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  • feedwordpress 08:01:10 on 2018/11/04 Permalink
    Tags: , cell, fringe science, , Micrographia, microscope, philosophy of science, , , Robert Hooke, ,   

    “Science is a process”*… 

     

    klee

    Paul Klee, “The Bounds of the Intellect,” 1927 (detail)

     

    When my grandfather died last fall, it fell to my sisters and me to sort through the books and papers in his home in East Tennessee. My grandfather was a nuclear physicist, my grandmother a mathematician, and among their novels and magazines were reams of scientific publications. In the wood-paneled study, we passed around great sheaves of papers for sorting, filling the air with dust.

    My youngest sister put a pile of yellowing papers in front of me, and I started to leaf through the typewritten letters and scholarly articles. Then my eyes fell on the words fundamental breakthroughspectacular, and revolutionary. Letters from some of the biggest names in physics fell out of the folders, in correspondence going back to 1979.

    In this stack, I found, was evidence of a mystery. My grandfather had a theory, one that he believed to be among the most important work of his career. And it had never been published…

    The remarkable– and illuminating– story of Veronique (Nikki) Greenwood’s quest to determine whether her grandfather was “a genius or a crackpot”: “My Grandfather Thought He Solved a Cosmic Mystery.”

    * T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolution

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    As we note that the history of science is, effectively, the history of the instruments developed to help us “see” things smaller, larger, smaller, farther, or outside our human sensory range, we might recall that it was on this date in 1664 that natural philosopher, architect and pioneer of the Scientific Revolution Robert Hooke showed an advance copy of his book Micrographia— a chronicle of Hooke’s observations through various lens– to members of the Royal Society.  The volume (which coined the word “cell” in a biological context) went on to become the first scientific best-seller, and inspired broad interest in the new science of microscopy.

    source: Cal Tech

    Note that the image above is of an edition of Micrographia dated 1665.  Indeed, while (per the above) the text was previewed to the Royal Society in 1664 (to wit the letter, verso), the book wasn’t published until September, 1665.  Note too that Micrographia is in English (while most scientific books of that time were still in Latin)– a fact that no doubt contributed to its best-seller status.

     

     
  • feedwordpress 08:01:17 on 2018/07/28 Permalink
    Tags: Cryptozoology, historicism, , , , , philosophy of science, ,   

    “Have pity on them all, for it is we who are the real monsters”*… 

     

    ardam-cryptozoology

    The International Cryptozoology Museum is smaller than my apartment. It’s a big apartment, but it’s an even smaller museum.

    The museum is located in a red-brick former industrial building in Portland, Maine. It shares a wall with Big J’s Chicken Shack, and so the International Cryptozoology Museum — the only museum in the world dedicated to the study and promotion of cryptozoology — smells wonderfully, overwhelmingly, of fried chicken…

    Officially, cryptozoology is “the study of unknown, legendary, or extinct animals whose existence or survival to the present day is disputed or unsubstantiated.”

    The International Cryptozoology Museum offers a slightly different definition. For the ICM, the discipline is “an exciting field that studies hidden and unconfirmed legendary animals, as a means to discover new species.”

    The definition from the Oxford English Dictionary looks backwards. The animals are disputed and unsubstantiated. Their existence has not been proven. The ICM’s definition looks forward. The animals are hiding. Their discovery is imminent. There is something new to be found. The animals, or, more exactly, the cryptids — we’re talking Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Dover Demon, the Jersey Devil — they’re out there.

    The International Cryptozoology Museum is a place of hope…

    The search for surreptitious species at “Real Toads at the International Cryptozoology Museum.”  Visit the museum here.

    * Bernard Heuvelmans (the father of cryptozoology and founder of the International Society of Cryptozoology), On the Track of Unknown Animals

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    As we adumbrate the unfamiliar, we might send carefully-constructed birthday greetings to Sir Karl Raimund Popper; he was born on this date in 1902.  One of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century, Popper is best known for his rejection of the classical inductivist views on the scientific method, in favor of empirical falsification: A theory in the empirical sciences can never be proven, but it can be falsified, meaning that it can and should be scrutinized by decisive experiments. (Or more simply put, whereas classical inductive approaches considered hypotheses false until proven true, Popper reversed the logic: conclusions drawn from an empirical finding are true until proven false.)

    Popper was also a powerful critic of historicism in political thought, and (in books like The Open Society and Its Enemies and The Poverty of Historicism) an enemy of authoritarianism and totalitarianism (in which role he was a mentor to George Soros).

     source

     

     
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