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What are proofs? (informal)

The following submission from an anonymous engineer to the January, 1902 edition of Popular Mechanics caught my eye. Seems like somethingevery Boy/Girl Scout and Architect should know.

HOW TO USE THE WATCH AS A COMPASS: Very few people are aware of the fact that in a watch they are alwaysprovided with a compass, with which, when the sun is shining, the cardinal points can be determined. All one has to do is to point thehour hand to the sun and south is exactly half way between the hour and the figure 12 on the watch. This may seem strange to the averagereader, but it is easily explained. While the sun is passing over 180 degrees (east to west) the hour hand of the watch passes over 360degrees (from 6 o'clock to 6 o'clock). Therefore the angular movement of the sun in one hour corresponds to the angular movement of the hourhand in half an hour; hence, if we point the hour hand toward the sun the line from the point midway between the hour hand and 12 o'clock tothe pivot of the hands will point to the south.Engineer.

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They give an argument of correctness; is that really a proof? Well, there are some ambiguities: Do I hold the watch vertically,or, in the plane of the sun's arc? Certainly I can't hold it up-side down, even though this isn't explicitly stated.Furthermore, the correctness of the reasoning relies on some unstated assumptions. E.g. , the sun is at its highest (northernmost) point of its transit at noon.Is this actually true? Does it depend on the time of year?I'm not exactly sure (and will have to sit down and scratch my head and draw pictures of orbits, to convince myself).Certainly there are at least a couple of caveats: even beyond account for Daylight Savings Time,the solar-time and clock-time only align at time-zone boundaries, and they drift up to an hour apart,before the next boundary rectifies the difference. Is this presuming I'm in the northern hemisphere?What if I'm on the equator?

To be fair, the intent of this anecdote was to give enough evidence to convince you,not necessarily to be a complete, stand-alone self-contained proof. But in writing out a careful proof, one is forced to consider all thepoints just made; being forced to understand these can lead you to better understandthe procedure yourself. But be careful to distinguish between something which sounds reasonable,and something that you're certain of.

An argument by form

How can we tell true proofs from false ones? What, exactly, are the rules of a proof?These are the questions which will occupy us.

Proofs are argument by form. We'll illustrate this with three parallel examples ofa particular proof form called syllogism .

1 All people are mortal. Premise
2 Socrates is a person. Premise
3 Therefore, Socrates is mortal. Syllogism, lines 1,2
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1 All [substitution ciphers] are [vulnerable to brute-force attacks]. Premise
2 The [Julius Caesar cipher] is a [substitution cipher]. Premise
3 Therefore, the [Julius Caesar cipher] is[vulnerable to brute-force attacks]. Syllogism, lines 1,2

Note that you don't need to know anything about cryptography to know that the conclusion follows from the two premises.(Are the premises indeed true? That's a different question.)

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Questions & Answers

anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
Difference between extinct and extici spicies
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Source:  OpenStax, Intro to logic. OpenStax CNX. Jan 29, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10154/1.20
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