The Big Think

November 14, 2007

Hubble

Filed under: Space/Astronomy — jasony @ 1:14 pm

Timothy Ferris on Hubble:

It’s curiously appropriate that an unmanned telescope should emerge as a symbol of science, since it was instruments generally—and telescopes in particular—that jump-started the scientific revolution. We tend to think of science in terms of great minds conjuring big ideas (an image that Edwin Hubble himself encouraged, at least when it came to his own research), but that paradigm is largely a holdover from prescientific days, when knowledge was sought principally in philosophers’ books. In science, instruments can trump arguments. The disinterested verdict of Galileo’s telescope did more than Galileo’s arguments to lay bare the shortcomings of the regnant Earth-centered model of the cosmos, and Newton’s mechanics endured less for their indubitable elegance than for their being able to predict what astronomers would see through their telescopes. Galileo’s contemporary Johannes Kepler, whom Immanuel Kant called “the most acute thinker ever born,” was quick to grasp that straightforward observations using scientific instruments could sweep away centuries of intelligent but ignorant discourse. Although he was a mathematical theorist who never owned a telescope, Kepler celebrated Galileo’s innovation in an ode, addressing the telescope as, “You much knowing tube, more precious than any scepter.”

Hubble is Galileo’s telescope flung into a Keplerian orbit, and if these two early scientists came back to life today, I expect they would be impressed less by its technological sophistication than by its potential to bring things to light that challenge old ideas—and to publish them on the Internet, science having always been about making knowledge available.

via boingboing.

Make Japan

Filed under: Mad Science — jasony @ 9:24 am

Make magazine goes on sale in Japan! I love these guys. Plus, don’t miss my long lost rotund doppleganger in the pics.

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