Modern Empiricism

David Hume / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Bryan W. Roberts Associate Professor of Philosophy, Logic, and Scientific Method London School of Economics & Political Science The Wolf in Grammatical Clothing One important concern of philosophy is the question of when one “knows” a proposition, as opposed to merely believing it. But a precondition for knowing a is that[…]

MIT and New Company Seek Working Fusion Plant Pilot in 15 Years

Visualization of the proposed SPARC tokamak experiment. Using high-field magnets built with newly available high-temperature superconductors, this experiment would be the first controlled fusion plasma to produce net energy output. / Visualization by Ken Filar, PSFC research affiliate By David Chandler / 03.09.2018 Progress toward the long-sought dream of fusion power — potentially an inexhaustible and[…]

Embroidering Electronics: The Next Generation of ‘Smart’ Fabrics

Is this machine adding an antenna to the fabric? Hindrik Johannes de Groot/ By Dr. Asimina Kiourti / 03.12.2018 Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering The Ohio State University Archaeology reveals that humans started wearing clothes some 170,000 years ago, very close to the second-to-last ice age. Even now, though, most modern humans wear clothes that are[…]

Stephen Hawking: A Life of Success against All Odds

By Dr. Martin Rees / 03.14.2018 Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics University of Cambridge Soon after I enrolled as a graduate student at Cambridge University in 1964, I encountered a fellow student, two years ahead of me in his studies, who was unsteady on his feet and spoke with great difficulty. This was Stephen[…]

Stephen Hawking, Who Brought Cosmology to the Masses, Dies at 76

Visionary physicist and Cambridge University Professor Stephen Hawking died on Wednesday, March 14, at the age of 76. (Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images) “Not since Albert Einstein has a scientist so captured the public imagination and endeared himself to tens of millions of people around the world.” By Julia Conley / 03.14.2018 Visionary physicist Stephen Hawking,[…]

Science, History, and Ideology in Gramsci’s ‘Prison Notebooks’

Antonio Gramsci, Creative Commons By Dr. Francesca Antonini Postdoctoral Researcher Luigi Einaudi Foundation Abstract Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937) made his notes on science within his Quaderni del carcere (Prison Notebooks) written between 1929 and 1935, while imprisoned by the Italian fascist regime. This overview focuses mainly on three themes: 1) the Gramscian criticism of the idealist (Croce) and materialist (Bukharin)[…]

History of the Beginnings of the Laboratory in the Early Modern World

Wellcome Library via Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Henning Schmidgen / 08.08.2011 Professor of the Theory of Media Worlds Bauhaus-Universität Weimar Abstract The laboratory is an exemplary site of modernity. In it, human and machine, organisms and mechanisms, body and technology combine and contrast with one another in order to produce new scientific facts. However, the[…]

You Thought Quantum Mechanics was Weird: Check Out Entangled Time

Photo by Alan Levine, Flickr, Creative Commons By Dr. Elise Crull / 02.02.2018 Assistant Professor in History and Philosophy of Science City College of New York In the summer of 1935, the physicists Albert Einstein and Erwin Schrödinger engaged in a rich, multifaceted and sometimes fretful correspondence about the implications of the new theory of[…]

What Can Local Circulation of Knowledge Explain? The Case of Helmholtz’s Frog-Drawing-Machine in Berlin

Hermann Von Helmoltz By Dr. M. Norton Wise Professor Emeritus of History University of California, Los Angeles “Circulation” seems to have replaced “travel” as a favored concept in history and social studies of science and to have taken on new significance. Formerly, circulation refered primarily to diffusion or spread, such as the diffusion of knowledge[…]

The Emergence of the Early Modern Commons: Technology, Heritage, and Enlightenment

A photograph of the War Scroll, found in Qumran Cave 1, photographed by Eric Matson of the Matson photo service / Wikimedia Commons    By Dr. Antonio Lafuente García and Dr. Nuria Valverde Pérez Researchers Centro de Ciencas Humanas y Sociales Instituto de Historia (CSIC)   Introduction Our age is rediscovering the importance of commons. Every day we[…]

Nikola Tesla: The Extraordinary Life of a Modern Prometheus

The inventor at rest, with a Tesla coil (thanks to a double exposure). Dickenson V. Alley, Wellcome Collection, CC BY By Dr. Richard B. Gunderman / 01.03.2018 Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts and Philanthrophy Indiana University Match the following figures – Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Guglielmo Marconi, Alfred Nobel and Nikola Tesla – with these biographical[…]

H.G. Wells vs. George Orwell: Is Science Humanity’s Best Hope?

‘Man Combating Ignorance’ – what’s science’s role? Century of Progress Records, 1927-1952, University of Illinois at Chicago Library, CC BY-NC-ND By Dr. Richard Gunderman, MD, PhD / 12.21.2017 Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy Indiana University In the midst of contemporary science’s stunning discoveries and innovations – for example, 2017 alone brought the editing of[…]

Opposition to Galileo Came from Scientists and Clergy

The Ptolemaic Geocentric system. / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Christopher M. Graney / 09.21.2016 Professor of Physics Jefferson Community and Technical College In 1614, when the telescope was new technology, a young man in Germany published a book filled with illustrations of the exciting new things being discovered telescopically: moons circling Jupiter, moon-like phases of Venus, spots[…]

Innovation is an Evolving Process of Trial and Error

Out of all these ideas, will one rise to the top? KlingSup/    By Dr. Edward Wasserman and Dr. Eric Scerri / 06.22.2017 Wasserman: Professor of Experimental Psychology, University of Iowa Scerri: Science Author and Chemistry Lecturer, University of California, Los Angeles Scientific discovery is popularly believed to result from the sheer genius of intellectual stars[…]

Tracing the Links between Research and Real-World Applications

Basic research and applications coexist in a tangled two-way ecosystem. lenggirl, Shutterstock    By Dr. Benjamin F. Jones (left) and Dr. Mohammad Ahmadpoor (right) / 08.10.2017 Jones: Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy Ahmadpoor: Postdoctoral Fellow of Strategy J.L. Kellogg School of Management Northwestern University What does hailing a ride with Uber have to do with 19th-century geometry and[…]

Science versus Religion in American Law

Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Steven Goldberg Professor Emeritus of Sociology City College of New York Introduction The power of organized religion has waxed and waned dramatically throughout human history. In many preindustrial societies, the church provided not only answers to what we think of today as scientific questions, but strict guidance to political leaders as[…]

The Scientific Process

Figure 1.14 Formerly called blue-green algae, the (a) cyanobacteria seen through a light microscope are some of Earth’s oldest life forms. These (b) stromatolites along the shores of Lake Thetis in Western Australia are ancient structures formed by the layering of cyanobacteria in shallow waters. (credit a: modification of work by NASA; scale-bar data from[…]

Scientific Revolutions

The First Thanksgiving, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, 1621 / Library of Congress By Dr. Bryan W. Roberts Associate Professor of Philosophy, Logic, and Scientific Method London School of Economics & Political Science The Trouble with Parables We all learn parables along the way to being educated. It’s part of everyone’s intellectual upbringing. The trouble[…]

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

Neural network / Creative Commons By Dr. Bryan W. Roberts Associate Professor of Philosophy, Logic, and Scientific Method London School of Economics & Political Science An Exercise in the Incredible Let’s start with an exercise: what would you say is the most important forces for human existence? Think about that for a moment. Try to[…]

Scientific Theories aren’t Mere Conjecture – To Survive, they Must Work

There wouldn’t be statues acclaiming Darwin and his theory if it couldn’t stand up to decades of testing. CGP Grey By Dr. Tom Solomon / 03.07.2017 Professor of Physics and Astronomy Bucknell University “The evidence is incontrovertible. Global warming is occurring.” “Climate change is real, is serious and has been influenced by anthropogenic activity.” “The[…]

The Scientific Revolution Revisited, 1550-1700

The French Academy of Sciences was established in 1666. / Wikimedia Commons By Dr. Mikuláš Teich / 04.21.2015 Emeritus Fellow, History and Philosophy of Science Robinson College University of Cambridge Introduction I This is about interpreting the Scientific Revolution as a distinctive movement directed towards the exploration of the world of nature and coming into[…]