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Can human being ever find the real basic laws of our universe?

  1. Aug 29, 2008 #1
    When i learnt newtonian mechanics i had this question is that we know a object have certain inertial.. but why does it acts this way? what actually is inertial?
    we know f=ma but why it works that way?
    we know so much about quantum mechanics but why is it true?

    In today's world it seems that all we can know is that we give a prediction of how it seems to work but seldom we wonder about why it works that way..

    Talking about this i feel our physics is of such a fragile base and wondered if we can one day find out the true reason for any theroy to be true..

    Ok, i hope u understand my poor english..

    Hope we can have a fun discussion~~ thanks for viewing~~
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 29, 2008 #2

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    I think you misunderstand what a scientific law is. A scientific law does not address why, it only describes the observed behavior in a framework that allows us to predict the outcome of experiments.

    Fundamentally, scientific laws are not designed to address "why" questions. If you want answers to "why" you are generally looking for philosophy or religion, not science.

    Given that, I personally think the answer to your question is "yes, we will eventually have a theory of everything".
     
  4. Aug 29, 2008 #3
    Every question that is answered raises a new question. Why does it do that? Because it works like this. Why does it work like this? Because of that principle. Why does this principle apply? It originates from that law. Where does that law come from? The law devolves from this system. Why is there such a system? ...

    Ultimately, the question "why" is unanswerable.

    ---

    "Why is it unanswerable?" asked the kid to his dad. "Shut up" he explained.
     
  5. Aug 30, 2008 #4

    Fra

    User Avatar

    When we say there is a law of nature, it is true that while we think we know "how", one might not now "why". But the one "why" a scientific method should answer is "why do we think this law holds". It thus moves the question of motivating why we maintain this law. And the answer to that lies in the scientific method.

    So the why is still important, because laws are not observed as singular observations in nature, they have been developed from experience and processing of alot of observations. So I think the why to focus on, is the logic of science.

    If you question a law, the thing to question is IMO the method that yielded it.

    Still, I think that a deeper understanding of stuff like "mass and inertia" will come with deeper understanding of fundamental physics. But I think it's important to channel yours "why question" in a constructive way, along some lines of a scientific method and "theory of knowledge". This way, the why can be constructive.

    /Fredrik
     
  6. Aug 31, 2008 #5
    zergju...
    I believed that DaleSpam, out of whack and Fra's reply are the best as you can get. In physics there are too many " whys " and " hows". Personally, I have studied Regeneration energy of Black hole for awhile...which i had to go through all the astrophysics and quantum physics. Believe me its not pretty....for such long time we still don't understand the universe. So don't even mention the Unification laws.
    Let's keep hoping the best, hope some genius will figure out all these things.

    /Peter
     
  7. Aug 31, 2008 #6



    So we will eventually become Gods???
     
  8. Aug 31, 2008 #7

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    There is a difference between knowing the path, and walking the path.
     
  9. Aug 31, 2008 #8

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    Good point. I don't know how you would set up an experiment to gather empirical data that would address a more general "why" question.

    Well, a God is generally held to be a being that is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent.

    A correct theory of everything will not in principle give us any information about initial conditions. Also, a correct theory of everything is not likely to be very mathematically tractable, so we will have to do numerical solutions which will severely limit the scope of the predictions. So a correct theory of everything will not make us omniscient.

    As Borek said, an omniscient being may still be somehow fundamentally limited in their ability to apply their knowledge to accomplish their goals. So even if we become omniscient through a theory of everything we may not be omnipotent.

    And even if we become both omniscient and omnipotent using our theory of everything, I don't think there is any hope that we would become omnibenevolent through science.
     
  10. Aug 31, 2008 #9
    define knowledge
     
  11. Aug 31, 2008 #10
    give us an example of a correct theory not mathematically tractable with numerical solutions if you wish please
     
  12. Aug 31, 2008 #11

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    Both the Einstein Field Equation and Maxwell's Equations are examples.
     
  13. Aug 31, 2008 #12
    QCD (Yang-Mills). If you prove me wrong, you make $1M
     
  14. Aug 31, 2008 #13

    Fra

    User Avatar

    I think a sensible why question, must specify it's context. Most why questions are probably fuzzy, but I think one could probably in many cases clarify them.

    Sometimes a why question, as in questioning a fact X and ask "why X" can have different meanings. It's like an abduction and sometimes an abduction while not beeing unique, can served the purpose of "data compression" and thus be said to have an utility.

    An organism, say a human, has limited brain capacity, so compactification of knowledge seems to have a clear utility. So just to mention one thing, such a why, could have an utility. Then asking the why-question, simply would mean, asking for a more compact or more efficient representation. And instead of falsification of an answer, we get a selection for humans that evolve the ability to efficiently use it's limited brain. Evolution will select, perhaps not the "right" and unique, but probably the "best answer" in each case.

    Similar questions are when we try to find more basic principles, and simpler theories. A theory that reduces say the number of free parameters. The other extreme would be to not care about theories at all. We could just file every single observation we ever have done in a gigantic archive, and "let it speak for itself" - no further speculation needed. The problem with that is the other extreme of the why questioning.

    However there is still a problem of measuring effiency, and in general I think that is relative, and possibly observer depedent.

    /Fredrik
     
  15. Aug 31, 2008 #14

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    Knowledge is a justified belief in something that is true.
     
  16. Aug 31, 2008 #15
    What is the correct theory here?

    What is not mathematically tractable here ,with numerical solutions??
     
  17. Aug 31, 2008 #16
    is not also knowledge a justified belief in something that is false??
     
  18. Aug 31, 2008 #17
    Also when we say for something ' i do not know what it is' Isnt that also knowledge??
     
  19. Aug 31, 2008 #18
    I will add that the OP's reasoning is flawed because he/she is already assuming there has to be a why. He/she is essentially committing the pathetic fallacy by attributing human aspirations to physical phenomena. There is no why, only how.
     
  20. Aug 31, 2008 #19

    Dale

    Staff: Mentor

    Both the EFE and Maxwell's equations are messy partial differential equations. They don't have general analytical solutions, and instead have to be evaluated numerically for most problems.

    No. "Justified true belief" is just the basic epistemological definition of knowledge.

    Are you trying to make a point with any of your comments, or are you just trying to make conversation?
     
  21. Sep 1, 2008 #20

    Borek

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Well, you used the verb "to know" in your first post, so it is up to you to explain what you meant then.
     
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