Philosophy of science
Philosophy of science is a sub-field of philosophy concerned with the foundations and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as science, the reliability of scientific theories, the ultimate purpose of science; this discipline overlaps with metaphysics and epistemology, for example, when it explores the relationship between science and truth. There is no consensus among philosophers about many of the central problems concerned with the philosophy of science, including whether science can reveal the truth about unobservable things and whether scientific reasoning can be justified at all. In addition to these general questions about science as a whole, philosophers of science consider problems that apply to particular sciences; some philosophers of science use contemporary results in science to reach conclusions about philosophy itself. While philosophical thought pertaining to science dates back at least to the time of Aristotle, philosophy of science emerged as a distinct discipline only in the 20th century in the wake of the logical positivism movement, which aimed to formulate criteria for ensuring all philosophical statements' meaningfulness and objectively assessing them.
Thomas Kuhn's 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was formative, challenging the view of scientific progress as steady, cumulative acquisition of knowledge based on a fixed method of systematic experimentation and instead arguing that any progress is relative to a "paradigm," the set of questions and practices that define a scientific discipline in a particular historical period. Karl Popper and Charles Sanders Peirce moved on from positivism to establish a modern set of standards for scientific methodology. Subsequently, the coherentist approach to science, in which a theory is validated if it makes sense of observations as part of a coherent whole, became prominent due to W. V. Quine and others; some thinkers such as Stephen Jay Gould seek to ground science in axiomatic assumptions, such as the uniformity of nature. A vocal minority of philosophers, Paul Feyerabend in particular, argue that there is no such thing as the "scientific method", so all approaches to science should be allowed, including explicitly supernatural ones.
Another approach to thinking about science involves studying how knowledge is created from a sociological perspective, an approach represented by scholars like David Bloor and Barry Barnes. A tradition in continental philosophy approaches science from the perspective of a rigorous analysis of human experience. Philosophies of the particular sciences range from questions about the nature of time raised by Einstein's general relativity, to the implications of economics for public policy. A central theme is; that is, can chemistry be reduced to physics, or can sociology be reduced to individual psychology? The general questions of philosophy of science arise with greater specificity in some particular sciences. For instance, the question of the validity of scientific reasoning is seen in a different guise in the foundations of statistics; the question of what counts as science and what should be excluded arises as a life-or-death matter in the philosophy of medicine. Additionally, the philosophies of biology, of psychology, of the social sciences explore whether the scientific studies of human nature can achieve objectivity or are shaped by values and by social relations.
Distinguishing between science and non-science is referred to as the demarcation problem. For example, should psychoanalysis be considered science? How about so-called creation science, the inflationary multiverse hypothesis, or macroeconomics? Karl Popper called this the central question in the philosophy of science. However, no unified account of the problem has won acceptance among philosophers, some regard the problem as unsolvable or uninteresting. Martin Gardner has argued for the use of a Potter Stewart standard for recognizing pseudoscience. Early attempts by the logical positivists grounded science in observation while non-science was non-observational and hence meaningless. Popper argued; that is, every genuinely scientific claim is capable of being proven false, at least in principle. An area of study or speculation that masquerades as science in an attempt to claim a legitimacy that it would not otherwise be able to achieve is referred to as pseudoscience, fringe science, or junk science.
Physicist Richard Feynman coined the term "cargo cult science" for cases in which researchers believe they are doing science because their activities have the outward appearance of it but lack the "kind of utter honesty" that allows their results to be rigorously evaluated. A related question is what counts as a good scientific explanation. In addition to providing predictions about future events, society takes scientific theories to provide explanations for events that occur or have occurred. Philosophers have investigated the criteria by which a scientific theory can be said to have explained a phenomenon, as well as what it means to say a scientific theory has explanatory power. One early and influential theory of scientific explanation is the deductive-nomological model, it says that a successful scientific explanation must deduce the occurrence of the phenomena in question from a scientific law. This view has been subjected to substantial criticism, resulting in several acknowledged counterexamples to the theory.
It is challenging to characterize what is meant by an explanation when the thing to be explained cannot be deduc
Science and Civilisation in China
Science and Civilisation in China is a series of books initiated and edited by British biochemist and sinologist Joseph Needham, Ph. D. Needham was a well-respected scientist before undertaking this encyclopedia and was responsible for the "S" in UNESCO, they deal with the history of technology in China. To date there have been seven volumes in twenty-seven books; the series was on the Modern Library Board's 100 Best Nonfiction books of the 20th century. Needham's work was the first of its kind to praise Chinese scientific contributions and provide their history and connection to global knowledge in contrast to eurocentric historiography. In 1954, Needham—along with an international team of collaborators—initiated the project to study the science and civilisation of ancient China; this project produced a series of volumes published by Cambridge University Press. The project is still continuing under the guidance of the Publications Board of the Needham Research Institute, chaired by Christopher Cullen.
Volume 3 of the encyclopedia was the first body of work to describe Chinese improvements to cartography, geology and mineralogy. It includes descriptions of nautical technology, sailing charts, wheel-maps. Needham's transliteration of Chinese characters uses the Wade-Giles system, though the aspirate apostrophe was rendered'h'. However, it was abandoned in favor of the pinyin system by the NRI board in April 2004, with Volume 5, Part 11 becoming the first to use the new system. Joseph Needham’s interest in the history of Chinese science developed while he worked as an Embryologist at Cambridge University. At the time, Needham had published works relating to the history of science, including his 1934 book titled A History of Embryology, was open to expanding his historical scientific knowledge. Needham's first encounter with Chinese culture occurred in 1937 when three Chinese medical students arrived to work with him at the Cambridge Biochemical Laboratory. Needham's interest in Chinese civilization and scientific progress grew as a result and led him to learn Chinese from his students.
Two of those students,Wang Ling, Lu Gwei-djen, would become his collaborators on Science and Civilisation in China. In 1941, China's eastern universities were forced to relocate to the west as a result of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Chinese academics sought the help of the British government in an effort to preserve their intellectual life. In 1942, Needham was selected and appointed as a diplomat by the British government and tasked with traveling to China and assessing the situation. During his three years there, Needham discovered that the Chinese had developed techniques and mechanisms which were centuries older than their European counterparts. Needham became concerned with the exclusion of China in the history of science and began to question why the Chinese ceased to develop new techniques after the 16th century. Armed with his new-found knowledge, Needham returned to Cambridge in 1948 and began working on a book with one of the Chinese medical students he met in Cambridge, Wang Ling, now a professor at a university.
He planned on releasing only one volume of his findings through the Cambridge University Press, but changed his mind and proposed up to eleven volumes. In 1954, Needham published the first volume of Science and Civilisation in China, well received and was followed by other volumes which focused on specific scientific fields and topics. Needham, along with his collaborators, was involved in all of the volumes of Science and Civilization, up until Needham's death in 1995. After Needham's death, Cambridge University established an institution named after Needham, The Needham Research Institute. Scholars of the institution continue Needham's work and have published 8 additional volumes of Science and Civilisation in China, since his death. There have been two summaries or condensations of the vast amount of material found in Science and Civilisation; the first, a one-volume popular history book by Robert Temple entitled The Genius of China, was completed in a little over 12 months to be available in 1986 for the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to China.
This addressed only the contributions made by China and had a "warm welcome" from Joseph Needham in the introduction, though in the Beijing Review he criticized that it had "some mistakes... and various statements that I would like to have seen expressed rather differently". A second was made by Colin Ronan, a writer on the history of science, who produced a five volume condensation The Shorter Science and Civilisation: An abridgement of Joseph Needham's original text, between 1980 and his death in 1995; these volumes cover: China and Chinese science Mathematics, astronomy and the earth sciences Magnetism, nautical technology, voyages Mechanical engineering, clockwork, aeronautics Civil engineering, bridges, hydraulic engineering Needham, Joseph and Civilisation in China: Introductory Orientations, 1, Cambridge University Press Science and Civilisation in China is regarded among scholars because of its extensive comparative coverage of Chinese innovations. Needham spent a large amount of time translating, decoding primary sources for Science and Civilisation in China.
All of his efforts helped to confirm that scientific advancements, analytical ingenuity were abundant in China in early modern times. Yet, beginning with his first volume, some scholars in the scientific, history of science, sinology fields criticized Needham's work for being too comparative. In his work, Needham wrote that numerous Chinese inventions ended up in the
National Library of the Czech Republic
The National Library of the Czech Republic is the central library of the Czech Republic. It is directed by the Ministry of Culture; the library's main building is located in the historical Clementinum building in Prague, where half of its books are kept. The other half of the collection is stored in the district of Hostivař; the National Library is the biggest library in the Czech Republic, in its funds there are around 6 million documents. The library has around 60,000 registered readers; as well as Czech texts, the library stores older material from Turkey and India. The library houses books for Charles University in Prague; the library won international recognition in 2005 as it received the inaugural Jikji Prize from UNESCO via the Memory of the World Programme for its efforts in digitising old texts. The project, which commenced in 1992, involved the digitisation of 1,700 documents in its first 13 years; the most precious medieval manuscripts preserved in the National Library are the Codex Vyssegradensis and the Passional of Abbes Kunigunde.
In 2006 the Czech parliament approved funding for the construction of a new library building on Letna plain, between Hradčanská metro station and Sparta Prague's football ground, Letná stadium. In March 2007, following a request for tender, Czech architect Jan Kaplický was selected by a jury to undertake the project, with a projected completion date of 2011. In 2007 the project was delayed following objections regarding its proposed location from government officials including Prague Mayor Pavel Bém and President Václav Klaus. Plans for the building had still not been decided in February 2008, with the matter being referred to the Office for the Protection of Competition in order to determine if the tender had been won fairly. In 2008, Minister of Culture Václav Jehlička announced the end of the project, following a ruling from the European Commission that the tender process had not been carried out legally; the library was affected by the 2002 European floods, with some documents moved to upper levels to avoid the excess water.
Over 4,000 books were removed from the library in July 2011 following flooding in parts of the main building. There was a fire at the library in December 2012. List of national and state libraries Official website
A reflecting telescope is a telescope that uses a single or a combination of curved mirrors that reflect light and form an image. The reflecting telescope was invented in the 17th century, by Isaac Newton, as an alternative to the refracting telescope which, at that time, was a design that suffered from severe chromatic aberration. Although reflecting telescopes produce other types of optical aberrations, it is a design that allows for large diameter objectives. All of the major telescopes used in astronomy research are reflectors. Reflecting telescopes come in many design variations and may employ extra optical elements to improve image quality or place the image in a mechanically advantageous position. Since reflecting telescopes use mirrors, the design is sometimes referred to as a "catoptric" telescope; the idea that curved mirrors behave like lenses dates back at least to Alhazen's 11th century treatise on optics, works, disseminated in Latin translations in early modern Europe. Soon after the invention of the refracting telescope, Giovanni Francesco Sagredo, others, spurred on by their knowledge of the principles of curved mirrors, discussed the idea of building a telescope using a mirror as the image forming objective.
There were reports that the Bolognese Cesare Caravaggi had constructed one around 1626 and the Italian professor Niccolò Zucchi, in a work, wrote that he had experimented with a concave bronze mirror in 1616, but said it did not produce a satisfactory image. The potential advantages of using parabolic mirrors reduction of spherical aberration with no chromatic aberration, led to many proposed designs for reflecting telescopes; the most notable being James Gregory, who published an innovative design for a ‘reflecting’ telescope in 1663. It would be ten years, before the experimental scientist Robert Hooke was able to build this type of telescope, which became known as the Gregorian telescope. Isaac Newton has been credited with building the first reflecting telescope in 1668, it used a spherically ground metal primary mirror and a small diagonal mirror in an optical configuration that has come to be known as the Newtonian telescope. Despite the theoretical advantages of the reflector design, the difficulty of construction and the poor performance of the speculum metal mirrors being used at the time meant it took over 100 years for them to become popular.
Many of the advances in reflecting telescopes included the perfection of parabolic mirror fabrication in the 18th century, silver coated glass mirrors in the 19th century, long-lasting aluminum coatings in the 20th century, segmented mirrors to allow larger diameters, active optics to compensate for gravitational deformation. A mid-20th century innovation was catadioptric telescopes such as the Schmidt camera, which use both a spherical mirror and a lens as primary optical elements used for wide-field imaging without spherical aberration; the late 20th century has seen the development of adaptive optics and lucky imaging to overcome the problems of seeing, reflecting telescopes are ubiquitous on space telescopes and many types of spacecraft imaging devices. A curved primary mirror is the reflector telescope's basic optical element that creates an image at the focal plane; the distance from the mirror to the focal plane is called the focal length. Film or a digital sensor may be located here to record the image, or a secondary mirror may be added to modify the optical characteristics and/or redirect the light to film, digital sensors, or an eyepiece for visual observation.
The primary mirror in most modern telescopes is composed of a solid glass cylinder whose front surface has been ground to a spherical or parabolic shape. A thin layer of aluminum is vacuum deposited onto the mirror, forming a reflective first surface mirror; some telescopes use primary mirrors. Molten glass is rotated to make its surface paraboloidal, is kept rotating while it cools and solidifies; the resulting mirror shape approximates a desired paraboloid shape that requires minimal grinding and polishing to reach the exact figure needed. Reflecting telescopes, just like any other optical system, do not produce "perfect" images; the need to image objects at distances up to infinity, view them at different wavelengths of light, along with the requirement to have some way to view the image the primary mirror produces, means there is always some compromise in a reflecting telescope's optical design. Because the primary mirror focuses light to a common point in front of its own reflecting surface all reflecting telescope designs have a secondary mirror, film holder, or detector near that focal point obstructing the light from reaching the primary mirror.
Not only does this cause some reduction in the amount of light the system collects, it causes a loss in contrast in the image due to diffraction effects of the obstruction as well as diffraction spikes caused by most secondary support structures. The use of mirrors avoids chromatic aberration but they produce other types of aberrations. A simple spherical mirror cannot bring light from a distant object to a common focus since the reflection of light rays striking the mirror near its edge do not converge with those that reflect from nearer the center of the mirror, a defect called spherical aberration. To avoid this problem most reflecting telescopes use parabolic shaped mirrors, a shape that can focus all the light to a common focus. Parabolic mirrors work well with objects near the center of the image they produce, but towards the edge of that same field of view they suffer from off axis aberrations: Coma - an aberr
Royal Astronomical Society
The Royal Astronomical Society is a learned society and charity that encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science and related branches of science. Its headquarters are on Piccadilly in London; the society has over 4,000 members, termed Fellows, most of them professional researchers or postgraduate students. Around a quarter of Fellows live outside the UK. Members of the public who have an interest in astronomy and geophysics but do not qualify as Fellows may become Friends of the RAS; the society holds monthly scientific meetings in London, the annual National Astronomy Meeting at varying locations in the British Isles. The RAS publishes the scientific journals Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and Geophysical Journal International, along with the trade magazine Astronomy & Geophysics; the RAS maintains an astronomy research library, engages in public outreach and advises the UK government on astronomy education. The society recognises achievement in astronomy and geophysics by issuing annual awards and prizes, with its highest award being the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The RAS is the UK adhering organisation to the International Astronomical Union and a member of the UK Science Council. The society was founded in 1820 as the Astronomical Society of London to support astronomical research. At that time, most members were'gentleman astronomers' rather than professionals, it became the Royal Astronomical Society in 1831 on receiving a Royal Charter from William IV. A Supplemental Charter in 1915 opened up the fellowship to women. One of the major activities of the RAS is publishing refereed journals, it publishes two primary research journals, the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in astronomy and the Geophysical Journal International in geophysics. It publishes the magazine A&G which includes reviews and other articles of wide scientific interest in a'glossy' format; the full list of journals published by the RAS, with abbreviations as used for the NASA ADS bibliographic codes is: Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society: 1822–1977 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Since 1827 Geophysical Supplement to Monthly Notices: 1922–1957 Geophysical Journal: 1958–1988 Geophysical Journal International: Since 1989 Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society: 1960–1996 Astronomy & Geophysics: Since 1997 Full members of the RAS are styled Fellows, may use the post-nominal letters FRAS.
Fellowship is open to anyone over the age of 18, considered acceptable to the society. As a result of the society's foundation in a time before there were many professional astronomers, no formal qualifications are required. However, around three quarters of fellows are professional geophysicists; the society acts as the professional body for astronomers and geophysicists in the UK and fellows may apply for the Science Council's Chartered Scientist status through the society. The fellowship passed 3,000 in 2003. In 2009 an initiative was launched for those with an interest in astronomy and geophysics but without professional qualifications or specialist knowledge in the subject; such people may join the Friends of the RAS, which offers popular talks and social events. The Society organises an extensive programme of meetings: The biggest RAS meeting each year is the National Astronomy Meeting, a major conference of professional astronomers, it is held over 4-5 days each spring or early summer at a university campus in the United Kingdom.
Hundreds of astronomers attend each year. More frequent smaller'ordinary' meetings feature lectures about research topics in astronomy and geophysics given by winners of the society's awards, they are held in Burlington House in London on the afternoon of the second Friday of each month from October to May. The talks are intended to be accessible to a broad audience of astronomers and geophysicists, are free for anyone to attend. Formal reports of the meetings are published in The Observatory magazine. Specialist discussion meetings are held on the same day as each ordinary meeting; these are aimed at professional scientists in a particular research field, allow several speakers to present new results or reviews of scientific fields. Two discussion meetings on different topics take place at different locations within Burlington House, prior to the day's ordinary meeting, they charge a small entry fee for non-members. The RAS holds a regular programme of public lectures aimed at a non-specialist, audience.
These are held on Tuesdays once a month, with the same talk given twice: once at lunchtime and once in the early evening. The venues have varied, but are in Burlington House or another nearby location in central London; the lectures are free. The society hosts or sponsors meetings in other parts of the United Kingdom in collaboration with other scientific societies and universities; the Royal Astronomical Society has a more comprehensive collection of books and journals in astronomy and geophysics than the libraries of most universities and research institutions. The library receives some 300 current periodicals in astronomy and geophysics and contains more than 10,000 books from popular level to conference proceedings, its collection of astronomical rare books is second only to that of the Royal Obser
Oxfordshire is a county in South East England. The ceremonial county borders Warwickshire to the north-west, Northamptonshire to the north-east, Buckinghamshire to the east, Berkshire to the south, Wiltshire to the south-west and Gloucestershire to the west; the county has major education and tourist industries and is noted for the concentration of performance motorsport companies and facilities. Oxford University Press is the largest firm among a concentration of publishing firms; as well as the city of Oxford, other centres of population are Banbury, Bicester and Chipping Norton to the north of Oxford. The areas south of the Thames, the Vale of White Horse and parts of South Oxfordshire, are in the historic county of Berkshire, as is the highest point, the 261 metres White Horse Hill. Oxfordshire's county flower is the snake's-head fritillary. Oxfordshire was recorded as a county in the early years of the 10th century and lies between the River Thames to the south, the Cotswolds to the west, the Chilterns to the east and the Midlands to the north, with spurs running south to Henley-on-Thames and north to Banbury.
Although it had some significance as an area of valuable agricultural land in the centre of the country, it was ignored by the Romans, did not grow in importance until the formation of a settlement at Oxford in the 8th century. Alfred the Great was born across the Thames in Vale of White Horse; the University of Oxford was founded in 1096, though its collegiate structure did not develop until on. The university in the county town of Oxford grew in importance during the Middle Ages and early modern period; the area was part of the Cotswolds wool trade from the 13th century, generating much wealth in the western portions of the county in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds. Morris Motors was founded in Oxford in 1912, bringing heavy industry to an otherwise agricultural county; the importance of agriculture as an employer has declined in the 20th century though. Nonetheless, Oxfordshire remains a agricultural county by land use, with a lower population than neighbouring Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, which are both smaller.
Throughout most of its history the county was divided into fourteen hundreds, namely Bampton, Binfield, Bullingdon, Dorchester, Langtree, Pyrton, Ploughley and Wootton. The Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, the main army unit in the area, was based at Cowley Barracks on Bullingdon Green, Cowley; the Vale of White Horse district and parts of the South Oxfordshire administrative district south of the River Thames were part of Berkshire, but in 1974 Abingdon, Faringdon and Wantage were added to the administrative county of Oxfordshire under the Local Government Act 1972. Conversely, the Caversham area of Reading, now administratively in Berkshire, was part of Oxfordshire as was the parish of Stokenchurch, now administratively in Buckinghamshire. Oxfordshire includes parts of three Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In the north-west lie the Cotswolds, to the south and south-east are the open chalk hills of the North Wessex Downs and wooded hills of the Chilterns; the north of the county contains the ironstone of the Cherwell uplands.
Long-distance walks within the county include the Ridgeway National Trail, Macmillan Way, Oxfordshire Way and the D’Arcy Dalton Way. Northernmost point: 52°10′6.58″N 1°19′54.92″W, near Claydon Hay Farm, Claydon Southernmost point: 51°27′34.74″N 0°56′48.3″W, near Thames and Kennet Marina, Playhatch Westernmost point: 51°46′59.73″N 1°43′9.68″W, near Downs Farm, Westwell Easternmost point: 51°30′14.22″N 0°52′13.99″W, River Thames, near Lower Shiplake The central part of Oxfordshire contains the River Thames with its flat floodplains. The Thames Path National Trail parallels the river as it crosses Oxfordshire, continuing towards London. There are many smaller rivers that feed into the Thames such as the Thame, Windrush and Cherwell; some of these rivers have trails running along their valleys. The Oxford Canal follows the Cherwell from Banbury to Kidlington. Oxfordshire contains a green belt area that envelops the city of Oxford, extends for some miles to afford a protection to surrounding towns and villages from inappropriate development and urban growth.
Its border in the east extends to the Buckinghamshire county boundary, while part of its southern border is shared with the North Wessex Downs AONB. It was first drawn up in the 1950s, all the county's districts contain some portion of the belt; this is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Oxfordshire at current basic prices published by the Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British pounds sterling. The Oxfordshire County Council, since 2013 under no overall control, is responsible for the most strategic local government functions, including schools, county roads, social services; the county is divided into five local government districts: Oxford, Vale of White Horse, West Oxfordshire and South Oxfordshire, which deal with such matters as town and country planning, waste collection, housing. In the 2016 European Union referendum, Oxfordshire was the only English cou