Focus on East Asia
Prof. Craig Benjamin
October 6, 2014
The Parallel between Eastern philosophy and Modern Science
Niels Bohr is the Nobel-prize winning physicist that developed the Bohr model of the atom, which proposes that electrons revolve in orbits around the nucleus, occasionally jumping from one energy orbit to another. He also proposed the principle of complementarity, which states that an electron or light can behave as either a wave or a stream of particles depending on the experiment. When Niels Bohr was knighted in 1947 he designed his own coat of arms which consisted of the symbol of yin and yang and a Latin motto which read: "opposites are complementary". To Bohr, one of the earliest- and seemingly simplest- theories of the universe was a guide to exploring the world of modern physics. This essay explores the role of this ancient theory as a major theme in the science disciplines.[1:
Pais, Abraham (1991). Niels Bohr's Times, In Physics, Philosophy and Polity. Oxford: Clarendon Press.][2: Bohr crest". University of Copenhagen.]
In ancient Chinese cosmology, yin and yang are two contrasting but complementary principles that control the universe. Their repeated vacillation feeds the energy crucial for the universe to sustain itself, and their constant fusion and fission is at the origin of the coming and going of the entities and phenomena of the universe. [3: Pregadio, Fabrizio. "Yin and Yang." New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. Ed. Maryanne Cline Horowitz. Vol. 6. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2005. 2509-2510. Gale Virtual Reference Library.]
The theory of Yin and Yang is an age-old Chinese philosophy. Scholars trace its origins back to the ancient text of I Ching, also known as Book of Changes, a divination text which itself originates from a Western Zhou divination text called...