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(Berkeley Lab)   If you've been lying awake at night wondering if Earth is passing through walls of dark matter or dark energy into different domains of space, don't worry - scientists are every bit as wacko as you are   ( newscenter.lbl.gov) divider line
    More: Strange, dark matter, dark energy, mass-energy, Earth, magnetometers, physics, speeds, Department of Physics  
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3191 clicks; posted to Geek » on 07 Jan 2013 at 8:13 PM (5 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2013-01-09 02:03:32 AM  
1 vote:

Just Another OC Homeless Guy: If something is true i.e.( internally AND externally consistent), it can - with sufficient effort - be explained simply and clearly.

Your inability to understand something does not make it true or false. It just means you don't understand it.
2013-01-08 01:55:57 PM  
1 vote:

doglover: Scientists have a very single minded approach and with cosmology, there's very little chance to verify anything with experiments, so it all keeps building and building and building based on what the physicists know, which is math. What's actually happening is just pure speculation based on observation. Every new observation changes the math, but until we get some experiments in we'll never know. But Ockam's Razor is sharp as ever and it's highly unlikely in a universe as vast and complex as ours that our physicists in the 2000's are any closer to ultimate truth in their speculations than those of the 1900's or the 1800's were.

The only people I know who do that are string theorists.

But to throw your hands in the air and claim that they're just monkeying around with numbers and the CMBR is doing a serious discredit to modern cosmology. The truth is they might not have the complete big picture but they know they're on the right track. And the silver bullet example of this is the higgs-boson. It was predicted nearly 50 years ago through nothing but math. And the math said that if we build a particle collider powerful enough we would be able to detect it, and now, finally, the technology caught up with the prediction enough to verify. That's the essence of science.

No, we're not going to be able to experiment on the Theory of Everything in that manner, but that's okay because not all science is experimental. In fact, quite a great deal of it is deductive. We look at the available evidence and come up with hypothesis' for why it's so (no police detective witnesses a murder firsthand but cases still get solved). But the only true way to express it is through math because the Universe is just too weird to be explained through words (so reading a book on the subject is a terrible substitute. It will give you the gist, sure, but it cuts a lot of corners. That's why book form is the lowest form of science. It must be done, for the sake of the populace, but it's generally not how scientists explain their findings)

A good example of this is the computation of the orbit of Mercury. Around the turn of the last century, scientists noticed that its orbit was perturbed very very slightly (like off by about 43 milliseconds per revolution or something), and we didn't understand why. For awhile we speculated that there must have been another planet or asteroid nearby tentatively named Vulcan that was tugging on Mercury and being responsible for the perturbation, but that didn't make sense because it didn't factor into any other orbits or equations.

It was Einstein who figured it out: The sun's gravity well was tugging on the light reflecting off Mercury, throwing our observations off. This was the smoking gun that gave credence to the Theory of Relativity.

It's stuff like this that cosmologists look at: Evidence, build a basis off the evidence, and then build a basis off that basis. Eventually things do get extremely theoretical and abstract the further you get from the source, but they are still based on real evidence. It's not just all idle speculation.

Cosmologists are on the right track. But you're going to have to be patient -- the answers aren't going to come overnight. Just stay away from the string theorists and the multi-dimensional wackos.
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