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Resolving Five of the Most Common Mistakes People Make About Science

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posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 03:27 PM
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As I am getting tired of seeing so many misconceptions about science still being thrown around, I have decided to make a short post to address 5 of the most common misunderstandings regarding the area of Physics.

So, sit back and enjoy. Here we go:

******

Misunderstanding 1:

In atoms, electrons mysteriously dissapear to reappear on a different orbit.


Actually, the electron's excistence is governed by a mathematical concept called, probability wave function. Since electrons are so small, they fall within Heisenberg's Uncertainty principle, meaning that we cannot measure all its properties (for instance, say, its position) with certainty. But what we can do is guess what is the most probable position of the electron. The formula to do so is called a probability wave function. When the electron "jumps" from one orbit to another, its existence is not destroyed - it actually becomes a mix of the two probability states, say 50% of the orbit 1's mixed with 50% of the orbit 2's.


Misunderstanding 2:

Reality does not exist unless you observe it.


This misunderstanding spring from an incorrect interpretation of the quantum model (QM). The misconception spreaded even quicker as sensationalist journalists and misguided scientists (or perhaps misguided journalists and sensationalist scientists) kept on repeating it to the not-so-scientifically-inclined masses of population. The truth is, in physics, "observation" doesn't have the same meaning as it does in vulgar english. In physics, "observation" is the action of taking a measurement of a target using devices such as electron microscopes. And since electron microscopes send, well, electrons at the target, well the mere act of "observing" (scientific meaning here) a target will affect said target if the latter is small enough to be kicked off by the impact of an electron. But for bigger objects such as trees and people and planets, the impact of an electron will hardly affect their position. This is why larger objects obey Newtonian and Einsteinian laws; for the QM applies only for particles subject to Heisenberg's uncertainty formulas. Additionally, if reality really did stop existing once one stopped observing it, then major causality problems would arise. For instance, since an embryo has no way to observe the entire mother, then the entire mother (cause for the embryo's existence) would not exist... casusing the embryo to stop existing!


Misunderstanding 3:

Gravity is a form of magnetism.


The two are actually separate forces under normal conditions. Gravity is actually a bump in spacetime caused by mass, not magnetism. Everyday items can be used to test this. One of the simplest experiments involves a magnet, a piece of wood weighting 1 gram, and a piece of iron weighting 1 gram. Put the magnet near the piece of wood. Now remember that both the wood and the iron objects have the same total mass. If the magnet really is creating a bump in spacetime (an "artificial gravity" field), and if gravity really is magnetism, then it should attract the piece of wood just as easily as the piece of iron.


Misunderstanding 4:

Collision of high-energy particles causes earthquakes and/or widespread time slips.


The highest energy such collision have generated until now is 13 TeraElectronVolts. This is roughly equal to the combined impact of 13 mosquitoes in flights. So, no, these kind of collisions are no where near to be energetic enough to trigger tectonic plates movements. As for the black holes that were created during such collisions, they are unlikely to swallow up the Earth or shift it on the Time axis. The reason is, they are small. Like, small as a particle. And since black holes evaporate, these kind of black holes are very quickly overcome by evaporation through Hawkins Radiation. Additionally, their limited mass and radius (the two are actually linked) makes their capability to "swallow" matter very limited - they would be very lucky if they could swallow a whole hydrogen atom, let alone the entire Earth.


Misunderstanding 5:

Electromagnetic waves are a form of sound waves.


The two carry frequencies, the two carry amplitudes, the two carry phases, etc. but there is a very important difference between light and sound: light is a periodic oscillation of an electric field with a magnetic field, and sound is a periodic compression of matter such as air. This is why sound does not travel in empty space, that is, in a vacuum; and this is why light can. Vacuum is the absence of matter - perfect for light to travel (no obstacles! ) but a nightmare for transmission of sound (nothing to compress! ). Some of you might have heard about the so-called "sounds" from Saturn - be aware that these "sounds" were actually electromagnetic radiations which very human sound engineers have duplicated as sounds, transposing the frequency and the amplitude so that the manmade sound waves matched that of the electromagnetic signal, and, furthermore (since human hearing has a limited range), pitch-shifted the resulting file several octaves so to make it hearable by everyday people. The difference between sound and light is also the main reason why light travels several orders of magnitudes faster than sound.

******

Well, this concludes my short clarification of some of the most persistent misunderstandings of science. I hope you enjoyed the read,

At Time's End,

Swanne
edit on 5-6-2015 by swanne because: (no reason given)




posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 03:30 PM
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I just love information thread such as this. Thank you.



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 03:35 PM
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a reply to: swanne

Great thread S&F. Just wait until the people who believe these misconceptions enter it. I always enjoy it when after fixing scientific inaccuracies believed by the public at large, some nitwit comes in and repeats what you just disproved word for word.



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 03:41 PM
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a reply to: swanne




For instance, since an embryo has no way to observe the entire mother, then the entire mother (cause for the embryo's existence) would not exist... casusing the embryo to stop existing!


You don't get it either. Mother's existence is realized by others...she is still "observed" by friends and family.



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 04:02 PM
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originally posted by: MarioOnTheFly
Mother's existence is realized by others...she is still "observed" by friends and family.


Pseudo-scientific argument - and a poor one, at that.

Your post just ignores the paradox, it doesn't solve it. Think about it for a second.

If the universe cannot exist if life does not observe it, then how can the universe give birth to life? To blind DNA, to bacterias with limited sensory capabilities, which would then (and only then! ) evolve to plants, and animals with eyes?

What about the Big Bang? The time before anything was created, anything including life forms capable of observation, anything including matter itself? Are you saying that the Big Bang did not exist, then?




edit on 5-6-2015 by swanne because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 04:19 PM
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a reply to: swanne

#2 is really exasperating because it's so popular among new age-y types and unfortunately, people who should know better.

A Snapshot of Foundational Attitudes Toward Quantum Mechanics (2013)


Here, we present the results of a poll carried out among
33 participants of a conference on the foundations of quantum mechanics. The participants
completed a questionnaire containing 16 multiple-choice questions probing opinions on quantumfoundational
issues. Participants included physicists, philosophers, and mathematicians


Question 10. The Observer

a. Is a complex (quantum) system: 39%
b. Should play no fundamental role whatsoever: 21%
c. Plays a fundamental role in the application of the formalism but plays no distinguished physical role: 55%
d. Plays a distinguished physical role (e.g., wave-function collapse by consciousness): 6%



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 04:23 PM
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a reply to: swanne




Are you saying that the Big Bang did not exist, then?


it's a theory...isn't it ?



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 04:32 PM
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a reply to: swanne
1,3,4,5 are the easy ones with 3,4,5 maybe being more of an education for the non scientific folks.

Number 2. Oh boy, nice to see somebody else who gets the wave function. What astonishes me is the number of scientists who don't or, probably, like to add a bit of "romantic - wow - mystery" to an explanation. I have heard a well known astrophysicist state in a TV program that a particle can be both here and at the opposite end of the universe at the same time.......Oh My Freaking God, please NOOOOOOOOOO. Quick where is the cat.......



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 04:36 PM
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a reply to: MarioOnTheFly

Misunderstanding 6:

The scientific definition of 'theory' means 'guess'



A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method and repeatedly tested and confirmed through observation and experimentation.


en.wikipedia.org...


edit on 5-6-2015 by GetHyped because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 04:47 PM
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a reply to: GetHyped

so...you're saying...Big Bang is...


repeatedly tested and confirmed through observation and experimentation.


Okeydokey.



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 04:49 PM
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a reply to: MarioOnTheFly

Yes. Any questions?



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 05:20 PM
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a reply to: GetHyped

i have just one...does it involve ass-umptions and pretty mathematical models ?

than it cant be wrong.



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 05:24 PM
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a reply to: MarioOnTheFly

Do you have any specific issues with TBBT or...?



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 06:49 PM
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originally posted by: MarioOnTheFly
a reply to: swanne




Are you saying that the Big Bang did not exist, then?


it's a theory...isn't it ?




You may not have noticed it before, but there is a link in my signature to address just that sort of question.



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 07:48 PM
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a reply to: swanne

"For instance, since an embryo has no way to observe the entire mother, then the entire mother (cause for the embryo's existence) would not exist... casusing the embryo to stop existing!"

The embryo IS witnessing the mother from the inside out. It's universe is the mother itself. Even when the child is born, it is witnessing the mother from the external. Your argument about having to see the "whole" mother for her to exist does not make sense.



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 08:32 PM
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a reply to: swanne

Outside of the "Vulgar English", comment I am really impressed by what you have presented Swan.


edit on 5-6-2015 by Kashai because: Content edit



posted on Jun, 5 2015 @ 09:14 PM
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Excellent thread. I'm going to grab a beer, pull up a chair, and wait for the 10 paragraph, double spaced, impossible to understand and essentially hilarious posts to start pouring in and proclaiming your total ignorance of the something and nothing. You know the ones...
Really, though, nicely done.



posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 03:44 AM
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originally posted by: swanne

Misunderstanding 2:

Reality does not exist unless you observe it.


the theory you postulate that the measuring device is interfering with the particle which is the cause of the collapse has already been dis-proven through many variations on the classic slit experiment, there have been numerous in direct measuring efforts that still come to the same conclusion, knowledge of its which way path determines its which way path even when all potential interfering sources are accounted for and excluded from the experiment, so im sorry to tell you that you actually have the misconception on this one particular point.


most of your other 'explanations' also appear to be pure misconceptions you hold yourself, this isnt exactly saying they are wrong, you seem to be using preferential treatment to theories, your 'explanations' are actually theories that are as of yet unproven and hold no more water then their counter arguments. the problem with the general public's understanding of science is they always try and treat things as if the answers are already known and we have only to figure out how to understand it,

rather, in science there are still many things we do not yet know and have only theories to fill the gaps, it is important to remind oneself the difference.

i singled out the particle-wave duality as an example because it is one in which the common theory of the measuring device interfering with the particle causing its collapse HAS been dis-proven, look up some of japans work with their variations on the classic experiment for more on that.

so in this case it is more certain to be untrue that the measuring device is interfering, then it would be to say observation (english meaning) causes the collapse.

it is true that we still have a lacking understanding of how observation is causing the collapse, but one thing we have proven is it is not being caused by interference from the measuring device, they have even proven this by measuring after the fact, so that the moment the device would have had to interfere it was not present to do so, but they were still able to prove that after the fact determining the which way information is still enough to collapse the wave. read that as they have actually proven that the wave/particle is aware it will be measured BEFORE it is measured. so it is not possible that interference from the measuring device could be the cause.

try looking up double slit experiment in time / using time, should turn up the result.
edit on 6/6/15 by pryingopen3rdeye because: (no reason given)



posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 06:12 AM
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a reply to: swanne

FInally!!
I must admit I'm a laywoman when it comes to physics. I know a little bit about the atom and the interactions between particles, knows the four forces, but other than that... I'm not really a genius.
But one thing I did hated, was those exact five misconceptions! For God's sake, I'm not a scientists, and even I could understand that "observing" meant sending an electron to the observed particle, and that interaction would thus affect the change! Or that magnetism wasn't gravity.
Oh, and don't get me started on the "reality doesn't exist"; I am seriously tired to hear more and more "science" shows with that in it... and I just love the mother/baby example... So true.

Good one though on the 13 mosquitoes! That's actually the real number for 13 teraelectronvolt? 13 mosquitoes?



posted on Jun, 6 2015 @ 06:27 AM
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originally posted by: Yavanna
a reply to: swanne

FInally!!
I must admit I'm a laywoman when it comes to physics. I know a little bit about the atom and the interactions between particles, knows the four forces, but other than that... I'm not really a genius.
But one thing I did hated, was those exact five misconceptions! For God's sake, I'm not a scientists, and even I could understand that "observing" meant sending an electron to the observed particle, and that interaction would thus affect the change! Or that magnetism wasn't gravity.
Oh, and don't get me started on the "reality doesn't exist"; I am seriously tired to hear more and more "science" shows with that in it... and I just love the mother/baby example... So true.

Good one though on the 13 mosquitoes! That's actually the real number for 13 teraelectronvolt? 13 mosquitoes?

It actually is about the proper energy, only concentrated into an extremely narrow beam, and repeated thousands of times a second at the collision points. Here, a good explanation from CERN.
CERN-Glossary-TeV



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