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Posts Tagged ‘relativity’

Special Relativity for Dummies, I mean writers

So, practically everyone knows thanks to Albert Einstein that on a starship traveling close to the speed of light time will pass more slowly than in the rest of the universe, though it does seem that not everyone understands how that works.  For example, I recall reading a passage in The Andalite Chronicles where the narrator explained that they were traveling to earth at a sub-light speed that would take them about three days because if they went at maximum burn they might make it in a few hours but that would be years on earth.  That’s just wrong, relativity slows down time onboard the ship, it doesn’t speed up time outside or anything.
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The Limits of Knowledge, Part I: Point of View

Science will not do your homework for you.

Some questions can be answered by science:  “What happens when I add an acid to a base?” and “What happens if I stick this fork into a wall socket.” Others, such as “Does God exist, and if so, why is He not running the Universe to my liking?” and “What is good? What is evil? Does this make me look fat?” can not.

In the ancient world, a business card reading “philosopher” gave one license to inquire into everything, and I mean everything. Aristotle (the Philosopher) wrote on topics ranging from ethics to politics to zoology to cosmology. For any question he had an answer.

But job descriptions change. Part of the evolution of natural philosophy, under nascent scientists such as Francis Bacon and Galileo, was to drop some questions, for example teleology (“for what purpose”), and  focus solely on reproducible, material observations.

Science is about limitations, but limitation is the source of the power of science. Indeed, the history of the physical and mathematical sciences in the twentieth century includes not only discovering the vastness of the cosmos and the infinitesimal secrets of the atom, but also making shocking discoveries what we cannot know.

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