Essays on Science and Nature
Shakespeare and James Joyce are two of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, and their works, though very different in time, share a common theme: the danger of human knowledge and ambitions over nature. We all aspire to know more and to master nature, but the consequences of this ambition can be catastrophic. Essays on Science & Nature explore these parallels. Listed below are some of the best essays on science and nature from this century.
Relationship between science and nature
While the works of Shakespeare are far apart in time and space, they share many of the same ideas when it comes to the relationship between science and nature. Both emphasize the dangers of human ambition and knowledge dominating nature. Although scientists aspire to control nature, their discoveries can have terrible results. It's better to leave it to God, or a god more capable of preserving the balance of nature than to try to do it ourselves.
Natural sciences are the branches of science that deal with studying the physical world, including biology, chemistry, and physics. Scientists who work in this branch of science use specific processes to describe the natural world. These sciences are based on empirical evidence and seek to understand the nature of everything that comes from nature. The various branches of science are divided into different disciplines that each study a particular aspect of nature. For example, chemistry is one branch of the natural sciences, while biology focuses on the study of life on Earth.
While scientists differ in the details of their methods and findings, their basic beliefs and attitudes are similar. In general, scientists strive to learn as much as possible about the world. In their studies, scientists use unreliable methods and technologies, and they sometimes rely solely on logic. These scientists cite examples of animals and plants that have accumulated high levels of chlorinated hydrocarbons. The same principles apply to the human mind, and it's important to note that scientific theories can be controversial.
In short, scientists build explanations for phenomena that they observe. While this doesn't mean that they are completely true, it does imply that the knowledge gained from studying one part of nature is applicable to all parts of nature. For example, Newton's laws of motion are applicable to the motion of planets and falling objects on earth. Even Einstein didn't discard Newton's laws of motion, which are still used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for calculating satellite trajectories.
Relationship between science and nature in literature
In writing about nature, scientists sometimes use literature to promote a deeper understanding of it. The author of The Hidden Life of Trees, Ursula K. Le Guin, for example, argues that poetry is a human language that conveys our knowledge about nature. Science describes things from the outside, while poetry reveals their inner life. Reading both genres gives us a rounded picture. Nevertheless, the relationship between science and nature in literature is far from being a dead-end street.
While famous scientists have criticized literature, many have praised it. Richard Feynman used literary metaphors in his semi-autobiographical novels, and Stephen J. Gould argued for closer integration between science and literature. Niels Bohr gave lectures on science, psychology, and poetry. In addition, there are countless other examples of literature and science engaging in critical dialogues. But how can we reconcile these seemingly disparate realms?
During the process of exploring nature, scientists sometimes manipulate conditions intentionally, including temperature, chemical concentrations, and organism mate order. They may also vary just one of these conditions at a time, isolating a particular effect from the others. This method, however, is impractical or unethical for studying people or wild animals. Moreover, manipulating conditions in nature can distort the results.
The Romantics tended to address this duality in their works, examining the relationship between humankind and nature. They also used metaphors to combat the new science and attempted to bring the lived world back to its sensuous concreteness. In doing so, they sought to restore human values and the sense of belonging to a strange world. Even today, alienation from nature continues to plague humankind, and our dependence on technology makes us more vulnerable to greater problems.
In this book, Axel Gelfert proposes that we read scientific writing as literature. He examines James Hutton's unpublished accounts of his tour in Scotland. He shows how Hutton's poems were influenced by scientific debates of his time. This analysis also sheds light on the coevolution of Romantic aesthetics and geology. Moreover, this book reassesses Poe's place in the history of science and literature.
Relationship between science and nature in popular culture
In popular culture and other fields of scholarship, nature plays a major role. The term nature derives from Latin roots natura and nascere, two Latin translations of the Greek word physis. Nature usually connotes something that is given to us by birth and is free from artificial human activity. In addition, nature is closely related to the word nation, which highlights the importance of landscape in the creation and development of nation-states. Raymond Williams famously asserted that nature is the "most complicated word in the language".
Pop culture portrays scientists in a way that is often less respectful than their work. It is not unusual to see scientists portrayed as heartless nerds who kill and write formulas. Yet, this dismissive attitude towards science is accompanied by a welcoming stance toward so-called "mysteries," such as after-death experiences and alien abductions. Even some science fiction films make reference to extrasensory perception and telekinesis.
While popular culture focuses on the physical appearance of an organism, scientists have been exploring the genetics of human life. In novels like Creator and Transhuman, a scientist-hero aims to clone his dead wife for her to look like his lost love. Similarly, in Gattaca, a cautionary tale about prenatal manipulation, a future society in which physical perfection is normalized, is envisioned.
Popular culture also includes fictional representations of human-like beings. These fictional creatures are often flawed and lethally. In the movie HAL 9000, an artificially intelligent computer, kills four of its five human'masters'. Terminator films feature futuristic androids whose sole purpose is to kill flesh-and-blood humans. Similarly, the D.F. Jones Colossus trilogy and movies feature the creation of human-like AIs.
Although popular science fiction can sometimes be inaccurate, it's often more accurate than not. It often compresses the time and space required for new ideas to gain acceptance. As Max Planck famously said, new ideas triumph when their opponents die. For the same reason, science communication can be considered to be fiction. For instance, a fictional scientist in Jaws 1975 may predict that great white sharks will come inshore and volcanoes will explode in downtown Los Angeles in Volcano 1997.
Relationship between science and nature in film
In the 1940s and 1950s, the filmmakers of natural history films began to receive critical attention. In many films, scientists hardly resemble real life researchers. Some are outright villains, threatening nature with reckless abandon. Other films have distorted nature to create a more dramatic or comical story, while others have taken the opposite tack and tried to explain natural phenomena in an entirely different way. However, the film industry has always sought to make cinematic history more exciting and engaging.
Classical film theorists recognized the power of cinema to disenchant or redeem nature. They understood that the camera displaced nature's ideology and opened space for different types of pleasure. But in recent years, there has been a shift in attitudes toward the relationship between science and nature in cinema. Now, filmmakers are challenging the idea that we should be enamored with inhuman creatures. In the process, we're seeing a more balanced and inclusive view of our world.
During the twentieth century, the Film Society gravitated toward films about science. While the majority of films of this genre are modernist in style, the influence of Hollywood drama is largely a product of this trend. For some audiences, nature films represent the promise of cinema. And for others, they express the discontent of the contemporary world. This article is not a comprehensive overview of all natural history films, but an introduction to some of their major themes.
While many modern films of nature feature wild animals, there is still a long history of animal studies that go back much further. One example is the American Museum's Komodo dragon diorama. This film was accompanied by a small projector that played short clips of these animals in action. While observing these animals in action, Noble recognized the power of film in science. In fact, he was so passionate about the role of cinema in research that he served on its advisory board. During the 1920s, he collaborated with Fairfield Osborn to survey natural history films and prepare production plans.