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Human history is a seamless web; every event has its antecedents, its contemporaries, and its consequences. Each event arises out of the past, each is associated with other events at the time, and each leads to new events, in an endless chain. Indeed, there is difficulty in isolating any single event; when did it begin, what are its boundaries, when did it end? These are some of the problems of the social scientist generally, and of the historian in particular.
Nature is equally a seamless web. Every natural process or event has its cause or antecedent, each takes place within a complex matrix or environment, and each leaves its consequences, out of which in time flow other events or processes. As with human history, it is sometimes difficult to define an event or a process in nature--to mark its beginning, its boundaries, its ending. At the least, it is necessary to define and to limit both events and processes, and to put each in a setting- - a chemical reaction at a specified temperature and pressure, in specified concentrations, with stated degrees of impurities present, for instance. Man has established fields of knowledge or professions, such as chemistry, agronomy, genetics, and the like; but nature knows no such categories. Increasingly, we find that the really important and difficult problems lie at the crossroads of two or more of our self-established professions, rarely squarely within anyone field of knowledge.