Chronology Current Month Current Thread Current Date
[Year List] [Month List (current year)] [Date Index] [Thread Index] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Prev] [Date Next]

Re: Conventions (was Definition of Capacitance)

Quoting "Folkerts, Timothy" <FolkertsT@BARTONCCC.EDU>:

We need to recognize and take some
responsibility for the fact that the conventions we perpetuate are often
inconvenient, inconsistent, or just plain incorrect, and that this often
makes the process of gaining underatnading more difficult than it should be.


instructors use names as if it was obvious that
these are the right ideas to use.

Well, we agree that they *shouldn't* take such things as
obvious. (Some instructors make this mistake; some don't.)

For starters, we should keep firmly in mind that physics is
not an exact science. It is a *natural* science. Many of
the best-loved laws (e.g. F=ma) are only approximations. This
comes as a real shock to many students, who come in with very
unsophisticated notions of "right" versus "wrong" (e.g. if it's
not 100% right it must be 100% wrong).

But when it comes to terminology and other _conventions_, we have
problems in every sphere of life, including science, even the
so-called exact part of science. In mathematics there are
alarmingly many instances of inconsistent definitions. (If
we could get rid of the out-and-out conflicts so that only
mere inconveniences remained, I would consider it paradise.)
-- at least two different math definitions of "field"
-- at least two different math definitions of "irreducible"
-- at least two technical interpretations of "conservation of energy"
-- not to mention "h&@t"
-- not to mention all the cases where there is a technical
definition that conflicts with the vernacular definition
(e.g. "elastic" ....)

All in all, it's such a mess that it's a miracle that anybody
can communicate with anybody else.