Secret Science

  • Thread starter pallidin
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  • #1
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Note: Please DO NOT post speculative comments without some type of scientific validation.

Anyway, here's my comment/question: With the advances in physics, I accept that there are some technologies which are kept from the general public due mostly to national security concerns; such as advanced fighter/bombers, nuclear weapons, intelligence gathering techniques, etc...

OK, fine, I'm OK with that.

But can we(the general public) have access to the underlying science involved, or must that underlying science remain "secret"?
 
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Danger
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I believe that the underlying science is already public knowledge. It's how that science is applied that comes under the secrecy cloak.
 
  • #3
Pengwuino
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I believe that the underlying science is already public knowledge. It's how that science is applied that comes under the secrecy cloak.

This isn't always the case. I remember someone from I believe LLNL came to our university and talked about the Star Wars program back in the day. He was on a team working on developing a laser for the program. Through their research, they did happen to actually discover some rather basic science. Of course, it was all classified so they couldn't report it. The funny part was how a few years later, he was at a conference and apparently someone presented their discovery of the same bit of science. He thought it was quite funny that this guy was giving a presentation on this discovery that he had helped discover years earlier but was classified information :rofl:.
 
  • #4
Danger
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I stand corrected. Thanks, flightless one.
 
  • #5
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Through their research, they did happen to actually discover some rather basic science.

What does this mean? What gap was there in basic science to discover?
 
  • #6
Pengwuino
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What does this mean? What gap was there in basic science to discover?

I really can't remember, it was a few years back. At the most I can say it was something that you obviously didn't have to be specializing in designing weapons to discover it since the person at the conference wasn't even working in industry i believe.
 
  • #7
Ivan Seeking
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It may have been basic science, but I'm sure it wasn't fundamental and was highly specific to the application; such as how two particular materials interact at high temps...
 
  • #8
russ_watters
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The Manhattan project is an example of where fundamental/basic science was performed and kept secret. This was critical, since if the fact that nuclear bombs could exist were made general knowledge, it is possible that Hitler would have chosen to build one. From what I understand, Heisenberg actually made intentional errors in theory to help convince him otherwise.

edit: apparently, there is some controversy over that: http://www.fpp.co.uk/History/General/atombomb/OOF100202.html

Things like stealth were mostly applied science/engineering. The enabling theory was a public-domain Russian paper.
 
  • #9
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From what I understand, Heisenberg actually made intentional errors in theory to help convince him otherwise.
At least that's what he claimed afterwards o:)
 
  • #10
Astronuc
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But can we(the general public) have access to the underlying science involved, or must that underlying science remain "secret"?
Some of it must remain secret, because in some cases it is not obvious or it's out of the normal experience such that it's unknown in the public domain.
 
  • #11
Redbelly98
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The Manhattan project...

Exactly what I thought of when I read the OP. I wonder how long it was before the basic science became known to the public--does anybody know?
 
  • #12
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Indeed, and I thank everyone for your comments.

I fully understand and appreciate the need for scientific secrecy as it applies within a global society.
I am rather concerned that some aspects of "higher knowledge" might be inappropriately withheld under the guise of military significance.

This bothers me because, under that context, nearly all special advances could be protected from release under that umbrella. It is "cautiously" comforting to know that scientific "leaks" do occur.
 
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  • #13
Redbelly98
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Not sure how "nearly all" advances could be protected from release. It seems just the ones made on projects for the military or other matters of national security would be.

There is plenty of scientific research going on that is not for the military.
 
  • #14
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I think I need definitions for basic science and fundamental science.
 
  • #15
russ_watters
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That would be new theories vs new applications for theories or additional evidence for theories. Really, it is mostly science vs engineering, but it is a little bit of experimental science not directly tied to theory (like much of materials science).
 
  • #16
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That would be new theories vs new applications for theories or additional evidence for theories. Really, it is mostly science vs engineering, but it is a little bit of experimental science not directly tied to theory (like much of materials science).

Very interesting. Thanks.
 

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