Matter Map

The non amateur stuff. Hawking, black holes, that sort of thing

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Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Dear Kendal Astronomer
Sorry I disagree with you on this.
To my mind science is possibly advancing too rapidly, or trying to advance too rapidly. Perhaps there are too many scientists (or too many medicre scientists producing too many theories or variations of theories, rather than making one step at a time and proving a step before jumping on to the next computer model before adequately tesing the first ?).
It is true that computers can do calculations more rapidly. However, it may also be possible that too many calculations made using slightly inaccurate inputs may be producing too many errors for sciences good.
I have plagarised some comments made recently by an engineer expressing concerns about a serious structural failure related to a relatively new bridge.
"My principal thought concerned the analysis. As software packages become more sophisticated ..................possibilities multiply................now realise..... forms that would be fantasy a generation ago............ push(ing) into unexplained territory, where the computers output supplies, rather than confirm details........"
Now in that particular instance the ultimate check on the "computer" calculation was the failure of the bridge structure - in real time.
However, it might be a long time before cosmologists theories\computer models are forced to face any real checks.
I think it can also be said with regards to Galileo being right, the evidence was really there for all to see (eg through his telescope) but Galileo's opponents were not really even prepared to look (at least initially and just rigidly relied on old doctrines).
Admittedly science is much more complicated today, but there are also quite a few different cosmological theories - arguably not all of them are currently testable and some may never be.
Best of luck from Ciff
JohnH
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Post by JohnH »

Cliff said
To my mind science is possibly advancing too rapidly, or trying to advance too rapidly.
I think we are at both an exciting and a frustrating period in the science of the biggest questions in cosmology (and also the nature of matter). All the "easy" questions have been answered, and we have an amazingly detailed understanding of how the universe works... but only up to the first split second of the big bang. Beyond that the two great theories we rely on (Relativity and Quantum theory) no longer work - and cannot be combined to give a coherent story.

We still have no firm idea of how to get further, but enquiring human minds can't be satisfied with just saying "we've reached a dead end, let's leave it there". Maybe we really have reached our limits - but there was a similar road block 100 years ago, until the whole picture was quite suddenly changed by Einstein, Planck and others.

Cosmologists and Particle Physicists are groping for a similar break-through now, and there is no way of knowing when it will come - or whether it will be the result of newly discovered facts, or an entirely new way of looking at what we already know.

The Galileo comparison is only partly relevant - but that was also a period when science had reached a road block and needed a complete revolution in our way of thinking about the universe (and demanded giving up what seemed like obvious "commonsense" for an entirely new picture that changed our whole view of nature). The outcome only looks obvious to us with the benefit of 400 years of hindsight.
John Hamilton, Cumbria
KendalAstronomer
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Post by KendalAstronomer »

Cliff wrote:It is true that computers can do calculations more rapidly. However, it may also be possible that too many calculations made using slightly inaccurate inputs may be producing too many errors for sciences good.
Yes, but the point is these innaccuracies are normally the result of the theory and will be propogated however the theory is developed. It is standard practise to validate computer and theoretical models against computational and/or theoretical models and/or data from other groups when publishing them and if a scientific paper goes out without such a validation, it will normally go back to the author requesting one.
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