2640: The Universe by Scientific Field
|The Universe by Scientific Field|
Title text: The math and philosophy people also claim everything, but the astronomers argue that the stuff they study really only comprises a small number of paper surfaces.
Astronomy is the study of outer space and celestial phenomena. This comic makes a joke that most of the "universe" falls under the study of astronomy, which makes sense because it is so vast and large and is not studied directly by other fields of science.
The volume of the observable universe is 3.566×1080 cubic meters. The volume of Earth is 1.08321×1021 cubic meters. 1.08321×1021 m3 ÷ 3.566×1080 m3 × 100% ≈ 3×10-58%, which is scientific notation for the second of the two percentages, the first being its difference from 100%.
Thus, the universe is comprised almost entirely of the objects of astronomical study, when measured by volume. There are many arguments to be made that this is not the most useful way of measuring the size of scientific fields compared to the universe. Other arguments include:
- Astronomers are only studying the observable phenomena (i.e. light, subatomic particles, and gravity) of the rest of the universe, leaving the vast majority of the universe's properties (for instance the geology and biochemistry of an unknown planet in a distant galaxy) entirely unstudied.
- Astronomy is only possible due to understanding of physics, optics, chemistry, mathematics, and geometry, so surely they deserve some credit.
- The interesting parts of the universe are not the empty space.
- They are the matter and energy described by physics and chemistry.
- They are the life experiences of people, which are overwhelmingly terrestrial even for professional astronomers (who often complain about how little time they can allocate to making actual astronomical observations).
- It is disingenuous to claim to be studying more than every other field when astronomy and astrophysics publications amount to only about 0.5% of academic science and engineering output worldwide. Other fields may be studying smaller things, but they are studying them much more thoroughly.
- Emptiness has less information and is less interesting than non-emptiness; therefore geometric volume is only very weakly correlated with useful information.
A counterargument is that astronomy, cosmology, and astrophysics are the only scientific disciplines that study the Big Bang and subsequent inflation from which all matter, energy, and space itself arose. The ordinary laws of physics can describe neither of those events.
The title text says that mathematicians and philosophers claim that what they study also represents everything. But (according to the comic) astronomers counter this by saying that they just study things that are written down, and this comprises just tiny amounts of "paper" on the Earth. This claim by mathematicians also appears in 435: Purity. A conceivable counterargument by philosophers could be that any and all science, including astronomy, is nothing more than a branch of epistemology, the philosophical study of knowledge. Another could be that since philosophy includes theology, it is studying something even larger than the universe (although one could argue back that theology is nothing more than writing fiction, and yet again just a study of pieces of paper.)
- The Universe by Scientific Field
- [A pie chart is shown. It is white except for a single black line going from the edge of the circle to the middle.]
- Astronomy [The white space]
- Other [The black line]
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