Science Versus Common Sense: How Modern Science Goes Beyond and Sometimes Against Common Sense

Online Chai and Why?
Sunday Sep. 05, 2021
11AM to 12:15PM IST

Arvind Kumar

Much, if not all, of modern science is based on ideas that go against our ordinary intuition and deal with scales in length, time and energy that are outside the realm of common sense. And yet as everyone knows, modern science, with all its limitations, is so amazingly successful in describing and negotiating with nature. What modes of reasoning and inquiry does this enterprise adopt that are not quite our spontaneous modes of thinking? The question is important to address, we believe, for understanding the hurdles to effective learning and teaching of science. In this talk, we discuss and illustrate some tentative answers to this question.

About the speaker:Prof. Arvind Kumar, a distinguished physicist and educationist, was the director of the HBCSE from 1994-2008. He played a key role in launching the Science Olympiad programme in India in 1997 and in formulating the National Curriculum Framework-2005 and was awarded Padma Shri in 2010 for his services to the nation in the field of education.

PS: Slide 17, para 3 be read as:

“Cartesian view of physics was fully mechanistic. Descartes
proposed a vortex theory of planetary motion which conceived of
circulating material bands for each planet. His followers and also
Leibniz strongly opposed Newton’s theory of gravity because it
involved ’action at a distance’ which seemed to them ’occult’ like.

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