HIS 292 - Paper 2

HIS 292 - Paper 2 - Christian Villaran What is Science? :...

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Christian Villaran What is Science? : How Ideology Affects How Discoveries are Made and Told There is no uniform way of doing science across fields, or even among individuals. An ideal about what science is meant to do or how it should be conducted often times drastically affect the ways in which discoveries are made. Occasionally monumental findings are simple accidents, and other times they stem from meticulously planned and executed procedures. This paper will focus on two popular scientists in history, specifically James Watson and his discovery of the structure of DNA, and Albert Einstein and his theory of relativity. By examining the manner in which these two individuals, brilliant in their own right, came upon their historic discoveries we can better identify the ideological differences that affect scientific procedure. We can then see how these ideologies manifest themselves into their personal accounts. To keep with chronological order, we can first examine Albert Einstein’s postulation of the theory of relativity. To analyze his influences it is helpful to start with the questions posed above. They are, what is science meant to do, and how should science be conducted? For Einstein, science was meant to explain truths about the world. This can be seen in Einstein’s purpose for creating the relativity
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theory. The fact that simple Newtonian mechanics created asymmetries within electromagnetism was the catalyst for his theory. Einstein could not accept that laws of physics were different for different frames of reference; this did not seem to have properties consistent with a truth about the world. Therefore, Einstein felt that he needed to drastically change the way scientists thought about science because as it was it was not fulfilling its purpose. Einstein had a unique way of thinking about how science should be conducted as well. He reduced the problem at hand by first postulating fundamental assumptions about the world. In his theory of relativity these were: first that the laws of electrodynamics are the same in all inertial frames of reference, and second, that light travels at speed c in all frames of reference. Solely based off of these two assumptions he developed his entire theory off of thought experiments. He proved things solely through math, and made no attempt to physically prove anything through real-world experiments, leaving this for others to do. This method of constructing theories presents a new way of thinking about science in general. He
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This note was uploaded on 02/28/2009 for the course PHI 300 taught by Professor Hendriklorenz during the Spring '08 term at Princeton.

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HIS 292 - Paper 2 - Christian Villaran What is Science? :...

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