posted on Dec, 5 2006 @ 01:23 PM
Originally posted by gfad
Originally posted by rich23
All too often, people who say things are impossible look like idiots less than a century later.
Thats just not true. It rarely happens, its just people remember the times when it doesn and forget the times when people say "thats impossible" and
it actually is impossible!
You cant justify a new and unproven theory by saying "well we've been wrong before so maybe we are wrong now" because that could be used to justify
any impossible or stupid claim.
All I said was "all too often". I can't quite believe that you would say something categorical like "that's just not true" about a sentence
that begins "all too often". That phrase implies a value judgement, and therefore is not open to "proof" of truth or falsity.
Second, you use the word "unproven" about a theory. Ever since Karl Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery
, it's been accepted that
you actually can't prove
a theory, you can only disprove
it. Theories are useful for their predictive abilities, but they are not
susceptible of proof. Therefore all
theories are unproven, and open to replacement.
The history of science has been a process of finding successful descriptive models of nature. First we found the easy ones. As science
progressed, scientists were forced to tackle the more subtle and difficult problems. So powerful are our models by now that we often delude
ourselves into thinking that we are very clever to have been able to figure out how nature "really" works. We may even imagine that we have
achieved "understanding". But on sober reflection we realize that we have simply devised a more sophisticated and detailed description.
The scientific method
Einstein's theories replaced Newton's, and quantum mechanics is at odds with Einstein's theories: it also has implications that people have been
arguing about for over sixty years. The phrase I couldn't remember from my first post has just popped into my head, and it's "quantum
I'm not trying to say, categorically, that this guy has pulled off anything that we think of as impossible. I'm just trying to say that rushing to
judgement about it by simply writing it off as impossible is unwise.
People have made some wild claims over the past hundred years and contemporaries always say "thats impossible" and most of the time it
I don't know how you'd quantify
the number of times people say "that's impossible" and they're right. For one thing, we're not at the
end of history yet, we haven't finished making discoveries about the world, and therefore all we can say for sure is that proposal x
impracticable when it was made, and is still impracticable today. Of course people remember, sometimes, when predictions turn out to be incorrect:
two examples, at random, from the first website I found on the subject...
When George Simon Ohm's theory of electricity was published in 1827 in his book "The Galvanic Chain, Mathematically Worked Out," it was
"a web of naked fancies."
One critic wrote:
"...he who looks on the world with the eye of reverence must turn aside from this book as the result of an incurable delusion, whose sole effort
is to detract from the dignity of nature."
The German Minister of Education said that
"...a physicist who professed such heresies was unworthy to teach science."
Source: Hart, Ivor B. Makers of Science. London, Oxford University Press, 1923. p. 243.
Proposal to drive a steamboat by screw-propeller: Sir William Symonds, Surveyor of the British Navy, commented in 1837:
"...even if the propeller had the power of propelling a vessel, it would be found altogether useless in practice, because the power being applied
in the stern it would be absolutely impossible to make the vessel steer."
Source: Church, William Conant. The Life of John Ericsson, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1890. p. 90.