FYI March 07, 2018


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On This Day

1277 – Stephen Tempier, bishop of Paris, condemns 219 philosophical and theological theses.
Étienne (Stephen) Tempier (French: [tɑ̃pje]; also known as Stephanus of Orleans; died 3 September 1279) was a French bishop of Paris during the 13th century. He was Chancellor of the Sorbonne from 1263 and bishop of Paris from 1268.[1]

He is best remembered for promulgating a Condemnation of 219 philosophical and theological propositions (or articles) that addressed concepts that were being disputed in the faculty of arts at the University of Paris.

Born in Orléans, Tempier studied in Paris, where he became master of theology and canon of Notre Dame. During a period of about five years (1263–ca. 1268), Tempier was the Chancellor of the chapter of Notre Dame at Paris, succeeding Erich von Veire. At that time, the Chancellor of the Chapter was also the Chancellor of the University of Paris.

He served as bishop of Paris from 7 October 1268 until his death on 3 September 1279. Tempier had been a master in the faculty of theology.

In 1270 Tempier, encouraged by Henry of Ghent (died 1293), had issued a formal condemnation of thirteen doctrines held by “radical Aristotelians.” These included the unity of intellect, causal necessity, and the eternity of the world. Further investigation into perceived errors then prevalent at the university was prompted by the Portuguese cleric Juliani, who was elected Pope John XXI on 13 September 1276.[2] A former professor of theology at the University of Paris, he wrote Tempier on 28 January 1277.[3] The pope told Tempier that he had heard reports of heretical opinions in the Paris area, and requested to be informed of the situation. By this time Tempier was already investigating possible heretical opinions at the University of Paris.[4]

On 7 March 1277, Tempier expanded the number of condemned doctrines to 219. He was assisted by a commission of theologians from the University. Henry of Ghent sat on Tempier’s episcopal commission (assessores episcopi) of sixteen masters, which produced the syllabus of 219 propositions comdemned by Tempier on 7 March 1277. The condemnations against Aristotelianism in Paris involved Giles of Rome, Siger of Brabant, the arts faculty, and certain doctrines of Thomas Aquinas.[5] The forty-ninth item on the list was the assertion that God is incapable of moving the universe because it implies the existence of a void.[6]

Tempier also overturned Aristotle on one point: God could have created more than one world (given His omnipotence) yet we know by revelation He made only one. Tempier’s stress on God’s omnipotence also opened up all kinds of possibilities for the understanding of the cosmos. In his effort to defend the abilities and unique rights of the Creator, Tempier’s propositions led to the new approach taken to understand the workings of celestial and terrestrial bodies. By rejecting that astral bodies were animated, incorruptible and eternal, refuting the idea that their motion was the result of something comparable to animal desires and denying that stars had any influence over individuals, he showed that Christians were prepared to refute Aristotle’s world view along with some basic assumptions held by Greek learning.

It is not clear what Tempier’s intentions were in issuing this condemnation. Nevertheless, scholars have written that “the Parisian Condemnation of 1277 is symbolic of an intellectual crisis in the University. It is indicative of fundamental shifts in speculative thought and cultural perception which occurred in the late 13th century, which portend aspects of modern thought.”[7]

Opposition to and repeal
Tempier’s prohibitions did not curtail the free discussion of Thomist doctrines and did little to limit their influence at the University of Paris.[2] His decree was actively opposed and eventually overturned in 1325.[6]

See also
Godfrey of Fontaines
Omnipotence paradox


Born On This Day

1886 – G. I. Taylor, English mathematician and physicist (d. 1975)
Sir Geoffrey Ingram Taylor OM (7 March 1886 – 27 June 1975) was a British physicist and mathematician, and a major figure in fluid dynamics and wave theory. His biographer and one-time student, George Batchelor, described him as “one of the most notable scientists of this (the 20th) century”.[4][5][6][7]

Early life and education
Taylor was born in St. John’s Wood, London. His father, Edward Ingram Taylor, was an artist, and his mother, Margaret Boole, came from a family of mathematicians (his aunt was Alicia Boole Stott and his grandfather was George Boole). As a child he was fascinated by science after attending the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, and performed experiments using paint rollers and sticky-tape. Taylor read mathematics and physics at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1905 to 1908. Then he obtained a schlorship to continue at Cambridge under J.J. Thomson.

Career and research
Taylor is best known to students of physics for his very first paper,[8] published while he was still an undergraduate, in which he showed that interference of visible light produced fringes even with extremely weak light sources. The interference effects were produced with light from a gas light, attenuated through a series of dark glass plates, diffracting around a sewing needle. Three months were required to produce a sufficient exposure of the photographic plate, and legend has it that during this time Taylor went punting on the Cam. The paper does not mention quanta of light (photons) and does not reference Einstein’s 1905 paper on the photoelectric effect, but today the result can be interpreted by saying that less than one photon on average was present at a time. Once it became widely accepted ca. 1927 that the electromagnetic field was quantized, Taylor’s experiment began to be presented in pedagogical treatments as evidence that interference effects with light cannot be interpreted in terms of one photon interfering with another photon — that, in fact, a single photon must travel through both slits of a double-slit apparatus. Modern understanding of the subject has shown that the conditions in Taylor’s experiment were not in fact sufficient to demonstrate this, because the light source was not in fact a single-photon source, but the experiment was reproduced in 1986 using a single-photon source, and the same result was obtained.[9]

He followed this up with work on shock waves,[citation needed] winning a Smith’s Prize. In 1910 he was elected to a Fellowship at Trinity College, and the following year he was appointed to a meteorology post, becoming Reader in Dynamical Meteorology. His work on turbulence in the atmosphere led to the publication of “Turbulent motion in fluids”,[citation needed] which won him the Adams Prize in 1915.

In 1913 Taylor served as a meteorologist aboard the Ice Patrol vessel Scotia, where his observations formed the basis of his later work on a theoretical model of mixing of the air. At the outbreak of World War I, he was sent to the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough to apply his knowledge to aircraft design, working, amongst other things, on the stress on propeller shafts. Not content just to sit back and do the science, he also learned to fly aeroplanes and make parachute jumps.

After the war Taylor returned to Trinity and worked on an application of turbulent flow to oceanography. He also worked on the problem of bodies passing through a rotating fluid. In 1923 he was appointed to a Royal Society research professorship as a Yarrow Research Professor. This enabled him to stop teaching, which he had been doing for the previous four years, and which he both disliked and had no great aptitude for. It was in this period that he did his most wide-ranging work on fluid mechanics and solid mechanics, including research on the deformation of crystalline materials which followed from his war work at Farnborough. He also produced another major contribution to turbulent flow, where he introduced a new approach through a statistical study of velocity fluctuations.

In 1934, Taylor, roughly contemporarily with Michael Polanyi and Egon Orowan, realised that the plastic deformation of ductile materials could be explained in terms of the theory of dislocations developed by Vito Volterra in 1905. The insight was critical in developing the modern science of solid mechanics.

Manhattan Project
During World War II, Taylor again applied his expertise to military problems such as the propagation of blast waves, studying both waves in air and underwater explosions. Taylor was sent to the United States in 1944–1945 as part of the British delegation to the Manhattan Project. At Los Alamos, Taylor helped solve implosion instability problems in the development of atomic weapons particularly the plutonium bomb used at Nagasaki on 9 August 1945.

In 1944 he also received his knighthood and the Copley Medal from the Royal Society.

Taylor was present at the Trinity (nuclear test), July 16, 1945, as part of General Leslie Groves’ “VIP List” of just 10 people who observed the test from Compania Hill, about 20 miles (32 km) northwest of the shot tower. By a strange twist, Joan Hinton, another direct descendant of the mathematician, George Boole, had been working on the same project and witnessed the event in an unofficial capacity. They met at the time but later followed different paths: Joan, strongly opposed to nuclear weapons, to defect to Mao’s China, Taylor to hold throughout his career the view that governmental policy was not within the remit of the scientist.[10]

In 1950, he published two papers estimating the yield of the explosion using the Buckingham Pi theorem, and high speed photography stills from that test, bearing timestamps and physical scale of the blast radius, which had been published in Life magazine. His estimate of 22 kt was remarkably close to the accepted value of 20 kt, which was still highly classified at that time.

Later life
Taylor continued his research after the war, serving on the Aeronautical Research Committee and working on the development of supersonic aircraft. Though he officially retired in 1952, he continued research for the next twenty years, concentrating on problems that could be attacked using simple equipment. This led to such advances as a method for measuring the second coefficient of viscosity.[citation needed] Taylor devised an incompressible liquid with separated gas bubbles suspended in it.[citation needed] The dissipation of the gas in the liquid during expansion was a consequence of the shear viscosity of the liquid. Thus the bulk viscosity could easily be calculated. His other late work[citation needed] included the longitudinal dispersion in flow in tubes, movement through porous surfaces, and the dynamics of sheets of liquids.

Aspects of Taylor’s life often found expression in his work. His over-riding interest in the movement of air and water, and by extension his studies of the movement of unicellular marine creatures and of weather, were related to his lifelong love of sailing. In the 1930s he invented the ‘CQR’ anchor, which was both stronger and more manageable than any in use, and which was used for all sorts of small craft including seaplanes.[11]

His final research paper[citation needed] was published in 1969, when he was 83. In it he resumed his interest in electrical activity in thunderstorms, as jets of conducting liquid motivated by electrical fields. The cone from which such jets are observed is called the Taylor cone, after him. In the same year Taylor received the A. A. Griffith Medal and Prize and was appointed to the Order of Merit.

Personal life
Taylor married Stephanie Ravenhill, a school teacher in 1925. They stayed together until Stephanie’s death in 1965. He suffered a severe stroke in 1972 which effectively put an end to his work; he died in Cambridge in 1975.



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