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An Avalanche?

I found Joshua Lederberg's representation of knowledge as akin to natural disaster--an avalanche of bits of information increasing exponentially, threatening to bury us all--a bit daunting (The Scientist, Feb. 8, 1993, page 10). His solution for storing his voluminous notes using document scanners and CD-ROMs reminded me of an encounter in Paris between French writer Paul ValEry and Albert Einstein. Valery, who always noted each and every one of his ideas meticulously, asked Einstein if he carr

Thomas Steffens
I found Joshua Lederberg's representation of knowledge as akin to natural disaster--an avalanche of bits of information increasing exponentially, threatening to bury us all--a bit daunting (The Scientist, Feb. 8, 1993, page 10). His solution for storing his voluminous notes using document scanners and CD-ROMs reminded me of an encounter in Paris between French writer Paul ValEry and Albert Einstein. Valery, who always noted each and every one of his ideas meticulously, asked Einstein if he carried a notebook with him to record all of the ideas that must come to him in the course of a day. "No," said Einstein. "Really?" asked the surprised Valery. "Do you write them on your sleeves?" Einstein smiled. "Oh, you know," he said, "ideas, they are very rare." He estimated that in all of his life he had had only two of them.

THOMAS G. STEFFENS
Jamaica, N.Y.


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