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HOW SCIENCE CHANGED THE WORLD AGAINST THE ODDS Dr. Shirin Haque Physics Department University of the West Indies St Augustine, Trinidad.

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Presentation on theme: "HOW SCIENCE CHANGED THE WORLD AGAINST THE ODDS Dr. Shirin Haque Physics Department University of the West Indies St Augustine, Trinidad."— Presentation transcript:

1 HOW SCIENCE CHANGED THE WORLD AGAINST THE ODDS Dr. Shirin Haque Physics Department University of the West Indies St Augustine, Trinidad

2 Welcome!

3 When you think science...



6 Natural philosophy The philosophy of nature was the study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science. It is considered to be the precursor of natural sciences such as physics.

7 The key to a world of opportunities

8 “The thinker”

9 See...but don’t touch Our impressive capacity to comprehend that which we cannot touch or directly measure – by the subtlest of clues, and with a little help from Mathematics and Physics – the universe reveals its secrets and mysteries on the grandest scales...the outer space.

10 A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it. ~George Moore

11 The human brain and genetics The questions and answers come from inner space….


13 How did we get here?? Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

14 Once upon a millenia… out of Africa

15 50,000 year old Siberian girl replica of a tiny finger bone from Denisova Cave yielded an entire genome.

16 1955


18 Nomads, hunters, gatherers

19 Changing times.... Millions of years 10,000 yr 100yr 20yr Hunter-gatherers agricultural industrial informat.

20 The silk route By land and sea

21 "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science." - Albert Einstein


23 How and why did the universe begin? Are we descended from apes? Could a computer have a mind? Are we alone in the universe? Does philosophy or science have all the big answers? Are we special?

24 The thinkers...

25 Copernican demotion Science's habit of delivering humiliating disappointment to those who think that our planet is special.

26 It is not all about us!

27 Demotion continues… Anthropologists reported that apes could make tools paleontologists told us that our brains are possibly smaller than those of Neanderthals even within our own species, relative brain size had been shrinking, not growing, over the past 10,000 years.

28 No stopping… When the genome was sequenced at the turn of this century, and the genes counted, it transpired that we have the same number of genes as a ……...?

29 A Copernican promotion at last? More genes seem to be active in the human frontal lobe, especially those involved in letting brain cells link with each other, but that the extra complexity clusters around certain "hub" genes. “hub gene” - FOXP2, a gene crucial to the development of language. In apes, monkeys and mice, FOXP2, seems to have fewer other genes at its beck and call than in human beings.


31 Dark ages in Europe Heresy is pretty much defined as "deliberately disagreeing with the church."

32 The Inquisition In 1233 the inquisition was set up. People suspected of heresy had one month to confess; those accused came before the Inquisition until they confessed. They were punished by being whipped or sent to prison, and in some cases…..

33 Major revolution - printing press 1440

34 Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 - 1543) Catholic cleric born in Poland Studied Maths, Law and Medicine Considered starting point of modern Astronomy- “Copernican Revolution” Would not publish his work for fear of ridicule. Published on death bed…

35 Giordano Bruno 1600 (February 17) Giordano Bruno after some eight years of imprisonment is charged with blasphemy, immoral conduct, and heresy for challenging the official doctrine of the time on the origin and structure of the Universe.

36 On receiving the death sentence "Perhaps you, my judges, pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it.“

37 Monument to Bruno where he was burnt

38 “Diverse horrid opinions” "There are innumerable suns and an infinite number of planets which circle around their suns as our seven planets circle around our Sun. " We do not see planets revolving about other stars because of their great distance or small mass..."

39 Galileo Galilei, 1564-1642 Medicine and Mathematics Refined the telescope for astronomy.

40 Galileo inquisition Around 1611, Galileo ran into some trouble with the official doctrine, which had embraced the geocentric cosmology. In 1633, at age 70, he was convicted of heresy and placed under house arrest for the rest of his life (9 more years) recanted to avoid being burnt at stake

41 “Still, the Earth is moving”


43 Sorry Galileo...1992


45 I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use. - Galileo

46 In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei

47 Renaissance French for ‘rebirth’ intellectual and economic changes that occurred in Europe from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries after decline of middle ages an age in which artistic, social, scientific, and political thought revolutionized. New era for Astronomy

48 Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630) First Astrophysicist and last scientific astrologer

49 Last words "Ne frustra vixisse videar“ (May I not seemed to have lived in vain)

50 Self authored epitaph I measured the skies, now the shadows I measure Skybound was the mind, earthbound the body rests. — Johannes Kepler

51 Darkness to enlightenment Finally, centuries of mistreatment at the hands of the leadership brought the citizens in Europe to a breaking point, and the most intelligent and vocal finally decided to speak out. 1650 onward…

52 Scientific revolution Something happened...16 th century onwards – We learnt to doubt. We learnt it was okay to question and not to accept in faith. Doubting and questioning led to the runaway growth of science and technology we see today.

53 Rational thinking cartoon

54 Theory guides. Experiment decides. It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong. Richard P. Feynman

55 Aristotle said heavier Objects fall faster.. It took 1000 years (!!) for Galileo to show this is not true by experimentation!!


57 Edwin Hubble (1889-1953) "At the last dim horizon, we search among ghostly errors of observations for landmarks that are scarcely more substantial. The search will continue. The urge is older than history. It is not satisfied and it will not be oppressed.“


59 Where are we now? 2012

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