Rajeev Bansal University of Connecticut 371 Fairfleld Road. Unit 1157 Storrs. CT 06269.1 157 USA (860) 486-2878 (860) 486-2447 (Fax) rajeev@engr,uconn.edu (e-mail)
New Years # b s & & k ~ Laws Keywords: Scientific laws; technological projections
akmg a New Years resolution is easy. But how long will it M last? Ah, there is the rub. Instead, as scientists and engi- neers, we could use this time of the year to reflect on what endur- ing patterns we have observed in our own technical work over the years that could be codified into immutable (well, at least until the next experimental data point dislodges them from their perch) laws. And, as a bonus, such a law could be named after the person formulating it. A recent issue of IEEE Spectrum [ I ] provided some good examples of such laws from the field of electrical and com- puter engineering, e.g., the widely quoted Moores law, which states that the number of transistors on a chip doubles [approxi- mately] annually. So, give it some thought, and if you come up with a nugget of technical wisdom based on your work to which you wouldnt be afraid to attach your name, drop me a line and I will share it with our readers in a future column. To get your crea- tive juices flowing, I have included below some of my favorite new laws, submitted by natural and social scientists to the online salon Edge .
Dysons Law of Artificial Intelligence
Anything simple enough to be understandable will not be complicated enough to behave intelligently, while anything com- plicated enough to behave intelligently will not be simple enough to understand.
(George Dyson has been exploring the history/prehistory of the digital revolution going hack 300 years.)
A linear projection into the future of any science or technol- ogy is like a form of propaganda - oflen persuasive, almost always wrong.
(Pamela McCorduck is the author or coauthor of seven pub- lished hooks.)
Dysons Law of Obsolescence
If you are writing history and try to keep it up-to-date up to a time T before the present, it will be out-of-date within a time T after the present.
This law applies also to scientific review articles.
(Freeman Dyson is Professor of Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.)
Maddoxs First Law
Those who scom the publish or perish principle are the most eager to see their own manuscripts published quickly and given wide publicity ~ and the least willing to see their length reduced.
Maddoxs Second Law Barrows First Law
Any Universe simple enough to be understood is too simple to produce a mind able to understand it.
(John D. Barrow is Research Professor of Mathematical Sci- ences in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge.)
Reviewers who are best placed to understand an authors work are the least likely to draw attention to its achievements, but are prolific sources of minor criticism, especially the identification oftypos.
(Sir John Maddox recently retired, having served 23 years as the Editor ofNatwe.)
lEEE Antennas and Propagation Magazine, Vol. 46, NO. 1, February 2004
Dawkinss Law of the Conservation of Difficulty
Obscurantism in an academic subject expands to fill the vac- uum of its intrinsic simplicity.
(Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Understanding of Science at Oxford University.)
I . Commandments, IEEE Spectrum, 40, 12, December 2003, pp. 30-35.
2. The Web site for the organization Edge: http://www.edge.orgi.@
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ProfessorPyotr Y Ufimtsex UCLA & UCI
Summarizes the pioneering work of Ufimtsev on methods to calculate the scattering of electromagnetic waves from objects of complex shapes. Kenneth Mitzner, in his Foreword, says: today the rather abstract physics and mathematics developed by this charming and unassuming old-world gentleman are influencing military strategy and tactics and thus helping shape history....
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IEEEAnfennas and Propagation Magazine, Vol. 46, No. 1. February 2004 133