Science fiction definition? Where does fiction come into this?
Graham, consider it my stupidity. The question was asked about the new meaning of 'wormhole' so I went to the Slang Dictionary and found this. I saw Captain Kirk and the part about it being "potentially plausible"...and I assumed the "new" meaning to be science fiction. So sorry!
When you mentioned it, I had thought there was some reference to wormhole that I hadn't been aware of. Therefore, I went to that Slang Dictionary and found that reference to Star Trek. Sorry to cause so much confusion!
quote:Okay, arnie. I usually think of a "theory" as something that has been tested, accepted, and used to make predictions about natural phenomena.
That's interesting. I think of a theory is a system of thought that aspires to be consistent and predictive; it may or may not be tested and accepted. I think there are a lot of subtly different personal definitions of theory --I don't know where mine falls with respect to the dictionary definitions or the range of common definitions -- but I think it leads to a lot of misunderstandings.
I would agree with neveu: a theory in science is a consistent set of principles that generates explanations for a group of phenomena. Rival theories can coexist; a theory can be untested; and a falsified theory still counts as a theory, as long as it's been undone by observation rather than internal inconsistency.
I do think we have discussed "theory" here before. I agree that a theory can be untested and that rival theories can coexist. I also agree that a theory doesn't have to be tested. Yet, I tend to think of a theory as having been tested and used to make predictions. I do have a little support on this. Indeed, some people use "theory" very casually, as in "I have a theory that whenever I wash my car, it rains!"
BTW, this thread about "wormholes" has obviously gone to my head! Last night I dreamt about Einstein's Theory of Relativity, saw Einstein himself, and he told me all about "wormholes!" Sheesh!
quote:Originally posted by arnie: The existence of wormholes is a serious scientific theory that hasn't been either proved or disproved. See the Wikipedia entry.
The Wikipedia article begins, "A wormhole, also known as an Einstein-Rosen bridge, is a hypothetical [emphasis mine] topological feature of spacetime ..." . It's an hypothesis, not a theory, in scientific terms. An hypothesis is essentially an educated guess, what the scientist expects to happen. The hypothesis is tested through experimentation and/or observation. If the hypothesis is tested and proven true and generally accepted by the vast majority of scientists, it may become a scientific theory. It may eventually attain the staus of scientific law, such as the law of gravity and the laws of thermodynamics. The term theory in the lay sense is usually an hypothesis in the scientific sense. Maybe this article will explain it better.
TinmanThis message has been edited. Last edited by: tinman,
The article tinman references says this about scientific laws:
quote:Scientific Law: This is a statement of fact meant to explain, in concise terms, an action or set of actions. It is generally accepted to be true and univseral, and can sometimes be expressed in terms of a single mathematical equation. Scientific laws are similar to mathematical postulates. They don’t really need any complex external proofs; they are accepted at face value based upon the fact that they have always been observed to be true.
Some scientific laws, or laws of nature, include the law of gravity, the law of thermodynamics, and Hook’s law of elasticity.
There are a lot of very different things that are called laws. A lot of things that are called laws are not accepted as true and universal, rather they are simple equations that are accurate under certain conditions. Hooke's law is a perfect example. Hooke's law is f = kd, or force is proportional to length of stretch. If a pound stretches a rubber band 2 inches, 2 pounds will stretch it four inches. But as we all know eventually the rubber band reaches a limit and doesn't stretch anymore. There is a region where Hooke's law approximately holds, but for any object in the real world it is not true for most values of d. Same goes for Ohm's law.
Probably the best definition of a scientific law is a simple linear equation that either accurately describes the universe, or is a handy engineering assumption some German guy thought up and stuck his name on.This message has been edited. Last edited by: neveu,