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Mathieu Isidro

public information officer, European Southern Observatory

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Is Astronomy the mother of all natural sciences?

Astronomy, the study of the Universe, rather than being one field of science, is increasingly becoming an umbrella term involving most if not all fields of natural sciences. The obvious ones, such as Maths, Physics, Chemistry, and the less obvious, such as Geology, Biology, and even "Meteorology".
Do you then agree that astronomy has evolved to become more than just one field of science, and possibly includes all fields?

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    May 3 2012: Oh no sir, the mother of all natural sciences is the one in which the speaker holds an advanced degree. I have heard the same expressions of aspiration to supremacy from Physicists. Historically there is a matriarch who rules over all science, but she is not the Mother of the sciences. She is Queen of the sciences. She is Theology.
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      May 4 2012: Dear Edward. Thank you for your reply. I actually had not thought about theology, and this is a valid point, but isn't theology more focused on studying and comparing religions from a scientific point of view? In that sense it's almost more similar to sociology and anthropology. But when it comes to explaining the Universe (in it's physical sense), my argument is that maths alone can't do it, physics neither, nor can chemistry, etc. hence one needs a combination of all these, and that is astronomy.
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        May 4 2012: Are you prepared to defend the idea that being an astronomer requires the same physics training as a physicist, the same math training as a mathematician, and the same chemistry training as a chemist? Hmmmm.
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          May 4 2012: Definitely not. My point is not that all astronomers know all fields of sciences like specialists do, but that within astronomy, most other fields of science are included and are in fact needed for a complete understanding of the cosmos. You have astronomers who specialize in chemistry, some who master biology, some who specialize in physics, and others, like cosmologists, who specialize in physics and maths. But all share, I think, at least a working understanding of physics and maths.
          Using a metaphor, individual fields of science are like pieces of a puzzle which, once completed, explains the Universe, and that is what astronomy is.
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        May 5 2012: Sorry Mathieu, I see astronomy as just another piece of your metaphorical puzzle. By the way, did I miss a meeting? When was the explanation of the Universe published? I know there are a few theories about Bangs, Crunches and Multiverses, etc.
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          May 5 2012: Indeed Edward it's a sum of theories that try to explain the Universe - and there is no single verified explanation although there are leading theories. It's a work in progress...Personally I have a hard time believing in strings and other universes but that is another topic altogether!

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