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Posts Tagged "philosophy of chemistry"

The Curious Wavefunction

Falsification and chemistry: What’s the rub?

Roald Hoffmann: Chemist, philosopher, poet.

A few people seem unhappy with my previous post in which I made the contention that falsification as a philosophy is much less relevant to chemistry than to physics, especially when chemists make molecules. I think the question is interesting enough to deserve some more space. My take on the relative unimportance of falsification comes [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Falsification and its discontents

Karl Popper's grounding in the age of physics colored his views regarding the way science is done. Falsification was one of the resulting casualties (Image: Wikipedia Commons)

One of the answers to Edge.org’s question “What scientific idea is ready for retirement”? is by physicist Sean Carroll. Carroll takes on an idea from the philosophy of science that’s usually considered a given: falsification. I mostly agree with Carroll’s take, although others seem to be unhappier, mainly because Carroll seems to be postulating that [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Five questions that (should) keep chemists awake at night

The origin of life is chemistry's quintessential Big Question (Image: NASA)

It is often said that chemistry lacks “big questions” like physics and biology. But this is not entirely true. The origin of life is a quintessentially chemical problem, and it’s as big as fundamental questions can get. More importantly, what chemistry may lack in terms of big questions it has in spades in terms of [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Arsenic DNA, chemistry and the problem of differing standards of proof in cross-disciplinary science

Arsenic-based linkages in DNA would be unstable and would quickly break, a fact suspected by chemists for years (Image: Johannes Wilbertz)

When the purported discovery of the now infamous “arsenic DNA” bacteria was published, a friend of mine who was studying astrobiology could not stop praising it as an exciting scientific advance. When I expressed reservations about the discovery mainly based on my understanding of the instability of biomolecules containing arsenic, she gushed, “But of course [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

What is chemical intuition?

Recently I read a comment by a leading chemist in which he said that in chemistry, intuition is much more important than in physics. This is a curious comment since intuition is one of those things which is hard to define but which most people who play the game appreciate when they see it. It [...]

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The Curious Wavefunction

Synthesis, enzymes and force fields: defining chemical elegance

Four hundred years into its modern development, science is increasingly viewed as both a tool to understand and better the world as well as an art form. Scientific developments have often been described as “beautiful” and “elegant” by its practitioners, with different kinds of scientists using different criteria. The notion of elegance in science was [...]

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