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Examining the Universe
A Science Exhibit

Examining the Universe
  • The Science of Biology (by )
  • Can the Old Faith Live with the New Or, ... (by )
  • Origin Of The Solar System (by )
  • Physical Studies of Minor Planets (by )
  • The Saturday Lectures, Delivered in the ... (by )
  • Concerning Animals and Other Matters (by )
  • Biology for Beginners (by )
  • The variation of animals and plants unde... (by )
  • On Growth and Form (by )
  • The Breath of Life or Mal-Respiration: A... (by )
  • More Letters of Charles Darwin Volume Ii (by )
  • Bramble-Bees and Others (by )
  • The Biology of the Protozoa (by )
  • Solar system studies with the IUE: 1982 ... (by )
  • The Descent of Man and Selection in Rela... (by )
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Examining the Universe: A Science Exhibit

This exhibit celebrates man's perennial search for an understanding of his relationship to nature. "Examining the Universe: A Science Exhibit," features the most important scientific titles by the greatest minds in math, physics, philosophy, chemistry medicine and biology. The hundreds of volumes in these collections illustrate the systematic study of the mysterious thread that runs through the life. 
Observation and Natural Laws
Observation and Natural Laws
The storm gathers and a thunderbolt shakes the earth and eardrums, floods sweep and gigantic meteorites fall to earth and wipe out whole populations of people and animals. The sun goes completely black, turning daytime into night. Science and religion were borne out of the man’s compelling need to explain phenomena such as, thunderstorms, earthquakes, animal migrations and solar eclipses – unpredictable events and behaviors that defied explanation. As a result, man created stories and myths. As humankind’s experiences grew, religion and science developed.  Science does not provide statements of absolute eternal truth – it only "provides theories” ("Fundamental Science," World Heritage Encyclopedia).  

Our Exhibit, “Examining the Universe,” shares how scientific observations, thoughts and theories have evolved from myth to legend, and ultimately through theories backed by study and experiments and have influenced man’s understanding of the world and the universe (The Golden BoughSir James George Frazer). Naturalist Charles Darwin braved the harrowing voyage through the Tropic of Capricorn and around the Americas’ southern most point, Tierra del Fuego's Cape Horn, in order to study animal and plant life in the Galápagos Islands. The outcome of Darwin’s expeditions on The Beagle toward understanding the origins of man are his many journals are still referenced in scientific theories today. However, some early scientists were reluctant to publish their hypothesis and theories due to peer criticism: Sir Isaac Newton was one such writer (
Newton's Principia, Isaac Newton).  Luckily, he eventually did share his work, and the School eBook Library has digitally remastered and preserved many of his writings. Scientific examination and techniques are also applied to the study of animals and human behavior. Again, referencing Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection, the inter-connectedness of life on land, in the oceans and in outer space, continues to guide mankind toward greater understanding of the purposes and functions of life and existence  (On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin). 

Charles Darwin spent his childhood years collecting and studying nature.  In his book, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, (excerpted as a volume from The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin,) he tells the story of the evolution as a naturalist – a discipline that he helped define for the current era (The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin,  Francis Darwin).  Of Darwin’s comprehensive collection of writings, in More Letters of Charles Darwin, Charles Darwin documents his observations of the natural environment in the correspondences he sent to Joseph Hooker, a fellow botanist, explorer and close friend. As Darwin’s theories grew in fame (through prolific publication), he said that critics often said that he was a “good observer, but he has no power of reasoning!" ("More Letters of Charles Darwin, Volume," Charles Darwin).  He countered the naysayers by saying that his book, On the Origin of Species, is actually one long argument about the nature of species evolution, for “species does not actually exist; [it is a human construct through language]." His practice of collecting natural forms from the environment and preserving them for meticulous study has informed the practice of “objectivity” in the scientific method (On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin).  

However, there are many ways in which people group evidence from the natural environment to make conclusions on the processes of man and nature.  For example, in Disappearing Trees, Disappearing Culture, Robert Weissman observed that the Penan People that they have studied and co-existed with life in forest environments through nomadic hunting, gathering and light agriculture. Their environmental research methods avoided collecting species groups of flora and faunal life in ways that would disrupt these systems' natural ecological contexts; supporting maximum abundance of the forests which would in turn provide plants and animals that support their health and well being. Unfortunately, forest logging has disrupted forest ecosystems, thereby affecting the Penans' livelihoods and knowledge systems (Disappearing Trees, Disappearing Culture, Robert Weissman).

Scientific Thought Revolutions
Scientific Thought Revolutions
Principia by Sir Isaac Newton influenced the modern world’s understanding of physics through geometrically measuring the movement of spheres, such as the atom and planets.  According to the University of Berkeley, the Principia Mathimatica “[…] revolutionized the methods of scientific investigation [for it] set forth the fundamental Three Laws of Motion and the Law of Universal Gravitation […]”  For example, the Newtonian Principle of Universal Gravitation, explains his theory that “every particle of matter is attracted to every other particle of matter with a force inversely proportional to the squares of their distances….”  This work helped develop the the sciences of physics and astronomy, and which was assisted Albert Einstein in his Theory of Relativity.

Newton’s discoveries increased acquiescence of the Nicolaus Copernican Principle system by modern scientists like Sir Hermann Bondi. In her book titled, The Gradual Acceptance of the Copernican Theory of the Universe by Dorothy Stimson, she describes how Copernicus’s argument that the earth’s revolution around the sun deftly challenged the (directly) opposing Heliocentric model. Therefore, Newton’s writings further shifted how scientists and lay-people viewed the universe and its organization - adding to new trajectories in scientific research.

Albert Einstein contributed to new scientific theories when he wrote Relativity: The Special and General Theory. In this book,  Einstein found that Newton's own mechanics could no longer reconcile laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field because of the problems between statistical mechanics and quantum theory. Einstein’s theory of relativity extended into the study of gravitational fields through the theories and motions of molecules.
The Science of Interconnected Life, A Modern Viewpoint
The Science of Interconnected Life, A Modern Viewpoint
Award-winning oceanography expert Sylvia Earle applies the scientific theories established by Darwin, Newton and Einstein, to advocate for the conservation of the marine environment. In her TED Talk presentation, “My Wish: Protect Our Oceans,” Earle discusses how over-fishing, ocean chemistry transformation and pollution are creating imbalances in the ocean’s health and affects human and animal (organism) health. For example, increasing human production of carbon dioxide is acidifying the sea and is killing corals and sea organisms like Plankton who, it turn, feed larger sea creatures such as whales. Further examples of human impact on the physical cycles of the planet are: how plastics and “ghost nets” left by fishing trawlers strangle dolphins, sharks and masses of fish.

Sylvia Earle states that reapplication of satellite technologies, such as Google Earth does, can map out the topography of the ocean floor so that scientists may use submarines, to explore the (still yet) uncharted areas of our ocean floors. Perhaps through gathering visual images of the conditions of the ocean environment, will governments begin to care enough to take action.

Community-based Fisheries Management in Phang-Nga Bay, Thailand is another application of the Darwinian approach to Observation, but used for the purpose of addressing human and environmental relations. The Department of Fisheries of Thailand collaborated with fishers, village leaders, trawler companies, NGOs and universities, toward a partnership in management, so the organizations could set about to replenishing coastal fishery resources in Phang-Nga Bay. This type of science includes economic and social studies to implement coastal management plans that aim to restore balance between the environment and human needs.

Works Cited
"Albert Einstein."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  Web.  2014.

"Cape Horn.
"  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  Web.  2014.  

"Copernican Principle."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  Web.  2014.

Darwin, Charles. (n.d.)  More Letters of Charles Darwin Eds. Francis Darwin and A.C. Seward.  Volume. 1.  (n.p.) 

Darwin, Charles.  
(n.d.)  On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.  Down, Bromley, Kent:  1859.  Reproduced by the Project Gutenberg Consortia Center 

Darwin, Francis.  
The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin.  Ed. Francis Darwin.  Cambridge, October 1887.

Earle, Sylvia.  "My Wish: Protect Our Oceans."  TEDTalks Conference, 2009.  Video.

Einstein, Albert.  Relativity: The Special and General Theory.  New York:  H. Holt & Company, 1921.

Frazer, James George, Sir.  The Golden Bough.  London:  MacMillan and Company, 1890.

"Fundamental Science."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  Web.  2014.

"Galápagos Islands."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  Web.  2014.

"Hermann Bondi."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  Web.  2014.

Newton, Isaac.  Newton's Principia.  Trans. Percival Frost.  Volumes 1, 2 and 3.  Cambridge.  Macmillan and Company, 1854.

"Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  Web.  2014.

"Sir James George Frazer."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  Web.  2014.

Stimson, Dorothy.  The Gradual Acceptance of the Copernican Theory of the Universe.  New York:  The Baker & Taylor Company, 1917.

"The Voyage of the Beagle."  World Heritage Encyclopedia.  Web.  2015.

Weissman, Robert.  Disappearing Trees, Disappearing Culture.  Multinational Monitor. Vol XV, No. 4.  April 1994

Science Collections
“Examining the Universe: A Science Exhibit” illustrates how scientific observation has been used to create general Laws to explain phenomena. As more evidence and new information is gathered, hypotheses of the past are replaced by new theories. As science is used to study our natural environment, we begin to see patterns on how we are transforming it as well. It is important to recognize the limits of what we know, to open our minds to new ideas, so we may welcome alternate pathways for thought and action. 


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