July 22nd, 2013
“Poetic Theories” is a debate looking at whether poetry can contribute to the progress of science and if so how.
May 27th, 2013
I did have a few questions in regards to the nature of scientific explanation and furthering (or ‘advancing’, if you prefer) scientific knowledge. Hume had recognized that the problem of induction can not be justified by an inductive rule (that would be circular) or a deductive rule (or else the principle wouldn’t be inductive – we cannot deduce the truth of induction from the axioms of logic). This of course being Hume’s fork.
However, does Karl Popper’s interpretation of scientific methods being deductive (or falsifiable) solve this problem more so than science on the inductive interpretation? In short, Im just curious if we are reasonable in rejecting Hume’s skepticism, but sound in still adhering to science hinging off of induction.
I did a lot of work on this question in my MA thesis. My full answer is a bit long but I hope it’s easy to follow. For the Reader’s Digest version, I’d say that I’m not a fan of deductive arguments and I prefer inductive arguments. (Actually, I love abductive arguments much more but that’s another issue!) I’m very sympathetic to Popper’s criterion of falsifiability but it’s not a necessary condition for science–it’s just preferable. I’ll try to contextualize and elaborate on some of the hidden talking points in your question so some of the readers can follow along.
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April 29th, 2013
The anthropic principle takes two primary forms: the weak (WAP) and the strong (SAP). The WAP is a reflective and happenstantial inquiry: The observed values of all physical and cosmological quantities are not equally probable but they take on values restricted by the requirement that there exist sites where carbon-based life can evolve and by the requirement that the universe be old enough for it to have already done so. The SAP is much more problematic: rather than considering just one universe we envisage an ensemble of possible universes—among which the fundamental constants of nature vary. Sentient beings must find themselves to be located in a universe where the constants of nature (in addition to the spatiotemporal location) are congenial.
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April 28th, 2013
For every particle there is a corresponding symmetric particle. Physics has a translational symmetry, which means that the laws and values of physics are the same at every location in the universe. If an observer were to travel from one point to a much farther distant point the observer we see no change in the physics. A broken symmetry introduces change—a non-absolute uniformity. The breaking of symmetries creates complexity in the laws of nature in the outcome of laws. There’s a symmetry and uniformity between the strong and weak nuclear forces, which have been unified as electromagnetism by James Clerk Maxwell. A typical example of vital symmetry breaking is that which gives rise to the balance between matter and antimatter in the early universe. However, there is an asymmetry between the quantum and the large (a la gravity). String theory is the attempt to unify all of physics.
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April 27th, 2013
The fundamental question raised by these postulates of special relativity is how different coordinate systems (reference frames) are related, i.e., how one transforms between them. (x, y, z, t) denotes the coordinates of some event in frame S, what are the coordinates (x’, y’, z’, t’) in the frame S’ moving at the velocity v relative to S? But first, a clarification on proper time and coordinate time:
Proper time is time measured between events by use of a single clock, where these events occur at the same place as the clock. It depends not only on the events but also on the motion of the clock between the events. An accelerated clock will measure a shorter proper time between two events than a non-accelerated (inertial) clock between the same events.
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