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Power point spontaneous generation


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Power point spontaneous generation

  1. 1. Spontaneous Generation Life Enters Stage Left By Peter G. History 4UU3
  2. 2. • Ancient Greek mythology readily accepted spontaneous generation. • “Spartan” means “sprouted men” and they were originally generated by the planting of a dragon’s teeth in the earth. • Greek myth saw less distinction between current concepts of animate and inanimate.
  3. 3. Guess Who... • Like so much of intellectual thought, Aristotle dominated the concept of spontaneous generation until the Enlightenment. • His endorsement of spontaneous generation lent much credit to the theory.
  4. 4. Follow the Leader • Saints Aquinas and Augustine incorporated Aristotle’s concept of “spirit” imprinting a form and soul onto the subject-matter. • Spontaneous Generation was Christianized, as God was responsible for arranging all of the necessary conditions and materials
  5. 5. Let’s Eat Before the Pope finds out! • Clergymen in England, Ireland, and Scotland argued that the “barnacle goose” spontaneously generated • As a result, they could eat the bird even during Lent, as it did not come from the flesh • Pope Innocent III issued a papal bull in 1215 prohibiting such a practice, arguing that the geese functioned just like any other bird.
  6. 6. Longevity • Spontaneous generation was still accepted by some prominent people as late as the seventeenth century • The physician J.B. van Helmont claimed he had spontaneously generated mice by leaving sweaty underwear and some wheat in a container for twenty-one days
  7. 7. Enter Challengers • The days of an unchallenged theory of spontaneous generation came to an end with the Enlightenment. • Francesco Redi, 17th century – meat will not generate maggots • Lazzaro Spallanzani – 18th century – broth will not generate life – Not believed because others repeated the experiment with opposite results – problem of standardizing experiments.
  8. 8. Enter Pasteur, Exit SG • Pasteur, in 1859 conducted similar experiments to those of Spallanzani, however under a different context: a competition. • The French Académie des Sciences held a contest, as such, Pasteur’s results were verified by the Académie and this is widely regarded as the death of spontaneous generation.
  9. 9. Life Only From Life • The very same year Pasteur attacked spontaneous generation, Darwin published On the Origin of Species. • Evolution seemingly entails that spontaneous generation had to have occurred at some point in history, however Pasteur’s experiments were accepted more immediately than Darwin’s theory.
  10. 10. Life from...half life? • The Russian scientist Aleksandr Oparin suggested a gradual emergence of life from simpler organic compounds. • He theorized that these compounds could much more easily have formed in an early- Earth atmosphere. • For Oparin, natural selection began with these organic molecules.
  11. 11. Honey, I Shrunk the Evidence • A progression can be seen, from larger to smaller, of the subjects of spontaneous generation • Spartans (Greeks), Geese (clergymen), maggots (Spallanzani), bacteria (Pasteur), organic compounds (Oparin’s primordial soup) • This requires the use of ever more sophisticated technology (technoscience).
  12. 12. Spectre of SG • Stanley Miller, in 1953, synthesize amino acids in an artificially constructed old-Earth atmosphere. Lends support to Oparin. • Spontaneous generation revived, less than one hundred years after Pasteur’s refutation. • However, the question has changed...
  13. 13. Redefining the Problem • Original question: How do living things spontaneously generate? • Next step: What living things spontaneously generate? • New enquiry: What is Life? Oparin suggests SG of organic compounds (eg. Watson and Crick’s DNA molecule). Is DNA alive? The question migrates.
  14. 14. Decision Makers • Who decides “what is life?” • The scientists are working on this problem currently, is anyone else? • Should the scientists be the only ones allowed to input on this discussion, can they be trusted (them with their numbers and measurements)?
  15. 15. Enter Latour (Exit Simplicity and the Audience) • This is precisely the question Latour is asking, “Who will input to the discussion? Who should?” • Answer 1) the Scientists • Answer 2) Everyone
  16. 16. The Division • Science, which speaks for Nature, tends to silence discussion, not permitting other interested parties from speaking, like the parties that have Society as their subject matter, instead of Nature. • Latour believes Nature and Society have separated too extremely to deal with certain (complex) issues: these are called ‘hybrids.’
  17. 17. Is SG a Hybrid? • The spontaneous generation debate has evolved to the larger question of the definition of life – this seems to be a prime candidate for a hybrid. • If any question deserves democratic input from all interested parties (i.e. all parties who have a stake in the definition of life) it is this one, “What is life?”
  18. 18. New History? • For what it’s worth...