us here: what about growing organs in the lab?

Of course, as usual, fiction (or rather, science-fiction) has already offered several other alternatives to producing organs in factories: for example, cloning people in order to harvest their organs later on. You can read several science-fiction stories and watch movies with this theme; here two recent ones: Never Let Me Go (2010) and Moon (2009).

This is fiction, of course.

The reality is however is on its way; two economists: “Mr. Becker is a Nobel Prize-winning professor of economics at the University of Chicago and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. Mr. Elias is an economics professor at the Universidad del CEMA in Argentina,” offer the following solution: You can sell your organs.

Well, we spoke about suply/demand curve above, so economists feel qualified to chip in. They give analyses and examples on how and why this might work.

Who is “you” above? You is the one that “needs” the money, obviously, poor people. And, who might possibly “buy”. Rich people, of course. Poor selling their kidneys to the rich would be morally acceptable to some, since we live in capitalism.

But what should the rich stop there? As, my friend Mark Gannon puts it “…because the next logical step for capitalism is for the poor basically to be kept around so their organs can be harvested for use by the rich. We all know only those who have money ought to be able to get organs for transplant!?”

Still, Mark’s scenario is probably more humane than the following: Sending mercenaries to harvest organs in other countries; armed with guns and scalpels. A new form colonialism, I suppose. Perhaps as the ships carried live bodies of Africans as slaves to Americas up to the 19th Century, our high-tech, refrigirated airplanes would be flying from all unfortunate places to the Elysium, filled with live organs.

It seems that while the West ascends to other solar systems or perhaps to other galaxies on the wings of science, they also have the capacity to descend into the moral oblivion even deeper.

[1] Cash for Kidneys: The Case for a Market for Organs. The Wall Street Journal, January 18, 2014.