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MathGroup Archive 2002

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Re: re: Accuracy and Precision

  • To: mathgroup at smc.vnet.net
  • Subject: [mg37184] Re: re: Accuracy and Precision
  • From: "Kevin J. McCann" <kjm@KevinMcCann>
  • Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2002 14:25:03 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <200210110758.DAA01962@smc.vnet.net> <200210120904.FAA11982@smc.vnet.net> <aobg22$hrn$1@smc.vnet.net> <aogj58$1op$1@smc.vnet.net>
  • Sender: owner-wri-mathgroup at wolfram.com

In the "real world" of physics there are several subatomic level processes
which can only be distinguished by small changes in the n-th decimal place.
But there is one example which is fairly easy to comprehend, and that is the
constancy of the speed of light in a vacuum regardless of reference frame,
as proposed in Einstein's special theory of relativity. If this were true
"only" to the 9th or 10th decimal place, or, for that matter, to the 50th
place, then whoever managed to show that it was not really a constant would
certainly be in Nobel Prize territory, and much of modern physics would need
a rewrite.

Kevin

> "Mark Coleman" <mark at markscoleman.com> wrote in message
> news:aobg22$hrn$1 at smc.vnet.net...
> > Greetings,
> >
> > I have read with great interest this lively debate on numerical prcesion
> and
> > accuracy. As I work in the fields of finance and economics, where we
feel
> > ourselves blessed if we get three digits of accuracy, I'm curious as to
> what
> > scientific endeavors require 50+ digits of precision? As I recall there
> are
> > some areas, such as high energy physics and some elements of astronomy,
> that
> > might require so many digits in some circumstances. Are there others?
> >
> > Thanks
> >
> > -Mark



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