Is science sometimes in danger of getting tunnel vision? Recently published ebook author, Ian Miller, looks at other possible theories arising from data that we think we understand. Can looking problems in a different light give scientists a different perspective?

A Gift For Scientists On The Saturnalia!

The Roman festival of the Saturnalia, on the winter solstice, was where order was turned on its head. The question then is, do followers of this blog have the nerve to have their deepest beliefs challenged? For those who wish to exercise the brain over the next period, on December 21-23, there will be a free download of Aristotelian Methodology in the Physical Sciences from Amazon. The concept behind this ebook is that when Galileo threw out the bath water of Aristotle's physics, he also threw out the baby, namely Aristotle's methods for forming theories. Aristotle made at least two gigantic errors in physics but as this book shows, they arose because Aristotle forgot to use his own methodology (or he had yet to develop it; Physica was one of his earliest works.)
 
The first four chapters of Part 1 introduce the reader to my interpretation of what Aristotle was trying to say, then there are several examples of where failures to follow this advice have led to problems. One recent failure is the case of the non-classical carbenium ion, where two Nobel-prizewinners went head to head and failed to reach a conclusion. Part two then covers physics that I think a chemist should know about, which includes mechanics, waves, electromagnetic theory, quantum mechanics, and some other physics of general interest, then chemistry that I thought physicists should know about. That latter part is probably the weakest part of the book, and is largely based on explanations I have had to give to physicists I have worked with. A number of you may be able to offer suggestions for a revised edition.
 
It is the third part that is intended to offer the intellectual challenges, and it comprises 72 problems, in which the reader has to offer an alternative theory to . . .   Then, just to show it can be done, I offer answers, not all of which are beyond criticism because the second challenge is for the reader to accept or falsify my answers. Are you up to it? Examples include:
 
How could Priestley have ensured that the phlogiston theory prevailed?
 
Isaac Newton spun a bucket of water, and noticed centrifugal forces forced the water to the edges. Similarly, you can have artificial gravity in a spinning space ship. The problem is, how does the water know the bucket (or the astronaut, the space ship) is spinning? Isaac Newton appeared to fail on this, and a number of modern physics books mention the issue but provide no answer. Can you do better?
 
Yes, there is that non-classical carbenium ion. Surely you will not be put off by two Nobel-prizewinners failing to solve it?
 
I could not resist some of my own work, so one question starts off asking you to formulate an alternative interpretation of quantum mechanics. In the spirit of Christmas, a clue: Following Aristotle, either there is a wave of there is not. If there is, either it travels at the same velocity as the particle or it does not. That should get you going.
 
Finally, the interpretation I have come up with is non-local only to one wavelength, or one quantum of action. But Alain Aspect showed that entangled photons do not comply with Bell's inequality. If so, my interpretation is wrong. Your job is to falsify his claim (explained in sufficient detail earlier). Then, your last problem is to falsify my answer, which is based on the requirement that Bell's inequality must be followed if energy is conserved, and if the associative law of sets holds. As an aside, attempts to publish this argument in journals led to return by editors without peer review, except once when I was informed "This is wrong; the maths are trivial." Unfortunately, no clues as to where it is wrong, so you can help (or get help from a physicist.) Mind you, I have shown it to two professors of mathematical physics and they ducked for cover, as did a professor of theoretical physics. I sent it to a professor of theoretical physics who had written a book on Bell's inequality, he had promised to tell me where I was wrong but he never answered. My guess is you will fail on that one.
Posted by Ian Miller on Dec 15, 2012 1:57 AM Europe/London

Share this |

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter Share to Linked More...

Leave a comment?

You must be signed in to leave a comment on MyRSC blogs.

Register free for an account at http://my.rsc.org/registration.