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  •  its not a 'human construct' exactly (5+ / 0-)

    Its a description of a law of nature:

    Matter/Energy cannot be created or destroyed, just converted from one form to another.

    And the BIG questions in Physics were solved by Newton in the 1600s. Nothing simce has contradicted him, just dealt with anomolies at very small matter (quantum mechanics) and very high velocities (relativity).

    you can apply Einstein and Newton to "you are on a ship moving at 10 mph. you walk towards the bow at 2 mph. what is your total forward speed to someone on shore?"

    With Newton it is: 12 mph.
    with Einstein it is: 11.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999992415 mph.

    Most new items refine what we already know, they don't repeal the laws of physics.

    We have no desire to offend you -- unless you are a twit!

    by ScrewySquirrel on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 08:31:58 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  But who DEFINES the laws of physics? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      swaminathan

      That's my question.  Humans define the laws of physics, based upon our understanding of how the universe works.  So yes, by definition, the laws of physics ARE a human construct.

      To say that our understanding of the physical universe is essentially complete (or even that BIG questions no longer exist--think about our understanding of the beginning of the universe if you want an example of one remaining Big Question) is hugely anthropocentric.  And a huge disservice to the scientific community at large.

      The Laws of Physics remain because no human has yet to falsify them, and they enjoy a near-universal acceptance among the (human) scientific community.  But that's it.  

      There's plenty about this big ol' universe we call home that we have yet to discover and understand.  The Laws currently  held as truth are simply the best our current scientific thinking can do to explain to ourselves what this place is all about.  I refuse to close my mind to the possibility that there's more to it than we currently have the ability (and dare I say open-mindedness?) to observe and/or consider.  The simple fact of our humanity necessarily means that we see the universe from a human-centered viewpoint.  We can only see and detect things that we can see and detect, because we are only human!

      And no, I'm not speaking of religion.  Just the opposite, in fact.

      Incorrigible punster; please do not incorrige.

      by Ran3dy on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 10:28:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sorry, but that just isn't how science works... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Odysseus

        Yes, it is a human construct of using words, numbers, and formulas to describe the world around us. That doesn't mean that certain properties of the Universe are themselves human constructs.

        The hierarchy of scientific certainty is as follows:

        Law
        Theory
        hypothesis.

        Note that Special and General Relativity, Evolution, etc remain theories even though they describe the world to a high degree of accuracy.

        Above this are the scientific Laws. Laws of the thermodynamics and motion are two examples. They are far fewer in number than Theories.  Laws essentially are reality.

        "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities" Voltaire.

        by JWK on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 05:48:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And the LAWS of science come from where? (0+ / 0-)

          From outside the human realm, or from within it?
          l
          That's all I'm saying here.  These LAWS are accepted as reality because HUMANS have made observations and proposed explanations for those observations.  Not other earthly species, aliens, supernatural beings, deities, but HUMANS.  Flesh and blood, with five basic senses with which to make observations, and reason, to put it all together to describe a universe that (hopefully) makes sense.

          To say that it's something other than human construct is folly!  We are mere observers in this universe--as opposed to, say, creators-- so what we make of it can never be more than observation.  We do not decide the properties of the universe (it existed LONG before we came into being!), rather we observe it and do our best to explain it.  So humans make hypotheses, theories, and laws to explain to ourselves what we observe.  Thus, "human construct."  

          Maybe that's not how science works.  But if not, then it's a limitation of science, not the universe.

          Incorrigible punster; please do not incorrige.

          by Ran3dy on Sun Apr 24, 2011 at 07:16:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  sorry... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Odysseus

            if it worked differently, the description would be different.  The POINT of science is to describe the universe as it really is, not to construct internally-consistant fantasies.

            the universe is bigger than Human constructs.

            We have no desire to offend you -- unless you are a twit!

            by ScrewySquirrel on Mon Apr 25, 2011 at 05:57:38 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  This will be my last reply on the matter (0+ / 0-)

              because you are all proving me correct (if only you could see it....)

              You say

              The POINT of science is to describe the universe
              emphasis mine

              ...and that's what I'm all about.  Science, human science, is about describing the universe, in terms that humans understand.  The description (be it in the form of hypothesis, theory, or law) is thus a human construct.

              I never said the universe was a human construct; quite the opposite, in fact.  But our science is very definitely a human construct.

              Incorrigible punster; please do not incorrige.

              by Ran3dy on Mon Apr 25, 2011 at 06:35:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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