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View Diary: Science Friday: Vegas Style (110 comments)

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  •  Your point (3+ / 0-)

    is well taken. This is afterall a political site. I'm lucky be able to post on science at all. A few months ago I ran a couple of polls asking what readers would like to see science-wise. If memory serves, it was pretty close between general science essays, interviews with existing scientists and science writers, then specific things like evo V creationism, climate change, environment, reproduction, and so forth. And that's what I've done or tried to do. On hurricanes, I've written several articles ranging from general essays on the science behind them including links to global warming, what it's like to live through one, and all points get-the-fuck-out-of-town-there's-a-hurricane-coming bulletins. If you have a specific topic you'd like to see covered, I'm always open and looking for good ideas.

    Read UTI, your free thought forum

    by DarkSyde on Fri Jun 16, 2006 at 05:41:26 AM PDT

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    •  All people want their science... (0+ / 0-) back up their political beliefs. Even we Kossacks.

      •  Hmmm ... 'want' ... perhaps ... (0+ / 0-)

        But, are we truly 'reality-based'?  I have had my opinion, my beliefs changed by confrontation with arguments supported with evidence that I did not know / did not understand.  Thus, even if I would prefer that it turn out that I am 100% infallible and that all science end proving that I had that infallibility when I exited the womb (oops, when the egg became fertilized?), I am ready to learn and change when faced with things that challenge my beliefs / perception of how the world operates.  While I might want science to back my beliefs, but ready to have it change my world-view when my infallibility is proved fallible ...

        Reality-based vs belief-based ...

        9/11/05, Day 1469, A count worth keeping? Or, Osama Bin Forgotten?

        by besieged by bush on Fri Jun 16, 2006 at 10:01:11 AM PDT

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      •  Nature cannot be fooled (0+ / 0-)

        Nature doesn't care what we believe or what our politics are. But we sure better care how Nature behaves if we want to survive and prosper in this world. If we end up helping Nature to destroy us, Nature won't give a damn one way or the other and will simply proceed along whatever path is given. Nature won't neglect something even as simple as a frozen O-ring if we haven't thought through all the consequences in spite of our best desires--as Richard Feynman pointed out after the Challenger disaster:

        "Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."
        Richard Feynman, Rogers' Commission Final Report into the Challenger Crash, Appendix F: Personal Observations on the Reliability of the Shuttle.

        Sometimes nature gives us discoveries that are completely unexpected, and momentarily disconcerting. For example, when the discovery of the muon was announced in 1936, theorist I. I. Rabi asked "Who ordered that?" since its existence had not been previously predicted or expected. Likewise with the recent discovery of dark energy and the accelerating expansion of the universe--no one had even guessed that such an expansion was occurring, and in fact the exact opposite effect was expected, until the observation was actually made and independently verified. Similarly, discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background by Penzias and Wilson in 1963 was at first puzzling and inexplicable until its true significance was finally realized as being a major piece of evidence supporting, and predicted by, the "Big Bang" model of the origin of our universe.

        We need to understand Nature as she really is, not as we want, wish, pray, hope, or desire her to be. And if we think we can just define Nature to be the way we want simply by edict or dogma, then we're again deluding, embarrassing, and ultimately harming ourselves--as with the Galileo incident. Again Richard Feynman:

        What is necessary for ‘the very existence of science,’ and what the characteristics of nature are, are not to be determined by pompous preconditions, they are determined always by the material with which we work, by nature herself. We look, and we see what we find, and we cannot say ahead of time successfully what it is going to look like. ... It is necessary for the very existence of science that minds exist which do not allow that nature must satisfy some preconceived conditions.
        Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law 1967


        The principle of science, the definition, almost, is the following: The test of all knowledge is experiment. Experiment is the sole judge of scientific "truth."
        Richard Feynman The Feynman Lectures on Physics 1963


        The whole question of imagination in science is often misunderstood by people in other disciplines. They try to test our imagination in the following way. They say, "Here is a picture of some people in a situation. What do you imagine will happen next?" When we say "I can't imagine" they may think we have a weak imagination. They overlook the fact that whatever we are allowed to imagine in science must be consistent with everything else we know; that the electric fields and the waves we talk about are not just some happy thoughts which we are free to make as we wish, but ideas which must be consistent with all the laws of physics we know. We can't allow ourselves to seriously imagine things which are obviously in contradiction to the known laws of nature. And so our kind of imagination is quite a difficult game.
        Richard Feynman The Feynman Lectures on Physics 1963

        I wish this retired physics professor was as half as smart and eloquent as Richard Feynman. But his words speak of the joy and truths that all of us who work in science feel every day.

        Politicians and diapers have one thing in common. They should be changed regularly and for the same reason. -- Gerry Brooks (Toronto Globe & Mail)

        by dewtx on Fri Jun 16, 2006 at 02:27:31 PM PDT

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