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Scientists’ optimism & Humanists’ pessimism/relativism
Posted: 22 September 2015 09:33 AM
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Posted: 22 September 2015 11:24 AM   [ # 1 ]
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Article “The Genesis Engine.” by Amy Maxmen published in American techmagazine WIRED

Hyperlink: http://www.wired.com/2015/07/crispr-dna-editing-2/

The link between what is described in this article and the two cultures as explained by C.P. Snow can for one be found in the scientists’ optimism to change the world. The article describes the advances scientists have made in altering DNA structures in order to be able to (re)shape the world as we know it. The article also addresses the ethical questions that arise by being able to do so.

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Posted: 22 September 2015 02:13 PM   [ # 2 ]
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Article (Sept. 10, 2015): The late 1970s were some of the darkest, bleakest years in New York’s history. So why can’t we stop talking about them?

Source: T Magazine, The New York Times Style Magazine
Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/10/t-magazine/1970s-new-york-history.html?_r=0
Author: White, Edmund

The nostalgia and glorifying of the art scene in New York in the 1970s, to me, represents the kind of complaining and pessimism of the future that Snow describes in his text.

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Posted: 23 September 2015 01:28 PM   [ # 3 ]
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Cleanup Array concept aims to rid the oceans of plastic waste​, 23 Sept. 2013
online article

This article is an example of Snow’s scientists’ alleged optimism to change the world. The idea that a scientific method can be used to rid all the oceans of all plastic is quite optimistic. Furthermore, the optimism goes beyond the idea/method itself by quantifying how much plastic they could clean up in a set amount of time (7,250,000,000 kg of plastic in just five years).

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Posted: 23 September 2015 01:54 PM   [ # 4 ]
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English summary: Scientists want to battle global warming by shooting small bits of seawater into the air, which will brighten the clouds. As a result, more sunlight would be reflected back into space, resulting in a lower temperature on earth. Critics find this method of “Geo-engineering” unethical, as it would give humankind an excuse to avoid their responsibility of focusing on renewable/greener forms of energy and preserving nature.

Link: http://www.nu.nl/wetenschap/4123670/wetenschappers-willen-wolken-witter-maken.html 

This is an example of scientists’ alleged optimism to change the world as discussed by C.P. Snow. With global warming being identified as one of the most imminent threats to life on Earth, scientists figure out a plan to save us from global warming if all else fails (though preparing for the worst case scenario could also be argued to be some form of pessimism, but on the other hand these scientists are very sure that this is a solution that could work out).

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Posted: 23 September 2015 05:53 PM   [ # 5 ]
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The article “Cracking the Parkinson’s Puzzle” that appeared on pages 54-61 of the Scientific American Mind edition of September/October 2015 is an example of scientists’ alleged optimism to change the world, because the wording suggests that naturally occurring phenomena can be explained and overcome by engaging with the matter in a scientific way. The metaphor of a detective story or puzzle is used throughout the article to suggest a narrative in which scientific endeavor will inevitably lead to success.

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Posted: 23 September 2015 09:10 PM   [ # 6 ]
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http://time.com/4035819/japan-university-liberal-arts-humanities-social-sciences-cuts/
As C.P. Snow stated, natural sciences are more widely viewed as positive- as is its community, the article is an example of this.

The article states funds are getting cut for studies on the humanities in Japan. With as main reason that they should be more concerned with other -more progressive- fields. e.g. “..software programming for bookkeeping and accounting in place of Paul Samuelson’s ‘Economics’…”

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Posted: 24 September 2015 02:48 PM   [ # 7 ]
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Snow says that humanists don’t know about the exact sciences. In linguistics, an interesting development seems to be taking place considering this discrepancy of knowledge. There are more and more computational approaches to linguistics which may be more effective than the traditional approaches (in certain fields of linguistics), such as the research in this article. When this system that can learn spoken language will improve, the work of linguists trained in language description will become much more futile. The scientists who undertook this research are optimistic about the diminished work necessary to do research in linguistics: “As such, it could aid in the development of speech-processing systems for languages that are not widely spoken and don’t have the benefit of decades of linguistic research on their phonetic systems.”
I wonder, however, how linguists would feel about this development. I have a feeling that some would react negative and as Snow says, wish to live in the past, seeing a research is taking place which might render their beloved field of studies futile in a way.

hyperlink: http://news.mit.edu/2015/learning-spoken-language-phoneme-data-0914

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Posted: 24 September 2015 09:17 PM   [ # 8 ]
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Wormhole Created in Lab Makes Invisible Magnetic Field
written by Tia Ghose
published: August 20, 2015 http://www.livescience.com/51925-magnetic-wormhole-created.html

Scientist have been writing about wormholes for a long time now. There is now in lab proof, with experiments. I think this show the positivism in scientist, because they feel like they can predict the future in some ways. Scientist make predictions that are turning out be be right.

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Posted: 25 September 2015 12:32 PM   [ # 9 ]
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Haha, this is great, I’m enjoying this from a sideline :-)

Good luck with the assignment,
Maarten

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Posted: 25 September 2015 04:34 PM   [ # 10 ]
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Death & Pain in Digital Brains
The first sentence of the article makes it strikingly clear that the author of the article has a very positive outlook on scientific progress: “One day we will create virtual minds”. Trusting that scientific research will one day provide us with the opportunity to create intricate digital minds, proofs that the author clearly believes science will give us more (truthful) knowledge about the world.
He claims one of science problems of researching living organisms lies in het fact that we need to experiment with these living entities. The author argues that scientific research has provided us with new technologies that allow us to run digital simulations on living creatures. Therefore, allowing us to do more accurate research in the future. 
Article: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22730380-400-can-software-suffer-death-and-pain-in-digital-brains/

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Posted: 25 September 2015 05:02 PM   [ # 11 ]
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http://www.volkskrant.nl/wetenschap/waarom-zou-alzheimer-onoplosbaar-zijn~a4145103/

Why would Alzheimer be incurable?

The cause and the cure for Alzheimers are discussed in this article. Wiesje van der Fleur and Philip Scheltens are doing research to find a cure for Alzheimers and claim it is possible to find the cure in the near future. Geriatrician Rudi Westendorp however, thinks it’s just the age slowly eating away to the brain. His colleague Marcel Olde Rikkert claims that scientists create the illusion that there is a simple solution for dementia by calling it a disease. He thinks it’s better to just focus on better care for patients.  The divide between the Geriatricians and the Neuropsychologist and Neurologist is the same as the divide between scientists(Positive outlook, Neurologist & Neuropsychologist) and literary persons(negative outlook, Geriatrician) in Snows lecture.

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Posted: 25 September 2015 05:48 PM   [ # 12 ]
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Article title: “US-Cuba thaw could bring important gains for cancer research”, 16 Sept 2015, by Will Grant, Havana

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22730394-200-us-cuba-thaw-could-bring-important-gains-for-cancer-research/

The article describes how medical scientists in Cuba by adding Cimavax, a new vaccine, to the fight against lung cancer, are trying to positively impact the world. The optimism is also evident when the future research avenues, that have been opened by political developments, are discribed.

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Posted: 26 September 2015 10:48 AM   [ # 13 ]
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The following abstract is from a recent study on the relation between genes and the biological age:

Diagnostics of the human ageing process may help predict future healthcare needs or guide preventative measures for tackling diseases of older age. We take a transcriptomics approach to build the first reproducible multi-tissue RNA expression signature by gene-chip profiling tissue from sedentary normal subjects who reached 65 years of age in good health.

In the study’s conclusion, the authors speak of ‘great potential to assist research aimed at finding treatments for and/or management of Alzheimer disease and other ageing-related conditions’. Arguably, this is the type of optimism Snow discussed in his Rede Lecture: even though the study’s results have not (yet) revealed new, more effective ways to treat Alzheimer, the scientists involved seem quite positive that this could very well be the case sometime in the future.

Links: http://www.genomebiology.com/2015/16/1/185

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Posted: 26 September 2015 11:16 AM   [ # 14 ]
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What Does the Pope Think About Technology? #It’sComplicated

WIRED - 24-9-2015
Author: ISSIE LAPOWSKY
Link: http://www.wired.com/2015/09/pope-francis-technology/

Although the internet is a gift of god, all this digital twittering is “mental pollution”. Deal (Jason Deal, executive vice president of strategy at the Catholic media firm Aleteia USA) says. “We believe what the Vatican is saying is technology can be very isolating. But he also understands and appreciates, especially when it comes to young people, that it is where they live their lives to a large degree.”

“You’re young. I’m 78. You’re American. I’m Argentinian, You’re a college student. I’m the Pope. Let’s all get together.”

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Posted: 26 September 2015 11:18 AM   [ # 15 ]
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Mars Is The Next Step For Humanity – We Must Take It
http://www.iflscience.com/space/mars-next-step-humanity-we-must-take-it
(http://www.popsci.com/8-printable-martian-habitat-designs-that-we-want-to-live-in)
For me, this article confirmed two of Snow’s “(generalisation) criteria” on how to defiende a scientist’s personality: building and looking at the future and the positivism that it will succeed. Never I’ve read a piece on the same topic from an humanistic perspective. Therefore I’m wondering why that might be. It is not that the phenomenon ‘humanities’ don’t exist outside our current plannent. Where humans go, humanities go (as well as science for that matter).

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