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dc.contributor.authorHunt, James Christopheren_US
dc.description.abstractThe cosmologist Dennis W. Sciama (1926-1999) was a long-standing advocate of the steady state model of the universe. This theory, originally proposed in 1948 by Hermann Bondi, Thomas Gold, and Fred Hoyle, suggested that the universe was eternal, and unchanging on the largest scales. Contrary to the popular image of a scientist as a dispassionate, unbiased investigator of nature, Sciama fervently hoped the steady state model to be correct. In addition, and also pace the stereotypical image of a scientist, Sciama was motivated significantly by "extrascientific" or aesthetic factors in his adoption of the model. Finally, Sciama, in a stark contrast to the naive falsificationism usually presented as a virtue of the "scientific method," went through a several-year period of attempting to "save" the model from hostile data.

However, Sciama abandoned the model in 1966 due to increasingly reliable data relating to the distribution of quasars. Thus the Sciama case also stands as a counterexample to irrationalist criticisms of science, according to which scientists can and will always find ways to hold on to their "pet" theories until they die, regardless of contradictory data. Sciama's conversion also sheds light on the iterative process that goes on as scientists localize and attempt to repair faults in their theories.

dc.publisherVirginia Techen_US
dc.rightsI hereby certify that, if appropriate, I have obtained and attached hereto a written permission statement from the owner(s) of each third party copyrighted matter to be included in my thesis, dissertation, or project report, allowing distribution as specified below. I certify that the version I submitted is the same as that approved by my advisory committee. I hereby grant to Virginia Tech or its agents the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible, under the conditions specified below, my thesis, dissertation, or project report in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. I retain all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis, dissertation or project report. I also retain the right to use in future works (such as articles or books) all or part of this thesis, dissertation, or project report.en_US
dc.subjectsteady stateen_US
dc.subjectPlanck's Principleen_US
dc.subjectaesthetics of scienceen_US
dc.subjecttheory choiceen_US
dc.title"We Shall Have to Make the Best of It:" The Conversion of Dennis Sciamaen_US
dc.contributor.departmentScience and Technology Studiesen_US
dc.description.degreePh. D.en_US D.en_US Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen_US and Technology Studiesen_US
dc.contributor.committeechairPitt, Joseph C.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberBurian, Richard M.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberHirsh, Richard F.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberWeiss, Steven C.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberReeves, Barbara J.en_US

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