Re: The Flat Earth? - Conclusion

Eric Huber ((no email))
6 Jul 1995 21:50:38 GMT (Madhudvisah dasa Swami) wrote:
> (Matthew Scott) wrote:

>But the same process applies in physics. If you could find a perfect
>authority who actually knows what is going on in the universe he could
>give you the correct answers immediately. Everyone would agree this is the
>best way of acquiring knowledge. If there were 100 students in a
>lecture-theatre and there was a noise coming from the roof all 100
>students could come up with a theory to explain the cause of the noise,
>but they may all be wrong -- even if one of them was right how could you
>decide who it was? However, if there was someone on the roof who saw what
>happened clearly his version would be the most perfect...

You *seriously* misunderstand science. There is no version which is most
perfect, there is only that which fits observations. Let's promote your
100 students out of physics for poets and into, say, mechanics.

*Thump* *Thump* *whirr*
Student 1: Hmm, someone is dancing upstairs.
Student 2: No, that `whirr' sound more closely resembled an electric
drill. Perhaps someone is making something.

*Thump* *whirr* *whine* *clank*

Student 1: You're right, though I think that last bit was a ripsaw.
Student 3: Well, the thumps are almost definitely footsteps, judging
from pitch and volume.
Student 2: Shouldn't they arrive in pairs though?
Student 1: Not if someone is at a machine, working ... then they just
step to one side to get something.
Student 3: Hmm.

*Thump* *thump*

Student 1: Those aren't footsteps, that was a bounce! Something heavy
just dropped.
Student 2: What about those whines and whirrs?
Student 3: Portable saw?
Student 1: Think so.

[Enter student 4]
Student 4: Hey, aliens just landed on the roof!
Student 1: Aliens that bounce?
Student 2: And whirr?
Student 3: Doesn't fit the evidence. Let's verify that observation.

[Exit students 2 and 3]
Student 1: Aliens?
Student 4: Well...

[Enter students 2 and 3]
Student 2: There are no aliens, but there is an electric wench.
Student 1: I would theorize a tree fell over, and a workman is cutting
pieces up and lowering them with a hoist.
Studnet 3: If that is so, the thumps should exceed, and usually preceed
the whines, as the person moves tree parts into position.

*Whirr* *Thump* *Thump* *whine*

This is a little closer to science. Observations are made (students listening)
and hypothesese drawn (someone walking, something being chopped up, whine
coresponding to an electric wench, direct observation) and results cross
checked against another (aliens does not agree with bouncing sound, stundents
2 and 3 reproduce student 4's experiment and report results). Conclusions
are drawn and a hypothesis developed to cover all salient facts (tree on
roof being dismembered and lowered) and predictions based on the hypothesis
drawn (event ordering) and experiments conducted to verify predictions
(more listening). As more data is collected, theories not coresponding are
rejected or modified to fit the facts until a theory explaining all previous
observations is reached. Further experimentation refines the theory.

As for your assertion that the best source of information is some oracle
to answer all your questions, I would submit that no such thing exists, nor
is it really needed. Even if it did exist, it must meet the same rigorous
standards as other information souces, such as rulers, weights, voltmeters,

If you believe you have access to such a source of information, I would like
to know:

1. Why is the fine structure constant 1/137?
2. Just what does the permiability of free space have to to with the
velocity of light?
3. How does gravity relate to the electro-weak force?
4. What is the meaning of the imaginary part of the wave propigation

A perfect athority should have no problems with these trivial details of

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