Re: NoShips on Relativity and Imre Lakatos
by NoShips on November 24th, 2016, 3:35 pm
"I have moved your last posts here from the Cosmic Lattice thread."
Ok
"Do you know of any observational test that yielded results in conflict with SR or GR?"
Well, I think there may be a deeper problem here that is being overlooked; namely, scientific theories, as a rule of thumb, do not entail any observational consequences in and of themselves. Observational predictions can be derived only by combining a theory with one or more (so-called) auxiliary hypotheses.
Let's take the classic case of Newtonian mechanics (NM) that I mentioned earlier and the so-called "anomalous orbit" of Mercury, or even Uranus. (and here I shamelessly rip off the work of Imre Lakatos). Suppose we take Newtonian mechanics to be his three laws of motion together with his inverse square law of universal gravitation. (If you prefer, we can take it to be something else. I don't think it matters.)
Question 1: What observational consequences can be derived from NM alone?
Ans: None.
(If you disagree, please show us the derivations)
Question 2: What "observational test would be in conflict with" (to use your own terms, Burt) Newtonian mechanics?
Ans: None. No contradictions would be generated by the observation of, say, a planet in some remote galaxy moving in a triangular orbit, or even doing a figure-of-eight in fits and starts. All that Newtonian mechanics demands is that the forces involved obey Newton's laws.
So back to Mercury, what was "anomalous" about it? Let us return to circa 1900.
Anomalies only appear as a result of combining the theory (in this case NM) with a host of background assumptions and auxiliary hypotheses. There is no contradiction generated by the following set of premises:
P1: Newton's 1st Law
P2: Newton's 2nd Law
P3: Newton's 3rd Law
P4: Newton's universal law of gravitation
To derive a contradiction, we have have to add premises, drawing upon our background store of knowledge, e.g.
P5: Mercury is a planet (Mercury doesn't even appear in the premises of NM. We now add her.)
P6: Everything we know about the solar system, the orbit of Mercury, and so forth. Might as well just make P6: everything we know, or think we know.
Now, and only now, a contradiction is generated. Mercury shouldn't be doing that!
So, to answer your original question, Burt ("Do you know of any observational test that yielded results in conflict with SR or GR?").
No, because there are none. There can be none. SR and GR do not yield any observational consequences in and of themselves. We must add auxiliary hypotheses before any observational consequences, and thus any possibility of "conflict", can be generated.
Moreover... and this is the REAL point... if any "conflict" is observed, our theory is by no means disproven. What we have in schematic form is:
P1: Theory X (any theory you like) +
P2: Auxiliary hypotheses (A1, A2, ... An)
entail observation O
Subsequently "not O" is observed. We have a contradiction (at last!). What do we say now? Theory X is false? Well, it might be. It might also be that one of (A1, A2, ... An) is false. Logic can't help us here.
"Relativity and quantum physics work in different regimes, so the one cannot possibly falsify the other. They are essentially both special cases of some grander theory, which has not yet been discovered."
Seems to me, if they do indeed belong to mutually exclusive regimes, then they cannot be united (by some grander theory). Or, put another way, if they can be united, they do not belong to mutually exclusive regimes. Am I missing something?
As for "which has not yet been discovered", all I can say in return is "I have two Christmas presents given to me by the same uncle... who may or may not exist."