Most important piece of scientific knowledge

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The definition for length & time; i.e. the constant c

what more could anyone want to know? :smile:

SR fan here
Oh yes. But I'm sure people would want to know more. :smile:
 
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Many of you focus on practicalities which is not what I'm really concerned with. And cannibalism?
I was just fooling around.
I think the idea of representing physical concepts like positions and distance, in a clear mathematical fashion would be a good start for the development of physics. On the other hand preserving germ theory would be much more efficient.
 
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I was just fooling around.
I think the idea of representing physical concepts like positions and distance, in a clear mathematical fashion would be a good start for the development of physics. On the other hand preserving germ theory would be much more efficient.
Germ theory is quite essential yet practical too. Nice.
 
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Been arguing with one too many cranks? :smile:

The second part is kinda obvious, the first part really strikes me. "It requires competence to recognize competence"
Yes; although all told I'm not worried about the cranks arguing with me - I'm worried about what happens when they argue with everyone else. Seems like most of the tragedies in human history can be ascribed to a lot of people listening to someone who sounded convincing.

I agree that the first bit is the interesting part of my statement and that the second part should be obvious. I actually considered not including the second half, but then I thought about my target audience.
 
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I actually considered not including the second half, but then I thought about my target audience.
I think the posters on this forum are discerning enough.
 

Office_Shredder

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Do we have to take into account that if we tell them "Spacetime is four dimensions and warped by gravity" by the time they develop Newtonian mechanics and are at a point where they can say "wtf does this even really mean?" the knowledge of this sentence is probably already gone? I mean, how many generations can they seriously be expected to pass it down without any idea of what it actually says
 

WannabeNewton

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"Science is not as important as the Kardashians".
 

Ryan_m_b

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I'm not sure what the benefit would be to keeping anything but the most basic physics in this scenario. Aside from empirical philosophy itself knowledge of hygiene, basic germ theory (with antibiotic knowledge), agriculture, metallurgy and principles of democracy would probably give a society the best start.
 
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...empirical philosophy itself...
I can't think of any seed idea that would have any sure, lasting resonance beyond empiricism.

wiki said:
Empiricism in the philosophy of science emphasizes evidence, especially as discovered in experiments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation.
The information that everything is composed of atoms could easily crash and burn, becoming a mystical cult based on "revelation" or tradition, without being embedded in empiricism.
 
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I don't think we would need to send back any specific information about atoms or the scientific method. After all, it took a while, but we figured it out eventually. I think the message should be more poetic like an omen or warning about how some discoveries can be used for evil. There are countless examples of great discoveries being used to inflict misery on many people.

"Don't be Evil"
 

Ryan_m_b

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"We've received a message: don't be evil!"

"Excellent! What shall we do because of it?"

"Isn't it obvious? We should do good and extinguish the evil of the blacks, the gays and the Jews."

Moral of the horrific story of history: morality is malleable.
 
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"We've received a message: don't be evil!"

"Excellent! What shall we do because of it?"

"Isn't it obvious? We should do good and extinguish the evil of the blacks, the gays and the Jews."

Moral of the horrific story of history: morality is malleable.
"Don't be Evil" was just stollen from Google's motto. I'm not eloquent enough to write the actual message consicely.

The message would include this omen about the dangers of mis-using scientific discoveries allong with the "morality is malleable" part you mentioned.
 
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I doubt hitting them with one specific scientific bit of knowledge will really help. I agree with Ryan, you need to get them to a good head start in developing civilization. Science and technology develop rapidly when the mundane things in life like food, water, shelter etc are taken care of and people have enough leisure time to pursue trivial matters (trivial in a pragmatic sense).

So depending on how far back the cataclysm sets mankind you'd provide them with the next big discovery to get them well on their way. Something like fire, the wheel, agriculture, the stuff's of the industrial revolution etc. These will aid much more into helping the human race to re-discover all the Scientific knowledge they lost. Who cares about an atom if you need to run after a gazelle for 5 hours just to get some meat on the table?
 
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Hmm... what about some (distant) target as incentive to study nature?
"With science, it is possible to go to the Moon".
 
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Hmm... what about some (distant) target as incentive to study nature?
"With science, it is possible to go to the Moon".
That's the sort of thing I was thinking of. I would add...

"With science, it is possible to go to the moon or to destroy the earth. The choice is yours. "
 

Ryan_m_b

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That's the sort of thing I was thinking of. I would add...

"With science, it is possible to go to the moon or to destroy the earth. The choice is yours. "
As others have said this is too easy to fade into myth. I can't remember which religion has the saying "with faith it's possible to move mountains" but that statement is functionally indistinguishable to "with science it's possible to go to the moon". Ironically without showing how to get to the moon the latter statement is somewhat unscientific
 
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I would have one helluva run-on sentence.
 
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Oh yes. But I'm sure people would want to know more. :smile:
More about physics that SR? Do the physicists really know more? less the complication that's gravity
 
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"Don't be Evil" was just stollen from Google's motto. I'm not eloquent enough to write the actual message consicely.

The message would include this omen about the dangers of mis-using scientific discoveries allong with the "morality is malleable" part you mentioned.
People will always find ways to misuse something. And Google seems to be getting more evil by the day :rolleyes:
 
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Hmm... what about some (distant) target as incentive to study nature?
"With science, it is possible to go to the Moon".
As others have said this is too easy to fade into myth. I can't remember which religion has the saying "with faith it's possible to move mountains" but that statement is functionally indistinguishable to "with science it's possible to go to the moon". Ironically without showing how to get to the moon the latter statement is somewhat unscientific
It is unscientific, but other than being associated with religion, more imaginative people would think of it.

For instance, Kepler even wrote a sci-fi novel about sailing to the moon on a "skyship".
 
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More about physics that SR? Do the physicists really know more? less the complication that's gravity
Yes, more. All there is to know.
 
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Keep yourself and hands clean, observe sanitation in yourself, your food and water.
 
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Keep yourself and hands clean, observe sanitation in yourself, your food and water.
That's actually incredibly useful; I hadn't thought of it. Prior to germ theory, the lack of proper sanitation really hindered the livelihood of the human species.

Most of the other suggestions are surely helpful in terms of scientific knowledge, but as far as actually contributing to the survival of humanity, this one seems to be the best.

EDIT:

I guess an earlier post or two mentioned germ theory. Regardless, I still think it is very beneficial idea to pass on.
 

Borek

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One of the things that stopped science for many hundreds years was the fact that experiments were considered unnecessary. So I would go with something like "scientific method & the nature is always right" - but I agree that first, it can be abused, second, you need a critical mass for things to get started.
 

epenguin

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I think what several people have tried to say, e.g. about experiment is better (as well as more completely and accurately) expressed

"The two divergent views" (I.e. the value of knowledge as an end in itself, as against as a means to useful applications) "... The history of the sciences was made not by the one or the other school of thought but from the interplay of both. ... theories and hypotheses are seldom based on a panoramic survey of the general scene. They rest more often on a detailed searching into matters which a casual view might well dismiss as specialised, recondite and obscure, and access to the realm of fruitful theories is usually by devious and unexpected ways, found out by men with very different ends in view." (Cyril Hinshelwood, "Structure of Physical Chemistry")

I'd add that although people sometimes research obscurities for their own sakes they more often than not had a reasonable idea of the importance of what they were into, a somewhat trained insight to realise that investigating specific heats or the length of pea plants In crosses could reveal something deeper behind the apparent obscurity. I mentioned the example of early electrostatics in #16. You encounter only a specialised often unobvious bit of the world in the laboratory.
 
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