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Science: Determinism and Uncertainty. Science entering the 19 th Century. Scientific Awakening laid the theoretical and operational bases science Popular opinions about science at the beginning of the 19 th Century Authority for truth Triumphant in describing nature

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Science determinism and uncertainty l.jpg

Science: Determinism and Uncertainty


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Science entering the 19th Century

  • Scientific Awakening laid the theoretical and operational bases science

  • Popular opinions about science at the beginning of the 19th Century

    • Authority for truth

    • Triumphant in describing nature

    • Prestige in method of science versus other methods (religion redefined)

    • Technologists looking at science to improve technology


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The Bases of Science

1.Cause and Effect

2.Determinism

  • Reductionism

  • Objectivity


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"I often say...that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts, advanced to the stage of science, whatever the matter may be."

– Lord Kelvin

Physical Sciences are Quantitative


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Social Sciences Confident but methods not fully defined

  • Belief that all puzzles can be solved through science

    • Rosetta stone solved mystery of Hieroglyphics

    • Medical advances

    • Technology

    • Electricity and magnetism

  • Analysis of behavior


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Louis Pasteur

  • Use of science to improve life

  • Degree in crystal chemistry

  • Switched to Bacteriology/microbiology

  • Chicken cholera


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“Fortune favors the prepared mind.”

— Louis Pasteur


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Contributions of Louis Pasteur

  • Developed the concept of vaccinations and showed how it worked to prevent chicken cholera

  • Living things only from living things (study in bacteria)

  • Demonstrated that disease is caused by microorganisms (foundation of modern microbiology)

  • Pasteurization (saved the milk, beer, and wine industries of France)

  • Saved the silk industry through heat treatment of silk worm nurseries

  • Vaccination against anthrax (saved the sheep/wool industry of France)

  • Rabies vaccination


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“I have been looking for spontaneous generation for twenty years without discovering it. No, I do not judge it impossible. But what allows you to make it the origin of life? You place matter before life and you decide that matter has existed for all eternity. How do you know that the incessant progress of science will not compel scientists to consider that life has existed during eternity, and not matter? You pass from matter to life because your intelligence of today cannot conceive things otherwise. How do you know that in ten thousand years one will not consider it more likely that matter has emerged from life?”

— Louis Pasteur


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"Science advances through tentative answers to a series of more and more subtle questions which reach deeper and deeper into the essence of natural phenomena."

– Louis Pasteur


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Pasteur’s environment and motivation

  • Duty to country

  • Personal value system

  • Scientific impetus

  • Earn a living


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Charles Darwin

  • Influenced by previous scientists

  • Theory begun in Galápagos Islands

  • Origins of Species

  • Descent of Man

  • Controversy and support

  • Persisting problems today


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“Organic evolution, as Darwin conceived it, involved at least three distinct propositions: first, that more complex forms of life appeared on the earth later than simpler ones (the doctrine of progression); secondly, that these later forms of life were descended from the earlier ones (the doctrine of transformation); and thirdly—Darwin’s essential contribution—that the descent of these later species from the earlier was a consequence of variation and natural selection.”

- Toulmin, Stephen and June Goodfield, The discovery of Time, The University of Chicago Press, 1965, pg 138.


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“Because Darwin’s view of the origins of life is totally mechanistic, it fails to explain all of the elements of man’s progress. Hegel says that somewhere or somehow the natural juices from which organisms were created must have ‘inclined towards the Greek’. (Meaning that there was some tendency that led mankind to seek perfection in spirit, beauty, and behavior.)

Another way of thinking about this is to consider the limits of reductionism. One could ask, ‘What is a radio?’ A scientist would seek to answer by taking the radio apart. (You could, in fact, just throw it down and break the case so that all the elements and parts are scattered about.) However, isn’t there something about the radio that can only be discerned by turning the radio on and listening to a beautiful symphony (or other great aesthetic work). This goes beyond the mechanistic approach and asks the question ‘Why does something exist?’…”


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Changes in science in mid 1800's

  • Status:

    • Determinism, reductionism, cause and effect not disputed

    • Newton's description of universe was fully accepted

    • Newton's basic assumptions not disputed

      • Time is continuous and constant

      • Space is continuous and constant

      • Mass is continuous and constant

      • The world can be described by Euclidean principles


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Euclidean geometry a priori assumptions:

1.The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

2.Two parallel lines never cross.

3.Two non-parallel lines cross at one and only one point.

Newton then derived that mass is a constant that relates time, length, and speed or acceleration.

Riemann geometry a priori assumptions:

1.The shortest distance between two points is a curve.

2.Two parallel lines cross at infinity.

Einstein then derived that mass is a variable that depends upon time, length, and speed or acceleration.

— From H. Clay Gorton, “The Transitory Nature of Telestial Knowledge”


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Conflict: Newton versus Einstein

  • Newton: Mass is constant. Time and length are uniform.

    F = ma

  • Einstein: Mass is variable. Time and length are relative.

    E = mc2


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"A clock attached to a system that is in relative motion will be observed to run more slowly than one that is stationary with respect to us. Rods appear to contract in the direction of their motion when they are observed to move from rest into uniform motion... The mass of a moving body increases with the body's velocity relative to its observer."

– Gardner, Howard, Creating Minds, Basic Books, 1993, p.111.

Relativity


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"Einstein had the peculiar habit of attacking a problem by going back to the basics. He dispensed with most of the known facts, deriving the key concepts himself from scratch. By doing so, he avoided many of the bad assumptions that confused his colleagues."

– Thorpe, Scott, How to Think Like Einstein, Barnes & Noble Books, Inc., 2000, p. 30.

Einstein Creativity


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"The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.“

– Einstein, Albert, quoted in Thorpe, Scott, How to Think Like Einstein, Barnes & Noble Books, Inc., 2000, p.136.

Einstein Creativity


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“The distinction between past, present and future is only an illusion, however persistent.”

— Einstein, 1955

Einstein Creativity


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“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Einstein Creativity


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“The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”

- Tom Clancy

Creativity


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Uncertainty Principle and Quantum Principles

  • You cannot simultaneously determine the position and momentum (mass) of a particle

  • Electrons and light are both particles and waves

  • Positions, masses and other characteristics of particles are expressed by probability


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"The quantum effect is a feature of the subatomic world which has no analogy in macroscopic physics: the more a particle is confined, the faster it moves...Modern physics thus pictures matter not at all as passive and inert but as being in a continuous dancing and vibrating motion whose rhythmic patters are determined by the molecular, atomic, and nuclear configurations. We have come to realize that there are not static structures in nature. There is stability, but this stability is one of dynamic balance, and the further we penetrate into matter the more we need to understand its dynamic nature to understand its patterns."

– The Turning Point, Fritjof Capra

Uncertainty Principle and Quantum Principles


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"While it [an electron] acts like a particle, it is capable of developing its wave nature at the expense of its particle nature, and vice versa, thus undergoing continual transformations from particle to wave and from wave to particle. This means that neither the electron nor any other atomic 'object' has any intrinsic properties independent of its environment. The properties it shows – particle-like or wave-like – will depend on the experimental situation, that is, on the apparatus it is forced to interact with."

– The Turning Point, Fritjof Capra

Uncertainty Principle and Quantum Principles


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"God runs electromagnetics by wave theory on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. The Devil runs them by quantum theory on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday."

–William Bragg, Nobel prize-winning physicist

Uncertainty Principle and Quantum Principles


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Chaos and Synchronicity

  • “Butterfly effect”

  • Principles of chaos

  • Synchronicity


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Chaos Theory

  • Weather prediction story

  • Observation: Small changes can make large differences

  • Conclusion: We may not really know the cause and effect relationship


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Chaos and Synchronicity

"When a butterfly flutters its wings in one part of the world, it can eventually cause a hurricane in another..."

– Edward Lorenz and Chaos Theory


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“Poincaré [1854-1912] also points out that some events that appear to be fortuitous are not; instead, their causes stem from minute disturbances. A cone perfectly balanced on its apex will topple over if there is the least defect in symmetry; and even if there is no defect, the cone will topple in response to ‘a very slight tremor, a breath of air.’ That is why, Poincaré explained, meteorologists have such limited success in predicting the weather....Chaos theory, a more recent development, is based on a similar premise. According to this theory, much of what looks like chaos is in truth the product of an underlying order, in which insignificant perturbations are often the cause of [events].”

– Peter L. Bernstein, Against the Gods, 1996, 201

Chaos and Synchronicity


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“This, finally, is the essence of synchronicity: the world we live in is filled with harmonies and coincidences that have no explanation in terms of cause and effect. It is fruitless to seek after hidden forces and occult powers. The world is a given — it is just as it is, full of cause and effect, full of synchronicity.”

— R. Rucker, The Fourth Dimension, p. 188

Chaos and Synchronicity


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Reductionism

Determinism

3.Proximate Cause and Effect

Probability

Uncertainty

Chaos theory

Changes in the Bases of Science (1850 - present)

X

X

X


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"In science, ‛fact' can only mean ‛confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent'."

– John Hatton and Paul Plouffe, Science and its Ways of Knowing, 1997, pp.88.

Science Today


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"Scientific theories can never provide a complete and definitive description of reality. They will always be approximations to the true nature of things. To put it bluntly, scientists do not deal with truth; they deal with limited and approximate descriptions of reality."

– The Turning Point, Fritjof Capra

Science Today


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"The purpose of science was not the 'accumulation of knowledge' (since, after all, all scientific theories are eventually proved false) but rather the creation of 'mental maps' that guide and shape our perception and action, bringing about a constant 'mutual participation between nature and consciousness.'

– David Bohm, The Special Theory of Relativity

Science Today


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"So far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain. And so far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

– Einstein, Albert, quoted in Thorpe, Scott, How to Think Like Einstein, Barnes & Noble Books, Inc., 2000, p. 111.

Science Today


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Faith – Scientific and Religious

Faith is trusting that you understand the cause of some effect. In science, you trust that the cause is proximate, that is, nearby in time and space. In religion, you trust that the cause is known to God. Both methods require faith.

– Brent Strong


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"The modern era has been dominated by the culminating belief expressed in different forms, that the world—and Being as such—is a wholly knowable system governed by a finite number of universal laws that man can grasp and rationally direct for his own benefit. This era, beginning in the Renaissance and developing from the Enlightenment to socialism, from positivism to scientism, from the Industrial Revolution to the information revolution, was characterized by rapid advances in rational, cognitive thinking. This, in turn, gave rise to the proud belief that man, as the pinnacle of everything that exists, was capable of objectively describing, explaining and controlling everything that exists, and possessing the one and only truth about the world…. (continued)

The New World


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The New World

"It was an era in which there was a cult of depersonalized objectivity, an era in which objective knowledge was amassed and technologically exploited, an era of systems, institutions, mechanisms, and statistical averages. It was an era of freely transferable, existentially ungrounded information. It was an era of ideologies, doctrines, interpretations or reality, an era in which the goal was to find a universal theory of the world, and thus a universal key to unlock it prosperity… (continued)


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"…Communism was the perverse extreme of this trend…The fall of Communism can be regarded as a sign that modern thought—based upon the premise that the world is objectively knowable, and that knowledge so obtained can be absolutely generalized—has come to a final crisis. This era has created the first global, or planetary, technical civilization, but it has reached the limit of its potential, the point beyond which the abyss begins.

"Traditional science, with its usual coolness, can describe the different ways we might destroy ourselves, but it cannot offer truly effective and practical instructions on how to avert them."

Vaclav Havel (first leader of the Czech Republic)

The New World


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Thank You


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"It certainly is curious to start one's autobiography, not with where and when one was born, the names of one's parents, and similar personal details, but to focus instead on a question which Einstein phrases simply: 'What, precisely, is thinking?' Einstein explains why he has to start his 'obituary' in this way: 'For the essential in the being of a man of my type lies precisely in what he thinks and how he thinks, not in what he does or suffers.'"

– Gerald Holton, Einstein, History, and Other Passions


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"Few modern researchers are likely to admit, as Oersted gladly did, that he had been completely convinced many years earlier of the existence of the effect he eventually discovered. Oersted had been persuaded of a connection existing between electricity and magnetism by reading Immanuel Kant, who on metaphysical grounds proposed that all the different forces of nature are only different exemplifications of one fundamental force, a Grundkraft."

– Gerald Holton, Einstein, History, and Other Passions


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"In the twentieth century physics has gone through several conceptual revolutions that clearly reveal the limitations of the mechanistic world view...The universe is no longer seen as a machine, made up of a multitude of separate objects, but appears as a harmonious indivisible whole; a network of dynamic relationships that include the human observer and his or her consciousness in an essential way.”

– The Turning Point , Fritjof Capra


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"Many great discoveries in physics ultimately boil down to equalities of two ratios. When Archimedes discovered the law of the lever, for example, he found that a balance beam is in equilibrium when the ratio of the weights is equal to the inverse ratio of the lengths of the lever arms...Two thousand years later Galileo showed that the ratio of the acceleration of a ball rolling down an incline to the acceleration of ball in a free fall is equal to the ratio of the height of the incline to its length. This likeness is subtler and more deeply hidden than the law discovered by Archimedes and, for that reason, it is in some sense superior. In a similar way, works of art gain in stature and are considered to be more beautiful, as the appearances they unify are more widely varied. Thus there is greater merit in comparing death to a bee than to, say, sleep, and more poetry in the metaphor of honey for Juliet’s breath than, say, wind. A scientific theory is beautiful to the extent that the phenomena it explains are unrelated - or at least seem so."

– John Hatton and Paul Plouffe, Science and its Ways of Knowing, 1997, pp.66.


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"Einstein...notes first of all to pay 'special attention to the relation between the content of a theory,' on the one hand, and 'the totality of empirical facts,' on the other. These two constitute the two 'components of our knowledge,' the 'rational' and the 'empirical'; these two components are 'inseparable'; but they stand also, Einstein warns, in 'eternal antithesis....' Up to this point, therefore, we are left with a thoroughly dualistic method for doing science. On the one hand, Einstein says, 'the structure of the system is the work of reason'; on the other hand, 'the empirical contents and their mutual relations must find their representation in the conclusions of the theory.'

– Gerald Holton, Einstein, History, and Other Passions


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"It used to be considered obvious that time flowed on forever, regardless of what was happening; but the theory of relativity combined time with space and said that both could be warped, or distorted, by the matter and energy in the universe. So our perception of the nature of time changed from being independent of the universe to being shaped by it. It then became conceivable that time might simply not be defined before a certain point; as one goes back in time, one might come to an insurmountable barrier, a singularity, beyond which one could not go. If that were the case, it wouldn't make sense to ask who, or what, caused or created the big bang. To talk about causation or creation implicitly assumes there was a time before the big bang singularity.“

– John Hatton and Paul Plouffe, Science and its Ways of Knowing, 1997, pp.66.


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"One can assemble a list of about ten chief presuppositions underlying his [Einstein's] theory of construction throughout his long scientific career: primacy of formal (rather than materialistic or mechanistic) explanation; unity or unification; cosmological scale in the applicability of laws; logical parsimony and necessity;; symmetry (for as long as possible); simplicity; causality (in essentially the Newtonian sense); completeness and exhaustiveness; continuum; and, of course, constancy and invariance."

– Gerald Holton, Einstein, History, and Other Passions


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"He [Einstein] felt a gap somewhere without being able to clarify it, or even to formulate it. He felt that the trouble went deeper than the contradiction between Michelson's actual and the expected result. He felt that a certain region in the structure of the whole situation was in reality not as clear to him as it should be, although it had hitherto been accepted without question by everyone, including himself."

– John Hatton and Paul Plouffe, Science and its Ways of Knowing, 1997, pp.97.


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"The reward for such internalization of subject matter is intuition. The scientist learns to sense what is expected, to feel how the world ought to work... In essence, intuition is the ability to sense an underlying order in things, and thus is related to still another mental tool that is indispensable to the working scientist: the perception of patterns, both visual and verbal...All good theories contain, at heart, an ordering process that reveals hidden patterns."

– John Hatton and Paul Plouffe, Science and its Ways of Knowing, 1997, pp.116.


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"Another troubling trend of the new physics [Standard Model of particle physics, big bang cosmological model and Grand Unified Theories] is that the theories have many arbitrarily adjustable parameters (one model fits all data), or they come in many slightly different versions, so as to hedge one's bets... An irreverent name for this strategy might be the Ptolemaic method...who...developed a theory of planetary motion that involved adding increasingly complicated ‛epicycles' until his predictions fitted the facts."

– John Hatton and Paul Plouffe, Science and its Ways of Knowing, 1997, pp.77-78.


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"One can sum up all this [the viability of a scientific theory] by saying that the criterion of the scientific status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability."

– John Hatton and Paul Plouffe, Science and its Ways of Knowing, 1997, pp.85.


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“Scientists are [aware]....that it is possible to live and not to know. But I don’t know whether everyone believes this is true. Our freedom to doubt was born out of struggle against authority in the early days of science.... It is our responsibility as scientists to teach how doubt is not to be feared but welcomed and discussed.”

— Richard Feynman (quoted in Nye, Mary Jo, before Big Science, p. 228)


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“In my entire scientific life, extending over forty-five years, the most shattering experience has been the realization that an exact solution of Einstein’s equations of general relativity, discovered by the New Zealand mathematician Roy Kerr, provides the absolutely exact representation of untold numbers of massive black holes that populate the universe. This ‘shuddering before the beautiful,’ this incredible fact that a discovery motivated by a search after the beautiful in mathematics should find its exact replica in Nature, persuades me to say that beauty is that to which the human mind responds at its deepest and most profound level.”

— Astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar


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“In 1937, in response to criticisms of The General Theory, [Maynard] Keynes summed up his views: ‘By uncertain knowledge...I do not mean merely to distinguish what is known for certain from what is only probable. The game of roulette is not subject, in this sense, to uncertainty....The sense in which I am using the term is that in which the prospect of a European war is uncertain, or the price of copper and the rate of interest twenty years hence, or the obsolescence of a new invention....About these matters, there is no scientific basis on which to form any calculable probability whatever. We simply do not know!’”

– Peter L. Bernstein, Against the Gods, 1996, 229


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“What I am suggesting is that if we take sensations and thoughts as primary, then there is no reason to limit the ‘dimensions’ of the world to the space and time dimensions involved in the motions of inanimate objects. Part and parcel of every object you see is what the object reminds you of, how you feel about it, what you know about its past, and so on. If we make an honest effort to describe the world as we actually live it, then the world grows endlessly more complicated than any simple 3-D picture. There is a feeling that the more we delve into the nature of reality, the more we will find. Far from being limited, the world is inexhaustibly rich.”

— Rucker, The Fourth Dimension, p.194


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"Many students in the sciences (to say nothing of those in other fields) believe that the business of science is truth and that, in science, truth is based on fact. But science has to do with understanding nature, not with establishing fixed truths."

– John Hatton and Paul Plouffe, Science and its Ways of Knowing, 1997, pp.x.


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Ockham's Razor

"What can be done with fewer [terms] is done in vain with more."

– Ockham, William, as quoted in Palmer, Donald, Does the Center Hold?, Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1991, p. 91.


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The Order of Nature

  • Newton believed that there were 5 fixed and permanent concepts or features of nature:

  • Ultimate inorganic particles which were solid, massy, hard, impenetrable, moveable.

    Problems: Radioactivity, Uncertainty Principle

  • Organic structures that are adaptive and willful.

    Problems: Evolution by natural selection, no difference between organic and inorganic matter.

  • Stability of the planetary orbits and fixed nature of the stars

    Problems: New planets, Red shift

  • Laws of motion (passive) arising from inertia and mass such as F = ma and Newton's basic laws of motion.

    Problems: Relativity, e = mc2

  • Laws of attraction and repulsion (active) such as gravity, magnetism, electrical attraction, chemical reactions

    Problems: None so far. [Do we know that basic constants (Planck's constant, gravitational constant, pi, natural logarithm, etc.) have been and will remain constant for all time?]

    – From Toulmin, Stephen and June Goodfield, The Discovery of Time, The University of Chicago Press, 1965, p.247 and following.


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When Romeo finds Juliet in the tomb, and thinks her dead, he laments, "Death that hath suckt the honey of thy breath." The rhyme of death with breath, and the sixfold repetition of the th sound, sometimes silent, sometimes buzzing, are the tools of the poet's craft. But the power of the line derives from its message, the comparisons of death to a bee, of Juliet to a flower – hidden likenesses between vastly disparate things."

– John Hatton and Paul Plouffe, Science and its Ways of Knowing, 1997, pp.71.


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Determinism by Laplace

"If I knew all the laws of nature and had one complete description of the universe at any given moment, then I could predict all future events and retrodict all past events."

– Laplace as quoted in Palmer, Donald, Does the Center Hold?, Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1991, p. 241.


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"For two and a half centuries physicists have used a mechanistic view of the world to develop and refine the conceptual framework known as classical physics. They have based their ideas on the mathematical theory of Isaac Newton, the philosophy of René Descartes, and the scientific methodology advocated by Francis Bacon...Like human-made machines, the cosmic machine was thought to consist of elementary parts. Consequently it was believed that complex phenomena could always be understood by reducing them to their basic building blocks and by looking for the mechanisms through which these interacted. This attitude, known as reductionism, has become so deeply ingrained in our culture that it has often been identified with the scientific method."

– Fritjof Capra, The Turning Point


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Chemistry/Physics

  • Thomas Young

    • light waves

  • John Dalton

    • atomic theory

  • Kekule

    • organic molecular structure

  • Dmitri Mendeleev

    • periodic table

  • Alfred Nobel

    • dynamite


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Uncertainty and the Quantam Theory

  • Wilhelm Roentgen—X-rays

  • Pierre and Marie Curie—isolated radium

    • fission

  • Max Planck—quantum theory

  • Albert Einstein—photoelectric effect

    • relativity

  • Ernest Rutherford—atomic structure


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Electricity

  • 1800’s—electricity identified

  • Alessandro Volta—first battery

  • Hans Christian Oersted—electromagnetism

  • Andre Ampere—electromagnetic theory

  • Georg Ohm—circuit analysis

  • Michael Faraday—relation between valance electron and electricity

  • James Clerk Maxwell—electromagnetic theory


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Biology

  • Matthias Schleiden and Theodor Schwann

    • All living things have cells

  • Gregor Mendel

    • Rule for genetics


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Medicine

  • Edward Jenner—small pox vaccination (1796)

  • Robert Koch—germs caused disease (1882)

    • Tuberculosis caused by bacteria

  • Paul Ehrlich—chemotherapy

  • Sigmund Freud—psychoanalysis

  • Alexander Fleming—penicillin (1928)


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"In 1898 an English admiral, Percy Scott, watched his men at target practice. All but one was doing miserably. That one gunner had evolved his own aiming tactic. He kept his eye on the sight and he moved the gun continuously until he could feel the synchronization between his aim and the motion of the ship. What he was doing was subtle...It coupled the man and the machine... That unknown English sailor thought not about mastering standard technique but about how to do the job."

– John Lienhard, The Engines of Our Ingenuity, p.54.


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"The twentieth-century quantum physicist Richard Feynman asserted that if the human race was wiped out and could pass on just one sentence of scientific knowledge, this sentence should begin: 'All things are made of atoms...'"

– Strathern, Paul, Mendeleyev's Dream, New York: Berkley Books, 2000, p.245.


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"Fleming's discovery illustrates [the concept] of 'selective coding,' the ability to sift important information from irrelevancies... Another path to creative insight [is called] 'selective combination,' seeing a way to combine the relevant information once you've detected it... Another skill useful to creativity is the ability to draw comparisons and analogies. Many breakthroughs are the result of juxtaposing elements or ideas that ordinarily do not go together or detecting a hidden pattern of connections among things. "

– from Goleman, Daniel et al., The Creative Spirit, Plume, 1992, p.35.


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"I've given up trying to be rigorous. All I'm concerned about is being right."

– Hawking, Stephen, quoted in Thorpe, Scott, How to Think Like Einstein, Barnes & Noble Books, Inc., 2000, p. 30.


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Uncertainty and the Quantam Theory

  • Neils Bohr—energy controls electron motion

  • Erwin Schrödinger—wave mechanics

  • Werner Heisenberg—uncertainty principle

  • Enrico Fermi—nuclear chain reaction


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Implications of Quantum Uncertainty

  • Determinism questioned

  • Time/Mass/Dimensions reexamined

  • Scientific method questioned

  • Thoughts and feelings more real than substance

  • Cause and effect relationships false


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"[R]esistance to technological change derives from two sources that aid and abet each other, though they can exist independently. One is the economic and political interest of the technological status quo. The other is the resistance of intellectuals, who, for one reason or another, are genuinely and sincerely fearful of technology. Though at times the intellectuals' sincerity may be in doubt, it is reasonable to distinguish between these selfish and selfless currents in technophobic responses. Whatever its motives, the resistance to technological change has to rely on non-market forces, above all the control of political power."

– Mokyr, Joel, The Gifts of Athena, Princeton University Press, 2002, p.262-263.


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“A theory is a set of basic rules, supported by a great many confirmed observations by many scientists, that explains and makes sensible a large number of facts that, without the theory, would seem to be unconnected...Theories are not necessarily correct in every detail, to begin with, and might never be entirely correct in every detail, but they are sufficiently correct (if they are good theories) to guide scientists in understanding the subject the theory deals with, in exploring further observations, and, eventually, in improving the theory. No scientific theory is instantly accepted by scientists. There are always those scientists who are suspicious of anything new — and this is perhaps a good thing. Theories should not slide into acceptance too easily; they should be questioned and tested vigorously. In this way, weak spots in the theory will be uncovered and, perhaps, strengthened.”

— Isaac Asimov, Atom, pp. 12.


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"But where evidence is sparse or absent–as it is for a growing number of questions in physics – other criteria, including aesthetic ones, come into play in an essential way, both for formulating a theory and for evaluating it. In view of this fact, it is imperative that physicists know what they mean when they make appeals to such standards as elegance, coherence, and inner beauty. Many professional scientists use these terms to refer to their work, but few take the trouble to define them. What, then, is meant by elegance? By coherence? And What is beauty, in the context of mathematical formulas and physical theories?...All science is the search for unity in hidden likenesses...The equality of ratios is to physics what rhythm is to poetry, and balance to painting."

– John Hatton and Paul Plouffe, Science and its Ways of Knowing, 1997, pp.69-71.


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"But our understanding of nature does not proceed simply by means of scientific method, however understood. It frequently involves the kind of discovery that turns on less predictable (and less definable) factors such as accident and luck, as well as such personal traits as intuition, empathy, passion, openness to surprise, etc. that have to do with the personality of the individual scientist."

– John Hatton and Paul Plouffe, Science and its Ways of Knowing, 1997, pp.x.


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"Quantum theory implies the universe is basically an indivisible whole, even though on the larger scale level it may be represented approximately as divisible into separately existing parts. In particular, this means that, at a quantum theoretical level of accuracy, the observing instrument and the observed object participate in each other in an irreducible way. At this level perception and action therefore cannot be separated."

– David Bohm, The Special Theory of Relativity


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“Science is the daughter of faith, the sister of hope, and the mother of charity.”

– Louis Pasteur


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"The central core of the old belief system, one that lasted into the twentieth century, rested on three dogmas...: (1) To all genuine questions there is one true answer, all others being false, and this applies equally to questions of conduct and feeling, to questions of theory and observations, to questions of value no less than to those of fact. (2) The true answers to such questions are in principle knowable. (3) These true answers cannot clash with one another."

– Einstein, History and Other Passions, Gerald Holton


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Knowledge vs. Imagination

Imagination is greater than knowledge.

-Albert Einstein


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Why Scientists Should Read Shakespeare

and

Why Humanists Should

Understand Einstein


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