On 7/1/07, Guy Chapman aka JzG <guy.chapman(a)spamcop.net> wrote:
On Sun, 1 Jul 2007 08:58:18 +1000, Brian Salter-Duke
Maybe they are, but I have to express some
dissappointment about our
Physics articles. Many of them are over-complex and in particular do not
lead into the complexity with a simple introduction so the reader who
knows nothing about the topic will at least get an idea of what the
article is about.
This is certainly true of some of the more obscure topics. I am
reasonably well educated (good honours degree in electrical
engineering), but have found at least half a dozen articles on physics
topics that were close to unintelligible.
Some of this is due to the articles I get drawn to: in most cases it's
because some loon is trying to rewrite the article to more accurately
explain this Great New Way of looking at it that the journals
inexplicably fail to follow up. If you get my drift.
This does happen, but I don't think this is Brian's overall concern.
There are many concepts in physics which can be explained quite
directly, even the most seemingly advanced concepts--and without the
math, and to a general audience. The bulk of the physics articles do
this well. I love math, but when I want to understand something I
don't go to math first.
I got to spend a full day with Helen Quinn many years ago, all day
following her around, listening to her talk about physics, peppering
her with a zillion questions on every topic in the known universe (her
known universe, not something so small as mine). Without using
mathematics or analogies, and she didn't spend much time with
diagrams, either, she can directly explain any concept in physics.
Okay, you're snickering that I want to apply the "Helen Quinn"
standard to Wikipedia physics articles, but in fact, many of articles
are quite good. It is only in certain areas of physics where we fall
down. Some of this is what Guy is saying, where a less mainstream
idea is being placed on Wikipedia as a fully accepted theory, but I
think these get taken care of.
Others are just the overly mathematical approach to physics without
any idea that the underlying concepts should be explained without
math, and then the mathematical idea developed. The editors who use
this approach see the mathematics, but don't appreciate any
interference that requires more than math (the scream, "it's
An introductory, straight-forward, development and explanation of
concepts is important even to physics articles, even to math articles.
Thanks for the laugh, Eugene.