To prove a theory correct?

  • Thread starter scott_sieger
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  • #1
scott_sieger
Hi guys, just seeking opinions and discussion,

As I am new to the realms of conventional physics I just thought I'd ask a question to help me understand the processes.

To prove a theory correct means that you have to prove every one elses theories wrong. Is this a true statement?

If so then most of the theoretical work you have to do is pulling other theories apart and disproving them.
 

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  • #2
russ_watters
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Originally posted by scott_sieger
As I am new to the realms of conventional physics I just thought I'd ask a question to help me understand the processes.
No.
If so then most of the theoretical work you have to do is pulling other theories apart and disproving them.
No.

The vast majority of new theoretical work builds on existing theories. If only at the most basic level, a new theory MUST start with some existing theory.
 
  • #3
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A good describtion of a theory is here:

http://www.wilstar.net/theories.htm [Broken]

Also: http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=hypothesis

HYPOTHESIS implies insufficient evidence to provide more than a tentative explanation <a hypothesis explaining the extinction of the dinosaurs>.
THEORY implies a greater range of evidence and greater likelihood of truth <the theory of evolution>.
LAW implies a statement of order and relation in nature that has been found to be invariable under the same conditions <the law of gravitation>. LAW mean a formula derived by inference from scientific data that explains a principle operating in nature.
So, theories can be wrong but then a lot of former proof needs to be falsified or explained in a logical different way. Most of the time theories are just refined. Some theories can be questioned but are usually well protected by skeptics.
 
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  • #4
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Just to put in some aspect that you're theory should have: it should comply with and explain some observed behaviour. In other words it has to agree with experiments. Setting up a theory that shows that superconductors can't exist is obviously a dumb theory since I can show you a superconductor in my lab.
 
  • #5
scott_sieger
and if you didn't have a superconductor in your lab? You wouldn't know whether it was dumb or not.
 
  • #6
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So theories have to comply with and explain some observed behaviour and would have to agree with experiments.

Now what if a theory is not agreeing with experiments, would it be falsified?
 
  • #7
krab
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To prove a theory correct means that you have to prove every one elses theories wrong. Is this a true statement?
No. A theory cannot be proved correct. It can only be proved false.
 
  • #8
russ_watters
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Originally posted by scott_sieger
and if you didn't have a superconductor in your lab? You wouldn't know whether it was dumb or not.
If you didn't have a superconductor in your lab, you'd still be well advised to consider what others who DO have superconductors have to say on the matter before attempting to prove they can't exist.

So again - you may want to try to learn some of conventional physics before attempting to create your own.
 

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