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 Post subject: Science!
PostPosted: Sun Feb 15, 2004 1:00 am 
This is a bit too much in the meta realm to fit in the High Energy Magic forum...

What exactly is science? What does a theory need to do in order to be a scientific theory? What does that imply and what doesn't that imply?

The main view currently held by philosophers of science is Naturalistic epistemology. Personally, my own views lean toward Logical Positivism, though not too many people still hold to it. Here's a thread I did awhile back explaining it.

But basically, here's how I see things:
Back on the Why God? thread, Gerald wrote:
Okay, Gerald's gonna give his whirlwind view of Science here, though I'm afraid either I'm gonna preach to the choir, or go over people's heads. Or just confuse people.

On Theoritical vs. Observational claims

Okay, within science you have observables and non-observables. Observables hopefully everyone should agree on. For example, you take a measurement of temperature. Granted there is a question of what system of measurement you have, but still two people using the same scale should agree on the temperature.

Now, you make this observations, and you gather the data and record what you see.

There are then two ways to approach the matter. You can make a theory that accounts for all the observations and fits the data.

In other words, you can say something that is not helpful.

Now, what you should do is form a hypothesis that not only explains what you've seen so far, but also goes further to predict things that you haven't seen yet.

Now, in the process of doing so, usually this entails making statements on nonobservables, or, theoriticals. However, the theory should predict observations caused the proposed behavior of these theoritical objects. For example, atoms causing light effects in gaseous clouds. You don't see the atoms, but you predicted the atoms would have said effects, and they said effects occured. Score one for the theory.

Another you have to have are statements that convert the observations back to theortical. What do I mean by this? Go back to the temperature example. If I view heat has some amorphous substance flowing through an object, while I might observe temperature just like someone who says heat is mean kinetic energy, the meaning of our statements are completely different, and we have different statements that takes the raw data from the thermometer and makes them into something meanful.

Now here comes the fun part.

For this, lets go back to the early part of the last century, and take a look at Newtonian Physics vs. Relativity.

With Lorenzo Fitzgerald adjustments to Newtonian Physics, you can make the same predictions as Relativity. And make the same observations. How you describe things are completely different.

And why you pick one over the other is a matter of convention.

Oh, you can quote that "Simpliest answer" or "Doesn't compound bodies," but still, those are conventions that have been adopted in order to pick which one you want. And the one that's picked, that doesn't make it true. And that's not necessarily how things work.

It's just what seems to work the best. That's all.

I'll post more on this matter as I think of how to say it. But that took me a few days to figure out how to articulate.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 2:30 pm 
how about actively seeking to understand the How and Why of our surroundings. and trying to construct the most accurate model possible. I'll use the weather as an example.

Thunderstorms.
Simple theory, The gods are angry.
it works, to an extent. after all, there's not really a whole lot you can change about that, is there?

Slightly more detailed theory.
It's the Weather. (ok, not really any different). all the water that evaporates winds up in clouds, and the clouds make thunder.
Great, now we know we need clouds for thunder.

More indepth theories would be the field of Meteorology, which begin to allow you to predict the weather. Which becomes more usefull then burning the correct amount of incence.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 9:09 pm 
Why yes, they're approaching nearly .0000001% accuracy! *duck*

It's a great field for being the earliest warning of already-active weather trouble, but they can rarely get it right significantly in advance.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 6:42 pm 
Raif wrote:
Why yes, they're approaching nearly .0000001% accuracy! *duck*

It's a great field for being the earliest warning of already-active weather trouble, but they can rarely get it right significantly in advance.


It's all those damn butterflies.


-=-Barnabas


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 7:17 pm 
What is science?

Main Entry: sciĀ·ence
Pronunciation: 'sI-&n(t)s
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin scientia, from scient-, sciens having knowledge, from present participle of scire to know; probably akin to Sanskrit chyati he cuts off, Latin scindere to split -- more at SHED
1 : the state of knowing : knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding
2 a : a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study <the science of theology> b : something (as a sport or technique) that may be studied or learned like systematized knowledge <have it down to a science>
3 a : knowledge or a system of knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws especially as obtained and tested through scientific method b : such knowledge or such a system of knowledge concerned with the physical world and its phenomena : NATURAL SCIENCE
4 : a system or method reconciling practical ends with scientific laws <culinary science>
5 capitalized : CHRISTIAN SCIENCE


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2004 12:04 am 
The fun is when you have competing systems. And before you go and quote the Razor, keep in mind that simple is a subjective and vague term, and sometimes you can really point to any additional unobservables to discount one of the systems.

re: work on relativity vs. classical physics c.1910-20

On a functional level, with corrections to account for length contractions, classical physics can work and have the same observations as relativity. The theory behind the two are different, and the meaning of your terms will not be the same, but the same predictions can be made on the observable level.

Now, at the time, there was a discussion on how to even construct the system that would be used.

1. Keep the physics simple, complicate the geometry?
2. Keep the geometry simple, complicate the physics?
3. Have the two meet halfway?

Here, just saying "go with the simpliest" answer fails, because each is simpler in a different way.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2004 3:12 am 
I recommend complicating the geometry as much as possible, 'cos complicated geometry is fun. :D

-=-Pope Bibbo XXIII the Not Necessarily Euclidean


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:07 pm 
The fruits of applications of the scientific method.


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