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Knowledge Production in Physics

  1. Feb 11, 2015 #1
    How is knowledge in physics produced?

    When I think about how Newton's First Law of Motion was produced, it first came from intuitive thought experiment due to the observations made. Can one actually observe an object moving with a constant velocity without any force acting on it? Or is reason (e.g. mathematical proofs) used to validate this knowledge.

    So are there knowledge in physics that rely heavily on intuitive thought experiments or reason for it to be produced?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 11, 2015 #2

    Suraj M

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    Gold Member

    In case of newtons 1st law, Look at this, it's Galileo's observations,
    so there isn't much mathematical proof in this case.
    Hope this was helpful.
  4. Feb 11, 2015 #3


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    There is no one single way. In fact, it comes via many different ways, including serendipity!

    Rabbi was famously quoted with the exclamation "Who Ordered That?!" when he saw something unexpected in the data. Harry Lipkin went even a step further and listed out http://scitation.aip.org/content/aip/magazine/physicstoday/article/53/7/10.1063/1.1292467 [Broken] that no theory at that time had expected.

    So you need to included serendipitous experimental discovery as part of your "knowledge" producing mechanism. It isn't just "thought experiment" or reasoning.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
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