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Is there any such thing as proof?


gcarth e2
10 2.3k 1 United Kingdom
3 Apr 2008 1:51PM
To what extent can we say that anything is proven?
How much should be rely on our sensory perceptions and experiences and how much should we rely on reasoning or theorising?

Garth

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stolzy 9 3.8k 7
3 Apr 2008 2:06PM
Sorry, I didn't see my name on this one Smile
I did promise myself that I wouldn't get involved in these any more, but you tempt me so...
I don't think things are every definitively proven, at least not to a scientist. The perfect example is the struture of the atom. At one time such a concept was not even needed, then it became clear that an indivisible unit of matter existed and it was imagined as a hard solid lump. This explained everything until Rutherford discovered the nucleus and the model had to be revised to accomodate new experimental evidence. Was the hard atom hypothesis proven wrong? - at the time it explained the existing experimental evidence, but new experiments meant it had to be revised. Later experiments showed that Rutherford's model needed revision also - that's how it will probably always be.
Was it proven? - depends on your definition of proven
Krakman 8 3.6k Scotland
3 Apr 2008 2:15PM
In law there are two standards of proof:

'on the balance of probabilities' - which is the standard in civil law and is another way of saying 'more likely than not'; and

''beyond reasonable doubt' - which is the standard in criminal law.

'More likely than not' is quite a low standard...
gcarth e2
10 2.3k 1 United Kingdom
3 Apr 2008 2:43PM

Quote:Sorry, I didn't see my name on this one Smile
I did promise myself that I wouldn't get involved in these any more, but you tempt me so

You've been working too hard with all that academic stuff! I did mention you; go back and have a look! Your user name is in small print and doesn't stand out so much, perhaps.
Anyway, back to the thread...

Quote:I don't think things are every definitively proven, at least not to a scientist. The perfect example is the struture of the atom. At one time such a concept was not even needed, then it became clear that an indivisible unit of matter existed and it was imagined as a hard solid lump. This explained everything until Rutherford discovered the nucleus and the model had to be revised to accomodate new experimental evidence. Was the hard atom hypothesis proven wrong? - at the time it explained the existing experimental evidence, but new experiments meant it had to be revised. Later experiments showed that Rutherford's model needed revision also - that's how it will probably always be.
Was it proven? - depends on your definition of proven


Absolutely! Now this is serious - we actually are in agreement so far...but then it's early days...
I mean, some philosophers question the very nature of what is reality. I suppose we have to work within a certain framework that we call 'reality' in order to function or at the basic level, survive.
Can there be several realities?

Garth
stolzy 9 3.8k 7
3 Apr 2008 2:56PM

Quote:Now this is serious - we actually are in agreement so far

Now you've got me worried Smile

Quote:Can there be several realities?

Try googling the 'many worlds' interpretation of quantum theory. This one, as it turns out, is rather easy to prove, all you need is a revolver, a handful of bullets, cajones of steel and an unshakable belief in quantum theory.
Krakman 8 3.6k Scotland
3 Apr 2008 3:04PM

Quote:Try googling the 'many worlds' interpretation of quantum theory


Hmm interesting stuff

It would help to explain something that always bothered me (slightly): if time is linear and infinite, then it is infinitely impossible that 'now' happens to be in our lifetime. I'm sure someone somewhere must have written a PhD on it!
Krakman 8 3.6k Scotland
3 Apr 2008 3:22PM

Quote:Is time infinte though

I guess we'll just have to wait and see!
Krakman 8 3.6k Scotland
3 Apr 2008 3:24PM
Even if it's not infinite, it does seems to be lasting an awfully long time, in which case the odds are just extremely improbable.

Cue Douglas Adams...
gcarth e2
10 2.3k 1 United Kingdom
3 Apr 2008 3:31PM

Quote:Was the hard atom hypothesis proven wrong? - at the time it explained the existing experimental evidence, but new experiments meant it had to be revised. Later experiments showed that Rutherford's model needed revision also - that's how it will probably always be.

Yes, I'm fascinated by the fact that apparently atoms are mostly empty space i.e. a nucleus surrounded by distant (in microscopic terms) electrons etc. (you are probably far more expert on such matters). In the same way, it follows that everyday objects like a table, for instance are not stricly solid. As I understand it, they are mainly empty space!
Sorry if I seem to digress from the topic about 'proof' though I suppose you could say that the hidden, still to be discovered properties of atomic and sub-atomic structure serve to remind us how tenuous our definition of reality is and therefore how tenuous is our ability to prove anything.

Garth
stolzy 9 3.8k 7
3 Apr 2008 3:32PM

Quote:On quantum phyics, I prefer the Copenhagen Interpretation to Many Worlds.

Martin Rees would kick Niels Bohr's ass anyday.
Copenhagen is just too weird, i prefer the intuitiveness of MW.

Quote:We might see evidence in favour of one theory or the other when CERN finally get the LHC going. That's the newest giant particle accelerator, it might also produce actual evidence for one of the string theories

if it gets going - there are a couple of wackos in Hawaii trying to get it stopped on health and safety grounds - they reckon it will create a black hole and eat the earth.
it's not CERN's fault there was nothing about planet-swallowing black holes in the H&S checklist:
hard-hats - check
high vis jackets - check
black and yellow stripes everywhere - check

Nothing about destroying the earth.
If you get a chance to visit, its one of the wonders of the world.
dwilkin 8 24.2k United Kingdom
3 Apr 2008 3:37PM

Quote:Cue Douglas Adams...


I thought this thread was going to invoke Terry Pratchett, and his 'Trousers of Time' theory...
CathyT e2
8 7.3k 18 United Kingdom
3 Apr 2008 3:44PM
I think its time for a cuppa...my head hurts.
dwilkin 8 24.2k United Kingdom
3 Apr 2008 3:46PM

Quote:if it gets going - there are a couple of wackos in Hawaii trying to get it stopped on health and safety grounds - they reckon it will create a black hole and eat the earth.



Ah - they've read Joe Haldemans excellent 'Forever Peace', haven't they - great book, as is his previous one, 'The Forever War' - just don't bother with the sequel, 'Forever Free'...
skeletor 11 1.6k England
3 Apr 2008 3:52PM

Quote:That's the newest giant particle accelerator, it might also produce actual evidence for one of the string theories


Quote:if it gets going - there are a couple of wackos in Hawaii trying to get it stopped on health and safety grounds - they reckon it will create a black hole and eat the earth

I remember something on the telly about that several months ago.

One of the scientists working on the project, when asked about creating miniature black holes, said something to the effect "we don't expect there to be a problem".
I remember at the time...he/she didn't sound too convincing.

Steve
stolzy 9 3.8k 7
3 Apr 2008 3:56PM

Quote:I remember at the time...he/she didn't sound too convincing.

Actually, the guy on the Today programme on R4 didn't sound overly persuasive either. Hawking reckons they'll 'just evaporate'.
Here's hoping.....

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