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The Scientist as Rebel (2006) Freeman Dyson Fallon Daniels November 28, 2007 SCE 570.

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Presentation on theme: "The Scientist as Rebel (2006) Freeman Dyson Fallon Daniels November 28, 2007 SCE 570."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Scientist as Rebel (2006) Freeman Dyson Fallon Daniels November 28, 2007 SCE 570

2 There is no such thing as a unique scientific vision, any more than there is a unique poetic vision. Science is a mosaic of partial and conflicting visions. But there is one common element in these visions. The common element is rebellion against the restrictions imposed by the locally prevailing culture, Western or Eastern as the case may be. Science is an art form not a philosophical methodScience is an art form not a philosophical method ReductionismReductionism TechnologyTechnology WarWar ReligionReligion EthicsEthics FutureFuture ScientistsScientists

3 Who is Freeman Dyson? Born in England Worked as a civilian scientist for the Royal Air Force during World War II 1947 Cornell University graduate Professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton Advised the US government Worked with Hans Bethe and Richard Feynman, producing a user-friendly way to calculate the behavior of atoms and radiation Worked on nuclear reactors, solid state physics, ferromagnetism, astrophysics, and biology elegant to mathematics Fellow of the American Physical Sciences Fellow of Royal Society of London 2000 Awarded for Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion

4 Table of Contents Contemporary Issues in Science War and Peace History of Science and Scientists Personal and Philosophical Essays

5 Contemporary Issues in Science Scientist as Rebel Can science be ethical Modern Heretic The Future Needs Us What a World Witness to a Tragedy

6 Scientist as Rebel Science is not governed by the rules of Western philosophy or Western methodology. Science is an alliance of free spirits in all cultures rebelling against the local tyranny that each culture imposes on its children (4) Science is not governed by the rules of Western philosophy or Western methodology. Science is an alliance of free spirits in all cultures rebelling against the local tyranny that each culture imposes on its children (4) Teach science as a rebellion against poverty and ugliness and militarism and economic injustice Science flourishes best when it uses freely all the tools at hand, unconstrained by preconceived notions of what science ought to be (17)

7 Can Science be Ethical? Religion is equally strong if not stronger than science Rich conveniences making it harder for the excluded to participate in the economic and cultural life of the community Ethical progress is the only cure for the damage done by scientific progress (26) Science is good when it provides necessities for the poor Science is good when it provides necessities for the poor Science works for evil when its affects to provide toys for the rich Science works for evil when its affects to provide toys for the rich Filling the gap between the poor and technology Filling the gap between the poor and technology

8 Modern Heretic Thomas Gold (1946 Experiment on the Ear) Ignorant outsider intruding into a field where he had no training and no credentials Ignorant outsider intruding into a field where he had no training and no credentials When he is proved wrong, he concedes defeat with good humor. Science is no fun, he says, if you are never wrong. His wrong ideas are insignificant compared with his far more important right ideas (36) When he is proved wrong, he concedes defeat with good humor. Science is no fun, he says, if you are never wrong. His wrong ideas are insignificant compared with his far more important right ideas (36)

9 The Future Needs Us Dangers of biotechnology in the 21 st Century similar to nuclear technology of the 20 th century Biological Weapons Precautionary Principle vs. Opposition Precautionary Principle- if there is any risk of a major disaster, no action should be permitted that increases the risk. I, as often happens, an action promises to bring substantial benefits together with some risk of a major disaster, no balancing of benefits against risks is to be allowed. Any action carrying a risk of major disaster must be prohibited, regardless of the costs of prohibition. Precautionary Principle- if there is any risk of a major disaster, no action should be permitted that increases the risk. I, as often happens, an action promises to bring substantial benefits together with some risk of a major disaster, no balancing of benefits against risks is to be allowed. Any action carrying a risk of major disaster must be prohibited, regardless of the costs of prohibition. Opposing views- risks are unavoidable, that no possible course of action or inaction will eliminate risks, and that a prudent course of action must be based on a balancing of risks against benefits and costs. In particular, when any prohibition of dangerous science and technology is contemplated, one of the costs that must be considered is the cost to human freedom Opposing views- risks are unavoidable, that no possible course of action or inaction will eliminate risks, and that a prudent course of action must be based on a balancing of risks against benefits and costs. In particular, when any prohibition of dangerous science and technology is contemplated, one of the costs that must be considered is the cost to human freedom

10 What a World! Life is complicated and any theory that attempts to describe its behavior in simple terms is likely to be wrong (66) Vaclav Smil The Earths Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change Vaclav Smil The Earths Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change John Ray History of Plants John Ray History of Plants Vladimir Vernadsky The Biosphere Vladimir Vernadsky The Biosphere

11 Witness to a Tragedy

12 War and Peace Bombs and Potatoes GeneralsRussiansPacifists The Race Is Over The Force of Reason The Bitter End

13 Generals Military power should never be confused with moral virtue, and military leaders should never be entrusted with weapons of unlimited destruction (94) Weapons of mass destruction Weapons of mass destruction

14 Pacifists One who advocates the ethics of nonviolence as a program for a political movement or for a government Ex. Quakers and abolition of slavery Ex. Quakers and abolition of slavery 1.Moral conviction 2.Patience 3.Objectivity 4.Willingness to compromise Ghandi and pacifism attempt Ghandi and pacifism attempt

15 The Race is Over Unilateral moves 1980 Wake up period Stockpile Study Make sure that our weapons can be maintained with a maximum of professional competence and a minimum of fuss and excitement, until in the fullness of time they no longer be considered necessary Make sure that our weapons can be maintained with a maximum of professional competence and a minimum of fuss and excitement, until in the fullness of time they no longer be considered necessary

16 History of Science and Scientists Two Kinds of History Edward Tellers Memoirs In praise of Amateurs A New Newtonian Clockwork Science The World on a String Oppenheimer as scientist, administrator, and poet Seeing the Unseen The Tragic Tale of a Genius Wise Man

17 Two Kinds of History Yuri Manin Mathematics and Physics Are we, or are we not, standing at the threshold of a new scientific revolution comparable with the historic revolutions of the past? Are we, or are we not, standing at the threshold of a new scientific revolution comparable with the historic revolutions of the past? Science from the inside Science from the inside Science growing autonomously by the logical interplay of its own concepts Science growing autonomously by the logical interplay of its own concepts Evidence from what scientist do to exchange methods and ideas Evidence from what scientist do to exchange methods and ideas Concerned with substance Concerned with substance Paul Forman Weimar Culture, Causality, and Quantum Theory, : Adaptation by German Physicists and Mathematicians to a Hostile Intellectual Environment Math and physics crisis Math and physics crisis Science from the outside Science from the outside Responding to external social and political pressures Responding to external social and political pressures Science evidence directed toward the general pubic Science evidence directed toward the general pubic Concerned with the rituals of science Concerned with the rituals of science Evolutionary science v. Revolutionary science Menins idyllic garden Menins idyllic garden

18 Edward Tellers Memoirs

19 In Praise of Amateurs Amateurs rejuvenate science Is today a youthful science? Is today a youthful science? Timothy Ferris, amateur astronomer, Seeing in the Dark: How Backyard Stargazers Are Probing Deep Space and Guarding Earth from Interplanetary Peril Bernhardt Schmidts telescope, German amateur astronomer Fritz Zwicky discoveries Fritz Zwicky discoveries Galaxies have a universal tendency to congregate into clusters Visible mass of the galaxies is insufficient to account for the clustering Calculated that the clusters must contain invisible mass that is about ten times larger than the visible mass butterfly collectors Bacon v. Descartes- transition of amateurs/ professionals Bacon v. Descartes- transition of amateurs/ professionals 1.Baconian, exploration 2.Cartesian, measurement/ quantitative theory 3.Mix, freedom to explore and explain

20 A New Newton

21 Clockwork Science Henri Poincare v. Albert Einstein Temperament conservative vs. temperate revolutionary Temperament conservative vs. temperate revolutionary Thomas Kuhn vs. Peter Galison Kuhns Structure of Scientific Revolution (1962) Kuhns Structure of Scientific Revolution (1962) Paradigms- progress of science like a punctuated equilibrium Theoretical science Galisons Image and Logic (1997) Galisons Image and Logic (1997) Tool driven science Experimental science 1905 Scientific Revolution driven by Kuhnian thought

22 The World on a String Progress in science is built on wrong theories It is better to be wrong than to be vague (214) It is better to be wrong than to be vague (214) Themes of modern science Historical path of observation and theory Historical path of observation and theory Style of thinking Style of thinking Brian Greene The Fabric of the Cosmos: Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality Claims the end of fundamental science controversial to Dyson Claims the end of fundamental science controversial to Dyson Conservative vs. Revolutionary Synthetic v. analytic

23 Oppenheimer as Scientist, Administrator, and Poet

24 Seeing the Unseen John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton Big Machine Physics Alan Lightman Theoretical physics We are blind men, imagining what we dont see Specialization

25 The Tragic Tale of a Genius

26 Wise Man Richard Feynman 1965 Nobel Prize Described quantum physics using pictorial diagrams rather than calculations Genius, joker, possession of wisdom = icon Difference between great scientist and icon

27 Personal and Philosophical Essays The World, The Flesh, and the Devil Is God in the Lab? The side Idolatry One in a Million Many Worlds Religion from the Outside

28 The World, The Flesh, and the Devil Desmond Bernal The World, The Flesh, and the Devil: An Enquiry into the Future of the Three Enemies of the Rational Soul (1929) There are two futures, the future of desire and the future of fate, and mans reason has never learnt to separate them (287) There are two futures, the future of desire and the future of fate, and mans reason has never learnt to separate them (287) Rational vs. Three enemies World- scarcity of material goods, inadequate land, harsh climate, desert, swamp, and other physical obstacles that condemn the majority of mankind to lives of poverty Flesh- defects in mans physiology that expose him to disease, cloud the clarity of his mind, and finally destroy him by senile deterioration Devil- irrational forces in mans psychological nature that distort his perceptions and lead him astray with crazy hopes and fears, overriding the feeble voice of reason

29 Is God in the Lab? Feynman The religion in which one is taught the gospel to help people find their way in the world The religion in which one is taught the gospel to help people find their way in the world Impulsive rebel Impulsive rebel Not interested in theology, only the way people use religion to make sense of their lives Not interested in theology, only the way people use religion to make sense of their lives No concern for scholastic arguments only human problems No concern for scholastic arguments only human problems Christianity= way to live rather than a set of beliefs Christianity= way to live rather than a set of beliefsPolkinghorne Theology that turned Christian religion into a demanding intellectual discipline, breeding ground for scholars Conscious academic scholar Theology is real and serious like science Compares two historic intellectual struggles: quantum mechanics and the era after Jesus death to show that they represent single intellectual adventures


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