NoShips on Relativity and Imre Lakatos

Discussions on the philosophical foundations, assumptions, and implications of science, including the natural sciences.

Re: The Infinite Cosmic Lattice

Postby NoShips on November 24th, 2016, 10:42 am 

Erm since you're here, Burt (and others), it's the annoying amateur again. Just a quick question: (after you told us that relativity could/would be toppled by one recalcitrant observation).

Isn't it the case that the predictions of relativity theory are wholly inconsistent with what goes on at the level of the very small (quantum stuff)? Yet, it hasn't been toppled?

Not trying to be annoying. I'm genuinely interested. How do you answer? (in layman's terms please, if that's possible)
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Re: The Infinite Cosmic Lattice

Postby BurtJordaan on November 24th, 2016, 11:28 am 

This post and its replies have been moved from another topic, where it was off-topic.

NoShips » 24 Nov 2016, 16:42 wrote:Isn't it the case that the predictions of relativity theory are wholly inconsistent with what goes on at the level of the very small (quantum stuff)? Yet, it hasn't been toppled?

This is way off-topic for this thread, but no! Quantum theory has to be reconciled with relativity and it has been done partially. It is called quantum field theory, but it does not include gravity. Some sees it as an extension of SR to make it compatible with QT; some sees it as an extension of QT to make it Lorentz symmetrical and hence compatible with SR. Which way does not matter - both are equally valid in its scope of validity.

We do not have a QT that includes gravity yet, but a lot of effort is going in there. We know that whatever Quantum Gravity theory eventually comes up with, it has to be compatible with GR, or at least include it, so that when we go to macroscopic distances, it must predict the same as what GR predict. There is some progress, but the physics community is not quite satisfied with the results to date.

I suggest you start a new thread on this, so that we do not derail this thread, which is a pure cosmology tutorial.
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Re: The Infinite Cosmic Lattice

Postby NoShips on November 24th, 2016, 11:38 am 

Ok, Burt, but I did say in another thread (On Einstein's New Aether) in response to your:

"Only one observational test which, after being repeated enough times and scrutinized by enough experts, yields a result in conflict with relativity, is enough to topple it." - you

I said:

"With all due respect, Burt, this sounds rather far fetched to me. Prized theories, as evidenced by the historical record, are generally not toppled by one anomalous observation, no matter how well confirmed. Examples abound and are well documented:
Newtonian mechanics was not toppled by the well known anomalous orbit of Mercury. The Copernican model was not toppled by recalcitrant observations (lack of stellar parallax), etc., etc.
When observation clashes with theory, as a rule of thumb scientists do not simply abandon a good theory (or we'd have no theories left!), but instead attempt to reconcile the puzzling observation with their theory. And if they can't, maybe just leave it there on the back burner.
"



Now you say (directly above):

"Quantum theory has to be reconciled with relativity and it has been done partially."


Pink for you; blue for me. And a baby named Red :)
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NoShips on Relativity and Imre Lakatos

Postby NoShips on November 24th, 2016, 11:41 am 

Messed up the colors. Sorry!

Focus on that "reconcile" bit. A change of tune?
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Re: On Einstein's "New Aether"

Postby BurtJordaan on November 24th, 2016, 12:32 pm 

I have moved your last posts here from the Cosmic Lattice thread.

Do you know of any observational test that yielded results in conflict with SR or GR?

SR and GR have absolutely nothing to say about the statistical tests done at particle level, so how can that falsify them?

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.
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Re: NoShips on Relativity and Imre Lakatos

Postby 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."
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Re: NoShips on Relativity and Imre Lakatos

Postby BurtJordaan on November 24th, 2016, 4:26 pm 

Sorry NoShips, but this seems to be just a lot of philosophical issues. Please refrain from doing this under a Physics topic. It is actually against forum etiquette to sidetrack topics like you did here.

You can continue the discussion under the Philosophy of Science subgroup. Create a topic there and I'll move your prior post there if you wish.

I have since moved the off-subforum posts to here
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Re: NoShips on Relativity and Imre Lakatos

Postby BurtJordaan on November 25th, 2016, 1:55 am 

NoShips » 24 Nov 2016, 21:35 wrote:"
Burt wrote:"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?

Not mutually exclusive regimes, just different parts of the range of distances and energy densities. You know which I'm talking about. So either GR must be extended to include those extreme (Planck scale) densities, or QT must be extended to include gravity at all distances, OR some general theory that includes both must be found.

The rest of your (Lakatos?) philosophy I don't understand or care much about... :(
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Re: NoShips on Relativity and Imre Lakatos

Postby NoShips on November 25th, 2016, 9:00 am 

BurtJordaan » November 25th, 2016, 2:55 pm wrote:
NoShips » 24 Nov 2016, 21:35 wrote:"
The rest of your (Lakatos?) philosophy I don't understand or care much about... :(


Well, that's a pity, because I feel (with all due respect to your professional expertise -- sincerely!) that you're saying things that are... well, not true.

And we don't want that, do we?
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Re: NoShips on Relativity and Imre Lakatos

Postby NoShips on November 25th, 2016, 9:09 am 

Not to put too fine a point on it, Burt, but a claim that one recalcitrant observation will topple a deeply-entrenched, much-prized scientific theory is manifest nonsense.

I'm not a scientist, but I have the history of science to back me up. Perhaps you should read a little Lakatos.

Scientists regularly misdescribe what it is that they do. Why should this be surprising? You guys do the same thing to, um, say, baseball players.

Baseball player dude: "I do this"

Scientist: "No, you don't. We've studied you. You may think you do this, but you don't."
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Re: NoShips on Relativity and Imre Lakatos

Postby NoShips on November 25th, 2016, 9:16 am 

"You must admit that this adds up to an extraordinary state of affairs. Science, broadly considered, is incomparably the most successful enterprise human beings have ever engaged upon; yet the methodology that has presumably made it so, when propounded by learned laymen, is not attended to by scientists, and when propounded by scientists is a misrepresentation of what they do. Only a minority of scientists have received instruction in scientific methodology, and those that have done seem no better off." - Peter Medawar

(quoted from a thread in this site named "The Scientific Method: Does it Exist" by some unknown scoundrel "AllShips")
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Re: NoShips on Relativity and Imre Lakatos

Postby BurtJordaan on November 25th, 2016, 10:10 am 

NoShips » 25 Nov 2016, 15:00 wrote:Well, that's a pity, because I feel (with all due respect to your professional expertise -- sincerely!) that you're saying things that are... well, not true.

With due respect, NoShips, who's truth?

I will leave it there for others to possibly pick up on, because my interest in such a topic is vanishingly small.
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Re: NoShips on Relativity and Imre Lakatos

Postby NoShips on November 25th, 2016, 10:11 am 

Erm, everyone's truth.

Unless you're a relativist. In which case the Earth is flat is true... for some.

Convinced?
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