Articles from 09/2015

11 September 2015

Editorial, Sep 2015

I'm neither a scientist, nor a philosopher who is well acquainted with the intricacies of science. It is therefore a subject I approach with some trepidation, knowing that my limited knowledge prevents me from voicing forth with any true authority. Yet it is precisely this notion of the scientist as expert and authority that makes me cautious.

For we live in a world increasingly shaped, governed and interpreted according to science. As possessor of this uniquely powerful knowledge, the scientist is put in a position formerly held by the priest or the shaman in more ancient…Read

7 September 2015

Force Majeure

Thomas Wartenberg asks if you really know yourself.

Do you know what you'd do if you suddenly found yourself facing imminent death, say from a rapidly approaching tornado or avalanche? Would your normal sense of yourself as (I assume) a well-meaning, moral adult get you through the cataclysmic situation with that sense of self left intact? Or would your own fear, perhaps even panic, undermine your ability to act in ways you would be proud of? These are some of the questions posed by Force Majeure, a 2014 Swedish social comedy directed by Ruben Ö…Read

Einstein’s Relativity and Everyday Life

What good is fundamental physics to the person on the street?

This is the perennial question posed to physicists by their nonscience friends, by students in the humanities and social sciences, and by politicians looking to justify spending tax dollars on basic science. One of the problems is that it is hard to predict definitely what the payback of basic physics will be, though few dispute that physics is somehow "good."

Physicists have become adept at finding good examples of the longterm benefit of basic physics: the quantum theory of solids leading…Read

The Objectivity Thing

(or, why science is a team sport)

One of the qualities we expect from good science is objectivity. And, we're pretty sure that the scientific method (whatever that is) has something to do with delivering scientific knowledge that is objective (or more objective than it would be otherwise, at any rate).

I'm here to tell you that it's more complicated than that -- at least, if you're operating with the picture of the scientific method you were taught in middle school. What we'll see is that objectivity requires more than…Read

Philosophy and Science

The touchstone of the value of philosophy as a world-view and methodology is the degree to which it is interconnected with life. This interconnection may be both direct and indirect, through the whole system of culture, through science, art, morality, religion, law, and politics. As a special form of social consciousness, constantly interacting with all its other forms, philosophy is their general theoretical substantiation and interpretation.

Can philosophy develop by itself, without the support of science? Can science "work" without philosophy? Some people think that the sciences can stand apart from philosophy, that the scientist should actually…Read

A universe without purpose or guidance

In general, philosophy describes methods of approaching reality. It provides subjective approaches to fundamental questions, the Why of the universe. Science on the other hand often pretends to answer the Why but really only can answer the How.


Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature was the philosophical study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science. It is considered to be the precursor of natural sciences. Empirical science historically developed out of philosophy or, more specifically, natural philosophy. In the 14th and 15th…Read

The Origin Of Life On Earth

In November of 2014, for the first time, a spacecraft landed on a comet - and in the process revealed much about the early solar system, as well as offering clues to the origin of life on Earth.

Launched in 2004, the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission arrived at 67P/Churyumov– Gerasimenko, or simply 67P, in August of 2014. Rosetta is the name of the orbiting spacecraft, while Philae is the lander. Philae was to probe the comet's surface while Rosetta analyzed the gas and dust that surrounds the comet, called the coma. The coma and cometary…Read