Friday, January 6, 2012

What is The Meaning of Science?

This blog will provide the background for most of my future blogs, so it may be helpful to read this first. I decided to start with the definition of science. All the different definitions I could find were considered, but my favorite published definition is in Wikipedia: "Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe." However, I can't get excited about the use of the word "enterprise" and science seems to be a very progressive sort of a thing, because nature has layers like an onion. The historical improvements of microscopes and telescopes has revealed the hidden layers of nature. So here is my improved definition:

Science is a systematic process that progressively builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions.

An added thought: science is the universe trying to understand itself.

I took the word enterprise out of the definition because that word makes it sound like science is something that is disconnected from ordinary people. Well, a lot times science is very enterprise like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). But isn't science also a personal journey? I think every kid with a telescope or a microscope is also doing science. They may not be contributing to science (although they can) but they are beginning the process of learning how science is done. Every now and then science is done accidentally, but usually it is the result of committed individuals often doing hours of tedious work. The scientific process is progressive because previous discoveries leads to new discoveries. This is the real beauty of science. If science is wrong and it does happen, then the process stagnates. When that mistake is corrected, then a virtual explosion of new science is developed. My favorite all time wrong-turn in science, was the idea that the earth was the center of the universe. This idea persisted for some 1800 years after Aristarchus of Samos, circa 280 BC, correctly understood that the sun was the center of the known universe. The reversal of thought resulted in what is called the Copernican Revolution. I personally suspect that there are some wrong turns in science that are just beginning to slow down the natural progression. In engineering and physics there are always assumptions. This I think is where we often get in trouble. A good theory or even a good design process should always begin with a close look at the assumptions.

The theme for this blog is; assumptions in science that may be wrong!

The first wrong assumption I uncover is that, I think scientists incorrectly have assumed that news reports were false where meteors destroyed structures. In my blog, Historical Meteor Shockwave Events That Destroy Structures", (see link below) I interpret these events as being shockwave events often where people are killed. So instead of the fatality rate from all meteor events being near zero, I think it is one fatality every 4 1/2 years. This is from news reports that have not been disputed. In my study I found a couple of reports that were questioned, but they were events where no one was killed.

Here is an index of all my blogs starting with the most recent:


Biblical Accounts of Volcanoes with Tsunamis - PART I  The first account was written by King David in 2 Samuel.

The Origin of Hogwallows and Gilgai - PART II  The conclusion of this blog.

The Origin of Hogwallows and Gilgai - PART I 10/31/2013. This is a closer look at a theory I published in 1994 to explain these landforms. Included in this blog is a great photo of gilgai at ground level taken from Google street view in Waxahachie Texas.

Extreme Building Damage Caused by Yazoo Clay 8/3/2013. This looks like earthquake damage, but we have not had an earthquake in Jackson Mississippi. This is what expansive soils can do.

Historical Meteor Shockwave Events that Destroy Structures 5/27/2013. This includes an amazing story of a store that was destroyed by a meteor in Bellefontaine Mississippi in 1900. I accidentally may have uncovered the real worldwide fatality rate from all meteor events. You need to see the photos of damage to a house in Jakarta. These pictures were copyrighted so I provide links. 

Google Earth Posts Photos the Day of the Meteor at Chelyabinsk 4/16/2013. You can see the full roof collapse at the Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant for the first time. See the location of the crater the meteor made in the frozen Lake Chebarkul. I add an amazing street level photo right after the brick was blasted into the street. This is my most popular blog.

Designing and Repairing Foundations built on Yazoo Clay 1/27/2013 I dispel the most common myths about Yazoo clay. This blog shows what we are up against when we build on this expansive soil.  

Fireball Meteor seen in Mississippi and Alabama 9/20/2012. These meteors are once in a lifetime events. This looked like it was close but all the sightings indicate it was over 200 miles away in Alabama. Amazing!

Tornadoes on the Beach During Katrina? 1/6/2013. The closest official tornado to the beach was 70 miles north in Hattiesburg Mississippi. In this example there had to be higher winds than were recorded as part of this hurricane. This post has a UTUBE video I made at the site on the beach!