Multicultural Cosmology: Final Week!

ID 1, Section 18 - Fall 1994 B. Penprase

Readings: Toulmin and Goodfield, p. 22-73, Essay by A. Einstein, "Considerations on the Universe as a Whole", in Munitz, p. 275-279 ; Essay by E. Hubble, "The Exploration of Space", in Munitz, p. 280-301.

Final Writing Assignment: Hand in an Abstract of your final paper by next class.


"And an astronomer said, Master, what of Time?

And he answered: You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable... Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing. Yet the timeless within you is aware of life's timelessness, And knows that yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream. And that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling in the bounds of the first moment which scattered the stars into space.."

Excerpt from "The Prophet", by Kahil Gibran.

"Material objects are of two kinds, atoms and compounds of atoms. The atoms themselves cannot be swamped by any force, for they are preserved indefinitely by their absolute solidity... Admittedly, it is hard to believe that anything can exist that is completely solid. The lightning stroke from the sky penetrates closed buildings, as do shouts and other noises. Iron glows molten in the fire, and hot rocks are cracked by untempered scorching.... All these facts point to the conclusion that nothing is really solid. But sound reasoning and nature itself drive us to the opposite conclusion."

Excerpt from the Lucretius, "The Nature of the Universe", relating theories of the earlier pre-Socratic thinker Democritus (c. 50 B.C.)

1). Compare and contrast the Greek approach to celestial forecasting with both the Chinese and the Babylonians. What elements are completely original? Which are similar?

2). In what sense are Einstein and Hubble priests or shamans? What attitudes in common do the share with the ancient Greeks? What is different in their approaches to the universe?