The last class I needed to take from graduate school was “Nonlinear Optics” taught by Nobel Prize winner Stephen Harris. I struggled. I was a decent scientist/engineer but not elite. And beyond that, nonlinear optics was really freaking hard. Not only was the math complex, but it was nearly impossible for me to picture the concepts in my mind. “Linear” or Physical Optics was much easier - you could picture everyday use cases like the laser and why the sky is blue. Nonlinear optics was much different. It was too abstract.
I won’t find the source but many smart thinkers like Nassim Taleb and Daniel Kahneman basically make the point that the nonlinear stuff is hard for humans to imagine. Humans like stories; we like cause-and-effect, we are told. That’s linear thinking - “if/then/that” statements. Technology changes are nonlinear. They move in step functions. It’s impossible to predict or...
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