Could all our scientific knowledge to crumble like a house of cards?

We are always in search of something more. And even our best guesses are often not allow us to understand where we can find him. In the 19th century we have argued that, due to what is burning the Sun — gravity or combustion, even knowing that the case involved a fusion. In the 20th century we were arguing about the fate of the Universe, even assuming that it is dispersed into oblivion. But revolutions in science are real, and when they happen, we have to reconsider a lot of things — sometimes even all — of what used to be considered correct.

To our knowledge there are plenty of truths that we rarely question, but maybe we should do this. How confident we are in the tower of knowledge you’ve built for yourself?

How true is our science?

According to the hypothesis of the aging light, the number of photons per second that we receive from each object decreases proportional to the square of distance, while the number of visible objects increases with the square of the distance. The objects should be more red, but emitting a constant number of photons per second depending on distance. However, in the expanding universe, we get fewer photons per second over time, as they have to travel long distances with the expansion of the Universe, and their energy is also reduced in the process of red shift. The surface brightness decreases with distance is consistent with our observations.

The surprising answer is that we are very confident in the totality of scientific knowledge that created it. This will remain true up to a point: until you reach the one solid result which would conflict with our picture.

If neutrinos faster than light, which came in a talk a few years ago, were true, we would have to reconsider everything we knew about relativity and the speed limit in the Universe. If Emdrive or other perpetual motion was real, we’d have to reconsider everything we know about classical mechanics and the law of conservation of momentum. Although these specific results were not sufficiently reliable — those neutrinos appeared due to experimental errors, and the Emdrive does not pass the test at any significance level — one day we may well be faced with such a result.

The most important test to be not whether we get to such a crossroads. Our true faith in scientific truth will be proven when we have to decide what to do with it.

Experimental setup EmDrive at NASA Eagleworks, where they tried to conduct isolated testing baseactions engine. They found a small positive result, but it was unclear what it involves: new physics or the systematic error. The results were not very reliable and could not be repeated independently. The revolution has not happened — yet.

Science is at the same time:

  • The body of knowledge covering all that we have learned from observation, change, and experimentation in our Universe.
  • A process of constant usomneniya in our assumptions, attempts to find the gaps in our understanding of reality, finding logical loopholes and inconsistencies and to determine the limits of our knowledge new, fundamental ways.

All that we see and hear, everything that you find our tools, and so on — all of this can be an example of scientific data being correctly recorded. When we try to draw a picture of the Universe, we must use the full range of available scientific data. We can’t choose the results or evidence that is consistent with our preferred conclusions; we have to push all our ideas each example of existing good data. To do science well, we need to collect this data, post them in pieces in a self-consistent structure and then subject it to various tests, in any way conceivable.

The best work, which is capable of a scientist is to constantly try to disprove, not prove, the most sacred theories and ideas.

Space telescope “Hubble” (left) is our biggest flagship Observatory in the history of astrophysics, but it is much smaller and less powerful than the next “James Webb” (in the center). Of the four proposed flagship missions in the 2030s years LUVOIR (right) is the most ambitious. Trying to reach the most dim of the Universe, to see them in high resolution and at different wavelengths, we can improve and test our understanding of the cosmos in an unprecedented manner.

It means increasing our accuracy to each additional decimal places, which we can only add; it means pursuit of higher energies, low temperatures, smaller scale and large sample sizes; this means going beyond the known range of validity of the theory; it means a new theorization of the observed effects and the development of new experimental methods.

At some point you are bound to find something that does not fit into newfound wisdom. You find something contrary to what you’d expect to find. You get a result which contradicts your old, already existing theory. And when it happens — if you can confirm this contradiction, if it will stand up to a thorough check and will show itself is actually very existing, you will get something excellent from the scientific revolution.

One of the revolutionary aspects of relativistic motion, put forward by Einstein, but first laid Lorentzen, Fitzgerald and others, was that fast-moving objects seemed to shrink in space and slow down over time. The faster you move relative to something at rest, the more your compressed length and the more time slows down relative to the outside world. This picture — relativistic mechanics — replaced the old Newtonian perspective on classical mechanics.

The scientific revolution, however, involves more than just the statement “old truths wrong!”. This is just the first step. Maybe it is a necessary part of the revolution, but by itself it is insufficient. We could move on, just seeing where and how our old idea brings us. To move the science forward — and significantly — we need to find a critical flaw in our previous way of thinking and revise it, until we achieve the truth.

For this we need to overcome not one, but three major obstacles in our efforts to improve our understanding of the Universe. There are three components that are included in the revolutionary scientific theory:

  • She should play the entire success of the existing theory.
  • She needs to explain the new findings that contradict old theories.
  • It should give a new, verifiable predictions that have not been tested before, and which can be either confirmed or refuted.

It’s incredibly high bar, which is achieved very rarely. But when it is achieved, the rewards are unlike any other.

One of the greatest mysteries of 1500 years was that the planets move obviously retrograde — that is, in the opposite direction. This could be explained either by using the geocentric model of Ptolemy (left) or heliocentric Copernicus (right). But the clarification of details with high precision demanded of the theoretical breakthrough in our understanding of the rules underlying the observed phenomenon that led to Kepler’s laws and the theory of universal gravitation of Newton.

On the newbie — a new theory — is always the burden of proof, the substitution remains the dominant theory and this requires it to address some very difficult problems. When the heliocentrism, he had to explain all the predictions of the movements of the planets, to account for all the results that heliocentrism could not explain (for example, the motion of comets and satellites of Jupiter), and make new predictions such as the existence of elliptical orbits.

When Einstein proposed General relativity, his theory had to reproduce all the successes of Newtonian gravitation, and to explain the precession of the perihelion of mercury and the physics objects, the speed of which is close to the light, and what’s more — she needed to make new predictions about how gravity bends the star light.

This concept even extends to our thoughts about the origin of the Universe itself. So Big Bang became famous, he had to replace the old idea of a static Universe. So he had to meet the General theory of relativity, to explain kablovske the expansion of the Universe and the ratio of red shift and distance, and then making new predictions:

  • The existence and spectrum of the cosmic microwave background
  • Nucleosynthetic about the content of light elements
  • On the formation of large scale structure and clustering properties of matter under the influence of gravity.

All this required just to replace the previous theory.

Now think about what would need to replace one of the leading scientific theories of today. It’s not as difficult as you might imagine: you would only need one observation of any phenomenon that is contrary to the predictions of the Big Bang. In the context of General relativity, if you could find a theoretical consequence of the fact that the Big Bang does not match our observations, we really would have been on the brink of revolution.

And here’s the thing: this doesn’t follow that all on the topic of the Big Bang — is erroneous. General relativity does not imply that Newtonian gravity is wrong; it only imposes restrictions on where and how Newtonian gravity would be applicable successfully. It will still accurately describe the Universe, born from the hot, dense, expanding state; in the same way accurately describe observable Universe age billions of years (but not infinite age); similarly talk about the first stars and galaxies, the first neutral atoms, the first stable atomic nuclei.

The visible history of the expanding Universe, involves a hot, dense state of the Big Bang and the subsequent growth and structure formation. The full data set, including observations of light elements and the cosmic microwave background, leaves only the Big Bang as a suitable explanation for what we see. The prediction of the cosmic neutrino background was one of the last major unconfirmed prediction, resulting from the Big Bang theory.

Whatever it is about this theory that whatever beyond our current best theories (and this applies to all scientific fields) — the first thing you have to reproduce all the successes of this theory. The theory of a static Universe, who are fighting with the Big Bang? They are incapable of it. The same applies to electric Universe and plasma cosmology; the same can be said about tired light, about topological defects and cosmic strings.

Perhaps someday we will achieve sufficient theoretical progress to one of these alternatives has turned into something corresponding to the complete set of observed or may be a new alternative. But that day is not today, but in the meantime the inflationary universe with a Big Bang, with radiation, ordinary matter, dark matter and energy explains the full set of absolutely anything we have ever seen. And she’s the only one of its kind so far.

But it is important to remember that we came to this picture just because it is not focused on one doubtful result, which could collapse. We have dozens of lines of independent evidence, which again and again lead us to the same conclusion. Even if it turns out that we do not understand supernovae, dark energy will still be needed; even if it turns out that we do not understand the rotation of galaxies, dark matter will still be needed; even if it turns out that the microwave background does not exist, the Big Bang will still be necessary.

The universe may be completely different in detail. And I hope to live long enough to see there is a new Einstein, who challenged the theories and wins. Our best theories are not incorrect, they are just incomplete. And this means that they can only come from a more complete theory, which inevitably will include everything, everything in this world — and explain it.

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