Jeremy Campbell

photo neededIn science, Jeremy Campbell (1931-) is an English-born American writer noted for his 1982 book Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language, and Life, “an attempt to tell the story of information theory and how it evolved”, for his 1983 two cultures contributions, and for his 2006 The Many Faces of God, which outlines how Isaac Newton and his generation altered the medieval definition of God from one interpreted through divine messengers to an all-knowing, autocratic God who watched over the scientific wonders of the universe, arguing that religions harbor a secret fear that science may one day explain God away.

Information | Wiener, Weyl, and Neumann
Campbell, in his 1982 Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language, and Life, reports his communication interviews, via letters and conversations, of several key figures surrounding the famous 1948 article “A Mathematical Theory of Communication” by American electrical engineer Claude Shannon, the creator of information theory. [1] Campbell gives a simplified and positive spin on the relation between information and thermodynamics, in a way that positions information as an equal counterpart to matter and energy. [2]

Campbell reports that Shannon may have first come across the notion of entropy from American mathematician Norbert Wiener, noted for his 1948 entropy-themed book Cybernetics, whom Shannon studied under at MIT in the early 1930s. In 1947, for instance, according to electrical engineer Robert Fano, Wiener was said to have walked into Fano’s room several times, while Fano was working on his doctoral dissertation, touting the phrase “information is entropy”, then turn around and walk out again without saying another word.

Campbell also claims that the notion of an information measure with an entropy form came to Shannon when he was a research fellow at Princeton in 1940-41, while studying under German mathematician Hermann Weyl. [2]

In reference to the infamous entropy quotation by Hungarian-born American chemical engineer John Neumann that “no one knows what entropy is”, supposedly said to Shannon, in circa 1940s, on a suggestion as to what to call his new information variable, Campbell reports that: [2]

“Shannon does not remember von Neumann giving him such advice. However, Myron Tribus has a clear recollection of hearing Shannon tell him this story during a conversation in Shannon’s office at MIT on April, 1961.”

Much of this historical fog surrounding the origins and history of information theory was clarified in 2012 by Libb Thims. [3]

Education
Campbell, since at least 1983 to 2006, has been the Washington, D.C., correspondent of the London Evening Standard.

References
1. (a) Campbell, Jeremy. (2002). The Liar’s Tale. W.W. Norton & Co.
(b) Back cover: Campbell is the Washington correspondent for The Evening Standard.
2. Campbell, Jeremy. (1982). Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language, and Life (pgs. 16, 20-21, 32, 277). New York: Simon and Schuster.
3. Thims, Libb. (2012). “Thermodynamics ≠ Information Theory: Science’s Greatest Sokal Affair” (url), Journal of Human Thermodynamics, 8(1): 1-120, Dec 19.

Further reading
● Campbell, Jeremy. (1983). “Observer and Object, Reader and Text: Some Parallel Themes in Modern Science and Literature”, Conference on Science, Technology, and Literature, Long Island University, Brooklyn, New York, Feb; in: Beyond the Two Cultures: Essays on Science, Technology, and Literature (editors: Joseph Slade and Judith Lee) (about, pg. xii; §1:23-38). Iowa State University Press, 1990.
● Campbell, Jeremy. (2002). The Liar’s Tale: a History of Falsehood. W.W. Norton & Co.
● Campbell, Jeremy. (2006). The Many Faces of God: Science’s 400-Year Quest for Images of the Divine (Kirkus review). Norton.

External links
Jeremy Campbell – LibraryThing.com
Jeremy Campbell – GoodReads.com

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