Friday, July 11, 2008

Changing Science?

Chris Anderson in The End of Theory proclaims that science, specifically the model which is based on hypothesis and experimentation, has been rendered unnecessary by the abundance of available data. In other words, if you want something, look it up; don't theorize. Nevertheless, science rests on thought; as a result, although answers wait amidst the petabytes, someone must ask the question. Thus, only experimentation diminishes, although data must still be manipulated. In effect, the change proposed by Chris Anderson regularly occurs. Scientists have determined that Caesar invaded Britain 4 days earlier than previously thought based on astronomical data. Similarly, though in my opinion with much less certainty, scholars have announced that Odysseus slaughtered the suitors on April 16, 1178 BC. Precise dates, such as this one, are unheard of in Homeric scholarship. The dispute over the date of the Capitoline Wolf is making the news again, although there's no data set to solve this one. Imagine the number of textbooks that will have to be changed. Scientists have also been extracting the charred Herculaneum scrolls with impressive results.

Experimentation also leads to innovation. For instance, new dyes used in glass capture and intensify the sun's rays to produce cheap and effective solar power. Some amazing news is that a breakthrough has been made on combating malaria. (Malaria "will strike up to half a billion people this year.") On an aside, Greenway's light show of the Last Supper re-invigorates the old; impressive!

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