Historical research on John Dalton has been dominated by an attempt to reconstruct the origins of his so-called "chemical atomic theory". I show that Dalton's theory is difficult to define in any concise manner, and that there has been no consensus as to its unique content among his contemporaries, later chemists, and modern historians. I propose an approach which, instead of attempting to work backward from Dalton's theory, works forward, by identifying the research questions that Dalton posed to himself and (...) attempting to understand how his hypotheses served as answers to these questions. I describe Dalton's scientific work as an evolving set of puzzles about natural phenomena. I show how an early interest in meteorology led Dalton to see the constitution of the atmosphere as a puzzle. In working on this great puzzle, he gradually turned his interest to specifically chemical questions. In the end, the web of puzzles that he worked on required him to create his own novel philosophy of chemistry for which he is known today. (shrink)
(2001). Corpuscular alchemy and the tradition of Aristotle's Meteorology, with special reference to Daniel Sennert. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science: Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 145-153. doi: 10.1080/02698590120059013.
In his commentary on Aristotle's Physics , Nicole Oresme (c. 1320-1382) propounds a very specific theory of the ontological status of accidents. Characteristic of Oresme's view on accidents is that he does not consider them accidental forms, but only so-called condiciones or modi of the substance. Unlike the term “modus”, the term “condicio” seems to be very characteristic of Oresme's own terminology. Up to now it has been unknown whether Oresme exerted any influence with his condicio-theory of accidents. This paper (...) presents an anonymous 14th-century commentary on Aristotle's Meteorology (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 4375, ff. 19r-46v), in two Questions of which the term “condicio” occurs in an ontological context. Moreover, the text shows further striking coincidences with known works by Oresme, and this makes an influence by Oresme appear all the more probable. (shrink)
Forthcoming, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science Abstract: The epistemic problem of assessing the support that some evidence confers on a hypothesis is considered using an extended example from the history of meteorology. In this case, and presumably in others, the problem is to develop techniques of data analysis that will link the sort of evidence that can be collected to hypotheses of interest. This problem is solved by applying mathematical tools to structure the data and connect (...) it to the competing hypotheses. I conclude that mathematical innovations provide crucial epistemic links between evidence and theories precisely because the evidence and theories are mathematically described. (shrink)
Mineralogy, chemistry, botany, medicine, geology, agriculture, meteorology, classification,…: The life and times of John Walker (1730–1803), Professor of Natural History at Edinburgh University Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9471-7 Authors David Oldroyd, School of History and Philosophy, University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2052 Australia Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
This essay is a reading of Aristotle’s account in Meteorology I.14 of changes in local environmental conditions and its significance for Aristotle’s understanding of nature and change more generally. That account shows how local environments are complex bodies, and so change through habituation: the sedimentation of patterns of activity through repeated activity/change. In turn, this shows how the regularity of what is by nature is a matter of the relative stability of habits in the face of unceasing generation and (...) destruction. Strikingly, Aristotle then turns to the consequences of that account for human beings’ ability to comprehend changes in the environmental conditions of their activities. (shrink)
Summary Meteorology, a scientific discipline almost exclusively associated with weather forecasting in the first half of the twentieth century in the USA, was viewed with disdain by more mathematically based scientific communities. A descriptive science lacking in physical and mathematical rigor, meteorology was typically without an academic home in US colleges and universities. This stood in sharp contrast to the meteorological communities across the Atlantic which were supported by dedicated geophysical institutes. Four factors kept US meteorologists, unlike their (...) European colleagues, on the fringes of the scientific mainstream: a lack of ?rigor?, a lack of academic presence, a lack of patronage (governmental or private), and a pervasive public view that meteorological information was ?free? and yet should be tailored to a variety of users. The symbiotic relationship of these factors created an almost insurmountable hurdle to disciplinary advancement. That hurdle was effectively overcome in mid-century when the military demands of the Second World War presented meteorology with the opportunity to leave behind its legacy as a ?guessing science? and assume its place as a mathematically and physically based theoretical scientific discipline. (shrink)
For an Aristotelian observer, the halo is a puzzling phenomenon since it is apparently sublunary, and yet perfectly circular. This paper studies Aristotle's explanation of the halo in Meteorology III 2-3 as an optical illusion, as opposed to a substantial thing (like a cloud), as was thought by his predecessors and even many successors. Aristotle's explanation follows the method of explanation of the Posterior Analytics for "subordinate" or "mixed" mathematical-physical sciences. The accompanying diagram described by Aristotle is one of (...) the earliest lettered geometrical diagrams, in particular of a terrestrial phenomenon, and versions of it can still be found in modern textbooks on meteorological optics. (shrink)
The Divide between the prominence of final causes in Aristotelian natural philosophy and the rejection or severe limitation of final causation as an acceptable explanation of the natural world by figures such as Bacon, Descartes, and Spinoza during the seventeenth century has been considered a distinguishing mark between pre-modern and modern science.1 Admittedly, proponents of the mechanical and corpuscular philosophies of the seventeenth century were not necessarily stark opponents of teleology. Pierre Gassendi and Robert Boyle endorsed teleology, Leibniz embraced entelechies, (...) and they creep into Descartes's natural philosophy, despite his adamant attempts to eliminate them.2 Nonetheless, critiques of ends in .. (shrink)
The goal of the present article is to contribute to the epistemology and methodology of computer simulations. The central thesis is that the process of simulation modeling takes the form of an explorative cooperation between experimenting and modeling. This characteristic mode of modeling turns simulations into autonomous mediators in a specific way; namely, it makes it possible for the phenomena and the data to exert a direct influence on the model. The argumentation will be illustrated by a case study of (...) the general circulation models of meteorology, the major simulation models in climate research. (shrink)
Abstract: My aim in this paper is to articulate an account of scientific modeling that reconciles pluralism about modeling with a modest form of scientific realism. The central claim of this approach is that the models of a given physical phenomenon can present different aspects of the phenomenon. This allows us, in certain special circumstances, to be confident that we are capturing genuine features of the world, even when our modeling occurs in the absence of a fundamental theory. This framework (...) is illustrated using models from contemporary meteorology. (shrink)
When observing or measuring phenomena, errors are inevitable, one can only aspire to reduce these errors as much as possible. An obvious strategy to achieve this reduction is by using more precise instruments. Another strategy was to develop a theory of these errors that could indicate how to take them into account. One of the greatest achievements of statistics in the beginning of the 19th century was such a theory of error. This theory told the practitioners that the best thing (...) they could do is taking the arithmetical mean of their observations. This average would give them the most accurate estimate of the value they were searching for. Soon after its invention, this method made a triumphal march across various sciences. However, not in all sciences one stood waving aside. This method, namely, only worked well when the various observations were made under similar circumstances and when there were very many of them. And this was not the case for e.g. meteorology and actuarial science, the two sciences discussed in this paper. (shrink)
The Dioptrique, often translated as the Optics or, more literally, as the Dioptrics is one of Descartes’ earliest works. Likely begun in the mid to late 1620’s, Descartes refers to it by name in a letter to Mersenne of 25 November 1630 (AT I 182; CSM(K) III, 29). Its subject matter partially overlaps with Descartes’ more foundational project The World or Treatise on Light in which he offers a general mechanistic account of the universe including the formation, transmission, and reception (...) of light. Although Galileo’s condemnation by the Church prompted Descartes to abandon, in 1633, his plans for publishing The World, he continued in the ensuing years to vigorously pursue a number of scientific projects, including projects related to his work in optics. He was eventually persuaded to publish three essays highlighting some of his discoveries together with an introductory essay concerning “the method for rightly directing one’s reason and searching for truth in the sciences” (AT VI 1; O 3). As one of those essays, Descartes’ Dioptrics finally appeared in print together with the Discourse on Method, the Meteorology and the Geometry in the summer of 1637 in a French language edition. It was republished in a Latin edition (without the Geometry) in 1644. The subject matter of the Dioptrics may be thought of as covering three main topics and is formally divided by Descartes into ten chapters or “discourses”. The first main topic concerns the nature of light and the laws of optics. In the first discourse, Descartes invites his readers to.. (shrink)
Hurricane Katrina was an elemental and a social event. To understand it, you first have to understand the land, the air, the sun, the river and the sea; you have to understand earth, wind, fire and water; you have to understand geomorphology, meteorology, biology, economics, politics, history. You have to understand how they have come together to form, with the peoples of America, Europe and Africa, the historical patterns of life of Louisiana and New Orleans, the bodies politic of (...) the region, bodies you need to study with political physiology. You have to understand what those bodies could do and what they could withstand, and how they intersected the event of the storm. In this paper, simply for the sake of time and space constraints, I will concentrate on New Orleans; the stories of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, or of Saint Bernard, Saint Tammany, and Plaquemines Parishes in Louisiana are complex and dramatic as well. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to articulate an account of scientific modeling that reconciles pluralism about modeling with a modest form of scientific realism. The central claim of this approach is that the models of a given physical phenomenon can present different aspects of the phenomenon. This allows us, in certain special circumstances, to be confident that we are capturing genuine features of the world, even when our modeling occurs independently of a wholly theoretical motivation. This framework is illustrated (...) using a recent debate from meteorology. (shrink)
In the 1930s and 1940s a research school developed among scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California. Although that was due in large part to Harald U. Sverdrup, a prominent Norwegian oceanographer who served as Scripps director from 1936 to 1948, this paper emphasizes the adaptive, evolving character of that research school. Conditions at Scripps prior to Sverdrup's arrival influenced his efforts in successfully organizing a group of scientists. Once at Scripps Sverdrup proved to be an (...) able leader, but he also had to adapt to the local scientific culture. Trained in a tradition that emphasized the study of physics, chemistry and meteorology, Sverdrup's emphasis on dynamical oceanography had a powerful impact on his new colleagues. But in the process his understanding of oceanography also evolved. He became more fully aware of the importance of biological and geological investigations, and it was only through close interaction with and reliance on a diverse group of scientists that there emerged an ecological understanding of the oceans that became a hallmark of Scripps oceanography. Emphasizing the importance of adaptation and interaction, and the work of other scientists in addition to a group leader, this paper offers new insights into the formation of research schools. (shrink)
The thirteenth-century Hebrew texts that discuss salinity all ultimately go back to Aristotle's treatment of the subject in the Meteorology. However, in these Hebrew texts the question of what exactly makes the sea salty is answered in diverging ways. The oldest of them, the Otot ha-Shamayim (1210), being the Hebrew translation of the Arabic paraphrase of the Meteorology, proposes various causes of the sea's salinity, to wit, the dry exhalation, the action of heat, and the admixture of an (...) earthy substance. This is due partly to Aristotle's own ambiguity, and partly to the fact that his Greek commentators interpreted his words in different ways. Two later encyclopedias, the Midrash ha-Hokhma (c. 1245) and the De'ot ha-Philosofim (c. 1275?) base their expositions of salinity on Ibn Rushd, whose two commentaries on the Meteorology contain various theories. The first encyclopedia opts for the action of heat as the major cause in producing saltiness, whereas the second attempts to explain in which way the various causes are interrelated by advisedly combining Ibn Rushd's accounts. (shrink)
The Physikalische Gesellschaft zu Berlin , founded in 1845 as a local association, became a centre of interdisciplinarity. Until about 1880 the Physical Society contributed to the development of interdisciplinary sciences like bio(medical)physics, astrophysics and Physics of the earth (physical meteorology). In the same way the emergence of well-founded electrotechnics and scientific device construction was promoted by physics.
v. 1. Nicomachean ethics. Politics. The Athenian Constitution. Rhetoric. On Poetics.--v. 2. Logic.--v. 3. Physics. Metaphysics. On the soul. Short physical treaties.--v. 4. On the heavens. On generation and corruption. Meteorology. Biological treatises.
Despite Platonism's unquestioned claim to being one of the most influential movements in the history of philosophy, for a long time the conventional wisdom was that Platonists of late antiquity, or Neoplatonists, were so focused on otherworldly metaphysics that they simply neglected any serious study of the sensible world, which after all is 'merely' an image of the intelligible world. Only recently has this conventional wisdom begun to be dispelled. In fact, it is precisely because these thinkers did see the (...) sensible world as an image of the intelligible world that they devoted so much time and energy to understanding its inner workings. Thus we find Neoplatonists writing on embryology, physiology, meteorology, and astronomy, among other subjects.Neoplatonism and the Philosophy of Nature collects essays by leading international scholars in the field which shed new light on how the Neoplatonists sought to understand and explain nature and natural phenomena. It is thematically divided into two parts, with the first part--The General Metaphysics of Nature--directed at the explication of central Neoplatonic metaphysical doctrines and their relation to the natural world, and the second part--Platonic Approaches to Individual Sciences--showing how these same doctrines play out in individual natural sciences such as elemental physics, geography, and biology. Together these essays show that a serious examination of Neoplatonic natural philosophy has far-reaching consequences for our general understanding of the metaphysics of Platonism as well as for our evaluation of their place in the history of science. (shrink)
As pulsations and circulating currents are caused by the activity of the sun, this short survey begins with the road to recognition of solar influences on terrestrial magnetism, particularly of the hypotheses of Balfour Stewart and the two treatises of Arthur Schuster about the daily variations. In meteorology and geomagnetism photographic self-registering apparatuses were early developed in Greenwich and Kew. E. Mascart and M. Eschenhagen continued this line. With the help of his FeinregistriergerÃ¤t (sensitive magnetograph) Eschenhagen could precisely record (...) pulsations for the first time. Through short-time simultaneous observations suggested by him the course of a terrestrial magnetic disturbance was pursued. This disturbance was identified by A. Schmidt in 1899 as a moving circulating current in the upper strata of the atmosphere. (shrink)
The received view about meteorological predicates like ‘rain’ is that they carry an argument slot for a location which can be filled explicitly or implicitly. The view assumes that ‘rain’, in the absence of an explicit location, demands that the context provide a specific location. In an earlier article in this journal, I provided a counter-example, viz. a context in which ‘it is raining’ receives a location-indefinite interpretation. On the basis of that example, I argued that when there is tacit (...) references to a location, it takes place for pragmatic reasons and casts no light on the semantics of meteorological predicates. Since then, several authors have reanalysed the counter-example, so as to make it compatible with the standard view. I discuss those attempts and argue that my account is superior. (shrink)
The dynamics of the "Etang de Berre", a brackish lagoon situated close to the French Mediterranean sea coast, is strongly disturbed by freshwater inputs coming from an hydroelectric power station. The system dynamics has been described as a sequence of daily typical states from a set of physicochemical variables such as temperature, salinity and dissolved oxygen rates collected over three years by an automatic sampling station. Each daily pattern summarizes the evolution, hour by hour of the physicochemical variables. This article (...) presents results of forecasts of the states of the system subjected to the simultaneous effects of meteorological conditions and freshwater releases. We recall the main step of the classification tree method used to build up the predictive model (Classification and Regression Trees, Breiman et al., 1984) and we propose a transfer procedure in order to test the stability of the model. Results obtained on the Etang de Berre data set allow us to describe and predict the effects of the environmental variables on the system dynamics with a margin of error. The transfer procedure applied after the tree building process gives a maximum gain in prediction accuracy of about 15%. (shrink)
The linguafranca, or Mediterranean pidgin, was spoken by sailors and merchants that sailed the Mediterranean Sea during centuries. This pidgin borrowed terms from languages such as: Castilian and Catalan, French and Provencal (Occitanian language), Italian, Genovese, and Venetian. Moreover, words of Arabic and Neogreek origins were added to al1 this common mass. So, this lingua is a great interesting resource to deal with the study of the Spanish naval histoy in the Mediterranean Sea from 12" to 13" century, when its (...) usage started to vanish. From 16" century on, it started to be spoken in America. This common language, between Romance language nations, only uses the infinitive verb for al1 tenses and modes of verb's conjugation. Nowadays, there are terms that still remain in sailors' language such as wind names: leveche, jaloque, maestral or mistral, tramontana; meteorological phenomena names: bórea or boria; and nomenclature for typical crafts: paramola, escálamo, car, batallol, laud or llaüt, latino. (shrink)