Monday, July 9, 2012

From Modern to Modular - A Short History -

From The Last Man and The End of History to It's The Culture Stupid.......

The Modern World began on 29 May 1919, when photographs of a solar eclipse taken on the island of Principe off the coast of West Africa and at Sobral in Brazil confirmed the truth of a new theory of the universe. It had been apparent for half a century that the Newtonian cosmology, based upon straight lines of Euclidean geometry and Galileos' notions of absolute time, was in need of serious modification. It had stood for more than two hundred years. It was the framework within which the European Enlightenment, The Industrial Revolution and the vast expansion of human knowledge, freedom and prosperity that characterized the nineteenth century, had taken place. But increasingly powerful telescopes were revealing anomalies. In particular, the motions of the planet Mercury had deviated forty-three seconds of an arc from its predictable behavior under Newtonian laws of physics.Why? In 1905, a twenty-six year old German Jew, Albert Einstein, then working in the Swiss patent office in Berne, had published a paper on "the electrodynamics of moving bodies" which became known as the Special Theory of Relativity. Einsteins' observations on the way in which, in certain circumstances, lengths appeared to contract and clocks slow down, are analagous to the effects of perspective in painting. In fact, the discovery that space and time are relative rather than absolute terms of measurement is comparable in its effect on our perception of the world to the first use of perspective in art, which occurred in Greece in the two decades 500-480 BC.