fix at pleasure

In addition to his substantial contributions to science (see Bogolyubov, Mikhailov & Yushkevich 2007) the eminent swiss mathematician and physicist ↑Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) also wrote texts accessible to the general public. Eulers didactics are absolutely admirable because you can dive into both ‘Elements of Algebra’ (1770) and ‘Letters of Euler on different subjects in physics and philosophy addressed to a german princess’ (1768-1774) without presuppositions, without any previous knowledge whatsoever. His ‘Elements of Algebra’ begin at virtually nothing and then build up to unforeseen heights. Here is in full the beginning of chapter one of section one of part one, … Continue reading

Share

african seed control

Seed and the control of seed lies at the heart of agriculture.     In Africa around 80% of seed comes from local and community saved seed resources. This seed is adapted to local conditions. It forms an integral part of community food security and agricultural integrity. This entire traditional system is now under threat.     A broad front of commercial interests, aided and abetted by the World Bank, the American Seed Association and government agencies, along with front groups, academics and so-called philanthropists, are endeavouring to alienate this crucial resource. […]     What is at play here … Continue reading

Share

beauty of science

We must not forget that when radium was discovered no one knew that it would prove useful in hospitals. The work was one of pure science. And this is a proof that scientific work must not be considered from the point of view of the direct usefulness of it. It must be done for itself, for the beauty of science, and then there is always the chance that a scientific discovery may become like the radium a benefit for humanity. (↑Marie Curie, Lecture at Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, 14 May 1921) via ↑wikiquote … Continue reading

Share

einstein on sts

These quotes by ↑Albert Einstein (1879-1955) are a fine follow-up to ↵poincaré on sts: We have thus assigned to pure reason and experience their places in a theoretical system of physics. The structure of the system is the work of reason; the empirical contents and their mutual relations must find their representation in the conclusions of the theory. In the possibility of such a representation lie the sole value and justification of the whole system, and especially of the concepts and fundamental principles which underlie it. These latter, by the way, are free inventions of the human intellect, which cannot … Continue reading

Share

poincaré on sts

Well, it’s not really ↑Henri Poincaré (1854-1912)—eminent mathematician, theoretical physicist, engineer, and philosopher of science—talking about science and technology studies (STS) proper. Rather he talks about the fundamentals of epistemology, the position of the natural sciences, and their relation to reality. And here we are at the core of STS. Wherever you read about STS it is stated that STS are founded on the sociology of knowledge and the sociology of science stemming from the former. The great achievement, absolutely indispensable for STS, was to relativize scientific knowledge and to look at it from a social constructivist vantage point. To … Continue reading

Share

war as text

Currently I am bit by bit re-reading Latour’s ‘We have never been modern’ (1993 [1991]). In one of the classes I am holding this term I am coercing the students to do this reading, and loyally I am joining in. Latour’s criticism of postmodernism induced an association inside me. Especially this paragraph: When we are dealing with science and technology it is hard to imagine for long that we are a text that is writing itself, a discourse that is speaking all by itself, a play of signifiers without signifieds. It is hard to reduce the entire cosmos to a … Continue reading

Share

slowing down light

↑A Slower Speed of Light is a first-person game prototype in which players navigate a 3D space while picking up orbs that reduce the speed of light in increments. Custom-built, open-source relativistic graphics code allows the speed of light in the game to approach the player’s own maximum walking speed. Visual effects of special relativity gradually become apparent to the player, increasing the challenge of gameplay. These effects, rendered in realtime to vertex accuracy, include the Doppler effect (red- and blue-shifting of visible light, and the shifting of infrared and ultraviolet light into the visible spectrum); the searchlight effect (increased … Continue reading

Share

science as servant

A 1946 advertisement for the ↑Bendix Corporation, scanned and put online by Paul Malon—↑click for larger versions, in order to be able to read all of the small text, too. The slogan ‘Creative engineering makes science your obedient servant’ not only perfectly sums up the immediate post-war era stance of absolute belief in technological feasibility, but also unmistakingly voices where science’s proper place in society should be. I maintain that the understanding of said era is quintessential for understanding our contemporary world: In present day society, the term ‘science’ has great potency. Not only is ‘science’ more or less equivalent … Continue reading

Share

evolution of creationism

I sincerely urge everyone to read David Montgomery’s article ‘↓The evolution of creationism‘—it’s just about five pages long and absolutely concise and clear. Abstract For centuries, natural philosophers, their scientific successors, and theologians alike sought to explain the physical and natural world. The now common cultural narrative of perpetual conflict between science and religion simplifies the arguments and struggles of the past and overlooks cross-pollination between those who embraced faith and reason as the keys to understanding earth history. When geologists unequivocally dismissed the idea of a global flood and recognized Earth’s antiquity, many conservative theologians acknowledged that there was … Continue reading

Share