This week we had Professor Elena Aronova come to Colby to speak about the history of science in the Soviet Union and the West. She talked about how the progress of scientific knowledge was immensely impacted by technology. In the lecture, she first mentioned about the scientific revolution that took place in the 17th century. She also talked about how the Darwinism theory was not really about progress, but a change in science. She questions where did the historiography of science started, and she believes that it was modern history where science gains much of its momentum. Professor Elena Aronova believes that after the World War II that the progress of science has been growing exponentially. She mentions that the acceleration in arts and science was in the 18th and 20th century, which is astounding because it is relatively recent to the broader spectrum of world history.
Professor Elena Aronova connects the scientific revolution with political revolution. In the Soviet Union, the main ideology is born which is Marxism and under this ideology the fraction the Bolshevik. The second International Congress of the History of Science and Technology was held in London in 1931. Soviet Union intellectuals related Isaac Newton’s science to the emergence of bourgeois capitalism in England. This caused a political upheaval during this time in Europe. Another scientific revolution that came out of the Soviet Union as the Vavilov scientific expedition where Nikolai Vavilov went to different countries to collect food products to improve agriculture, but he was later arrested because he was thought to be a British spy. During the Cold War, there was an exponential growth in information science and technology in the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union created an institute called the All-Union Institute of Scientific and Technical information. This was the start of the information revolution, and the All-Union Institute became a threat to the United States. During this time, United States were lagging behind in science. However, in the end, United States won the space race, and for the better, the world has benefitted enormously from the Soviet Union and United States race for new scientific knowledge and technology. It seems as though competition between the two world superpowers at the time has driven the progress of new scientific knowledge and technology. The new technologies that came from the Cold War are the satellite, manned spaceflight, advances in computers, the programming language called BASIC needed for every personal computer, long distance calling, and DARPA the predecessor to the internet. Although there was much destructive warfare technology that has been created during this time, such as advancement in the nuclear program, long-range bomber, lasers, and intercontinental ballistic missiles, I believe the good outweighs the bad in this case. The technology like the satellite and the predecessors for computers and internet have been the bedrock of the information revolution we have today. There would be no personal computers or the internet, and nevertheless, cell phones if it weren’t for technologies like the satellite, the BASIC language, and DARPA. This technological competition between two superpower nations had some negative sides to it, but the benefits that came from innovations in technology has surpassed the negative impact of the Cold War.
Whenever the idea of space is mentioned I immediately think of the fact that space is a never ending unquantifiable distance. In todays day and age, in a society where people attempt to make sense of everything, space is the one thing we can never truly understand. It presents a challenge to people everywhere. While we have read about countless discoveries and advancements in technology, we will never truly be able to understand our origins which is why the Big Bang Theory is just that, a theory.
In Rhee’s writing, Cosmic Dawn, he mentions the Hopi people. In the reading he talks about their beliefs as to how the world originated. The Hopi tribe believed that people were created in a deep cave far below the surface of the earth and entered the world through a hole called “The Sipapu.” This origin story shows how people, from early on in our existence felt the need to understand our origins, to make sense of the unknown. However as time has progressed, our knowledge and beliefs of our origins have been shifted. Such explanations of our origin and the study of space itself is an attempt to make a never ending concept seem less daunting.
However, while the idea of space is a great source of chaos in our world, there have been people who have tried to bring order to it. In Professor Kocevski’s lecture, he mentions countless mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers who have tried to make sense of our beginnings. Some of the greatest discoveries having been made by Einstein, Hubble, Brahe, Copernicus, and Kepler, none of whom have been able to make sense of what occurred before “The Inflation Era,” which was a rapid expansion of our universe in the very first moments after The Big Bang Theory. “The Inflation Era” has posed a conflict for many scientists over the years. It has continued to be a source of chaos seeing as we do not truly know what happened in that time. In Kocevski’s lecture he mentions how “disorder increases overtime.” While this might sound counterintuitive it explains the process that scientists and philosophers face when looking at something like the Big Bang. Before the Big Bang we had order followed by the event of the bang bringing along chaos, once we reached a level of stability we regained order. However as time goes on our society has begun to exhausted the resources of the land we are going towards a phase of chaos. Our society has reached a level of order to the point where people forget that chaos often disrupts such order which is never a guarantee.
When thinking about the fragility of our current universe it makes me think how our universe was created on a complete whim. The collisions of atoms was a completely random occurrence which has lead to the creation of such a complex and advanced life formation. However the question of how the particles and atoms needed to create life were present poses a complex question. While we will probably never know the answer, we as a society will continue to attempt to make order out of such a chaotic idea.
What’s a good science fiction piece without at least mentioning the multiverse, alternate universes, parallel realities, etc? Physicists, philosophers, and astronomers have all written various theories about what the multiverse is and how it could potentially effect our lives. Continue reading
When I think of space, of anything above our atmosphere, it’s usually clouded by my belief that anything in that realm is far too complex, large, or confusing for little me to possibly understand. However, every time I read a chapter or take a class about space, it feels like the things going on in that sky above me are simpler than the jumbled mess of life happening on this spaceship called Earth.