Monday, February 20, 2012

Science, Magic and Religion

The Internet truly is wonderful. Today I’d like to introduce readers to the possibility of viewing a complete undergraduate course at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), entitled “Science, Magic and Religion”, which is presented to us by Professor Courtenay Raia.

One would need to have a deep interest in the subject and/or rather a lot of time at his or her disposal in order to watch the whole course. However, the introduction video is well worth viewing, all by itself.

It is easy to imagine that it is only in relatively recent times that a clear distinction has arisen between the three elements in the title of this course: Isaac Newton, who discovered gravity, who defined mechanics and the laws of motion that bear his name, and who invented the Calculus, was an ordained clergyman who spent a good deal of his time practicing alchemy, the means by which many people of his day believed base metal could be turned into gold. Johann Kepler, who developed the laws that define the motion of the planets in their orbits around the Sun, had a steady sideline in the preparation of astrological charts which were supposed to tell the fortune of the person who commissioned them. In the Middle Ages astrology was taken so seriously that it was made a capital offence for anyone to attempt to tell the fortune of the King of England.

These videos have an added bonus in that Professor Raia is a joy to watch. She’s a supremely confident lecturer who uses her hands, in particular, to beautiful effect.

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