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Re: [APD] Science

Even the laws of physics do not get repealed just because of new 
discoveries.  Newton's laws work just as well today as they ever did.  
What does change is that we try to apply those laws to new (to us) 
conditions, and find that they don't work very well there.  Newton's 
laws work very well for a baseball or a planet, but not very well for a 
proton or a galaxy.  (Newton's laws have never been an explanation for 
why things act as they do, just for how to determine how they act.  Why 
is always a more complicated question.)  This is similar to a tape 
measure - it gives very accurate results for measuring the length of a 
25 foot two by four, but isn't nearly as good for measuring the length 
of a city block or an ant.  It isn't that the tape measure became 
inaccurate, it's that different things require different measuring 
techniques.  (Try using quantum mechanics to determine the time it 
takes to drive downtown at an average speed of 15 mph.)

I used to wonder how life would be different if it were discovered that 
time travel is possible.  The answer, of course, is that nothing would 
change for me.  Physical reality doesn't depend upon our discovering 
new laws of physics.  Only our ability to understand physical reality 
or measure and predict are dependent upon laws of physics.

Vaughn H.

On Wednesday, November 2, 2005, at 06:47 AM, Rachel Sandage wrote:

> You wrote:
> . What I'm trying to get across is that anyone who stands on a
>> box, you know who you are and there are several of you, and says this 
>> is
>> the "enter name" law or make any innuendo of said theory being fact, 
>> is
>> making a somewhat asinine comment. because to call anything 
>> scientific a
>> law or claim it to be a definitive fact is ridiculous.
>  No, there are millions of definitive facts. If you drop an apple, it 
> will
> fall. If you watch the motion of the planets, they move in a 
> particular way.
> If you put x amount of sugar in y amount of water at z degrees, it 
> will or
> will not entirely dissolve, depending on the amount of sugar and the 
> amount
> and temperature of water. These are scientific facts and they will not
> change - or do your apples float around when they come off the tree?
>  Where bad science comes in is in the scientist's interpretation of the
> facts. Newon observed that apples fall, but he had the wrong reason. 
> Early
> astronomers watched the planets move, and insisted that they were 
> revolving
> around the earth - even if it meant that the planets had to somehow 
> stop and
> go backwards.
>  The point is that while our interpretation of the facts might change, 
> the
> behavior of the physical world does not change. Apples still fall, 
> sugar
> still dissolves, and planets still whip around the sun in their 
> elliptical
> orbit, sweeping out equal areas in equal amount of time, just as 
> Johannes
> Kepler said they would.
>  So if someone comes up with a hypothesis (an idea based on 
> observation,
> which is tested by experimentation to become a theory) which says that 
> the
> physical behavior of something is different from what other people say 
> it is
> then that needs to be proved. Remember that the ancients all agreed on 
> what
> the position of the planets was, they disagreed on what it meant. And
> rigorous scientific procedure requires control of variables. It's not 
> Enough
> to say "I saw it, and so it is true", because your interpretation of 
> what
> you see may be proved. Increased plant growth doesn't necessarily mean 
> that
> a physical law has been violated - in fact, they may be completely
> unrelated. No-one is disagreeing with Tom about the increased plant 
> growth -
> just about his claim that it proves that a scientific theory about the
> dissolution of gas in liquid is wrong.
>  There is a crisis of scientific education in this country, and your
> statement that there are no definitive facts is just one facet of it. 
> The
> whys may change, but the facts just don't - or would you like to stand 
> under
> a suspended piano and see what happens when I cut the rope?
>  Rachel
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