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Shedding a little light on one of the universe's darkest secrets

Published: Sunday, Dec. 2 2012 12:06 p.m. MST

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samhill
Salt Lake City, UT

I find the most amazing thing about the current theory of the universe is the surprise that surprises like this can happen after so much scientific "knowledge" of how the universe operates. At least on the macro vs. micro (quantum) level.

Why do we keep forgetting that current scientific "knowledge" rests on a rubble field of old, contrary and (just to add insult to injury) disrespected previous scientific "knowledge"?

Revolutionary effects of ideas like "Dark matter/energy" have happened before.

I'll never forget the disparaging tone back in the late 50's of skeptics ridiculing the notion of theories of "Continental Drift". What has now become the bedrock (pun intended) of current global geological dynamics under the name of "Plate Tectonics".

We forget this because we (especially scientist wannabes) are silly enough to presume that there is actually such a thing as scientific "knowledge". No true scientist would ever presume such a thing. Like the field of philosophy, real science is more a matter of questioning rather than answering. Always treading tentatively and skeptically on any ground declared to be "knowledge".

In fact, the two words should really never be found modifying the other. The combination is an oxymoron.

Blue
Salt Lake City, UT

No, Sam, there are plenty of scientific discoveries that are established "knowledge."

- The Earth is 4.5 billion years old.
- The Universe is 13.7 billion years old.
- Earthquakes are caused by natural movement of the Earth's crust, not angry gods.
- Diseases are caused by biochemical agents and processes, not angry gods.
- Lightning and thunder are caused by natural physical phenomena in our atmoshere, not angry gods.
- Earth is one planet among many orbiting the Sun. Geocentrism is wrong.
- Humans and apes share a distant, common genetic ancestor.

That is all verified, testable, replicable knowledge, and you do a disservice to science and scientists when you claim that science can never "know" anything.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

Doctors "practice" medicine even though they are trained beyond the level that "practice" should be required. Lawyers "practice" law. They too are educated beyond the level where "practice" would be required.

Doctors and lawyers are educated enough to know that knowledge expands as we look deeper into "trusted" concepts. They know that as knowledge expands, their training will become more and more obsolete.

Scientists, if they are true scientists, do exactly as Samhill said; they question. They search. They observe. They discuss. They try different answers to see how those answers affect all of the "baseline" science. When they find that they have discovered a new way of looking at "established" theories, they present those discoveries so that other scientists can find any failings.

It's a good method.

Those who mock old theories seem to think that "now" we are infinitely more knowledgeable. We may all be surprised that someday most of what we "know" will be shown to be no more "factual" than the old theories that are mocked today.

Learning expands the mind to ALL possibilities. If we stop questioning, we stop progressing.

ehekeal13
WEST VALLEY CITY, UT

Blue, they may be "established knowledge" but that does not mean they are all concrete facts or truth. That's why the word "theory" is used so much in science, and its constantly changing. By the way, it takes a similar amount of faith to believe them as it does to believe in god, so don't try and sound so condescending k :) by the way, I believe in both science and god and that they do not contradict one another, we just don't have enough true knowledge of either

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

What science has proven is that things are ever changing however, evolution is still a theory not a fact. Evolution in some things but not all things. There is much we don't know and those things will not be known until after the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It fascinates me when people try to take science to disprove something. Remember the earth as WE know was created from matter that was already there. It didn't come out of mid-air. The perfect seasons for most of the earth and many other things testify that there is a great creator whether one wants to believe it or not.

Kalindra
Salt Lake City, Utah

Gravity is also just a "theory" - but I don't see people jumping off 20 story buildings....

use the noodle
Casa Grande, AZ

An interesting note that the night sky would be bright white if the galaxy were not expanding.

Redshirt1701
Deep Space 9, Ut

To "Kalindra" gravity is a law, not a theory.

VST
Bountiful, UT

@Kalindra,

You are incorrect. In classical physics it is known as Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation. It is an established and proven LAW – not a theory.

Go look it up.

Kalindra
Salt Lake City, Utah

@ VST and Redshirt1701: Gravity is both a law and a theory. In science, a "law" is an analytic statement - a formula that tells us what things will do. A "theory" tells us why something happens - it is a thoroughly tested idea, that accurately and predictively describes the natural world.

Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation allows us to calculate the speed and trajectory at which you would fall should you jump off a 20 story building. The theory of gravity tells us why you would fall.

It is generally a good idea to look something up yourself before recommending such an action to someone else.

(Oh, and Einstein's General Theory of Relativity shows that Newton's Law of Gravitation breaks down when gravitation is very strong - which is not applicable on Earth, but is necessary and applicable if you are studying space.)

VST
Bountiful, UT

@Kalindra,

It was you (in your original post) that put it terms of "classical physics" as a reason for individuals not "…jumping off a 20 story buildings…" Then you called it a theory.

Please note, that in my response, I used the term classical physics and not modern physics or quantum physics.

In classical physics, gravitational attraction (in weak gravitational fields) between two different mass objects it is a LAW – not a THEORY.

Kalindra
Salt Lake City, Utah

@ VST: Newton's Law of Gravity states, "'Every particle attracts every other particle with a force that is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the distance between them."

It states what happens - it does not explain why it happens. Why it happens is the Theory of Gravity.

Newton's Law tells us what will happen if you walk/jump/fall off a building - the Theory of Gravity explains the cause of that effect.

You can split hairs all you want between classical physics and quantum physics - but it will not change the fact that gravity is a theory in the exact same way that evolution and the big bang are theories - and it was a theory when Newton wrote his law.

VST
Bountiful, UT

Now who is splitting hairs?

I have seen gravity referenced as being one of the four known fundamental interactions of nature as part of the General Theory of Relativity, but have never seen it referenced specifically as the Theory of Gravity in any discussions involving Relativity.

Peace!

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