science Archive

  • In C. L. Wrenn‘s wonderful book The English Language (1949), I found this amazingly anthropocentric quotation.

    “The theory of the evolution of man as known to scientists, then, must find a place for the emergence of man as a possessor of language as distinct from the so-called ‘highest’ species of anthropoid apes whose varied cries are not language (which implies thought) but only very fully developed conditioned reflexes. The gap between the highest anthropoid ape and the most ‘primitive’ man has not yet been bridged from this point of view of the emergence of language in what may be called ‘homo loquens,’ which is really the same thing as the familiar ‘homo sapiens.’ The hypothesis of some kind of creative act, therefore, may still be tenable in default of a better considering the origin of language.”

    – Wrenn, p.6

There’s an instructive piece of circular logic here.

    Animal Brains and Ockham’s Razor

    In C. L. Wrenn‘s wonderful book The English Language (1949), I found this amazingly anthropocentric quotation. “The theory of the evolution of man as known to scientists, then, must find a place for the emergence of man as a possessor of language as distinct from the so-called ‘highest’ species of anthropoid apes whose varied cries are not language (which implies thought) but only very fully developed conditioned reflexes. The gap between the highest anthropoid ape and the most ‘primitive’ man has not yet been bridged from this point of view of the emergence of language in what may be called ‘homo loquens,’ which is really the same thing as the familiar ‘homo sapiens.’ The hypothesis of some kind of creative act, therefore, may still be tenable in default of a better considering the origin of language.” – Wrenn, p.6 There’s an instructive piece of circular logic here.
  • Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea by Christine Garwood is at once incredibly interesting and hopelessly broken. It is seriously let down by its misleading subtitle and back cover blurb as well as by meandering aimlessly through its subject matter. Nevertheless, it's a fascinating look at the development of science and the persistence of belief in the cold hard light of fact.

    Review: Flat Earth

    Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea by Christine Garwood is at once incredibly interesting and hopelessly broken. It is seriously let down by its misleading subtitle and back cover blurb as well as by meandering aimlessly through its subject matter. Nevertheless, it's a fascinating look at the development of science and the persistence of belief in the cold hard light of fact.
  • <p>I’ve a gravel bed down the side of the house that is always threatening to overgrow with weeds and grass. I’m sick of weeding. Herbicides don’t seem to work. Oh sure, they kill the grass and weeds but – not as advertised – the weeds grow back in other spots. What to do?</p>
<p><em>“Carthago delenda est!”</em></p>
<p>History to the rescue! At the end of the Third Punic War, the Roman Senate decided they were fed up on knocking Carthage to its knees only to have it get up again and start another war. This time, they pulled down all the  […]</p>

    What Rome Did To Carthage

    I’ve a gravel bed down the side of the house that is always threatening to overgrow with weeds and grass. I’m sick of weeding. Herbicides don’t seem to work. Oh sure, they kill the grass and weeds but – not as advertised – the weeds grow back in other spots. What to do?

    “Carthago delenda est!”

    History to the rescue! At the end of the Third Punic War, the Roman Senate decided they were fed up on knocking Carthage to its knees only to have it get up again and start another war. This time, they pulled down all the […]

  • <p>I was reading Galileo‘s On Motion (1590), as one does, and came across this gem.</p>
<blockquote><p>Some superifical observations have been made as, for instance, that the free motion of a heavy falling body is continuously accelerated. But to just what extent this acceleration occurs has not yet been announced. For so far as I know, no one has yet pointed out the distances traversed during equal intervals of time by a body falling from rest stand to one another in the same ratio as the odd numbers beginning with unity.</p></blockquote>
<p>It struck me that this is easy to check using  […]</p>

    Galileo: On Motion

    I was reading Galileo‘s On Motion (1590), as one does, and came across this gem.

    Some superifical observations have been made as, for instance, that the free motion of a heavy falling body is continuously accelerated. But to just what extent this acceleration occurs has not yet been announced. For so far as I know, no one has yet pointed out the distances traversed during equal intervals of time by a body falling from rest stand to one another in the same ratio as the odd numbers beginning with unity.

    It struck me that this is easy to check using […]