What is Science?

I originally wanted to start the “Science” category with a short series of posts discussing some very basic introductory concepts to serve as a baseline/reference for future discussion.  However, I happened to be in the middle of some great research involving the helical motion of the solar system, so I chose to grab the fire while it was burning and go ahead with that article first.

So, stepping back a bit to address the basics . . .


What is Science?  (the basics)

This seems like a stupid rhetorical question – What is Science?  Doesn’t everyone know the definition of science?  I would like to believe so, but I can’t be too sure.  If the Science Council realized they needed to come up with a definition in 2009 there apparently is a reason it was needed.  I’ve personally been confused to a great extent over the years in clearly understanding the differences for a hypothesis vs. a theory vs. a scientific law.

My desire to define science is to establish a baseline of understanding for future discussion around good vs. bad science, what science should or shouldn’t address, etc.

There are numerous elements and terms of science that can cause confusion:  the Scientific Method, Hypothesis, Theory, Law, Certainty, Truth, Falsifiability, etc.  So let’s address each one briefly but in enough detail to serve as a base for future understanding.


General Definition of Science

Here is one of the better definitions I found from the University of Georgia, Dept. of Geology:

Science is the concerted human effort to understand, or to understand better, the history of the natural world and how the natural world works, with observable physical evidence as the basis of that understanding. It is done through observation of natural phenomena, and/or through experimentation that tries to simulate natural processes under controlled conditions.

There are a wide variety of definitions for science, but the one above seems to be the most well-rounded.   In reading various definitions there are some common elements among them all:  study and explanation of the natural world; observation; experimentation; empiricism; peer-review; publication in scientific journals; revisions due to new evidence; etc.


Types (or Branches) of Science

Scientific disciplines can be grouped together as follows – Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Formal Sciences, and although not technically “science” most people see the results of it in our lives via Applied Sciences.  (source)

  • Natural sciences – The study of the material universe and natural phenomena. This category is empirical, meaning it’s based on observation and allows testing for validity.  Some fields included are:
    • Physics
    • Chemistry
    • Oceanography
    • Geology
    • Astronomy
    • Biology
    • Zoology
    • Botany
  • Social sciences – The study of people and societies.  It is also empirical and includes:
    • Anthropology
    • Archaeology
    • Economics
    • Psychology
    • Political Science
    • Sociology
    • Theology
    • Linguistics
    • Geography
    • History
  • Formal sciences – The study of mathematics and logic. It doesn’t depend on empirical observations and includes:
    • Logic
    • Mathematics
    • Systems Theory
    • Decision Theory
    • Statistics
  • Applied sciences – Technically not science but instead uses the results of science.  It includes:
    • Engineering
    • Medicine
    • Computer Science
    • Applied Mathematics
    • Applied Physics



Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.  (source)


The Scientific Method

A method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.  (source)


Principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.  (source)

There seems to be much debate about the Scientific Method and it’s use/variation across all sciences.  I’ll probably address those in a future article, but in the meantime here’s a diagram that shows the normally accepted steps as taught to most students.  (source)


  1. Observe
  2. Question
  3. Research
  4. Hypothesize
  5. Experiment
  6. Test Hypothesis
  7. Draw Conclusions
  8. Report/Publish


Scientific fact

In the most basic sense, a scientific fact is an objective and verifiable observation, in contrast with a hypothesis or theory, which is intended to explain or interpret facts.   (source)



A hypothesis is a supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.   (source)

A testable proposition explaining the occurrence of a phenomenon or phenomena, often asserted as a conjecture to guide further investigation. Your prediction is a hypothesis.   (source)

For a hypothesis to be termed a scientific hypothesis, it has to be something that can be supported or refuted through carefully crafted experimentation or observation.  (source)



A coherent set of propositions that explain a class of phenomena, that are supported by extensive factual evidence, and that may be used for prediction of future observations. Theories draw on a huge number of facts.   (source)

A scientific theory is empirical and is always open to falsification if new evidence is presented. That is, no theory is ever considered strictly certain as science accepts the concept of fallibilism.”  “Theories vary in the extent to which they have been tested and verified, as well as their acceptance in the scientific community.  (source)

For a hypothesis to become a theory, rigorous testing must occur, typically across multiple disciplines by separate groups of scientists. . . .  In science a theory is the framework for observations and facts. . . . A scientific hypothesis is the initial building block in the scientific method. Many describe it as an “educated guess,” based on prior knowledge and observation. While this is true, the definition can be expanded. A hypothesis also includes an explanation of why the guess may be correct.   (source)


Scientific Law

A scientific law is a statement based on repeated experimental observations that describes some aspects of the universe. A scientific law always applies under the same conditions, and implies that there is a causal relationship involving its elements.  (source)

Natural law – a term rarely used today. Nineteenth-century science presumed that it could arrive at immutable, absolutely true, universal statements about nature, and these were to be “natural laws.” These should be treated as theories rather than absolute law.  (source)

Laws are generally considered to be without exception, though some laws have been modified over time after further testing found discrepancies.  (source)


Is Science about Absolute Truth?

The University of Georgia site has several notable statements about scientific truth and certainty:

Science does not presently, and probably never can, give statements of absolute eternal truth – it only provides theories. We know that those theories will probably be refined in the future, and some of them may even be discarded in favor of theories that make more sense in light of data generated by future scientists. However, our present theories are our best available explanations of the world. (source)

Science isn’t Truth and it isn’t certainty.  Some people assume that scientists have generated a body of knowledge that is sure to be true. Some ideas, after all, are known with enough certainty that most of us take them for granted.  However, no human has observed the solar system and seen the earth traveling in an orbit around the sun. And most scientists will concede that, although they seek Truth, they don’t know or generate Truth. They propose and test theories, knowing that future evidence may cause refinement, revision, or even rejection of today’s theories.  (source)

Ask a scientist about an issue that’s not directly observable: “The evidence suggests that . . .”, or “Our current understanding is . . .”.  This shows a reasoned recognition that we can’t know many things with absolute certainty – we only know the observable evidence. However, we can reach the best possible conclusions based on the most complete and modern evidence available.   (source)

Scientists should not make any statement about absolute truth. No scientist thinking about what he or she is saying will answer with that degree of certainty, regardless of the evidence available to them, nor will they lay that kind of claim to Truth. They may have a high level of confidence if there’s abundant evidence, but they won’t claim absolute Truth or absolute certainty.   (source)

It’s worth remembering that a person’s admission of uncertainty doesn’t mean they’re wrong, whether the issue is in politics, economics, religion or science. In fact, a person who admits some uncertainty in their thinking is often closer to the truth, or at least understands the issues better, than someone who claims absolute certainty. Shouting loudest does not generate truth.   (source)

Some other applicable entries from the University of California Museum of Paleontology, Berkeley:

The knowledge that is built by science is always open to question and revision. No scientific idea is ever once-and-for-all “proved.” Why not? Science is constantly seeking new evidence, which could reveal problems with our current understandings. Ideas that we fully accept today may be rejected or modified in light of new evidence discovered tomorrow.  (source)

… coming up with a fruitful idea to explain a previously anomalous observation frequently leads to new expectations and areas of research. So, in a sense, the more we know, the more we know what we don’t yet know. As our knowledge expands, so too does our awareness of what we don’t yet understand.  (source)



Falsifiability or refutability of a statement, hypothesis, or theory is the inherent possibility that it can be proven false. A statement is called falsifiable if it is possible to conceive of an observation or an argument which negates the statement in question. In this sense, falsify is synonymous with nullify, meaning to invalidate or “show to be false. (source)

It’s thought that one of the parameters of the Scientific Method should include an attempt at falsifiability.

No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.  – Albert Einstein [reportedly . . . and paraphrased]  (source)


Peer Review

Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people of similar competence to the producers of the work (peers). It constitutes a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards of quality, improve performance, and provide credibility. In academia, scholarly peer review is often used to determine an academic paper’s suitability for publication.  (source)

Science isn’t considered as part of the “body of knowledge” until a peer review is conducted and a paper published in a scientific journal.


Limits of Science

Science isn’t technology.  Science doesn’t make things.  Scientists are in the business of generating knowledge. Engineers are in the business of generating technology. Science often leads to technology, and it often uses technology, but it isn’t technology and in fact can operate quite independently of technology.  (source)

Science can only answer in terms of natural phenomena and natural processes.  Science doesn’t make moral judgments. Science doesn’t make aesthetic judgments.  Science doesn’t tell you how to use scientific knowledge. Science doesn’t draw conclusions about supernatural explanations.  (source)



I think it’s also important to understand:

Research is funded through a competitive process run by government, corporations or foundations.  . . .  Government provides the bulk of the funds for basic scientific research.  (source)

As much as we might want to envision science as an entirely noble pursuit of pure knowledge, there are numerous political and human aspects that must be considered in the process – including the source of money that employs the scientific community’s specific areas of research, study and experimentation.  Scientists aren’t paid to pursue their ultimate desires unless/if they are funded to do so.


Wonder and Awe!

How incredible that in the 500+ years of science (200+ years of systematized methodology) that we’ve derived an incredible number of exciting theories to define nature and the universe we live in!  The discoveries made help man to move from ignorant darkness to the light of knowledge.  We live in an exciting time with much knowledge refinement left to discover.



Some nice quotes of relevance for this and future discussions:

“The fuel on which science runs is ignorance. Science is like a hungry furnace that must be fed logs from the forests of ignorance that surrounds us. In the process, the clearing that we call knowledge expands, but the more it expands, the longer its perimeter and the more ignorance comes into view . . .  A true scientist is bored by knowledge; it is the assault on ignorance that motivates him – the mysteries that previous discoveries have revealed. The forest is more interesting than the clearing.” – Matt Ridley  (source)

“Science alone of all subjects contains within itself the lesson of the danger of belief in the infallibility of the greatest teachers in the preceding generation . . . As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” – Richard Feynman  (source)

“I think that we shall have to get accustomed to the idea that we must not look upon science as a “body of knowledge,” but rather as a system of hypotheses, or as a system of guesses or anticipations that in principle cannot be justified, but with which we work as long as they stand up to tests, and of which we are never justified in saying that we know they are “true”… – Karl R. Popper  (source)

“Scientific knowledge “consists in the search for truth,” but it is not the search for certainty . . . All human knowledge is fallible and therefore uncertain.” – Karl Popper  (source)

“If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.” – Francis Bacon, The Advancement of Learning, Book 1, v, 8  (source)


As with any sourcing on the internet, links can go ‘dead’ after a time. If you find the above-mentioned links no longer working, try the WayBack Machine:  http://archive.org/web/web.php    It’s sometimes a good way to pull up and view websites that are no longer active.



Helical Solar System Motion Through the Galaxy: Heretical Revelation or Well-known Fact? – Part 2

Part 1 can be found here

Summary of Part 1

So . . . . in a similar manner to my experience, we have someone (DjSadhu) discover a fact that:

  1. was never before shared with him in any form (school, documentaries, books, web sites, etc.), and
  2. was a revolutionary idea totally different from what he did learn, so he had to share his “aha” moment with others.

Unlike me (no video animation expertise) DjSadhu produces a slick video to show this newfound perspective, since he can’t find anything like it elsewhere.

What’s the response from the “interwebs”?    🙂


Critic – Phil Plait

As previously mentioned in Part 1, Mr. Phil Plait (Bad Astronomy) sets out to somewhat diplomatically criticize DjSadhu’s “aha moment” video. Short of an actual diagram or video Phil does do a nice job describing the motion via a text-only approach:

“It’s a bit like walking down a path while spinning around your head a string with a ball attached at the end (and the circle it makes tipped by 60°). Sometimes the ball is ahead of you and sometimes behind you. It always moves with you down the path no matter how fast you go, and relative to you is always moving at the same speed. If you trace your own motion you make a line, and the ball makes a tilted helix.”

Reader’s comments, including those requesting he produce his own video or work with DjSadhu to correct the errors and produce an accurate video fall on deaf ears and are never addressed.  Mr. Plait cannot reference a source for a correct video from valid science, and doesn’t even care to address the lack thereof.


Critic – Jim Smith

A rather prolific YouTuber JimSmithInChiapas posted numerous videos attacking DjSadhu and anyone attempting to defend his vortex/spiral orbital path video.  I can’t find Mr. Smith’s credentials anywhere but he was apparently offended and obsessed to the point that he created no less than five videos to counter DjSadhu’s videos and claims.  They can be seen here, here, here, here and here.

He cares not that a layman produced these heretic videos. From his perspective it appears anyone who attempts to share revelatory knowledge of any sort better damn well have their scientific facts precisely aligned with orthodoxy – or else!  Mr Smith, like Mr. Plait, points out valid errors, but he also appears to have a HUGE chip on his shoulder.  He uses ad-homimen, derogatory remarks towards his perceived ‘nemesis’ who is sharing (heaven-forbid) an unscientific “aha” moment with the world.  Mr. Smith goes so far as to call DjSadhu a “liar,” “defamer,” “fraud” throughout the comments on his videos.

See below for an exhaustive list of source references from Mr. Smith that supposedly validate his claim that science has written of this motion for years prior to DjSadhu.  Surprise; they didn’t.


Supporter – Ché Pasa

A sympathetic blogger, Ché Pasa, wrote an article in support of DjSadhu’s videos and critical of the denigration in the response from the scientific community.  He at least sees the videographer’s intent is to share that a flat 0o dinner-plate-model is not an accurate representation of solar system movement.  (As the article states, DjSadhu calls this the heliocentric model – which it is, but inaccurately declares it wrong, when what he really means is that the concept of the flat dinner plate model moving horizontally is wrong with regards to the solar system’s motion through space.)

Within the article, I found this particular quote resonating with the behavior I’ve seen from various enlightened “scientists” and “skeptics” across the web:

“This tendency for scientists to become overwrought when their supposed fundamental beliefs are challenged, especially by untrained and probably unwashed people outside the field, has long been one of the least appealing behaviors of those in scientific practice. It suggests a violent streak on the one hand, and very tightly closed minds on the other, both of which, unfortunately, strongly resemble the mindsets of deeply religious and even cultic Believers.”

Mr. Smith also chimes in with several comments below the article using his orthodox bludgeoning technique, which is so embracing and helpful.


Critic/Instructor – Rhys Taylor

Here we have the rare individual who is both a scientist, critic and yet not above being an educator/instructor.  Mr. Smith and Mr. Plait could learn much from Mr. Taylor (post-doctorate in astrophysics).

Mr. Taylor wrote a few articles here, here and here.  What sets him off from Mr. Plait and Mr. Smith is two-fold:

  1. He understands that DjSadhu’s first couple of videos have scientific errors, yet the basic premise of the solar system moving through space in a helical motion is for the most part correct.
  2. He takes a constructive win-win approach and works in a positive manner with DjSadhu to fix the errors in an attempt to produce a more accurate video than the original two.

The result?  A third video by DjSadhu that according to Mr. Taylor is “a million times better and has correct physics.”  Mr. Sadhu’s associated blog post to accompany that video is here.  Here’s that video:

Mr. Taylor actually carried on a critical yet positive conversation with Mr. Sadhu – the ultimate intent towards a more accurate model.  He even developed his own version of the helical motion to show DjSadhu the correct motion and inclination:

RhysNotVortexAll-in-all it seems that both parties had differences, but worked toward a better solution – using Mr. Sadhu’s video talents and Mr. Taylor’s knowledge and expertise to resolve the scientific errors of a layman, thereby producing something valid and usable to all of us.

“People, this should be seen as a win-win scenario. The essence of Sadhu’s original video was correct, and he’s publically declaring skepticism for the second one. His new effort has none of the quackery associated with the first. To me, that seems like the best of all possible outcomes. Demonising your opponents is no way to win them over – and sometimes, it turns out they were saying something valuable all along.”  – Rhys Taylor


Pre-DjSadhu sources???

As shared by myself and Mr. Sadhu in his posts, it was very difficult to find any existing references to this helical motion model of the solar system. Even Mr. Taylor humbly admits there wasn’t anything like these videos in the public domain to describe this motion:

“I can see his point. [no previous standard model video]  There certainly wasn’t a standard-model video out there – at least, certainly not one that’s anything like as pretty or as popular. It would definitely seem very unfair to debunk the person who made such a successful video demonstrating (pretty much for the first time) the motion of the Solar System through space.”

Mr. Smith is adamant that this just isn’t so.  In one of his video descriptions linked above (and again here), he does us a nice service by listing no less than eighteen (18) sources he claims shows this solar system motion was already well known and understood before Mr. Sadhu’s videos.  Excellent!  Did they indeed demonstrate this?  Let’s have a look . . . .

[Links shown in the image below are non-functional. See the links listed in Mr. Smith’s video description at the link above.]

Pre DjSadhu Sources - AnalysisI thoroughly examined each of Mr. Smith’s sources and noted (as shown in the table above) several attributes and whether they were (or weren’t) mentioned or shown within the reference.

Did these sources specifically mention that the sun moves in the galaxy?

  • Yes, 17 out of 18 did so.

Perfect.  This is basic and step #1.


Did these sources specifically mention or show the helical motion of the solar system as the sun moves through the galaxy?

  • Only 2 out of 18 did so.

Fail. Recall . . . this is the very point DjSadhu made about not being able to find the helical model shared anywhere prior to creating his first video.  This is also the crux of the issue – – wherein astronomers and physicists claim this helical motion is well-known and self-evident.


Did these sources describe the plane of the solar system as 60o orientation to the galactic plane?

  • Zero (0) out of 18 describe the solar system plane at 60o to the galactic plane
  • One (1) out of 18 describe the solar system plane at 0o to the galactic plane
  • Two (2) out of 18 describe the solar system plane at 90o to the galactic plane

Fail.  Recall . . .  this angular plane was one of the grave errors made by DjSadhu when he showed it at 90o to the galactic plane – that it should be 60o.  Mr. Plait and Mr. Smith hammered Mr. Sadhu for this error.  Yet none of Mr. Smith’s references describe or show it as they claim it is.  In fact….2 of 18 specifically share that it’s 90o!

And probably the greatest irony of all, source #1 from Harvard actually explains a visualization of the very “dinner plate”, 0o rotation and movement that Mr. Sadhu argues is an incomplete picture the general public has – and here we have it described thus by Harvard scientists!  Quoted from the 9th paragraph in the paper:

“‘A graphic though crude and imperfect illustration of the character of the motions we have been describing is afforded by imagining a child seated on a whirling chair on a merry-go-round mounted on a flat car traveling along a straight railroad track.”

Flat rotation, within flat rotation, on flat forward movement.

It’s overtly disingenuous that Mr. Smith arrogantly claims his 18 sources plainly describe helical solar system motion within the galaxy – when in fact they don’t.  He probably assumes his readers won’t bother investigating, or he didn’t bother doing so to a sufficient degree himself.


Other sources I found:  pre- and post-DjSadhu

Mr. Smith’s sources fell flat on their face.  What else can I find – helical or flat?

This article has one diagram showing the sun and earth moving forward into the interstellar wind and showing a “helium focusing cone” trailing. (Gee, this seems a lot like the sun leaving a tail as it moves.  Mr. Sahdu was ridiculed for even suggesting an identical idea.)

The Earth’s orbit appears to be 90o perpendicular to the motion of the sun, but not specifically stated.



I already mentioned this in Part 1 and shared their diagram showing the solar system plane at what appears to be 60o to the galactic plane.


Three diagrams are shown; all three displaying and describing the solar system plane at 90o to the galaxy.



  • 2009, Your Handle on the Night Sky (website) by Daniel Pope, August 16, 2009

I printed this article and saved its images about 2011 when I was trying to learn about celestial coordinates.  It’s no longer accessible on the web and I cannot locate any archives containing it.  A significant quote from astronomer Daniel Pope in this article:

“I can still recall how completely surprised I was when I first became aware that I could see this orientation in our night sky.  I had barely recovered from that surprise when I was hit with a second.  Our Solar System lies within the main disk of our Milky Way galaxy but is not in a parallel orientation to the main disk of stars.  The plane of our Solar System, the Ecliptic, intersects the plane of the main disk of our home galaxy at about a 60-degree angle.  I realized that my intuition had led me to think that the plane of our Solar System would lie within and be “parallel” to the plane of the Milky Way disk.”    [emphasis mine]

droppedimage_2Here we have an astronomer who has sufficient knowledge to write a weekly syndicated astronomy newspaper column for years and a book on the subject, yet was admittedly surprised by this revelation.


Earth’s orbital plane is shown at between perhaps 60o and 90o to the galactic plane.



This is particularly interesting in that it comes from NASA.  Look at the image below from the article.  It shows the solar system as flat as it moves forward into the interstellar wind, 0o orientation.  Mr. Plait and Mr. Smith may want to berate NASA for their incompetence in showing a relationship that is a grave error – and self-evident to all scientists.

It’s very faint and difficult to see the plane of the solar system, but becomes more obvious when you click on the image for a much larger version. It’s flat:  0o.



[previously at: http://www.bautforum.com/showthread.php/106571-The-Direction-of-our-Solar-System ]

Shows and describes an angle of around 60o.

 galaxy (2)


Interestingly enough this is a scientific article from a space and astronomy website.  Mr. Nerlich specifically refers to the “dinner plate” model but alters it as follows:

“You should always put out the old dinner set when you have astronomers around. . . . My favorite dinner set demonstration is to use the whole table to represent the galactic plane – ideally with an upturned wide rimmed soup bowl in the middle to mimic the galactic hub. Then you get a plate to represent the solar system’s orbital plane and hold it roughly facing the galactic hub, but at a 63 degree angle from the horizontal. We know the equatorial plane of the Milky Way is tilted 63 degrees from the ecliptic – or vice versa since here we are arbitrarily making the galactic plane (table) the horizontal . . . . Now for the Earth. Wine glasses make an excellent Earth model since the stem can represent the Earth’s axis of rotation . . . . So, holding your plate at 63 degrees to the table, now hold the wine glass tilted at 23.5 degrees to the plate. Assuming you left your protractor at home – this will mean the wine glass stem is now almost parallel to the table – since 63 + 23.5 is close to 90 degrees. In other words, the Earth’s axis is almost perpendicular to the galactic axis.”

Fascinating!  He starts with 63o but then ends up at near 90o (actually 86.5o).


So what’s right when trying to create a video of this geometric yet dynamic motion?  Some “scientists” say 60o; some say 90o.  Was Mr. Sadhu that far off to begin with?  Even the scientists can’t agree.


Closing Thoughts

Did DjSadhu’s early video efforts to show his “aha” revelation contain scientific errors?     Yes

Did the videos share the essence of the spiral, helical motion of the solar system through the galaxy, as best as a layman can show?      Yes

Do most lay-people instinctively perceive the solar system as moving like a flat dinner plate in a circle around a flat dinner table – along the galactic plane at 0o?      I believe so.  The huge public response to his videos, and the fact that scientists at times describe or show it as thus is convincing evidence (reference sources as noted above).

Was the helical model of the solar system motion through the galaxy widely known or self-evident?   Absolutely not.  SO many references above either don’t describe it at all, or when they do, they can’t agree.

Can you blame a layperson with video graphics talent when he wants to share this revelation of motion with the world?  No.

From Mr. Taylor’s productive article and effort, a quote from Mr. Sadhu after his third video attempt:

I’m not after words, but after images. So I left the words out. Vortex/helix, wrong/incomplete, all those terms are vulnerable ingredients in a video, and they are not the point! The point is how people ‘see’ the solar system. Although the helical paths may have been known to astronomers and astrophysicists (and part of the public), what people ‘see’ when they think about the solar system is in my opinion incomplete.”

I wholeheartedly agree.  And the collaboration between Rhys Taylor and DjSadhu is a shining example that smug arrogance should be left at the door when attempting to discover and portray a more accurate picture of reality for all to appreciate and learn!  Bravo.


As with any sourcing on the internet, links can go ‘dead’ after a time. If you find the above-mentioned links no longer working, try the WayBack Machine:  http://archive.org/web/web.php    It’s sometimes a good way to pull up and view websites that are no longer active.