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Faith in Science: Opening Agenda

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posted on Nov, 12 2016 @ 12:58 PM
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a reply to: DeadCat

not sure i understand the question?

In fundamental research? The nature of the proton is under constant experimentation, thus far though the theories we have work to a good level of accuracy compared to observations... can it be improved? Yes absolutely. Do we have a good handle on the measurement of the magnitude of the physical parameter that is electron mass, proton mass and neutron mass... I would say we do.

Do we fully understand its origin from a basis of fundamental theory... not quite, I don't think it is quite there. Does that mean the measurements are wrong or invalid? No, we just need to work harder to understand exactly why they are as they are.


Something we take for granted like it is fact but don't have strong evidence for? hmmmm Id have to think, the reason i don't leap on something right away is because much of what I understand is based upon the experimental history, which, as i tried to point out in my few replies is actually deeper than many realize.

The other danger is to make the assumption that something is accepted as scientific fact without actually understanding if it really is accepted as such by the experts in the field. Great example of this is string theory, which so many people talk about as though it is fact... when truth is that it has no experimental proof and doesn't currently offer anything better than we already have. But popular science would have it as string theory = done deal. Existence of the 'graviton' is a similar story though not sure thats what you are asking




posted on Nov, 12 2016 @ 02:37 PM
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originally posted by: DeadCat
Okay then aside from particle physics, or the atom (which I never expected to find fault in in the first place), do you believe that in some frame of science, there is a better example of what I am trying to find here?
I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for, but nothing in science is ever proven with 100% certainty and scientists must always consider new evidence even if it contradicts longstanding beliefs. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out.

One example Eros can probably tell you about a lot better than I can is the fact that scientists were losing sleep over a solar neutrino problem around the turn of the century. They thought the sun was powered by fusion which should produce a certain amount of neutrinos and they weren't measuring the number of neutrinos expected. This was just one of many unsolved problems in physics at the time. The solar neutrino problem has probably been at least partially solved since when they figured out that apparently neutrinos can "change flavors", something that wasn't understood before and I'm not sure if it's fully understood now though our understanding has improved.

Here's an example where what we thought was the diameter of a proton might be off by 4%, so scientists will continue to try to figure out why there's a discrepancy and they will probably figure it out eventually but it might take some time:

Mysteriously Shrinking Proton Continues to Puzzle Physicists

New Measurement Deepens Proton Puzzle

This shows that scientists don't jut sit back and accept previous work as final. They check using alternate methods, and like Eros described with the alternate methods of checking Planck's constant, sometimes they all check out. This proton size measurement didn't work out the same way when checked using alternate methods. I suspect that as with the solar neutrino discrepancy, we might learn something new that we didn't understand before. As the second link explains, the resolution of this problem could be in new physics, or in measurement problems, or a problem with the Rydberg constant, among other possibilities.

Edit to add: Here's an interesting graphic from the second link which is probably relevant to this thread. It shows how some measured values varied over time and converged on what we today believe to be the correct values, but again nothing is final. Continued improvements in measurement methods could lead to even more accurate results in the future.



Examples of how the measured values of constants can vary dramatically before converging on their correct values.


edit on 20161112 by Arbitrageur because: add graphs



posted on Nov, 12 2016 @ 03:29 PM
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a reply to: DeadCat

For the most part, it's not going to be the data collection that is faith based - it's going to be their interpretations - that is where their faith lies.



posted on Nov, 12 2016 @ 07:00 PM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

Yeah the solar neutrino problem is an interesting one and a good shout out.

As you said, the early experiments that looked for solar neutrinos came out with roughly 1/4 to 1/3 of the expected flux. Theorists scratched their heads, did some more numbers and said "Hey, you guys did something wrong, there is no way the sun would work if we reduce the energy production rate".
The experimentalists looked at their experiment and double checked and added more data to the findings and nope, couldn't solve it.

So it was thought maybe the method was a bit wrong or there was some effect not being accounted for. So they performed the experiment in i believe 3 different locations using 3 different detector materials and methods.

Still the numbers didnt work out. So physicists sat back and thought, hmmm what could be happening? At the same time, one of the detectors which is directionally sensitive, and sensitive to the flavour of neutrinos had another interesting result... Neutrinos originating from the atmosphere from cosmic ray interactions had different fluxes depending on if they had originated from directly above or from the atmosphere on the opposite side of the Earth.

A Theorist then dug out some very old notes from a dead theorist (i think the work was done in the 1930s) which said basically that if neutrinos have mass, it is possible that the the mass and flavour eigenstates do not have to propagate at the same rate. THUS a neutrino born as one flavour, can spontaneously flavour change during flight. For this to work the mass needs to be very low, and the differences between the states needs to be small too.

*Hmmmm interesting*

So the experimentalists went to work. Now the detector in Japan that was directional and can separate a couple of flavours of neutrinos from each other wouldn't actually be able to tell if electron neutrinos from the sun had oscillated into mu or tau neutrinos since such a neutrino would be of such low energy it could not undergo a lepton production process when interacting with the detector. Still they ran the numbers and yes, it started to look leasable that all the experiments performed where seeing what they expected too, all the experiments were consistent with oscillation (very roughly)

The neutrinos from the atmosphere, theory matched that well also (same theory is used for all oscillation, not just the ones from the sun)

But the story doesn't end there, Scientists figured out that if they are able to use a hybrid detector, a detector that has a component of it that will give a very specific signal should an electron neutrino interact ( SNO ) it meant that they could compare the Electron neutrino flux, with the total flux and make corrections for the theoretical interaction cross sections which would be suppressed in the scattering of electrons by mu and tau neutrinos.

This experiment was ultimately successful and was operated in 3 different phases with different detector configurations and materials in order to make sure it wasn't weird effect specific to the detector.

Their numbers? Well the first low stats result predicted the number of neutrinos coming from the sun was almost exactly the same as the theoretical prediction. This was done using blind analysis also, in which scientists work on analysis without actually looking at the data set. Once they opened the box and applied their analysis... boom result without searing for it or bias removal of backgrounds.


The current state of play? Well all parameters of the Neutrino mixing are entering the precision stage, there are a few areas of interest still left to go and the current leading experiment (T2K - where i did my PhD) is in its final stages before upgrades are to be performed. The state of the art right now is to search for CP violation processes in the neutrino sector since CP violation is a theoretical possibility. So the method to do that is to change from neutrino to anti-neutrino mode (this is a neutrino beam experiment, the switch is quite simple) and checking that the oscillation parameters for neutrinos are identical to those of anti-neutrinos.

The search carries on



posted on Nov, 13 2016 @ 05:19 PM
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a reply to: ErosA433
Thanks for the great explanation. I didn't realize that the ideas for the theoretical underpinnings dated back to the 1930s or so, that's interesting.

So that was a case where it seemed the science was difficult to trust in some respects. Theory predicted a certain amount of neutrinos but measurements did not match the theory, so how can you have faith in such a discrepancy? You can't, but you can investigate further, which is what happened and the discrepancy was resolved, and now we can have some confidence since we no longer have serious discrepancies between theory and experiment, in that case.

However as I said, that was only one unsolved problem of many, so there were and still are more unsolved problems, and we've even added some new discrepancies since then like the proton diameter discrepancy. I don't know which of the two proton diameter measurements is correct, or if either one is since we don't understand why there's a discrepancy, so it's hard to have confidence in the precision measurements in that case. However with the discrepancy being only 4% it's not like we have no idea of the proton size as they are in the same ballpark.

My point is, I think it's hard to make sweeping generalizations of how much confidence we should have in science, because in some specific cases where the measurements are consistent our confidence can be higher than in other cases where we have measurement or other discrepancies, and we can see that the scientists themselves are questioning the accuracy of their data. Therefore, as previous posters have noted, it's better to talk about specifics, where we can better assess how high or low our confidence should be in specific cases. Confidence in solar neutrino measurements used to be pretty low, and as you say now it's much higher, so it's not static.

One other aspect to consider is that since there aren't a lot of practical applications for neutrinos (maybe none?) they tend toward pure science where there's little financial incentive to bias results. In certain fields like in the science departments of big pharma companies, the financial and profitability pressures of the corporation have at least the potential to introduce some bias. As a result, I have a tendency to be more skeptical of research that comes out of big pharma science departments, than I am of pure science research.

edit on 20161113 by Arbitrageur because: clarification



posted on Nov, 14 2016 @ 01:24 AM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

I must clarify - Ettore Majorana worked on equations that suggested that pauli's massless neutrino was not required to be massless. He also postulated that the particle could be its own anti-particle... a property that was named after Majorana after his disappearance / death. He was involved in lots of different work including the discovery of the neutron. This work was done in the 30s

The full framework and parametarisation of neutrino oscillation was worked on in the 60s by Pontecorvo, Maki, Nakagawa and Sakata. Since that is 4 names too many to remember it gets shortened to the PMNS matrix.


Uncertainty is a bit part of what scientists deal with. The most difficult parts are always things which appear to be zero or very nearly zero, due to the accuracy and reproducibility that is required to establish if a parameter is exactly zero, or is just very small. In Neutrinos, this challenge was the parameter theta13, which was thought to be zero or very nearly zero. It is the parameter that determines oscillation from the electron type, to the tau type. It is also the theoretical parameter that allows for Dirac CP violation.

Current state of the art is that parameter is between 0.0186 − 0.0248 with 3 sigma confidence. I have recently made a move away from the experiment I worked for (Dark Matter) and moved back into neutrino physics doing work that could allow current data to be more accurately understood and improve future experiments. So.... watch this space once again



posted on Nov, 14 2016 @ 05:09 AM
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originally posted by: DeadCat
Well, go to Harvard then mate, but this is the internet, and I have merely a highschool diploma, so disclaimer: Try to interpret my words as a normal person, not a professor.


It's not his fault he's gone to university/college to learn and thus understand more about it. Some scientific facts are not easy to translate to lay terms, sorry.

I think you need to do some kind of higher education core chemistry in order to understand atomic mass. For example, you need some basic knowledge of ions and why and how atoms need to ionized (add or remove electrons) before they are inserted in a mass spectometre to 'weigh' them.




Okay, I'll use the mass of the atom as an example then. (I said in a previous post the following.)
They did not literally weigh the atom, or the proton, ect, on a scale and say "Ahh yess this is the mass" It was not observed to be so. There is only formulas, to provide such information. (To my knowledge.) "


They use a mass spectrometre. They vaporize a specific atom into a gas. They ionise the gas and send it through the spectrometre. The magnetic force needed to 'bend' the path of those ions indicates their mass. The weaker the force needed, the lighter the mass (and viceversa). I tried to explain it as simple as I could. I only did core chemistry at college, I'm not an expert. Perhaps this youtube video can explain it better than me:








edit on 14-11-2016 by Agartha because: Youtube video not embedding?



posted on Nov, 14 2016 @ 05:47 AM
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originally posted by: DeadCat
4. Does this topic require "Faith" in any of it's aspects, in order to be true?

No, because science, unlike faith-based beliefs, can *change* its views based on the phenomena observed. If new advances and understanding in science and technology allow us to see/view/observe/measure nature in more accurate or new ways, then our understanding (may) change.

I personally do not understand fluid mechanics very well. But if I read in a textbook that fluid X will move in behaviour Y when external forces A, B and C are applied, I will accept it because if I wanted to, I could go and learn EXACTLY how it works, teach myself the maths and physics behind and and repeat the experiments and processes to come to the same conclusions the textbooks describe.

The same cannot be said for faith-based beliefs, which, by definition, are based upon the lack of evidence. And not i am not directing this to a religious debate - I am merely using your word of 'faith' in context to what faith means and relates to. And it isn't science.



posted on Nov, 14 2016 @ 12:06 PM
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originally posted by: DeadCat
a reply to: SuperFrog

The statement "All scientific proofs and theories are true undeniably." Is a laughable statement.


Clear sign you don't understand simple concept I quoted earlier.

Scientific theory has to be a proven concept, that returns expected results when tested. There are many cases that new evidence/data required to change scientific theory (for example age of universe) due to new data.

Also just to note poor discussion manners, as in reply to me, you did not quote me, but rather made a statement that suits your vision...

Funny... what is next??
edit on 14-11-2016 by SuperFrog because: (no reason given)




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