UNIVERSE

BREAKING THE GALILEAN SPELL

[4.11.08]

Even deeper than emergence and its challenge to reductionism in this new scienti?c worldview is what I call breaking the Galilean spell. Galileo rolled balls down incline planes and showed that the distance traveled varied as the square of the time elapsed. From this he obtained a universal law of motion. Newton followed with his Principia, setting the stage for all of modern science. With these triumphs, the Western world came to the view that all that happens in the universe is governed by natural law. Indeed, this is the heart of reductionism. Another Nobel laureate physicist, Murray Gell-Mann, has de?ned a natural law as a compressed description, available beforehand, of the regularities of a phenomenon. The Galilean spell that has driven so much science is the faith that all aspects of the natural world can be described by such laws. Perhaps my most radical scienti?c claim is that we can and must break the Galilean spell. Evolution of the biosphere, human economic life, and human history are partially indescribable by natural law. This claim ?ies in the face of our settled convictions since Galileo, Newton, and the Enlightenment.

STUART A. KAUFFMAN is a professor at the University of Calgary with a shared appointment between biological sciences and physics and astronomy. He is also the leader of the Institute for Biocomplexity and Informatics (IBI) which conducts leading-edge interdisciplinary research in systems biology.

Dr. Kauffman is also an emeritus professor of biochemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, a MacArthur Fellow and an external professor at the Santa Fe Institute. He is the author of The Origins of Order, At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization, Investigations and Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Religion (Basic Books, forthcoming, May 5th).

Stuart A. Kauffman's Edge Bio Page

MODELING THE FUTURE

Topic: 

  • UNIVERSE
http://vimeo.com/80904106

"Warming is unequivocal, that's true. But that's not a sophisticated question. A much more sophisticated question is how much of the climate Ma Earth, a perverse lady, gives us is from her, and how much is caused by us. That's a much more sophisticated, and much more difficult question."

MODELING THE FUTURE

[3.30.08]

Warming is unequivocal, that's true. But that's not a sophisticated question. A much more sophisticated question is how much of the climate Ma Earth, a perverse lady, gives us is from her, and how much is caused by us. That's a much more sophisticated, and much more difficult question.

 

STEPHEN H. SCHNEIDER, a climatologist, is Professor in the Biological Sciences Department at Stanford University. He is internationally recognized as one of the world's leading experts in atmospheric research and its implications for environment and society. He is author of Laboratory Earth: The Planetary Gamble We Can't Afford to Lose.

Stephen Schneider's Edge Bio Page

 

THE CHANGING ARCTIC

[8.13.07]

[Photo Credit: John McConnico]

Knowing that Arctic climate models are imperfect, it would be reassuring for me, if not for the scientists, to be able to write that scientists keep making grim predictions that just that don't come true. If that were so, we could follow Dyson's line that the models aren't so good and "the fuss is exaggerated". Scarily, the truth is the other way around. The ice is melting faster than the grimmest of the scientist's predictions, and the predictions keep getting grimmer. Now we are talking about an Arctic free of ice in summer by 2040. That's a lot of melting given that, in the long, dark winter the ice covers an area greater than that of the entire United States.

THE CHANGING ARCTIC: A RESPONSE TO FREEMAN DYSON'S "HERETICAL THOUGHTS"
By Alun Anderson

ALUN ANDERSON has been the U.S. Editor of the journal Nature, International Editor of the journal Science; and for 12 years, Editor, then Editor-in-Chief and Publishing Director, of the weekly magazine New Scientist.

Alun Anderson's Edge Bio Page

THE CYCLIC UNIVERSE

[5.16.07]

"In recent years, the search for the fundamental laws of nature has forced us to think about the Big Bang much more deeply. According to our best theories — string theory and M theory — all of the details of the laws of physics are actually determined by the structure of the universe; specifically, by the arrangement of tiny, curled-up extra dimensions of space. This is a very beautiful picture: particle physics itself is now just another aspect of cosmology. But if you want to understand why the extra dimensions are arranged as they are, you have to understand the Big Bang because that's where everything came from."

NEIL TUROK holds the Chair of Mathematical Physics in the department of applied mathematics and theoretical physics at Cambridge University. He is coauthor, with Paul Steinhardt, of Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang.

NEIL TUROK's Edge Bio Page

UNIVERSE REVEALING OUR MODERN MYTHOLOGY

[3.13.07]

As humans, we have a long history of projecting our great stories into the night sky. This leads us to wonder: if we were to make new constellations today, what would they be? If we were to paint new pictures in the sky, what would they depict? These questions form the inspiration for Universe, which explores the notions of modern mythology and contemporary constellations.

UNIVERSE
REVEALING OUR MODERN MYTHOLOGY
By Jonathan Harris
 

Introduction

[ED. NOTE: One of the highlights of this year's interesting and eclectic TED Conference in Monterey, California, organized by TED "curator" Chris Anderson, was the premiere a new work by Jonathan Harris, a New York artist and storyteller working primarily on the Internet. His work involves the exploration and understanding of humans, on a global scale, through the artifacts they leave behind on the Web.

"Universe, he writes, "was inspired by questions like: if we could draw new constellations in our night sky today, what would those be? What are our great stories? What are our great journeys? Who are our heroes and heroines? Who are our Gods and Goddesses? What is our modern mythology? Universe tries to answer these questions through analysis of global media coverage, as construed by Daylife."

"Universe presents an interactive night sky, composed of thousands of twinkling stars, which then connect to form constellations. Each of these constellations has a specific counterpart in the physical world — a story, a person, a quote, an image, a company, a nation, a mythic theme. Any constellation can be clicked, making it the center of the universe, and causing all other stars to enter its orbit. Universe is infinitely large, and each person's path through it will be different. For an explanation of how it works, read 'Stages'. For a longer discussion of the ideas behind the piece, read'Statement'."

Jonathan Harris invites you "to start exploring, get lost, find something amazing, and make your own mythology". Click here for Jonathan Harris's "Universe".

— JB

JONATHAN HARRIS is an New York artist and storyteller working primarily on the Internet. His work involves the exploration and understanding of humans, on a global scale, through the artifacts they leave behind on the Web.

Jonathan Harris' Edge bio page

NASA GOES DEEP

[2.26.07]

...instead of having a ubiquitous presence throughout the solar system, humans haven’t set foot on the Moon in 35 years, and even our robotic explorations in that time have been throttled because we deliberately reduced our access to deep space.

 

CAROLYN PORCO is a planetary scientist, the leader of the Imaging Science Team on the Cassini mission and director of the Cassini Imaging Central Laboratory for Operations.

 

Carolyn Porco's Edge Bio Page

MY EINSTEIN'S SUSPENDERS

The 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics
[11.9.06]

Last month, Edge contributor Berkeley astrophysicist George Smoot was awarded the Nobel prize in Physics (along with Nasa's John Mather). In 1992, Smoot made headlines around the world with his images of the birth of the universe, the beginning of time itself, taken with the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) space probe. Backed by a large team, Smoot used COBE to pick up the faint whispers left by the cosmic explosion of creation almost 14 billion years ago, revealing embryonic structures in the baby universe. When he announced their astonishing find, Stephen Hawking said it was "the discovery of the century, if not all time."

Ever since, there has been increasing recognition of the importance of his work. Cobe was followed by WMap, and "Plank" will launch in 200x. Also, next year the Large hadron Collider (LHC) launches at Cern. Smoot's  Nobel prize is the confirmation of the importance of his work that has led to the elevation of cosmology to a precision science. Smoot's research stands at a momentous intersection of the empirical and the epistemological: by confirming the reality of the Big Bang with precise calculations, we have entered a new age, the golden age of cosmology.Last year Smoot was honored as the Albert Einstein scientist. he also wrote the following essay, "My Einstein's Suspenders" which was recently published in My Einstein.

GEORGE F. SMOOT is the leader of a group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that conducts experiments observing our galaxy and the cosmic background radiation. The best known of these is COBE (the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite), which has shown that the cosmic background radiation intensity has a wavelength dependence precisely that of a perfectly absorbing body, indicating that it is the relic radiation from the Big Bang. For this work, has been awarded the 2006 Nobel Prize for physics. He shares the award with John C. Mather of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The citation reads "for their discovery of the blackbody form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation."

He is the author (with Keay Davidson) of Wrinkles in Time.

George F. Smoot's Edge Bio Page

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