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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Fall 2008

T C 310 • Modes of Reasoning

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
43798 TTh
9:30 AM-11:00 AM
RLM 7.104

Course Description

The aim of the course is to describe how we learned how to learn about nature --- that is, how science became what it is now. The topics to be covered are:

1 Greek astronomy
2 Greek physics
3 Arab science
4 Midieval science
5 The scientific revolution
6 Physics after Newton
7 Chemistry and Biology after Newton
8 Reductionism in the 20th Century
9 Is science still changing?

No scientific background is required. Scientific discoveries will be explained using elementary algebra, geometry, and trigonometry, but not calculus.

Grading Policy

Midterm Exam: 35%
Final Exam: 65%


Excerpts from Thomas Kuhn's The Copernican Revolution, Plato's Timaeus, the pre-Socratics, The Incoherence of the Philosophers by al Ghazzali, Galileo's Dialog Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Book 1 of Newton's Principia, all of course in English translation.

About the Professor

Steven Weinberg holds the Josey Regental Chair in Science at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is a member of the Physics and Astronomy Departments. His research on elementary particles and cosmology has been honored with numerous prizes and awards, including in 1979 the Nobel Prize in Physics and in 1991 the National Medal of Science. In 2004 he received the Benjamin Franklin Medal of the American Philosophical Society, with a citation that said he is "considered by many to be the preeminent theoretical physicist alive in the world today." He has been elected to the US National Academy of Sciences and Britain's Royal Society, as well as to the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Articles of his on various subjects appear from time to time in The New York Review of Books. He has served as consultant at the U. S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, President of the Philosophical Society of Texas, and member of the Board of Editors of Daedalus magazine, the Council of Scholars of the Library of Congress, the JASON group of defense consultants, and many other boards and committees. Educated at Cornell, Copenhagen, and Princeton, he also holds honorary doctoral degrees from sixteen other universities, including Chicago, Columbia, McGill, Padua, Salamanca, and Yale. He taught at Columbia, Berkeley, M.I.T., and Harvard, where he was Higgins Professor of Physics, before coming to Texas in 1982.


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