Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How fast is fast . . .

A birthday salute to Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach (February 18, 1838 – February 19, 1916), physicist and philosopher. His name is immortal through his Mach number, which expresses the speed of matter relative to the speed of sound at a certain temperature. Mach is the measuring unit for supersonic planes and very fast cars. 

Ernst Mach supported the view that all knowledge is a conceptual organization of the data of sensory experience (or observation). He is, also known, in the area of sensory perception, for an optical illusion called the Mach band.

"I know of nothing more terrible than the poor creatures who have learned too much. Instead of the sound powerful judgement which would probably have grown up if they had learned nothing, their thoughts creep timidly and hypnotically after words, principles and formulae, constantly by the same paths. What they have acquired is a spider's web of thoughts too weak to furnish sure supports, but complicated enough to provide confusion." - Ernst Mach

"The true inquirer seeks the truth everywhere." - Ernst Mach

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