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Bernd Muesing

Is there anything like a "perfect manmade product"?"

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Can anybody here tell me if there is one manmade thing that could not be improved?

I am not talking about of pieces of art (those are not "products") but racecars, violins, computers, strings, airplanes, chairs, shoes, bows, tanks,...

Isn't it just a question of how much energy, enthusiasm, knowledge, new technologies or money is invested?

And do you think it is more difficult to improve a bow or a violin than travelling to Mars? crazy.gif

Just wondering.

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Maybe perfect products only exist in platonic world. In reality, I don't think it is possible. I am sure when cars were invented, aerodynamics weren't the most important consideration. These days, many cars spend a considerable hours in wind tunnels as prototypes. Well, aerodynamically designed cars not only travel faster, but they are more stable and quiter. If we discovery some new field of physics that would allow us to improve our car, then we would have a better car. Unless we know everything about the universe and its governing laws, I don't see how a perfect car is a possibility.

I don't think it would be more difficult to improve violins than sending a person to Mars. Actually, improving violins would be a lot cheaper than any Mars missions. Violin makers know a lot about violins, but I don't think there is a way for them to actually write down what they know. It is almost like making Japanese swords. Because sword makers did not use any fancy tools to make their products, they mainly relied on their feelings and instincts. For example, they would start heating the metal before the sun rise, so that, by the time the sun rises, they can compare the colour of metal to that of the sun. When the metal and the sun have the same colour, then they know that the metal is at the right temperature. I think the same thing can be said of violin makers. I am sure that there are some savvy makers who use very fancy tools to check their work, but most of them values their feelings too much. Violin making is, I think, an art. The marriage of art and science is not so easy one. Also, no physicist would able to get enough grants needed to systematically study the acoustics of the violin. Those who are in the grant committee would probably reject it because of political reasons.

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A baseball.

You could figure out how to make a professional quality baseball at a lower cost, but any physical change to the ball itself would be detrimental.

Why? Because of history. Baseball is far from being my favorite sport (I love to play, but I quickly tire from watching it), but it is indisputably woven into the fabric of American culture. As such, a direct link to the past is important in order to keep the game grounded. Without the ability to compare current player stats to historical player stats, the game separates from it's history and becomes a de facto orphan.

Same goes for aluminum bats. Bleah.

Rat

[This message has been edited by Desert Rat (edited 07-25-2000).]

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The Meat Loaf at "Cap City Diner", Columbus OH. Mmmmm.... Meat Loaf....

And, at least in certain ways, I think that it would be easier to send someone to Mars than to improve upon the violin bow. Why? Because the definition for a "Mars Mission" is a lot more clear cut:

1) Put person on spaceship.

2) Send spaceship to Mars.

3) Ditch dead weight.

4) Bring ship back to Earth.

Everyone would watch the TV reports of this historical mission, and when this hypothetical astronaut set foot on Mars, they'd say "Yup, we've reached Mars.".

Now a violin or a bow, on the other hand, one would be pretty hard pressed to get EVERYONE to agree that it was "better", because it's so subjective.

[This message has been edited by atonal (edited 07-25-2000).]

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The violin cannot be improved.

I don't even want anyone to try.

Leave it alone.

It's a training tool for the soul and body which was perfected long ago. Don't go putting any cranks or whizbangs on it.

Don't make it any easier to play.

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To fubbi2:

You wrote, "Don't make it any easier to play" of the violin.

Well, I wouldn't mind its being a little bit easier to play. In fact, my violin has an unusually small neck to make it easier to play--and that helps me a lot.

I wish it were still a bit easier to play--just a little. Just enough to make Mr. Wallack say that my etudes sound better. Practice sure didn't seem to modify his judgement.

T.

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Oh, and I think wooden spoons are perfect. I don't know what they're perfect for, but there is something perfect about a wooden spoon. Even the worst of 'em possesses a kind of perfection. From my perspective, perfection is only possible if it begins in a tree. So, from the get-go, wooden spoons are off to a good start; and anything that feeds you, whether body- or soul-wise, is a good second step. So, if not a pefect violin, then a whole lot of perfect wooden spoons.

Even the double o's within W oo den Sp oo ns speak of a perfection: oo oo

"Oo, Oo!" to tell you what's being stirred (or will be stirred some day) will delight;

Two sets of eyes open wide--better to see what's cookin';

Two sets of flared nostrils--better to sniff what's bubbling in the pot;

Maybe even two little sets of paws held up and beggin' to be tossed a dollop or two.

They have the shape of a tall being--they show there's life after death--they take us back to nature--they move us forward to nourishment and recovery--they feel good in the hand--you won't get burnt stirring no matter how long you stir--they possess simplicity of design highly regarded by gourmet chef and Wal-Mart cook alike.

And if baby is bored, hand him down a bunch of wooden spoons--he's got an instant band and somethin' to suck all at once.

Yep, wooden spoons are perfect. They may well be the only perfect things in word and deed.

T.

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To fubbi2: Would you have told Stradivari: "hey, please, just copy that Amati over there, don't even look for improvements, don't give any violin that great sound,..."????

To Desert Rat: I never played baseball, but don't those balls wear out? Loose color or get soft or something? Arn't many of them sewed by little children in Pakistan?

To atonal: What do you think you (mankind) will win by flying to the moon? I can tell that the new generations of running shoes took away my aches in the knees that I had sometimes when running long distances.

My wife plays violin. She has had lessons for 6 years as a child. She quit playing many years ago although she has quite some musical talent (She sings beautiful). I tried her old bow and violin lately, and instantly understood why she had stopped. Only after we had been together for more than 2 years she gave the violin another try with my nice old fiddle and one of our new bows. Now she is back to playing, our little son (4 month) listening laugh.gif"><P>Woudn

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I sure hope that sightings.com is meant as a joke!!! Try www.csicop.org.

I don't think that there's anything manmade that's perfect. There are certainly many things that are close, and many things that I wouldn't want changed (like, the violin).

My wife is perfect, but she's not manmade! Maybe nature creates perfect things! Hehehehe!

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quote:

Originally posted by Bernd:

To atonal: What do you think you (mankind) will win by flying to the moon? I can tell that the new generations of running shoes took away my aches in the knees that I had sometimes when running long distances.

Bernd: First of all, I think you mean Mars, not Moon, but it's interesting that you mention it. What I think we would gain from a manned trip to Mars would be pretty similar to what we gained from the manned Moon missions, that is, a bunch of spin-off technology developed for way more money that needed to be spent. Sure we got things like the integrated circuit and aluminum foil from the Moon Missions. But they're being written down in the history books as little more than a very expensive public relations stunt (did you know that they cost roughly 10% of the GNP of the United States for the entire decade of the '60s?).

And that kind of goes back to my original point, that some of these "Herculean" efforts that we try to compare more down to earth (no pun intended) endeavors are really very artificial, and that's what makes them so clearly defined. Unfortunately, too many of these undertakings really do serve little practical purpose, while it's the "real world" problems which are harder to define but have more actual benefits.

Geez, could you imagine if someone had spent 10% of the GNP of the US for the decade of the '60 to come up with an improved violin and bow? Boy we'd have some nice instruments today wouldn't we? shocked.gif

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Actually, probably not.

Great talent in bowmaking and violinmaking defies all odds.

It takes a good talent to fly to Mars . . . it takes a greater talent to realize that we've got enough problems HERE to deal with.

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A product is perfect if it fulfills your expectations in a perfect product. Such is a good violin for me. Or a good pool-table or a cue. Or a beautiful old car like the Farcel Vega. I don´t expect a perfect product to last forever. I wan´t to see how it´s getting older and older and more seldom with every year.

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Hey Atonal -

Your analysis of the benefits of the Moon Missiona dn subsequently a mission to Mars are a bit in disagreemnet with my assesment. There are many, many spin off technologies that one could argue have been responsible in part for the magnificent economy we have experienced here in the US for the last decade +. Computer technology would be decades behind, espciallythe processes of miniturization that made the PC possible. Material Sciences and development and utilization of the computer to design and build things quicker, cheaper, and better all got their start in the Space Race and the arms race, dirctly or indirectly. I am also very skeptical about the price tag you quote, where did youget that number, I had always heard more along the lines of 3 percent. Yet the technologies developed grew the GNP over th last 30 years by 100s of percent. Investmetn must be judged by the results.

What about the advancement of the human species and the innate desire, or even need to reach beyond and go further? Is this not as much of a need for man as the attainment of art and beauty.

Yes man has much to learn about the things he makes and there is inbalance between science and social/cultural development, but man will learn.

Jolliet - The Oreo cookie is imperfect because if my son eats one, some of the artifical ingredients in it bring on symptoms of ADHD, but Whole Foods Market makes a version of it that is richer and has no side effectsbecause the cookie contains no man made ingredients... Now this is perfect.

Perfect?

How about A Bach Cello Suite, or The Mendelssohn or Beethoven Violin Concertos.

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Hi Dr. S,

You definately bring up many valid points in your response, ESPECIALLY the CORRECT figure of 3%, vs. my totally erroneous figure of 10%.

But my main problem with the Apollo missions is the MANNED aspect of them. Couldn't we have accomplished almost as much, for much less cost had we sent unmanned craft to the moon instead of sending manned craft? What was the benefit? What was the additional cost?

I am certainly not an opponent of spin-off technology, after all, had it not been for a certain spin-off technology from the ARPA projects, we wouldn't even be having this discourse right now! And I agree that we should always strive to reach a little further, increase our knowledge of the physical universe and so forth. However I also don't feel that because there may be potential benefits to government funded research, it gives anyone cart blanche to spend exhorbitant amounts of money to undertake these sorts of projects.

Yes, technology developed for the space program has had a very positive impact on our economy. And if you do look at the net result you could file the extra costs involved into the "small change" drawer. However, what about the lasting negative impacts that are still be around because (part of) that money wasn't spent elsewhere, such as for social programs, education, and so forth? Granted, speculation at this point, but you do have to wonder...

Well these are my thoughts anyways... And sorry for the confusion. smile.gif

[This message has been edited by atonal (edited 07-27-2000).]

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Atonal -

I agree that unmanned missions would be much more cost effective. Man in the loop is very burdensome in design. However, men can still do things - especially when unexpected things happen - that machines cannot. The primary reason for men on these missions was for PR. In fact the whole reason for the moon mission was PR. We actually should have spent the resources working the problem in a stepwise logical order -

Meanwhile we still face the most fundamental problem in space exploration. We still do not have cheap and easy access to space. Until we truly have a airplane type of vehicle that can take off from a runway, achieve orbit, come back, be serviced and turned around in hours, space will be expensive and distant.

Hey, I'm a rocket scientist too.

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It is just a matter of the resources available, and therein lies the answer. We live in a resource constrained world. The old product development axiom is that you can have something good, fast, or cheap; pick any two. Personally, perfection for me is a happy family, soft couch, cold beer, and no reason to get out of bed the next morning.

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In the last 40 years, mankind has seen an explosion of openmindedness that it has never seen before.

The Civil Rights Movement ushered in the era of social tolerance . . . and we're still riding on its crest today.

Though people still dislike each other for whatever reason, it is good to see that prejudice is frowned upon by the world community.

People are realizing to realize that we're all basically the same and are all in it together despite our differences - and this is where we really can make great improvement.

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