Inquiring minds

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Chronos
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Due to a peculiar combination of events, I've been thinking about human nature and the nature of scientific inquiry... a scary thought. For example, how does a scientist answer the question 'why is the universe exactly the size it is [feel free to insert the gravitational constant, speed of light, or alpha to taste]? Of course, being a scientist, your initial reaction is 'what size did you have in mind?' And the inquisitor immediately replies 'You call yourself a scientist and you don't even know how big the universe is?'
 

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HallsofIvy
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One of the first things you have to understand to be a scientist is how little you understand! I doubt that any scientist would be bothered by 'You call yourself a scientist and you don't even know how big the universe is?'!

A scientist, researching "how big is the universe" would have to start by defining exactly what was meant by "how big". What kind of measure are you using? He/she would also need to think about what kinds of models might be used. How about a closed universe without boundary? How would you measure size then? Notice I said models (plural). It is very difficult to do any kind of research without some kind of model in mind but one should never feel bound to one model.

Of course, after having determined what definitions and what models you are using comes the important part- the "donkey" work: making the observations and doing the experiments.
 

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