Anything from left field make it to mainstream?

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  • #1
Nereid
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Several folk in posts in this sub-forum have said that it's important to allow 'a hundred flowers to bloom' - let's be open to all ideas and inputs, at least initially, because you never know which one among these may just turn out to be the discovery of the millenium - or words to that effect.

So I got to thinking (yes, it hurts), how many things from left field have made it to mainstream, in the last 50 or 100 years?

Not many, was what I thought immediately. I mean, apart from sprites (here's a link to an older report, so you can get a flavour of how odd they once seemed: http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/sprites.html), what is there? And sprites were hardly a phenomenon which the UFO crowd had at the top of their list of hard evidence (were they?); it was more long-haul pilots!

So, casting the net wide, wide to begin with, what left-fielder has made it to mainstream?
 

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  • #2
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by Nereid
Several folk in posts in this sub-forum have said that it's important to allow 'a hundred flowers to bloom' - let's be open to all ideas and inputs, at least initially, because you never know which one among these may just turn out to be the discovery of the millenium - or words to that effect.

So I got to thinking (yes, it hurts), how many things from left field have made it to mainstream, in the last 50 or 100 years?

Not many, was what I thought immediately. I mean, apart from sprites (here's a link to an older report, so you can get a flavour of how odd they once seemed: http://www.agu.org/sci_soc/sprites.html), what is there? And sprites were hardly a phenomenon which the UFO crowd had at the top of their list of hard evidence (were they?); it was more long-haul pilots!

So, casting the net wide, wide to begin with, what left-fielder has made it to mainstream?
First, although you are not quoting me [I don't think], I do support the general idea. I think the more relevant question is: How much of present day science was anticipated?

As for your question:
How about the PC for starters? [developed in a garage]
The gilled mammals of Asia.
Ceolocanth
Great apes
Anti gravity [dark energy]
Mission to the moon
Wrist watch computers [Dick Tracy]
Ray guns
Giant Squid
High efficiency discharge style motors [developed in a garage]
Einstein

Just a few off the top of my head.


Also, no; the UFO people could not tell sprites from other claims. Why you ask. Because if people like pilots reported them, due to the dismissive attitude of many scientists towards things they can't explain, the pilots were subject to ridicule and possible career damage. To anyone who takes the time to investigate this stuff, this becomes abundantly clear. The airline companies don't like pilots who see funny things. So what few were reports were made remainded as relatively un-investigated UFO reports.
 
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  • #3
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mathematical formulation of universal laws
telephone
airplane
tv
radio
hell, all of electronics

The fact is, everything someone might point out as being a great triumph of science happened, in fact, in spite of it. I can't think of a single massive discovery that wasn't done by an outsider. Einstien was hardly in the loop, he only worked at a patent office. Newton was weird, not really a people person. Cavendish was afraid of women, he had to leave notes to his maids/servants (he couldn't talk to them directly) and only left the house for a walk to the royal society meetings. The fact is that the moment you go for a real career in science you will never discover anything of consecquence. (Sure, there was Feynman, but how many joe blows know his name? NONE!) Someone smart once said something to the effect of: 'If someone (esp. an 'expert') tells you something, it's generally true, unless they used the word impossible in the sentence, at which point their arrogance is showing.'
 
  • #4
Ivan Seeking
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I have another great example somewhere in the UFO Napster; I didn't spot it on first try. Back in 1965 [or so] some great 8mm film of a UFO was shot. Since it was labeled a UFO - which as you know is supposed to mean unidentified and not taken as a substitution for ET - the film was largely ignored. Only in recent years did scientists realize that this is film of a near miss with a significantly large meteor.
 
  • #5
Ivan Seeking
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Animal sensitivity to seismic precursors

Animal sensitivity to human health problems

Dophins used to treat severe autism

On another note:
Hydrogen as an alternative energy carrier:
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=4127

And some recent example from the political forum:

Here is a wild one that I just picked up from the fringe. Be sure to read the entire thread.
https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?s=&threadid=6830

Agent Orange:
http://www.appc1.va.gov/opa/fact/docs/agentorangefs.htm [Broken]


Oh yes. Global warming and most other environmental issues.

Claims that Vietnam was an unjust war [that we shouldn't be fighting].

Watergate.
 
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  • #6
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How about the idea that there is no luminiferous ether? That was considered bizarre in its day.

Njorl
 
  • #7
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by Njorl
How about the idea that there is no luminiferous ether? That was considered bizarre in its day.

Njorl
I was told by a Berkeley man [always suspect ], that SR was developed without knowledge of the Michelson - Morley experiment. Do you know if this is true?
 
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I doubt it. One another note, I've always wondered about the MM experiment. I heard one theory that matter is like vorticies in a fluid, and the the aether is this fluid. The aether flows in, and apparently pops out of existence, and it is continually created at some rate everywhere. From this theory, it was said that gravity is a push force resulting from this influx and that light bends near massive objects the same way that a boat doesn't follow a straight line when going spanwise in a moving river (except of course this is oversimplified, because that river would have to be unidirectional only on small scales, but when you zoom out you see that is is flowing to the center of the massive body, like ripples going backward in time). This does explain the null result, because the aether flow would then perpetually be normal (perpendicular) to the surface the experiment is on. Does anyone know if they've tried a vertical MM experiment? I think this is the gist of the theory, it's from a guy in Norway, so his English is so-so. If you guys are interested, PM me, I'll send you the website.
 
  • #9
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by Jonathan
I doubt it.
Why?
 
  • #10
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Originally posted by Ivan Seeking
I was told by a Berkeley man [always suspect ], that SR was developed without knowledge of the Michelson - Morley experiment. Do you know if this is true?
Whoaaa! Hold the presses!
You may have just answered something that's been eating at me since I picked up the Patent-Man's ramblings a few weeks ago and tried to read through them.
If you get out your copy of SR and turn to chapter VIII On The Idea Of Time In Physics, you will find on the third page: "That light requires the same time to traverse the path A to M as for the path B to M is in reality neither a supposition nor a hypothesis about the physical nature of light, but a stipulation which I can make of my own freewill in order to arrive at a definition of simultaneity." (AM and BM are equal distances, M is the centerpoint between A and B)

Now, I read that over and over, scratching my head wondering why on earth he felt it was necessary to stipulate that light traveled at the same speed no matter which way it was going. If your informant is correct, Ivan, I will have found my answer.
 
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Ivan Seeking: Why: I don't know, just don't. Weird, huh?.
I think Zoobyshoe proved me wrong.
 
  • #12
selfAdjoint
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
Whoaaa! Hold the presses!
You may have just answered something that's been eating at me since I picked up the Patent-Man's ramblings a few weeks ago and tried to read through them.
If you get out your copy of SR and turn to chapter VIII On The Idea Of Time In Physics, you will find on the third page: "That light requires the same time to traverse the path A to M as for the path B to M is in reality neither a supposition nor a hypothesis about the physical nature of light, but a stipulation which I can make of my own freewill in order to arrive at a definition of simultaneity." (AM and BM are equal distances, M is the centerpoint between A and B)

Now, I read that over and over, scratching my head wondering why on earth he felt it was necessary to stipulate that light traveled at the same speed no matter which way it was going. If your informant is correct, Ivan, I will have found my answer.
This is called isotropy, and Einstein did have to postulate it because his other new postulate (in addition to Galilean relativity which was old) was that the speed of light did not depend on the speed of its source. With that and Galileo you need isotropy to reach a complete consistent theory.

Modern axiomatic development of special relativity uses galilean relativity and a different new postulate. That all inertial observers measure the speed of light to be the same. Since one can imagine inertial observers (= moving without acceleration) that move in any direction, therefore this new postulate includes isotropy inside it. So those two postulates, instead of Einstein's three, is what we use today.

On the subject of Einstein and the Michelson-Morley experiment, he spoke with forked tongue. In an early interview he said he didn't know about M-M when he developed the theory. Years later, in a speech in Japan, he said he did.
 
  • #13
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Originally posted by selfAdjoint
On the subject of Einstein and the Michelson-Morley experiment, he spoke with forked tongue. In an early interview he said he didn't know about M-M when he developed the theory. Years later, in a speech in Japan, he said he did.
What is to be made of this discrepancy?

The way he wrote it, as I quoted, seems just about definitely to prove he wasn't aware of it. A demonstrated fact need not be stipulated, postulated, or proposed. If you have a copy of SR and read the whole passage he makes quite a big point about this issue, as if in evasion of a reader objecting to anything like an assumption light was constant. Had he known it was a demonstrated fact he could simply have said so, stated who had demonstrated it for the reader who didn't know, and proceeded to use it. (As he did with the Lorentz Transformations).
 
  • #14
selfAdjoint
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All of the proposed left field successes are pathetic. Science fiction isn't proposing things as hidden reality (not even the Matrix, folks) it's entertainment. The coelacanth was not predicted by Madam Blavatsky, it was caught by fishermen. An empirical fact, and one no longer a mystery. Einstein was a trained scientist working on an existing field (Maxwellian electromagnetics as developed by Lorntz). And so on.

The real left field is spirit raps, seances, higher planes, fairies, ghost hunters, esp, remote viewing and so on. Two hundred years of "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence'. And the upshot? Has even one of these topics become mainstream?
 
  • #15
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Originally posted by selfAdjoint
The real left field is spirit raps, seances, higher planes, fairies, ghost hunters, esp, remote viewing and so on. Two hundred years of "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence'. And the upshot? Has even one of these topics become mainstream?
This is true. There is a difference between "left field" and what might be called "the margins", (eg: Einstein who wasn't employed in the mainstream of academia.)
 
  • #16
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Faraday's vision of the interaction between electricity and magnetism. (Though today's interpretation has significantly less mysticism, since we understand EM more.)

Chaos theory.
 
  • #17
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I'm not sure what you're talking about, Fz+. Faraday had a mystical interpretation of this?


I have been reading about Chaos since you introduced me to it in another thread. Although it could be easily said to have come from the margins, I haven't found any "left field" precursors.
 
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  • #18
Ivan Seeking
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I think we need to define "left field". I took this to mean anything outside of the mainstream. I take mainstream to mean typical sources of research such as: Professors and advanced students at recognized and respected universities, privately funded science of significant scope [so as to engage in good science], and more generally, those ideas that are already accepted as credible. I see Einstein as fringe since he met none of these criteria. I see the Coelacanth as fringe since it was "declared" to be extinct for millions of years.

I also consider Sci Fi as a driving force for science. In spite of the objections now of 100 years of science, Sci Fi has gotten many things right; beginning of course with the Mission to the Moon ca 1895. This was considered silliness. I also think the 1930s - 50s Sci Fi's assumptions of wrist watch videophones, computers, and ray guns are also examples of this. In the days of vacuum tubes and 220 volt speakers, who could have foreseen the modern photo-reduction techniques that enabled the silicon revolution? Many scientists publicly attribute their ideas and inspiration to Sci Fi even though these ideas may seem to fly in the face of conventional wisdom. Some of the present ideas rejected by most scientists as plausible are ZPE powered systems, Warp drive, Star Trek type transporters, energy shields... you know the score.

This was my perspective on this discussion.
 
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I agree! And on the subject of SciFi, I make this prediction, regardless of whether we actually achieve it: antigravity is possible!
It makes me so mad that many/most 'good' scientists will tell you that antigravity is impossible. If you then wait long enough that they don't remember meeting you and then introduce yourself and ask how gravity ('normal, not anti-' but don't say that :smile:) works, they, given the time, will tell you ten different theories. And then if you ask, 'so you're not sure?' they will beat around the bush and pretty much just say 'Nope! I'm a hypocritical fool and you just proved it to yourself!'!
 
  • #20
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by selfAdjoint
The real left field is spirit raps, seances, higher planes, fairies, ghost hunters, esp, remote viewing and so on. Two hundred years of "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence'. And the upshot? Has even one of these topics become mainstream?
First, if we consider the beliefs of the majority of the people on this planet, a large percentage of which will testify to personal experiences of some kind, spirituality is [and has always been ]mainstream. As for an absence of evidence, what kind would you like? What if we don't know what to look for? If something can't be proven, and maybe can never be proven, must it be false? Also, as with any potential reality, the evidence could be just around the corner.

Does science or logic allow us to prove that all true things can be proven true?

We have pictures and videos claimed to be ghostly apparitions that are dismissed as lens flares and trickery. This can't be proven, but since the possibility exists, the general attitude inappropriately defaults to claims of no evidence. Some of these images may be evidence; we just can't prove it. Next, for any inexplicable direct experience, we conjure up claims of mass hallucinations, psychological predisposition to fantasy, seismically generated EM fields, atmospheric sub-sonics, loose shutters, hormone imbalances, and of course the continuing implication that the claimants are lying; since their claim can't be true. These assertions can't be proven as the cause for all of these experiences - not even by a long shot - but they are virtually accepted as true without proof by the skeptics. Why? These spiritual [whatever that means] possibilities violate the popular paradigm among scientists that all spirituality is nonsense.

In the end, it is skeptics who are vastly in the minority. Skeptics of spirituality are the sociological fringe.

I think science owes humanity an open attitude towards beliefs and claimed experiences that are as old as our species.
 
  • #21
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Yes! You are so much more eloquent that me! BTW, I think Godel's Incompleteness Theorem proves that we can't prove anything with absolute certainty, because we must rely on unprovable (though generally obvious and well accepted) assumptions in whatever axiomic system we use to evaluate our questions.
 
  • #22
russ_watters
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Originally posted by zoobyshoe
This is true. There is a difference between "left field" and what might be called "the margins", (eg: Einstein who wasn't employed in the mainstream of academia.)
Yeah, I'm not sure people are making that distinction. Not all revolutionary ideas are necessarily out of left field. I personally don't see a single idea here that I would consider "out of left field." And I can't think of a single thing that would qualify.
I think we need to define "left field". I took this to mean anything outside of the mainstream.
I took it to mean contrary to accepted science. Einstein's theories (for exampe) were not contrary to accepted science, they explained something that was up until then unexplainable. It was outside the mainstream in that it was new, but it explained existing data. So it wasn't "off in left field."

And science fiction predictions are like Nostradamus - make enough vague predictions and eventially you'll get a hit. They don't qualify either.
 
  • #23
Ivan Seeking
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Originally posted by russ_watters
Yeah, I'm not sure people are making that distinction. Not all revolutionary ideas are necessarily out of left field. I personally don't see a single idea here that I would consider "out of left field." And I can't think of a single thing that would qualify. I took it to mean contrary to accepted science. Einstein's theories (for exampe) were not contrary to accepted science, they explained something that was up until then unexplainable. It was outside the mainstream in that it was new, but it explained existing data. So it wasn't "off in left field."

And science fiction predictions are like Nostradamus - make enough vague predictions and eventially you'll get a hit. They don't qualify either.
My only caveat about Einstein would be that as I understand the history here, that C is constant for all observers [inertial frame of reference] was assumed in contradiction to conventional wisdom. I understand this point to be a core example of his brilliance. Funny enough when one considers Einstein’s Nobel Prize for the PE effect, this assumption is often described as a quantum leap in thinking – a definitive example of the nonlinearity of scientific advancement.

As far as Sci Fi, I don't agree. Good Sci Fi is based on insightful and inspired interpretations of what we know. I see this is more as educated and imaginative guessing than prognostication. If you include fantasy as Sci Fi, then void this argument.
The two are often confused. Also, Sci Fi “claims are specific. For example, Sci Fi played with stories of trips to the moon for at least 70 years before the actual event. No confusion exists about the expectation; as opposed to Hitler, or Hister, [either the man or the river…close enough.]
 
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  • #24
selfAdjoint
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Ivan,

First, if we consider the beliefs of the majority of the people on this planet, a large percentage of which will testify to personal experiences of some kind, spirituality is [and has always been ]mainstream. As for an absence of evidence, what kind would you like? What if we don't know what to look for? If something can't be proven, and maybe can never be proven, must it be false? Also, as with any potential reality, the evidence could be just around the corner.
The majority people haven't moved out of the bronze age, mentally. The world could perfectly well be flat for all they know or care about it.

I have had personal experiences of the kind you talk about, and once upon a time they impressed me greatly. But the more I learned about the world, the more it was clear that my brain was doing this, from causal physical influences. If something can never be proven, then it's like science, which can never be proven either. But science has two things superstition doesn't: It can be falsified, and it produces objective empirical successes.

And that corner that the evidence is just around is sure taking a long time to turn! Meanwhile most scientists are nonbelievers.
 
  • #25
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Yes. Explanation of the term "Left-Field" is in order.

Nereid, what did you mean?
 

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