science and human affairs

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Out of Sight... Out of Mind? A review of two articles on the ontological status of theoretical entities

The question of the existence of theoretical entities is the subject of W. T. Stace's article Science and the Physical World and Grover Maxwell's The Ontological Status of Theoretical Entities. Theoretical entities are things that are unobserved, either because they are sub-microscopic (electrons, neutrinos and the like), or because they simply do not exist in a traditional sense (gravity, warped space-time). We are unable to directly perceive these entities with our five senses, and therefore they would seem to consist of something other than what is tangible to our touch, taste, sight, hearing or smell. What then do these entities consist of? How can their existence be verified? What is their purpose? We shall see what both these philosophers of science think of these questions, and I will attempt to synthesize both positions into a coherent conclusion.

Relativity and Black Holes : The Beginning Becomes the End Becomes the Beginning : A study of cosmological birth and death

This essay will look at two parts of astronomical history; general relativity and the research into the phenomena of black holes. First will be a history of general relativity (GR) and a discussion of its impacts on scientific thought, then the history of black hole research and the specific interactions between GR theory and black holes.

One Too Many? The Role of Euclid’s Fifth Postulate in the Development of non-Euclidean Geometries

This essay will show that non-Euclidean geometries arose as a direct consequence of a weakness in one of Euclid's own axiomatic postulates, specifically Postulate Five. Further, that should Euclid have omitted this contentious Fifth Postulate, the very possibility of non-Euclidean geometries would be challenged.

Environmental Sociology : The Fundamental Problem with Humankind's Ideologies of Nature

Environmental Sociology

The Fundamental Problem with Humankind's Ideologies of Nature.

An optimistic view of human/environmental processes and interdependencies.

If no organic being excepting man had possessed any mental power, or if his powers had been of a wholly different nature from those of the lower animals, then we should never have been able to convince ourselves that our high faculties had been gradually developed. But it can be shewn that there is no fundamental difference of this kind. We must also admit that there is a much wider interval in mental power between one of the lowest fishes, as a lamprey or lancelet, and one of the higher apes, than between an ape and a man; yet this interval is filled up by numberless gradations. (Darwin, C., p. 445)

Cosmology and Astronomy

  1. Q: What is the role of contraries (opposites) in pre-Socratic cosmology?

A: Early Greek natural scientists had various perplexing questions to grapple with. These included: How did things begin, what are they made of and how did the dispositions of the elements (including the celestial bodies) come to exist as we now perceive them? Three assumptions were made in order to attempt an explanation. These assumptions were: that the world began from a primary unity, that the first things formed from that unity were pairs of opposites and that these opposites interacted in different degrees to form the makeup of all things. Some examples of these opposites and the differing interpretation various philosophers used include Anaximander's indefinite which he says splits into pairs. Anaximenes had air as his elemental stuff, and all formed because of stratification due to differing densities and rarities of the air. Lastly, Heraclitas believed love and strife to be the prime motivators of dissociation in the universe.

The Babylonians and The Mayans : An archeoastonomical overview of two major cultures

Ever since human life evolved, the night sky has been one of the biggest enigmas we have encountered. We have archaeological proof of ancient cultures' interest in astronomy, from the megalithic structures of Britain to Babylonian clay tablets and Mayan parchments. These early astronomers did more than simply gaze at the heavens, starstruck; they calculated, coded, compiled and observed all of the available phenomena. The attempt to make sense of what was happening above is a worldwide practice, and has been since time immemorial. The way to this knowledge was fraught with difficulty, having such matters as retrograde motion to explain.

This essay will provide a brief overview of two ancient astronomical cultures; the Babylonian and the Mayan. Both were enormous influences on later thought, and scientific progress owes much to these two groups. Once we are acquainted with their respective views on the subject, we will explore the connections between the two and attempt to understand how the differences that exist may have come about. Our first subject will be the Babylonian culture.

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