The Invention of Science - From Superstition and Dogma to Truth and Reality (10 weeks)
S 2018


Human activity just 600 years ago was vastly different from what we do today.  Such basics as food, clothing, transportation, medicine, speech, weapons, and the ways we study nature are all very different today.  These changes are all due to science.  Since we live in a scientific society, it behooves us to understand how these remarkable changes came about and how they affect us today.

In this 10-week SDG we will consider the following areas of science.  Each member will select one of the areas below and discuss important milestones in the history and development of that science.  This SDG is non-mathematical.

1.  What is science?  Astronomy: understanding the universe.

2.  Physics: how things work.

3.  Geology: motion, evolution of understanding our planet, plate tectonics, whatever happened to the poor dinosaurs?

4.  Chemistry: discovery of the elements and how they react.

5.  Medicine: understanding and repairing the human body.

6.  Evolution: Darwin, Wallace, Bates.  Human evolution, anthropology, archaeology.

7.  More Physics: understanding light and other forms of radiation.

8.  Relativity, the atomic age.

9.  Biology: cells, genetics, CRISPR.

10.  Summary of the invention and evolution of science.

Course Questions

For each of the ten discussions, we will want to address some or many of the following questions:

What is science?  How did science, as a way of discovering how the world works, evolve from superstition and dogma to experiment and reasoning?

Why did science begin with astronomy?

How has your “your” science evolved over the centuries?

How was the scientific method applicable to your science, or not?

How does your science relate to other sciences?

What role has technology played in the development of your science?

What is/was the funding source for your science?

What has been the role of your science in important world events, like the Industrial Revolution, the cures of fatal illnesses, the atomic age?

How does your science use or rely on mathematics, or not?

What hinders scientific progress?

What is the role of science today?

What would a world without science be like?

How do scientific discoveries affect the future?

Weekly Topics


The “core book,” used mostly for reference, will be The Scientists, by John Gribbin, Random House, 2002.
Available new and used, hard cover and soft, and at the LA Public Library.