Tuesday, June 09, 2015

All Your Theory Are Ours

Some people suspect that all basic science is over, and henceforth it will take a supercomputer generating incomprehensible "theories" to make new major discoveries. Well...

* An undergraduate student in Australia just discovered that the earth is surrounded by giant tubes of plasma. She did this by using spatially separated radio telescopes as sort of 3-D glasses, a technique she apparently invented as well.

* A whole new system in the mammal body has been discovered. (New to science, of course: it's been there all along.) We've been dissecting corpses for a couple of thousand years, and everyone kept missing this!


  1. Replies
    1. I would call what they are describing engineering, not science. The purpose of science is to discover abstract understanding. The purpose of engineering is *to do.* Abstract understanding is nice in engineering, but unnecessary.

      In that respect, science has either always or never been 'obsolete.' 'Big Data' approaches are irrelevant to the question.

      I would read this article as saying "engineers got a powerful new tool with the advancement of computing." Which everyone already knows.

    2. Of course. It's just another case of someone not realizing the implications of what they are saying. The idea that tremendous amounts of number crunching can replace theory is absurd on its face. In fact, analyzing a lot of data is part of the scientific method. I provided the link because it is a step down from the article Gene linked to.



"If your approach to mathematics is mechanical not mystical, you're not going to go anywhere." -- Nassim Nicholas Taleb