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Thread: Conflicting experiments in science

  1. #1 Conflicting experiments in science 
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    While in a discussion about religion (me being on the atheist side) we ran into some trouble coming up with good examples.

    It is a well known fact that String-theory carries a major experimental debt because evidence is so hard to come by. QED and relativity meanwhile have plenty of supporting evidence, but they contradict each other on some key issues.

    Is there a (if possible well established) scientific theory out there which is unquestionably incorrect or incomplete because we have conflicting evidence (rather than just a lack of evidence)?

    Much obliged,
    David


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  3. #2  
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    ...unquestionably incorrect or incomplete ...
    You want a scientific theory that is unquestionably incorrect??

    No problem! Just tune in to the Pseudoscience forum. Take your pick from hundreds.

    On a more serious note, there have been numerous theories that had at one time been accepted but later fell by the wayside when fresh evidence emerged. Look at the phlogiston and aether theories, or the notion that continents do not drift about.

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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveF
    ...unquestionably incorrect or incomplete ...
    You want a scientific theory that is unquestionably incorrect??

    No problem! Just tune in to the Pseudoscience forum. Take your pick from hundreds.

    On a more serious note, there have been numerous theories that had at one time been accepted but later fell by the wayside when fresh evidence emerged. Look at the phlogiston and aether theories, or the notion that continents do not drift about.

    *
    Thanks Steve,

    The Aether one is a good example, it's "ancient" history of course, but at least many people know about it. Still, was the Aether theory only an attempt at explaining how light can travel through empty space or has it actually been used to make (some) accurate predictions which were verified by experiments before it was disproved?

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    David
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  5. #4  
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    A theory that is unquestionably incorrect (by modern scientific standards)yet still holds promise because it has yet to receive the proper interrogation it deserves?

    You should focus your search more closely on theories of space-time that propose new foundations, new axioms, for space and time. The common reality in contemporary physics is that physics and it's loyal subjects, physicists, disputes on face value ANYTHING that challenges, for instance, the age old theory of time being one-dimensional, the fourth dimension.

    Personally, I think that even space being three dimensional is a little lethargic, when you could also explain space as points on a sphere that represents an energy wave-front of the propagation in time of mass converting to energy; using LINES to describe space as three dimensional, well, you know, those lines can be more precisely chopped up into points more precisely explaining the energy front of a thing like a quantum of light..........how can an axiom of space be something so retarded as a "line" in a situation like that???? Of course three lines can best describe the volume of the ripple effect of a series of points joined together along those axes, but to be more fundamental, space itself can be offered an upgrade to "points" which themselves can ultimately describes as envelope-miniscule spheres.

    Your post humors me though, especially in this forum. You are like billy the kid shooting off hope for new ideas............you won't find them here, not in this section.

    Take a look at my post in physics titled "subatomic particles": it is safer to ask questions posed in such a fashion in this section. Be as scientifc as you can. Namely, be objective, circumspect, using the greatest of your observational talents of "exactly what am I or the community of physicists doing right now.......do I belong".

    Even though I myself know that an "axis" of space being considered as a "dimension" is a "fundamental" that cannot be "undermined", we still dive beyond the line of opinion in that regard and go for the subatomic "exotics via modern-experiment". Blow up the ancients in the process!
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  6. #5 Re: Conflicting experiments in science 
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Rutten
    Is there a (if possible well established) scientific theory out there which is unquestionably incorrect or incomplete because we have conflicting evidence (rather than just a lack of evidence)?

    Much obliged,
    David
    General Theory of relativity?

    Quantum mechanics?

    The two are in conflict which is why we seek a GUT or TOE or string theory or anything that will quantise gravity.

    And yet they're both hugely successful in their own spheres - just not really compatible with eachother.
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  8. #7 Re: Conflicting experiments in science 
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrio
    General Theory of relativity?

    Quantum mechanics?
    Hi SunShine,

    Indeed, I mentioned those in my first post. Problem is that there appears to be very little wrong with QED when only working on small scales and there seems to be very little wrong with relativity as well.

    The Aether suggestion earlier in this thread was actually very good, I was just wondering if there's a theory today which is in a similar tight spot.

    In fact, since it is pretty unlikely that such a theory would be well known in non-scientific circles I've decided to use the Aether suggestion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by theQuestIsNotOver
    A theory that is unquestionably incorrect (by modern scientific standards)yet still holds ...... up the ancients in the process!
    Hi Quest,

    I like that idea. It's exciting and worrying at the same time that so many things we think we know must be wrong at least a little bit because they are rooted in Euclidian Geometry axioms.

    I shall be seriously disappointed though when a true GUT is found during my lifetime. What a terrible prospect that one day we might lose all potential to be surprised.



    Quote Originally Posted by theQuestIsNotOver
    Your post humors me though, especially in this forum. You are like billy the kid shooting off hope for new ideas............you won't find them here, not in this section.

    Take a look at my post in physics titled "subatomic particles": it is safer to ask questions posed in such a fashion in this section. Be as scientifc as you can. Namely, be objective, circumspect,
    hmm... I googled "physics forum" and this was the first hit. It has not been a bad choice since I got a good answer almost straight away. I know the topic isn't really about physics, but I was looking for people with a good grasp of contemporary theory and practise... what better place to start?

    Goodwill,
    David
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  10. #9  
    Forum Professor sunshinewarrior's Avatar
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    David

    Glad we were able to help.

    I deliberately chose to ignore the most famous of incomplete theories - that of the geocentric universe (Ptolemy et al).

    As far as I am aware, the epicyclic model used by Ptolemy and others actually can predict pretty much all the known movements of the heavenly bodies as seen from the earth. So in essence, it isn't incorrect.

    In fact, my understanding is that it was rejected in favour of the heliocentric (Copernican) idea, simply because it's "time had come".

    Of course, Galileo's observation of the Jovian satellites helped explode the idea that everything orbits only the earth, but it would still have been entirely possible to construct an orrery that was geocentric, even today, but accurate in terms of phases, eclipses, transitions and the like.

    To that extent, therefore, the major evidence 'against' geocentrism is (I believe):

    1. Newtonian mechanics - the angular momentums don't match

    2. Pictures of the earth/moon/sun etc from space.

    Even so, a dedicated contrarian might still be able to make a claim for geocentrism!
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    ... because we have conflicting evidence (rather than just a lack of evidence)?
    How could anyone pass up the theory of global warming?!

    Your move, David!

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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveF
    ... because we have conflicting evidence (rather than just a lack of evidence)?
    How could anyone pass up the theory of global warming?!

    Your move, David!

    *
    No dice... I've seen "An Inconvenient Truth" Plus, living in Finland lets you appreciate how fast winters are actually getting warmer.

    Also, I think the theory of global warming actually predicts localized cooling, rendering freak measurements meaningless.

    But you're right, it's at least comfortably controversial in the public eye.

    Goodwill,
    David
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by sunshinewarrio
    Even so, a dedicated contrarian might still be able to make a claim for geocentrism!
    1. I am egocentric.
    2. The universe revolves around me.
    3. I reside on the Earth.
    4. Therefore, to a first approximation, the universe is geocentric.

    Please email me my Contrarian Certificate ASAP. :wink:
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  14. #13  
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    If I'm understanding you right, Newtonian gravity would be a good one. It makes accurate predictions within a specific range of conditions (those that Newton was able to observe). More recently (Eistein's time) we began to make observations outside of that range and discovered that Newton's formulas didn't work very well for these new observations (Mercury's orbit, for example). Therefore, a new theory of gravity was needed that could explain the old observations at least as well as the old theory, and could also explain the new observations better than the old theory. That's pretty much how it always works.
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