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Teacher of physics and programmer.
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    The flat earth and geocentric world are examples of wrong scientific beliefs that were held for long periods. Can you name your favorite example and for extra credit why it was believed to be true?

    THALER'S QUESTION [11.23.10]
    An Edge Special Event!

    To selected Edge contributors:

    I am doing research for a new book and would hope to elicit informed responses to the following question:

    The flat earth and geocentric world are examples of wrong scientific beliefs that were held for long periods. Can you name your favorite example and for extra credit why it was believed to be true?

    Please note that I am interested in things we once thought were true and took forever to unlearn. I am looking for wrong scientific beliefs that we've already learned were wrong, rather than those the respondent is predicting will be wrong which makes it different from the usual Edge prediction sort of question.

    Several responders pointed out that the phrase "scientific belief" in my question was not well defined. Did I mean beliefs held by scientists or beliefs by the lay public about science. The answer is that I am interested in both, though I should stress that this is not at all what my next book will be about. I do not know enough about science to write anything about the subject. However, for the book I am thinking about stuff that we get wrong, often for long periods of time, and am doing some wondering about whether there are some principles defining when such mistakes are more likely to happen.

    This exercise has been fantastically interesting, and if anyone is prompted by this to send in more ideas please do. I am also interested if anyone has thoughts about what the principles might be, if, indeed there are any.

     http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/thaler10/thaler10_index.html 

    Sat, Nov 27, 2010  Permanent link

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    BenRayfield     Sat, Nov 27, 2010  Permanent link
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect
    The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly's wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that may ultimately alter the path of a tornado or delay, accelerate or even prevent the occurrence of a tornado in a certain location. The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale alterations of events


    Weather simulation software proved that small changes like that really do affect tornados in a big way sometimes.

    Heisenberg uncertainty does not prevent a butterfly from flapping its wings in a way that eventually creates a tornado, but it does say there is no way to know exactly how the butterfly should flap its wings to do that.

    The "butterfly effect" also means when an event that does not move a lot of mass or energy happens in 1 country and a direct result is some quantum physics devices measure it in an other country, when nothing had been set up between them.

    There are a list of such events and quantum measurements (from devices all over the Earth) at http://noosphere.princeton.edu  (click "main results") which has done that research since 1998.

    Now we have a list of examples, most of which were planned, where small events directly affected quantum measurements thousands of miles away. http://noosphere.princeton.edu  has learned to use the butterfly-effect.

    If you want something specific... I was 1 of the 43000 people who were the "butterfly" in http://noosphere.princeton.edu  event number 351, and you can find links to my experience in it and where I expect that area of research is going, at http://spacecollective.org/BenRayfield/6471/Parapsychology-Merges-Science-And-Religion  But http://noosphere.princeton.edu  is more general than parapsychology. It includes lots of types of events.
    gamma     Sun, Nov 28, 2010  Permanent link
    Randomness is above average today it seems. Ben, can I call you Ray? Ok, never mind. Hold on and calm down. Butterfly effect does not exist at all as a physical event or possibility. It does not exist in the universe, not even in the moment of big bang it did not exist. Butterflies do not move anything at all ever. They are simply a part of the statistical ensemble that adds heat to the atmosphere, which originates from the food, and this one from the sun, and this from the fusion.

    There is not any force or interaction that can "spawn" or start anything. Every action requires more energy than it takes to do something useful.

    Planets do not require more energy to move, they already possess it. Over time, they lose some over tidal skewing and come into resonance. It does not matter. If you consider that the planetary coordinates are uncertain, they are just present day constants. Their usefulness for predicting positions declines over time regardless of everything, because its the nature of even the simplest dynamical equations of motion.

    One can demonstrate a spectrum of chaoticity in systems and claim the chaotic properties which feed on the pool of randomness. The randomness is a compilation of accidents. (These are related with the particle degrees of freedom, possible positions, etc.)

    People refer to the butterfly effect in popular culture as to the chain of events - historical or the network occurrences. The object's light cone defines the spacetime of possible interactions by light sent from an object. The light signals from afar cannot signal or initiate an event such as a social change unless there is an accumulation of transhumanists across the earth.

    A critical Ising magnet contains fluctuations of many different sizes. The dynamics of pattern formation is all the same across the magnet. Any uniform pattern that we create in it is a big temporary change for the system, but its consequential dynamics breaks it apart. An avalanche spreading through the network is a temporary pattern that feeds on the critical state, similar to other such patterns present at the same time.

    I think that the final blow to the butterfly effect in this last context, gives the emergence. You don't need something more to get something more other than the fundamental law (no B.E. there) and the accidents. In the environment that is a network, the emergence feeds on the chaoticity in quite the opposite way. It breaks the cause and effect to bring novelty, structure and life.
    BenRayfield     Sun, Nov 28, 2010  Permanent link
    I didn't say the butterfly effect generates energy. It uses energy that was already in the air.

    The object's light cone defines the spacetime of possible interactions by light sent from an object.


    That happens often but not every time. Quantum entanglement consistently does not do that.

    You say those parts of physics are "accidents", but that is the thing we've learned in recent years is not completely true.

    The important thing right now is not how it works or why; Its the fact that it does work. Small movements of mass and energy are affecting measurements thousands of miles away. By definition, that is a type of butterfly effect. Your entire argument against it appears to be based on that we don't know how it works, and we admit that, but it does work, and that is why its what this thread is asking for.
    gamma     Sun, Nov 28, 2010  Permanent link
    I didn't say the butterfly effect generates energy. It uses energy that was already in the air.

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    gamma     Sun, Nov 28, 2010  Permanent link
    WHY DID YOU RUIN MY THEORY
    BenRayfield     Sun, Nov 28, 2010  Permanent link
    I was responding to the parts about the butterfly effect and related physics. I don't understand the rest of your theory.
    gamma     Mon, Nov 29, 2010  Permanent link
    Here's the problem. Lets say that the potential energy is the kind of energy that is stored in materials. The potential energy is defined as a relationship of bound particles - subatomic or between atoms or between continents! Now when you want to relate two events, they are hidden from each other by a crowd, so possible interactions are between the neighbors, that are elementary atoms that are all alike (do not carry excess information). On the other hand, if we empty the space and use signaling between the two complex dynamical systems, they can twinkle a little bit chaotically and transmit information. They could sync spontaneously, but also evolve to send more complex information.
    BenRayfield     Wed, Dec 1, 2010  Permanent link
    Those things appear improbable, but considering that the information is transmitted (without us knowing how) thousands of miles, we should proceed with the strategy of Sherlock Holmes: "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." There is no option to exclude all the improbable things this time.

    A direct connection between the 2 things (as you speculated) is not impossible, but of all the improbable things remaining, its much more improbable than the butterfly effect. Add to your speculation the requirement of violating heisenberg uncertainty because its direct communication instead of statistical through the butterfly effect, and the possibilities are down to these 2: (1) Heisenberg Uncertainty is wrong, and/or (2) http://noosphere.princeton.edu  has learned to use the butterfly effect.

    Either way, quantum physics is being used on the scale of thousands of miles, and to answer the question of this thread, that is what about science has been proven but takes a long time for people to accept.
    gamma     Mon, Dec 6, 2010  Permanent link
    I raise the odds by 500$ and claim that Earth is transparent!
    BenRayfield     Mon, Dec 6, 2010  Permanent link
    Depends on the wavelength of light its transparent to.
    gamma     Wed, Dec 8, 2010  Permanent link
    Here's what I imagine. - And unless you give me something creative to think about I'll start throwing things around the house! -
    Imagine a miniature bedroom fountain. This model has a small lime stone ball swimming on top of a miniature stream of water. There is only a tight circular space around the ball through which the water flows. The ball is easily rotatable, because it sits on top of the stream. Lets imagine now that this is planet Earth and your view on the planet. How does the wavelength play the role here, when the light can go around the Earth and bypass it in its entirety?
    rene     Wed, Dec 8, 2010  Permanent link
    I always liked the pre-scientific idea that flies originated from rotten meat. I think that's self-explanatorily sense/less. There was another great one about fish that I can't recall...Extra credit starts with the internet.
    gamma     Thu, Dec 9, 2010  Permanent link
    I always liked the pre-scientific idea that flies originated from rotten meat. I think that's self-explanatorily sense/less. There was another great one about fish that I can't recall...Extra credit starts with the internet

    And, the transmutation of elements in the chicken stomachs. What they eat does not come out - end.
     
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