Friday, April 11, 2008
Let Us Spoon Feed You
A few weekends ago I watched a NOVA show on neutrinos and the arguments within the scientific community surrounding them. It seems that about 100 years ago someone postulated that there must be some sub-atomic particle smaller than electrons to explain some unusual activity that was being observed. However since this itsy bitsy particle has no charge it cannot be directly detected.
Enter two fellows. One is an astrophysicist (try saying that with a mouth full of Cheez-Its) who formulated a giant calculation of how many of these neutrinos are put out by the sun each second. It turns out it's a gi-normous number... something like billions pass through our thumbnail each second. Yeah, you heard me... they are so small that they pass right through our atoms, which are mostly space anyway, and we never know it.
Enter the other guy (let's call him Worsterchire, though that isn't his real name) who devised a way to detect the effect of these neutrinos. They set up a huge underground tank full of tens of thousands of gallons of some special secret chlorine liquid (see photo) and in a month the neutrinos will have collided with about ten atoms. So all he has to do is detect ten atoms out of however many zillions of atoms are in the tank. But he's a smart guy and he does it. However he only detects a third of the atoms predicted by the calculation. It was called a "socially unacceptable result" by other scientists.
So now the scientific community gets to get riled up. For over thirty years no one can find a fault with the calculation. No one can find a fault with the experiment. Instead of being objective scientists and attempt to figure out the difference via scientific methods these pompous boneheads took up sides and started taking potshots, saying one or the other just HAD to be wrong but couldn't prove where they were wrong or scientifically state why they held the position they did. Remember, science is about objectively verifying facts through being able to repeat experiments and get the exact same results.
After thirty years there was another project that touched on the neutrino issue, though the intent was not to solve the above problem. The results of this other experiment revealed that both the experiment and the calculation were indeed correct but that the Standard Model was to blame. The Standard Model is a general scientific presumption that is held to be fact. This Standard Model was never questioned, it was THE TRUTH, the premise for much of their theories and yet they had a part of it wrong (that part being that objects moving at the speed of light have no time).
I couldn't help but to think about these scientists taking up positions when confronted with scientifically reached conclusions that didn't meet their "socially acceptable" theories to be amazingly similar to the creationism argument or global warming. By forcing scientific findings into a presumed model and refusing to even consider another theory they are making fools of themselves.
And it just so happens that Ben Stein has a new film coming out close to Earth Day about this very thing. Wire-haired minds think alike!