Guenter Wagner : Man-in-the-Middle

ISSN 2567-6458, 27.December 2022 – 29.December 2022, 11:00h
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch


This text is part of the text Molecules and Atoms. Late Encounter with Günter Wagner: The ‘man-in-the-middle’.


In computer science the expression ‘man-in-the-middle’ is well known as a term to describe someone who is ‘in the middle’ between two parties which are communicating with each other. The ‘man-in-the-middle’ is in this setting not ‘known’ to the communicating parties. They think they are communicating directly with each other.[1] But this situation of someone ‘in the middle’ between a ‘receiver’ and a ‘sender’ is very common outside computer science too.

When you read a text in a newspaper, the letters of the text you read are not the ‘events ‘about which’ the text wants to report. Between the intended target of the text and the printed letters there is a long and complicated chain of events, which all together are generating a translation from some ‘events out there’ into the expressions of a text which is send out to you as the reader of the newspaper. This long and hidden chain of events is not visible to you as the reader.

While the ‘man-in-the-middle’ in case of a communication with connected computers is understood as a hostile action, in normal life all these different kinds of ‘man in the middle’ are necessary to enable a sufficient communication between an event and you as a ‘reader’ of the transmitted messages.

A special type of communication is the transmission of ‘real properties’ of the real world to researching people during a so-called ‘measurement process’. To understand this a bit better let us have a look to everyday situations which are known to us.

If different persons want to talk about a certain ‘property’ of the real world with the aid of ‘everyday language’ then this can quickly become difficult because the ‘meaning’ of the expressions of our everyday language is not objectively defined in a precise way. When we are sitting at the table during breakfast and you ask someone whether she can pass you ‘the butter’, then the other person usually can associate the expression ‘the butter’ with some object on the table, if there is ‘only one’. But, if there are two different objects which ‘usually are understood’ as being classified as ‘butter’, you would need some additional ‘distinguishing properties’ to be able to decide ‘which one of them’. And if you would receive a phone call while you are sitting at the table and you would — by some reason — talk with the person of the phone call about ‘butter’, then the ‘meaning’ of the expression ‘butter’ could be very broad.

At first glance one could qualify this ‘fuzziness’ of the meaning of everyday language expressions as ‘weak’ or even as ‘bad’, but in the everyday world it is a great achievement to work with only a few words to be able to talk about an almost infinite number of things, properties. This is possible if the situation referred to is sufficiently known to all participating speakers.

Human societies have grown considerably over the past thousands of years, and daily living situations have become increasingly diverse. If you want to sell a certain amount of flour in the market at a certain price, and you travel to different markets, then it would be good if in all markets the ‘quantities’ and the ‘prices’ were the same. It is therefore no surprise that such situations led to the introduction of local ‘standards’ through which the general idea of ‘standards for measuring’ became visible: You have something you want to measure (e.g. the volume of the ‘flour’) and you have a ‘volume standard’ (e.g. a ‘regional certified container’), which will be used to ‘measure’ a certain ‘amount’ of such certified container-volumes.

As we know, this trend to introduce ‘standards for measurement’ has evolved during the times until we have today a global system of such standards.[2,3] Thus, to measure today some property of the ‘real world’ encoded for communication in some kind of ‘language expressions’ you have to associate your language with such ‘measurement standards’ which are glob ally accepted as well as accepted in your country.[4]

In what follows the author of this text will look a bit more in the topic of ’empirical measurement’ realized with the aid of a ‘measurement process’ which is using instruments (= measurement machines) which are able to support ‘mass spectroscopy’. This philosophical investigation will use the experience of a man who has nearly his whole life dedicated to the theory behinds such measurement process, to the development of the technology enabling mass spectroscopy, and who also has actively promoted divers application scenarios; many years he was also a ‘net-worker’ between many research groups (including teams of Nobel-prize winners), scientific and national institutions, small and big companies, and even political missions in the realm of Nuclear Non-Proliferation treatises around the world.

Encountering this broad view of enabling processes of measurement can hopefully show that these processes are not less important than all the end users of such measurement processes. But in the ‘history of events’ these — often wonderful — ‘men-in-the-middle’ have usually no reporter. This is bad in more than one way. The most important bad effect is, that a society is in danger to forget about this dimension and will probably not ‘educate’ enough young people to be able to ‘keep the cultural level’ high enough to continue with technology and science. Cutting the legs of men (cultural education) makes them immobile …


wkp := wikipedia

[1] The ‘Man-in-the-middle’ attack: wikipedia [EN]:

[2] International System of Units, wikipedia [EN]: See also ‘derived units’: Another often used concept, which is not part of the SI-system is ‘parts-per-notation’ relating to a ‘dimensionless’ term:

[3] International Bureau of Weights and Measures (French: Bureau international des poids et mesures, BIPM), see wkp [EN]:

[4] Usually there exists besides the global institute for measurement [3] a national bureau of measurement like the NIST in the USA. See for a first overview wkp [EN]:

EMPIRICAL MEASUREMENT: Molecules and Atoms. Late Encounter with Günter Wagner: The ‘man-in-the-middle’

ISSN 2567-6458, 27.December 2022 – 29.December 2022
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch


This post is part of the blog and has no direct predecessor, but the subject is thematically related to the larger topic of ’empirical theory’.


This text is devoted to Günter Wagner, who paved the way for many achievements in Research, Technology and Industry, and thereby for Society too. Born in 1934 his life is interwoven with many important events in history and his personal knowledge about these events is striking. The center of his experience and knowledge is mass spectrometry and the more specialized perspective of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry [1,2]. Günter Wagner is dealing with this topic from many sides: theoretical foundations, technological realizations, and different applications in industry, accompanied with many new improvements in the applied technologies.

The author of this text is a ‘layman’ in the field of mass spectrometry. His experience is centered around the topic of Philosophy of science, Cognitive Sciences as well as Computer Science. Besides the many interesting points in the knowledge and work of Günter Wagner the author of this text is focusing on the ‘role’ of mass spectrometry in the ‘measurement’ of real world objects and properties as starting point for possible theories.

With this setting the encounter with Günter Wagner can be understood as an ‘experiment in trans-disciplinary understanding’ of one field — mass spectrometry — from the point of another field — Philosophy of Science. Such an approach is not a simple undertaking. It needed about 30 years of personal knowledge of each other for this idea to take shape. What will be the outcome is at the time of this writing ‘open’.

  1. The ‘Man-in-the-Middle’ (Last Change: 29.December 2022) What measurement means to theory-building by using mass spectroscopy.


wkp := wikipedia

[1] Mass Spectrometry in wkp [EN] : (Last access: 28.Dec 2022)

[2] Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry in wkp [EN] : (Last access: 28.Dec 2022)


ISSN 2567-6458, 15.March 2021 – 23.February 2023
Author: Gerd Doeben-Henisch


This post is part of the uffmm science blog.


The topic Philosophy of Science [PoS] in the context of modern science has  a history of   more then 100 years and — in the view of the author — this topic has not yet settled in one grand view of science which is globally accepted.[1]-[7] [*]

A Global Public Theory Machine (with Collective Intelligence)
Encounter with Popper
  1. POPPER and EMPIRICAL THEORY. A conceptual Experiment (Last change: March 16, 2022)
  2. POPPER – Objective Knowledge (1971). Summary, Comments, how to develop further (Last change: March 12, 2022)
  3. OKSIMO MEETS POPPER. The Generalized Oksimo Theory Paradigm (Last change: April 5, 2021)
  4. OKSIMO MEETS POPPER. The Oksimo Theory Paradigm (Last change: April 2, 2021)
  5. OKSIMO MEETS POPPER. Popper’s Position (Last Change: March 31, 2021⁾
  6. THE OKSIMO CASE as SUBJECT FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. Part 5. Oksimo as Theory? (Last change: March 24, 2021)
  7. THE OKSIMO CASE as SUBJECT FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. Part 4. Describing Change (Last change: March 24, 2021)
  8. THE OKSIMO CASE as SUBJECT FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. Part 3. Generate a Vision (last change: March 24, 2021)
  9. THE OKSIMO CASE as SUBJECT FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE. Part 2. makedecidable() (last change: March 23, 2021)
  10. THE OKSIMO CASE as SUBJECT FOR PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE (last change: March 23, 2021)
    John Dewey’s Logic
    1. LOGIC. The Theory Of Inquiry (1938) by John Dewey – An oksimo Review – Part 1 (Last change: Aug 18, 2021)
    2. LOGIC. The Theory Of Inquiry (1938) by John Dewey – An oksimo Review – Part 2 (Last change: Aug 18, 2021)
    3. LOGIC. The Theory Of Inquiry (1938) by John Dewey – An oksimo Review – Part 3 (Last change: Aug 20, 2021)
    4. To be continued …
Encounter with Nicholas Bourbaki
  1. OKSIMO and BOURBAKI. A Metamathematical Perspective on Oksimo. Part 1 (Last Change: 24.Sept 2021)
  2. To be continued
Nice to have: Poincaré [12]

Encounter with Günter Wagner

EMPIRICAL MEASUREMENT: Molecules and Atoms. Late Encounter with Günter Wagner: The ‘man-in-the-middle’ (Last Change: 28.December 2022)


[*] From the many books the one which I like most as a good first introduction is that entitled The Structure of Scienctific Theories edited by Frederick Suppe (1977). [5]  In the German philosophical discourse there exists the distinction between ‘Philosophy of Science’ (‘Wissenschaftsphilosophie’) and ‘Theory of Science’ (‘Wissenschaftstheorie’). [7] In this text this distinction will not be used.

[1] Wikipedia EN, Philosophy of Science:

[2] Enyclopaedia Britannica, Philosophy of Science: /* Very broad overview */

[3] Journal Philosophy of Science (Since 1934), published by the University of Chicago Press:

[4] Stanford Encylopedia of Philosophy, Philosophy of Science in Latin America: /* There exists no general topic of Philosophy of Science! */

[5] Frederick Suppe (Ed.), The Structure of Scientific Theories,  University of Illinois Press, Urbana, 1977, 2nd edition 1979

[6] Jürgen Mittelstraß (Ed.), Enzylopädie Philosophie und Wissenschaftstheorie, Bd.1-4, Publisher J.Metzler, Stuttgart – Weimar (Germany), 1995 – 1996

[7] Hans Jörg Sandkühler (Ed.), Enzylopädie Philosophie, Bd. 1-3, Publisher Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg (Germany), 2010. Stichworte ‘Wissenschaftsphilosophie‘ und ‘Wissenschaftstheorie‘ in Bd.3

[8] Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, First published 1935 in German as Logik der Forschung, then 1959 in English by  Basic Books, New York (more editions have been published  later; I am using the eBook version of Routledge (2002))

[9] Jules Henri Poincaré (1854 – 1912),,  La science et l’hypothèse, Paris 1902, English: Science and Hypothesis, New York 1905, publisher The Walter Scott Publishing CO., LTD (See wikisource: )

[10] N.Bourbaki (1970), Theory of Sets, Series: ELEMENTS OF MATHEMATICS, Springer, Berlin — Heidelberg — New York (Engl. Translation from the French edition 1970)

[11] Bourbaki group in Wikipedia [EN]:

[12] Jules Henri Poincaré (1854 – 1912),,  La science et l’hypothèse, Paris 1902, English: Science and Hypothesis, New York 1905, publisher The Walter Scott Publishing CO., LTD (See wikisource: )