REAL WORLD EVENT DISCUSSIONS

What is science?

POSTED BY: CANTTAKESKY
UPDATED: Saturday, February 12, 2011 12:13
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Saturday, February 5, 2011 1:31 PM

CANTTAKESKY


From time to time, here in RWED, we have debates about science. Inevitably, these debates end up accusing the other side of not knowing what science is, or betraying scientific integrity in some way.

So, what IS science? What is non-negotiable about what makes science, science? What is pseudo-science? When someone claims to be a scientist, what can he/she do that REALLY gets your goat and makes you want to scream, "You don't know what science is, you idiot!"?


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Saturday, February 5, 2011 1:43 PM

PHOENIXROSE

You think you know--what's to come, what you are. You haven't even begun.


The most commonly used definition would probably be:
systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and controlled experimentation.
Pseudo-science is when someone uses a scientific word (such as "theory") in an improper way to make themselves sound like they are operating from fact when they aren't. It could also be when an observation or experiment isn't properly controlled, or it's done backwards, and the conclusions can't be trusted. It could be claiming causation where the cause can't be proven to give a predictable effect under controlled circumstance. A "scientist" claiming that, for example, the existence of Quantum Theory proves that there's a magical field creating the universe that we can control with our minds... that sort of thing makes me want to scream that they are not a scientist.


Ritual is what happens when we run out of rational.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 1:47 PM

THEHAPPYTRADER


My best definition of 'Science' would be discovery based off of observation and empirical evidence that can be measured and tested against itself and other factors/discoveries/etc... Outside of that, it could have scientific aspirations but is still really guesswork.

EDIT: I agree with Pheonixrose's definition, that's more or less what I was trying to say and is written better.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 2:12 PM

DREAMTROVE


Science today is not the same as it was in 1850, so the old definition doesn't work for me.

It has two serious problems:

1) Something can be demonstrated through experimentation which turns out not to be true. A correlation may be recognized as the result, but may not imply either the causality nor the mechanism of action.

2) Something can be a scientifically provable fact while there is absolutely no way to do so, such as Quantum Mechanics.

The way this science is derived at is by the application of sometimes simple, sometimes very advanced applied logic. You can logically deduce that something *must* be so given certain laws of the universe, such as the statistical law that governs evolution.

I have gone through step by step and shown, what I'm not about to do here, because I'm busy, but I can show that absolutely everything we observe can be derived as an unavoidable outcome of the uncertainty principle. Even uncertainty itself seems logically unavoidable.

OTOH, there are sometimes experiments done, such as one I've been meaning to dig up on an anti-psychotic drug, which they studies, according to the scientific method, lowered dopamine levels, but in reality, the drug simply killed brain cells, and had no real direct effect on dopamine levels. This may be science, by the old school, but it has to fall into a special category of "bad science."



This is a chart from UC Berkeley. It gives a decent stab at the complexity of new science.

Sure, there's a grey area, but for me, the dividing line is if it can logically walk from one point to another using the existing laws of science to arrive at an unavoidable conclusion that cannot be reached by another mechanism, then it is probably a decent scientific proof, even if it cannot be tested.

We can't create a star or an atom, so we can't really experiment to prove how these things happen. But we can still understand them, do to the laws of science, and the judicious application of logic.

If something fails to meet these criteria, it might still be science, but its not undisputed. For instance, I can easy arrive at all of the data currently known to the field of cosmology using any of a number of static state models for the universe, as well as a number of inflationary models which still conflict with big bang. Big bang theory is clearly science, but it's not a scientific proof, it's still a theory, because the conclusions reached can be gotten at by other means. Likewise, the theory of global warming can also be reached by other methods than the greenhouse effect. So, again, it's a scientific theory, but it's not proof.

Many unprovable things cannot be gotten to by another mechanism, and represent as far as I'm concerned a scientific proof: Chaos Theory, String Theory, Darwin's theory of Evolution*. These might be considered as unscientific as Quantum mechanics by the scientists of the last century, but today, we deal with things we cannot test, yet we can still know, as certainly, or more so, as we would from laboratory tests.

* The theory of evolution by natural selection is solid even if the incidence of random mutation as a perpetuating factor is not certain. The quantity of genetic code that was clearly scripted, written, locked, unlocked, shuffled through lysogenics and jumping genes, hopped into and out of parasites and symbionts, ultimately does not alter this one inescapable fact: The genes of the survivors, however they are created, will dominate over those who do not.*

*extra caveats for genetic drift, generation loss, dominance and sleepers, etc. It's a science, it evolves, but the evolution of the theory itself is not about to discredit the theory.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 2:15 PM

DREAMTROVE


Put more simply: Science is wrong. If it's not wrong, it's not science. Belief systems are right. They know the answers, and try to arrive at the conclusions, a predetermined destination. Science does not know where it's going, and it's able to allow itself to be radically overturned by a shift in the balance of evidence.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 2:24 PM

CANTTAKESKY


Quote:

Originally posted by dreamtrove:
Science is wrong.

So in your view, is the term "scientific fact" an oxymoron?

-------
Everything I say is just my opinion, not fact.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 2:54 PM

DREAMTROVE


Sure, but then so is a fact.

I mean, 19 Jews were killed on Kristallnacht. Is that really what happened? What if it was 21? It's a fact to the best of my knowledge. I've found over my life that virtually everything I've ever learned has been overturned. Science *needs* to be overturned, if it's going to evolve, and approach the unreachable truth. I could rehash the holocaust forever, but the basic lessons and implications show little change (enough to make it worth doing, how to avoid that happening, etc.) but changes in science can have radical implications. What if greenhouse theory is wrong? Then we're cutting carbon emissions for no reason, while ignoring the real cause of the problem, provided there is a problem.

Some things in science are definitions. If an atom has 14 protons we call it silicon. But even some hard and fast rules can be broken. Conventional models of chemistry do not predict Xenon Tetrafluoride.

The moon orbits the earth, or the moon and the earth orbit a point in between. Or a point 3000 miles from the center of the earth, so still inside the earth. Or the moons, plural, orbit a point inside the earth. But all is getting closer to the truth without really necessarily utterly discarding the general principle.

Sometimes things unravel entirely

The moon is the same size as the sun. The moon occupies the same arc in the sky as the sun. The sun is much further away than the moon, so, the sun is radically larger than the moon. The sun and the moon still appear to be the same size. Is this coincidence?

The sun is 27 million times the size of the moon. Earlier reports that they were the same size were in error.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 3:05 PM

DMAANLILEILTT


So to put it another way: Science adjusts its views based on what's observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.

"I really am ruggedly handsome, aren't I?"

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 3:06 PM

BYTEMITE


I probably have a mentality very like dreamtrove in regards to science.

When I read a study, I usually first think "how is this wrong." If spotting what is wrong is not easily coming, I look and see if the data supports the conclusion in a logical manner, and if so, I give the hypothesis some degree of interest and potential weight.

The biggest problem I see when something is probably wrong if I can see a clear bias either in the researcher or in the structure of the experiment, which is when I call foul.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 3:24 PM

CANTTAKESKY


Quote:

Originally posted by Bytemite:
... I can see a clear bias either in the researcher or in the structure of the experiment, which is when I call foul.

How do you determine what is a "clear bias"?

-------
Everything I say is just my opinion, not fact.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 3:46 PM

BYTEMITE


A clear bias on the part of the researcher is indicated when rather than trying to explore a question about some subject or field, an assumption is made about the nature of the subject or field that the experiment is designed around.

This can either result in the experiment subconsciously being constructed to validate that assumption/belief, such as through sampling bias in a psychology study - which is where I most often see this. But another result of this that can be observed is if the data is inconclusive, null hypothesis in statistics, no R correlation, yet there will be an interpretation made in the conclusion that the hypothesis is not null that supports the initial assumption.

Rue posted a good example of this a while back that I argued about for a while. But if you can see a bias, you can also figure out pretty quickly WHY they're doing the experiment, even with very limited information available.

Such experiments can still have useful information, but you have to weigh it against whether the bias has affected the data results too much.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 4:07 PM

THEHAPPYTRADER


Quote:

Originally posted by dmaanlileiltt:
So to put it another way: Science adjusts its views based on what's observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.

"I really am ruggedly handsome, aren't I?"



Not surprised to see faith thrown into a science thread without any relevance, also not surprised it was brought in a negative manner.


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Saturday, February 5, 2011 4:50 PM

FREMDFIRMA



Actually, most of the best scientific discoveries ever don't start with "Eureka!", but rather "What the fuck?!".

Sometimes science doesn't go as planned - it's what you do THEN which defines you as a scientist, I think.

-F

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 5:05 PM

KIRKULES


I would highly recommend that anyone interested in what science is and how it originated should read the book UNCOMMON SENSE by Alan Cromer. He argues that science is a logical and objective thinking method that was developed exclusively by the ancient Greeks because of the unique geographical, social and religious circumstances of their time. Other ancient civilizations tried to mimic the Greeks but added very little to scientific knowledge. Only in recent times have the conditions required for scientific thought reemerged and led to great minds like Copernicus and Galileo.

Science is simply a way of thinking that controls the natural instinct of humans to believe in gods, magic and other nonsense. It is a learned thing and that's why so few are capable of scientific thought. Most people go though life trying to avoid using their brains, while a scientists brain never rests. Scientific thought is brain exercise in the hope that your unique experience will lead to something no one has thought of or done before.

http://www.amazon.com/Uncommon-Sense-Heretical-Nature-Science/dp/01950
96363/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1296958435&sr=1-4

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 6:47 PM

CANTTAKESKY


Quote:

Originally posted by Bytemite:
A clear bias on the part of the researcher is indicated when rather than trying to explore a question about some subject or field, an assumption is made about the nature of the subject or field that the experiment is designed around.

Assumptions are made in every subject or field when an experiment is designed. Assumptions underlie all hypotheses. How do you distinguish valid assumptions from biased assumptions?
Quote:

This can either result in the experiment subconsciously being constructed to validate that assumption/belief, such as through sampling bias in a psychology study - which is where I most often see this.
If the flaw in methodology is subconscious, it means they didn't intend to do it. It seems to me that scientists have unconscious biases as human beings. So how would you distinguish one person with unconscious biases from another?

I understand about critiquing papers. You would point out, "There is a sampling bias in this study" or "Conclusions are not supported by the data." It seems that one should be able to level these critiques about objective bias of the studies without making assumptions about personal bias or motives of the authors.

I guess what I don't understand is the conditions under which you would "call foul" or identify "clear bias" in a researcher.



-------
Everything I say is just my opinion, not fact.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 7:46 PM

DREAMTROVE


Quote:

Originally posted by dmaanlileiltt:
So to put it another way: Science adjusts its views based on what's observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that belief can be preserved.

"I really am ruggedly handsome, aren't I?"



Dmaan, you nailed it


Quote:

Originally posted by Fremdfirma:

Actually, most of the best scientific discoveries ever don't start with "Eureka!", but rather "What the fuck?!".

Sometimes science doesn't go as planned - it's what you do THEN which defines you as a scientist, I think.

-F



Frem, you also nailed it


Byte,

I also look backwards from the conclusion, and ask myself if there was any reason that the study group might have a vested interest in having reached it; and I prefer studies that are based on solid previous work, and not conjecture, and usually they work in small incremental steps. If they are major breakthroughs, they'll be much less suspect if the group clearly had no possible interest in the finding, and it has all the trappings of Frem's WTF?


Happy,

I posted a long rant, but it didn't post. Basically, it's my fault. I may doubt my faith at points, but I don't have serious doubts. If it was true for thousands of years, it's liable to remain true. I don't see faith and science at all incompatible. Look at Japan, S. Korea or Iran.


Kirk, I haven't read the book, but Athens was Persian, and that was what made it different, also, the Greeks openly admitted to taking large swaths of their science from Egypt. Greece, like Phoenicia, had the advantage of naval power. That's why they were able to gather so much info. That, and a nifty written language.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011 10:05 PM

BYTEMITE


DT addressed it first. The trick is to go back through the line of inquiry, sometimes to the researcher that inspired the current researcher. Assumptions do exist, but it's only ones that have been previously tested to hold up under given conditions which I consider fair use for an experiment.

Or, in the very least, it can stem from Frem's wtf and an effort from multiple people testing the underlying conditions of the wtf to understand it better. That's also a valid generation point for an assumption.

When you read a paper's citations, there should be a whole bunch of previous papers, that you can trace an idea back to a paper with a conclusion where the base idea/assumption for the experiment arose.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011 2:33 AM

KIRKULES


Quote:

Originally posted by dreamtrove:

Kirk, I haven't read the book, but Athens was Persian, and that was what made it different, also, the Greeks openly admitted to taking large swaths of their science from Egypt. Greece, like Phoenicia, had the advantage of naval power. That's why they were able to gather so much info. That, and a nifty written language.


The Greeks may have collected the sum knowledge of the World at the time from other civilizations, but it wasn't science. Those civilizations had collected that knowledge primarily to try and predict the future and know the will of their gods. Collecting astronomical data for astrology isn't science though the information derived is useful to science sometimes.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011 2:55 AM

CANTTAKESKY


Quote:

Originally posted by Bytemite:
When you read a paper's citations, there should be a whole bunch of previous papers, that you can trace an idea back to a paper with a conclusion where the base idea/assumption for the experiment arose.

That clarifies where you're coming from. Thanks. I understand now.

-------
Everything I say is just my opinion, not fact.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011 4:13 AM

DREAMTROVE


Egyptians were quite scientific in some regards, like medicine. Everyone had gods. Not sure.


CTS

Sometimes there will be an outside theory like Quantum Mechanics which is based on nothing but logic, but it is extremely rare, and will come out of nowhere, have no tie in to anything which came before and will take many decades to take hold.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011 6:31 AM

CANTTAKESKY


All right, my turn.

Science is a systematic method of discovery. The method consists of making quantifiable observations, forming hypothetical explanations, testing these hypotheses in experiments, and accumulating experimental results into an overarching model. Models are used to predict future data with varying levels of accuracy. Models that have 100% predictive accuracy to date are called "laws." The rest of the models are called anywhere from theories to conjectures. All models are subject to change, improvement, correction, and the periodic total revamping.

Observation, hypothesis, experiment, theory. The end goal is this: to think of all possible explanations for any observation and test every single factor to arrive at the most predictive model possible.

What science is not. Science is not knowledge. Science is not technology. Science is the METHOD by which we get knowledge or technology. But it should not be confused with the facts or inventions themselves. Science is not the product; it is the tool used to make the product.

Quality of the scientific method. Not all science is equal. On the high quality end, a good series of experiments will have controlled for every possible alternative explanation (called confounders) for the results that the experimenter can think of. They have thought of and controlled for so many things that the reader can feel quite confident that the hypothesis is either rejected or supported.

On the low quality end, the experimenter has thought of and controlled for no alternative explanations at all. The experiment does not rule out alternative explanations, so the reader has very little confidence that the hypothesis has been supported or rejected.

When a researcher conducts a poorly controlled study that should generate very little confidence, but yet claims a high amount of confidence in its conclusions, it is pseudo-science. The more disparity that exists between the confidence deserved and the confidence claimed, the more pseudo-scientific it is.

No one discussed pseudo-science better than Richard Feynman in "Cargo Cult Science.

http://www.lhup.edu/~DSIMANEK/cargocul.htm
or
http://faperta.ugm.ac.id/mikro/donny_w/metpen/CargoCultofScience.pdf

I don't talk about cause-and-effect, because the real world never has only any one "cause." Cause is something scientists chase after, but never catch. I prefer to use the word "mechanism" for the series of factors and conditions that lead up to a certain outcome.

In science, I don't talk about "facts" because the word implies some piece of knowledge that is unchanging and uncorrectable. I prefer to use the word "observation" which puts "facts" in context of time, space, and conditions.

When someone talks about "scientific facts" or "scientific impossibility" (based in the unnegotiable nature of "scientific facts"), my ass twitches. Science is a BLIND method of discovery; it cares not WHAT we discover. You use the method, and you land where you land whether you believe it or not, whether it is consistent with previous findings or not. Explain the landings if you want, but don't dismiss them categorically.

When someone talks about subjective agendas/biases of researchers, my ass twitches. The beauty of science is in its objectivity, its BLIND objectivity. It is a method that allows anyone to look at and interpret quantifiable data collected by anyone else. It is not a method for making conjectures about the personal motivations of people you don't agree with.

I'll end with an excerpt from Feynman's Cargo Cult Science. This is the kind of science I love.

Quote:

For example, there have been many experiments running rats through all
kinds of mazes, and so on--with little clear result. But in 1937 a man named Young did a very interesting one. He had a long corridor with doors all along one side where the rats came in, and doors along the other side where the food was. He wanted to see if he could train the rats to go in at the third door down from wherever he started them off. No. The rats went immediately to the door where the food had been the time before.

The question was, how did the rats know, because the corridor was so beautifully built and so uniform, that this was the same door as before? Obviously there was something about the door that was different from the other doors. So he painted the doors very carefully, arranging the textures on the faces of the doors exactly the same. Still the rats could tell. Then he thought maybe the rats were smelling the food, so he used chemicals to change the smell after each run. Still the rats could tell. Then he realized the rats might be able to tell by seeing the lights and the arrangement in the laboratory like any commonsense person. So he covered the corridor, and still the rats could tell.

He finally found that they could tell by the way the floor sounded when they ran over it. And he could only fix that by putting his corridor in sand. So he covered one after another of all possible clues and finally was able to fool the rats so that they had to learn to go in the third door. If he relaxed any of his conditions, the rats could tell.

Now, from a scientific standpoint, that is an A-number-one experiment. That is the experiment that makes rat-running experiments sensible, because it uncovers the clues that the rat is really using--not what you think it's using. And that is the experiment that tells exactly what conditions you have to use in order to be careful and control everything in an experiment with
rat-running.





-------
Everything I say is just my opinion, not fact.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011 6:56 AM

NEWOLDBROWNCOAT


Robert Heinlein once wrote, " If you can't measure it, it isn't science." a definition by exclusion that can fit in a telegram, and my favorite. I think that that subject has been covered already.

Science is also repeatable, and can be confirmed by testing and repetition by other people in other places. I drop a rock, it falls, I say, " Eureka! That proves gravity!" You drop a rock off your garage roof, you say, " Aha! that confirms gravity!" Galileo drops a rock off the tower of Pisa, says " Aha! A't'sa prove gravity." Somebody drops a rock, measures how fast it accelerates, publishes the speed, 1000's of people everywhere drop rocks and measure the speed, they all come pretty close to each other, everybody starts to agree that the acceleration of gravity is 32 feet per second per second. Other guys drop pieces of wood, lead balls, rubber balls, feathers, get similar or different results, explain and argue about why, try it inside vacuum jars and discover that feathers and lead balls fall at the same speed in vacuum. So if you subtract wind resistance, gravity works consistently, pretty much. Eventually 'most everybody agrees.

Climate change is prediction, somewhere between, " If I drop this rock, it will fall up." and "If I drop this rock, it will fall at 31 feet per second per second. " And not everybody who deserves to have an opinion is in agreement yet.

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Monday, February 7, 2011 10:52 AM

CANTTAKESKY


Quote:

Originally posted by NewOldBrownCoat:
Robert Heinlein once wrote, " If you can't measure it, it isn't science."...

Science is also repeatable, and can be confirmed by testing and repetition by other people in other places.

These are indeed 2 cardinal characteristics of science, but they are not enough. If I were to define science by a number of characteristics, I would list them thus:

1. Quantifiable, concrete definitions
2. Objectively measurable (measurable by anyone)
3. Repeatable
4. Exhaustive
5. Tentative, uncertain
6. Skeptical
7. Correctable
8. Blind


-------
Everything I say is just my opinion, not fact.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011 6:22 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Hello,

Science is a reliable, reproduce-able vehicle of discovery.

--Anthony



Assured by friends that the signal-to-noise ratio has improved on this forum, I have disabled web filtering.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 1:48 AM

KANEMAN


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
Hello,

Science is a reliable, reproduce-able vehicle of discovery.

--Anthony



Assured by friends that the signal-to-noise ratio has improved on this forum, I have disabled web filtering.




I'm not so sure. I think that we WANT science to be reliable, but it has shown itself to be reliable only untill someone comes along and debunks it. This has happened over and over again. Those that have the knowledge and use science tell the people what is true, the people accept "scientist's" word as truth, go on with their lives only to be told that everything they were told is wrong(anyone that helps their children with homework will understand).

Rogue waves come to mind..Sailors came back with stories of huge monster waves..only to be laughed at and told waves of that size were not physically possible. That their models said so.

How many times have you seen the impossible or improbable, become plausible or definite overnight?

My point is... science is not that reliable, and we put too much faith in the scientific understanding of the day...

I won't even touch global warming....

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 2:11 AM

CANTTAKESKY


Quote:

Originally posted by kaneman:
How many times have you seen the impossible or improbable, become plausible or definite overnight?

Kaneman, you just made my day! Thank you.


-------
Everything I say is just my opinion, not fact.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 4:29 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Hello,

Science is an utterly reliable vehicle of discovery.

If the driver refuses to pursue the destination, how can you blame the vehicle?

It is mankind who, again and again, chooses to stop the vehicle and fails to pursue discovery. It is mankind who says, "I know all that I need to know. I know all that is."

It is foolhardy to blame the car that fails to move when no one is willing to get behind the wheel.

Science has never, ever laughed at any person or any idea. Men do that. They do it with or without science.

You describe a failing of man.

--Anthony



Assured by friends that the signal-to-noise ratio has improved on this forum, I have disabled web filtering.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 4:49 AM

KANEMAN


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
Hello,

Science is an utterly reliable vehicle of discovery.

If the driver refuses to pursue the destination, how can you blame the vehicle?

It is mankind who, again and again, chooses to stop the vehicle and fails to pursue discovery. It is mankind who says, "I know all that I need to know. I know all that is."

It is foolhardy to blame the car that fails to move when no one is willing to get behind the wheel.

Science has never, ever laughed at any person or any idea. Men do that. They do it with or without science.

You describe a failing of man.

--Anthony



Assured by friends that the signal-to-noise ratio has improved on this forum, I have disabled web filtering.





It may be reliable over long stretches of time as the truth is slowly unfolded, but in a life span it is rather pathetic....

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 5:12 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Hello,

That's like saying an automobile is pathetic five-minutes into its journey, but an hour later, after it has traveled 50 miles, it's more impressive.

Science is a vehicle of discovery. It is not a destination. I have never seen a better vehicle for discovery.

You continue to confuse the failures of men with the failures of science. It is men who periodically stop and say, "This is all that is."

Science never does, any more than a car says, "This is the only road on Earth," or a plane says, "This is the only stretch of sky worth flying."

--Anthony



Assured by friends that the signal-to-noise ratio has improved on this forum, I have disabled web filtering.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 5:12 AM

CANTTAKESKY


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
You describe a failing of man.

That's a very good point. It is man who says, "That is impossible!" Not science.

But I probably wouldn't use "reliable" to describe science. There is so much uncertainty in science and so many unknown variables that it is very difficult and painstaking to actually get reliable observations. There are a lot of observations that are NOT reliable, but are nonetheless true and real.



-------
Everything I say is just my opinion, not fact.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 5:51 AM

HARDWARE


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
Hello,

That's like saying an automobile is pathetic five-minutes into its journey, but an hour later, after it has traveled 50 miles, it's more impressive.

Science is a vehicle of discovery. It is not a destination. I have never seen a better vehicle for discovery.

You continue to confuse the failures of men with the failures of science. It is men who periodically stop and say, "This is all that is."

Science never does, any more than a car says, "This is the only road on Earth," or a plane says, "This is the only stretch of sky worth flying."

--Anthony



^This.

Peer review is where the modern definition of science falls on it's collective face. Too many times has a radical new theory or discovery been trotted out and rejected by the establishment.

The greatest scientific minds failed. It took two bicycle builders from Ohio to show us how to fly.

The more I get to know people the more I like my dogs.

...and he that has no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. Luke 22:36

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 6:19 AM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by Hardware:

Peer review is where the modern definition of science falls on it's collective face. Too many times has a radical new theory or discovery been trotted out and rejected by the establishment.


Not really, there's scepticism in science, but that's it's strength not it's failing. If there really is anything to a new and radical theory it'll gain traction, like for instance how Einstein's theories of relativity overthrew Newton. Most of the time when a new radical theory is trotted out and rejected by the establishment, it's for good reason.

Of course you'll then get those that really want to believe they've created anti-gravity or perpetual motion in their garage with a car battery and a bicycle pump, start babbling how the scientific "establishment" is conspiratorially trying to stop their genius from changing the whole world. That's not a real problem with Science though, it's a problem with the accusers grasp of reality.
Quote:

Originally posted by Hardware:

The greatest scientific minds failed. It took two bicycle builders from Ohio to show us how to fly.


The Wright Brothers didn't invent flight, nor heavier than air flight. The Wright Brothers get most of the press, at least partly because the people who did it before them weren't as canny with marketing, and partly because they weren't American.

Besides, in what way did the "Greatest scientific minds" fail exactly?

--------------------------------------------------

If you play a Microsoft CD backwards you can hear demonic voices. The scary part is that if you play it forwards it installs Windows.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 6:52 AM

CANTTAKESKY


Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
Not really, there's scepticism in science, but that's it's strength not it's failing.

Agreed.

It is important to note, though, the distinction between skepticism and pathological skepticism.

Skepticism is where one demands a higher standard of evidence before arriving at a conclusion.

Pathological skepticism is where no amount or quality of evidence can persuade one to even consider a certain conclusion, usually because of one's adherence to a competing worldview/model. You can see this kind of skepticism in religion, or certain kinds of creationism, for example.

But scientists are not immune to pathological skepticism. It is not the fault of science; those who practice science are only human.



-------
Everything I say is just my opinion, not fact.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 7:16 AM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by canttakesky:
Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
Not really, there's scepticism in science, but that's it's strength not it's failing.

Agreed.

It is important to note, though, the distinction between skepticism and pathological skepticism.

Skepticism is where one demands a higher standard of evidence before arriving at a conclusion.

Pathological skepticism is where no amount or quality of evidence can persuade one to even consider a certain conclusion, usually because of one's adherence to a competing worldview/model. You can see this kind of skepticism in religion, or certain kinds of creationism, for example.

But scientists are not immune to pathological skepticism. It is not the fault of science; those who practice science are only human.



-------
Everything I say is just my opinion, not fact.


Yeah, but that's why peer review is open to everyone, not just some mythical cabal of the "scientific establishment". It's that that allows "radical" new ideas to gain traction if there's something to them. Invariably if they don't gain traction it's because there's not anything to them, then you have the claims of the conspiratorial cabalistic "establishment" trotted out.

Having said that, there are some things in science that are just so well supported there's not much point in giving things that claim to overthrow them much time. I'd put perpetual motion firmly in that category, because for it to work you have to prove the laws of thermodynamics are wrong, and to prove the laws of thermodynamics are wrong you pretty much have to prove all scientific evidence ever collected isn't only wrong, but never existed in the first place, that science doesn't really exist, and that everything from Aristotle to Hawking has been a delusion dreamed by a blue frog named Gerald.

I.e. the mountain of evidence against perpetual motion is so steep, dismissing it out of hand at this stage isn't pathological scepticism.

--------------------------------------------------

If you play a Microsoft CD backwards you can hear demonic voices. The scary part is that if you play it forwards it installs Windows.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 8:19 AM

THEHAPPYSOCKPUPPET


Science, much like everything else, is like a penis. Chicks suffer from science envy and the dude scientist have a hard time thinking things through and making good decisions when their science gets too big.

Scientists who's science kinda small (like those flaccid global warming types) are typically over defensive and prone to overcompensating with LARGE numbers.

Some scientist are bi-curious, flirting with religion of all things. Most scientist view these as sluts. You can be a scientist or religious, but not both, unless you know how to keep a secret.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 8:32 AM

WULFENSTAR

http://youtu.be/VUnGTXRxGHg


Magnets. How do they work?

lol



"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies"



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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 8:37 AM

CANTTAKESKY


Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
I.e. the mountain of evidence against perpetual motion is so steep, dismissing it out of hand at this stage isn't pathological scepticism.

Would you say the same for cold fusion? Or homeopathy? Or anti-gravity?



-------
Everything I say is just my opinion, not fact.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 9:00 AM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by canttakesky:
Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
I.e. the mountain of evidence against perpetual motion is so steep, dismissing it out of hand at this stage isn't pathological scepticism.

Would you say the same for cold fusion? Or homeopathy? Or anti-gravity?


Cold Fusion, no, Cold Fusion is perfectly possible, since it's merely fusing atoms at lower temperatures. In fact we know it happens, whether we can do it or not is a different matter.

Anti-Gravity is something I'd be dubious of more or less out of hand at the moment, mainly because the people doing it are nearly exclusively people who should be on prodigious amounts of medication. If there was a source of good quality that provided a paper on the subject I'd listen, but this is such a well trod subject by crazy talkers I'd admit that if just Joe anybody voiced it I'd switch off.

Homoeopathy. Well if a Homoepathist(?) ever tried to actually prove word one of their claims I might just listen out of novelty if nothing else. However there is, frankly, a mountain of evidence showing that it doesn't work, or works no better than a placebo which is precisely the same thing, and absolutely none to say it has any quantifiable effect. What's more most of the time Homoeopathy seems to find the very idea they should prove their claims as insulting and some concept dragged up by a "big pharma conspiracy".

I doubt Homoeopathy will ever be an issue, because I don't think they'll ever even try to provide scientific evidence, they haven't so far.

--------------------------------------------------

If you play a Microsoft CD backwards you can hear demonic voices. The scary part is that if you play it forwards it installs Windows.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 9:41 AM

CANTTAKESKY


Quote:

Originally posted by TheHappySockpuppet:
Some scientist are bi-curious, flirting with religion of all things. Most scientist view these as sluts.

ROFL. You one funny man.


-------
Everything I say is just my opinion, not fact.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 9:59 AM

THEHAPPYSOCKPUPPET


This is how F@*Kin' Magnets work.








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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 10:01 AM

HERO


Quote:

Originally posted by canttakesky:
So, what IS science?


Science is the study of "why" and "how".

Engineering is the application of "why" and "how".

I note for the record that religon is the sudy of the application of "why" and "how".

H

"Hero. I have come to respect you." "I am forced to agree with Hero here."- Chrisisall, 2009.
"I would rather not ignore your contributions." Niki2, 2010.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 12:19 PM

BYTEMITE


Quote:

Science is the study of "why" and "how".

Engineering is the application of "why" and "how".

I note for the record that religon is the sudy of the application of "why" and "how".



Therefore God is a robot.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SufficientlyAdvancedAlien

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 12:22 PM

DREAMTROVE


Quote:

God is a robot.


That explains a lot.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 3:20 PM

CANTTAKESKY


Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
I.e. the mountain of evidence against perpetual motion is so steep, dismissing it out of hand at this stage isn't pathological scepticism.

Two questions, out of curiosity:

1. Since there is a mountain of evidence against perpetual motion, could you perhaps submit just one example from this mountain? What kind of evidence have you seen that is "against" perpetual motion?

2. If someone said the revolution of a planet around a star is "perpetual," how would you argue that this was not an example of "perpetual motion"?



-------
Everything I say is just my opinion, not fact.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 3:20 PM

HARDWARE


Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:

The Wright Brothers didn't invent flight, nor heavier than air flight. The Wright Brothers get most of the press, at least partly because the people who did it before them weren't as canny with marketing, and partly because they weren't American.




Sour grapes much? The Wright brothers invented controlled powered flight. Their methods have been improved upon, but the majority of aviation today uses a design recognizable as one the Wrights flew.

As far as foreigners competing and being out-marketed by the Wrights, their primary competitor was Glenn Curtiss. The Wright company eventually went into powerplants. Curtiss' company thrived up through WW2. When it merged with another competitor.

Most of the aircraft flown by the combatants in WW1 were produced by foreign companies. I don't see how American aircraft companies out marketed anyone.

And regarding science falling on its face. Here's a list of some radical concepts in science that were resoundingly denied when they debuted.

Arrhenius (ion chemistry)
Alfven, Hans (galaxy-scale plasma dynamics)
Baird, John L. (television camera)
Bakker, Robert (fast, warm-blooded dinosaurs)
Bardeen & Brattain (transistor)
Bretz J Harlen (ice age geology)
Chandrasekhar, Subrahmanyan (black holes in 1930)
Chladni, Ernst (meteorites in 1800)
Crick & Watson (DNA)
Doppler (optical Doppler effect)
Folk, Robert L. (existence and importance of nanobacteria)
Galvani (bioelectricity)
Harvey, William (circulation of blood, 1628)
Krebs (ATP energy, Krebs cycle)
Galileo (supported the Copernican viewpoint)
Gauss, Karl F. (nonEuclidean geometery)
Binning/Roher/Gimzewski (scanning-tunneling microscope)
Goddard, Robert (rocket-powered space ships)
Goethe (Land color theory)
Gold, Thomas (deep non-biological petroleum deposits)
Gold, Thomas (deep mine bacteria)
Lister, J (sterilizing)
T Maiman (Laser)
Margulis, Lynn (endosymbiotic organelles)
Mayer, Julius R. (The Law of Conservation of Energy)
Marshall, B (ulcers caused by bacteria, helicobacter pylori)
McClintlock, Barbara (mobile genetic elements, "jumping genes", transposons)
Newlands, J. (pre-Mendeleev periodic table)
Nott, J. C. (mosquitos xmit Yellow Fever)
Nottebohm, F. (neurogenesis: brains can grow neurons)
Ohm, George S. (Ohm's Law)
Ovshinsky, Stanford R. (amorphous semiconductor devices)
Pasteur, Louis (germ theory of disease)
Prusiner, Stanley (existence of prions, 1982)
Rous, Peyton (viruses cause cancer)
Semmelweis, I. (surgeons wash hands, puerperal fever )
Steen-McIntyre, Virginia (southwest US indians villiage , 300,000BC)
Tesla, Nikola (Earth electrical resonance, "Schumann" resonance)
Tesla, Nikola (brushless AC motor)
J H van't Hoff (molecules are 3D)
Warren, Warren S (flaw in MRI theory)
Wegener, Alfred (continental drift)
Wright, Wilbur & Orville (flying machines)
Zwicky, Fritz (existence of dark matter, 1933)
Zweig, George (quark theory)

Quote:


"Concepts which have proved useful for ordering things easily assume so great an authority over us, that we forget their terrestrial origin and accept them as unalterable facts. They then become labeled as 'conceptual necessities,' etc. The road of scientific progress is frequently blocked for long periods by such errors." - Einstein



The more I get to know people the more I like my dogs.

...and he that has no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. Luke 22:36

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 5:54 PM

DREAMTROVE


Quote:

Originally posted by canttakesky:
1. Since there is a mountain of evidence against perpetual motion, could you perhaps submit just one example from this mountain? What kind of evidence have you seen that is "against" perpetual motion?

2. If someone said the revolution of a planet around a star is "perpetual," how would you argue that this was not an example of "perpetual motion"?



Thank you.

Yes, it is one of many examples of perpetual motion. We also have a moon that orbits the earth, and creates tides. We have a convection oven of Geothermal inside the magma core, and inside that we have an absolutely tremendous electromagnetic field being generated by the magnetic core. Additionally, we have a transpiration/evaporation cycle which has been running on this planet for perhaps billions of years. When you go onto a cosmological scale, there are systems which appear to run forever, and some seem to increase in energy.

IMHO, the second law of thermodynamics itself is incorrect: The universe has been steadily been progressing towards a more ordered more highly differentiated state from a low energy state as far back as we can see.

The Newtonian universe only applies to small machines operating in a vacuum, because as far as what Newton could harness did fit this model more or less.

But everything does *not* operate in a vacuum. There are forces which generate energy in the universe, that are infinitely greater than ourselves, and that seem to only increase in energy over time, and on some models of the universe, those which I feel actually accurately describe the data that we have, this appears to increase indefinitely into the future.

I think it really took the advent of science fiction to be able to look into the world of science and see not just what *was* but what *could be*, and the major steps of HW Wells and Jules Verne, indispensable in this regard, and what I consider the real first step... Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, showed us just how far, possibly, science could take us.

The golden age gave us an endless amount of insight into things which would never have occurred to the mundane mind, showing us that, yes, it would actually be possible to set up a sailing ship which would cross the trade winds of the pacific by mechanical means alone, back and forth, forever. You could set up a rail system that traveled the countryside, stopping at each station, and moving on to the next, running on no internal power source to the train or the tracks, and I have tested this model and it does work, and I am not going to post it here just to win an argument over the internet, because I actually want to build it.

But beyond that, is my iPad not a perpetual motion machine? As long as the sun, or some light source, pours out energy which my solar collector can pick up, and as long as the circuitry shows no wear, I see no reason why it can't work forever.

Have you read about the molecular computer? This design was printed in Science News, and the machine relies on electron transfer on a nanotech level, and the machine does not wear, or use power, it recycles its own electrons to supply back to its own power supply, which runs forever.

Or the nanomotor?

These machines run forever without even any wear, and they do so because on a quantum mechanical level, the picowear that would normally seem to occur, or would be expected, simply does not happen, because the molecules which make up the switches and gears of a nanomachine repair themselves to perfection with every turn, as if by magic.

What scientists suspect is that the quantum mechanical subatomic particles are stablizing themselves internally by drawing from the energy of space time, which is infinite according to the current available data, and equally importantly, appears to be spontaneous created on the spot for the purpose.

When we step outside of the Newtonian world of kinetics, black boxes and heat engines, and into a world which stretches from string theory to cosmology, the nature of matter, energy and motion appear to limitless, and are not depleted by their use. In fact, the universe, and everything in it, appears to be a perpetual motion machine.

But even in the world of Newton, CTS's perpetual motion system still works, it requires nothing other than gravity.


The principle concept required to understand perpetual motion is that of infinity, and it is being directly applied today. Here's a rather mundane but fascinating example, this would not make sense by a simple Newtonian model:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailing_faster_than_the_wind
The trick is F=MA does not predict this to be possible, unless you plug in a factor of infinity for F, which is essentially what you have to do. The fact is that the force of the wind is infinite, and is not diminished by the presence of a sailboat. The theoretical maximum speed of the boat is pretty much infinite as well, since the relationship is the tangential velocity of a triangle where the angle approaches zero, the vector is determined by the keel, the water resistance and headwind resistance are zero, and the speed of the wind is any number greater than zero. In practice, there are limiting factors, the minimum angle achieved is around 5 degrees, and the head on resistance, while minimal, is not zero. Nonetheless, I've done this myself, and I can assure you that it works. And it works because the force behind the wind is not proportional to the boat it is for all practical purposes, infinite. In fact, I'm not sure that anything would stop it.

To use a fairly common everyday example, a hurricane releases more energy as all of human efforts consume. Some sources say hundres of times as much.

Finally, the key example here is on the quantum mechanical level, it appears that every atom is a perpetual motion machine, which exhibits no wear or energy drain over time. It has already been demonstrated successfully that this style of engine can be built up from the QM scale to real world use without even relying on the boundless and infinite perpetual motion energies of the universe we live in, because it will internally run forever on no input.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 6:20 PM

DREAMTROVE


Hardware

Nice list. Thanks.

Quote:

the majority of aviation today uses a design recognizable as one the Wrights flew.


One caveat, simply because he's my homeboy: The airplane model which was used ultimately was Curtiss'. Glenn Curtiss made some comment about "you could fly a bicycle in Kitty Hawk" (Those of us who have been there understand, IIRC, one of us lives there, so no offense ;) but you know what he means, it's a windy place, and there are some major cliffs.)

Now, maybe that's sour grapes on his part, since they beat him into the air, but he does have a point that they were cheating, they deliberately went to Kitty Hawk to exaggerate their chances, and the machine which they flew, on the re-enactment of their flight, actually didn't work. There's a fair amount I've seen that argues that it's not in fact a feasible design, outside of the wind itself, but people here who are pilots, please feel free to dispute that.

I was actually at the re-enactment of Glenn Curtiss' launch, and I have to say the reconstruction was perfect in materials and design down to the last detail, and the pilot who was to fly it was terrified. He actually said a final farewell to his whole family before getting in the plane. But that said, the plane took off beautifully, with no wind, from a flat surface, and he flew many miles around before coming back to land seamlessly where he had started.

So, not to deny the contributions made by the Wright Brothers to sustainable flight, I suspect old Glenn had a point: They were unable to fly their plane in their native Dayton, Ohio, because it wasn't really a stable flying machine.

Just picking up from the wikipedia entry on the Wright Brothers here

Curtiss' June Bug sustained flight, July 4, 1908, a month before the first demonstration flight of the wright brothers, but I cannot find that they ever had a windless or sustained flight. May 25, 1910, Orville Wright was able to demonstrate a flat take off and land, though it doesn't specify the length, and or that it was wind-independent.

Many of the inventions and innovations of science are like this, and someone gets the glory, but really everyone contributed to the result.

Oh, and yes, Curtiss was an American, and he's from right here in Hammondsport, where he flew the plane, and where they re-enacted the first flight and the first water-to-water flight, which was really a better idea, IMHO, since 90% of all crashes stem from land takeoff and landing errors.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 7:06 PM

FREMDFIRMA


Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
Anti-Gravity is something I'd be dubious of more or less out of hand at the moment, mainly because the people doing it are nearly exclusively people who should be on prodigious amounts of medication. If there was a source of good quality that provided a paper on the subject I'd listen, but this is such a well trod subject by crazy talkers I'd admit that if just Joe anybody voiced it I'd switch off.


Then why not dig up Townsend Browns work and Project WINTERHAVEN, now declassified ?

Hell, Brown had a functional prototype goin at one time.

-F

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 10:59 PM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by canttakesky:
Quote:

Originally posted by citizen:
I.e. the mountain of evidence against perpetual motion is so steep, dismissing it out of hand at this stage isn't pathological scepticism.

Two questions, out of curiosity:

1. Since there is a mountain of evidence against perpetual motion, could you perhaps submit just one example from this mountain? What kind of evidence have you seen that is "against" perpetual motion?


The laws of thermodynamics are the most well supported concepts in physics, you're really demanding I submit evidence for them here? That's the pathological scepticism you were talking about ;).

Every thermodynamics experiment on the subject proves Thermodynamics, the second law of thermodynamics is proven when a broken vase doesn't magically reform without external energy input. But still, not that it's at all necessary at this stage:
www.physik.uni-augsburg.de/~campismi/campisiSHPMP2.pdf
Quote:


2. If someone said the revolution of a planet around a star is "perpetual," how would you argue that this was not an example of "perpetual motion"?


I'd suggest that "someone" doesn't understand what is meant by perpetual motion. Perpetual motion is where a closed system creates more energy than it has applied to it. A planet orbiting a star isn't a closed system, Q.E.D.

Further orbiting bodies pull energy out of the system, on a long enough time frame orbits change and collapse of their own accord.

You really missed the closest thing to a gotcha I'm afraid though. Thought Experiment:
You place an object in a perfect vacuum, with zero gravitational forces acting on it, and set it spinning. Does it ever stop? No. Is it a perpetual motion machine? No, because as we can plainly see it's merely acting under the dictates of First Law of Motion, acting under all the external forces that have been applied to it. Besides there's no where in the universe with zero gravitational forces nor a perfect vacuum.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011 11:14 PM

CITIZEN


Quote:

Originally posted by Hardware:

Sour grapes much?


Note really, just noting how the myth of the Wrights inventing flight is so pervasive.
Quote:

Originally posted by Hardware:
The Wright brothers invented controlled powered flight.


Ah, so you agree with me. They didn't invent powered flight, or heavier than air-flight, they invented the aileron which I'd agree with, since previous designs used somewhat inefficient wing warping, or just no control altogether.

Of course I never said they didn't make the first powered controlled manned heavier than air-flight. I said they didn't invent powered heavier than air flight. And they didn't.
Quote:

Originally posted by Hardware:
Most of the aircraft flown by the combatants in WW1 were produced by foreign companies. I don't see how American aircraft companies out marketed anyone.


You word this like it's a rebuttal to something I said, but since I never claimed American companies out marketed anyone that would seem strange. I said the wrights marketed themselves as the first to produce flight, which has been the enduring myth, and isn't true.
Quote:

Originally posted by Hardware:
And regarding science falling on its face. Here's a list of some radical concepts in science that were resoundingly denied when they debuted.
...snip...


And yet all those things are now accepted by the "scientific establishment", proving that science is sceptical but that "radical new ideas" will gain traction if there's something to them. Or in other words, your list only goes to show that science works more or less pretty well and exactly how it's supposed to, that my original statements you're arguing against are correct and that the only thing falling on it's face is your argument :p.

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