Science and Nature

If 'nature' is the world we all share, science can be defined as the description of that world we can all agree on. After millennia of brilliant but erratic preparation, we finally got the trick of it during the Enlightenment. I'm a fan.

Having said this, the practice of science does not always live up to its ideals. There are frequent problems with 'consilience', matching up the accounts between different disciplines or schools. It ought to be a seamless web, but it isn't. 

From time to time I experience distressing failures to communicate even with those who appear to share the same goals and interests, and I speculate on what might be going wrong, for example

Levels of detail (doc)

If there is overwhelming evidence, I am a fully orthodox True Believer. Within the limits of my small resources, I have often tried to subject heretical notions to controlled testing, and so far orthodoxy has always been vindicated. For example

A dowsing story 1995 (doc)

On the other hand I do not buy the gung-ho atheist/materialist notion that things are as straightforward as they might appear. The universe has only just started its dialogue with us, and although it is always utterly astonishing, I feel sure we ain't seen nothin yet. Judge the tone of these pieces, obviously sympathetic to the near-heretical:

Gaialogue 2007 (doc)

Weird Water 2006 (doc)

Although I have a romantic enthusiasm for pure science, the logic of the climate situation compels me to argue for a complete reorganisation of research priorities. It should be all hands on deck. A tongue-in-cheek instance is in the form of short letter to the New Scientist:

A letter from the Higgs Boson 2008 (doc)

Turning towards 'nature' in the more ecological sense, I am sometimes provoked to ask

Is Nature Really Natural? 2014 (ppt)

Much of the material for this emerged from metaphors generated by horticulture:

The Metaphorical Garden (doc)

And here's a proposed test for environmental awareness:

Two-Part Environmental Awareness Quiz 1995 (doc)

Here are some results of explorations with the digital microscope, including a short clip of an aphid being born. Feet first!

Images from the digital microscope, with notes (ppt)

And a short video clip of an aphid struggling with its old skin.

Aphid ecdysis (ppt)

In 2019 the Royal Entomological Society announced a competition to redesign the garden at its new headquarters in St Albans. I collaborated with Stuart Reynolds, an Emeritus Professor of entomology, in submitting a bid. Here it is:

Redesigning the R.E.S. garden (word)