Sunday, September 24, 2006

About Philosophia Naturalis

In this edition of the Tangled Bank I raised the issue of a blog carnival focused on the physical sciences and technology. Since the response was encouraging, I have started such a carnival. It has been named Philosophia Naturalis, and the first edition has already been published here.

The name is Latin for Natural Philosophy, which Wikipedia describes as "a term applied to the objective study of nature and the physical universe that was regnant before the development of modern science." The name is also a reference to Isaac Newton's 1687 Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (although Newton didn't originate the term).

Just as the Tangled Bank focuses its attention on the life sciences and medicine, Philosophia Naturalis will take the physical sciences and technology as its focus. That doesn't mean just "physics". The physical sciences include physics, astronomy, cosmology, chemistry, mathematics, computer science, and Earth sciences. And just as medicine is applied life science, technology is applied physical science, including such topics as nanotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, alternative energy, and quantum computing.

The blog named Philosophia Naturalis is the "home page" for the carnival. Here you will find announcements (such as what you're reading now) related to the carnival, notification of upcoming publication dates, announcements of the publication of new editions when they occur, messages about carnival policies and procedures, and any other messages pertinent to the carnival.

The actual editions of the carnival will be hosted at other sites -- generally a site belonging to the editor of each edition. The locations will be identified in announcements here. Since these announcements will be archived here, you can always locate older editions (unless the host site deletes the edition or completely disappears -- which we hope seldom happens!)

If you want to keep informed about what's going on with the carnival, and especially about when new editions are published, all you have to do is add the RSS feed for this blog to your favorite feed reader/aggregator.

Why another carnival? Surprisingly, there seem to be no carnivals out there now having this focus. There needs to be a way for people interested in any of the physical sciences and advanced technology to easily read new articles in these fields -- articles that have been judged to be especially noteworthy. There also needs to be a way for people who write about these topics to bring their work to the attention of a wider audience.

You can become involved in this project right now. It needs you to submit suggestions for articles to be included. This may be your own writing. However, since only links and brief quotations will be published in editions of the carnival, anyone other than the copyright owner can also send in suggestions of especially good articles they've found.

We're looking for the best articles published on the Web within the past few months that fall within the topic focus. Articles may range from introductory tutorials for a wide audience to more specialized pieces that still may be interesting to educated people with an active curiosity. These need not be blog articles. They could also be any good, short science writing that first appeared in a print publication and has been posted on the Web by its copyright holder for general access.

To submit an article, all you have to do is send a short email message to, with a link to the article and a few words why you're recommending it. Please put "Philosophia Naturalis" somewhere in the subject line.

Of course, we also need volunteer editors. If you have a blog which deals with the physical sciences and technology, even a little bit, you are eligible to edit and host a future edition of the carnival. Simply send your request to the same email address noted above. Editing is actually a lot of fun, and not all that much work -- and your blog will benefit from a great deal of attention and traffic when your edition appears.

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