Dewey B. Larson
755 N.E. Royal Court
Portland, Oregon 97232
Feb. 20, 1982
Since you will no doubt want to discuss my reply to your suggestions as to changes in the wording of my article with the editor, I have separated this from the rest of what I have to say.
Plans for promoting the new book are being worked out here, and I will let you know shortly what should be done about an ad in Frontiers of Science if the article is published.
Your suggestion about a historical account is one that I have received from many sources, but there are difficulties involved. In order to go appreciably beyond the general account that I gave at the 1977 conference, it would be necessary for me to carry out much the same kind of a research project as if I were studying someone else’s development of thought. I could do this, of course, and if I reach the point one of these days where I am no longer able to make progress toward actual enlargement of knowledge, I might undertake it. But as long as I can continue rolling back the curtain, I don’t believe that I should spend my time on something which, even though it may be worth while, is certainly not on the same level. In my opinion, this is a job for someone else, either before or after I am out of the picture. Perhaps the ISUS ought to have an official historian.
The enlargement of knowledge has been compared to the gradual sharpening of the view of a landscape as the light increases at dawn. It is difficult to say just when the object that at one time was merely a dark spot became recognizable as a house. The same is true of ideas. I realized from the time that I first formulated my postulates that the basic relation between space and time must be scalar, and I said so in the early pages of my first book, but I certainly could not have written the article we are now talking about—to say nothing of the new book—on the strength of the understanding of the situation that I had in 1959. That understanding was not wrong; it simply was not anywhere near complete enough.
Another good example is the division of the universe into different regions. I explained this in the first book, and put a diagram on page 203 of New Light on Space and Time. There is nothing wrong with this diagram, except that I have had to recognize that, instead of a sharp line dividing the two halves, there is a transition region. In the manuscript of the astronomy volume of my new series, as it now stands, 13 of the 22 chapters are devoted to discussion of the phenomena of this transition region that I did not recognize at all as late as 1965. In order to get an idea as to how the contents of the 13 chapters gradually dawned on me, I would have to go through my books, published and unpublished articles, and my correspondence, and do a lot of detective work. Certainly someone else can do this just as well, probably much better.