Saturday, June 18, 2011

On the shoulders of giants

Gove said there had been previous attempts to make science relevant, by linking it to contemporary concerns such as climate change or food scares. But he said: "What [students] need is a rooting in the basic scientific principles, Newton's laws of thermodynamics and Boyle's law
So says Michael Gove, the Education Secretary in HM Government. So then, Newton's laws of thermodynamics: anybody care to list them? Perhaps someone could give an example of these laws. Yes, you at the back, you from the BBC:
Daily weather forecasts rely on human interpretation of computer analysis of Newton's laws of thermodynamics and are very reliable over the short term.
How about the French student:
John Theophilus Desagulier is often credited as inventing the planetarium, based on some plans that he had written. However, it was his popularization of Newton's laws of thermodynamics that truly advanced science.
That would be Desaguliers with an S; anybody else? Stevenson?
From these early inquiries, Newton was able to develop the laws of thermodynamics in the late seventeenth century
No, no, no; you are all wrong. Newton made a law of cooling - "the rate of heat loss of a body is proportional to the difference in temperatures between the body and its surroundings" - but the Laws of Thermodynamics are the work of later scientists. Newton's laws are about Mechanics. Had you known that, you would have been able to point and laugh at Michael Gove. So you have missed a valuable opportunity. Let that be a lesson to you all.

1 comment:

Dave said...

Enough with your fancy book-learning. Everyone knows that the Laws of Thermodynamics are the work of Michael Flanders and Donald Swann.