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Posts Tagged ‘Alfred Nobel

“The average scientist unequipped with the powerful lenses of philosophy, is a nearsighted creature, and cheerfully attacks each difficulty in the hope that it may prove to be the last”*…

 

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There are decisive grounds for holding that we need to bring about a revolution in philosophy, a revolution in science, and then put the two together again to create a modern version of natural philosophy.

Once upon a time, it was not just that philosophy was a part of science; rather, science was a branch of philosophy. We need to remember that modern science began as natural philosophy – a development of philosophy, an admixture of philosophy and science. Today, we think of Galileo, Johannes Kepler, William Harvey, Robert Boyle, Christiaan Huygens, Robert Hooke, Edmond Halley and, of course, Isaac Newton as trailblazing scientists, while we think of Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz as philosophers. That division is, however, something we impose on the past. It is profoundly anachronistic…

Science broke away from metaphysics, from philosophy, as a result of natural philosophers adopting a profound misconception about the nature of science. As a result, natural philosophy died, the great divide between science and philosophy was born, and the decline of philosophy began.

It was Newton who inadvertently killed off natural philosophy with his claim, in the third edition of his Principia, to have derived his law of gravitation from the phenomena by induction…

Nicholas Maxwell argues that science and philosophy need to be re-joined, lest humanity seek knowledge at the expense of wisdom; only then, he suggests, can we hope to solve the urgent, fundamental problems that we face: “Natural philosophy redux.”

[Image above: source]

* Gilbert N. Lewis

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As we seek ever-higher ground, we might that it was on this date in 1898 that the heirs of Alfred Nobel signed a “reconciliation agreement,” allowing his lawyers and accountants to execute his will.  The lion’s share of his estate was clearly marked for the establishment of the eponymous Prizes that are awarded each year.  But the residue, which was to be divided among descendants was the subject of much contention.

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The first page of Nobel’s will [source]

 

The weight of the world (wide web)…

Chris Stevens at Crave (CNET-UK) wondered…

Using publicly available information, for the first time in the world, we have precisely and scientifically calculated the weight of the Internet. Obviously this information is only really useful to someone attempting to work out the cost of posting the Internet somewhere, perhaps to North Korea. Still, the casual reader — hi there! — may still enjoy learning just how damn heavy the thing is.

Read the entire analysis here.  But (SPOILER ALERT) lest readers agonize in suspense, the total mass of the internet is:

As Chris observes, “very heavy indeed.”

As we contemplate the weight of innovation, we might recall that it was on this date in 1867 that Alfred Nobel patented dynamite. 21 years later (in 1888), a French newspaper ran a premature obituary of Nobel, ran his obituary under the cutting headline “Le marchand de la mort est mort” (the merchant of death is dead); Nobel’s reaction was to sign a will (in 1895) leaving the bulk of his fortune to establish and fund the Nobel Prizes.

Alfred Nobel

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