Re: [asa] Re: Scientific stupidities part 2

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Fri Mar 27 2009 - 08:47:39 EDT

This is an interesting study. Talk of the graviton has surely been
around for quite some time. I believe it was Einstein who suggested it
would travel at the speed of light. I remember in my graduate days some
guy at Stanford, I believe, was trying to measure the graviton. I'm
sure he was well funded.

The empiricist side of physics may argue that if we can't measure one,
or their supposed effects, they don't exist. Something like the
neutrino. Observe, however, the great rapidity that the neutrino
advanced from being evidently observed (through a thick mass of theory)
to being used to observe other things. Why was this? Because of the
theoretical "necessity" for the neutrino. The theory had already been
laid into the foundations.

The theoretical and metaphysical side of physics needs the graviton to
support the universally held rejection of action at a distance (shades
of DesCartes). Gravitons according to well accepted theory "must"

Since I suggest that the "new" physics has left behind empiricism and
moved into a metaphysical and "religious" era, gravitons will, like
quarks, be said to exist, even if they be more sly than quarks.

bill powers
White, SD

On Fri, 27
Mar 2009, Glenn Morton wrote:

> 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 08:47:53 2009

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