Re: paleoanthropology

Murphy (
Thu, 17 Jul 1997 07:23:04 -0400

Glenn Morton wrote:
> I doubt that anyone will ever be
> able to catch up to physics, because most other fields have no simple
> mathematics which can predict experiments. Dirac predicted the positron was
> predicted because mathematics said it was possible. Unfortunately, no
> mathematics will predict where the sand layer my people are mapping goes one
> mile to the south. So a geologist, due to the complexity, will always be at
> a disadvantage there.

The difference isn't just mathematization or complexity.
Physicists are looking for general regularities, patterns, laws &c and
geologists (making use of some of those laws) are trying to understand
events which are, at least in part, contingent. The Dirac equation
tells that particles with electron mass & positive charge should exist -
somewhere. But it can't tell us when a particular cosmic ray shower
will yield a particular number of positrons.
We physicists like to think - & with some truth - that we are
the scientists who deal with the world at its most basic level. But we
make it easy by leaving out the contingency of events in the real world.
The distinction is of some theological significance.

George L. Murphy