Monday, May 10, 2010

The Stubborn Myth of Scientific "Explanations"

Science can only be used to describe events, pursue hypotheses, and to create useful technology and tools. But as an ultimate explanation - it fails miserably.

Back in 1911, the British physicist Rutherford proposed the structure of matter's most basic and indivisible "atom" - the very building block of all material. Based on his experiments, he theorized it comprised a nucleus, where most of its mass is concentrated, and electrons that orbit it.

It did not take even two years before this pleasing model underwent drastic change. Rutherford's elegant simplicity lost its validity to the more complex model proposed by Danish physicist Niels Bohr, which now included new theories of particle dynamics.

The nucleus, once believed to be solid, now was thought to contain an aggregate of components in tight formation. Other components of the atom also began to multiply and were identified as "quarks". These too were found to be "not so basic" as further discoveries of elements followed.

Today the new physics is even more radically transformed. The smallest element proposed is next to nil for its small size. What's more, the new theory is outside the realm of rational imagination (eg, see here). The smallest "atomic particle" today is a "reverberating string"; And its movement occurs in "10 dimensional space"! (Six of which are "hidden".) This new physics is called "String Theory".

That is to say, within the last 100 years our "understanding" of matter has gone from one level of abstraction to another, to the point where physics has metamorphosed into what resembles a mathematical spirituality. Previous understandings, in their turn, became misunderstandings.

The laughable aspect of all this is that common folk, who lag far behind in their scientific updates, still accept scientific "explanations" with an exaggerated dose of credibilty. For example, most lay people, or people in other professions, still swear by "evolutionary science" - when in fact no proof exists for it - whatsoever.

But this is a hard myth to crack - this widespread, stubborn belief that physical science can "explain" things. It may make good copy for the New York Times' "Science Section", where the writer can cite the best supports for his ludicrous claims (not just as "theories"), like the world began a "big bang" (material that miraculously expanded to billions of light years in length in a split second), or that the extrapolation of carbon-dating "proves" the world is billions of years old. Why physicists never ask the question that begs to be asked, "But where did that first matter come from?", of course, is never broached.

So, if you want to go from Point A to Point B, don't rely on science to get you there. Theoretically it's impossible because you can only reach a midpoint to your goal. No matter how close you get, there's always another midpoint you can reach before you get to your destination.

Chassidus explains that the finite world indeed does contain the tiniest finite element of matter. Moreover, were physics to succeed in splitting this element, its matter will transform into a spiritual state - whence it was derived.

To repeat then, science cannot explain underlying phenomena. For there always is a layer of infrastructure it cannot reach or fathom. The best it can do is describe what takes place, pursue hypotheses, and create useful technology.

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