<i> A look at noteworthy addresses in the Southland.</i>

Nobel Prize winner Herbert A. Simon (economics, 1978) spoke on “Creativity in the Sciences and the Arts” on Tuesday at Claremont McKenna College. Simon is the Richard King Mellon University Professor of Computer Science and Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. From Simon’s address: Examining the Creative Capacity of Computers “Put a computer in the same starting point as some scientist was in, give it the same knowledge that that scientist had . . . and see whether you can write a program that will allow the computer to make the same discovery.

Then, if you have some historical data on how the scientist did it, step by step, then you even are at a position where you can compare what the computer does step by step. “Kepler’s Third Law . . . the time it takes planets to revolve around the sun varies with how far they are from the sun. Kepler discovered that the periods vary as a three-halves power of the distance.

“We gave (our computer) exactly the data that Kepler had used and in a period of a few seconds, it had Kepler’s Third Law. . . . It (arrived) at the three-halves square law (on its) third try. . . . On its unsuccessful tries, it followed exactly the path he did and got the square law first. It did all this in a few seconds; Kepler took 15 years.

People say: ‘Well, you think (we) are unique in thinking’ . . .in our creative thoughts. And, if uniqueness is what defines us, then that is worth worrying about--but maybe it isn’t?

Maybe we need to be much less concerned with how we distinguish ourselves from everything else in the universe and be much more concerned with how we become a part of that universe.”


Looking Ahead * Saturday: Rutgers scholar Bruce Franklin will discuss his latest book, “M.I.A. or Mythmaking in America,” at 1:30 p.m. at the Occidental College bookstore. Call (213) 259-2825.

* Wednesday: Thomas Mignanelli, president and CEO of Nissan USA, will speak at noon to a town hall on “U.S.--Japan Relations: An American Perspective” at the New Otani Hotel. Call (213) 628-8141.

Announcements concerning prominent speakers in Los Angeles should be sent to Speaking Up, c/o Times researcher Michael Meyers, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053