Sunday, August 11, 2013

Quote of the Day From Abruzzo's The Genesis of a Theoretical Cul-de-Sac

Here are a couple little cross sections from Anthony Abruzzo's work title The Origins of the Nebular Hypothesis --- Or, the Genesis of a Theoretical Cul-de-Sac.  What struck me about this writing of his is that the introduction of a new word, in this case 'solar system' directed thinkers toward the nebular hypothesis. Words, word usage, semantics, semiotics, syntax, etc. can and should never be underestimated in science, especially cosmology/cosmogony: 

"What distinguishes the foregoing cosmogonies from the ones that will follow in the next section is the manner in which stars and planets are created. Each creation is a singular event. This is very clear in the case of Descartes’ cosmogony. A star forms in the center of a vortex and subsequently transforms either into a comet or a planet. The classic nebular hypothesis, on the other hand, envisions the creation of the Solar System; complete with the central Sun and its attending orbiting planets, from one unique process.

The Nebular Hypothesis

We find the first inkling and subsequent maturity of the classic nebular hypothesis emerging in the 18th century, the dawn of The Enlightenment, in the works of Swedenborg, Kant and Laplace. It is of some interest to point out that the term “solar system” came into general use during the first decade of the 18th century, and its importance cannot be underestimated since it represents a particular theoretical orientation and direction the aforementioned thinkers would take that would lead to the current state of affairs in Solar System studies. The Sun and the bodies that orbit it began to be viewed as a “system” of celestial objects. And, as a system, it must, then, have had a common origin. Therefore, any theory worth its salt had to devise a physical mechanism that would account not only for this common origin but also for its dynamical and physical characteristics. Science was on the threshold of a theoretical cul-de-sac and, upon entering, has been trapped in it ever since."

. . . 

"There is no reason, other than the one based on tradition, compelling us to conclude that the Solar System came into complete existence by way of some originating cause at some specific time in the distant past. Indeed, calling the ensemble of Sun, planets and other bodies a “system” is indicative of the ideological predisposition that tradition has imposed on the astrophysical sciences. Conventional theorists cannot “think” the Solar “System” without also thinking that it must have come into existence through one evolutionary process. To them, the idea that its current composition is the result of a piecemeal accumulation over an indefinite period of time is unthinkable."

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