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What Ockham really said

Ockhammmm

In the arsenal of eternal skeptics there are few tools more dramatically and more commonly used than Ockham’s razor. It is triumphantly applied to resolve arguments about ghosts (more parsimoniously seen as misperceptions by distraught family members or the suggestible), UFOs (evidently hoaxes and mistaken observations of natural phenomena) and telepathy (a “delusion” of wishful thinking and poorly-constructed tests).

Born in England, Franciscan monk William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347) is among the most prominent figures in the history of philosophy during the High Middle Ages. The Skeptics Dictionary quotes the Razor as Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate, or “plurality should not be posited without necessity,” while Wikipedia defines Ockham’s razor as follows:

“Among competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions should be selected.”

And it gives the following example of its application:

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“It is possible to describe the other planets in the Solar System as revolving around the Earth, but that explanation is unnecessarily complex compared to the contemporary consensus that all planets in the Solar System revolve around the Sun.” Another often-quoted formulation of the principle is that “one should not multiply entities beyond necessity.”

Brother Ockham, however, said nothing of the kind. Later philosophers have put these words into his mouth for their own convenience.

Here is what he wrote, according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

“Nothing ought to be posited without a reason given, unless it is self-evident or known by experience or proved by the authority of Sacred Scripture.”

So let’s come back to the planets, and apply Ockham’s razor–as formulated by the man himself–to a comparison between two different hypotheses about their motion.

The contemporary consensus states that they revolve around the sun according to the Copernican system, Kepler’s laws of motion and Newton’s model of gravity, as demonstrated by complex observations and significant mathematical underpinning.

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Our alternative hypothesis simply states that they are moved around the sky by angels, as illustrated in this beautiful painting from the Breviari d’amor of Matfre Ermengaud, where a convenient gear mechanism is gracefully activated to regulate planetary motion. Ermengaud was a contemporary of Ockham and, like him, a Franciscan friar.

Were we to apply Ockham’s formulation of the razor literally, the choice between these two hypotheses is clear. It does not favor the first hypothesis, the standard scientific interpretation. The Scriptures clearly state that angels do exist, and their reality was re-affirmed by Pope John Paul II as recently as August 1986. Since they manifest through their actions in the heavens, the second hypothesis appears far more parsimonious and elegant than the complicated rationalizations used by mathematicians and astronomers, which involve unseen entities such as the acceleration of gravity, centrifugal force, and mass, which – to this day – raise issues that science is yet to resolve. If you seriously believe in angels, then the contemporary consensus about planetary motion is a case of “plurality without necessity.”

The second hypothesis is also more powerful since angels can just as easily move the planets around the earth as around the sun. They can do whatever they like—and thereby explain any phenomena.

Perhaps we should be more careful when we quote ancient authors out of context, or twist their words to fit the convenient modern tenets of skepticism in the name of Reason.  The Scriptures are full of ghosts, UFOs and examples of telepathy – which means that such phenomena cannot be dissected and thrown out using Ockham’s razor anyway.

We know, of course, that the planets revolve around the Sun, an idea that would have shocked Ockham. And I firmly believe that, in philosophy and in science we should go on selecting the hypothesis that makes the fewest assumption when confronted with competing explanations, and one should not multiply entities beyond necessity — even if Brother William never said so.

But we should also remember that nature is not parsimonious at all.

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This is the world’s first commercial flying car

The world’s first commercial flying car is already on sale. It is equipped with two retractable propellers and rear wings.

The vehicle was presented during the Miami Art Week 2019 by the Dutch company PAL-V International. It is called Liberty, and its price is around 600,000 dollars.

It has Dutch engineering and Italian design, it is already in active production and has at least 70 anticipated.

“As soon as Nicolas Cugnot invented the car and the Wright brothers made their first successful flight, people began to dream of combining the two in a flying car.”

‘It turned out to be more complicated than initially estimated: a complex puzzle. However, once resolved, it would create maximum freedom in mobility’, said the executive director of the company, Robert Dingemanse.

PAL-V Flying car "width =" 780 "height =" 390 "
Credit: pal-v.com

When will it be available?

The first units are expected to reach their owners in 2021. However, it must be borne in mind that to handle it, it is necessary to have not only the driver’s license, but also the pilot’s license.

The new car has two versions, the Pioneer and the sports version. Robert Dingemanse explained that the Pioneer version differs from Liberty by its a complete carbon package. He also revealed that only 90 flying cars will be manufactured in this version.

Features of the flying car

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PAL-V Pioneer. Credit: pal-v.com
Inside of the flying car "width =" 1104 "height =" 736 "srcset ="
Interior of the flying car. Credit: pal-v.com

The PAL-V, a three-wheeled vehicle that can carry up to two passengers and 20 kilos of cargo, is basically a hybrid between a car and a helicopter.

According to the company website, the PAL-V has a four-cylinder engine and is capable of flying at an altitude of up to 3,500 meters. The vehicle, which is made with carbon fiber, titanium and aluminum and weighs only 664 kilograms, uses gasoline for cars and can reach maximum speeds of 180 km / h in the air and 160 km / h on land.

It also has both a ground and air system similar to that of a motorcycle in which the pilot-driver tilts the machine with a control lever.

It also stands out that the PAL-V converts from car to gyrocopter in just 10 minutes and can accelerate from 0 to 100 km / h in less than 9 seconds.

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Health authorities have confirmed a case of a rare type of smallpox in a UK patient

Skin rashes caused by ape pox. Credit: CDC's Public Health Image Library (Public domain)

A patient in England has been diagnosed with a rare case of monkeypox, as reported by Public Health England (PHE).

The rare viral infection is similar to smallpox, and though it is milder, it can be fatal.

It has been reported that the individual was in Nigeria and that he would have contracted the disease there. Later, upon returning to the United Kingdom, he stayed in the southwest of England where the disease occurred.

Upon symptoms, he was transferred to the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust , a center specializing in infectious diseases in London.

The health authorities have taken the necessary measures to prevent the virus from spreading to other people.

Vaccination against smallpox to people in Africa. (Public domain)

The PHE said in a statement:

As a precaution, PHE experts are working closely with NHS colleagues to implement rapid infection control procedures, including contact with people who may have been in close contact with the individual to provide health information and advice. ”

But experts are not very worried about contagion, because monkeypox does not spread easily among people and the risk of affecting the population is quite low, said Dr. Meera Chand , PHE consulting microbiologist.

This transmission electron micrograph (TEM) represents a series of smallpox virus virions. Credit: CDC / Dr. Fred Murphy; Sylvia Whitfield / Wikimedia Commons

Although the infection usually occurs mildly and people get better without treatment; Some individuals may develop very serious symptoms, with a percentage of 1 to 10 percent of patients dying from the disease during outbreaks, according to the World Health Organization .

The symptoms presented are similar to those of smallpox but milder. First, fever, headaches, muscle aches, back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills and exhaustion. Subsequently rashes may appear on the skin , starting on the face and spreading throughout the rest of the body.

This is not the first time a patient has been infected with smallpox in the United Kingdom. In 2018, there were three cases after a person was diagnosed with the disease. The individual had also returned from Nigeria.

Source: Gov.ukIFL Science

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A cold virus can infect a pregnant woman’s fetus

The study showed that the expectant mother is able to transmit a respiratory tract infection to her unborn child.

Scientists from Tulane University (Louisiana, USA) received the first evidence that the cold virus, which affects a pregnant woman, can penetrate the placenta and infect the fetus. An article about this has been published in PLOS One .

The placenta, an organ that develops in the uterine cavity of a woman during pregnancy, provides the necessary nutrition from the mother to the embryo and simultaneously performs another important task: it filters out potential pathogenic microorganisms. However, a group of pediatricians led by Professor Giovanni Piedimonte found that this natural “barrier” is not so impenetrable.

Scientists took the placenta from donors, isolated three main types of cells – cytotrophoblasts, fibroblasts and Kashchenko – Hofbauer cells – and in vitro exposed them to the human respiratory syncytial virus, which causes respiratory tract infections. Although cytotrophoblast cells supported a weak process of the spread of the virus, two other types were more susceptible to infection. So, Kashchenko-Hofbauer cells survived and allowed the virus to replicate inside the cell walls. According to scientists, then these cells, moving inside the placenta, are able to transmit the virus to the fetus.

“Such cells do not die after they become infected,” Piedimonte explains. – When they enter the fetus, they are comparable to bombs stuffed with a virus. They do not spread the virus in the area of ​​the “explosion”, but carry it through the intercellular channels. <…> Thus, our theory is confirmed that when a woman gets a cold during pregnancy, the virus that causes the infection can pass to the fetus and cause a pulmonary infection before the birth of a child. ”

Pediatricians also suggested that the respiratory syncytial virus is able to infect the lung tissue of the unborn baby and provoke the development of an infection that will subsequently affect the predisposition to asthma. To confirm or refute their theory, the authors of the study intend to conduct clinical tests.

Last year, scientists from the University of Cambridge created an artificial and functional mini-placenta using trophoblasts, and recently it turned out that particles of air pollution can penetrate the placenta of pregnant women

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