Sinhala Buddhists and “Imitator Intellectuals”? Misunderstanding mass and deconstructing de Broglie.
Posted on May 1st, 2015
by Bodhi Dhanapala, Quebec, Canada
Dr. Nalin de Silva (NS), in his most recent article (30-04-2015) returns to one of his pet claims, namely, “බටහිරයන් හා සිංහල බෞද්ධයන් අතර ඇති මූලික වෙනසක් අනුකාරක උගත්තු තේරුම් නො ගනිති.”, i.e., a fundamental difference between Sinhala Buddhists” and “Westerners” is not understood by “imitator intellectuals”. These Imitator intellectuals are defined by Dr. NS as those who do not question what the Westerners have taught or written. For instance, an Imitator Intellectual reading Jim Baggot’s book will repeat any mistakes found in that book, with little capacity for self-correction.
In a previous article Dr. Silva indicated his debt to Dr. Valentine Joseph for explaining what mass is, and stated that if he learnt anything at the university, it was not from any Sinhala Buddhists (22-04-2015; විශ්වවිද්යාලයේ දී මා යමක් ඉගෙන ගත්තේ නම් ඒ ජෝසෆ් මහතාගෙන් හා ඩග්ලස් අමරසේකර මහතාගෙන් පමණකි. ඒ දෙදෙනාගෙන් එක් අයකුවත් සිංහල බෞද්ධයකු නො වී ය). The reader of Dr. Silva’s articles can ferret out many other quotes where Dr. Silva implies that there is a fundamental difference in the mental processes of Sinhla Buddhists and other homo sapiens who are not Sinhla Buddhists.
Before one can question others, one needs to question oneself and weed out once’s own errors. Furthermore, if our own mistakes are shown to us, we must correct ourselves without holding onto our mistaken view at all costs. Recently we showed that Dr. Silva’s Sinhala rendering of the name “de Broglie” was wrong as verified from audio-files on the internet, or as can be confirmed from native French speakers (who live predominantly in my province of Quebec or in France). But Dr. NS continues to use the form “de Broolie” for the phonetic rendering (de Broy) of the name in Sinhala.
Dr. NS further claimed (2-4-2015) that de Broglie proposed the wave property of matter in 1927 , and that no one had thought of it before“ (එහෙත් 1927 පමණ වන තුරු කිසිවකු ඒ ගැන හිතා තිබූ බවක් සඳහන් නො වේ”). But it is common knowledge that Schrodinger published his equation in 1926! Why did Dr. NS say this? Because he is an imitator intellectual who uncritically follows a Western writer called Jim Baggot who made an error! In fact, de Broglie’s and Schrodinger’s pre-1927 publications are well known. Some of them are:
Louis de Broglie; Comptes rendus de l’Académie des Sciences, vol. 177, pp. 507-510 (1923)
Louis de Broglie; Recherches sur la théorie des Quanta (University of Paris, 1924)
Erwin Schrödinger; Quantisierung als Eigenwertproblem;. Annalen der Physik: 361–377 (1926)
Louis de Broglie; Ondes et mouvements (Gauthier-Villars, Paris, 1926)
So how can even an imitator intellectual be so careless? In fact the verdict is worse. Even after the error was pointed out the imitator intellectual insists on repeating in a second Vidusara article (22-04-2015) the same error, with no regard for his readers. Thus ද බෘලි කළේ ගම්යතාව ඇති අංශුවකට තරංග ආයාමයක් නියම කිරීම ය. ඔහු කවදා එය කළත් ඒ අදහස් ෂ්රොඩිංගර් කෙරෙහි බලපෑමක් ඇති කළේ 1927 දී පවත්වන ලද සම්මන්ත්රණයක දී යැයි ජිම් බැගට් තම The Meaning of Quantum Theory නම් පොතෙහි සඳහන් කරයි. මට 1927 වැදගත් වන්නේ එබැවිනි). If de Broglie’s ideas influenced Schrodinger only in 1927, he could not have presented the result of that influence in 1926. Yet the imitator intellectual has to follow his masters voice!
But Dr. Nalin de Silva continues his series of articles with little regard to historical, mathematical or physical accuracy, and returns to his usual flogging horses in his latest article (30-4-2015 “ සඵල ස්කන්ධ ආතානකය”), after having ascribed to Mr. Dhanapala the invention of a mass tensor. Furthermore, he likes to brag that no one has matched his challenge against his description of “western science” (“ඔවුන් කිසිවකුවත් මා බටහිර විද්යාව ගැන කරන හැඳින්වීම අභියෝගයට ලක්කර නැත”).
To begin with, Dr. NS has not countered “western science” by presenting a description of an alternative “Eastern science”. When Prof. Trishantha Nanayakkara opened him an opportunity by posing a standard problem in classical mechanics (the chaotic oscillator problem), Dr. Silva did not even recognize it, and claimed that it was an “engineering problem”, while making some vague noises about “Vedic mathematics”.
Commenting on “western science”, Dr. Silva (30-4-2015) says “(i) ඔවුන්ගේ කතන්දර වියුක්ත (abstract) ය. (ii) (I) එබැවින් ඉන් ලබාගන්නා නිගමන ද වියුක්ත ය. (iii) ඔවුන් ඒ වියුක්ත නිගමන සංසන්දනය කරන්නේ සංයුක්ත (concrete) පංචෙන්ද්රිය ගෝචර සංසිද්ධි සමග ය. මෙහි ඇති සංගතභාවය කුමක් ද? වියුක්ත නිගමනයක් සංයුක්ත සංසිද්ධියක් සමග සංසන්දනය කරන්නේ කෙසේ ද? ”
That is, according to Dr. NS, (i) the theories of science are abstract, and (ii) hence its conclusions are abstract. (ii) these abstract conclusions are compared with concrete events captured by sense organs, and so he asks how can thisd be a consistent procedure. As the reader may note, in (i) and (ii) Dr. Silva sets up a straw-man and then he attacks it. What is actually done in science is to use the abstract theories to make concrete predictions of what pointer readings to expect if certain experiments are done. The sense organs (usually the eyes) also observe pointer readings from an experiment that are to be compared with the predicted pointed readings. So far, there has been complete accord between billions of predictions (using the new physics) and their observations. Not a single exception has been found. But all this is (patta-pal-boru, musa), lies or what ever.
After demolishing his own straw-man, Dr. Silva turns his guns on other writers, and says “how can someone who does not understand “abstraction” understand what I say? As an example, Bodhi Dhanapala does not know what is a straight line” ( එහෙත් වියුක්තය යනු කුමක් දැයි නොදන්නා අයකු මා කියන දේ තේරුම් ගන්නේ කෙසේ ද? උදාහරණයක් වශයෙන් ගතහොත් බෝධි ධනපාල මහතාට සරල රේඛාව යනු කුමක් දැයි නො තේරෙයි”). I does not dawn on Dr. NS that the error may well be his. He seems to think that a straight line is an object without thickness or width and claims that he cannot even create it in his mind (එහෙත් ඔහු තේරුම් නොගන්නා කරුණ නම් දිගක් මිස පළලක් හෝ ඝනකමක් හෝ නොමැති සරල රේඛාවක් අඳිනු තබා සිතෙන් මවාගැනීමටවත් නොහැකි බව ය”).
Many ideas in mathematics are presented as the result of a limit of a processes, and it is common in high schools and undergraduate courses to define a line as what you get in the limit when the thickness tends to the limit zero. Most people have no difficulty in visualizing this concept of a line. But Dr. Nalin de Silva confesses to not being very imaginative. Also, he shows that he is perhaps not aware of the modern definition of a straight line that modern mathematics uses. It was the work of Guiseppe Peano and Gottlob Frege at the ned of the 19th century that pioneered the modern approaches to arithmetic and geometry.
We don’t ask if a line is thick or thin etc., but instead we accept that any object what ever, that satisfies certain properties qualify as being labeled a “straight line”. For instance, if the opposite angles made by two objects intersecting turn out to be equal, and if the sum of the incident and supplementary angles sum to 180 degrees, then such objects are “straight lines”!
This is not such a complex idea. A Chess piece can be anything, even an elephant, that moves on a 12×12 lattice according to the rules of chess. Siumilarly, numbers are simply anything that obey the laws of arithmetic (Peano’s postulates). The same approach is used in modern advanced topics like Lie groups which are fundamental to the quantum theory. The elements of a Lie group are defined simply as anything that obey the operations of the group.
The problem is, Dr. Silva is limited to the undergraduate mathematics that he learnt (from his non-Sinhala Buddhist teachers), and even what he learnt has become rusty. His attempt to ascribe to “Mr. Dhanapala” the “invention of a mass tensor” ( එය ධනපාල මහතාග් නිර්මාණයක් විය යුතු ය.) is a clear example of this problem. In elementary classes we learrnt that the force F is proportional to the acceleration A of a mass m, i.e., F=mA. Thus, when Dr. Joseph told the young Mr. Nalin Silva that m is merely a proportionality term, Dr. Joseph is completely correct. Also, any mathematics student knows that F is a vector with three components. Similarly A is a vector with three components. Then any component in A can relate to any component in F, and mathematics requires that m should involve a 3×3 set of numbers. That is why m is recognized as a 3×3 tensor. This is the ”mass tensor”.
A proper choice of coordinates can be used to reduce this to just three numbers. Of course, in a space where all directions are the same, the tensor becomes diagonal, with all three components equal. That is the simplest case that Mr. Nalin de Silva learnt from Dr. Joseph. The general form, i.e, mass as a 3×3 tensor holds in every field of physics, be it the elementary world of Dr. Silva, or more complex systems found in fluid mechanics, solid sate physics, plasma physics or magneto-hydrodynamics. I gave him a reference to the mass tensor in solid state physics, and I think he can at least follow up the topic and learn about it more completely before declaring that others “have no abstract knowledge” or are insulting the reader (ධනපාල මහතා තමන්ට නොතේරෙන දේ කියන්නේ පාඨකයන්ගේ බුද්ධියට අවමන් කරමිනි., or ධනපාල මහතාටවත් අමරතුංග මහතාටවත් වියුක්ත දැනුම පිළිබඳ කිසිම දැනුමක් නැත). The mass tensor was not invented by “Mr. Dhanapala”, but by physicists of the latter half of the 19th century.
I invite the reader to make an objective judgment, and determine if it is Dhanapala, or Nalin de Silva who can be accused of (තමන්ට නොතේරෙන දේ කියන්නේ පාඨකයන්ගේ බුද්ධියට අවමන් කරමිනි) saying things that he does not understand, and insulting the intelligence of the reader.