In this weeks lecture professor Aronova talked with us about the origins of science along with its history. She began her lecture with the topic of Darwin and his theory. She emphasized how his theory is not about progress but rather change. Professor Aronova stated that she uses Darwin’s theory as a roadmap and reminder that evolution is not about progress but rather change.
At one point in her lecture Professor Aronova mentioned that historians and every day people alike use history as a way to understand ones actions. This statement made me think if we use history as an excuse for our actions? Aronova mentioned patterns in history and while people say that history allows us to prevent past mistakes, there are also a lot of patterns in history. This brings into question if history lets us evolve or is rather holding us back. If we as a society were to truly learn from our history and our past mistakes one would assume that there would be no more atrocities among humans. However, this is surely not the case. In some cases people look at history and are able to recognize parallels among current and past figures. If anything this shows that evolution is not as strong of a force as it once was. Rather I think than man kind reached a peak of evolution and now is just in a point of repetition.
Another point which Professor Aronova made that stuck out to me is how political and scientific revolution during the Cold War in Russia was closely linked and interconnected. This statement made me think of the idea of political censorship. The Scientific Revolution as we know it was dictate by the government of the time. Had the government had a varying political standpoint would the scientific revolution be different, probably. This idea of political censorship, however, carries over to the idea of just how much were the people living in Russia exposed to new scientific discoveries. How much did the government of the time control the knowledge that the people of Russia obtained. One way of thinking about this is looking at the issue is to look at what was taught in the schools. Much of the Scientific Revolution was a time controlled by knowledge and knowledge of knowledge. The main way that one obtains knowledge is through schooling systems and their access. The control which the government had on the schooling systems limited the knowledge of the individual and let the government control the perspective through which an individual viewed the world around them. In our afternoon class Professor Aronova spoke about the idea of accessibility. While it might be subtle the information and knowledge of the individual is still controlled to this day. It is not through political censorship but rather through accessibility and the culture of ones uprising. In addition dependent on where ones position is in the world the history that they learn and obtain varies. Political upbringing and religion also plays a critical roll in ones obtainment of history and how it changes their perspective of the world.
Basic reasons why our planet earth was habitable, presence of liquid water, habitable climate and complex life, and other planets are not, were the main things I knew about earth and other planets. Questions that lingers my mind is that were we lucky that the conditions for life existed in our planet or we are special to some extend that only we have these conditions and do we really have these conditions on earth only or could there be other places where these conditions are but only that we have not found them? The Yale professor David Bercovic, shaded more light on the origin and evolution of the earth to where we are now.
Professor Bercovic introduced us to the Big Bang theory. This theory states that the universe was one thing, expanded and eventually exploded. The singularity was in form of hot dense plasma, which had free electrons. As time passed on, the universe cooled enough to form helium. From the heat, helium formed bigger elements that were needed for complex life. He shared with us the evidence of the Big Bang. Gallactic “Red Shift”, by Hubble Expansion, that the other galaxies are expanding away from each other. Cosmic microwave background as well remains to be evidence that Big Bang happened. After exploding, clouds collapsed to form stars. Stars as well differ in size, how much light it produced and its life. Big stars burn faster, produced more light and last for a shorter period while the smaller ones burn slowly, emit less light and last longer. Through this burning of stars is when elements necessary for life were formed. Elements heavier than iron like uranium need external energy to form. Presence of heavy elements which entails everything that we need in life were formed because of the big bang.
This lecture made me think about my religious background about creation. In the Book of Genesis, we are told of God spending six days creating the earth and all that was in it. His words of mouth, creating things like his famous one “let there be light”, which happened and him molding Adam from soil then creating Eve from Adam’s rib while asleep, have been what I believed based on my religion since I was a child. I have never had opportunity to question it. When I think about it now, I ask myself where did he get the soil to create the earth and also how real can it be that he created Adam using soil. However, I have not seen evidence of God’s universe creation as we have seen evidence from Big Bang theory. Whether or not Genesis way or the Big Bang way was where we have our planet, both still holds a lot that we would like to know. In both cases, we can agree that it is still a mystery that we only have habitable earth and we do not know for certain where all this started.
I might not have one theory that I can cling on now, but I think it was great to have professor Bercovic that I get diverse possible explanations to the origin and the evolution of the earth.
Last week, Prof. Janet Browne from the Harvard University came to Colby to attend the seminar and give a lecture on the origins of Darwin’s origins of the species theory. While her talk mainly provided a bibliographical introduction of Darwin and his findings, I found the seminar discussion very inspiring for me to think about the word “origins” from different perspectives.
Janet Browne, from Harvard University, came to Colby this week to talk about Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species. Janet Browne in class discussed how her work is involved in studying about Darwin’s work especially about his works on different species. Her book “Origin of Species,” informed me, in depth, about Darwin’s early childhood, early works, and how his early works have been the root for all his later studies done about his thesis.
A fascinating fact I learned about Darwin was that he had a very religious background. I thought Darwin would be a scientist who would have questioned the widely accepted religious idea that God created Earth and all living things. In the book, “Origins of Species” it mainly focuses on Victorian science, which has a strong relationship with religion and science which had a strong influence on Darwin’s career.
According to Janet Browne, Darwin merged theology and natural science. One of the most significant decision by Darwin for his career and his life was going on the Beagle Voyage. Darwin could not have achieved any of his life’s work if he had not boarded on the Beagle Voyage. From Browne, it sounded as if Darwin was too comfortable with his surroundings at the time and he couldn’t explore the anything outside his realm is he did not leave England. Darwin was also not fond of using humans in his experiment. He decided to look more into the geology. He looked at volcanoes erupting, earthquakes, and shapes of coral reefs which were instrumental in confirming his later studies. He took all these notes about his observations of different animals, plant, and geology. Darwin also encountered Fuegians in his voyage. The captain of the voyage, as well as Darwin himself, thought the Fuegians were savages and thought Christianity was a way to civilize them. Darwin noticed that the indigenous Fuegians and the Europeanized Fuegians were vastly different. Darwin in cases of this could be seen as a racist by many. Darwin later went to the Galapagos and noticed different organisms looked so similar to each other. Darwin categorized these animals as different varieties, however, he later realized that the reason why the animals were different was that of adaptation evolution these animals went through. After coming back from Britain, Darwin thought hard about his research he linked geology and biology. He also attempted to visualize the evolutionary change.
I believe that following your passion and having a wide perspective on any matter is extremely important. Darwin was very enclosed to his specific community in England; he couldn’t have done his research on evolution if he didn’t travel to other parts of the world and observed all the different geological and animal subjects. If Darwin did stay in England, he might have been a priest which his parents wanted him to be. Without Darwin’s work, most people today will not know that natural selection was what made evolution possible and still believe that God created new species. It is indisputable that Darwin eliminated god from science which made it possible for scientific explanations for all natural phenomena and created an intellectual and religious revolution.
Scientists as controversial as Charles Darwin are few and far between. It seems strange that the same person can be so readily placed upon a pedestal and dismissed as incredible at the same time. This disparity of opinion and prevalence of Darwin in academic lives led me to think about what impact he has had on my life and how he may have been a part, or not, in the lives of others.