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"I thought I knew some things about modern physics before I stumbled in this thread. You know, from reading Hawking and stuff. Now, I feel stupid again."

I think you have, accidently perhaps, hit the nail of this discussion squarely on its head. The whole problem with modern science is that you have to be a specialist to understand it. I know enough about physics to know that I don't know much (one of Rumsfeld's "known unkowns"), and a big part of the problem is that the math is too hard for me. But my creationist friend doesn't realize that there is any math behind all this, and he just compares what sounds to him like a bunch of gobble-de-gook to the stuff that comes from his evangelical minister.

Without the math (and the many preliminary layers of development you have to go through to get to the modern understanding of the universe), popularized science has no more claim to correctness than the flying spaghetti monster. It's a serious, serious problem, and one result is the funding disaster hitting Fermilab and SLAC right now. Forget the gigantic new projects, even the existing good ones can't get money because no politician in the country ever even signed up for Phyiscs for Political Science majors. (Well, except for Jimmy Carter, maybe.)

The scientific community needs to figure out a solution to this problem or we are going to find ourselves in the 14th century before we know it.

by asdf on Mon Feb 25th, 2008 at 11:40:51 PM EST
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Can you make that a diary?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2008 at 05:21:51 AM EST
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As I am an economics/political science geuy who have actually taken a course called Physics for Poets.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Feb 26th, 2008 at 09:31:18 AM EST
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Can you describe the course?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2008 at 09:33:23 AM EST
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It covers a quarter of a semester and tries to explain the scientific world view to arts students. Physics with all but the really easy math ripped out. I guess you could call the course "The Theology of Science" as it covers the important theories, "saints", history, conundrums etc of science. I think it was a great course, even if I did study the stuff (with the math) in school before I went to university.

How did the methods of natural science develop? How did Ptolemaios, Aristotle, Brahe and Newton view the world? Why does the earth circle the sun? Is everything predestined? What is quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity really? Can you travel in time? What is a black hole? What do we know about the Big Bang and creation? The course gives an overview of the scientic view of the world and modern physics.

It was really quite complex and covered things like heliums flashes, the top-down or bottom up theories of galactical formation, quarks and bosons, string theory and supersymmetry, and lots of scientific history. Mixed in with understanding the famous equations like Keplers laws.

Pretty much everyone who took the course loved it and felt everybody else should also take it.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Wed Feb 27th, 2008 at 06:17:34 AM EST
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Maybe I'm prejudiced although I don't think so, but I think there is really some non-mathematical evidence that the Big Bang theory is superior to an ad-hoc creation 10000 years ago...
Unfortunately it is as well very difficult to explain a lot of this evidence in a short time as there are so many things which fit together.

One could ask a typical GOP member, if he thinks if it is not allowed to interprete the bible, what he thinks about "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."


Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2008 at 10:18:50 AM EST
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