Knowledge of Mankind and of the surrounding Nature
Considering various paleo-anthropological sources, mankind appeared on Earth about four million years ago. During these four million years, his physical and intellectual abilities did not cease to evolve, thereby changing his relationships with others and with the external environment (development of hunting, fishing, construction methods, colonization of new areas). Many archaeological remains (bones, polished and cut stone tools, ...) scattered on the African continent testify his capacity for memorization, reproduction and invention. To these capacities superimposed, a few hundred thousand years before our era, his ability to communicate orally. The spoken language was born, which differentiates it forever from the other species on Earth. There followed various forms of artistic expression (petroglyphs, cave paintings, sculptures, ...) whose layout led to the formation of the earliest writing (hieroglyphic, cuneiform, ...) systems needed to run a country, a nation, to narrate myths and legends, to pass on the beliefs of a people. Those systems borrowed all their acronyms from to the surrounding nature (plant, animal and human) and everyday life (building and housing components, religious objects, musical instruments, ...). Thus, the art of representing them for literary, counting or worship purposes resulted from a long and patient observation work.
Observation is the first step in the long road leading to the knowledge of Man and of the surrounding Nature. A necessary step, even today, to any researcher in the humanities or exact sciences, to which follows the analysis of data collected using always more sophisticated tools (telescopes, computers, ...) ; finally, the use of existing models or the development of new models is expected to provide an explanation ever closer to the observed or measured reality. The very first models were of artistic and literary kinds: these were engravings, paintings, texts relating to the creation of the universe, to the movement of the stars filling it ... To these basic questions, the Hellenic thinkers brought a geometric response, introducing the notion of hooked atoms, building heliocentric and geocentric models of the universe, ... The Arab scholars, meanwhile, created the statistical tools needed to determine the number of possible configurations of a given system - the number of words that could hold their tongue in this case. The probabilities were born, which soon would form the basis of modern science (quantum mechanics, statistical physics, ...). To evolve, this probabilistic science must examine every one of the hypothesis put forward, giving them a certain degree of probability.
In this range of possible results precisely lays the wealth of the scientific indeterminism ... and perhaps the key to a better collaboration between researchers in the humanities and exact sciences. Let's take the example of Astro-Egyptology, this scientific discipline which aims to study the astronomical orientation and/or content of the architectural, textual and parietal remains dating from ancient Egypt. Astronomers are able to built numerical models (for determining the date of the heliacal rising of a star, the astronomical source of orientation of a monument, ...) within which you just insert various data (relating to the time and latitude of the observation place) to obtain a set of likely results. On the basis of astronomical and Egyptological criteria can then be calculated the probability of each of these results, and finally isolated the most likely outcome. This new method of collaboration between Astronomers and Egyptologists has been presented in detail at the 55th and 56th colloquium of the American Research Center in Egypt (Tucson, Arizona, 2004, Boston, Massachusetts, 2005) and in the sixth issue of the Journal entitled Cahiers Caribéens d'Egyptologie. It has been well received by the Egyptologists and the Astronomers. No doubt it could be transposed to other interdisciplinary research - and thus enhance collaboration between researchers in the humanities and the exact sciences. And who knows: maybe one day will this distinction no more exist? Maybe will science be united again? We would thus better comply with its exact definition: Knowledge of Mankind and of the surrounding Nature. For Mankind and Nature are not two isolated systems: they are systems in constant interaction ...