Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Supreme misfortune

"The supreme misfortune is when theory outstrips performance"
Leonardo da Vinci

And then there's this: 

During the technical and political debates in the mid-1930's by the FCC with various engineers, consultants, and business leaders regarding the effect, or not, of sunspots on various frequency bands being considered for the fledgling FM broadcast industry, the FCC's 'sunspot' expert theorized all manner of problems.

But Edwin Armstrong, largely credited with the invention of FM as we know it today, disagreed strongly, citing all manner of empirical and practical experimentation and test operations, to say nothing of calculation errors and erroneous assumptions shown to be in the 'theory' of the FCC's expert.

But, to no avail; the FCC backed its expert.

Ten years later, after myriad sunspot eruptions, there was this exchange: 

Armstrong: "You were wrong?!"

FCC Expert: "Oh certainly. I think that can happen frequently to people who make predictions on the basis of partial information. It happens every day"

Quotations are from the book "The Network"

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