Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

Getting Things Backwards

There have been many occasions in history where it has been necessary to choose between two alternatives and those doing the choosing don’t always get things right. One example of this was the decision on which was positive and which was negative when determining the charges when rubbing two objects together to generate static electricity. The assumption was that it was the positive charge that was transferred when in fact when it was properly worked out it turned out to be the negative charge that was transferred.

Another example is when they started making movies about the Roman gladiators. At the time they didn’t have access to any historical records on what the different thumb positions meant and so they made a guess. That’s why many movies have it backwards – because the person who made the first movie guessed wrong.

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