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Word from the Creators During the length of the scientific thinking course our class discussed many scientific concepts. But what we both noticed is that every scientific discussion begins and ends with us, Human beings. We discovered that science couldn’t possibly be separated from its social context, therefore to truly understand science one must first study its impact on society and vice versa. Mahmoud Khidre Writer/Graphic Designer Kyrollos Guirguis Writer/Coordinator


Eppur Si Muove Mahmoud Khidre

One cold September night in the year 1610, Galileo Galilei discov

ered that the planet Venus, just like the moon, had phases. This discovery was one of Galileo’s first step towards adopting the model of heliocentrnism, in which the sun was the center of the solar system. unlike the geocentric model that the catholic church adopted at the time in which the earth was in the center of not only the solar system but also the universe. The idea of another planet having phases completely proves that the geocentric model is impossible. Galileo is renowned for his scientific achievements, for being a free thinker, and for developing the process of discovery. He was the first scientist to fight for the separation of science from both religion and philosophy. He thought that through empiricism and observation one can explain the enigmas of the universe.

Galileo facing the Roman Inquisition



He often repeated his experiments in different conditions and open mindedly changed his beliefs according to his findings, thus establishing the scientific method. The scientific method as well as Galileo’s rebellious ideas at first were a shock to society. The church later accused Galileo of heresy and put him in permanent house arrest because they thought that the idea of a stationary earth around which everything revolves. He allegedly said after being indicted “Eppur Si Muove” (Latin for: “and yet it moves”), thus defying the Catholic Church. Although it is historically unlikely that he said that, the romantic inside every science enthusiast wants to believe that Galileo said it.

contradictory to people’s beliefs. Anyone can defy the status-quo if he or she can provide solid evidence through proper scientific channels. And this, I think, is the most important human idea ever.

Eppur Si Muove would be the phrase that summarizes the relationship between scientists and the general public during the time of Galileo. Science defied the beliefs of people. Scientists were estranged and aloof from society. Today one can argue that science still defies the beliefs of most people, but I think the main difference is that scientific findings are respected despite being sometimes 3

Galileo showing the Doge of Venice how to use the telescope

Science Vs Time

Kyrolos Guirguis People have always had a thirst for knowledge, an inclination into the way the universe works and have always loved to ask the question “why?”. But at some points throughout history, came a time where people rejected anything beyond the known, they crucified ideas of the future and condemned anyone who would bring forth explanations to questions that no one even thought of asking. There came a time where the world was in a dark place, ruled by conservatism, narrow mind4

edness and short vision, a time where science was considered witchcraft and where the question “why?” was considered as blasphemy. But it wasn’t always that way.

“at some points throughout history, came a time where people rejected anything beyond the known” Before that time, when cavemen walked the earth, survival was all they knew, a primitive form of living and getting through life. When they discovered fire, it was a discovery that made the greatest difference their feeble minds could comprehend. But it was a discovery that was accepted, one that lead to defense and offense when they came face to face with the dangers and obstacles that life presented every day. Science was once the means to a better living, a safer community and a healthier life, but only until people became more dictators then a negotiator, when ruling the world was a priority in every great mind. The dominance of an idea was the greatest weapon that turned leadership, into tyranny. When Galileo proposed the idea that the earth was spherical rather than flat, he was condemned by the Catholic Church, because his ideas and discoveries were seen as blasphemy, moreover, the church would not allow any belief other than 5

their own to rule the minds on the people. Galileo was called many names, one of which was “Father of Science”, but that did not stop science to bring his life to an end. Science has always been one the greatest rivals of religion, since faith was what the people used to fill up the gaps left by science, but still people started to become more attached to what they know, as a result of fear of what they don’t. But there remained some people, even if only a few, that held on to the inquiry of discovering the secrets of life, some who would not stop until all the mysteries were revealed and the answers were exclaimed! By time, people started to open their minds, and use the fear of not knowing the answers, into finding them rather than hiding and building walls. It became a challenge to some, a challenge that a genius mind would accept and stop at nothing but to overcome that challenge.

“Science has always been one the greatest rivals of religion, since faith was what the people used to fill up the gaps left by science� and as the world grew and education came to life, so did the human thirst for knowledge. People started to accept science in their life, they started to see that they must understand the way things work, how and why things are the way they are, they started to realize that unless they are equipped with the proper information, they will never be able to defeat the hungry beast that is life. PhDs, The Nobel Prize, The Hall of Fame, and so many more motivators lead to

people trying their best to reach discoveries making them worthy of living. At first, science was intended for purposes that would help the safety of the people and their lives, that would make the standards of living better, it’s main intention was to help the world. But sadly, as rulers came to understand new discoveries are like opportunities, must be grasped rather than disregarded. With that, the greatest powers of the world started using science to their advantage in war and power, still under the label of the greater good.


Common Scientific Misconceptions • Evolution is an explanation for the origin of life. Evolution is in fact a mere explanation of the process of developing from one common ancestor. • The big bang theory explains the beginning of the universe. The Big Bang Theorey is only an explanation of it’s early development. • Brain cells can’t regenerate. Brain Cells in mature humans regenerate just like cells in any other part of the body. • There is no Gravity in space. Space has a lot of gravity. The state of wheightlesness that astrounasts are in is because they are orbiting the earth or in other words falling towards the earth but missing it due to the speed of the shuttel 7

Famous scientific experiments The Asch Conformity Experiment The Asch experiment was one of the first psychological experiments on human behavior in the context of a social gathering. In the Asch experiment a subject was put in a group of actors and told to choose the longest line on the card given to him. The actors purposely chose the incorrect line in order to determine whether the subject would answer honestly or simply go along with the group’s answer . The results showed that a very few people would defy the answer of the group. In fact 75% of the subjects conformed and gave the wrong answer at least once While 25% never conformed. The Asch experiment opened the door for a lot of experiments on human behavior including the Milligram experiment.


Darwin the Controversial. Mahmoud Khidre In all the years of scientific discovery and enlightenment there has not been or will ever be a theory as controversial as the natural selection theory by Charles Darwin. Darwin ahead of his time laid down the foundations of modern biology, and although people including some modern biologists don’t believe in it and try to challenge it. It still stood for a whole century. One of the reasons of Darwin’s success is that he spent literally all of his life collecting evidence to support his theory. He often tried to refute his own findings by offering counterproposals and then researching more to find which is true. He also considered every aspect of his findings. Whether it is geographical, biological, or even social which is something that is not really done in most failed scientific researches. I think the theory of Evolution is so controversial because it is a direct answer to the big question, How did we get here? Darwin pro-

posed an answer that was largely true. And because of its relevance, to this day evolution is still discussed and researched. Darwin’s influence on society grew farther. The concept of survival of the fittest took over education business, and politics and grew into what we call “Social Darwinism”. While it is okay to promote competition in a capitalist economy, Social Darwinism took a turn for the worse when it was used for racism and inequality. Social Darwinism also was great Influence on Hitler’s Nazi ideology which caused the death of sixty three million in WWII


DNA Cure or Cancer? “people are able now able to help the needy, cure the sick and revive lives.” Kyrollos Guirguis The fundamental bases of life, what it’s all made up and how it controls the path of life? We did not know any of the answers to these questions, until time and the efforts of science revealed them. It is said, to be able to control anything, you must first understand it and there is no better way to understand anything than to know what it is made up of, that way you can alter and change what

you need to make it what you want. With the discovery of DNA and genes, all of this became possible. Few remember the man who discovered the “molecule of life” three-quarters of a century before Watson and Crick revealed its structure, a man named Johann Friedrich Miescher. With this discovery, people are able now able to help the needy, cure the sick and revive lives. 10

. Understanding what we are made up of has helped us create solutions to problems that seemed inescapable and fatal. . At first, the people would rejoice at solutions that didn’t involve amputating but were anxious as they didn’t know the effects of procedures not understood, this was an ocean of untapped waters.

. But by time, when scientists proved the safety and benefits of their practices, the world started to look towards them for help, they started to rely on what they had to offer, it started out as a beneficial factor that would lead to the salvation of mankind. But like all great discoveries of science, someone had to take it too far. Tests for mutation started to come into view, certain people had the idea of controlling things not meant for them to control, people who wanted to play god and take the creation of another into their own hands and, under the excuse of the greater good, play with the lives of others. Diseases, deaths, ruined lives and much more were a result of scientists not knowing their limits.


. Human rights met the war of their lives, one they are still fighting today, alongside animal rights and disease control. The whole world now tried to use bio-molecular projects and nano technology to win wars and control lives. With the discovery of DNA, some people use their money and power to try and control something they do not fully understand, in the process of which, great costs are made and prices are payed, some even pay their lives. What started out as a great smile, turned into tears, people’s reactions took a turn for the worst when the world started to realize the damage caused by fanatics, people who did not understand the concept of enough, people who’s thirst for knowledge was never quenched. With the creation of a new life form using manmade DNA in 2010, a new step towards discoveries unpredictable was taken, but one that may come at a great cost. At the end of the day, people will still always fear that which they do not know, but what about after knowing? Will they use that knowledge for the greater good? will they destroy the world in the process? Or will they lead to pain and suffering of lives for the sake of a Nobel Prize?

Science Playing God

Kyrollos Guirguis Since the beginning of time, man has been faced with endless complications, unimaginable challenges and infinite number of times where a person is forced to prove himself. It started out with the cavemen, with the creation of fire. It was a discovery that helped them adapt to the challenges and fears life threw their way. From fending of wild beats to protect themselves, or to keep their bodies warm, or to cook their food, fire gave cavemen their first weapon against life, thus the creation of science. Ever since then, man has done his best to improve their defenses against the challenges that life continuously poses. But of the greatest of these challenges,

was always fear. It is no secret that man fears that which he does not comprehend or know; fear leads to desperation and desperation leads to extreme measures. The human mind is made up of experiences and creativity, both of which are necessary tools to help anyone move along in life. With the creation of science, people have used their knowledge, experience and creativity to reach beyond the bounds of understanding, to answer some of the questions that remain a mystery, to reach beyond the vision of the future and help improve the life of humans.


Scientists are on an endless journey to explain all the things that our minds can only wonder about, to illuminate all the questions that our vision fails to notice. Socrates once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living”, in my opinions Socrates had an un-negotiable point, people must learn about life and find the answers to the questions they seek, or else people will live in a state of endless fear, not knowing what they need to know, always fearing what they don’t understand. Science has provided the answers that man so desperately needs to help them understand the mysteries of life, it has helped man reach beyond what man can grasp, it has been like a messenger to the untrained minds, a weapon and a shield. But science is not the

only thing that people have depended on to act as a savior from the beasts of life, before science, there was faith and religion. The belief that god was the creator of the heavens and universe, that every living creature is a creation of god and the embodiment of god’s eternal love. So many times have people depended on religion, where sometimes science fails to provide the answers we need, because when people see the almighty power of creation, they fall into a state of devotion and when science proves insufficient, they turn to their blind faith. The one thing that science has continuously failed to provide was a means of creation. In 2010, scientists were able to produce living cell powered by manmade DNA. As geneticist J. Craig Venter 13

explained, “One that we made by starting with the genetic code in the computer, four bottles of chemicals and building every one of the million-plus base pairs in the right order, and then finally having this large molecule, inserting it in a recipient cell”. This is a definite form of humans playing god, if god the almighty had any plans to have another life form process the same powers he does, he would have had another associate creating the universe.

When man first tried to create their own life form it led to disasters and failures and ethics that went far beyond the limits of human rights. We all know the story of Frankenstein, where scientists tried to create life, the disasters it led to, this is probably the earliest of notions about the downfall of playing god. Man can only go so far with innovation, but when people try to play with powers only meant for gods, when they try to deal with more than they can handle, they face problems they are not properly equipped to handle. At the end of the day, man has been limited with a certain amount of leniency with the measures of power they grasp, it is known that man cannot be trusted with power as history has proven over and over again the misuses and abusive methods, such as dynamite and nuclear power. Man can use science for their own benefit and for the good of a better future, but without crossing the limits of playing god. You can always play with fire, but don’t be surprised when you get more than a burn.


Science gone mad? Mahmoud Khidre Has science gone too far? Is a question that people ask if science is a conscience being or as if it has a mind of its own. People tend to forget that science is the process of exploring and discovering our collective inquisitions. Science is not an exclusive club nor is it an elitist practice. Science is a tool, and what that tool achieves is entirely up to us; the human race. Science or rather scientists have seamlessly worked to help and destroy the human race. While things like nuclear or biological warfare or cures for diseases and famine should be taken into consideration when evaluating the achievements of science, I believe that science should not be put on trial. I think that the only thing that needs investigating is the human will. Taking nuclear bombs for example, a group of politicians wanted to kill a large number of people so they asked a group of scientists to work that out for them. Those scientists created the nuclear bomb as a supply for the already existing need for destruction. How is that the fault

of science?! If anything science worked perfectly in killing that large number of people. Human morality and will is the fine line between nuclear bombs and a cure for cancer. People who attack science for what is essentially the work of mankind couldn’t be more wrong. And people who think that science and technological advancement should stop need only to think of Charles H. Duell the U.S patent director who said in 1905 “Everything that can be invented has already been invented.� Now it does not require any kind of genius to understand that the limits of science are the same as the limits on human imagination nonexistent. no one can stop science


Science and Society  

Scientific THinking Final project