Monday, 17 February 2014

The Science of Non-Absolutes

Scientists....usually end up postulating order to prove a discovery or conception is right.  They make up a theory from evidence collected, hours upon hours of analysis, and models.  Theories are thought to be fact, until proven wrong.

In the mid-to-late 1800s....a French mathematical wiz sat down and looked at the orbit of Mercury.  Hours of study were put into the study, and this guy would eventually produce a hard and factual case that a planet stood somewhere between Mercury and the Sun....thus creating an orbit which was not  "perfect" in nature.  This other planet (given the name Vulcan)....was drawing Mercury slightly out of orbit.

It was a neat discovery.  After publishing this....most everyone in Europe jumped on the wagon, and for at least a decade....amateur astronomers boldly agreed that they had noted such a small tiny planet out there, and it could only be Vulcan.   So they produced newspaper articles, postulated their own theories, and wrote science papers for science journals.  Absolute evidence existing?  No....just this wobble of sorts in Mercury's orbit, and a thousand-odd astronomers saying that they had seen such a planet (Vulcan).

Oddly enough....around forty years into this episode....Einstein around 1915....not an astronomer....came out with a theory to explain the wobble.  Between Einstein's theory and WW I....the search for Vulcan quietly ended.  No one says much about all this printed material, science data, astronomer meetings where debate after debate went into detail over Vulcan's mythical existence. The science community quietly just folded up the revival tent, and pretended nothing occurred, and journalists did everyone a favor by never retelling the Vulcan story in public forums.

In Italian astronomer came up with a massive discovery....canals on Mars.  The news media at the time....picked this up, and most every newspaper in America and Europe....covered the discovery in some way....some with just a paragraph...some with vast comments of fluff, which were mostly science talk with no basis.

Some scientist at the time....drew maps of the canals....which got into publication, and got the public to openly believing in the idea that a canal can only exist....if some species builds it.  Naturally, this meant people existed on Mars.

For around fifty-odd years....this canal story existed, and got some traction whenever a newspaper ran out of local stories, scandal, or crime stuff.

In the 1960s....scientist came up with a number of facts....with images taken of the planet, and simply noted that the canals were naturally occurring items.

How many newspapers recanted their reports going back to the 1877-period?  None.

Finally, Einstein sat down at some point....probably on a bad day or maybe influenced by some lusty gal from the coffee shop.....and put up a theory called the 'static universe' theory.  Basically, under this scheme....the universe was totally static, and never moving.

This theory got published and was generally accepted in 1917.  It was in the midst of the war, and I doubt if more than a thousand scientists really paid attention to it at the time.  After the war, it got picked up and discussed widely.  Yes, it was accepted to a great extent.

For about ten years....the static universe idea was concrete.  At some point by the mid-1920s....several folks were looking at the static nature of the  universe, and came to have problems with the idea.  In 1927.....the Lemaitre Theory came out....which strongly cancelled out the Einstein static idea, and replaced it with an expanding theory.

Naturally....Einstein refused to believe the challenge, and immediately discounted it.  Four years later....1931...Einstein quietly entertains the idea that the universe can't be static.  He's not really convinced completely....but the idea of absolutely no expansion.....just plain static values?  Gone.

The problem with scientists, models, theories, and that they come in....get introduced....and meet with peer review.  Without that....nothing truly exists.  You can pretend that science is absolute....but most all scientists would laugh you out of the room when you start to stamp theories as untouchable.  No science theory ever created....earns a untouchable status.  None.

So, when some dimwit stands there, and pretends that science is complete and global in full bloom or must be accepted, period.  You can generally discount them as an idiot from that moment on.  It's the sad case of some intellectual guys and gals....who they've gained some lofty status, and just can't stand being wrong.

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