... It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College in Massachusetts recently offered members this interesting class, with the following topics:

The Steady State Theory of the Universe – How did the universe come to be? The Steady State theory, also known as continuous creation, asserted that the universe, through expanding, has no beginning and no end. The discovery of cosmic background radiation in 1965 led most cosmologists to accept the rival theory of the big Bang.

Lamarkism – Is the giraffe’s long neck the result of continuous stretching to reach higher for food? Are traits we practice inheritable? These ideas formed the basis of Lamark’s theory to explain the development of species. Darwin also believed this was possible. Participants examined how the ideas of evolution evolved.

Spontaneous Generation – Can mice be created by placing sweaty underwear and wheat husks in an open jar? Or do maggots develop from the by-products of meat rotting? Scientists have attempted to disprove spontaneous generation since the mid-1600’s. Louis Pasteur finally settled the long dispute with his gooseneck experiment.

The Aether – In the 19th century, it was believed that an invisible material called the aether had to be present in the universe to support the propagation of light. Later experiments by Michelson/Morley and the Theory of Relativity put forth by Albert Einstein showed that the aether was not needed or present.

Medical Fallacies – For over 2,000 years, infection was thought to be due to “vapors,” “miasmas” or the work of malign groups of outsiders. The work of Pasteur and Koch in the 19th century put the theory of infection disease on a solid footing.






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