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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 08/14/2010 :  11:28:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Farseeker
I was using the term "law" as the next step in certainty after theory.
Then you were using the term completely incorrectly.

This is a classic definition, not suitable for the nuances of today's in depth research perhaps. But it is the common Joe's understanding.
Yes, many terms in science have different meanings than their casual usage. But there's nothing "classic" about your misuse of the term in the context of this discussion.

From Wikiansers

Theory: Believed to be a law or fact, it is usually the results of observation of many experiments and is an hypothesis that is yet to be proven as a law."
You can see from this definition that they use "law" and "theory" interchangeably in science. A theory doesn't become a law if it meets some specific standard of certainty. That's a common misunderstanding. For instance, scientists still speak of "the germ theory of disease" or the "theory of evolution" even though both have been firmly proven beyond any reasonable doubt. Naming something a "law" is simply an outdated scientific convention that was commonly used in Newton's time but isn't any longer.

WikiAnswers gives this as the definition of theory:
1. A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.
2. The branch of a science or art consisting of its explanatory statements, accepted principles, and methods of analysis, as opposed to practice: a fine musician who had never studied theory.
3. A set of theorems that constitute a systematic view of a branch of mathematics.
4. Abstract reasoning; speculation: a decision based on experience rather than theory.
5. A belief or principle that guides action or assists comprehension or judgment: staked out the house on the theory that criminals usually return to the scene of the crime.
6. An assumption based on limited information or knowledge; a conjecture.
Definition #1 is how the word "theory" is used in science. Definition #6 is the casual use of the word and has nothing to do with science.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 08/14/2010 11:30:44
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Farseeker
Skeptic Friend

Canada
76 Posts

Posted - 08/14/2010 :  14:22:33   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Farseeker a Private Message  Reply with Quote
. A set of statements or principles devised to explain a group of facts or phenomena, especially one that has been repeatedly tested or is widely accepted and can be used to make predictions about natural phenomena.


I can find other definitions that state a law must have a mathematical model as opposed to just "widely accepted". However, rather than playing "lets find a definition that suits us" I will use your definition, and refer back to my previous point.

Einstein revised an extremely widely held definition, proved it wrong (law of conservation of matter) and provided a testable mathematical model, e=mc2, that had a fundamental impact on almost all of humanity, not to mention opening up whole new areas of science. Name 5 other scientists since 1900 that had such an in depth and broad impact. Most everyone in the western world knows of Einstein, but who else from 1900 onward?

As far as popular fame goes coupled with originality of thought, perhaps Steven Hawking, almost. As a Canadian, I am aware of the neutrino research that goes on in Sudbury, but not many common Joe's, as you named them, are.

I spoke with an astrophysicist a while back, one who contributed to the initial discovery of planets around stars, and he pointed out that Einsteins relativity and quantum mechanics are not so much conflicting theories, as complementary ones. I am not knowledgeable enough to challenge or confirm that, but to those who like to write "Einstein is wrong, wrong, wrong", well, opinion without supporting points of reference is what? ... just a statement of bias or faith or... what?
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 08/14/2010 :  14:36:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Farseeker
Einstein revised an extremely widely held definition, proved it wrong (law of conservation of matter) and provided a testable mathematical model, e=mc2, that had a fundamental impact on almost all of humanity, not to mention opening up whole new areas of science. Name 5 other scientists since 1900 that had such an in depth and broad impact. Most everyone in the western world knows of Einstein, but who else from 1900 onward?

As far as popular fame goes coupled with originality of thought, perhaps Steven Hawking, almost. As a Canadian, I am aware of the neutrino research that goes on in Sudbury, but not many common Joe's, as you named them, are.
First of all, I didn't name anyone a "common Joe." That was your term for a layperson. Second, Hawkings isn't considered all that important a scientists by other scientists. Most concede that his contributions were not revolutionary and would have eventually been discovered by others working in the field. He is popular with the public, though. I'm not sure what your point is, exactly.

I spoke with an astrophysicist a while back, one who contributed to the initial discovery of planets around stars, and he pointed out that Einsteins relativity and quantum mechanics are not so much conflicting theories, as complementary ones. I am not knowledgeable enough to challenge or confirm that, but to those who like to write "Einstein is wrong, wrong, wrong", well, opinion without supporting points of reference is what? ... just a statement of bias or faith or... what?
Yes, anyone who says that Einstein was "wrong, wrong, wrong" without stating what Einstein was wrong about isn't being very clear. Einstein got a lot right, after all. But he wasn't perfect and did get some things wrong, most notably he was wrong about quantum mechanics. He was a strict determinist and refused to accept the validity of the uncertainty principle. Thus his statement "god does not play dice with the universe," which we now know to be wrong.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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Farseeker
Skeptic Friend

Canada
76 Posts

Posted - 08/14/2010 :  15:43:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Farseeker a Private Message  Reply with Quote
First of all, I didn't name anyone a "common Joe." That was your term for a layperson. Second, Hawkings isn't considered all that important a scientists by other scientists. Most concede that his contributions were not revolutionary and would have eventually been discovered by others working in the field. He is popular with the public, though. I'm not sure what your point is, exactly.


I was referring to comments made by Dave W. He talked about the common Joe, not me.
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Farseeker
Skeptic Friend

Canada
76 Posts

Posted - 08/14/2010 :  15:53:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Farseeker a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, anyone who says that Einstein was "wrong, wrong, wrong" without stating what Einstein was wrong about isn't being very clear. Einstein got a lot right, after all. But he wasn't perfect and did get some things wrong, most notably he was wrong about quantum mechanics. He was a strict determinist and refused to accept the validity of the uncertainty principle. Thus his statement "god does not play dice with the universe," which we now know to be wrong.


Oh, to be so certain. Nearest as I can tell, quantum physics knows nothing in a particular instance, just as a statistical probability. It is king of a life insurance company. "We know that 10 of you will die, just not which 10".

That is not a statement of cause and effect.

You may be right. In the next 100 years there may be no breakthroughs that explain why one particular atom does something but his neighbor does not. Then again, it might be found out in 200 years, or 300. If we do discover this in... say 500 years, Einstein will be vindicated.

That said, I do not advocate waiting that long. Just not being so darn certain we are NOW finally right. You can not prove Einstein wrong on that subject (lack of cause and effect, or "spooky action at a distance". Maybe light is not the fastest thing as he believed, but that is another topic). That is belief, not science.

All we can say for sure, is that Quantum Physics is currently a better model than Einsteins theory on the subject, in certain areas.

Bottom line, I am a skeptic and do not believe the last laugh has been had.

BTW, why are all these people telling God what to do or think? (ie: God does or does not play dice with the universe)? How is he even relevant?
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/14/2010 :  16:10:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Farseeker

...but the key point is that a theory and law have different connotations in language.
No, your key point was that nobody's made any physics discoveries of high "magnitude" since Einstein, which is ludicrous and so you're now trying to distract away from that claim with a semantic argument.
Your observation about neutrinos is a good example. It was considered a theory, part of the standard model, which changes all the time as we learn new things. Yet the law of conservation of mass and the law of conservation of energy had, at one time, no known exceptions.
All scientific laws are just observations for which no disconfirming examples are known.
the law of mass / energy impacts the everyday Joe, to the point that most people recognize the formula e=mc2 (yes, I know it is an approximation).

To the person near 3 Mile Island, Chernoble or Hiroshima, the fact of the increased understanding of matter - energy impacted their life, whether they liked it or not.
And now you're trying to substitute "impact" where I said "importance" in a further attempt to defend your argument. There's a whole lot of "non-fundamental" science that went into TMI, Chernobyl and Little Boy. After all, without knowing (for example) flows rates of various liquids through different-sized pipes, none of those three things would have been possible. I suppose that makes fluid dynamics as "fundamental" as E=mc2. As is the sheer strength of carbon-steel screws, the resistance of wire insulation, and the melting point of copper.

Besides, go look at the list of physics Nobel laureates, and count the number of times the words "fundamental" or "basic" are used in awarding prizes since Einstein's.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Farseeker
Skeptic Friend

Canada
76 Posts

Posted - 08/14/2010 :  16:33:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Farseeker a Private Message  Reply with Quote
No, your key point was that nobody's made any physics discoveries of high "magnitude" since Einstein, which is ludicrous and so you're now trying to distract away from that claim with a semantic argument.


Perhaps your interpretation of what I said could be modified to be "as high". So, name them.

All scientific laws are just observations for which no disconfirming examples are known.


definitely NOT. There is now evidence that light is not the fastest thing in the universe. The evidence is not widely accepted, and may be wrong... but that is not my point.

"Scientists" are not "Science". Just because scientists at the time discounted the "disconfirming" (is that a word?) evidence that invisible things caused disease did not mean there was NO disconfirming evidence. Selective blindness is rampant (my opinion).

And now you're trying to substitute "impact" where I said "importance" in a further attempt to defend your argument.


The subtlety escapes me. OK, lets go with the "importance" of Hiroshima on the common Joe living there. Whether Japanese or an American prisoner of war.

Besides, go look at the list of physics Nobel laureates, and count the number of times the words "fundamental" or "basic" are used in awarding prizes since Einstein's.


Do they include Linus Pauling? Do they include politicians? Who said they (committee selecting people to help assuage the guilt of an explosive maker) are determinant? Aren't they mostly European? Let's just ignore the other billions on earth.

I suppose that makes fluid dynamics as "fundamental" as E=mc2.


Really? Do you not see the difference between engineering and science? If not, sorry, I do not know how to reach you.

Not to say that some new concepts were not required to get that great engineering. Just that the significance, in my mind at least, did not match e=mc2.

Ted
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/14/2010 :  16:46:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Farseeker

Oh, to be so certain.
Good grief, it's like talking to a wall. You said that Einstein was "right, right, right." You were "so certain."

Nearest as I can tell, quantum physics knows nothing in a particular instance, just as a statistical probability. It is king of a life insurance company. "We know that 10 of you will die, just not which 10".

That is not a statement of cause and effect.
Neither is E=mc2.
You may be right. In the next 100 years there may be no breakthroughs that explain why one particular atom does something but his neighbor does not. Then again, it might be found out in 200 years, or 300. If we do discover this in... say 500 years, Einstein will be vindicated.
Brilliant. Just ignore Einstein's unskeptical dogmatism, if it turns out that he's right, his bad reasoning just doesn't matter.
That said, I do not advocate waiting that long. Just not being so darn certain we are NOW finally right. You can not prove Einstein wrong on that subject (lack of cause and effect, or "spooky action at a distance". Maybe light is not the fastest thing as he believed, but that is another topic). That is belief, not science.
WHAT?! "Spooky action at a distance" has been demonstrated. We can't prove Einstein wrong with a direct observation that contradicts him? He must have been a god to be so infallible.
All we can say for sure, is that Quantum Physics is currently a better model than Einsteins theory on the subject, in certain areas.
Einstein didn't even have a theory about what goes on in the quantum realm. The things he was wrong about were his criticisms of quantum theory. He never had a competitive model.
Bottom line, I am a skeptic and do not believe the last laugh has been had.
You're apparently a skeptic of everything except the bizarre view of early 20th century physics that's rattling around inside your skull.
BTW, why are all these people telling God what to do or think? (ie: God does or does not play dice with the universe)? How is he even relevant?
Again, when Einstein said "God does not play dice with the universe," he meant that physical laws shouldn't be random (he was criticizing quantum theory). He wasn't talking about any "normal" conception of any religion's god. This is what's so weird about this whole sequence of posts: you are trying to speak with authority and "skepticism" on a subject of which you are obviously ignorant.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/14/2010 :  17:03:44   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Farseeker

Perhaps your interpretation of what I said could be modified to be "as high". So, name them.
Why? I thought I was pretty clear that I'm not interested in playing your silly game.
All scientific laws are just observations for which no disconfirming examples are known.
definitely NOT.
Name a scientific law which has known exceptions.
There is now evidence that light is not the fastest thing in the universe. The evidence is not widely accepted, and may be wrong... but that is not my point.
It's an astounding claim! Where is this evidence? Why hasn't it made any news?
"Scientists" are not "Science".
Scientists are people who do science.
Just because scientists at the time discounted the "disconfirming" (is that a word?) evidence that invisible things caused disease did not mean there was NO disconfirming evidence.
I can't even parse that statement.
Selective blindness is rampant (my opinion).
Look in a mirror.
The subtlety escapes me. OK, lets go with the "importance" of Hiroshima on the common Joe living there. Whether Japanese or an American prisoner of war.
Fine. Ask them what's "important" about the bomb. If even one of them says, "it was a fine example of the law of conservation of mass-energy," I'd be amazed.
Do they include Linus Pauling?
Why would a biochemist earn a Nobel Prize in physics? You do remember that your ludicrous statement was about physics, right?
Do they include politicians?
If the politician made a significant contribution to physics, sure.
Who said they (committee selecting people to help assuage the guilt of an explosive maker) are determinant? Aren't they mostly European? Let's just ignore the other billions on earth.
Wow. You are going waaaaay down the rabbit-hole to defend the idea that nobody since Einstein has made a change to a law of physics of as large a "magnitude" as his. I don't know why you've got this hero-worship thing going on with him, but I'm not going to chase your moving goal posts around any longer.
I suppose that makes fluid dynamics as "fundamental" as E=mc2.
Really? Do you not see the difference between engineering and science? If not, sorry, I do not know how to reach you.
Really? Do you really think that fluid dynamics isn't a branch of physics? If so, sorry, I do not know how to reach you.
Not to say that some new concepts were not required to get that great engineering.
You're the one who brought up three engineering projects in defense of your idea. Now that they've been turned around on you, you resort to dismissing them as engineering. Go figure.
Just that the significance, in my mind at least, did not match e=mc2.
Well, gee, my point has been that your statement (the one with the word "magnitude") was entirely subjective, so thanks for finally admitting it.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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