[seqfan] Re: Poster mentioning OEIS

Richard Mathar mathar at strw.leidenuniv.nl
Wed Oct 5 13:29:46 CEST 2011

Lots of question come into mind:
i) The collector (that half of the hunter and gatherer spirit) is collecting
  items with a sense that the things may be useful in the future without
  knowing for sure at which point in time that might be. So where does
  the collection of food etc in preparation for the winter end (just
  foresight and care) and where does this the vague lookout to the future
  (note the stock market terminology) start?
ii) Are there known cases where good storage of items or data could have 
  prevented loss? I am not thinking of art items that are lost in war times
  or by fire in archives, but of knowledge (in sciences) that once existed and
  could -at least- have saved time and boosted civilization and economies?
  Is there in fact an anti-poster to what Wolfram shows?
  (There is perhaps the example of the iron curtain which lead to many double
  discoveries on the two sides, simply by lack of communication...)
So did one of Neil's ancestors in fact collect digits of Pi, say in some
Greek temple, which did not make it through the Roman empire because their
practical minds did not see any use for them in building bridges or fighting
some Gallic folks?
There are anecdotes of great minds who solved "famous" problems, say
the 3-body problem of physics, but for most of these stories, these heroes
have quickly figured out that they did not actually make progress.. so these
pieces of history do not count, nor the destruction of the library
of Alexandria of which we do not know what it contained.

Hagar the Horrible: "Let us remind the great achievements the medieval
times brought to us: the compat axt, the two-edged swort, the double-headed
spiked mace, the catapult...."

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