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How certain is our scientific knowledge? Honestly?


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23 hours ago, sluggo said:

Science is just another human activity where you make it up as you go. Keep what works and discard the rest. Knowing that the ground is solid provides security, until there is an earthquake.

Knowledge is a process of continuous refinement.

 

I get that but how much of the science we read and hear about is solid and how much is theory? Are you saying that the certainties I hear about are just people sticking to what works these days? How likely is an earthquake?

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On 12/2/2020 at 1:15 PM, Omnifarious said:

I get that but how much of the science we read and hear about is solid and how much is theory? Are you saying that the certainties I hear about are just people sticking to what works these days? How likely is an earthquake?

I think your frustration comes from your question not being specific enough. There are many different fields of science, and while they may all have the same backbones (quantum mechanics), they come with substantially different systems and calculations; and there are more unanswered questions in some fields than in others. 

There are more unanswered questions in astrochemistry than polymeric chemistry. There are more unanswered questions in meteorology than mineralogy. There are more unanswered questions in neuroscience than hematology.

Unanswered questions comes with the territory.

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Omnifarious;
 

Quote

I get that but how much of the science we read and hear about is solid and how much is theory? Are you saying that the certainties I hear about are just people sticking to what works these days? How likely is an earthquake?

[Those people trust in the scientific method to explain the world we live in, based on limited success. They can lose perspective when predicting based on current knowledge. An example would be TOE, a 'theory of everything'. How do we know science has experienced or is aware of everything? As you mentioned, new things are discovered continuously. Judging by history, we can never be in that condition.

The end of the universe via 'increase in entropy' (all forms of energy ultimately converting to heat) assumes a continuing trend without anything new and ignores the decrease in entropy via plant and animal generation, star and galaxy formation, etc.
Tomorrow's weather is more important.

Nothing like a good dictionary!

'philosopher'
14th century. Formed from Old French philosophe via Latin from Greek philosophos , literally “lover of knowledge,” from sophia “learning, wisdom.”

'philosophy'
examination of basic concepts: the branch of knowledge or academic study devoted to the systematic examination of basic concepts such as truth, existence, reality, causality, and freedom

Just from these definitions, we can define 'science' as philosophy augmented with a system of measurement, its verification tool.

The next analogy:

A person attempts to teach his pet dog how television works. A station converts video and audio into em signals, transmits them through the air to devices that convert the signals back to video and audio. The dog watches his owners mouth make sounds, but doesn't hear anything familiar. The dog does not have the ability to understand abstract concepts of a complex nature.Replace the dog with the person and the person with a super intelligent being.The being would explain how the universe came into existence, but the person would lack the fundamental concepts to understand, since they would be foreign to any previous knowledge.

The human mind has limited abilities, and must rely on theories. Theories are based on postulates that are assumed to be true without proof. Thus all theories are conditional and open to revision. They are not on tablets that are carried down from high places.

That the ground is solid, based on the chemistry of atoms bonding to one another is factual and reassuring to the general public, but conditional depending on the situation, such as the earthquake scenario.

Newton's ideas were sufficient for his era, but limited. With the discovery of finite light speed, and no absolute reference frame, Relativity explained physical phenomena in areas where Newton couldn't. Experiments revealed light speed was constant and independent of its source making it unique and different from matter in motion.]

 

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1 hour ago, sluggo said:

A person attempts to teach his pet dog how television works. A station converts video and audio into em signals, transmits them through the air to devices that convert the signals back to video and audio. The dog watches his owners mouth make sounds, but doesn't hear anything familiar. The dog does not have the ability to understand abstract concepts of a complex nature. Replace the dog with the person and the person with a super intelligent being.The being would explain how the universe came into existence, but the person would lack the fundamental concepts to understand, since they would be foreign to any previous knowledge.

The human mind has limited abilities, and must rely on theories. Theories are based on postulates that are assumed to be true without proof. Thus all theories are conditional and open to revision. They are not on tablets that are carried down from high places.

Are you saying we are incapable of understanding some things, not because we don't have sufficient information but because our human brains aren't capable of comprehending it even when we have the background information?

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18 hours ago, Anchovyforestbane said:

I think your frustration comes from your question not being specific enough. There are many different fields of science, and while they may all have the same backbones (quantum mechanics), they come with substantially different systems and calculations; and there are more unanswered questions in some fields than in others. 

There are more unanswered questions in astrochemistry than polymeric chemistry. There are more unanswered questions in meteorology than mineralogy. There are more unanswered questions in neuroscience than hematology.

Unanswered questions comes with the territory.

Ok, so what about astrophysics? How solid is that?

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21 hours ago, Omnifarious said:

Are you saying we are incapable of understanding some things, not because we don't have sufficient information but because our human brains aren't capable of comprehending it even when we have the background information?

The concepts necessary to understand are beyond our comprehension.
'Infinity' is an example of something discussed, yet the human mind has no experience concerning it.
We understand new things in terms of what we are familiar with.
Not knowing what a nucleon is, we imagine it as a sphere, which most people can visualize.

There is no final answer with theories. They are sufficient for now until a new and improved version is formed.

The real mystery is why theoretical predictions have any success.

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21 hours ago, sluggo said:

The concepts necessary to understand are beyond our comprehension.
'Infinity' is an example of something discussed, yet the human mind has no experience concerning it.
We understand new things in terms of what we are familiar with.
Not knowing what a nucleon is, we imagine it as a sphere, which most people can visualize.

There is no final answer with theories. They are sufficient for now until a new and improved version is formed.

The real mystery is why theoretical predictions have any success.

Ok I get that if someone living in ancient Greece was transported to our time, he would not be able to comprehend the internet. And if you tried to explain it to him, he would not be able to comprehend the explanations you were giving him. To fully explain it you would have to explain computers, binary, electronics, electricity ect...

Someone in this day and age would have a much easier time because they have more background information on this day and age.

But are you saying that there are thigs we cannot comprehend, not because we lack the background information, but because our mere human brains are genetically, neurologically incapable of processing the information?

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On 12/4/2020 at 5:26 PM, sluggo said:


The end of the universe via 'increase in entropy' (all forms of energy ultimately converting to heat) assumes a continuing trend without anything new and ignores the decrease in entropy via plant and animal generation, star and galaxy formation, etc.
Tomorrow's weather is more important.

 

I find this comment interesting. When I looked into entropy I was told that it was one way, not because that's it's an absolute but because that the overwhelming odds of it. That the only way for things to move towards order is for intelligent life to move it themselves. I didn't know that new galaxies can be formed and even now I'm still having a hard time believing this.

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3 hours ago, sluggo said:

Omnifarious;
Don't fixate on explaining the world.
We don't have to understand how tv systems work to enjoy the benefits.
A concert is very pleasing to the ear without knowing the details of the compositions or training of the musicians.
 

I just wanted to know if you were talking about a lack of background information or neurological limitations.

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On 12/8/2020 at 12:04 AM, sluggo said:

Omnifarious;

As long as there is gravity and large clouds of gas, stars are formed (see Hubble photos).

Genetic code produces plant, animal, and human life forms. Chemistry forms compounds from simpler elements.

These processes in place produce more order, while there is decay and cooling.

 

The second law doesn't claim that the entropy of all parts of a system must always increase. Rather, the second law says that the total entropy of an entire closed system must always increase. Often, the biggest challenge is to correctly determine what the entire system consists of.

For example, the gas cloud collapsing under the force of gravity, forming stars and galaxies, does not violate the second law of thermodynamics. The total entropy must always increase when you consider the entire system. It is true that stars have more structural order than the original cloud of gas, but as the cloud collapses the kinetic energy of the gas particles increases and the cloud gets hotter and radiates away a tremendous amount of heat. This radiation gets stronger the more organized the particles become which is most evident when stars are formed. When you add up all of that heat and light radiating into another part of space, you find that the total entropy of the entire system has increased.

As for living things, once again it is necessary to define the total system to see that living things actually cause an increase in total entropy. It is true living things  reduce the local entropy in one place by creating structure such as DNA, protein, bone etc. inside the organism, but all this local entropy decrease comes at the expense of a larger increase in the global entropy, caused by such things as feeding on other living organisms and breaking down those structures during digestion, then excreting waste products and heat during respiration. When all the bookkeeping is done, we find that total entropy is always increased.

 

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On 12/9/2020 at 5:09 PM, sluggo said:

Omnifarious;
Don't fixate on explaining the world.
We don't have to understand how tv systems work to enjoy the benefits.
A concert is very pleasing to the ear without knowing the details of the compositions or training of the musicians.
 

So is it a lack of information that keeps us from understanding big things? Or is it that we are incapable due to the genetic/nurilogical limits of our human brains?

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On 12/7/2020 at 5:04 PM, sluggo said:

Omnifarious;

As long as there is gravity and large clouds of gas, stars are formed (see Hubble photos).

Genetic code produces plant, animal, and human life forms. Chemistry forms compounds from simpler elements.

These processes in place produce more order, while there is decay and cooling.

 

I knew that new starts are formed but how can new galaxies form?

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On 12/2/2020 at 2:15 PM, Omnifarious said:

I get that but how much of the science we read and hear about is solid and how much is theory? Are you saying that the certainties I hear about are just people sticking to what works these days? How likely is an earthquake?

This site has fallen on hard times I see! Do you not know what a theory is in scientific context? In science a theory is as good as it gets, or to use your terminology as "solid" as it gets. In science the word you might be looking for is hypothesis but theories are solid, from heliocentric theory to evolutionary theory they are the best explanation we have for explaining a phenomenon. 

Yes, faster than light is impossible, an object cannot be accelerated to a speed equal to or in excess of the speed of light in a vacuum. It must be remembered that the speed of light limit is not really about light but about information. Information cannot be exchanged faster than light, this includes physical objects. 

Schemes to exceed the speed of light like warp drives and wormholes require other impossibilities like negative mass.  

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