The Economist never fails to provide outstanding reporting and commentary (in impeccable prose style), and this article on a 13th century precursor to multiverse physics theory is no exception.
The piece opens and closes with the argument that the STEM fields are not enough — will never be enough — to provide the intellectual foundations necessary for human development. We need the humanities to keep us human, just as liberal arts academics need scientists and engineers to remind us of what’s actually practical.
Do read the whole article, for it’s short and interesting.
How is all this related to the STEM debate? To succeed, the Ordered Universe Project needed a team spanning both science and the humanities: physics, Latin studies, philosophy, cosmology, philology, medieval studies, paleography, history of science, psychophysics and linguistics. The humanities scholars uncovered insights into Grosseteste’s work that scientists alone might have missed; the scientists helped identify mathematical, physical and geometrical thinking in De Luce that their peers in the humanities might have overlooked. Professor McLeish says that without its interdisciplinary approach—an apparent novelty that has made funding a challenge—the project would not have been possible: “If you’d let the scientists loose on their own, we’d have come up with nonsense.”