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Does anyone here understand Theory Development?

  1. May 6, 2004 #1
    This morning I made a post in the thread I had started a while ago. That would be "Why you should like my perspective!" I was moved to make that post because of the rather cavalier attitude of the amateur theorists making posts on this forum. In that post, I made the following comment.

    During the day, I thought about it. Chi Meson had pointed out a fact very pertinent to the very issue I had in my mind.
    I have a Ph.D. in theoretical physics and have taught physics at several colleges and universities during my adventurous life. During that period I have had the opportunity to know a rather large number of theoretical physicists active in the field.

    For the most part, theoretical physicists earn their bread by being experts in the current accepted theories. They spend their research time looking for specific issues which will either confirm or deny the validity of a current theory. Very rarely does a theoretical physicist actually propose a new theory. There is a very good reason for this. Even among professional physicists, the act of proposing an new theory is usually met with derision.

    Actually, that derision is very justified. To be viable, a theory must agree with all the known facts! It is very rare that any scientist is familiar with "all the known facts!" I am sure that every mentor on this forum is well aware of the fact that every theory proposed on this forum is easily dismissed by the fact that it is inconsistent with things already known. The forum gets the title "crackpots are us" because of the pervading ignorance of the great majority of the posters.

    All of you should stop posting theories and start learning physics and math; unless, of course, it is your goal to entertain the rest of us. If you cannot follow the mathematics I have posted here, you certainly do not have sufficient understanding of physics to even think about explaining the phenomena observed in the experimental laboratory.

    Even with regard to the string theorists mentioned by Chi Meson, their accomplishments have been very limited. The only reason they have managed to penetrate that barrier of acceptability is the fact that the mechanisms they use (resonance modes of constrained systems) has been so successful at explaining other phenomena. The central issue of string theory is the additional dimensions they propose.

    Now we have a lot of brilliant educated people considering the consequences of string theory and, to date, there is very little evidence that the approach is correct. Time will tell, perhaps they are right but that is no defense of not learning physics or math.

    Unless I find a few people who are interested in understanding the universe and capable of following mathematics, I am afraid I will forget about trying to educate anyone.

    Have fun, thinking isn't really all that great anyway -- Dick
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 6, 2004 #2
    http://www.mathpages.com/rr/s3-06/3-06.htm

    The first published reference to Einstein's special theory of relativity appeared in a short note by Walter Kaufmann reporting on his experimental results involving the deflection of electrons in an electromagnetic field. Kaufmann's work was intended as an experimentum crucis for distinguishing between the three leading theories of the electron, those of Abraham, Bucherer, and Lorentz. In his note of 30 November 1905, Kaufmann wrote

    In addition there is to be mentioned a recent publication of Mr. A. Einstein on the theory of electrodynamics which leads to results which are formally identical with those of Lorentz's theory. I anticipate right away the general result of the measurements to be described in the following: the results are not compatible with the Lorentz-Einstein fundamental assumptions.

    Kaufmann's results were originally accepted by most physicists as favoring the Abraham theory, but gradually people began to have doubts. Although the results disagreed with the Lorentz-Einstein model, the agreement with Abraham's theory was not particularly good either. This troubled Planck, so he conducted a careful analysis of Kaufmann's experiment and his analysis of the two competing theories. It was an interesting example of scientific "detective work" by Planck.
     
  4. May 6, 2004 #3
    http://www.mathpages.com/rr/s3-06/3-06.htm

    When asked what he would have done if the eclipse observations had disagreed with the prediction of general relativity for the bending of light, Einstein replied "Then I would have felt sorry for the dear lord, because the theory is correct."

    Please forgive my contrariness.The above quote seemd quite funny considering your post. I would certainly like to know more about theory development. Why is it, for example, that some johnny come lately to a field can make a discovery overlooked by the seasoned professionals?
    How does one actually develop a theory? You seem to be saying that there is no need to even try to develop a model of one's own since there are lots of good candidate theories already. Sure, Riemann's theory of electromagnetism was out to lunch on many points, and maybe Planck was right about Einstein's photon idea being a mistake. Lorentz sure missed the antimatter boat. Schrodinger was just going in circles with his little zitterbewegung idea and wasting what he called a life. But as Poincare said, there may still be some good in the ruins.
    It currently takes what? A decade or more? just to get up to speed on the latest officially accepted theories (and the numerous advanced mathematical formalisms they employ) and out to the frontier of modern physics.
    Does knowing Newtonian Mechanics help or hinder the movement out to the frontier? Maybe it creates habits like procedural programming does that makes the movement to object oriented programming more difficult than it needs to be.
    I admit that some of the ideas posted are pretty far fetched and maybe even outright crankish. It takes a knowlwdge of a lot of physics and mathematics just to make such a judgement. Who knows though, what new idea might be triggered by these outlandish ideas that are often cooked up in ignorance of known physics? Would we have Maxwell's laws of Electromagnetism if some former bookbinder and lab demonstration assistant didn't draw funny little pictures of iron filings around magnets? Why invent the idea of a field when Newtonian Mechanics worked so well?
    "
    "Unfortunately my hypothesis of the flattening of electrons is in contradiction with Kaufmann's results, and I must abandon it. I am, therefore, at the end of my Latin."
     
  5. May 7, 2004 #4

    Your math appears to be terminally stuck in the 1960's and earlier. Is it hard for old dogs to learn new tricks?
     
  6. May 7, 2004 #5
    History is littered with theorists who, in an attempt to further the frontiers of science, have been ridiculed by their peers to the detrement of their careers and their person lives. And all because they proposed ideas that disputed accepted theories.

    One of the most recent being the battle between the 10 and 11 dimensional camps.
    At first String Theory ruled with 10 dimensions, and the 11 dimensional camp took a beating. Then as String Theory encountered problems, the 11 dimensional camp came to the fore.

    With this environment of potential ridicule, who in their right mind would risk their career to publish. Maybe before ridiculing the amateur community, the professional community should put its own house in order and become more open to non-mainstream theories, then maybe we would see some real progress.

    It may be that such forums as this is where you will find the next great step forward, then again, you may not - who knows.

    One thing's for sure, those posting on this forum have a passion for science which should be encouraged. At least they are willing to ask what if.

    Every theory will have its opponents, even within the realms of the professional community.
     
  7. May 7, 2004 #6
    Is that why you can't understand it? I present it the way I do in an attempt to get it as simple as possible. I have to find some way around that great "Attention Deficit Syndrome" which seems to pervade the academic community. If it is so trivial as to not be worth looking at, why don't you just point out an error?
     
  8. May 7, 2004 #7

    matt grime

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    there's no maths in this thread. i've pointed out an error in that other thread of yours; waiting on the reply.
     
  9. May 7, 2004 #8
    Originally Posted by Doctordick

    If you are to come up with a theory which is to be seen as reasonable, then you must come up with a specific detailed procedure for deducing exactly the observed facts from that theory. It must agree with the known facts! And it must be consistent with all facts known: i.e., it must not require ignoring any specific facts. And, in addition, you better point out a flaw in the theory you are trying to replace!

    This is why very few professional physicists come up with new theories! It is not a trivial endeavor.

    I agree with what you say. I myself do not understand the mathematics of qft or even a lot of qm and most of gr .However by coming on this forum and the google physics forum, and asking the right questions which get answered sometimes by people who do know what they are talking about, I think a relative amateur can have a pretty educated guess at a theory which people like you can either say is right or wrong.
    You never know someone might just have an idea that stimulates someone like yourself
    to come up with a breakthrough. I think most people on this site are genuinely interested in physics and that is a good thing .Not everyone is gifted or can learn high level mathematics but I have never seen a proof that says that they cannot therefore
    gain some valuable insight into the world around them.String theorists know a lot of maths but the fact that there are so many string theories leaves me wondering how
    deep their understanding of the physical world is. Feynman said that if you really understand an aspect of physics you should be able to explain it to people with limited
    mathematical ability. A the end of the day maths is justs another language - it is up to people like you to translate it clearly!
     
  10. May 8, 2004 #9
    Hi laserblue,

    I enjoyed your post. You mentioned Planck
    Finding accepted catechism troubling is probably the single most effective force towards new theory. If you examine the thoughts of most professional physicists, you will find they seldom find anything in their field troubling (if they found it troubling, it would mean that they didn't understand it and that sort of strikes at their competence). Note the fight I have engendered, trying to suggest that time, as used by physicists, is a troubling issue – has anybody shown any interest in understanding why I find it troubling? No! They just hold that it is not troubling at all!

    In the same vein, if you look at the posts on this forum (the "crackpots are us" forum) you will find that, for the most part, it is the experimental facts which they find troubling, not the current explanation of those facts. For the most part, the amateur theorists on this forum do not understand the current explanations of those facts – a totally different issue.
    I think the operative term in that sentence is "should". The problem is that the lay explanations are clear to people who understand but are often totally misunderstood by some of the members of the audience they were intended for. I can even point out myself as an example of that phenomena. In my answer to Hurkyl I explained something which happened to me.
    Sometimes, in the history of the world, it is a simple misinterpretation which leads to new way of looking at things.
    It happens! No physicist would ever have dreamt of looking at things the way I did because they are firmly convinced that "clocks define time" and that there is utterly no other way of looking at the situation.
    This is a very valid statement which is also missed by many professional physicists. I noticed it in my second year of graduate school (my noticing it was probably due to my rather odd perspective). An immediate consequence is the fact that, if one allows nothing but contact interactions all the laws of physics are covariant with respect to a single set of velocity transformations. That was what initially led my interest in a universal Dirac function interaction.

    After all, quantum exchange interactions give rise to forces all over the place an how to calculate those forces is well understood. Even the people who think "field theory" is the solution of their problems are trying to fit their results into virtual quantum exchange effects (what do you think a graviton is all about?). In my head, it seemed much more reasonable to consider exchange effects as basic and field theories as rough macroscopic approximations to what is. But after all, I have a strange confusing perspective.
    I really think I have the edge on him there.
    The academy seems to agree with him. My question is, if they really believe that, why do they still call it a theory? Because, underneath it, they know they cannot prove it. My real break through occurred when I realized I could prove my fundamental equation was correct! (And, via the same parametric transformation I have already explained, prove Einstein was correct.)

    That is, except for one small troubling factor! He and I get slightly different results in the general relativistic solution. One of us has made an error and I personally am not sure who has done it. At the moment, the difference is far too small to detect experimentally so agreement with experiment is no solution.

    {Continued below}
     
  11. May 8, 2004 #10
    I think I have made my opinion on that issue clear above.
    The first thing is to obtain a through understanding of both the experimental results and the theoretical explanation. If you don't understand them, you are wasting your time theorizing. Most of the ideas the amateur comes up with have already been thought about and rejected by the professionals long ago. Particularly when the amateurs ideas are based on the popular presentations of current theory.

    Now my case was quite different (I would say that my perspective was correct only by shear luck and coincidence). I was aware of my alternate perspective and tested it against known results for some thirty years (including learning all I could about the subject) before I finally decided it was actually better than what the academy was using.
    No, what I am saying is, don't be so cock sure you understand what you are talking about. The physics community is not really short of theories and most of what they have are far better thought out than what the amateur presents.
    Note that all the people you mentioned had an excellent grounding in physics and math; far above anything I have seen on this forum.
    I have been around for a lot of years and watched the system work. One of the problems in the educational system is that "intelligence" as we generally use the term, is not a measurable thing. Accumulated knowledge, on the other hand is. As a consequence, advancement in academics is based on accumulated knowledge and not on intelligence. Idiot savants have a definite advantage in such a system.

    I hate to say it but most of the "scientific nerds" in my day were often seen as very knowledgeable but lacking in common sense. When I reached the peak of the academic community, I found everyone there to be extremely limited in ability to use what they knew.

    I have a sign over my desk (which I have displayed prominently for over twenty years) which says in large letters "Knowledge is Power" and then in smaller letters says "The single most popular abuse of that power is to hide stupidity". Intelligence is a question of what you can do with what you know. The problem with people who know a lot is that they can seldom do much with it at all.

    I have a joke I sometimes tell: When we are young, we know nothing and must think everything out; as we mature and begin to learn more about how things work, we are able to do many things without thinking at all; and eventually, if we work hard at it, we can learn enough that it is completely unnecessary to think. That final terminal stage is called senility.

    Knowing is not near as important as understanding. Most people just don't like to think, they like to know! It's a much more satisfying position to be in. That is why they don't like math and physics. There is far too much to "know" it all, the only possibility of success is to understand it. Then you have the ability to think anything out.

    Not really; what it takes is understanding of exactly what is being said. One of the problems on this forum is that everybody wants to skip understanding the basics; they just want to know the "correct" answers.
    Actually, Newton was the inventor of the "force field". What do you think his theory of gravity was? The force was given by an inverse square "field". I always found it somewhat funny that Newton himself said (and I paraphrase him) even though action at a distance is clearly impossible, an inverse square gravitational field seems to explain things quite well. I always wondered what he had in mind when he said that. And why no scientist I have ever met took the issue seriously.
    Back in the early seventy's when the physics community first experienced unemployment (prior to that a physics degree was a meal ticket – in the sixties physicists were courted with call girls believe it or not) there was a "Physics Today" editorial which bemoaned the unemployment situation. In it, the editor said that the physics community needed to make physics more "relevant".

    I thought about that for a while and came to the conclusion that he was dead wrong. Physics, which is one of the most successful sciences around, owes its success to the fact that it is almost totally irrelevant. Human beings are very strange in that they are usually more concerned with "knowing" the answer than they are with the correctness of the answer. I think the single most difficult thing for a human being to say is "I don't know".

    And once they have an answer, fighting that answer is the most difficult thing which can be done. Physics succeeded because it was irrelevant. Who cared what the mass of an electron was? One could think about it and discuss aspects of the problem without ever worrying about raising opposition.

    {and one more section}
     
  12. May 8, 2004 #11
    But today it is a different world. Whether Einstein is right or wrong is not irrelevant at all. Many people earn large incomes because they know the right answers. If there is an error in their perspective, do you think they are going to allow that error to become a serious issue? What happens to their expertise if they are wrong? It's a very relevant issue in a modern economy.

    Reminds me of another funny story. My wife and I went on the Adkins diet about three months ago. Now we have been on various diets on and off for many many years. This was the strangest diet I have ever been on. First, I wasn't hungry at all (never had any urge to eat). Quite often we would just forget it was meal time and were not bothered by it at all. At this point, I am almost convinced that carbohydrates are slow poison. Now I am not saying I am right, I am just reporting my impressions.

    A few weeks ago we had dinner with another couple where the woman was a professional dietitian. Since it affected what we ordered, we mentioned the diet and made a few comments on the impact it seemed have. Boy did she react negatively. From her perspective it was a ridiculous diet and she didn't even want to discuss any aspects of it. It was a subject totally off limits. I told my wife afterwards that the reason for her reaction was that the issue impacted her competence. Her income depended on being an authority and, having the rules change, was not to her benefit. A microcosm of the whole scientific profession.

    I think not. Real progress only occurs when one gets some intelligent people in the field who consider the benefits of being a scientist irrelevant: i.e., they would rather think about what troubles them than get the respect of their peers.
    Willingness to ask "what if" is not the problem. Being able to deduce the consequences of "what if" is what is important. It doesn't even begin to be a theory if one cannot deduce the consequences.

    Two comments. First, I think anyone can learn a high level of mathematics if they take it one step at a time. The biggest problem is that most people want to "know" mathematics, not understand it. Secondly, mathematics is not "just another language"; it is a very special language designed around consistency and logic. Seriously, English (or any of the other human languages) is vague and inconsistent. Making a clear and unambiguous translation of some of the important concepts expressed in mathematics is often more difficult than teaching the student mathematics. A lot of people don't realize that because they don't have the imagination to see how what they are saying can be misinterpreted.

    Being a theoretician, my thesis was in the realm of number crunching. Now this was back in the days before programming classes existed. As a result, all the programming I have ever done was learned through manuals. (And I am a pretty good programmer if I have to say so myself.) Computer manuals are written by people who just don't understand communication. My favorite comment on them is, "you can understand what they mean if you know what they are trying to say!"

    Communication itself is the single most difficult task in the universe.

    Have fun -- Dick
     
  13. May 8, 2004 #12
    I have often found that an idea I thought was uniquely mine has already been thought of by other people and tested.There are plenty of ideas out there but it seems to me that no-one has a general picture of the physical world, perhaps because as you said
    it takes years to learn one area of physics properly and there may just not be anyone who has a full enough understanding to put all the areas together.I myself by trial and error created an equation that predicts the rest masses of 6 quarks and two new ones and submitted it to physical review D to see what they would say.The editor did not dispute the accuracy of the equation as concerns the up down charm strange top and bottom quarks, but said that the decay width of the z boson meant it was unlikely that there were two new quarks.However I noticed that if I made a proton out of my two new quarks, and assumed that the total rest mass of a quark trio is proportional to
    the mass of the proton the trio makes,my quarks, if as abundant as the up and down quarks in the universe as a whole, could account for 95 per cent of its mass.I also noticed that if I made a proton from the masses my equation predicted for two charm quarks and a strange quark, and compared this proton's mass to that of a normal proton,the ratio was 206:1.So I concluded this was the mass of the heavy electron the muon!I resubmitted to physical review D but they didn't think I had found anything interesting.But I bet that if I had been able to derive my original equation for quark rest masses instead of doing it by trial and error, the editor of physical review D would have shown a lot more interest.So even if my conclusions are right, because I haven't got a physical explanation supported by an appropriate mathematical derivation, no one will ever know.However I can guess why my equation works:
    quarks are made from spheres of partial charges which get compressed in particle accelerator beams - work is done against the mutual repulsion of the charges and this somehow creates a rest mass which reduces in size when the force compressing the sphere is removed.
    Not the kind of explanation physical review D wants!
    But then it can take decades to prove something is right - I suppose you've got to have faith in your theory and work on it.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2004
  14. May 8, 2004 #13
    No, I don't think it is so much that but rather, physicists tend to compartmentalize their thinking. Essentially, when they do that, they are assuming peripheral areas are as they are described by current theory.

    Sometimes real focused thinking is like thinking with blinders on. When I was a graduate student I read Gamow's Mr. Tompkins series. It is a story of several trips by Mr. Tompkins. Essentially Mr. Tompkins goes to different universes where the fundamental physical constants are different and Gamow describes what the world looks like in this alternate universe. Today, I think Gamow was completely wrong. If you take everything into account, the world would look just as it does.

    However, when I was a graduate student, I didn't understand what I understand now. At that time the only one that bothered me was his trip to quantum land where Plank's constant was a large number. I didn't know where Gamow had made his error but I certainly knew he had made one somewhere as the description was totally bogus.

    At the time I was moved to see what the world would really look like if Plank's constant were a large number. I messed with the problem quite a while until I became convinced that the number is arrived at by circular reasoning. The problem is that the number comes into so many calculations that I could not find any place to start my reasoning. Changing Plank's constant changes the sizes of chemical elements, thus the sizes of molecules, and thus the sizes of rulers. It changes the energies of photons of fixed frequency, it changes clock times of transition defined times. In graduate school, I eventually gave up on the issue.

    However, when I finally solved that equation I call my fundamental equation, Plank's constant became a factorable component which very definitely means it is circularly defined. So, as far as I am concerned, the physics community thinks it is a fundamental constant. It isn't at all! It is no more than a consequence of defining some things twice.
    What you are talking about is creating a phenomenological equation. When you know what the results of an experiment are, there are some straight forward methods of creating an equation which will yield the same results. When I was a graduate student, we studied such things (at least the theoretical students did; I presume experimentalists did also but I never thought about it).

    In many respects, that is exactly what string theory is about. They know that vibrating entities have fundamental modes of vibration which are eigan states of energy (or rest mass) and are trying to design the proper string so that the vibration modes will be exactly the observed mass spectrum. So far, there success has been very limited. If they do succeed, I will bet money it will fit into my representation.

    In my representation, the only thing I can't reproduce is the mass spectrum of the fundamental particles. I am curious about the form of your expression. Perhaps it will give me a clue as to how it should be done. Go read the Latex information on putting equations on this forum and let us all know your result.

    I'll give you my opinion as to why it works.

    Looking to hear from you again -- Dick
     
  15. May 8, 2004 #14
    DocDick

    Awfully pretentious!


    yoozgotsonebighead!

    Come back when yer - famous.
    Then you can rub our noses in it, which would be par for the course from the angle you present yourself from, and you can refer to yourself no less than 28 times, like you did in the post before this one.

    Cheers.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2004
  16. May 8, 2004 #15
    Thanks for your vote of confidence! -- When I am right and they are wrong, it tends to give one a big head!! Have fun -- Dick
     
  17. May 9, 2004 #16
    Unfortunately in this materialistic world, what appears to trouble most scientists is whether they can get tenure, often based upon the quantity rather than quality of publications.

    I know this makes me either a cynic, a realist or just really cynical.

    One question I have to ask is why a person of your calibre, according to your profile, is posting on a forum such as this rather than producing a paper for a peer review publication ?
     
  18. May 9, 2004 #17

    Dr. D quotes:
    One example is the many "dualities" in M-Theory. Different representations become equivalent ways of looking at the same thing.

    Also, Heisenberg's matrix mechanics and Schrodinger's wave equation.



    A "bold" statement.


    Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry could also be two different ways of modeling the real world. A "dual" perspective.

    This is very interesting also.



    Tachyons:

    http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/ParticleAndNuclear/tachyons.html

    http://www.physics.gmu.edu/~e-physics/bob/tachyons.htm


    [...]



    On the other hand, quantum mechanics[which has its own problems] could also be explained completely in terms of an extension of general relativity[IMHO]:

    http://www.fortunecity.com/emachines/e11/86/space.html



    You will have an extremely difficult time explaining what "space" is, strictly in terms of quantum mechanics...


    Please proceed.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2004
  19. May 9, 2004 #18
    EQUATION THAT PREDICTS PARTICLE REST MASSES

    The following equation generates the masses, in Gev, associated with the six quarks:
    Down, up, strange, charm, bottom, top and predicts the masses of two new quarks labelled X1 and X2.


    M = 12.50 x 10 ^ [3pi (n – 5) / 2 0] x ( n – 4 )^ 2 x 10^39 [( n – 3 ) / 2] x
    10^57 x q^n

    M = f (n) q n

    Where n is an odd numbered integer and q is the magnitude of the electric charge associated with the mass. The equation was based on the idea that
    mass = constant x q ^ n and that the constant depends on n and is different for each quark pair - the pairs are next to each other in the table.



    QUARK CHARGE (x1.6x10-19C) N MASS (Gev) )

    DOWN - 1/3 -1 0.0088

    UP + 2/3 -1 0.0044

    X1 -1/3 +1 0.084

    X2 +2/3 +1 0.16

    STRANGE -1/3 +3 0.21

    CHARM +2/3 +3 1.72

    BOTTOM -1/3 +5 5.20

    TOP +2/3 +5 167.25

    Is it possible that the rest mass of the strange quark is so uncertain - up to 50 per cent error according to some physicists - because sometimes X1 and X2 are being mistaken for the strange?
    I used a principle quantum number ,n, to generate a non-continuous distribution.
    But other values of n could generate W bosons, for example, if they were made from quarks too!

    THE WEAK INTERACTION IN BETA RADIOACTIVITY

    A down quark becomes an up quark because the up quark in a W0 particle is kicked out and replaced by the down quark .The W particle changes from +2/3, -1/3, -1/3
    to –1/3, -1/3, -1/3 .A W0 particle is in fact a heavy neutron !!
    Its quarks are generated in the region of Q^1 to Q^3 in the equation.

    I had a go at producing the equation because I realised by looking at the
    masses people gave on the internet for quarks that one mass could be transformed into another approximately by cubing the electric charge or raising it to the power of five and so on.
    Didn't fancy my chances of latexing my equation!!
    I am a chemistry graduate so don't get too technical with your reply-
    I do not understand the mathematics of advanced particle physics.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2004
  20. May 9, 2004 #19
    Why, I thought that was quite obvious! I have no peer!

    No, honestly. It's a long story and not really worth telling. I tried to publish it about twenty years ago and failed to even get a nibble. My son-in-law got me into surfing the web and I just do this for the fun of it. The world's not interested in my thoughts anyway and it isn't worth the trouble to fight the "crackpot" battle. But, if I do get some interest … At least it keeps an old man's mind working.

    Have fun -- Dick
     
  21. May 9, 2004 #20
    What can I say? I am confident that I am correct. Either you will end up agreeing with me or I have established myself as a "crackpot". You all put me in that category anyway so what difference does it make? I might as well tell you what I think!
    I think the most important word in that sentence is "could". Until it can, they should hold their piece! I say I can. I just don't have the "authority" your references have. Look to John Duns who was a great "authority" opposing the new ideas of renaissance thought.
    Not at all, that issue is right down the road.
    Ok, the first thing you need to understand is exactly what I am doing. Many many years ago I was told that the only way to solve a problem was to ask the right question.

    The first thing to ask is, just exactly how do we go about coming up with a good theory: i.e., a good explanation of the universe? Well how do we come up with a good explanation of anything and just what is an explanation anyway?

    When I was a graduate student I asked, "how do we know what is true?" The answer I was given was that physics wasn't about "truth", philosophy was about truth. Physics was about explaining things. Ok, so what is an explanation? Isn't it the ability to answer questions?

    I will also point out that an explanation presumes the ideas necessary to that explanation are understood by the listener. This gets into the issue of communication and leads quite quickly down to the question, how can we be sure we know what is meant by a particular word? Fundamentally, we are talking about a very deep problem here. Scientists avoid confronting this problem by assuming they already know the answers to all the peripheral questions. They just stick these thoughts into "philosophy" and forget it. (And that is why I am not a publishing scientist!)

    Let's get down to the fundamentals of the problem. If I understand you, then that means that I am not surprised by anything you say. In other words, I have expectations as to what you are going to say and what you actually say conforms to my expectations. So understanding has to do with coming up with these expectations. Understanding the universe is exactly the same problem.

    Now I could go on and on in this way but I don't think it serves any purpose. I am only trying to get your mind set to accept my abstract representation of the problem. The universe provides us with all the answers but we don't know what the answers mean. Abstractly speaking, the problem is to come up with a method of creating expectations about an unknown thing given that we have some information to go on but not everything!

    The unknown thing is A , C is the information we have and B is the subset of C about which we need to create expectations in order to defend our position that we understand A.

    The first thing you have to do is get your head around that problem. Convince me you understand what I am saying and I will move on to the next step.

    Have fun -- Dick
     
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