OT: Engineers, geologists, and the Mars rover Curiosity

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Most often, science is an incremental increase in verified facts and reasoning. Very seldom is there a discovery that turns previous knowledge, facts and theories completely on its head. Still the combined facts discovered after a certain period do point to something totally new. Mars may or may not have had water and a potential for life at some point in the past. Verified facts thus far do not prove one way or another. Curiosity may or may not find evidence to substantiate those hypotheses or wild ass guesses. We won't know until ...
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Han
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Sorry, I am not a Mars astrophysicist, so I don't have all the "facts" on the tip of my tongue. I rely on reports from the experts. Thus far, the evidence seems to be that there is no or not much water on Mars, but there could have been. Further facts to be gathered ...

Science depends on observed facts, and the reasoning to connect them, generate hypotheses and thence into theories. Sometimes that takes a long series of facts, sometimes just an apple falling from a tree.

Indeed.
Curiosity the rover/laboratory is what I meant, not "being curious"
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Han
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Han wrote:

I think you would find any real scientist would tell you science doesn't have much to do with facts. In science there really are none.

Was that story ever verified? How does one observe a fact - in a field that does not accept facts as facts?
The apple fell to the ground. That is a fact - but the why and how is complete opinion (layman's term for theory). The majority wins. But the problem is that testing, and re-testing, and re-re-testing does not always result in the exact same outcome. The "wrong" outcomes get attributed to someone doing something wrong. How does one know that that 1 out of a 1000000 times of it being different doesn't mean the whole idea of the why and how is wrong but only shows itself 1 out of a 1000000 times? How does one know the subject has been tested with a method that will provide the factual results instead of the wanted results?
All the work of science is based on limited knowledge. The problem is that it is thought of as "fact" (or at least elevated beyond what it is faith). And the attitude (teaching for decades now) is that "they're the experts". So it is accepted by most without even thinking about it (look at all the insane things they have come out with that was simply accepted by the vast majority with gawking eyes and open mouth - only to have to be all taken back, yet you never see their faith shaken in them).
Go to college for X years studying all the theories and methods used... isn't that circular - teaching how to do something and basing it on previous theories - why would it be surprising to get the usual results?
When theories (exalted opinions) are based on other theories, based on other theories - it is all a stone wall being built without mortar.

Some of the photos are labeled blah...blah.."water". "ancient"...blah..blah.."water"
Is this the objective method of science? - Maybe I missed the "fact" of water discovered?
....Keep searching for the meaning of life - ignore the answers given.
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no_email_please@void_void.void says...

I think you have never met a real scientist.

What field would that be?

No, that's the layman's term for a hypothesis.

No, the model that most closely fits the facts wins.

That is called "precision".

Only if the "wrong" outcomes are different from many, many other measurements of the same quantity.

Different experimenters perform the measurement using different techniques. Yes, it's possible that one in 10,000 times the velocity of light is 1 meter per hour instead of 300,000 kilometers per second, but that's not the way to bet.

All the work of everything is based on limited knowledge. So what do we do, just sit aroung wringing our hands and accomplishing nothing because we can't know everything?

You are conflating fact, which is a measured observation, with theory, which is a model that attempts to establish rules base on the facts.

If teachers are teaching that we should believe scientists because the are experts, well, we all know that the education system is down the crapper and this is just another symptom.
We believe science for one simple reason. It works, where religion and all the various philosophical systems that are not based on the scientific method do not.

Which "insane things" are these?

And yet we have numerous examples of scientists coming up with experimental results that invalidate previous models or with models that more accurately explain the facts and toss the earlier models down the crapper.

Theory is based on observation, not on other theory. If you think you have a counterexample please present it.

Which photos are those? There are photos that show what appear to be ancient water courses. If you have a better explanation for them please present it.

Who has claimed that water was discovered?

You'd ignore the answers if the answers beat you to death with a baseball bat.
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J. Clarke wrote:

I guess I'm the only one who have heard scientists say that science is not in the business of proving facts? And if there are facts then why do they keep getting changed? A fact is something that can't change.

Science. That water is falling down the rocks....(science) are we sure the water is falling down the rocks or are the rocks moving through the water? - that is a very low level version of the questioning. What everyone (almost everyone) can say - yeah it is that way... scientist must take years to contemplate to decide everyone was right. They they start dissecting it trying to figure out why and how.

Lets see the definition of the words, Hypothesis (noun): A *tentative explanation* that accounts for a set of facts and can be tested by further investigation.
Theory (noun): 1. Systematically *organized knowledge*, especially a set of *assumptions* or *statements devised* to explain a phenomenon or class of phenomena. 2. *Abstract reasoning*; *speculation*. 3. A set of rules or principles for the study or practice of an art or discipline. 4. An *assumption*; *conjecture*.
I didn't see much difference. Hypothesis is the opinion before they all agree to interpret the results the same way - then it become a theory - which is a majority opinion. Maybe the test results aren't subject to interpretation?

No not at all - not all the time at all. It all depends on what they want. You have never seen science agree on a theory that some didn't agree on and later change to the other's theory?

You mean imprecision? Unless science deals with different English?

I guess it must be me - if an out come is different then it is very likely to be (or must be) different no matter how you measure it. That is the proof that one test was wrong - never of course proof that something may be wrong with the theory.

Let me get this straight. Your saying that if light is found 1 out of 10,000 tests to travel 1 meter per hour instead of the 300,000 then the theory that light travels at 300,000 meters per second is still good (isn't there other theories that claim a photon must travel at the speed of light (i.e. the 300,000 m/ps) or it doesn't exist?)

First not elevate it beyond a faith. That is all it is - faith that a group of people have got it right (or at least close to right). It is taught in school - yet school can't deal with other faiths.

Measured? I guess one could say that - I prefer being plain - it can be seen, it happened.

Someone used the words in this thread "their the experts". If you say you don't hear this then I think we might as well stop the conversation, because someone isn't being genuine.
It isn't just science. In the "advanced" modern world we have an expert for everything. You expert for roofing, expert for plumbing, expert for car work, expert for your lawn, expert for your health, expert for your knowledge, expert for your religion. "Well He's/She's the expert."

Wow? It does? There sure seem to be a lot of mistakes in science and their "developments" to say it works? How many people have been killed or hurt because science said it works - and it doesn't (or at least not that time)?
You seem to confuse the unavoidable fact with the field of science. A plane flies not because of scientific research. In fact if I recall history (what we get of it) inventors got the plane working not scientist. Scientist then try to tell us why it works.

If I had to come up with a list it would take a while (it is definitely doable), but to get just one - The pre-historic man that actually was a pig's skull.
I know the answer - but they corrected it... yes. They always are right, because the only time the admit being wrong is when they say they were (they don't listen to others) and then of course they are right because they have already changed their minds. Ahh. I am always right, unless I am wrong - but since I am the only one to say when I am wrong - I am then right again.

Do not get rid of the power of ego. Besides even people who think alike do not always think the same.

Maybe I am mistaken... I was almost sure other theories take their bases on previous theories? Quantum - seems it relied on a bit? Trajectory - seems to rely on the theory of gravity? Aren't there others?

I think it was the photos a few pictures after the dust storm photo. Of course it was water. It must of course be recently water or it must not be dust storms - seems one or the other would kind of mess up the other.
But whale bones on top of a mountain sure aren't a sign there may have been a flood.
(Not that they have proven themselves very good at recognizing bones)

I don't know - when you label photos as being ancient river beds or ancient ground water, seems a strong hint... You're sure that some theories at least aren't the result of really wanting it to be a certain way?

No actually I know the meaning because I don't ignore the answers. I don't toss the manual over my shoulder and then bemoan the need to figure it all out.
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no_email_please@void_void.void says...

Please provide a quotation from a scientist to the effect that "science is not in the business of proving facts". I suspect that you have misunderstood something.
What facts do you believe keep getting changed?

Again you claim that science does not observe facts. But you have not provided any information to support your argument.

Scientific fact: Water is moving past rocks at a differential velocity of x meters per second +/- y estimated inaccuracy in the measurement.
Scientific hypothesis: Water is falling down the rocks.
Now science performs addition experiments to determine whether water is falling down the rocks.

Actually your phrasing is more typical of a high school philosophy class than anything in science.

Please provide an example.

Google "term of art". "Theory" in science does not mean any of the things that you include in your definition. "Theory" in science means a descriptive model that allows predictions to be made, which predictions have come true every time they have been tested.

Please provide an example of a case in science in which the majority won and the model was accepted event though it was falsified by observation.

You are conflating science and scientists. Individual scientists believe many things. Sometimes they believe things that are wrong or untrue. Sometimes they are persuaded to alter those beliefs, sometimes they aren't. However science is a process by which wrong beliefs get systematically rejected. That doesn't necessarily happen instantly, and for an anomalous result to be accepted it has to be replicated by different researchers in different facilities.

Precision in experimental science is a number. An experiment is accurate to a certain precision.

If one thousand researchers do something and get exactly the same result, and one does the same thing and gets a different result, odds are that he didn't do the same thing, he just thought he did.
It's not proof that anything is wrong with the model until multiple researchers doing the same thing as the one who got the anomalous result get the same anomalous result.

If there have been 10,000 tests giving 3e8 meters/second and one that gives 1 meter per second, then it is reasonable to believe that the 1 experiment had some kind of problem. If there have been a a million tests and 100 of them by different scientists all give 1 meter per hour, now it is time to start trying to figure out what is wrong with our models.

The only faith involved in science is the faith that the universe is comprehensible. Everything else is based on measurement and observation.
As for what is taught in school, the schoobooks have to be acceptable to both California and Texas, which makes them effectively content-free. If school is teaching that we believe science by faith then school is teaching lies.

You're quibbling now over meaningless distinctions.

A point comes where you have to trust the other guy to know what he's doing you know. Do you think that in order for a physician to trust the results from an MRI he should be able to construct the machine himself from scratch? There is too much human knowledge at this time for one person to master in a lifetime.
However if there is a point in science that you disagree with, go research it. Nobody is hiding it from you or telling you that you may not read the literature. If you find that the research is in error, write up your observations in the form of a paper and submit it to Physical Review Letters and if your argument makes any sense to the peer-revievers they will likely publish it. On the other hand, most people who find that science is in error don't understand what they are criticizing and their criticism get rejected as the work of crackpots, which leads to them putting up web sites about how they were persecuted.
The trouble is that you can't research a point of science for free on the Internet. The journals charge for copies of papers, even electronic ones, so if you don't have library access you can easily go broke.

Yes, we do. Most people don't have the time to fix their own car or their own roof or their own pipe and are interested in other things, so they hire experts. One is not obligated to do so--the last time I hired an expert to do anything it was a roofer and that was because the roof had a hole in it and I was recovering from surgery at the time (another expert).

Yes, it does.

Try living without it for a month and see if you still think it doens't work.
We have an unprecedented degree of power over the physical world, because we have science. If it doesn't work then explain how that happened.
Yes, engineers make mistakes and people get killed. That's not because the science is wrong, it's because a human didn't apply it properly.
Give us one example of people being killed because a well established scientific model was in error.

The Navier-Stokes equations, which are the ones that are used to analyze the operation of aicraft wings, were first discovered in 1822. The first heavier than air flight was in 1906. So the science was there before the airplane was.
And I don't know where you get the idea that the airplane was invfented by people who were not scientists. It wasn't found under a rock you know, the Wrights developed and tested every part of it, failed many times, and learned from their failures. Their approach was entirely that of experimental science. You seem to think that the only scientists in the world are people with doctorates and white lab coats. A great deal of science has been done by people who had neither.

Which prehistoric man was this? The only example of "prehistoric man" in which a pig was involved was the London newspapers running an article that the original researcher though laughable based on his announcement of the possible discovery of a New World ape.

Actually science never accepted it, gullible journalists looking for a story did and lied about it.
Don't assume that what the newspapers say about science is correct. Most of it is wrong.

How is that a response to the many cases in which scientific models were invalidated by new facts with the result that more complete and accurate models arose?

What other theories do you believe that quantum theory "relies on"?
There is no scientific theory called "trajectory". One uses mechanics to calculate trajectories.

It would help if you provided sources so that one can have a hope of figuring out what you are raving about.

Not if there is already an established model that puts them there without one.

You're conflating theory and observation again. There are features on Mars that look very much like features on Earth that were caused by running water. The null hypothesis is that the ones on Mars had the same cause. Either that hypothesis will be falsified or it won't. Time will tell. Research involving another planet is a slow process--you can't just jump in the Land Rover and drive out there and start making measurements.

And yet you've done just that by rejecting science.
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Science is not in the business of proving facts. Science doesn't prove, it only disproves. If enough attempts to disprove something fail, that something is believed to be true. Always subject to some successful attempt to disprove it.

Nonsense. One test is never proof of anything. One test is evidence in support of a theory or evidence against the theory (or hypothesis).

300,000 meters per second is still good, pending understanding of the outlying test result. That understanding could lead to a whole new theory of physics. Look up Michelson-Morley and special relativity.

Science is indeed a faith in that it is anchored in beliefs that cannot be proven. Roughly, these are:
1) The universe operates by a fixed set of laws. 2) These laws are the same for everyone everywhere. 3) These laws can be determined by observation.

Yep. Our world is too complex for everyone to know everything. It has been that way for centuries.

You are looking for perfection in a human endeavor? Good luck.

The Wright brothers were pretty damn fine scientists. Great inventors, too. They discovered that Lilienthal's aerodynamic data was just plain wrong and did the research needed to get it right.

That's the great thing about science. Anybody can say it is wrong. Don't expect to be taken seriously unless you have data to back you up.
-- Doug
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snipped-for-privacy@classtech.com says...

Whoa, you're making the same mistake he is. Science is very interested in determining facts such as the mass of the Earth or the velocity of light or the permeability of free space. The thing is though, a scientist wouldn't say that he had "proven" one of these facts, he would say that he had "measured" it.
Theory on the other hand is not fact, and is valid only to the extent that its predictions agree with established facts.
That the acceleration of gravity on the surface of the earth is approximately 9.8 meters per second is a fact. No new discoveries are going to change that.
The theory that gravitation is an inverse-square force on the other hand, is subject to change as improved models are developed--it's not going to change much mind you but it could change some.

Exactly.
Yep.

Yep.
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On 8/8/2012 4:39 PM, J. Clarke wrote:

Whoa again! Might be that some of your hard core facts are slightly off...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/jan/24/scientists-weigh-up-shrinking-kilogram
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We may be playing games over the definition of "fact". It is not a word often used in the scientific community. But if a fact cannot change, then 9.8 m/s is fact only for sufficiently large values of "approximately".
That value was found to be different at the poles than equator because the earth is not a sphere. Later, it was found to vary because of uneven distribution of mass in the earth. I'm sure there are other variations.
The point is that even well-established observations are subject to revision based on new data, just like theories.
-- Doug
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snipped-for-privacy@classtech.com says...

Fine, it is a fact that the acceleration of gravity on the surface of the Earth is somewhere between 9 and 11 meters per second squared.
Do you think that any new discovery is going to alter that?
And next time someone says "approximately" don't waste everybody's time quibbling over how approximately.
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My apologies. I didn't mean to quibble over "approximately", I meant to riff on it. My core point was that anything in science is subject to change based on new data. Otherwise, it is not science, it is dogma.
I think you are saying some things are very well established and unlikely to be changed. Agreed. But when it happens, it can take us to very interesting places.
-- Doug
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On 8/8/2012 9:27 AM, Michael Joel wrote:

You have apparently have not watched the news in the last 50 years if you think facts can not be changed. ;~)
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On Tue, 07 Aug 2012 17:52:38 +0000, Han wrote:

Actually, I believe the previous landers proved that surface water once existed on Mars. In one of the interviews about Curiosity, A NASA spokesman said something on the lines of "now we've proven water, we're looking for organic compounds".
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Intelligence is an experiment that failed - G. B. Shaw

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Yes, I agree. There is an abundance of indirect evidence that surface water existed. Does it still exist? Then we get the search for organic compounds. That will be interesting, because there are organic compounds in meteorites. So different organic compounds need to be found for "life" to be proven. It is science, search and research for the evidence ...
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What, no thanks for the mathematicians who told the engineers when Mars would be in the right place? Kerry
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On 8/7/2012 1:56 PM, Kerry Montgomery wrote:

OK...thanks ...good job...way to go...atta boy .... sit ....stay.
Now...how the hell are we gonna get that thing back here ?
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On 8/8/2012 2:10 PM, Pat Barber wrote:

Better yet, prove that they are actually there. There was small news comment on my news source, it showed a pictured of the "Mars" landscape with a shadow of what appeared to be a human head and shoulders. I guess they did not notice that the guy taking the picture had his shadow in it.
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On Tue, 7 Aug 2012 13:13:03 -0400, "Mike Marlow"

Saawwwwwry. It was an attempt at humor, but I didn't take into account that most of this group has not been involved in the energy or mineral exploration industries. So I'll explain:
In those industries, there is a long-standing, good-natured feud between geologists and engineers. We take every opportunity to put humor or hurt on the other discipline. We adapt jokes, we cajole, we irritate, we compete for promotions.
Hence the put-down reference to real science.
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wrote:

There is science, theoretical science, engineering, applied science, technology, etc, etc. All worthwhile, all prone to jokes about ivory towers or mechanics ... Sigh <grin>.
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Han
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