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Thinking the Hiroshima bomb was a hoax


Mathematical education in the US Navy
Marvin Minsky Scientist
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There were also about 10 people in this company who were very advanced in fields like mathematics, and they had exercised the same option I had of joining this… passing a test to get into this program for radio training school. And like me, a lot of them… several of them already knew a lot of electronics anyway, and there were a couple of mathematicians from whom I learned a great deal of mathematics.  John Wermer became a professor at Yale, and… what’s his name? Parker was a… became a professor at Pomona College, and so that was almost like going to college.  These… Herbert Forrester, another; three fairly distinguished mathematicians in this group.

And then they dropped this atomic bomb and… we continued to hang around this boot camp, but there was nothing to do, and the… I guess the government had decided it couldn’t send all the soldiers back into civilian life until the jobs appeared, and so it was a strange year. But during this year I… instead of doing con… conventional military things I was learning more mathematics and electronics, and I had a part-time job making ice-cream sodas in the base camp and… it was surrealistic and bizarre to have such an experience.

Marvin Minsky (1927-2016) was one of the pioneers of the field of Artificial Intelligence, founding the MIT AI lab in 1970. He also made many contributions to the fields of mathematics, cognitive psychology, robotics, optics and computational linguistics. Since the 1950s, he had been attempting to define and explain human cognition, the ideas of which can be found in his two books, The Emotion Machine and The Society of Mind. His many inventions include the first confocal scanning microscope, the first neural network simulator (SNARC) and the first LOGO 'turtle'.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is a London-based television producer and director who has made a number of documentary films for BBC TV, Channel 4 and PBS.

Tags: Yale University, Pomona College, John Werner, Herbert Forrester

Duration: 2 minutes, 7 seconds

Date story recorded: 29-31 Jan 2011

Date story went live: 09 May 2011