The next phase of the climate movement is here. It may provide a last opportunity that many of us thought we would never have… The climate movement in the US and around the world has gone through
Trump says he wants to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, yet he wrecked an international agreement that was doing just that. Now we’re edging closer to a war that the US says it doesn’t want but is doing everything to cause.
Instead of the typical bell-shaped curve, the fossil record shows a fat-tailed distribution, with extreme, outlier events occurring with higher-than-expected probability. Using the same mathematical tools that describe stock market crashes, scientists explain the evolutionary dynamics that give rise to universal patterns in the fossil record.
In the right conditions, airplane contrails can linger in the sky as contrail cirrus — ice clouds that can trap heat inside the atmosphere. Their climate impact has been largely neglected in schemes to offset aviation emissions, even though contrail cirrus have contributed more to warming than all CO2 emitted by aircraft since the start of aviation. A new Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics study found that the climate impact of contrail cirrus will triple by 2050.
The debate over beauty and theories is perhaps really about string theory which is no doubt ultra elegant but somehow a dilemma now for physics.
I remain suspicious about such downright science heresies as Platonic Ideas, and there the issue of aesthetics comes to the fore…It is hard to conclude anything about string theory (which I don’t understand) but it is curious to note the way that pure mathematics in parallel to physics so often spawned a future foundation in a new paradigm shift, the example of general relativity being a spectacular example…
I would be wary of using an aesthetic principle in relation to theories of science, but please note the ugliness of the theory of natural selection (although some like Dawkins find it elegant and its ‘elegant’ simplicity, entirely false and misleading). In any case it is a gross oversimplification, almost an hallucination.
By comparison look at the elegance of the eonic model with its compelling exhibition of historical directionality/teleology, free agency versus system action, historical creativity, stream and sequence duality, the evolution of freedom and self-consciousness, and much else.
Attacking a figure like Feynman on this issue is a bit of an attack of the Lilliputians. The aesthetic reaction to much of physics is more an exclamation than hard philosophy of science, and the sentiment is frequent when confronting the elegance of much of modern physics. The idea is certainly open to challenge if made into a definite heuristic principle but as an emotional reaction it remains significant. That elegance remains even after the theories become falsified…
In any case Pugliucci is a notorious muddlehead about darwinism and natural selection and makes a mockery of his essay with nonsense about the evolution of an aesthetic sense via natural selection, a proposition that makes Feynman’s errors seem trivial. Anyone confused about darwinism is going to have a hard time with the aesthetics of science theories.
And of course, beauty is, notoriously, in the eye of the beholder. What struck Feynman as beautiful might not be beautiful to other physicists or mathematicians. Beauty is a human value, not something out there in the cosmos. Biologists here know better. The capacity for aesthetic appreciation in our species is the result of a process of biological evolution, possibly involving natural selection. And there is absolutely no reason to think that we evolved an aesthetic sense that somehow happens to be tailored for the discovery of the ultimate theory of everything.