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4/29/16

An Allegory*

When I was a typist for the Physics Department at Florida State University, in 1984, I typed a paper for one of the physicists there--I can't remember his name--which had 111 equations. I was using the old Selectrics with the type-balls, and there was a special ball for symbols, so when I got to an equation, I had to take out the regular ball and insert the symbol ball. I remember my thumb got a blister from typing that paper.

I also typed what was probably Paul Dirac's last paper there--but that's name-dropping, and irrelevant.

Sort of.

Now, my professor, i.e., the one I was typing the paper with the 111 equations for, was a world expert in a very narrow field of study. As best I understood it, he was positing that if you held constant every other variable, like wind, etc., and you dropped an object from so-many miles above the earth, it would deflect by six inches. This is from memory, and I don't know what he was actually attempting to prove, but that was what I gathered.

The paper then had to be sent to the journal for refereeing, and this one was rejected. However, my professor then began writing a series of vituperative letters to the editor (which, as the Department typist, I also typed for him). Turns out there was only one other person on the planet who understood his work, and that person was my professor's nemesis. Although the refereeing process is secret, my professor knew the editor had to have sent it to this man, and that his (unfair) criticism was the reason it had been rejected.

There the matter stood, and still stands today, for all I know. It means that if he had something of significance to contribute, the world will never know.

Best regards,

Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.

*The "nemesis" in this story doesn't represent anybody in particular.

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