Re: [asa] Re: Scientific stupidities part 2

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Fri Mar 27 2009 - 06:19:23 EDT

Once one leaves observational verification, science becomes nothing more
than mathematical theology. Take the Graviton. Tony Rothman (and someone
else) had a conversation with Freeman Dyson about whether or not the
graviton was verifiable. Rothman with the someone else wrote a paper on
that idea. They concluded that in order to detect the graviton, one must
build a clear liquid vessel the size of Jupiter and monitor it for 14
million years before having the high certitude of getting one interaction.
But because of the noise level in such a system, it would be impossible to
tell the noise from the signal. and even if you could do that, if you
monitored it for 14 million years and got a strike, you would have to wait
another 14 to 28 to get enough confirmations to publish!

So, the question is: Is the graviton verifiable. How nutty is the concept?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill Powers" <>
To: "Glenn Morton" <>
Cc: "asa" <>
Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2009 10:01 PM
Subject: Re: [asa] Re: Scientific stupidities part 2

> Just a question. How do we know when a "theory" or a suggestion is
> "nutty"? Is it "too metaphysical," meaning much more than we think is
> required to explain the phenomena (Ockham's razor type nutty)? I think
> the String theory and multiverses are "nutty." Why? Suppose String
> theory actually suggests some new phenomena? What then? Will it then be
> viewed by me as not or less "nutty"?
> It occurred to me today that if causal properties, or forces (or whatever
> you consider fundamental) always came mixed up, we would never have
> discovered them. We depend upon the possibility of demonstrating the
> properties of causal forces in isolated and simple situations and
> experimental designs. Nancy Cartwright calls such demonstrable
> regularities nomological machines. What if nomological machines were not
> possible? What if, e.g., the effects of gravity could not be "sensibly"
> isolated from the electromagnetic effects or even the gravitational
> effects of other bodies, then we would never be able to observe or confirm
> the existence of such forces and their force laws (fortunately we have a
> nearly ideal gravitational machine in the earth-sun system)?
> Having said this, a further doubt arises. Modern physics has advanced on
> the ladder of simple idealized models (i.e., they may not ever exactly
> exist in nature -- there is no hydrogen model in nature because a hydrogen
> atom never exists alone). How do we know that we have chosen the
> "correct" building blocks? Why believe there are four fundamental forces?
> Perhaps all of this is "nutty."
> I frankly do not know how to know. My model for how science progresses is
> that it keeps throwing out its net, further than would seem reasonable by
> most conservative estimations (i.e., anyone interested in certain truth),
> sort of like inching out along a branch in the dark. We keep proceeding
> unless something really comes up and hits us in the face, something that
> snaps off the branch, and we fall to the ground. But we don't at that
> point burn the whole tree down. We climb back up into the tree, closer to
> the trunk and try again.
> So, I guess would say that anything is "nutty" only within the context of
> a given branch. Often, or at least possibly, what appears "nutty" will in
> some future realization produce a new branch as the neo-nutty.
> I'm certain there are examples of such occurrences.
> Anyone got any?
> bill powers
> White, SD

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Received on Fri Mar 27 06:19:48 2009

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