HoST Fall 2010

Tues/Thurs. starting at 4:00 in Babio 203

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Week of 12/7 and 12/9

Assignment 14


Einstein Crush;email.jpg

Lecture on Darwin, Haber, and Einstein.





This looks like a lot, but many of these readings are really short.  Keep track of what you are reading so that you can easily use them in your essays.

Remember: Darwinian evolution has three major points: variation, environmental selection, and tons and tons of time.


Read: Bown: Ch 9-10-Epilogue [pp. 186-232 and Epilogue].  Also watch this short video.  It relates to our readings from a few weeks ago: The Miracle Toilet -Nicholas D. Kristof reports from Haiti about toilets that aim to address the sanitation problems that lead to cholera, while also providing fertilizer to help farmers.



Read: McClellan and Dorn: Ch 16: Life Itself: [13pp]


Read Owen’s short article on a global evolution survey: Owen_EvolutionSUS.htm. [1p]


Read this really short article by Belluz: Belluz-Human_Evolution_Is_Over.htm. Think about the Leigh reading from last week on Malthus as you read it. What do you think about this argument?  What is meant by “Leading Geneticist”?  Feel free to write a letter to the editor [me] on this article and your larger understanding of the issues it engages. [1p]


Read either … [ca. 5pp]

…this opinion piece by Jared Diamond, the author of Guns, Germs, and Steel: Diamond_Worst_Human_Mistake-84KB.pdf,


…these two reviews of Clark’s Farewell to Alms, a Malthusian exploration of human economic history: Wade-Cohen_rev_Clark-Industrial-Rev-Theory-509KB.pdf,


Look over and read a couple of pages from this chapter from Darwin’s Descent of Man (Part II, Ch. 21). Darwin_Descent_Ch21a-4.6MB.pdf  Start reading near the bottom of p. 402 with the paragraph that starts, "Man scans with..." and continue reading the rest of the pdf. [3pp]


Remember Wallace, the other guy who came up with Darwinian theory? He didn’t get nearly as much credit (nobody calls it Wallacian Theory).


Read this short piece by Wallace, the forgotten Darwinist: Wallace_HowToCivilizeSavages.htm.  Notice how it compares to the passages from Darwin you just read.


Read: Judson, on Wallace: Judson-Wallace_Should_Hang.htm. You don’t have to read all the comments that follow the actual article.  Just read the article itself. It's short. [2pp]


Remember to email me your project abstracts.  See Assignment 13 for details.

Also, if you have something you would like to show the class, bring it in on Thursday.

Also, write any late essays and get them to me via email by Sunday.  Late essays will have some points deducted, but better something than nothing.



Read: McClellan and Dorn: Ch 18: The New Aristotelians [25pp]


1905 was Einstein’s huge breakthrough year: 4 [5 if you include his dissertation] very important papers were published…

1) “On a Heuristic Point of View concerning the Production and Transformation of Light.” [Photoelectric effect - What does it mean that something is red hot?]

2) “On the Movement of Small Particles Suspended in Stationary Liquids Required by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat.” [On Brownian Motion - What makes all all those tiny particles dance?]

3) “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies.” [Special Relativity- nonaccelerated time frames - The effects of speed on measurement.]

4) “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend upon Its Energy Content?” [Mass-Energy equivalence: E=mc2]  [Not always included as one of his 1905 barnburners.]


Keep in mind, that even though paper #1 and paper #4 have something to do with quantum concepts, Einstein had almost nothing to do with the atomic bomb, no matter what TIME magazine wants you to believe. [See Time Magazine cover below.] There is much made of his letters encouraging and later discouraging the atomic program, but closer scrutiny suggests that his views did not really affect policy very much if at all.  Einstein didn’t even have security clearance in the Manhattan Project, the project he is said to have fathered.  He was seen as too much of a lefty pacifist to get clearance.  Being German probably didn’t help much either.  Similarly, be suspicious of anyone claiming to understand where Einstein stood on God or god.  He is all over the map. Anyway, why do we care what he thinks on religious topics?  Do we ask the pope to explain Schrodinger’s equation? And yet… it is interesting. [Nullius in verba my ass.]


Read Gamow: pp. 1-5. Gamow_30YearsShookPhys_excerpt-6.5MB.pdf. You can use any of chapters 1-3 for long essay sources if you are interested.


Read these two early 20th century accounts of how Einstein’s general theory of relativity was used to explian the problem with the orbit of Mercury and other stuff:




Citations to the regular readings:


-Anonymous. "Classics of Science: Mystery of Mercury's Orbit." The Science News-Letter 15, no. 420 (1929): 267-268.


-Belluz, Julia. "Leading Geneticist Steve Jones Says Human Evolution Is Over." The Times Online - UK Edition, October, 7, 2008 2008.


-Bown, Stephen R. A Most Damnable Invention : Dynamite, Nitrates, and the Making of the Modern World. 1st ed. New York: T. Dunne Books, 2005.


-Darwin, Charles. The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. 2 vols. vols. London,: J. Murray, 1871.


-Diamond, Jared. "The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race." Discover, May 1987 1987, pp. 64-66.


-Dyson, Frank. "Verification of the Theory of Relativity." The Scientific Monthly 20, no. 3 (1925): 288-291.


-McClellan, James E., and Harold Dorn. Science and Technology in World History : An Introduction. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2nd. ed.


-Gamow, George. Thirty Years That Shook Physics : The Story of Quantum Theory. New York: Dover Publications, 1985.


-Judson, Olivia. "Wallace Should Hang." New York Times, January 8, 2008.


-Owen- figure something out.


-Wade, Nicholas. "Dusty Archives, a Theory of Affluence." New York Times, August, 7, 2007.


-Wallace, Alfred Russel. "How to Civilize Savages." Reader, June 1865 1865, 107-114.

Long and Short Essays: There is a lot of good compare and contrast material here.  Write something that incorporates several of these readings.  As you read over this material, think of the consequences of this new science and technology.  Are scientists ethically responsible for the consequences of their theories?  Think about Nobel, Haber, [Hahn if you know of him], Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg, Teller, and Openheimer in terms of the relationships between science, technology, and war.  Add in the anti-Semiticism of the Nazis and some of these relationships are really quite twisted.  Think about racism and Darwinian evolution.  Think about eugenics and Plato. Perhaps you could write a letter to the editor [me] as your essay. How does the random mutation of DNA differ from the swerve of Lucretius?


Additional sources for Long Essays.


-Gamow, George. Thirty Years That Shook Physics: The Story of Quantum Theory. New York: Dover Publications, 1985. Gamow_30YearsShookPhys_excerpt-6.5MB.pdf.  You could read one of the chapters, 1, 2, and/or 3.


-This is a fascinating essay on how philosophy played a role in Bohr’s physics and vice versa: Holton, Gerald James. Thematic Origins of Scientific Thought; Kepler to Einstein. revised ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1973.  Read pp. 99-139: Holton_Thematic-Complementarity_Bohr-7.6MB.pdf.


-Here is a collection of memories from people involved in the Manhattan Project.  Hopefully this link is still functional:


-Here is a recent article on military robots.


Markoff- War Machines: Recruiting Robots for Combat-NYTimes-11/27/10

When research needs money, who you gonna call?

Friend or Foe, through a paper towel tube.

Longbow: expensive operator training, low equipment cost

Arquebus: inexpensive operators, high equipment cost, but reusable

Infantry Robot: ???


-Here is a recent article on a new chemistry for life. Overby- Subsisting on Arsenic, a Microbe May Redefine Life-12/2/2010. This opens up a whole new can of worms.


-Anonymous. "Classics of Science: Mystery of Mercury's Orbit." The Science News-Letter 15, no. 420 (1929): 267-268.


-Belluz, Julia. "Leading Geneticist Steve Jones Says Human Evolution Is Over." The Times Online - UK Edition, October, 7, 2008 2008.


-Newsome, Daniel. "Darwin’s Descent of Man and Anachronistic Values." Draft Essay, 2003. This is a short essay on Darwin and the question of how ethically or morally to judge people from the past: Newsome_Darwin_Descent_Racism-DRAFT-96KB.pdf.  (You need not read all the misc. after the bibliography.)  Do you agree or disagree with this clown?


-Eisenhower: see the site and make up a citation. Read and/or listen to Eisenhower’s farewell address to the nation: Eisehnower-Farwell-audio & text.  [You could also choose to download an MP3 here.]  There are video clips of this speech available on the web, but most have been edited and the unedited ones I ran into are of horrible quality. It is interesting to note that this was a TV broadcast. This is perhaps the most famous presidential farewell address ever. The documentary, “Why We Fight,” is based on this speech.  It’s a pretty good movie for anyone interested in the nexus between industry, technology, politics, and war.


-Here is what appears to be an incredible site for Darwin with most of his publications and manuscripts all available for free:   The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online


-Here is a short article on a fossil find in Germany written up by the Royal Society: link to article.  I wonder what gap in the fossil record this fills?


- Here are a few more In Our Times episodes of interest.  I also posted some other episodes that might help some of you with your projects.  I also suggest you go to the In Our Time website to see if any shows are relevant to your project.  The abstract pages for each episode often have some good sources and links. 


-Bragg, Melvyn. "Electrickery." In In Our Time, 45 minutes. London: BBC, 2004. IOT_ Electrickery.mp3.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the dawn of the age of electricity. In Gulliver's Travels, published in 1726, Jonathan Swift satirised natural philosophers as trying to extract sunbeams from cucumbers. Perhaps he would have been surprised, or even horrified, by the sheer force of what these seemingly obscure experimentalists were about to unleash on society. Electricity soon reached into all areas of 18th century life, as Royal Society Fellows vied with showmen and charlatans to reveal its wonders to the world. It was, claimed one commentator, 'an entertainment for Angels rather than for Men'. Electricity also posed deep questions about the nature of life. For some it was the divine spark that animated all things, for others it represented a dangerous materialism that reduced humans to mere machines.

But how did electricity develop in the 18th and 19th centuries? Why was it so politically contentious and how was it understood during the age in which it changed the world forever? 

With Simon Schaffer, Professor in History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Darwin College; Patricia Fara, historian of science and a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge; Iwan Morus, Lecturer in the History of Science at Queen's University Belfast.


-Bragg, Melvyn. "Lamarck and Natural Selection." In In Our Time, 45 minutes. London: BBC, 2003.  IOT_Lamarck_and_Natural_Selection-The_Lamarckian_Heresy-%5B2003-12-26%5D.mp3

Melvyn Bragg discusses Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, the 18th century French scientist.

Charles Darwin defined Natural Selection in On the Origin of Species, “Variations, however slight and from whatever cause proceeding, if they be in any degree profitable to the individuals of a species… will tend to the preservation of such individuals, and will generally be inherited by the offspring”. It was a simple idea that had instant recognition, “How extremely stupid not to have thought of that!” said T H Huxley. However, Darwin did not invent the idea of evolution and not everyone saw his ideas as original. The great geologist Charles Lyell repeatedly referred to “Lamarck’s theory as modified by Darwin”, Darwin complained to him, “I believe this way of putting the case is very injurious to its acceptance”. He desperately wanted to escape the shadow of this genuine scientific precursor and what has become known as the ‘Lamarckian Heresy’ has maintained a ghostly presence on the fringes of biology to this day.

Who was Lamarck? How did Natural Selection escape from his shadow and gain acceptance from the scientific establishment? And has any evidence emerged that might challenge the elegant simplicity of Darwin’s big idea?

With Sandy Knapp, Senior Botanist at the Natural History Museum, Steve Jones, Professor of Genetics in the Galton Laboratory at University College London and author of Almost Like a Whale: The Origin of Species Updated; Simon Conway Morris, Professor of Evolutionary Paleobiology at Cambridge University.


-Bragg, Melvyn. "Cryptography." In In Our Time, 45 minutes. London: BBC, 2004. IOT_Cryptography-Secret_history_of_ciphers_and_codes-[2004-01-29].mp3

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the origins and history of codes. In October 1586, in the forbidding hall of Fotheringhay Castle, Mary Queen of Scots was on trial for her life. Accused of treason and denied legal representation, she sat alone in the shadow of a vast and empty throne belonging to her absent cousin and arch rival Elizabeth I of England. Walsingham, Elizabeth’s Principal Secretary, had already arrested and executed Mary’s fellow conspirators, her only hope lay in the code she had used in all her letters concerning the plot. If her cipher remained unbroken she might yet be saved. Not for the first time the life of an individual and the course of history depended on the arcane art of Cryptography.

What are the origins of this secretive science? And what links the ‘Caesar Cipher’ with the complex algorithms which underpin so much of our modern age?

With Simon Singh, science writer and author of The Code Book: The Secret History of Codes and Code-Breaking; Professor Fred Piper, Director of the Information Security Group at Royal Holloway, University of London and co-author of Cryptography: A Very Short Introduction; Lisa Jardine, Professor of Renaissance Studies at Queen Mary, University of London and author of Ingenious Pursuits.


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:earliest.jpg         ::::::Downloads:Einstein-AtomBomb-TimeJuly1,1946.jpg

Baby Albert, born 1879 (died 1955)                             The July 1, 1946 issue of TIME.