Archive for the ‘Beauty’ Category

[Programming Note: This post was written 2 years ago and has been stuck in limbo ever since. It is being published now as-is, so I hope I was right when I wrote this. If not, I have a million excuses.]

I have committed myself to finish my series on Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. There are two last features left to deal with in Kuhn’s SSR, the choice of paradigm and the incommensurability of paradigms. This will occupy my final two posts on Kuhn, respectively. Specifically, a discussion of the incommensurability of paradigms will allow some summary comments on the crisis of rationality that Kuhn’s work provokes for the modern understanding of science that presents truth to the world. The previous posts can be found bunched together here.

Einstein, pointing out the errors in our ways

In the previous post, I mused on the nature of revolutions, political and scientific. I explored the relationship between the imagination and the material needs of a situation in the development of alternative conceptual schemes for both politics and science. But a question remains. Science and politics both are continually plagued by the shortcomings of the reigning paradigm. Einstein, for example, had problems with both Quantum Mechanics and Capitalism, the former because it introduced indeterminacy into the world and the latter because it tended toward cycles of growth and recession. He was right, at least about economics.

Sticking strictly to scientific issues, there continue to be major problems that plague contemporary physics despite its enormous successes. One such issue is the unification of the four fundamental forces: electromagnetic, weak and strong nuclear force, and gravity. In the 19th century, Michael Faraday’s work on field theory paved the way for James Clerk Maxwell’s equations that allowed for the unification of electrical and magnetic forces, culminating in the well-known theory of electromagnetism. The weak and electromagnetic forces were unified in 1968 into the Electro-weak theory, and they were united in 1974 with the strong nuclear force to produce the so-called “Grand Unified Theory,” or GUT. (more…)

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