Cargo Cult Image Formation Science

imageA reader writes:

Nice bunch of jaw wagging there yesterday on how to figure out how the image was made. RMO Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman.

In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they’ve arranged to imitate things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas—he’s the controller—and they wait for the airplanes to land. They’re doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn’t work. No airplanes land. So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they’re missing something essential, because the planes don’t land.

RMO? (no morning coffee, yet)

I think the reader makes a valid point. (but then again, no morning coffee, yet)

Note:  Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character) was first published in 1997. It was a New York Times bestseller. It is still selling well, now in every imaginable format. Amazon give us a brief biographical note:

Richard P. Feynman was born in 1918 and grew up in Far Rockaway, New York. At the age of seventeen he entered MIT and in 1939 went to Princeton, then to Los Alamos, where he joined in the effort to build the atomic bomb. Following World War II he joined the physics faculty at Cornell, then went on to Caltech in 1951, where he taught until his death in 1988. He shared the Nobel Prize for physics in 1965, and served with distinction on the Shuttle Commission in 1986. A commemorative stamp in his name was issued by the U.S. Postal Service in 2005.

Note 2: I reformatted the reader’s email to set off  Feynman’s words. Emphasis his.