Monday, August 23, 2010

El Naschie on Ilya Prigogine: Another Jewish scientist

This continues El Naschie's ongoing series about his relationships with Jewish scientists. My previous post in this series was El Naschie: Philosophy of Sir Hermann Bondi. Today he talks about Nobel Laureate Ilya Prigogine whom he often calls his teacher.


El Naschie's Rosa Al-Youssef column is up for Tuesday August 24. Original Arabic. My translation appears below.



Automatically I studied all the books of Prigogine in the so-called nonlinear science of non-equilibrium thermodynamics. I did not know about this stagnant backwater of science which was revolutionized by Prigogine.

Prigogine proved that the famous measure of chaos known as the entropy can decrease, contrary to the belief of many people to this day, which is that entropy can only increase, never decrease, and that the Universe as a whole approaches a so-called thermal death. All such information is no longer valid after a classic work of Prigogine for which he obtained the Nobel Prize in science in the 1970s. [Chemistry, 1977.]

This was an important correction of an error by a world-famous scientist. [He is referring to Nobel Laureate Ahmed Zewail. El Naschie has attacked Zewail on various occasions including the Cultural Salon series of talks at the Cairo Opera House, which El Naschie has participated in more than once.] It led to recriminations and shouting in the press that I remember even today, concerning the arrow of time. Time cannot go backwards even though the arrow of time can be reversed, as I explained at length in my lecture at the Opera House some years ago, and as demonstrated by many chemical experiments mentioned by Prigogine including what is known as the Sabotinski reaction. [There is a Sabotinski Beluzov reaction mentioned in this DOC file in Spanish.]

All this I learned from Prigogine although these topics were outside my area of specialization. Our correspondence [notice the modus operandi] was followed with visits to Brussels and its universities, but I became personally closer to Prigogine at a major conference in Japan, at Tokyo's Waseda University.

The conference was attended by a large number of famous scientists including Steven Hawking. I headed the scientific session involving Prigogine, who was about seventy years old at the time. But his enthusiasm, interaction and debate in the scientific sessions were those of a man in his twenties. Prigogine was not fluent in pure mathematics, as I was. He had a wonderful intuitive sense of how to find correct solutions to problems without the use of complicated mathematics, which some theoretical physicists found hard to accept.

As for his humanitarian and political sense, the great Prigogine totally rejected all religions, and made fun of the state of Israel for using religion to justify apartheid. And complete tomorrow. [El Naschie keeps saying the next one will conclude the series, but it never does. We'll see.]

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5 comments:

  1. لم يكن براجوجين يجيد الرياضيات البحتة وهو ما أجيده
    You missed this piece in translation which means

    Ilya Prigogine was not mastering pure math but I'm.

    Can you imagine the great man is mastering pure math. Of course using golden number and his golden fingers he can do any complicated calculation and trap any subtleties.

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  2. Very good catch, Zahy. Fixed.

    Unbelievable ego!

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  3. "This was an important correction of an error by the world-famous scientist.."

    El naschie meant here, by the world-famous scientist, Ahmed Zewail.

    Ahmed Zewail gave lecture at the Cairo Opera House and he talked about the arrow of time. The great man considered what Ahmed Zewail was telling is wrong.

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  4. Aha! Excellent. I will fix it.

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  5. "Sabotinski reaction" is a misspelling of Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belousov–Zhabotinsky_reaction]. However, it is certainly a stretch to make conclusions about the "arrow of time" based on it.

    The site you linked the other day about an opinion on Wolfram has some pretty harsh words to say about Prigogine: http://cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/notabene/prigogine.html

    If this opinion can be taken as objective enough, then maybe it is clear why El Naschie gravitates towards Progogine['s ghost].

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