How can we recognise when we have made progress in the search for knowledge?

This is an eclipse of the moon that happened on January 4th 2010. The speck near the top of the picture that looks like a Star Wars Tie Fighter but is actually the International Space Station (ISS).

The ISSĀ  exemplifies the wonder of science and our progress in this area of knowledge; it constantly flies 200 miles above our planet orbiting the earth at 17,500 miles an hour.

Whilst on board astronauts are conducting many different scientific experiments to find out more about space, from experiments to do with materials science to the effects of living in space on the human body.

If you want to know when this spacecraft will be flying over your nearest city you can select your country to find out at:

Astronauts are on board the space station for up to six months at a time. They face many challenges associated with living in an environment with no gravity, you can find out more about who they are by visiting:

You might consider in more detail what progress might look like in other areas of knowledge. Of course remember that question 7 asks you to consider only 2 contrasting areas of knowledge.

If by progress we mean ‘discovering new knowledge of the universe’ perhaps science and especially the field of astronomy has the most potential to make progress. The issue is how can it be recognised and you could consider the criteria for recognising what we define as progress. However if by progress we mean ‘a better knowledge and understanding of ourselves’ then the arts and ethics might be able to convey truths about human nature that will be outside the domain of science. On the other hand, you could measure progress by the potential usefulness and applications of knowledge? Again the central issue is what are the criteria for recognising that progress has taken place?

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