theReactor

September 23rd, 2010

The History of Science as a Modern London Tube Map

By Kent Harrington | Comments (8)
Crispian Jago, an IT consultant from Hampshire, England, is Science and Reason's most viscerally comic defender. He lampoons the world's religions and pseudo sciences from his blog: Science, Reason and Critical Thinking.

His blog's favorite authors list leaves no doubt about his loyalties: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Douglas Adams.  Face it, you're not inviting him over to see the crop circles you've been saving in your back field, or watch Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

His first successful project was a satiric periodic table.  Popular beliefs were given atomic weights and fictitious element symbols, then sardonically divided into "fruit-loop", "credulous" and "delusion" sections.

Click to enlarge image.

It includes dodgy "elements" like Big Foot (BF 12), Nostradamus (NS 117), Past Life Regression (Rg 25), and Psychics (P 1). All cable television staples.

On the other hand, to celebrate Reason, he recently created a convincing facsimile of the London Tube Map, methodically laying out "500 Years of Science, Reason & Critical Thinking via the medium of gross over simplification, glaring omission and a very tiny font."

Click to see full-size map. Then click again on each name for biographic and historical information. He named each station to honor and timeline-locate scientists whose work had developed the eleven disciplines represented by color-coded rail lines: from Brown/chemistry to blue/math to red/physics and light green/geology and paleontology, to name just four. He explained his method:
Reality is not as clear-cut as my oversimplified map. In most cases the origins of a discipline cannot be wholly attributed to one scientist, as required by my selected format. Consequently I made a number of uncomfortable decisions on where best to split the lines, which disciplines to merge together for map clarity and which lines to place certain scientists on. These decisions are of course wholly subjective and the price I had to pay for a nice flowing single page map.

How will the global struggle between Modernism and Fundamentalism play out in our lifetimes?

Photo: Science, Reason, and Critical Thinking-Crispian's blog Periodic Table and Subway Map: Science, Reason, and Critical Thinking-Crispian's blog

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8 Responses to “The History of Science as a Modern London Tube Map”

  1. RGCook says:

    What can we be absolutely certain of? The notions of the ancient man, held to so steadfast were ultimately vaporized by the light of scientific discovery. Still, where is the unified theory and the explanation for the disparately weak force that we take for granted called gravity? What is the nature of life and who understands its meaning? I didn't see these answers posted at Crispian's blog or by any of his favorite authors. To answer your question Kent, I see no good end to a Fundamentalist agenda, religious or otherwise. But a bit of humility and respect that none of us have the answers to these eternal questions is good application.

    • Kent Harrington says:

      I totally understand your feelings. I think Crispian is a special case: a British empiricist brawler like Christopher Hitchens. In hockey, he'd be brutally body-checking opponents against the boards. But I worry when I read about fundamentalist dominated Texas school boards willfully altering textbooks. That type of anti-intellectual, anti-science attitude ripples across a culture with a declining interest in science. A brief anecdote: my sister was a fourth grade teacher in California. Her class faced the school parking lot. Visiting fundamentalist parents had observed her untraditional (collaborative) methods and complained. The principal moved her to a less visible classroom to placate the parents.

  2. Kent Harrington says:

    hicalcium: Thanks for the compliment. We'll keep an eye cocked looking for you.

    RGCook: I totally understand your feelings. I think Crispian is a special case: a British empiricist brawler like Christopher Hitchens. In hockey, he'd be brutally body-checking opponents against the boards. But I worry when I read about fundamentalist dominated Texas school boards willfully altering textbooks. That type of anti-intellectual, anti-science attitude ripples across a culture with a declining interest in science. A brief anecdote: my sister was a fourth grade teacher in California. Her class faced the school parking lot. Visiting fundamentalist parents had observed her untraditional (collaborative) methods and complained. The principal moved her to a less visible classroom to placate the parents.

    • RGCook says:

      I think hicalcium may be a spammer Kent, but I agree with his remark. Incidentally, glad to see your responded to my awkward reply but you caught me at an odd time. I had just finished listening to an audio book by Timothy Freke and that combined with some recent documentaries by Steven Hawkings (who never ceases to amaze) and the rise of humanism on the dawn of the new Rome in the Renaissance had me in high level confusion. The Malbec probably was not helpful to the cerebral comprehension breakdown.

      • Kent Harrington says:

        What do you think of Las Meninas? I know we're past the Renaissance but Spain was retarded by their strictly religiosity.

  3. game says:

    Hello, I just ran across your blog via yahoo. and I’m really delighted I found your website. Thank You.

  4. harrington.kent says:

    great– can't wait

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