Richard Feynman, the great physicist and popularizer of science, delivered a series of lectures at Cornell University in November, 1964. Called “Messenger Lectures,” these talks were given by high-profile scholars on the broad topic of the “evolution of civilization.” Feynman spoke about “The Character of Physical Law,” focusing on the development of theories and experiments related to the laws of physics. In the video below he discusses the Law of Gravitation.
Feynman notes how early scientists, like Tycho Brahe, systematically recorded data about observations to develop their theories – a process “key to modern science”:
The times after Copernicus were times in which there were great debates about whether the planets, in fact, went around the sun along with the Earth or whether the Earth was at the center of the universe, and so on. And there were considerable arguments about this when a man named Tycho Brahe got an idea, a way of answering the question. He thought that it might perhaps be a good idea to look very, very carefully and to record where the planets actually appear in the sky. And then, the alternative theories might be distinguished from one another.
This is the key of modern science and is the beginning of the true understanding of nature– this idea that to look at the thing, to record the details, and to hope that in the information thus obtained may lie a clue to one or another of a possible theoretical interpretation.
To see the full list of Richard Feynman Messenger Lectures, see this page from Cornell University: http://www.cornell.edu/video/playlist/richard-feynman-messenger-lectures
To learn more about the scientific process and history of science advancement, see our Process of Science modules such as:
Written by Eric Dillalogue
Eric Dillalogue holds a MS in Library and Information Science and a BA in English. He has worked in a variety of roles from service industry management, academic libraries, and grant administration. He has taught courses on information literacy, web research, and developmental reading. Eric joined the Visionlearning team as a project manager in 2014.