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Honors 212: Origins of the Modern World View: Home

Getting from Topic to Question

One of the most challenging aspects of your research paper assignment often will be the process of getting from an interesting topic to a viable research question.  There are several ways you might go about doing this:

By comparing two or more works or ideas:

Pythagoras believed that a perfect fifth in music corresponds to the color yellow, but Newton, through his experiments in optics, argued that a perfect fifth corresponds to orange.  Why and how did Newton relate music and color?  Are there any fields of study today that continue to explore this relationship?

By examining trends:

In the sixteenth century, a total of six works on the topic of alchemy were published in the English language.  Between 1600 and 1650, there were a total of 14.  In the second half of the seventeenth century, though, nearly 100 different works on alchemy were published.  How can we explain this sudden upsurge?

By exploring a controversy or an area where the experts vehemently disagree:

Is Faust a scientist? 

Is Thomas Kuhn's paradigm accurate for explaining the history of science?



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