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Message 30 of 77 (308429)
05-02-2006 8:28 AM
Reply to: Message 27 by simple
05-01-2006 11:56 PM

Science & The Future
relative writes:
silly speculations on the future you might want to call science is not verifiable.
Oh, but they are. When you drop a heavy object from a building of known height, the laws of physics (Newtonian mechanics, specifically) tell you rather exactly how long it takes for your object to hit the pavement. You may call it a silly speculation on the future, I call it science.
Now, I anticipate that you may object that the object hitting the pavement in that thought experiment isn't far enough ahead in time to be called 'future' properly. (It would be a strange objection, but I'll grant it, especially because I'm sort of putting words into your mouth.)
So, consider the following example. If space scientists launch a probe to another planet, they calculate the precise moment for the launch in order for the probe to follow a certain precalculated path through our solar system, perhaps with a sling-shot built-in here and there, to arrive at the planet at the designated time. They use Newton's laws of gravity again to predict the path and the time of arrival. Only this time their prediction spans a longer time, in the order of magnitude of months, or even years. Given such a timespan, their calculations must be very accurate if their prediction is to be borne out.
Here is a real world example of what I'm talking about:
Deep Impact, with the impactor attached to the flyby spacecraft, was launched Jan.12 for an Independence Day rendezvous with Tempel 1, about 83 million miles away and hurtling through space at 66,000 mph.
Grammier said both the impactor and the flyby spacecraft were only a little more than a half-mile from their preferred tracks, "phenomenal" accuracy after nearly six months in space.
Half a mile off on a total of 83 million miles is an error of about 0.0000006 %. I'd say that's a pretty accurate prediction. That's science for you. It made a prediction about a future event that was not only verifiable, but in fact verified.
Having read the above, do you still maintain that science cannot say anything about the future?

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science." - Charles Darwin.
Did you know that most of the time your computer is doing nothing? What if you could make it do something really useful? Like helping scientists understand diseases? Your computer could even be instrumental in finding a cure for HIV/AIDS. Wouldn't that be something? If you agree, then join World Community Grid now and download a simple, free tool that lets you and your computer do your share in helping humanity. After all, you are part of it, so why not take part in it?

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