Re: [asa] Re: Scientific stupidities part 2

From: Glenn Morton <>
Date: Fri Mar 27 2009 - 14:59:46 EDT

this morning I needed to get to the ranch really early as I had to come back
to Houston this afternoon, so I didn't have time to look up Rothman and
Brouhn's paper. Here is a lnk to it.

Tony Rothman and Stephen Broughn, "Can Gravitons be Detected,"

You wrote:

> 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" exist.

I absolutely agree. If the graviton doesn't exist, then everything in modern
physics is probably wrong, but, we will never be able to determine if the
graviton exists--which makes the graviton much like God in that there is
little empirical evidence one can point to. So, at what point does theory
become theology?

As to quarks, I do believe that there is experimental evidence of their
existence. Collisional studies, where particles are smashed together show
evidence that the proton and neutron are not solid but have things moving
around inside them. I can accept quark's existence via empiricism more than
the graviton.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill Powers" <>
To: "Glenn Morton" <>
Cc: "asa" <>
Sent: Friday, March 27, 2009 7:47 AM
Subject: Re: [asa] Re: Scientific stupidities part 2

> 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" exist.
> 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 15:00:01 2009

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