• Biology,  Physics,  Research

    The Structure-Function Debate in Biology

    Modern science grew out of the idea that the universe is comprised of independent parts, and a complex system can be reduced to these parts without loss of completeness. The independence of parts became the basis of reductionism―the idea that the whole is simply a linear sum of parts. Sometimes, this reduction fails, and then it becomes necessary to postulate that the parts are indeed interdependent.  The reason for this interdependence, however, has not been very apparent. I will describe the reasons in this post, and connect them to the “systems approach” which views a system as a collection of interrelated parts rather than mutually independent parts.

  • Philosophy,  Physics

    Properties, Values, and Measurements

    One of the problems that has repeatedly bothered me for the last decade is the distinction between physical properties, their measurements, and the values of properties that are discovered during measurement. I have flip-flopped in my understanding of the problem and what might be a solution. I will use this post to describe the problem and what I believe is the best way to resolve it. I will also connect the solution to the nature of perception and reality in Indian philosophy. But before I begin, let’s take a look at how science tries to address this issue.

  • Overview,  Philosophy,  Religion

    Models and Reality

    During recent online conversations with commentators, I heard a refrain about science: science is only a model, it has nothing to do with reality; our models may get closer to reality over time, but we have no way of knowing that they have gotten to reality, nor do we know that they will eventually get there. I was taken aback by this line of argument, because I thought we still had some faith in something. I personally could not imagine an existence in which faithlessness pervades our minds to an extent that we treat all possibility of knowing truth as impossible, and be so comfortable with it. After I recovered from this…