A millennium ago, the Islamic world was civilization’s Science Central, the primary haven for contemplating the cosmos and discerning the natural laws governing physical existence. While the Arabo-Islamic scientists of this period have on occasion been portrayed as mere preservers and translators of ancient Greek science, they in fact engaged in extensive creative scientific activity, exploring both the natural world and the philosophical underpinnings of the scientific endeavor.
Animating much of the scientific activity of that time was a question that continues to haunt science and soc... (p. 30)
Science News editor in chief Tom Siegfried reports on a new image of the early cosmos from the Euroscience Open Forum meeting in Turin, Italy. (p. 15)
Found in: Astronomy
BLOG: More refined measurements for carbon dioxide input by plants and carbon dioxide released during respiration will help models, Science News editor in chief Tom Siegfried reports from the Euroscience Open Forum 2010 in Turin, Italy.
Found in: Climate Change
In a famous passage from his 1938 book The Realm of Truth, the Spanish-American philosopher George Santayana compared time to a flame running along a fuse. The flame’s position marked the present moment, speeding forward but never backward as the fuse disappeared behind it. “The essence of nowness,” Santayana remarked, “runs like fire along the fuse of time.” Each spark along the fuse represents one of the “nows” that transform the future into the past and “combine perfectly to form the unchangeable truth of history.”It’s far from a perfect analogy. A flame flitting along a... (p. 26)
Science fails to face the shortcomings of statistics. (p. 26)
Found in: Numbers and Science & Society
Shortly after the first of the year (if not already), the Large Hadron Collider — the most powerful particle accelerator ever built — will smash protons together at record energies. If the Earth remains intact, doomsayers will once again have been falsified. Every time they forecast the demise of the planet, those prophets of Earthly annihilation prove themselves no more foresightful than mortgage bankers or phony psychics.
This time, the fear of physics focuses on the prospect that the LHC, housed in a tunnel circling beneath the Swiss and French countryside outside Geneva, will conden... (p. 26)
Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg suggests many would be horrified if all the LHC discovers is its prime target, the Higgs boson. Tom Siegfried and others blog from the 47th annual New Horizons in Science meeting sponsored by the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing in Austin, Texas.
Found in: Atom & Cosmos
The scientist who developed quark theory turns 80 today. To mark the occasion, Science News presents an extended interview with the physicist.
Found in: Atom & Cosmos and Physics
When in the course of scientific events it becomes necessary to dissolve allegiances to established beliefs, you can expect to face a lot of flak.
New scientific ideas, the German physicist Max Planck once observed, triumph not because of the power of reason, but because their opponents eventually die. It was perhaps a slight exaggeration. But it certainly reflects the spirit of scientific conservatism infused in the textbooks, journals and academic departments that impose disciplinary consensus on students and their teachers. Science’s methods are so powerful, its defenders sometimes c... (p. 24)
Found in: Atom & Cosmos
Before ER, House and even Marcus Welby, a TV-doctor show called Ben Casey opened each week with a hand drawing symbols, as the voice of Sam Jaffe identified them one by one: “Man, Woman, Birth, Death … Infinity.”
Those five symbols supposedly encapsulated what medicine was all about. But they could equally well have summarized the story of the universe. Cosmologists, the scholars of cosmic existence, generally concur that the universe is probably infinite. And they are consumed with understanding the universe’s birth, the prospects for its death and whether the presence within it o... (p. 26)