PHYS 101/111 Ass 2 F15
1. The philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell wrote: “I think we must retain the belief that scientific knowledge is one of the glories of man. I will not maintain that knowledge can never do harm. I think such general propositions can almost always be refuted by well-chosen examples. What I will maintain—and maintain vigorously—is that knowledge is very much more often useful than harmful and that fear of knowledge is very much more often harmful than useful.” Think of examples to support this statement.
2. In answer to the question, “When a plant grows, where does the material come from?” Aristotle hypothesized by logic that all material came from the soil. Do you consider this hypothesis to be correct, incorrect, or partially correct? What experiments do you propose to support your choice? What is probably misunderstood by a person who says, “But that’s only a scientific theory”?
3. The philosopher Gregory Skovoroda asserted: “We must be grateful to God for creating the world in such a way that everything simple is true and everything complicated is untrue.” Scientists call a theory that unites many ideas in a simple way “beautiful.” Are unity and simplicity among the criteria of beauty outside of science. Analyze these statements, supporting your position with examples.
4. In the early part of his life Bertrand Russell wrote about ideas that he rejected in the latter part of his life. Do you see this as a sign of weakness or a sign of strength in Bertrand Russell? Do you speculate that your present ideas about the world around you will change as you learn and experience more, or do you speculate that further knowledge and experience will solidify your present understanding?
5. What is the penalty for fraud and plagiarism in the science community? Do you recommend any changes?