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Please dont worry! I am not preaching you chemistry or throwing polemics suggesting how science education sucks. Infact, I find chemistry the most dull of all physical sciences. 

I used to listen to this band called Simian and I had totally forgotten about it for a long time. Now suddenly, one song of this band has surfaced in my consciousness, and I was looking all over my computer to find their album. Unfortunately, it seems that I deleted it accidentally during summer. 

Chemistry is what we are cover

Chemistry is what we are cover

Update: I learnt from a friend that  this band are not together anymore.
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Between the desire, And the spasm
Between the potency, And the existence
Between the essence, And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is, Life is, For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

–T.S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men” (1925)

Echoes

Echoes

Pink Floyd's Meddle

Pink Floyd's Meddle

Overhead the albatross hangs motionless upon the air
And deep beneath the rolling waves
In labyrinths of coral caves
The echo of a distant time
Comes willowing across the sand
And everything is green and submarine.

And no-one called us to the land
And no-one knows the wheres or whys
But something stirs and something tries
And starts to climb towards the light

Strangers passing in the street
By chance two separate glances meet
And I am you and what I see is me
And do I take you by the hand
And lead you through the land
And help me understand the best I can

And no-one calls us to move on
And no-one forces down our eyes
And no-one speaks and no-one tries
And no-one flies around the sun

Cloudless everyday you fall upon my waking eyes
inviting and inciting me to rise
And through the window in the wall
Come streaming in on sunlight wings
A million bright ambassadors of morning

And no-one sings me lullabies
And no-one makes me close my eyes
And so I throw the windows wide
And call to you across the sky

–Pink Floyd

Kalends of March

As I woke up this Sunday morning (afternoon really), it suddenly struck me that an uneventful February had just passed.

I have a sense that March will be slightly more exciting as I am traveling a bit. I hope to see friends I have not seen in a while and learn few things of value and depth throughout this month. As I look outside the window, I am reminded of Dickens:“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:when it is summer in the light and winter in the shade.”

If you are interested in nomenclature like I am, March is named after Martius, ancient roman god of war.  Apparently, in ancient Rome, this was the time to start thinking about warfares. Also, as I just found out with a little Google search, today marks the birth of one of my favorite composer, Frederick Chopin (1810-1849).

In 1620 Fracis Bacon published his philosophical work titled Novum Organum which in english translates to “new instrument”. In Novum Organum,  Bacon outlines a new method of logic which replaces syllogism.  As you may know, at the heart of deductive reasoning, the notion of syllogism is used ( I guess most notably by Aristotle) to arrive at the truth by using a combination of facts. In this brief critique, I will discuss how Baconian method is too faulty to describe at least fundamental physical science.

Novum Oraganum

Baconian method is the process of arriving at the truth is by reduction and inductive reasoning. Now, I think Baconian method for the most part is a good pragmatic approach and it works very well for most subfields of science and especially well for biology, chemistry as well as most of physics. However,  the Baconian approach of science is too confining when it comes to explaining the workings of fundamental physics. This is not to say that a fundamental physicists should ignore phenomenas and his reductive tendencies.  Now most scientist I know don’t even think about what they ought to do as a scientists in  philosophical terms. For me I amuse myself once in a while just so that I am distracted from what I do for a little while.

While there may be assumptions in science at first one cannot let these assumptions contradict principles that are known not to violate to theories with remarkable experimental precision as well as mathematical consistencies (such as certain physical symmetry). Usually the assumptions become contradictory with the known principles if they are not robust. At some point, science should produce predictable results, but there is definitely room for constructive imagination in fundamental science and in my opinion it is an important force in our understanding of the universe.

At this point, I just want to give a counterexample which is sufficient to falsify the Baconian system of scientific method. The example that comes to my mind immediately is the Theory of Special relativity and its more general form (which is appropriately but perhaps slightly misleadingly) called the General Theory of Relativity. The theory of relativity was largely a work of great insight by Einstein. Now, one should be aware that there were and will be beautiful theories of nature that just doesn’t fit with how “nature” decided the workings of the universe. It would naïve to claim that Relativity was just a theory of pure thought, but Einstein’s imagination did play a crucial role.

So, imagination has played crucial role in the history of fundamental science and people should be careful not to overly generalize philosophical positions to explain fundamental science.The other common philosophical dogma thats abused way too often is Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn’s work.  That could be a topic for discussion in the future.  Note that at one point in history, there was no distinction between scientists and natural philosopher. Now the bridge is sufficiently large.  I am not really talking about the value of morality in sciences and so on. But as far as reaching “scientific truth” is concerned, it would not be far fetched to say that science guides philosophy as a discipline as oppose to philosophy deciding what science oughts to do.

The army of Pakistan has  struck a deal with the Taliban which effectively concedes the law of the land in the large region bordering Afghanistan . Now, one can see this as a local problem. But perhaps this is a much larger problem of fundamentalist winning against basic human rights such as education.

Swat Valley in Pakistan

I find it really moving to read the diary of a seventh grade school girl in Pakistan in the district of Swat after Taliban decreed to ban girls’ education. Now the Pakistan government has conceded to the Taliban to impose Sharia law in exchange for a cease fire. While cease fires have been made in the past, but never has Pakistan conceded to the Taliban the law of the land.

I am not in a position to really understand whether this is a singular problem or a problem that would have much wider ramification. However, it is pretty clear that Pakistan is in a precarious situation and it is appaling to see the basic rights of people, and especially women,  just taken away from them.

Tonight San Francisco Symphony is presenting, Carnival Overture by Dvorak and A Song of Orpheus for Cello and Orchestra and Schumann.

Here is a preview by Boston Symphony Orchestra of the Carnival Overture.