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Physics TOK Presenation
Transcript of Physics TOK Presenation
A Brief History of Physics
Value of Knowledge
Assumptions of Physics
The modern paradigms in physics are based on many assumptions. According to Kuhn, a scientific revolution occurs when a new paradigm replaces these "obviously true assumptions." These assumptions can prove to be limitations as we will explore shortly. Here are some of the assumptions:
We live in a deterministic* universe.
Experiments prove theories as they provide evidence for arguments.
The constant "c" is an invariable property of space.
Limitations of Physics
The limitations of physics are inherent in its structure. In other words, its dogmas and dependence on other WOK are what hinder it.
Code of Ethics
In physics, there are two
areas where ethical
considerations are important:
Has the scope of focus in physics changed through time?
How is knowledge constructed in Physics?
We acquire knowledge through the 4 ways of knowing.
In natural sciences, knowledge is gained and verified using the
We shall use Galileo's leaning tower of Pisa experiment as an example.
Scientists use sense perception to observe their surroundings and natural phenomena
Galileo observed that objects fall to the ground and that two objects of different masses reach the ground at around the same time
Scientists then use Reason to make educated guesses about the behavior of the observed phenomena
Galileo hypothesized that all objects, regardless of mass, fall at the same rate
Scientists test their hypothesis by setting up an appropriate experiment.
Through further use of sense perception they collect and record data from these experiments.
Galileo set up his, now famous, Leaning Tower of Pisa Experiment to test his hypothesis
Scientists use reasoning to determine whether their collected data fits their hypothesis or not
In Galileo's experiment both balls reached the ground at the same time despite their difference in mass. This proved his hypothesis
Law vs Theory
A scientific law is a description of an observed phenomena. It allows us to predict behavior but not explain it.
Newton's laws of motion
A theory is an explanation of an observed phenomenon. It seeks to explain a why certain behavior occurs.
Both laws and theories are scientific knowledge gained through the use of the scientific method.
Nowadays, the notion of laws being universal has been dismissed as foolish. We are more concerned with theories.
Who Owns Knowledge?
The knowledge we acquire from school, work experience and life is so vast that you cannot say any one person owns it. But when you narrow it down, it is easier to discuss "ownership" of knowledge.
General knowledge... Everyone
Mostly scientists and professors own this type of knowledge. Physicists publish their findings to prove their competence and to procure money required for their research.
Physics knowledge... Not that simple
Physicists also have the option to credit knowledge to their names.
Patents allow people to literally own knowledge.
Theory of fusion bombs is a military secret.
This is a restriction of knowledge, but at the same time it would be stupid to share this sort of knowledge. (things in blue will be removed before presentation)
Ownership of Knowledge
Thomas Edison - scientist or entrepreneur?
knowledge is important because it explains natural phenomena and answers questions about our surroundings.
knowledge allows them to make simple predictions about various everyday occurrences. On top of that, repercussions of knowledge in fields like technology are very highly valued. Without technology we wouldn't have access to planes, cars, phones, etc.
Implications of having/not having this knowledge
Basic knowledge of physics helped us create new technologies, which are now integral parts of our lives.
Remember that physics started out as speculation about the secrets of life. The knowledge we own allows us to explain many phenomena of the natural world.
Not having certain knowledge may be positive such as with bombs and nuclear weapons.
*Determinism: the belief that every action is the result of previous causes that can be measured and understood
Language as a barrier to knowledge
Physicists publish their work after they are done with it. And for their findings to be interpreted correctly, they must be able to communicate them effectively via good language.
Also, when science is translated from a language to another, many things are lost.
Translation of Arab scientists' work into Latin after Renaissance
Emotion as a barrier to knowledge
Sense Perception & knowledge
Physics is based on observation, which requires the use of our sense perception. Problems with our sense were a threat centuries ago, but today instruments can help us make up for the fallibility of sense perception.
Copernican heliocentric theory wasn't confirmed until Galileo
proved it using his
Because we use creativity to build devices, sense perception isn't a limitation as much as our imagination . Einstein embraced the latter idea. He once said that "imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, while imagination encircles the world."
As we saw in the emotion chapter, our emotional longings sometimes act as obstacles towards gaining knowledge.
Confirmation bias is when scientists tend to focus on data that supports their hypotheses while ignoring other data.
This is usually done because of pride. Scientists want to stay credible and gain worthy knowledge; hence, they alter their data and reasoning unreliably.
Reason & Knowledge
Reason is always viewed as the best way to gain scientific knowledge.
As a matter of fact, many scientific models were built only by reason. It was previously mentioned that the philosophers of Ancient Greece and all scientists before Galileo put forth their theories without experimentation.
Theory of black holes was developed in great detail as a mathematical model before any evidence from observations confirmed it.
The success of this theory makes us wonder whether other mathematical theories, like
could be true, especially since it can't - with today's technology - be verified through experiments.
1 - The way physicists work: they shouldn't copy or make up data.
2- Physicists shouldn't work on projects that will endanger human life.
Should Rutherford have performed his experiment in nuclear physics, since it led (indirectly) to the discovery of the atomic bomb?
Critiques by other branches
In his book, "The Trouble with Physics," physicist Lee Smolin criticizes string theory for being quixotic or unpractical when it comes to experimentation. He also points out that there is no unified version of the theory and that it has up to (10^500) different variants.
Philosophy of Physics studies fundamental philosophical questions underlying modern physics. Karl Popper is known for his books that deal with these issues.
The Science Delusion
Rupert Sheldrake discusses the limitations imposed on science by the dogmas it so vehemently defends and reveres. His book, "The Science Delusion," is a criticism of scientism.
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Loy, Jim. "Galileo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa." Jim Loy. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2013. <www.jimloy.com/physics/galileo.htm>.
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"Confirmation bias." Science Daily. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/articles/c/confirm
Greene, B. (Brian). The Elegant Universe. New York: W.W. Norton, 2003. Print.
Hawking, S. W. A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes. Toronto: Bantam, 1988. Print.
Smolin, Lee. The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes next. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print.
"Philosophy of Physics." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 28 May 2013. Web. 28 May 2013.
Note: Images aren't cited.
Speaking of science...
Goldstein, Joseph. "Paradigm shifts in science: insights from the arts." Lasker Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2013. <www.laskerfoundation.org/awards/pdf/artofscience2012.pdf>
Slavin, Alan. "A Brief History and Philosophy of Physics." Trent University :: Peterborough, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 May 2013. <http://www.trentu.ca/physics/history_895.htm>
Past Paradigm shifts: