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the patient deciphering of complicated systems


Fig. 6. Anaconda Lode as seen in an Open Cut in 1897.
(squared, new border)
ex T(homas). A(rthur). Rickard (*). “The Lodes of Cripple Creek.” AIME Transactions 30 (1902): 367-403. Included in Professional Papers of Thomas Arthur Rickard (bound offprints, gift of author)
University of California copy, digitized March 26, 2008

“To those who conduct mining operations it is not so much a question of ‘Where did the gold come from?’ as ‘What are the conditions which determine the distribution of it among the rocks now penetrated by mine-workings?’ Therefore, the patient deciphering of complicated systems of fracture will be of more immediate help to the miner than the broad philosophic considerations which render the science of ore-deposits so fascinating to all of those who are interested, even indirectly, in mining.”   p 8

The first paper in this remarkable collection is —
T. A. Rickard. “A plea for greater simplicity in the language of science.” Reprinted from Science, N.S. Vo. XV., No. 369, Pages 132-139, January 24, 1902.

from which, this —

“To distinguish between what we know and what we think we know, to comprehend accurately the little that we do know, surely these are the foundations of scientific progress. If a man knows what a thing really is, he can say so, describing it, for example, as being black or white; if he does not know, he masks his ignorance by stating in a few Greek or Latin terms that it partakes of the general quality of grayness...”

“Some years ago, when I was at a small mine near Georgetown, in Colorado, a professor visited the underground workings and was taken through them. He immediately began to make a display of verbal fireworks which bewildered the foreman and the other miners whom he met at the mine, all save one, a little Cornishman, who, bringing him a bit of the clay which accompanied one of the walls of the lode, said to him, ‘What do ’ee call un, you?’ The professor replied, ‘it is the argillaceous remnant of an antediluvian world.’ Quick as a flash came the comment, ‘That’s just what I told me pardner.’
He was not deceived by the vapor of words.”

30 May 2014

deciphering; grays; mining; vapor; vapor of words
T. A. Richard, “A plea for greater simplicity in the language of science.” (1902)