Category: philosophy of science

“If one is a research worker, one mustn’t believe in anything too strongly; one must always be prepared that various beliefs one has had for a long time may be overthrown.”

Paul Dirac, quoted in The Strangest Man: The Hidden Life of Paul Dirac, Mystic of the Atom, p. 376. Graham Farmelo, Basic Books, 2009.

“Although clarity is valuable in itself, exactness and precision is not: there can be no point in trying to be more precise than our problem demands.”

Karl Popper

“It is usual to call an inference ‘inductive’ if it passes from singular statements (sometimes also called ‘particular’ statements), such as accounts of the results of observations or experiments, to universal statements, such as hypotheses or theories.
Now it is far from obvious, from a logical point of view, that we are justified in inferring universal statements from singular ones, no matter how numerous; for any conclusion drawn in this way may always turn out to be false: no matter how many instances of white swans we may have observed, this does not justify the conclusion that all swans are white.”

Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery

This week’s readings on science, physics & thinking: 

  1. The Thoughts of a Spiderweb, Joshua Sokol
  2. The Inflated Debate Over Cosmic Inflation, Amanda Gefter

  3. The Art of Knowing What to Do in Life, Maria Popova

  4. Black Holes, Ali Sundermier
  5. The Physicist Who Denies Dark Matter, Oded Carmeli

  6. LIGO Spots Gravitational Waves for Third Time, Davide Castelvecchi

  7. The Future of Zero-Gravity Living Is Here, Charles Fishman

  8. First Private Company to Attempt Moon Landing, Jay Bennett

“The ceremonial key to the city of Padua is engraved with a quote from Galileo …‘I deem it of more value to find out a truth about however light a matter than to engage in long disputes about the greatest questions without achieving any truth.”

Lisa Randall, Knocking on Heavens Door