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Author: Subject: The limits of science
Mr_Benito_Mussolini
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[*] posted on 19-10-2006 at 16:27


Quote:
Originally posted by franklyn
There are only two important ideas that have been originated in all
of the twentieth century. One is Heisenberg's exclusionary principle
and the other is Godel's incompletness theorem. These teach us that
for the first time, we now know that there are definite limits to what
one can know, and that there exists knowledge which will forever
be unknowable.
[Edited on 19-10-2006 by franklyn]


Rather, Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle gives an insight into the structure of the universe and the relationship between seemingly independent parameters. You have ignored Special and General Relativity, theories which are obviously important. Take any field and there will have been more discoveries in the 20th century than in the entire history of mankind. We are living in a golden age, and the pace of discovery is only going to become more frenetic.
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[*] posted on 13-1-2008 at 00:02
Beyond Reason


Beyond Reason. 8 great problems that reveal the limits of science
A.K. Dewdney - PDF ~9.5 MB
http://www.keepmyfile.com/download/1a95292104108
Description _
Inventors and engineers have invested centuries of effort trying to build
a perpetual-motion machine. They have never succeeded, but without
their valiant attempts, a particularly piquant chapter would be missing
from this new book on scientific impossibilities. Science-writer Dewdney
teases illuminating logic and formulas from the despair of physicists who
wish to predict how electrons will dance, from the frustration of computer
programmers who want to resolve certain types of yes-no questions, and
from the embarrassment of meteorologists who would like to predict next
week's weather. Rigorous enough to challenge intelligent readers but not
so daunting as to overwhelm the nonspecialist, the investigation of each
impossibility clarifies the barriers that forbid further progress along certain
theoretical paths, limning the conceptual boundaries of science and even
reflecting the limitations inherent in the structure of human rationality.
Still, Dewdney concedes a catalogue of scientific impossibilities may just
provoke some maverick to do what the greatest scientists have always
done: enlarge the limits of the possible.

A mind-bending excursion to the limits of science and mathematics. Are some
scientific problems insoluble? In Beyond Reason, internationally acclaimed math
and science author A. K. Dewdney answers this question by examining eight
insurmountable mathematical and scientific roadblocks that have stumped
thinkers across the centuries, from ancient mathematical conundrums such as
"squaring the circle," first attempted by the Pythagoreans, to Godel's vexing
theorem, from perpetual motion to the upredictable behavior of chaotic
systems such as the weather.


Table of Contents


Introduction: Where Reason Cannot Go . . 1


MATH IN THE COSMOS

. . . 1 . . . The Energy Drain : Impossible Machines . . . 11
. . . 2 . . . The Cosmic Limit : Unreachable Speeds . . . 35
. . . 3 . . . The Quantum Curtain : Unknowable Particles . . . 59
. . . 4 . . . The Edge of Chaos : Unpredictable Systems . . . 85


MATH IN THE HOLOS

. . . 5 . . . The Circular Crypt : Unconstructable figures . . . 115
. . . 6 . . . The Chains of Reason : Unprovable Theorems . . . . 137
. . . 7 . . . The Computer Treadmill : Impossible Programs . . . 163
. . . 8 . . . The Big-O Bottleneck : Intractable Problems . . . 183


References . . 207
Further Reading . . 211
Index . . 213

[Edited on 13-1-2008 by franklyn]
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MagicJigPipe
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[*] posted on 13-1-2008 at 11:44


Perpetual motion? I thought it was a well established fact that it is impossible because it violates the Law of Conservation of Energy and both Laws of Thermodynamics. Perpetual motion is impossible in it's traditional sense.

[Edited on 13-1-2008 by MagicJigPipe]




"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry ... There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. ... We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress." -J. Robert Oppenheimer
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[*] posted on 13-1-2008 at 12:04


Of course, it's impossible. The point was that, just as science
advanced in the nineteenth century by discovering why
it is impossible (the laws of thermodynamics), so too perhaps
there are advances to be made by investigating why other
things are impossible.
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len1
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[*] posted on 13-1-2008 at 20:12


We have to be a bit careful here. Science can never disprove what might apply in the future. So in principle perpetual motion machines are not disproved. In fact one of the competing theories with the big bang - continuous creation theory - is just such a theory, which violates energy conservation - what impossibility of perpetual motion is based on.

What we can say is that currently established theories of the four forces (electroweak, gravitational, strong) all have energy conservation. So if someone comes up with a purely mechanical perpetual motion machine (as many have) we can throw it out straight away. Ultimately thermodynamics is a belief - its empirical - and not fundamental.

[Edited on 14-1-2008 by len1]
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MagicJigPipe
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[*] posted on 13-1-2008 at 22:35


Yes, but energy cannot be created out of thin air. Nor can anything in the universe be unaffected by some kind of force. It's the same reason absolute zero and speeds faster than light cannot be acheived. Yes, they are just laws and theories but they make way too much sense and have been confirmed so much by experimentation. It just doesn't make sense that you could make something that would run forever without netting a loss of energy.

EDIT
This quote from wikipedia says part of my point nicely.

"It can be shown from the laws of thermodynamics that absolute zero can never be achieved artificially, though it is possible to reach temperatures close to it through the use of cryocoolers. This is the same principle that ensures no machine can be 100% efficient."

Basically, there is no way, aside from travelling faster than light (and even then it would be a great feat) for some form of energy not to reach the device (or object being cooled) in question. Even then how would you prevent heat or energy from flowing through the cooling device or machine to the user?

I suppose nothing's impossible since there is no way we could ever know everything.

I know that's your point len1.

By the way, I know I've mentioned this before but Brian Greene's book "The Elegant Universe" is excellent if you are interested in this sort of thing. I am currently reading his newest book "The Fabric of the Cosmos". It's a bit more geared towards readers without a physics background but still good so far.

[Edited on 14-1-2008 by MagicJigPipe]




"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry ... There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. ... We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress." -J. Robert Oppenheimer
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[*] posted on 14-1-2008 at 00:30
Speed Of Light


Check out this link:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/main.jhtml?xml=/earth/2007/...

They mention 3 feet. Isn't that about 3 nanseconds at the speed of light ?

Are these guys full of shit ? Who knows.




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[*] posted on 14-1-2008 at 00:57


Quote:
Yes, but energy cannot be created out of thin air. Yes, they are just laws and theories but they make way too much sense and have been confirmed so much by experimentation
.

Yes this seems to be a rock solid principle in the world we live, confirmed many times. Yet the principle of energy conservation is violated by the biggest test of all - our existance. Either

1) its violated continuously in the process of continuous creation
2) its violated at a single space-time point, the Big Bang

science has not been able to answer this so far

PS its easy to make something appear to move faster than light - shine a torchlight at clouds a distance L away. If the torch is rotated at angular velocity w the light will move across the clouds at a speed of L w . This can be greater than the speed of light - but doesnt violate relativity since this light only appears to move at that speed
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[*] posted on 14-1-2008 at 10:15
Faster than light


Quote:
Originally posted by MadHatter
Are these guys full of shit ? Who knows.



This appears to be tunneling, an effect whereby a partcle such as an electron
or in this case a microwave photon, vanishes at one point as it materializes at
another point some distance away. Because a microwave wavelength is very
large compared to that of an electron, it manifests this property at scales much
larger than integrated circuits such as the Josephson junction device.

Here are some relevent papers _

http://sitemaker.umich.edu/herbert.winful/files/faster_than_...

http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/quant-ph/pdf/9811/9811019v1.pdf

http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/quant-ph/pdf/9807/9807042v4.pdf

http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/physics/pdf/9611/9611018v1.pdf


Believe it or not this effect may actually occur in chemical processes
http://www.seedmagazine.com/news/2006/04/the_quantum_shortcu...


I'm reminded of the little ditty

There was a young lady, quite bright,
who could travel much faster than light.
She departed one day, in a relative way,
and returned on the previous night.

.
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MagicJigPipe
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[*] posted on 14-1-2008 at 16:36


Yes, len1, relativity becomes very interesting at near light speeds. Somewhat confusing at first, too.

Wait. That article seems very sensationalistic. I know Quantum Mechanics and Relativity don't "mix" but I also think that quantum tunneling isn't a particle or wave moving faster than light but more like "skipping" or "TUNNELING" through space/time. Just because you get from point A to point B faster than the time it would take at the speed of light doesn't necessarily mean you traveled the speed of light. I know that theory exists but the name of it escapes me.



[Edited on 14-1-2008 by MagicJigPipe]




"There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry ... There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors. ... We know that the only way to avoid error is to detect it and that the only way to detect it is to be free to inquire. And we know that as long as men are free to ask what they must, free to say what they think, free to think what they will, freedom can never be lost, and science can never regress." -J. Robert Oppenheimer
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[*] posted on 14-1-2008 at 17:15


Hmm, relativisim is invoked willy-nilly in a lot of quantum calculations. For instance, the energy might be calculated using relativistic terms instead of classical (E ~= pc, etc.).

Tim




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[*] posted on 13-10-2011 at 11:02


Funny nobody here picked up on this.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/23/science/23speed.html

.
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[*] posted on 13-10-2011 at 11:25


We could've been waiting for independent confirmation? :)

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[*] posted on 13-10-2011 at 11:49


Quote: Originally posted by franklyn  
There are only two important ideas that have been originated in all
of the twentieth century. One is Heisenberg's exclusionary principle
and the other is Godel's incompletness theorem. These teach us that
for the first time, we now know that there are definite limits to what
one can know, and that there exists knowledge which will forever
be unknowable.

[Edited on 19-10-2006 by franklyn]


These theories dont teach me anything.. These guys sound like spys of relegion trying to sabatoge science. There are no limits to good human brains. The one thing I want scientists to try to figure out is how to block gravity. This would create an area of zero gravity. I also want them to figure out what is space. A better word for space is area. Your in area right now WHAT IS IT. I would also like to live forever which is probably easier to do than figuring out what area is and what you can do to it.
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[*] posted on 13-10-2011 at 12:27


In physics, I can see us reach a point where we may have one or even several theories than explain all the observable data perfectly, but we are left without a way to test them. That is already happening.
You can't re-run the universe with different starting conditions.

But some other fields can go on forever I guess. Synthetic life may become like architecture or art. New lifeforms may be created for certain useful purposes but also perhaps just for the fun of it, with fashion changing over time.

[QOUTE] Think of it like this, the tree bears fruit as it grows, but bearing fruit is not the goal of the tree, GROWING is.[/QUOTE]

I think I get your point, but this is a very poor analogy. If you believe in evolution, growing fruit (and particularly the seeds in it) is -exactly- the goal of the tree. It's only purpose in life is to reproduce, for if it fails to do so it will go extinct.




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[*] posted on 13-10-2011 at 13:34


Quote: Originally posted by phlogiston  
In physics, I can see us reach a point where we may have one or even several theories than explain all the observable data perfectly, but we are left without a way to test them. That is already happening.
You can't re-run the universe with different starting conditions.

But some other fields can go on forever I guess. Synthetic life may become like architecture or art. New lifeforms may be created for certain useful purposes but also perhaps just for the fun of it, with fashion changing over time.

[QOUTE] Think of it like this, the tree bears fruit as it grows, but bearing fruit is not the goal of the tree, GROWING is.[/QUOTE]

I think I get your point, but this is a very poor analogy. If you believe in evolution, growing fruit (and particularly the seeds in it) is -exactly- the goal of the tree. It's only purpose in life is to reproduce, for if it fails to do so it will go extinct.


I find the bold part particulary annoying.
What's up with the "if you believe"? It's not something you're supposed to believe in. It's a fact like atoms or gravity. Facts exist by themselves.

I don't understand this obsessive American behaviour where even the blatant facts of the natural world are subjected to a version of political correctness blown out of proportion.

[Edited on 10-15-2011 by Polverone]




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[*] posted on 13-10-2011 at 23:11


I think that science comes in waves of more fundamental science, followed by more practical science. There are periods in which many fundamental properties of nature are found and then such periods are followed by periods in which these newly discovered fundamental properties are exploited in practical equipment.

In the early 1800's the nature of many dyes was discovered, and in a later period these discoveries were exploited for making many many synthetic dyes. In the late 1800's and early 1900's many properties were discovered of exotic materials, such as sensitivity to light, the possibility of modulating conductiveness by means of an external voltage or small current, the property of emitting and modulating light output by means of current or voltage, and many many more. It is only now at the end of the 1900's and the 2000's that these properties are exploited in fast computers, screens, all kind of medical devices.

It might be that we discover very fundamental new properties of matter (e.g. dark matter, dark energy, faster than light particles?, exotic subatomic particles). If such things indeed are discovered, then I'm sure that 100 years or so later in time these will be exploited.




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[*] posted on 15-10-2011 at 04:30


Back on topic. The limits of science... Consider this and this.

These two things are one of the reasons why we're always going to explore.
Additionally, consider the human nature, and consider the vastness of space and the amount of matter, and the number of combinations its parts can be sorted in, and the orders of magnitude larger information it can contain, and the inability to store all of that information because it's stored using matter.

These things seem trivial, but when you think about them, it starts to be kind of scary.




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[*] posted on 15-10-2011 at 06:37


Quote:
In my little pocket-philosophy, the Limit of Science lies at the boundary of human imagination.

Yes, but at any particular time and set of circumstances!
But the human imagination is limitless as is science and new bits of the jigsaw are being fitted into the puzzle every day, practically.
If progress continues at its present rate, then daily life in a thousand years from now would be totally unrecognisable to us!
But we may, since our capacity for stupidity is also limitless, bring about our own extinction by further polluting our planet to the point where life is unsustainable!


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15-10-2011 at 12:26
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[*] posted on 15-10-2011 at 12:28


Next person to post about religion in this thread, pro or con, gets an insulting custom title.



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[*] posted on 18-10-2011 at 22:33


U P D A T E
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ftl-neutrin...
The narrow view is that neutinos can be superluminal. The wider
view is that the standard model is incomplete because it cannot
account for this observation. I'm betting as Svengali said " there
is more in heaven and earth than is imagined in your philosophy."

.
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[*] posted on 19-10-2011 at 15:06


Quote: Originally posted by franklyn  
U P D A T E
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ftl-neutrin...
The narrow view is that neutinos can be superluminal. The wider
view is that the standard model is incomplete because it cannot
account for this observation. I'm betting as Svengali said " there
is more in heaven and earth than is imagined in your philosophy."


"neutinos" or "Newtinos" ....disciples, or small child offspring of the Newt?

President Contract .....it kind of sings doesn't it :D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSHr4ubuD64

there's nothing like a good contract that isn't contractually deficient



And that quote was from Hamlet I think, a play by a fellow named Shakespeare

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[*] posted on 19-10-2011 at 15:43


Quote: Originally posted by trinitrotoluene  
Will science ever come to and end? or will it continue infinately?


By definition, we cannot know about what we do not know about! Science might eventually dwindle as all the "low hanging apples" currently accessable to humans run out. This is not to say that humans will have discovered all natural phenomena, simply that it may be increasingly difficult for them to make additional discoveries.

Alternatively, there may be unexpected new discoveries, or ways of understanding natural phenomena, that may greatly expand the abilitity of humans to discover new things.

By 1900, most scientists believed that almost all scientific principles had already been discovered and adequately described. But this was certainly not the case. Even in the realm of chemistry, countless important reactions were later described, new fields of research emerged.

I can only offer my own opinion, which is that completely new and unexpected fields of research will develop that will expand the investigative power of researchers even further. There might be a plateau period of relative inactivity before that period. My guess is that no significant discoveries will be made in the next few decades, but at some point there will be a very important discovery, or a collection of advancements that will interplay with eachother to lead to a rapid advancement of technology.

I would also like to note that virtually all the important scientific research in the last century has emerged from government universities. Private industry has only refined and made commercially practical such research. But the very structural importance of government research may also be the main hindrance. Several decades ago, Feynman remarked that his colleagues pursued cargo cult science: an activity which is indistinguishable from science except for its lack of useful output. Scientific research decisions have, in some ways, become overcentralised. Curiosity-driven research is now frowned upon. But at the same time, more centralisation will be required to make future discoveries that will require a high level of resources and financing.

Again, in my opinion, the "information technology" age has really not been very revolutionary compared to many of the industrial advancements before (electricity and the automotive engine). The scientific world has been relatively stagnant since 1970. The progress of Science also stalled in the historical period between 500 AD to 1000 AD.

The progress of science is not always a continuous steady stream of advances. Science grows in sudden clusters of small discoveries, or in great leaps and bounds of understanding.

[Edited on 20-10-2011 by AndersHoveland]
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[*] posted on 19-10-2011 at 16:34


Yes but a big difference between now and 100 years ago is that things can be predicted and analyzed using math and physics. For example we know things like the maximum possible strength of materials, the highest temperature that can be produced, the maximum energy you can cram in a gram of material etc. Applying these "fundamental limits" shows that the cool science fiction stuff like interstellar travel, laser pistols, force fields etc are impossible.

We will continue to make progress in information driven science like biology, computers etc.

And there are some surprises like super conductors. Another is the fabrication of integrated circuits with feature sizes much smaller than the wavelength of light used to print them.
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[*] posted on 19-10-2011 at 16:43


Quote: Originally posted by gregxy  
a big difference between now and 100 years ago is that things can be predicted and analyzed using math and physics.


We all know how well sophisticated predictions from economists and financial analysts have resulted. No, it is simply difficult to precisely predict the future, especially when it concerns technological developments that could unexpectedly change everything.

Superconductors have not yet found any extensive commercial applications, although they have been useful to conducting other scientific research.

Have you seen this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws6AAhTw7RA&feature=playe...

[Edited on 20-10-2011 by AndersHoveland]
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