“History is always on the move, slowly eroding today’s orthodoxy and making space for yesterday’s heresy. ” Discuss the extent to which this claim applies to history and at least one other area of knowledge. In order to find out if the claim applies to the areas of knowledge history and chemistry I will break the question down in three parts. Firstly I ask if history and chemistry move. Secondly I question if it erodes today’s orthodoxy and finally I consider if yesterday’s heresy takes over. In my opinion the claim applies to some extent to history and to a great extent to chemistry. Are history and chemistry always on the move? Moves in history can have various causes: the discovery of new facts, a different focus of interest or a political shift. In the year 2005 a Bosnian archaeologist called Semir Osmanagic suspects there are pyramids in his homeland Bosnia and Herzegovina. Anthropologists say the Visoko valley already offers ample evidence of organized human settlements dating back 7000 years. [1] This discovery would change the entire European history. Something that was commonly accepted, that the first pyramids came from Egypt, has altered completely. Thus history is moving. A counter argument to this could be that history just repeats itself and does not move at all. The Renaissance is a repetition of the Classical times, in which the work of ancient scholars was studied again. Painting, sculpture and architecture were influenced by the Latin and Greek culture, so that “paintings became more realistic and focused less often on religious topics. ”[2] Furthermore, the name ‘rebirth’ was not given for nothing, it was a repetition. One might say that history is not always on the move, it just reiterates. Scientist observe nature and try to explain what they see with the help of theories. The nature itself does not change, but the way they look at it is different. A paradigm is the idea of a prevailing theory or model, which is commonly accepted by a whole community. When a scientific revolution takes place, the paradigm changes, and with the paradigm all basic concepts of the science. If we look at paradigm changes of atomic models through time, we see that Dalton (1807) displayed atoms as a solid, indivisible ultimate particles of matter. In 1898 Thompson imagined an atom to be like ‘Plum Pudding’. Rutherford (1911) presented the ‘Planetary’ model, which shows electrons in finite orbits. In the present model, we imagine the electrons in orbitals having precise energies and diffuse spacial properties, often referred to as electron clouds. [3] The model of displaying atoms keeps changing and so does chemistry. One might argue that chemistry is not always on the move, because it takes place when a researcher finds an anomaly and he is aware of it. Only then he will search for a possible explanation. If this anomaly can not be explained by the current paradigm, he has to come up with a new theory. Until the whole community is dissatisfied with the current paradigm, a crisis emerges, and new paradigm will be accepted. [4] This shows that history just moves in times of crisis. Is today’s orthodoxy eroded? An aspect of Bosnian history that has struck me since coming here is that each ethnic group has it’s own version of the past. In Bosnia there are three main ethnic groups: Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs. Each of them blames the other for starting the Bosnian war from 1991 to 1995 and has their own story about who was the first victim of the war. My Croatian friend tells me that at first a man was killed in the Croatian town Caplina. On the other hand my Bosniak friend says that the first fallen was a guest on a wedding in Sarajevo. However, my Serbian classmate claims that the war started because a Serb in Pale was murdered. The common prevailing history is eroded and has made place for three different versions. On the contrary, it has also happened that after an important discovery othing happened. Besides an excellent painter, Leonardo Da Vinci was also inventor and scientist. Had his theories been published in his time, then “they would have revolutionized the science of the 16th century. Leonardo actually anticipated many discoveries of modern times. ”[5] He studied the circulation of the blood in anatomy and did a great discovery on the circulatory system. Unfortunately his insight did not erode today’s orthodoxy. This could be explained by the influence of the church, which determined what was commonly accepted in those days. Only a century later, William Harvey published a book in which he wrote about the discovery of the human circulatory system as his own. [6] In this example the prevailing orthodoxy does not change, even after an important discovery. In chemistry a new paradigm will only be accepted when it can answer the question, which the previous paradigm couldn’t. This means that today’s orthodoxy must be eroded. “At the end of the eighteenth century it was widely known that some compounds ordinarily contained fixed proportions by weight of their constituents. [7] Yet, “the generalization of this theory was impossible without an abandonment of affinity theory and a reconceptualization of the boundaries of the chemist’s domain. ”[8] The meteorologist Dalton approached these problems with a different paradigm than his contemporary chemists and this lead to the Chemical Atomic Theory. The old theory was rejected in order to accept the new one. However, one might argue that scientific revolutions are invisible. Therefore we cannot know if today’s orthodoxy has been eroded. Since scientific revolutions are difficult to date, we do not know when they started or ended exactly. Thus, one can assume that it is not possible to determine if the commonly accepted changed. Does yesterday’s heresy take over? History can change when new facts are discovered. More information about a historical event is available and therefore new knowledge. This allows us to describe an event in the past more accurately. An example of the discovery of new facts is the DNA analyzer. This new research method can reveal details about the Neanderthal DNA. [9] The analyzer allows researchers to find out the entire DNA sequence of the closest cousin humans ever had. The ability to reconstruct prehistoric DNA enables scientists to find out what relationship existed between Neanderthals and the first modern humans. “Such a feat, deemed impossible even a few years ago”[10] This implies that yesterday’s heresy has been replaced by today’s orthodoxy. Nevertheless, there are examples of events where yesterday’s heresy did not take over. The Armenian Genocide is one of them. This change in history is caused by a different focus of interest from the involved parties. The Armenian genocide can be defined as “the atrocities committed against the Armenian people of the Ottoman Empire during W. W. I . ”[11] It is in the interest of the Armenians to display the events that happened between 1915 and 1918 as genocide, because they want formal acknowledgment of the crimes committed during W. W. I. [12] However, the Republic of Turkey denies that a genocide was committed against the Armenians. It is in the interest of Turkey not to affirm the truth about the occurrence. Since there are two possible histories, yesterday’s heresy did not take over. In chemistry if often occurs that what was commonly accepted is replaced by something which was not thinkable at that time. An example is the discovery of oxygen. The British scientist Priestley isolated a gas and saw it as dephlogisticated air. [13] He lacked the framework to understand what he had isolated. Only after a paradigm change had taken place, another chemist, called Lavoisier, was able to see the gas as oxygen. Both were looking at the same phenomenon, but only one was able to see the gas from which air existed. “Lavoisier saw nature differently… after discovering oxygen Lavoisier worked in a different world. ”[14] For Priestley it was unthinkable that the gas was oxygen, and thus it was yesterday’s heresy which took over. A different focus of interest, political shifts or the discovery of new facts, like the Bosnian pyramids, cause history to move. Even repetition, as the Renaissance, is a change and so history is always on the move. Due to these changes the prevailing orthodoxy mostly alters, as I perceive from my surroundings in Bosnia. Despite of Da Vinci’s progressive discovery, it is rare that important findings are not recognized. Furthermore, there are many cases, like the Armenian genocide where there is not one prevailing history, but more. Thus, I can conclude that yesterday’s heresy does not necessarily take over. The claim applies to some extent to history. Just as history, chemistry is always on the move. Science is subject to alteration, as we perceive trough different atomic models in time. Chemistry works in such a way that when a new theory is accepted the old one has to be rejected. In case of the Atomic Theory we see that it is impossible to keep the prevailing orthodoxy, it has to be eroded. Furthermore, after a paradigm change something that what was unthinkable before becomes commonly accepted. Scientists have to come up with a new theory, like the discovery of oxygen, although this is often unthinkable for the scientist of that time. Yesterday’s does take over and thus the claim applies to a great extent to chemistry. Changes in history and chemistry will be taking place in the future, as they have done in the past. What we are learning in school today, may be nonsense tomorrow and therefore knowledge could be relative to time and place. If these areas of knowledge continue working in this way, there might be a day in the future when people read this essay and say: ‘her knowledge was so limited. ’ Bibliography http://www.armenian-genocide.org/genocidefaq.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circulatory_system http://www.mrdowling.com/704renaissance.html