The “desire to just look at the thing”

John A Sidles, in the latest issue of PNAS, while commenting on a recent magnetic resonance force microscopy paper in particular, and the spin microscopy in general:

Medical researchers (the tribe to which the author belongs) have aspirations too. We are tantalized by a vision of medical practice becoming fully curative and regenerative. We are frustrated—as the generation of von Neumann and Wiener was frustrated—by the limitations of our present tools. We desire—as Feynman famously desired—to “just look at the thing” (…). And we plan—as every previous generation has planned—for these aspirations to become realities.

The reference in the passage to Feynman is to his 1992 talk There is plenty of room at the bottom.The other reference to the Neumann-Wiener correspondence, unfortunately, does not seem to be available online.


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