Wrong Again: Planetologists Embarrassed
June 23, 2011
In most careers, being wrong too often is grounds for dismissal. False prophets in ancient kingdoms were stoned or shamed out of town. Only in science, it seems, can experts consistently get it wrong, and not only keep their jobs, but be highly esteemed as experts. Among the guiltiest of the lot are planetary scientists, whose predictions have been consistently wrong for almost every planetary body studied since the dawn of the space age. Their orbital mechanics is solid; they do get their spacecraft to arrive at the right place at the right time with uncanny accuracy. But what the missions reveal is often completely different from what scientists had told the public they expected to find. This has been true of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, comets, asteroids, and most of the moons of the solar system, where hasty revisions have had to be made after spacecraft data falsified the predictions. Here are some recent examples of “theory fail” in planetary science.
Cosmology Could Be Way Off
June 17, 2011
The “lumpiness problem” in cosmology refuses to go away. This old conundrum about why the universe is lumpy with stars and galaxies has been around for decades. The big bang predicts no such lumps. Since the late 1990s, tiny differences in temperature measured in the cosmic background radiation held hope of being the seeds of lump formation, provided theories added copious fudge factors like dark matter, dark energy and inflation. A new survey finds more clumps than expected, casting doubt on whether the fudge factors are wrong, the hot big bang is wrong, or relativity is wrong. Words can hardly express the gravity of the situation when gravity itself – an icon of scientific verity – is called into question.
Biological Information Symposium a Success
June 4, 2011
Friday morning June 4, participants were on their way homes across America and in Europe from a successful conference entitled Biological Information: New Perspectives. They had come to hear leading lights in the Intelligent Design movement deliver 27 scientific presentations on a variety of subtopics under the umbrella theme of information in biology. From all appearances, everyone had a great time of fellowship, encouragement and intellectual stimulation. No protesters or critics detracted from the event—partly because it was not widely advertised, in order to protect the identity of those wanting to take part without jeopardizing their careers.
Enlightenment History of Science Being Rewritten
May 22, 2011
It’s a common myth that enlightenment atheists gave birth to the scientific era by casting off the darkness of the Christian middle ages and replacing magical arts like alchemy with the scientific experimental method. Historians of science know better. A couple of recent articles help set the record straight. Alchemy has long had […]
Does Science Belong Here?
May 19, 2011
Scientists continue to insert their particular methods and viewpoints into every aspect of life, but questions might be raised about the validity of their findings and the propriety of scientists acting as advisors on moral and political questions. Happiness science: Advice found online: “the best way to increase your happiness is to stop worrying about […]
Dinosaur Classification Is a Mess
May 13, 2011
Are there a thousand species of dinosaurs – or far fewer? John Horner, a dinosaur hunter himself, thinks the classification is a mess and wants to clean it up. According to Science Magazine News Horner is worred that “with almost 1000 types of dinosaurs on record and a new species being named somewhere in the […]
Science Out of Touch
May 11, 2011
When science became a profession instead of an avocation, there were some unintended consequences. Scientists began to lose touch with the public. When a scientist goes to work doing science for a living, he or she sometimes takes public support for granted, thinking the work is justified for its own sake. Recent articles, however, warn […]
Spiral Galaxy Upset
May 4, 2011
In 1964, C. C. Lin and Frank Shu looked at the galaxy’s curvaceous arms and said, “You are my density.” The density-wave theory of spiral arm formation was married to galactic astronomy for nearly a half century. Now, however, we are back to the future, where theories do not always fulfill their destiny. An upstart […]
Colorado Plateau Uplift: Solved?
May 3, 2011
In Nature, a team of geologists from four universities has proposed a new model for how the Colorado Plateau rose up over a mile from its surroundings.1 Based on seismic data, they propose a “mantle drip” mechanism by which parts of the lower crust dropped into the mantle, replaced by upwelling magma that condensed and […]
Was Einstein Wrong?
April 25, 2011
Relativity and quantum mechanics are among the weirdest ideas that educated people have taken seriously. They required suspending belief in the most intuitive concepts we have of time, space, and matter. But just because they appear to work does not necessarily mean they are true. In fact, physicists continue to beat on one or the […]
Scientists Invade Religion
April 21, 2011
Science and religion, those uneasy combatants in turf wars, do not get equal treatment in the media. The referees in the science news media frequently overlook invasions by science into religious territory, but fail to heed calls of foul by the invaded. World religion: Last month in New Scientist, Kate Douglas theorized about what an […]
Upsets in Space
April 18, 2011
Three different astronomy teams have announced findings that upset long-held beliefs. What does this portend about the confidence we can have in other theories? Galaxy growth: direct challenge: “Galaxies are thought to develop by the gravitational attraction between and merger of smaller ‘sub-galaxies’, a process that standard cosmological ideas suggest should be ongoing,” announced the […]
Secular Science Analyzes Jesus
April 17, 2011
In a classic religion-vs-science confrontation, Live Science took on the question, “Jesus Christ the Man: Does the Physical Evidence Hold Up?” The answer may say more about science than about Jesus. To begin with, reporter Natalie Wolchover drew distinctions between scientific evidence and belief – as if evidence requires no belief or assumption […]
Evolutionary Language Lingo Contradictory
April 16, 2011
Human language is such a unique feature of our species, it would seem to defy evolutionary explanations. Can evolutionists take this living phenomenon and fit it into a historical narrative? A couple of papers in leading journals attempted to do so. Are their conclusions the only ones that can be drawn from the evidence? […]
Researchers Violate Separation of Science and State
April 8, 2011
What are the limits of science? Many of us envision men and women in white lab coats holding test tubes, studying readouts on instruments, or hacking rocks with picks. A look at headlines from science news sites, though, shows some scientists inserting their opinions in areas traditionally led by scholars in the humanities – and […]