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Raise your hand if you like science!


Dantius
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I had a conversation with five or six of my closest friends the other day. While we all agreed that there must certainly be some form of life somewhere else in the Universe besides Earth, we also came to the realization that I was the only one in the room that did not believe that we had already been visited by some form of intelligent life at some point. I'm a fan of Drake's equation and all, but alien conspiracies? I like to think my friends are smart people, but I think perhaps the bit of beer we had that night may have gone directly to their heads.

 

Or is this simply a very popular belief, even among thinkers? You guys seem like an intelligent bunch, what are your thoughts?

 

Oh, and I liked the chorus from that video. I may have to steal it for my signature. smile

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Science has very little to say about aliens given our sample size of zero (or, for some purposes, one). Philosophy of science, however, says that alien visitors are not falsifiable and Occam's razor shaves away the Greys.

 

—Alorael, who has to say that science is pretty neat. Without it there would be no font of amusing pseudoscience. Also no internet.

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"Billions and billions of years ago ...." It helps if you've hear Carl Sagan or the parodies of him saying this. He was great for popularizing astronomy with his Cosmos series on PBS.

 

I like science since it gives you all sorts of neat ideas for pratical jokes. Working in a science lab gives you access to the tools to do them. smile

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Originally Posted By: Poached Salmon
Isn't science nothing but the language describing that which is real?
Depends on your definition of real, doesn't it? Science takes what our senses perceive for granted. On the other hand, it also has faith in things that aren't real. Numbers for example: you can't go and find a wild '2' out in the world because '2' isn't real.
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Raises hand. There is a reason I've taken/am taking 2 AP sciences in my first two years of high school.

 

Originally Posted By: Skeptic's Progress
—Alorael, who has to say that science is pretty neat. Without it there would be no font of amusing pseudoscience. Also no internet.

 

If you're referring to the creation of the internet at CERN, I'm going to have to point out that common misconception. CERN created the Web, which is a single mode of transferring and displaying information over the web. Emails, while accessed via the web, are sent over the internet, not the web. Instant messaging is another example. It uses the internet, but isn't web-based (for the most part).

 

If you're referring to something else, ignore what I just said. I didn't even know the difference until my uncle told me a week or two ago.

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Originally Posted By: Monroe
Originally Posted By: Poached Salmon
Isn't science nothing but the language describing that which is real?
Depends on your definition of real, doesn't it? Science takes what our senses perceive for granted. On the other hand, it also has faith in things that aren't real. Numbers for example: you can't go and find a wild '2' out in the world because '2' isn't real.

"2" isn't physical. It is quite real. It is in some ways more real than objects, because while deductive reasoning is fairly solid and no useful deduction either disproves 2 or gets anywhere meaningful with the premise that there is no 2, induction is actually a house of cards.

Originally Posted By: Triumph
Originally Posted By: Poached Salmon
Isn't science nothing but the language describing that which is real?


Only if one presumes that only nature, the physical world, is "real." Which is a big presumption.

Only nature, the physical world, can be observed or deduced, which is what science is all about and, in fact, what reality is as far as science is concerned.

Faith, God, alien abductions, and conspiracies to assassinate JFK are real in social science, psychology, and more and more even in neuroscience and genetics (cf. discovery of "faith" gene), but only as phenomena of interest.

—Alorael, who is well aware that the internet is more or less a product of DARPA and friends. But where did computers come from? They were engineered to meet scientific/mathematical needs, mostly. And, more importantly, what is necessary for the internet and for computers? Advances in many fields of science. The internet isn't unique, of course; just about everything is informed by both science-driven technological advances and the application of evidence-based reasoning now.
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Originally Posted By: Skeptic's Progress
"2" isn't physical. It is quite real. It is in some ways more real than objects

Originally Posted By: Skeptic's Progress
Only nature, the physical world, can be observed or deduced, which is what science is all about and, in fact, what reality is as far as science is concerned.
Surely you can see, and appreciate, the inherent contradictions here. 2 is only something we have faith in and use to explain occurrences in the world, much like God. Only one is science and the other is not. Though that's probably because 2 simply has more consensus among humanity for existing than God does. I suppose at one point God did have enough consensus to be considered science as well, just not anymore. Maybe one day we'll evolve beyond 2 as well? We really can't take anything for granted.
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Observed or deduced. Reread the first paragraph again and note the discussion of deduction and 2.

 

—Alorael, who also thinks it might help to consider the difference between abstractions and existence. 2 is abstract. It is a real and useful and meaningful concept regardless of any physicality. Many things are also both abstractions and physical objects. Cats exist, and there is the concept of cats as well. Unicorns have so far not been found to exist physically but exist in the abstract. That makes them not real even though they can be discussed meaningfully. God's conceptual, abstract existence is beyond question. God's physical existence (or equivalence for a non-physical entity) has not been shown. Consensus has no bearing on demonstrating existence.

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Both hands are up now. I am one of the largest Physics nerds you will ever meet. I LOVE it. Same with almost every other kind of science, especially astronomy. And yes, I remember Carl Sagan and the man is a bloody genius. His show the cosmos was delightfully enlightening. And 42 is much more like God actually.

 

-Ni

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Science is great, but the more I know of it, the less it seems to me that what is great about science is any different from what is great about philosophy or history. The subjects and methods differ, but the kick is the same — noticing interesting things, and explaining them clearly.

 

If science has any advantage over the humanities, it's that the physical world is amazingly complex and interesting. Much more complex and interesting than it would have to be, in fact, to be the game engine for running all our little human stories. Aristotelian physics and medieval cosmography would have done fine for that. What we have instead is ridiculously overpowered for that task.

 

When asked what biology revealed about the character of God, J.B.S. Haldane is famously supposed to have replied that it revealed that God had 'an inordinate fondness for beetles'. In all of science there's something of the same eery sense of an ocean of infinite, intricate detail, worthy of a transcendent creator, but quite alien to humanity.

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Originally Posted By: ☭
Science is fun, as long as you don't get into actually knowing it. It's fun to watch, say, Discovery Channel. It's not fun to read a textbook. If you're lucky, it'll stay interesting, but fun is stretching things.

i think science is fun all the time, if you know it or don't know it.
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Originally Posted By: Ephesos
I feel compelled to link this, if only because it totally blew my mind.
I quite like that video too, especially since its concept of the fifth dimension is identical to mine.

Originally Posted By: JadeWolf
Maths is fun too - how does one go about proving 1=0.9999999999... ?
It's actually fairly simple. I could prove it for you, if you like.
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Originally Posted By: Propitiate your mods with offerings!
Science has very little to say about aliens given our sample size of zero (or, for some purposes, one). Philosophy of science, however, says that alien visitors are not falsifiable and Occam's razor shaves away the Greys.

—Alorael, who has to say that science is pretty neat. Without it there would be no font of amusing pseudoscience. Also no internet.


Science has nothing to say directly about aliens, but science has a lot of say about many of the facts we can use to shed light on the question. Alien visitors are, as you say, utterly unfalsifiable and unnecessary, however the existence of life on other planets is informed by several key facts:

1) Science estimates that there are around 100,000,000,000 (100 billion) galaxies in the observable universe. For a good illustration of this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubble_ultra_deep_field

Our own Milky Way galaxy harbors around 200,000,000,000 (200 billion) stars, and is pretty typical. A low estimate for the average number of stars per galaxy is 100,000,000,000, so to be conservative, the number of stars in the universe is around:

10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, or 10^22

2) Recent data show that having planets around a star is not rare.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extrasolar_planets

3) The chemical composition of earth is thought to be not unique, based on what we know about supernovae (where most of our elements came from) and spectrum readings.

From this information, one can at least say that the existence of life elsewhere in the universe is certainly plausible, though we won't know for sure until we know a bit more about abiogenesis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis

So there is evidence that supports the idea. Actual alien encounters on Earth, however, have no credible evidence whatsoever.
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Originally Posted By: Monroe
Originally Posted By: Poached Salmon
Isn't science nothing but the language describing that which is real?
Depends on your definition of real, doesn't it? Science takes what our senses perceive for granted. On the other hand, it also has faith in things that aren't real. Numbers for example: you can't go and find a wild '2' out in the world because '2' isn't real.


At the bottom of it, yes, science assumes that what we can go and perceive and interact with and observe is, in fact, real. There's no way to Absolutely Prove that just like you cannot absolutely prove that the universe wasn't created 5 minutes ago along with you and all your previous memories. In this sense we cannot Absolutely Prove anything at all. This view doesn't get you anywhere, though. The power of science, of course, is that it doesn't change -- you can be as sure that dropping a rock on your foot is going to seem pretty real as you can that science works. People who claim that everything is relative and science doesn't actually know anything somehow don't have any problem flying in a plane or using the electric field in their power lines to send light-speed text messages in perfect accordance with scientific theory.

Also, it bugs me when people say that science and technology are different things. Basically all technology from the Industrial Revolution onward (like the study of thermodynamics by people like Carnot which was the direct basis for the invention of steam engines) has been developed almost exclusively due to scientific theories. Insofar as science is simply the discovery of truths about the world in which we live, all technology is science. The method of doing this has been refined over time, but the key motivation -- to learn about the world -- has always been the same.


Edit: as a quick side note, the study of quantum mechanics led to the discover of the transistor, i.e. the basis for all modern electronics.
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That "tenth dimension" video is, I'm afraid, nonsense. It's a very nice discussion up to four dimensions, but then it goes wackily off the rails, apparently because the author has no actual understanding of higher dimensional geometry. Which is kind of unfortunate in the circumstance that he has made a video about precisely that.

 

He has two basic problems. A minor one is that what he calls 'folding' in fact has very little to do with folding through one higher dimension. There are all kinds of weird ways for spaces to connect round to themselves. Sometimes you can picture such so-called 'compact' spaces as being folded through an 'ordinary' Euclidean space of one higher dimension. But in general you can't; you would need to fold through a space of much higher dimension. Or you can just forget about picturing the folding, and simply describe the compact space entirely from inside itself — the ant's eye view. This works fine, and once you're dealing with higher dimensional spaces anyway, really isn't any harder than trying to concoct a folding representation. So actually compactness has nothing really to do with folding through higher dimensions. Such folding is just one way to try to picture it, and in general it's not nearly as neat and easy a way as this video suggests.

 

More importantly the video fails catastrophically to count dimensions properly, and on this point it goes kablooey already at dimension 5. It tells us that adding one more dimension past four allows us to represent all possible alternate timelines of the universe. But that would mean that there was only a single slider control for the history of the universe — only one single parameter that could possibly, for all time, be different. That's an utterly absurd underestimate. I mean, if I flip the little spinner in the game of Twister, and imagine all the alternative points at which the pointer could have come to rest, I've already imagined one more dimension worth of alternate universes. But a heckuva lot more than that could in principle change quite independently of how my spinner might have landed.

 

As far as we can tell now, at least, the space of possibly different initial conditions of the universe is infinite dimensional. Maybe even uncountably infinite. So what this video counts as the fifth dimension should actually be dimensions 5 through infinity.

 

In fact what string theorists and their ilk mean by a dimension is not this at all; they don't count all possible alternatives as directions in this sense. They just mean adding more dimensions the same way we went from 1 to 4, with our awareness stopping at 3 the same way a flatlander's stops at 2. So yeah, the most popular model in string theory postulates ten dimensions. But if you want to understand that, stop watching that video past four, and just tell yourself that the pattern continues up to ten. That's all any string theorist does.

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I found the movie interesting as well. I have no clue about string theory and all that stuff, so I won't try and defend it's accuracy. Actually, the video mentions that it's ideas of each dimension are not the same as those from string theory.

 

Doesn't a hypercube represent the fourth dimension?

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*raises hand*

 

Paleontology is my cup of tea.

 

We dig deeper.

 

 

I'd like to say that sciences are like philosophy;

even though I'm pretty narrow minded my self (culpa mea), science is a very opening subject; dealing with the hows and sometime whys of reality.

And why does this multi-universe theory pop up when we talk about science, it's like you desperately wanted to include the counter argument to creation all the time.

And one more thing it was Clarke who had the idear of the transistor before any assumptions on quantum mechanics and string theory, not otherwise.

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