The Restless universe
|Introduction to The restless Universe|
1 The lawful Universe
» 1.1 Science and regularity 1/2
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|1 The lawful Universe |
1.1 Science and regularityPart 1 of 2 | Part 2 For a printable version of '1 The lawful Universe' click here
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Science, it is widely agreed, originated from two main sources. One was the need to develop practical knowledge and to pass it from generation to generation. The other was a more spiritual concern with the nature and origin of the world. Common to both of these well-springs of science was an appreciation of the regularity of Nature. The way to build an arch that would not fall down today was to build it in much the same way as an arch that had not fallen down yesterday. The way to predict the waxing and waning of the Moon this month was to assume that it would follow much the same course as the waxing and waning that had been observed last month and the month before.
The observation of regularity in Nature allows predictions to be made concerning the future course of particular events. In many primitive societies these regularities were ascribed to the activities of gods or other mystical spirits. However, gradually, over a long period of time, there emerged the notion that the behaviour of the world was guided by a set of natural laws that were themselves regular, in the sense that identical situations could be expected to have identical outcomes.
Relevant LinksA note on powers of ten and significant figures
|S207 The Physical World|