Today we discuss some questions addressing some of our most and least favorite historical figures, discuss the history and future of the show and Ashna discusses her academic background.
Please note that two of the “upcoming” website updates mentioned in the article, posting stuff other than podcast episodes and random quotes, have already been added to the website.
[Please note that this may not exactly match the audio. However, there should be no significant differences. Also, note that the audio may be louder than previous episodes, so you might want to keep this in mind].
Welcome to episode six of the Metaphysics of Physics podcast. I am Ashna, your host and guide through the hallowed halls of the philosophy of science. Thanks for tuning in!
With this show, we are fighting for a more rational world, mostly by looking through the lens of the philosophy of science. We raise awareness of issues within the philosophy of science and present alternative and rational approaches.
You can find all the episodes, transcripts and subscription options on the website at metaphysicsofphysics.com.
Today we have with us Dwayne to talk to us about the show and its production. And I will be answering some questions on my academic experiences. This should be fun!
Ok, so let’s begin by talking about some of our favorite figures in science and philosophy and why they make the favorite list.
My personal favorites in physics are Newton and Galileo.
Galileo, as everyone knows helped really get physics going as a systematic science as we know it today. And of course, there was his brave opposition to the Catholic Church at the time. It was considered heresy to believe much of what he believed, but he refused to admit as much, in the face of the Inquisition.
Newton, well we all know what Newton did. His work finally gave physics that last push it needed to become the systematic science we know today. His invention of calculus was one of the most important mathematical tools ever invented and provided a method by which crucial physical relationships could be theoretically identified and then tested.
I have a number of favorites myself, probably too many to list here. So, I will name just a few of them.
In the field of physics; Faraday, Archimedes, Maxwell and Boltzmann. All of these people made major contributions to their fields and held somewhat rational philosophies. Or, at least, not to my knowledge, very irrational ones.
Maxwell for his massive contributions to electromagnetism, kinetic theory of gases and so on. He was one of the great unifiers in physics and contributed more to the field than many others ever have.
Boltzmann had the courage to champion the atomic model well before it was widely accepted, despite the fact he faced massive and irrational opposition.
And of course Feynman. Mostly because he is so darn likeable and passionate about physics and was a really good teacher.
In the field of mathematics, there’s Hipparchus who was able to deduce and calculate amazing things with remarkable accuracy given his methods. Such as the size of the Earth and stellar distances. Some of the results were less accurate than others, but his methods were remarkably ingenious.
Yes, then there’s Kepler who stands out here, despite his religious devotion and rationalism. At the time, his work on planetary orbits was, excuse the bad pun, revolutionary.
I love bad puns!
Ok so, there’s Euclid who was one of the first to develop rigorous systems of mathematical proofs and identified countless interesting principles of geometry.
And let’s not forget, Gauss and Euler were mathematical prodigies, both contributing more valuable ideas to mathematics than we can recall offhand.
I also wanted to mention some figures notable in the field of computer science. Donald Knuth, Alan Turing, Tim Berners-Lee and Grace Hopper, to name some of my favorites.
Knuth for his important work on the theoretical underpinning of algorithms and so forth.
Turing for helping pioneer what a computer is and its architecture and how it works.
Tim Berners-Lee for helping lay the software underpinnings for the web.
Grace Hopper for her pioneering work on computer languages and compilers.
Despite having studied computer science and done a lot of software development, my list here seems pretty small. The philosophical premises of a lot of people in computer science bugs me. They are often very rationalist and that makes it hard for me to consider them “favorite figures”.
So, the four names I have listed here are people who, as far as I know, are less rationalist then some of the other names I might have chosen and who have made some of the most significant contributions to the field.
When it comes to philosophy, of course, it should not be a surprise that Ayn Rand is our hero.
She developed Objectivism, the first fully consistent and rational system in the history of philosophy. Her work is a major reason this podcast is here in the first place and without her philosophy, I would not have grown as much philosophically as I have.
And then there’s Leonard Peikoff for championing her philosophy and contributing to original ideas and interesting ideas of his own to the field; such as his theory of induction and the DIM Hypothesis.