Prediction

Professor Sara Schechner shows students compasses, sextants, and a variety of other instruments that sailors used to measure and predict their location at sea.

An academic reality show: 'PredictionX' brings together faculty from across the University to discuss the human need to know the future

November 13, 2015

 

In a Science Center lecture hall at Harvard, anthropologist Rowan Flad heats a hot metal poker and touches it to a goat scapula.

The ancient Chinese, he explains, used a ritual similar to this as a means of divination. As early as 4000 B.C., they attempted to predict the future by reading the patterns created after the bone cracked from the poker’s heat.

... Read more about An academic reality show: 'PredictionX' brings together faculty from across the University to discuss the human need to know the future

Freshman Seminar 27j - Prediction: From Ancient Omens to Modern Computer Simulations

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2015

Part of what makes us human is our desire to learn our own future.  Throughout recorded history, people have sought ever-more-powerful methods of Prediction.  In ancient times, sheep were sacrificed and priests read signs from the gods in their entrails; revered oracles were consulted; and astrologers read the future in the heavens.   Great scholars began to debate determinism vs. free will–is there a pre-ordained future, or do our own actions affect the future?–and that debate has never really ended.   Today’s arguments over whether...

Read more about Freshman Seminar 27j - Prediction: From Ancient Omens to Modern Computer Simulations

About

Alyssa Goodman is the Robert Wheeler Willson Professor of Applied Astronomy at Harvard University, and a Research Associate of the Smithsonian Institution.  Goodman's research and teaching interests span astronomy, data visualization, and online systems for research and education.

... Read more about About

Pages