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Laws of Nature

Went to the Dana Centre last night (before coming home to all the flooding). Was quite exciting. Dinner for £13 including a free drink - not bad for London in itself - and also a science talk.

Rosie had pointed out to me about the Peter Lipton talk there that evening on "What is a law of nature?". Was very interesting, especially in the different ways of classifying laws. Especially getting onto the topic of ceteris-paribus laws and trying to think of examples of non-ceteris-paribus laws. The only one someone really came up with was conservation of energy (someone tried to counter this saying it was assuming a closed universe and you couldn't get energy from or send energy outside of it, but I think that more depends on how you phrase the law i.e. Energy is neither created or distroyed, but changes from one form to another doesn't assume a close universe as this energy could be inside or outside the universe as necessary as long as it's not created or distroyed.).

The speaker also assumed the objective point of view throughout the talk i.e. laws of nature are a physical fact and would be true whether we are here or not. I would have been fascinated to hear the more subjective view though. Teaching got me into the philosophy that the way an individual sees the world is just a model based upon there own experiences (the aim of teaching being to help children improve their models) as such I can see laws of nature as just being another model of how we see the universe.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
23rd Sep, 2005 11:32 (UTC)
What does "ceteris-paribus" mean in this context? I thought I knew, I've just read wikipedia, but I'm not sure how that fits with what he was saying...
23rd Sep, 2005 23:41 (UTC)
As in Newton's First Law of Motion is a ceteris-paribus law as it is true given no-external forces acting upon the body, which is not going to happen ever...

Ceteris paribus laws then are those that state things given that "all things being equal".
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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