Do you agree that Science has failed? (Science here refers specifically to theoretical physics)

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    Dec 02, 2011 8:22 PM GMT
    Just started reading a book; here's an excerpt.

    "To put it bluntly... we have failed. We inherited a science, physics, that had been progressing so fast for so long that it was often taken as the model for how other kinds of science should be done. For more than two centuries, until the recent period, our understanding of the laws of nature expanded rapidly. But today, despite our best efforts, what we know for certain about these laws is no more than what we knew back in the 1980s."

    To be pessimistic, I kinda agree that progress on most fronts of Science has been rapid in recent years, but not fundamental. My opinion is largely uninformed though. What do you guys think?
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    Dec 02, 2011 8:48 PM GMT
    "There has been enormous progress in applying established theories to diverse subjects ; the properties of materials, the molecular physics underlying builogy, the dynamics of vast clusters of stars. But when it comes to extending our knowledge of the laws of nature, we have made no read headway. Many beautiful ideas have been explored, and there have been remarkable particle-accelerator experiments and cosmological observations, but these have mainly served to confirm existing theory. There have been few leaps forward, and none as definitive or important as those of the previous two hundred years."

    "New theories have been posited and explored, some in great detail, but none has been confirmed experimentally. And here's the crux of the problem: In science, for a theory to be believed, it must make a new prediction - different from those made by previous theories - for an experiment not yet done. For the experiment to be meaningful, we must be able to get an answer that disagrees with that prediction. When this is the case, the theory is falsifiable. The theory also has to be confirmable; it must be possible to verify a new prediction that only this theory makes. Only then can we advance the theory to the ranks of true theories.
    The current crisis in the particle physics springs from the fact that the theories that have gone beyond the standard model in the last thirty years fell into two categories. Some were falsifiable and were falsified. THe rest are untested, either because they make no clean predictions or because the predictions they do make are not testable with current technology."
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    Dec 02, 2011 8:49 PM GMT
    116-faster-than-the-speed-of-light-troll
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    Dec 02, 2011 8:53 PM GMT
    TheChrisGuyTo be pessimistic, I kinda agree that progress on most fronts of Science has been rapid in recent years, but not fundamental


    Please correct me if I'm wrong (cause English is not my first language), but with fundamental did you mean "important"?
    Well that may be true for physics, but definitely not for biology and as far as I had to learn chemistry for me studies neither.
    Just a few things that have been discovered in the last 30 years of immense importance(for biology): The human genom has been sequenced, the first transgenic animal has been produced, the first animal has been cloned, fluroescent proteins have been used successfully, stereoelectron microscopy and the list goes on and on.

    I'm not quite sure how's it going in other branches of studies?
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    Dec 02, 2011 9:34 PM GMT
    The author sounds exasperated by the progress that's being made.

    Our problem: we have theories that fit our models of the universe at energies we can replicate, and things that we can measure. We are running into that ceiling, where higher energies and more novel forms of measurement are required.

    What is dark energy? Is this energy that we can detect, or is it so small at solar system scales that it's nearly meaningless? We can see its effects universe-wide, but can we even see it galaxy-wide?

    What is dark matter? Are there more novel ways to measure this galaxy-scale phenomena? Our instruments are pretty good at measurements at solar system scales, but dark matter could be in our own solar system and we can't even detect it.

    The next breakthroughs will come when we can take measurements at our scale.
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    Dec 02, 2011 9:46 PM GMT
    Statements like this are always made out of ignorance. Just because the author can't keep up all the new discoveries does not mean they don't exist.


    We are lacking an anti -gravity strategy for space travel though. Rockets suck rather badly.
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    Dec 02, 2011 9:52 PM GMT
    I don't know anyone who keeps up with this stuff that could say science is "failing." We understand more about the universe (and beyond) than we ever have, just because we don't have all of the answers yet doesn't mean we are failing.
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    Dec 02, 2011 10:07 PM GMT
    TheChrisGuy said"To put it bluntly... we have failed. We inherited a science, physics, that had been progressing so fast for so long that it was often taken as the model for how other kinds of science should be done. For more than two centuries, until the recent period, our understanding of the laws of nature expanded rapidly. But today, despite our best efforts, what we know for certain about these laws is no more than what we knew back in the 1980s."


    As a physicist by schooling, I have to completely disagree with the quote.

    First, it's not the first time in modern history that progress in physics has slowed down. As a matter of fact, just before the most fundamental change in physics in history, in the early 20th century, people thought that physics was a done science, that everything there was to discover was already discovered.

    Second, progress in many fields of physics has been swift and fundamental. On the other hand, experimental particle physics hasn't moved much, but that's probably more a reflection of where the money is going these days - applications that are more immediately useful to industry.

    The interesting thing about the article is that it seems to equate "science" with "experimental elementary particle physics." That's a testament to how successful this particular branch of this particular natural science has been in the past. But that view is antiquated. A lot of the brainpower has moved from here to other places, where fundamental progress is being made at an amazing clip.

    Natual science as a whole doesn't usually evolve at a constant rate. Instead, particular branches flourish at a given time, to be outpaced by others as their own time comes. Right now, I'd say, is the time for biology and genetic.
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    Dec 02, 2011 10:12 PM GMT
    What is the title and author of the book?
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    Dec 02, 2011 10:14 PM GMT
    Science hasn't failed. It is the vested interests that fund science that have failed.
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    Dec 02, 2011 10:45 PM GMT
    This sounds more like opinion and semantics than anything else. We do have new theories, which ARE CURRENTLY BEING TESTED. One was recently dis-proven (possibly) in fact in the LHC. However, do to lack of funding we DO NOT have the TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPED to prove/disprove even some older theories. Science can not fail. Only humans can fail. That is exactly what is going on now, research is dependent on money so the biggest new gains in science come from those which have the money to do the research. A lot of this money is funneled into profit bearing research (drugs, sell-able tech, new materials, etc). Now on top of all that our atrophied world economy (which has been put on life support by human ignorance, and greed) has worsened the money crunch, further slowing and hampering research.

    Don't believe what you read unless there is direct evidence to back it up. Hyperbole is just that hyperbole.
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    Dec 02, 2011 10:47 PM GMT
    the only way i could imagine them writing that science has failed is in regards to the fact that people still believe in religion so much, that god created the earth and us, and among other things, that we haven't all progressed as much as we should have.


    otherwise no, science is doing just fine, and i think we've made some serious progress lately, especially with health sciences- though i'm sure others have too
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    Dec 02, 2011 10:51 PM GMT
    i most certainly agree that it has been a whopping big ass failure in some areas!

    concorde was built in the 1960 wshere is our 3rd generation SST or even 2nd? it's pissing annoying i have to spend 15 hours on a plane to get to australia.

    clearly men are devolving as well. shouldn't there be some sort of pill or radiation bath to get us to the next level?

    but i do think it did quite well with the ipod and lube.
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    Dec 02, 2011 11:16 PM GMT
    you don't understand science or its objectives if you think that it has "failed"
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    Dec 02, 2011 11:20 PM GMT
    "For every question answered, three more questions present themselves."
    -Some documentary I saw about the universe and science and stuff.
  • commoncoll

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    Dec 02, 2011 11:22 PM GMT
    Who wrote this asinine opinionated paragraph that can't be defended well? What books is this?
    Perhaps in some fields, like physics and applied mathematics, the discovery of new theories has slowed, but by no means has advancement through experimentation slowed down in ANY of scientific areas be they physical, chemical, or biological, the latter of the two have had some of the most important discoveries made after 1980s much less last century.
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    Dec 02, 2011 11:22 PM GMT
    We live longer and better lives.

    I carry a little piece of metal and glass in my pocket that allows me to communicate instantaneously with my family 9000 miles away.

    Three years ago, my unborn niece was diagnosed with a heart defect that would have killed her during birth. The doctors were able to operate in utero and repair her heart and today she is a happy, healthy beautiful baby girl.

    Yes, science has been an abject, horrible and utter failure.
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    Dec 02, 2011 11:27 PM GMT
    Nice big QFT to the OP.
    That is all.
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    Dec 02, 2011 11:27 PM GMT
    paulflexes said"For every question answered, three more questions present themselves."
    -Some documentary I saw about the universe and science and stuff.


    pretty much. science is --you know -- about failing and trying again
  • xKorix

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    Dec 02, 2011 11:28 PM GMT
    I think science has gotten arrogant. I get this vibe by the media and people in general about science that we know all that we need to know. There's a very harsh arrogance about being "right" and all else is wrong. I don't see very much curiosity or wonder or questioning or even a sense of humbleness i.e. Stephen Hawking.
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    Dec 02, 2011 11:35 PM GMT
    Blakey82 saidThis sounds more like opinion and semantics than anything else. We do have new theories, which ARE CURRENTLY BEING TESTED. One was humma humma humma asfdg.....


    And Blakey's (probably well-reasoned response) was totally lost on me, as my eyes lock onto his incredible ass, and my brain goes right into the gutter.

    My apologies... do carry on. icon_smile.gif
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    Dec 02, 2011 11:38 PM GMT
    And now back on topic:

    Blackguy4you said...Concorde was built in the 1960 wshere is our 3rd generation SST or even 2nd? it's pissing annoying i have to spend 15 hours on a plane to get to australia.


    Some potential scientific advances are held up by politicians' needs to cater to religionist constituencies.

    Like stem cell research and cloning.
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    Dec 02, 2011 11:39 PM GMT
    turbobilly saidScience hasn't failed. It is the vested interests that fund science that have failed.

    We also live in an age where governments don't care about science as much as they used to. Scientific advancement used to be tied to national development and increasing quality of life. Think of the 50s, 60s and Cold War. Government doesn't reach that far anymore, and the private sector is expected to make up for it.
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    Dec 02, 2011 11:41 PM GMT
    Science is hardly failing. OMG.

    Is that an iPhone in your hand?

    Did I write this message on an Internet 2 connection? (I did, and it's blazingly fast ...35M/35M).

    Is HIV no longer a death sentence as it was in the 1980's?

    Is Moore's law holding true? Yes, it is.

    Can we model a nuclear reaction in a super computer? Hell yes.

    Did you use Google to find this site? (Ever index The Internet?)

    Ever had a ultrasound done of your heart? (I have no plague build up in my heart, and it's strong and vital).

    Science is alive and well.

    Do we know about black holes? There a gazillion of the things.

    And so on.

    Since the invention of the computer, science has been advancing at break neck speed.

    Information is EXPLODING.

    True, false belief systems (religion, cults, etc...what ever you wish to call them) hinder and oppose science, but, science happens anyway because it based on truth and NOT faith / stories.

    Few advances are such a big deal as The Internet, or antibiotics, or E=Mc2, but, science is very much advancing, with, or without, government intervention.

    Many governments programs have produced science that later became very practical. E.g., WD40, microwaves, countless things from the space program, but, science is hardly stalled.
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    Dec 02, 2011 11:50 PM GMT
    I Googled a bit of the quote - here's the book:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=d6MIUlxY-qwC

    The trouble with physics: the rise of string theory, the fall of a science, and what comes next

    It looks like the book is built primarily around criticizing string theory. Otherwise it comes off as 'where's my jetpack!'

    More on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Trouble-Physics-String-Theory-Science/dp/061891868X