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Engineering and reality science


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The engineer occupies a unique position in science. The engineer turns science into practical reality on a large scale. The type of science that interfaces nicely to engineering and practical reality is called applied science. Pure science interfaces itself to applied science to help improve the state of the art within applied science. For example, improvements in materials (pure science), has led to improvements in semi-conductors (applied science) that has helped the production of better computer memory (engineering).


Theoretical science is a little different. It is often out there at the fringe of science. In this distant position it may or may not be directly scaleable into practical reality by engineering. Practical theoretical science needs an interface with pure science, or better yet, applied science for it to be useful to the engineer.


For example, if we look at the physics of the nucleus, the theoretical stuff of the 1920's quickly became applied science. It led to two nuke bomb designs and well as nuclear power plant designs. This theoretical physics was reality physics since engineers were able to scale it up into practical reality.


In modern theoretical subparticle physics there isn't yet a good bridge to applied science that would allow the engineer to scale-up into practical reality. The engineer can build the equipment needed to measure such sub-structure, but he does not use this new theory to do so, but rather uses more traditional applied science to develop the needed technology.


If modern theoretical subparticle physics was interfaced to practical science, the engineer should be able to use sub-principles to pertubate the nucleus of atoms to create unique orbital designs, which, in turn, would allow the manufacture of unique molecules. Such molecules, as these would have some very unique properties and applications. This is all sci-fi, because this range of theoretical science does not interface itself easily to practical science. Without an interface to engineering and practical science one never knows for sure whether the theory reflects practical reality or not.


For example, besides the standard theory of physics, there is now string theory as well as aether wave theory that all do the same thing in their own unique ways. Yet none of them interface well to practical science or scale-up. This creates an interesting situation from the view point of an engineer. These three are mutually exclusive, implying they can't all be right, while none of them are yet scaleable. One reality litmus test would be to see which of these can interface itself to the last practical nuclear physics that was able to spawn engineering marvels like the nuke bombs and nuke power. If theoretical sciences is not able to interface itself to pure or practical science it is called science philosophy.


In the practical world, science philosophy should interface theoretical science. The latter should interfaces itself to pure science, which should interface itself to applied science, which the engineer can then use to create something in practical reality. The three models of physics, instead of heading toward the needs of the engineer, are heading toward the needs of philosophy. Only in philosohy can one have three mutually exclusive theories for reality, since philosophy is subjective and therefore not constrained by physical reality.


In my humble opinion, knowing what we know in this hierarchy of science, one should start at solid ground in practical reality and build science upwards toward toward science philosophy, instead of the other way around. This makes sure sciences interfaces reality.

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The engineer interfaces science with reality. The engineer is limited by the practical constraints of reality. This is a good litmus test for science. For example, an architech can design a building that looks like the new state of the art. But once the engineer tries to build it, if it falls down, it wasn't state of the art. Just because it looks like state of the art on paper and follows the latest thinking does not guarentee it will work in reality. The architech may build a little model and it appear to work fine. The engineer has to scale up, which add a whole new set of constraints, connected to practical reality.


Where the interface problem between science and reality often lies, is within the limits of needed periphreal science. If the architech could get the material scientists to design unique new light'strong materials, and if he could get others to improve the state of the art construction practices, etc., the design may actually work. Speciality theory often does not create all the needed periphreal tweaks required for the science to become part of practical reality. Often the engineer will help pure science become applied science, since putting pure science practice will create problems, which will suggest the needed tweaks.


If you look at 1920's physics, building the A-bomb was a learning process as engineers and scientists worked back and forth. This evolve the state of the art on both directions. The science was evolve in the process. The off the shelf science was not fully baked.


A more obvious example, was the H-bomb. The hydrogen fuel was chosen to be lithium deuteride. When they tested the first device, it turned out that practical reality had lithium participating in the fusion. This was not predicted but was a result of engineering. This changed the science so it was thereafter better in touch with reality. This led to real change instead of imaginary change from premises sheltered from a reality check.

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I really disagree HB.


The aim of science is that of increasing knowledge (about reality). Mathematics isn't science, although many consider it so because it is very useful to science.


The aim of engineering is that of designing something useful (or, at least, that people want) that works as well as possible for a given cost. Modern engineers find science very useful to their purpose. Applied science is an intermediate step, but it isn't one between "unreal" science and reality, it's a study of knowledge aimed at how to use it.


As for the architect, it is certainly a practice oriented to aesthetics but, in most countries AFAIK, they are able to do the structural and functional design as well. Over here at least, to graduate in architecture one has to pass courses in construction science and after graduation one may attain habilitation (by passing the state test) to sign construction projects.


Whatever you are trying to prove, perhaps you should get your facts straight?

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The distinction I was making was, science, subject to engineering, has to be in touch with reality. Science that is more distance from applied science is still called science and may correlate data. But it has no guarentee that it fully reflects reality.


For example, in physics there is the standard or quantum theory of submatter. There is the wave aether theory and the string theory, all of which do a good job correlating reality. However, these are quite mutually exclusive, such that they all can not be correct at the same time. Yet they all do the job farily well. The common link to all is mathematics. Which of these reflects reality and which are just a good correlation of reality? There is no good way to tell, so they all live on. It comes down to popularity which is subjective and not objective. These are all science supported by mathematics, but which is reality?


One engineering litmus test of their reality is fusion. But none are useful enough to get the job done. Fusion was demonstrated in the 1950's using primative physics by modern comparision. This was reality science because it could be used to engineer something. Somewhere along the line, reality physics took a detour and we have mathematical illusions that can not pass the reality litmus test of controlled fusion. I believe if we went back 50 years ago that physics would do just as well. It had already proved itself capable via a reality litmus test.


Modern physics needs to reverse engineer itself and try to hook back up with the last real practical reality physics. Between what we know now and that tangible reality, one should be able to come up with a more progressive version of reality that can be demonstrated via fusion.

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Science that is more distance from applied science is still called science and may correlate data. But it has no guarentee that it fully reflects reality.
Well then I don't know what you mean by the word 'reality'.


These are all science supported by mathematics, but which is reality?
No, they are supported by how well they match observation (of reality). Mathematics is a manner of relating and understanding things and it has a prominent role in the modern way of discussing physics, but it isn't the grounds for verification.


I'm not sure what you're getting at with the talk about fusion but it doesn't fit with facts known to me. It was much simpler to create the conditions for fusion with a fission explosion, that's why less advanced knowledge of physics sufficed. Maintaining these conditions in a finely controlled way, and anywhere near stable, is a totally different matter. How this goal has been reached involved a heavy mathematical study too, without which experimental data would be meaningless and give no clue as to the best way to go. I know a few people involved in research into the tokamak method, I've even heard an example of a mathematicle problem tackled for the purpose. And yet this process gradually brought to the goal of sustained fusion in the lab and not in a bomb (a very real goal). Once these people have got things to the right point, the engineers can start working on the design of €commercially$ viable reactors, but this is just the next stage of "reality". Fusion is already something real, and has been for a while.


Between what we know now and that tangible reality, one should be able to come up with a more progressive version of reality that can be demonstrated via fusion.
Eh? :eek_big: In what sense could you ever demonstrate a more progressive version of reality via fusion? :)
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This is very subtle. One of the conditions required for engineering type reality is simplicity. Often the science gets very hairy and becomes too difficult to impliment. This is not to say engineers are stupid, but they have many other things to worry about and need the bottom line with respect to the science. This is not to say, the hairy is not reality. But if it can be narrowed down to simpicity, the expanded version has a much greater odds of also being correct. These periphreal layers are added after simple successful experiments.


In other words, if something is full of fudge factors that make it work, it may not be reduceable to simplicity. These fudge factors may help the correlation but they may indicate departure from practical reality. If the engineer has to start with hairy instead of simple, the results may take much longer to occur. In the mean time, the hairy science will continue to evolve with no guarentee it is grounded in practical reality.

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You might enjoy this fun, NY Times article on Quantum


In yet another theory, called "many worlds," the universe continually branches so that every possibility is realized: the Red Sox win and lose and it rains; Schrödinger's cat lives, dies, has kittens and scratches her master when he tries to put her into the box.
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The aims of science and those of engineering are quite different. They are however both aims concerning reality.


Certainly that of science isn't practicality, it is the aim of increasing knowledge. This knowledge can then be useful for practical purposes. Perhaps HB you meant practicality rather than reality.


Although the basic aims are different, there isn't a lack of each one in the other. Some knowledge was essentially worked out by engineers, when it was central to their needs, before physicists got interested in it. Thermodynamics was a prominent example of this. In a similar manner, many topics of advanced mathematics were started by theoretical physicists who needed a new tool. In the opposite way, many experimental scientists are confronted with practical problems to solve, and find the solutions, which is quite fitting with the nature of scientific study.


Some engineers have concocted their own many worlds interpretations, before the really pratical solutions were found. The old engineer's dictum "less complicated is less chance of failure" is well known. It can certainly be important in the lab, but is all the more essential for a wide scale commercial product.

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From my background (and working with city engineers all the time) I know engineers often find the limits that physics and the sciences impose on them and then make any recommendations redundantly safe.

So if a beam is only going to support a maximum of 5000 pounds then an engineer will say you need two of them to support a 4000 pound machine. How or why they come up with these numbers is Greek to me, but I'm a physicist and computer geek not an engineer.


An architect once sat down with me and suggested that I not become an engineer because I seemed to have too much sense and personality to be an engineer and I laughed, but he was serious.

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An architech is often trying to make a work of art as much as a functional design. They would like to leave a unique design behind, which has the artistic appeal that defines their style. This artwork layer confronts the reality of materials and building techniques, placing compromises on their innate artistic talents that they don't always find amusing.


Even science can become artistic in its own way. The architects of physics have built something that isn't really that practical. It looks beautiful on paper. But the engineers are not knowledgeable enough to trim off the fat. Nor are the physicists willing to trim any of its artistic appeal. The result is no controlled fusion in the immediate future, even after 20 years.


Picuture an engineer who is totally receptive to an architect and will build the art layer into the practical layer. What this means is that the engineer needs a lot of ingenuity. He may have to invent all types of new things to get the job done. Who gets all the credit after it is built? It is the architect who created the design that had to be force fitted. The physics is too complicated for even the most ingenius engineers to be able to force it to work.

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