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"I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something." Richard Feynman    
     
Science and Philosophy    
     
What is science?    
     
Science was known as Natural Philosophy up until the last century. A few words from Hannes Alfvén seem appropriate to begin a discussion on the role of philosophy in science today. Alfvén pointed to an increasing specialisation in science during the latter half of the last century, and this cult of the expert certainly seems to have contributed to much of the resistance to many of his ideas.   "There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination." Daniel Dennett
   

"We should remember that there was once a discipline called Natural Philosophy. Unfortunately, this discipline seems not to exist today. It has been renamed science, but the science of today is in danger of losing much of the natural philosophy aspect. Scientists tend to resist interdisciplinary inquiries into their own territory. In many instances, such parochialism is founded on the fear that intrusion from other disciplines would compete unfairly for limited financial resources and thus diminish their own opportunity for research."
Hannes Alfvén, 1986

 

It is easy to forget that science is essentially a philosophical discipline. Empiricism is the method by which we gain knowledge through observation and measurement. At older universities, long-established Chairs of Natural Philosophy are now occupied by Professors of Physics.

See the next page on skepticism for an overview of two of the leading philosophers of science, Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn.

 

"It is the inductive science of philosophy that teaches the 'hard' scientist how to be scientific." Leonard Piekoff, Logical Leap 2010




The NPA - Natural Philosophy Alliance    
     

The Natural Philosophy Alliance is a group of people who believe that many mainstream/consensus ideas in physics and cosmology, including relativity, quantum theory, and the big bang, are irredeemably flawed. The emphasis is on putting the philosophy bank into science, in other words; where an evidential approach is prioritised over ideology.

In recent years the Electric Universe and NPA have run a number of successful joint conferences.

In July 2013 the founder of the Electric Universe, Wal Thornhill, was awarded the prestigious Sagnac award for lifetime achievement at the 20th annual conference of the Natural Philosophy Alliance at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA.

 
     
The Scientific method    
     

Traditionally we think of the scientific method comprising the following stages.

1 Observation 2 Hypothesis 3 Prediction 4 Testing

Richard Feynman, however, argued that "There is no such thing as 'the' scientific method. Science uses many methods. There will never be a pat answer to the question 'what is science'. The very notion that there could be a pat answer bespeaks an attachment to rote learning that is incompatible with scientific thinking."

It is a straight forward matter, nonetheless, to differentiate between the approaches favoured by Big Bang supporters and Plasma Cosmologists.

"The burden of proof has been inverted ... unpopular claims require extraordinary evidence. Popular claims only seem to require a show of hands."
Stuart Talbott, Thunderbolts Project
  "Don't let your minds be cluttered up with the prevailing doctrine." Alexander Fleming
The 'Actualistic' versus the 'Prophetic'    
     

Following in the footsteps of their famous predecessors, plasma physicists are keen to take an Actualistic approach, that of working backwards from observation, and taking a broad approach to science. Birkeland, for example, believed in experimentation and observation in addition to mathematical modelling, despite having trained as a mathematician himself. He was famous for his Terella experiments (see history I), and for expeditions to polar regions to observe auroras at first hand.

Big Bangers, by contrast, exhibit a preference for the Prophetic approach, that of starting out from idealised mathematical principles. This theoretical approach, however, is fraught with problems, as the history of science testifies. For example:

1. Sidney Chapman's mathematical models failed to predict the complex three dimensional nature of the Earth's magnetosphere.

2. The Kinetic theory of Ordinary gases fails to predict the behaviour of Plasmas (originally called ionised gases), because of their electrodynamic interactions. The mathematics may work for ordinary gases, but it fails hopelessly for plasmas.

3. Ptolemaic epicycles were mathematically elegant, and they worked, but they failed to recognise the underlying mechanism.

4. The prophetic approach postulates a number of entities prior to their discovery. Hypotheticals like Dark Matter and Dark Energy are required to balance the equations in Big Bang cosmology. There is nothing wrong with this approach in principle, but when you consider these exotic entities are now alleged to make up more than 90% of the universe you have to wonder.

5. Mathematical proofs were cited to support the claim that heavier-than-air flight was impossible! These, of course, turned out to be nonsense.

 

"After all, to get the whole universe totally wrong in the face of clear evidence for over 75 years merits monumental embarrassment and should induce a modicum of humility." Halton Arp

 

 

 

"We have to learn again that science without contact with experiments is an enterprise which is likely to go completely astray into imaginary conjecture." Hannes Alfvén

Mathematics vis-à-vis Science    
     

The importance of mathematics in science cannot be denied. It is an essential tool for both measurement and prediction, principles on which science is based, but history teaches us to be cautious before relying on mathematics as a starting point.

"I am acutely aware of the fact that the marriage between mathematics and physics, which was so enormously fruitful in past centuries, has recently ended in divorce."
Freeman Dyson

Ptolemaic epicycles, mentioned above, highlight the dangers of the mathematical approach. They were a series of circular orbits within orbits, and with a few tweaks they would still work today, but the point is that although mathematically correct, and indeed elegant they failed to reflect the underlying reality.

Einstein himself had reservations about the mathematical approach favoured by expanding universe proponents:

"Since the mathematicians have invaded the theory of relativity, I do not understand it myself any more."

"As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality."

In other words, Math should be subordinate to Physics...not the other way around, as it is now.

...Lorentz, in order to justify his transformation equations, saw the necessity of postulating a physical effect of interaction between moving matter and ther, to give the mathematics meaning. Physics still had de jure authority over mathematics: it was Einstein, who had no qualms about abolishing the ther and still retaining light waves whose properties were expressed by formulae that were meaningless without it, who was the first to discard physics altogether and propose a wholly mathematical theory...
Herbert Dingle, Science at the Cross-Roads.

 

Epicycles

 

"One should not increase, beyond what is necessary, the number of entities required to explain anything". Ockham's Razor

Matters of some gravity    
     

It is easy to forget that we do not understand the mechanism behind gravity. It is a force which is described mathematically. Newton admitted as much:

"But hitherto I have not been able to discover the cause of those properties of gravity from phenomena, and I frame no hypotheses."
Isaac Newton

Einstein further muddied the waters when he replaced a mathematical description of gravity with a mathematical abstraction, by factoring in time as a physical dimension. Can empty space really be curved?

See also Crothers: Is Spacetime Really a Four-Dimensional Continuum?

 

"There is no model of the theory of gravitation today, other than the mathematical form." Richard Feynman

     
Space Balls    
     

In classrooms today, Einstein s solution is sometimes illustrated by rolling balls around on suspended blankets with the smaller balls being attracted to the larger mass in the middle as if falling into the well of spacetime. This, self-evidently, relies on gravity as its own explanation. It s circular reasoning, literally and metaphorically.

Space Time

Balls indeed, some might say.

 

I am acutely aware of the fact that the marriage between mathematics and physics, which was so enormously fruitful in past centuries, has recently ended in divorce. Freeman Dyson

     
Time Dilation?    
     

Alleged Time Dilation is often cited as conclusive evidence for General Relativity, but caution is urged before accepting interpretations of tenuous evidence in this regard. Could bias confirmation be the significant factor?

When NASA put atomic clocks on aircraft and on the space shuttle, they claim to have observed time dilation. However, these results have been contested by Dr. A. G. Kelly who examined the raw data. According to him, the final published outcome had to be averaged in a biased way in order to claim such a high degree of precision. Also, Louis Essen, the inventor of the atomic clock, published an article in which he discussed the inadequate accuracy of the experiments.

It is often claimed that GPS satellites are adjusted for Einstein's GRT, but this can also be disputed in the light of the above. Check out this fascinating web site Anti-Relativity. According to the US Naval laboratory:

"The Operational Control System (OCS) of the Global Positioning System (GPS) does not include the rigorous transformations between coordinate systems that Einstein s general theory of relativity would seem to require."

Adjustments are made, but this is because clocks at high altitudes tick faster resulting from variations in air density, not gravity. (The air is denser closer to the Earth s surface.) Atomic clocks are also sensitive to temperature and pressure changes in their orbit.

Wal Thornhill examines the cult of Einstein, and the time dilation fallacy. "I'm no Einstein," Einstein once joked about the uncritical hero worship that began in his lifetime. To be fair to him, he was a reluctant hero.

"You can imagine that I look back on my life's work with calm satisfaction. But from nearby it looks quite different. There is a not a single concept of which I am convinced that it will stand firm, and I feel uncertain whether I am in general on the right track."
Albert Einstein

The idea that time warps space is ridiculous on its face, and reflects the insanity that permeates cosmology. Clocks do not create time; they measure it. If a clock stops, time doesn't. Of course, gravity and EM can affect clock mechanisms, but not vice versa. A pendulum clock does not work in space, for example, because there is no gravity. Gravity can affect time in this respect, but time does not create gravity, and space can never be warped or curved.

It is important to add a caveat to the above. When time contraction and length dilation can be observed, it doesn t lend credence to Special Relativity within the fantastical space-time framework.

"Poincare's advancement of Lorentz's ther is mathematically indistinguishable from "Special Relativity," while being utterly opposed to Minkowski's diagrams and formalization of "isotropic constancy" found in the space-time metaphysics regime."
Anti-relativity.com

Too bad that, for the time being at least, complex and esoteric math shield so much institutional science from robust scrutiny.

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough."
Albert Einstein

See my blog Einstein and the cult of celebrity

 

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool." Richard Feynman

 

 

 

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." Albert Einstein

     
The Aether    
     

Contrary to popular misconception, the Michelson-Morley experiment didn't sound the death knell for ther physics. It did NOT show a null result, only speeds less than expected for ther drift. Moreover, a return to an ther model would gel neatly with the emerging plasma universe paradigm. (The ther of classical physics can be thought of as a fine elastic medium or plenum that permeates everything.)

Could the ther also begin to explain wave particle duality, another problem for consensus science which is generally explained away as just another 'paradox', and then forgotten about. Light can't be both a wave and a particle! Commonsense tells us that a wave can t exist in nothing. Maxwell was probably right light is a transverse electromagnetic wave in a dielectric medium, the ther.

"I consider this extremely important. Light cannot be anything else but a longitudinal disturbance in the ther, involving alternate compressions and refractions. In other words, light can be nothing else than a sound wave in the ther."
Nikola Tesla

   
Science and Religion    
     

It is not the purpose of this web site to enter into any debate regarding the relative merits of science and religion. Alfvén, however, warned against the dangers of trying to reconcile the two:

"I was there when Abbe Georges Lemaitre first proposed this theory [Big Bang]. Lemaitre was, at the time, both a member of the Catholic hierarchy and an accomplished scientist. He said in private that this theory was a way to reconcile science with St. Thomas Aquinas' theological dictum of creatio ex nihilo or creation out of nothing.

"There is no rational reason to doubt that the universe has existed indefinitely, for an infinite time. It is only myth that attempts to say how the universe came to be, either four thousand or twenty billion years ago."

  "Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality." Carl Sagan
Horganism    
     

The belief that we know almost all there is to know, and that there are only a few loose ends to tie-up, is sometimes referred to as Horganism, after John Horgan, a senior writer at Scientific American. In his book, The End of Science, he rejects the idea that any major new discoveries remain to be made.

The history of science suggests that such confidence arrogance, perhaps is ill-founded. Many share the view that we have barely scratched the surface.

"The public has a distorted view of science because children are taught in school that science is a collection of firmly established truths. In fact, science is not a collection of truths. It is a continuing exploration of mysteries."
Freeman Dyson
  "Science is a mountain of theory based on a molehill of evidence." Anon