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Can everything be explained in one way or another

  1. Sep 7, 2014 #1
    Obviously I know that our universe is only explainable when we're not limited by understanding for example there was a time when the motions of the planets could not be explained even though the physics / math was there all the time, we just didn't know it then.

    So I wonder do you think that there is anything in our universe that doesn't have a scientific explanation? Now I'm not talking about god or anything ridiculous like that I'm basically saying that if something exists in our universe then it must be explainable.

    Everything in our universe, no matter how strange must follow some rules or laws?
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 7, 2014 #2


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    Do our rules and laws for motion actually explain the underlying why of motion?

    There are large swaths of things that aren't explainable, which we take for granted.
  4. Sep 7, 2014 #3
    Well the problem with asking why is you presume a purpose. When people ask why, what they're realling asking is how.
  5. Sep 7, 2014 #4


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    Just because every effect relies on underlying rules doesn't mean it's practically possible to characterise and explain those rules. Social interaction for example, in theory you could reduce a human society down to a set of equations (after all we're all made of interacting matter) but it would be impossible. Even supposing science was good enough to predict a social outcome given very extensive data on every variable you're not going to be able to characterise those variables in the field.

    There's probably a much better way of outlining the problem of emergent effects than I just did but you get the idea.
  6. Sep 7, 2014 #5
    Great point actually.
  7. Sep 8, 2014 #6


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    I also liked Ryan's post above.

    But some other thoughts from me on the general subject:

    Hmm... I would personally probably not use the word "must" since I don't like telling the Universe how it must be :biggrin:. I would rather point out that it sure seems like the idea of science (and physics) in general is working; that it is possible to observe nature, experiment in it and based on this construct models and theories which can be used for making various calculations and predictions.

    See also the article
    "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences" by Eugene Wigner (1960) (full text, wiki link)
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2014
  8. Sep 8, 2014 #7
    That is a strange question to ask/answer. Our collection of scientific theories is built up from the structure that we set a number of axioms and then derive everything we can from them. You can certainly say that everything derived from them can be exaplined in terms of those axioms, but you could argue that there then can be no explanation for those axioms themselves. And indeed, if we ever find anything new that is not derivable from any previous axioms, then we simply add a new axiom.

    TL;DR I would argue, the fundamental axioms are per definition not explanable.
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