Organization for the Advancement of   
Interdisciplinary Learning

This “background" page, along with the links that it contains, was designed to familiarize
readers with some of the scientific discoveries that I have found most meaningful and
inspiring.  Our review will include the discussion of subjects such as the big bang, the
formation of organic chemicals by abiotic processes, the evolution of the mind, and the
attainability of a grand unified field theory of physics.  We will cover a wide range of topics,
but we will focus on identifying points of confluence between different disciplines in an
attempt to explore the interrelatedness inherent in natural science.  Readers will be exposed
to a host of influential theorists and authors and also to some of the really seminal books,
prepared by scientists for the non-scientist.  Readers will become familiar with empirical and
philosophical methods of inquiry, and as such, will be given the tools to continue to refine
their objective understanding of the processes that control the world around them.  Please
allow me to begin by introducing a conceptual paradigm, or list, that I think does a good job of
organizing the modern disciplines in an informative and memorable way.

The following list is my attempt at creating a systematic organization for some of the modern
divisions of academic and intellectual research.  Each of the 12 disciplines contained on this
list represents an attempt to describe the organization of energy at a different level of human
observation.  Thus a macroscopic view of these disciplines provides insight; it shows how
they interrelate, how they operate under the same fundamental laws and how they coexist
within the same context.

Disciplinary Organization:

The links in the following list contain essays that are intended to provide a reader with
background information about some of the facts, theories and phenomena relevant to each

Essays On:

We Use Many Interrelated Disciplines to Describe the Same Universe:
Science and philosophy attempt to explain what we are able to observe, yet we as humans
observe things from many different vantage points.  Humanity’s current view of reality divides
our experience up into many fields, reflecting our humanistic, fragmented viewpoint.  Even
though each one of these fields is inextricably tied to all the rest, there is good reason to think
of them as distinct disciplines, at least for now.

These disciplines are currently differentiated from one another for two reasons: 1) academic
and economic institutions have benefited from differentiating them in order to focus
resources and create order. 2) Philosophic and scientific theory has not yet explicitly
uncovered how these disciplines are interrelated.  

An Example:
For example, the objective science of biology and the more subjective field of psychology are
highly interrelated yet we are far from understanding how the two interface.  All psychological
phenomena can be explained in biological terms, however, because we have a very limited
understanding of exactly how our brain functions we cannot yet explain our thoughts and
behaviors from a strictly biological standpoint.  We have a limited understanding of how
neurons (the fundamental processing units of the brain) function and we have a very limited
understanding of how they interact to create complex thought.  Modern neuroscience
attempts to bridge the gap between biology and psychology yet the three fields are far from
forming a comprehensive, cohesive science.

Many Disciplines Will Become One:
The many separate branches of science grow individually as researchers perform more
studies.  Each scientific advancement draws these branches of science closer together.  At
one point we should be unable to differentiate these discrete disciplines from one another.
They are currently individual but are destined to be a single unified science.

A Metaphor:
The disciplines enumerated in the list above are, in modern times, the corners of a many
sided polygon, the sides of which represent important topics of theory and research.  I would
like to think that in time it will become apparent that no science or discipline is in anyway
discrete… no longer the corners of a polygon, but points on a circle that will circumscribe the
totality of all things objectively existent.

Cosmological Timeline:
Click Here

Evolutionary Timeline:
Click Here

Achievement Timeline:

What follows is a chronological list of some very influential scientific achievements.

35000 BC  The Origins of Counting and Writing

3000 BC    Astronomy Before History: Egyptians, Babylonians, Chinese

530 BC      An Early Scientist: Pythagorus

350 BC      Science as Differentiated from Philosophy: Aristotle

320 BC      The Origins of Botany: Theophrastus

300 BC      Euclidean Geometry: Euclid

260 BC      Revolutionary mathematics and mechanics: Archimedes

240 BC      Finding the Circumference of the Earth: Eratosthenes

134 BC      Making Accurate Astronomical Predictions: Hipparchus

140            An Earth-centered Universe: Ptolemy

876            The Mathematical Concept of Zero: Brahmagupta

1202          The Early Formulation of Algebra: Fibonacci (Leonardo of Pisa)

1435          The Renaissance: Artistic Proportion and Perspective: Alberti and Francesca

1543          A Sun Centered Universe: Nicolas Copernicus

1609          The Laws of Planetary Motion: Johannes Kepler

1610          Astronomical Imperfections: Galileo Galilei

1638          Acceleration due to Gravity is not Determined by Mass: Galileo Galilei

1687          Principia Mathematica; The Laws of Motion and Gravity: Isaac Newton

1765          Overturning the Theory of Spontaneous Generation: Lazzaro Spallanzani

1774          Combustion; The Chemical Processes Responsible for Fire: Joseph Priestly

1796          The Origin of the Solar System:  Pierre Simon de Laplace

1799          Electric Battery: Alessandro Volta

1800          The Wave Nature of Light: Thomas Young

1808          Atomic Theory: John Dalton

1820         Understanding Electromagnetism: Oersted, Ampere, Faraday

1839         Cellular Theory: Theodor Schwann

1842         The Doppler Effect: Christian Doppler

1847         The Laws Describing Thermodynamics: Rumford, Carnot, Joule, Clausius

1856         The Discovery of Neanderthal Man: William King, Hermann Schaaffhausen

1859         The Origin of Species: Charles Darwin

1861         Locating The Area of the Brain that Enables Speech: Pierre Paul Broca

1863         The Greenhouse Effect:  John Tyndall

1864         Understanding Electricity and Magnetism: James Clerk Maxwell

1865         The Laws of Inheritance:  Gregor Mendel

1878         Germ Theory: Louis Pasteur

1895          The Unconscious Mind: Sigmund Freud

1896          Radioactivity: Becquerel, Curie, Curie, Rutherford and Soddy

1897          The Electron: Joseph John Thomson

1900          Light is Composed of Discrete Parts or Quanta: Max Planck

1903          Chaos Theory: Jules Henri Poincare

1904          Conditioned Reflexes: Ivan Petrovitch Pavlov

Special Relativity: Albert Einstein

1908          Brownian Motion: Brown, Boltzmann, Einstein, Perrin

1911          Superconductivity: Heike Kamerlingh Onnes

1912          Continental Drift: Alfred Wegener

1913          Model of the Atom: Ernest Rutherford and Niels Bohr

1914          Neurotransmitters: Dale, Barger, Loewi

General Relativity:  Albert Einstein

Neo-Darwinism: Fisher, Haldane, Wright

1920          Stellar Evolution: Eddington, Bethe, Weizsacker, Hertzsprung, Russell

1925          Wave Particle Duality:  Heisenberg, Schrodinger, and de Broglie   

1929           The Universe Is Expanding Rapidly: Edwin Hubble

1935           Animal Instinct: Karl von Frisch, Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen

1938           Behavioral Reinforcement and Operant Conditioning: Burrhus Skinner

1946           The Computer: Alan Turing, John von Neumann

1946           Photosynthesis: Melvin Calvin

1947           The First Transistor: Shockley, Brattain, Bardeen

1952           Understanding Nerves: Alan Hodgkin and Andrew Huxley

1953           The Double-Helical Structure of DNA: James Watson and Francis Crick

 The Origin of Cellular Life: Stanley Miller and Harold Urey

1961            Hayflick Limit: Leonard Hayflick

1965            The Cosmic Microwave Background: Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson

1967            Plate Tectonics: Drummond Matthews, Frederick Vine and Dan McKenzie

1969            The Apollo Mission: Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins

1969            Defining the Five Kingdoms of Life: Robert Whittaker

1974            The Characteristics of Black Holes: Steven Hawking

1983            A Neuroscientific Explanation for Memory: Eric Kandel

1984            Superstrings; An Effort to Unify Physics: Michael Boris and John Schwarz

1996            Dolly the Cloned Sheep: Ian Wilmut

2000            The Human Genome Sequence: HGSC and Celera Genomics
A Quick Description:
This subjective systematization attempts to create disciplinary order.  If read
from bottom to top, it follows the creation of humankind:  This story begins
with the big bang (cosmology) and the creation of time, space, energy and
matter.  The matter particles created by the big bang obeys certain small
scale rules (quantum physics) and knowledge of these rules has helped us
make inferences about cosmological phenomena. Other large scale rules
(physics) help us understand intermediately sized bodies of matter.  This
matter has a tendency to condense and tends to form large, physical bodies
similar to our solar system.  Certain properties of a planetary body (geology)
within such a solar system may allow the production of organic chemicals
(chemistry), and possibly cellular life as well.  Eventually these life forms
(biology), which are replicators by nature, may adapt sophisticated ways of
responding to environmental stimuli (neuroscience).  The sophistication of
their response systems may allow them to create ways of interpreting their
environment (art/humanites).  Their interpretation of the surrounding
environment may be systematic (philosophy) and may be nearly accurate
(metaphysics).  Whether these interpretations are accurate or not,
theological or agnostic, they will probably tend to focus on the original source
of energy, the heavens above (cosmology).  
Click here for a pictorial
Organic Chemistry
Quantum Physics

Organization for the Advancement of  
Interdisciplinary Learning