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How about a thread on all the times Science actually wasn't settled? Let's start way back and go from there. Feel free to add - this is just off the cuff and what I could think of in between doing burnouts in my muscle car. #science
360 BC #aristotle posited #aether as a substance needed to explain physical phenomenon. In Aristotles mind Aether helped explain momentum. Newton hadn't been born yet & thus no laws of motion. Instead, he figured some substance acted upon objects in motion, keeping them in motion
This first theory of Aether (there would be more) was of course later debunked by Newtons Laws of Universal Motion.
It wasn't just motion that vexed people. Basic elements were still not well understood. Most importantly, fire. In the 1600's JJ Becher first postulated phlogiston, which is what he thought was released when something is set alight. This theory was later furthered by George Stahl
Well this didn't work either. In the 1700's people started getting serious about a new type of study - later called #chemistry. Anton Lavoisier was the progenitor of many of our laws of chemistry. He began to work on this concept of phlogiston and found many holes in the theory.
Lavoisier may or may not have invented the concept of preservation of mass, this is debated, but he was keen to it. Preservation of mass says in any chemical reaction there can be no creation or loss off mass (E=MC2 wasn't even a thought in their mind back then)
This became the downfall of phlogiston. If this element phlogiston was responsible for all things burning, why did some elements GAIN mass once burnt, & others lost? This made no sense to Lavoisier
So Lavoisier set about developing another theory of fire. We still didn't know what it was, at that time.
This time Lavoisier begat another, equally poor theory of fire: Calcinification. Trying, again to explain weight loss and gain due to the effects of fire. In this model substances could be "calxed" through fire and some would gain or lose matter based on calcinification.
Later, when working with another scientist - Joseph Priestley (himself a big proponent of phlogiston)- that Lavoisier was introduced to oxygen. yes oxygen. in the 1700's scientists didnt quite realize our air was composed of multiple substances.
Isolating this new found substance - oxygen, Lavoisier went back to the lab and found oxygen provided him everything he needed to complete his new "oxygen theory of fire." This was a tremendous breakthrough that we still use today.
These are but a few hiccups in the road to our current science of chemistry. But for every type of science, there seems to have been a somewhat similar, circuitous journey.
Before I move on to physics I want to tie in a few other types of study and history, pertinent to the subject, while giving props to a few folks pivotal in getting us there. Euclid. Newton. Lobachevsky. Michelson and Moreley.
It's important to note that prior to newtonian physics, we explained much of our natural world with Euclidian Geometry. This is what enabled people like Ptolemy, Copernicus and Kepler to help us understand the cosmos and the helio-centric model of the universe.
Of course we didn't start off with a Helio-centric model of the universe and Ptolemy very successfully explained and mapped our cosmos using the prior Geo-centric model. But it wasn't quite perfect... His work was important to Trigonometry and well as navigation.
Copernicus was the man given credit for the Helio-centric model of the universe - even while others before him had suggested as such.
Of course this wasn't a simple hop, skip and jump and many people got in trouble along the way #Galileo
On to Euclid. Euclid understood, posited & postulated basic laws & principles upon which geometry was built. Simple things that as humans make perfect sense. Straightest path between 2 points? A line. Triangles all have 180 degrees, right? Right? We all live by these postulates
Well along comes this crazy russian Nicolai Lobachesky and he thinks this is far too simplistic a view of things. He says Euclids 5th postulate can't be proven. And if it can't be proven then what? Well a whole, whole lot.
Euclids 5th postulate states "two lines bisected by another line, such that the internal angles = less than 90 degrees, intersect at some point." You can recreate this with 3 pencils or straws. This is our basic definition of triangles. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parallel_…
Lobachevsky effectively argued that this postulate is unprovable and this opened the world to a whole nother kind of geometry (non-euclidean geometry) and even a whole nother kind of physics. Geometries and maths that are way beyond what we experience on a daily basis.
The immediate outcome of all this is triangles having more than 180 degrees, multiple paths to connect 2 points, etc. This was the mathematical equivalent of tripping out on psychedelics. This just didn't make sense. But it did! And it laid the ground work for things to come ...
On to michelson, moreley, einstein and the interferometer.
In the late 1800s, scientists were still noodling about another type of #aether needed to explain various physical phenomenon. in this case - light. If light is like other waves, it must need a substrate on which to ride & propagate itself much like ripples in water, sound in air
Michelson and Moreley devised an experiment to prove this once and for all. using a device called an interferometer, they would measure the interference of aether upon the propagation of light through the cosmos. This of course failed. simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelson…
And while yet again, one theory bites the dust - another, better one comes from it. 20 years or so passed and Einstein took a look at Michelson and Moreley's experiments and immediately understood what happened. 2 things, actually.
A) light doesn't require a substrate on which to travel and B) the speed of light is constant! this weighed heavily into his upcoming theory of relativity. And he had Michelson and Moreleys experiment to thank for providing a small part of this.
Today, in proving & extrapolating Einsteins theories we are again postulating various things - such as dark matter & dark energy. And for today they are good models. But if we take away anything from the history of science, it's this. Science is never settled. It's a process.
We are constantly looking to and learning from those that came before us. Here's links to the stuff I mentioned in this thread.
Aristotelean aether en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aether_(c……Phlogiston en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phlogisto……Lavoisier -calxes, oxygen theory of fire, preservation of matter en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_L……Euclid 5th postulate pitt.edu/~jdnorton/teac……Lobachevsky and non euclidean geometry en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nikolai_L…
michelson, morelely, aether and the interferometer simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michelson…
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