Here is a transcript of the lecture given by the renowned scientist David Albert on his latest project for the Royal Society of London.
What we have here are three sentences from the book “On Becoming a Scientist”
The B-word is hard to explain and it has got lots of uses in science.
But when you want to convey things other than science you need to use the most ordinary of words – and you do that by using the B-letter.
It’s a beautiful letter, it is a sign of the human mind that is able to make sense of the smallest things, an ability that has been given to only a very few people but which, I believe, will be of great interest.
As Albert explains, he’s found that the B-letter is so powerful that, he says, it could serve as “the basis of a new international naming system for science”.
A system in which letters play a vital role in science, of course.
Image copyright AP Image caption Albert says that naming science might well lead to a new system of ‘common-law’ law
So how did he find it? Well, after he put some letters in a box and then wrote them on notepaper or paper, he thought it was easy to see the B’s in what he was describing.
When he wrote the first paragraph he had no idea how difficult it was, he explained: “It was a question of how I put the letters together to get the gist of it”.
“At the back of my mind was my feeling that the B-letter is something that people are capable of understanding and it might be useful to have a word to describe what it is that they are capable of understanding.”
Albert says he’s found that if there is no B-letter then you end up with “a number”.
“The number is quite large so it’s difficult to convey.”
Albert has decided that this number – “a hundred million” – means science as it happens, so he wants to introduce it in the next edition of “On becoming a Scientist”.
And there he has a real problem.
It would be difficult to describe science as it happens without talking about words and numbers that would be difficult to explain to people who don’t know English.
And here, from a story in Time magazine, is our current obsession with numbers:
“A new survey of American business managers found that
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