The Structure of Scientific Revolutions – Thomas Kuhn (Science Doesn’t Work The Way You Think It Does)

How does the general public think Science operates? How is it performed? How does it progress? How do working scientists assist and enable progression into revised and new theories over time?

 

The Misconception

Most laity and fans of science typically think of science this way:

  • It’s an objective search for truth and reality of all things in nature and the universe.
  • It adheres strictly to the Scientific Method and yields results leading to welcomed changes, improvements and refinements in the field of study.
  • Science progresses one new discovery after another in a smooth, continuous, linear and cumulative effort; an ever-increasing body of knowledge over time.
  • Scientists willingly look for new discoveries and readily adapt their field of study by revising their theories and adopting new ones that better reflect an accurate representation of nature and reality as they are discovered. Scientists follow the evidence wherever it may lead.
  • This progression is a peaceful process where the ideal values of science easily convince scientists that old theories need to be replaced by new and better theories that improve the field.

We picture scientists constantly searching for truth and reality through experiment and observation.  We assume their theories transform from one version to another very naturally as new empirical data and discoveries overturn or modify prior theories and beliefs.

Empiricism rules the day and leads to a more accurate picture and representation of nature and reality.  Science dominates our discovery and enlightenment!

<sigh>

Such a naive, inaccurate view.  If it only really worked that way.

 

The Reality

Enter Science Historians & Philosophers – specifically Thomas S. Kuhn. Science historians research and identify how science really operates and progresses over time. They look beyond the sugar-coated, oversimplified image presented to everyone – scientist and laity both.

In 1962 Mr. Kuhn published his seminal work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It shook the scientific community because it cracked open that naively-construed exterior of smooth, brick-upon-brick, linear and cumulative scientific progress that everyone just assumed to be true. What follows is a summary of Kuhn’s findings and concepts, as well as my thoughts on his findings.

It turns out that rather than a steady, cumulative, peaceful path to current understanding, the true path is littered with example after example of paradigms being steadfastly and pigheadedly fought, supported and defended – even in the face of profound, objective proof and evidence of a better alternative paradigm – only to eventually be usurped by that superior/alternative paradigm.  This process sometimes left some senior scientists of a ‘traditional’ paradigm out in the cold as they refuse to accept the new paradigm that changed their scientific frontier in a revolutionary way.

This convoluted process can take from decades to over 100 years before real scientific progress is made in a given field.

 

Paradigms

The origins of the word “paradigm” have been around since the Greeks/Romans and is defined as representing a pattern, model or example.  But it wasn’t until Kuhn’s work that the word became grounded in its contemporary definition.

According to Kuhn, a paradigm is a framework – the framework of acceptable concepts, theories, assumptions, vocabulary, methods, equations, experiments, methods, skills, standards, data capture and analysis – all used by a community of scientists while operating within an accepted, prevailing, controlled orthodoxy. Simply . . . .it’s the rigid, dominating world-view currently in control.

Kuhn states that a paradigm drives what he calls “normal science.”  It’s adopted, shared and guarded by a mature scientific community. And interestingly enough, because of the framework noted above, a paradigm drives interpretation.

“A paradigm is prerequisite to perception itself. What a man sees depends both upon what he looks at and also upon what his previous visual-conceptual experience has taught him to see.”   – Thomas Kuhn

So, how does science actually work and progress?

  • Science is a subjective search for data and results that will confirm the prevailing orthodox paradigm.
  • Most science is “Normal Science” – aka Paradigm science.
  • It uses only standards, expectations, assumptions and laboratory equipment designed to confirm the prevailing orthodox paradigm.
  • Results are typically known in advance – based on the methods, standards and expectations of the prevailing paradigm.
  • Normal science is not looking for novelty, new discoveries, anomalies, or any other revelations that could rock the foundations of that prevailing paradigm and lead to a more accurate picture of reality.
  • When experimental and observational anomalies do arise that could lead to new discovery they are typically not noticed, ignored, or at some point intentionally suppressed.
  • When those anomalies become so numerous and tenacious that they can’t be ignored, ad-hoc adjustments are made to the prevailing paradigm in attempts to allow the new anomalous data to be accounted for.
  • When that fails, some scientists make new discoveries and adopt a new paradigm – but not without great resistance and battle from those holding tight to the reigns of the controlling power of the prevailing paradigm.
  • Science progresses with extreme difficulty from one paradigm to another, sometimes waiting 50 to 100 years for the resisting guardians of the prevailing paradigm to die off and allow newer practitioners to pursue the new paradigm.
  • This process is really never peaceful.

“Mopping-up operations are what engage most scientists throughout their careers. They constitute what I am here calling normal science. . . . that enterprise seems an attempt to force nature into the preformed and relatively inflexible box that the paradigm supplies. No part of the aim of normal science is to call forth new sorts of phenomena; indeed those that will not fit the box are often not seen at all. Nor do scientists normally aim to invent new theories, and they are often intolerant of those invented by others. Instead, normal-scientific research is directed to the articulation of those phenomena and theories that the paradigm already supplies.”   – Thomas Kuhn

This isn’t what you expected is it?

Read on . . .

 

What is a Scientific Revolution and what causes it?

According to Kuhn science progresses through the following stages:

  1. Pre-paradigm science
  2. Normal science (paradigm science)
  3. Crisis
  4. Revolutionary science (paradigm shift)
  5. Post-revolution

Let’s take a look at what these stages mean:

Pre-paradigm science is what occurs prior to science adopting it’s first acceptable paradigm – or, alternately, where it find itself after a state of Crisis and searching/experimenting for new solutions to unsolved problems the existing paradigm can’t fully resolve.  It’s a flurry of various undirected hypotheses and experiments in an attempt to find a path to an acceptable theory or set of theories (a new paradigm).

Normal science is conducted once a paradigm has been accepted by the majority of a scientific community in a field of study.  It’s “established” and becomes the “mature” science and is where all scientific work is funded and directed.  All future work is conducted within the parameters and expectations of the prevailing orthodox paradigm.

But at some point during normal science, the framework (equipment, experimentation, observation, data gathering) suddenly produces output that doesn’t fit the existing paradigm.  Those unexpected results are referred to as an anomaly. Anomalies “violate deeply entrenched expectations.”  When not ignored, anomalies are an awareness that something is wrong with the current paradigm.

Those practicing normal (paradigm) science are not equipped educationally or perceptually to deal with the anomalies. So, how does the paradigmatic scientific community deal with anomalies?  Resistance.

“Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none. . . . .Discovery commences with the awareness of anomaly, i.e., with recognition that nature has somehow violated the paradigm-induced expectations that govern normal science”  – Thomas Kuhn

Anomalies refuse “to be assimilated to existing paradigms.”

“Its defenders [the paradigm] will do what we have already seen scientists doing when confronted by an anomaly. They will devise numerous articulations and ad hoc modifications of their theory in order to eliminate any apparent conflict.” – Thomas Kuhn

Crisis is what occurs once a set of anomalies becomes too great to ignore, and some scientists start questioning the prevailing paradigm and begin searching for other answers. These scientists are typically young and have not yet totally invested themselves entirely in the prevailing orthodox paradigm. In fact, periodically, some even come from outside the field of the orthodox paradigm. The ad hoc adjustments made to the existing paradigm are not enough to account for the anomalous data.

“In so far as he [the scientist] is engaged in normal science, the research worker is a solver of puzzles, not a tester of paradigms. . . . . Unanticipated novelty, the new discovery, can only emerge to the extent that his anticipations about nature and his instruments prove wrong.” – Thomas Kuhn

Crisis leads to new discoveries via the next step, Revolutionary Science.

Revolutionary science comes about when one or more of those questioning scientists actually has an epiphany (what Kuhn calls a “gestalt switch” or “paradigm shift”). They suddenly experience the “scales falling from their eyes” or a “lightning flash” and they see a whole new paradigm/reality.

They perform experiments, share data, argue with the protectors of the prevailing paradigm Over time other scientists also start experiencing the “gestalt switch” and fall into the camp of the revolutionaries. Kuhn notes that this gestalt switch does NOT typically occur based on logic, reason and empirical evidence (as you would expect a scientist to adhere to and respect). It comes suddenly and sometimes in one’s sleep.

Ultimately, the change from one paradigm to another is scientific revolution. As previously mentioned above, it’s almost always someone young and not yet totally immersed and invested in the existing paradigm (or periodically it’s someone outside the specialization of the prevailing paradigm).

“Almost always the men who achieve these fundamental inventions of a new paradigm have been either very young or very new to the field whose paradigm they change. This generalization about the role of youth in fundamental scientific research is so common as to be cliche. Furthermore, a glance at almost any list of fundamental contributions to scientific theory will provide impressionistic confirmation.” – Thomas Kuhn

The interesting thing about paradigm change in science is that most often the scientists are dealing with the same set of data – it’s just that some of them suddenly “pick up the other end of the stick” – being able to see a new way of relating the data in a different framework.

“Rather than being an interpreter, the scientist who embraces a new paradigm is like the man wearing inverting lenses. Confronting the same constellation of objects as before and knowing that he does so, he nevertheless finds them transformed through and through in many of their details. . . . The scientist after a revolution is still looking at the same world.” – Thomas Kuhn

Post-revolution science occurs once a new paradigm-shifting theory becomes accepted by a vast majority of the scientific community. At this point the revolutionary science (new paradigm) becomes itself the prevailing paradigm –  a new “first principle.” Sometimes the older protectors of the prior paradigm never adopt to the new/accepted paradigm – so, after a time, they are simply “written out” or die off.

 

Advantage of Normal Science

There are advantages of Normal (Paradigm) Science.  It allows a group of practitioners to study a small range of problems in a level of “detail and depth that would otherwise be unimaginable.”  It leads to an extremely high level of precision in terms of the affirmation of the details of the prevailing paradigm.

Normal Science = articulation of the prevailing paradigm to a great depth

But, at what cost?

 

Why Don’t we Hear About Scientific Revolutions?

The overlapping reasons Scientific Revolutions are invisible include Education, Textbooks, Community/Authority:

Education

From an education perspective, students of science are not taught the history of their field.  There’s no reading of the “classics” as it exists in almost all other college education (music, art, literature, history, philosophy, social sciences, etc.). Students of science are given a thorough summary of all accepted paradigm beliefs, standards and expectations.  Their brains are pummeled into “understanding” that what they are taught is the ultimate truth for this field of study.

“Of course, it is a narrow and rigid education, probably more so than any other except perhaps in orthodox theology.” – Thomas Kuhn [emphasis mine]

Textbooks

What is the primary driving factor in scientific education?  Textbooks.

Kuhn refers to the use of textbook education as “initiation.”  Science students have no alternative. Textbooks “expound the body of accepted theory.” They are written so it appears that science progresses smoothly and progressively without conflict. They control how science is perceived and how it is understood to progress. Kuhn says that textbooks are “pedagogic vehicles for the perpetuation of normal [paradigm] science.”

“Textbooks thus begin by truncating the scientist’s sense of his discipline’s history and then proceed to supply a substitute for what they have eliminated. Characteristically, textbooks of science contain just a bit of history, either in an introductory chapter or, more often, in scattered references to the great heroes of an earlier age. From such references both students and professionals come to feel like participants in a long-standing historical tradition. Yet the textbook-derived tradition in which scientists come to sense their participation is one that, in fact, never existed. For reasons that are both obvious and highly functional, science textbooks (and too many of the older histories of science) refer only to that part of the work of past scientists that can easily be viewed as contributions to the statement and solution of the text’s paradigm problems. Partly by selection and partly by distortion, the scientists of earlier ages are implicitly represented as having worked upon the same set of fixed problems and in accordance with the same set of fixed canons that the most recent revolution in scientific theory and method has made seem scientific. No wonder that textbooks and historical tradition they imply have to be rewritten after each scientific revolution. And no wonder that, as they are rewritten, science once again comes to seem largely cumulative.” – Thomas Kuhn

Much akin to “history is written by the victors,” science textbooks are written in the aftermath of a scientific revolution and they simply gloss over the actual revolutionary steps in scientific history to arrive at the current paradigm.

“Inevitably . . . . the member of a mature scientific community is, like the typical character of Orwell’s 1984, the victim of a history rewritten by the powers that be. Furthermore, that suggestion is not altogether inappropriate.” – Thomas Kuhn

Wow.

Community/Authority

Kuhn emphasizes that a paradigm is wholly owned, supported and defended by a mature scientific community. That community is led by the authorities of that prevailing scientific paradigm.

The student is fully expected to adhere to the professional expectations of the prevailing paradigm. The student really has no other option than unquestioned acceptance.

The community has “unparalleled insulation” from the demands of the everyday world, as well as any challenges that could be presented by other scientific specialties (scientific, engineering, etc).

“Revolutions have proved to be so nearly invisible. Both scientists and laymen take much of their image of creative scientific activity from an authoritative source that systematically disguises – partly for important functional reasons – the existence and significance of scientific revolutions.” – Thomas Kuhn

“For the sciences, like other professional enterprises, do need their heroes and do preserve their names. Fortunately, instead of forgetting these heroes, scientists have been able to forget or revise their works. The result is a persistent tendency to make the history of science look linear or cumulative, a tendency that even affects scientists looking back at their own research.” – Thomas Kuhn

 

Progress only through the deaths of “authorities”?

In several places within Kuhn’s work he refers to the unfortunate result of scientific revolutions wherein it sometimes requires 50 to 100+ years before a new paradigm is taken seriously and adopted by the scientific community.  He even quotes Max Planck’s famous statement:

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”  – Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, trans. F. Gaynor (New York, 1949), pp. 33-34

Other pertinent and revealing quotes around this concept:

“Though some scientists, particularly the older and more experienced ones, may resist indefinitely, most of them can be reached in one way or another.” – Thomas Kuhn

“The older schools gradually disappear. In part their disappearance is caused by their members’ conversion to the new paradigm. But there are always some men who cling to one or another of the older views, and they are simply read out of the profession, which thereafter ignores their work. . . . Those unwilling or unable to accommodate their work to it must proceed in isolation or attach themselves to some other group.” – Thomas Kuhn

“Gradually the number of experiments, instruments, articles, and books based upon the [new] paradigm will multiply. Still more men, convinced of the new view’s fruitfulness, will adopt the new mode of practicing normal science, until at last only a few elderly hold-outs remain. And even then, we cannot say, are wrong. Though the historian can always find men – Priestley, for instance – who were unreasonable to resist for as long as they did, he will not find a point at which resistance becomes illogical or unscientific. At most he may wish to say that the man who continues to resist after his whole profession has been converted has ‘ipso facto’ ceased to be a scientist.” – Thomas Kuhn

 

My thoughts on Kuhn’s work and what it reveals

Does the above array of behavior sound like a desirable and acceptable way to conduct science?

The reality is that science is fraught with idiotic human frailties that should be transcended for the ultimate benefits of scientific progress – the pursuit of truth and reality, reason and rationality – but instead are held hostage by stupidities.

Resistance, cognitive biases, professional hubris, total indoctrination of students, progress only via gatekeeper deaths. . . . Unbelievable.

We tend to revere scientists as arbiters of objective, empirical evidence, accurate and reliable truths, reason and logic over irrationality, the ability to operate above silly human cognitive errors.  Yet, we find that they’re like everyone else:  . . . . stupidly retaining flawed theories simply because of cognitive dissonance, confirmation bias, group-think, and other ego-driven stupidities that blind them from immediately and effectively pursuing the path of truth and reality – a more accurate picture of nature and reality.

In addition, Kuhn doesn’t specifically call this out, but it seems that authority figures in a prevailing paradigm essentially defend their turf at all costs. We seem to find senior paradigm owners doing anything they can to maintain control over their field…..the field they’ve invested their entire career (teaching, researching, writing, professing). emotional investment, professional investment, and ego-driven investment – – – – logic, reason and empiricism be damned!

This is disgusting; absolutely disgusting. The pursuit of natural truths and reality should NEVER wait or delay for a generation of senior scientists to die. It should NEVER wait for blind dogma to finally acquiesce to overwhelming objective reality. The path of science should always be driven by objective evidence and objective analysis of that evidence.

Prevailing, orthodox, paradigm science is dogma – a repressive community of “scientists” who squash anything and everything that threatens their power structure.  It has become a new type of religion.

Are you seeing why Kuhn calls it a revolution?  New ideas that threaten a paradigm are NOT readily accepted.  They are ignored, denied, denigrated – until such time that they are blatantly obvious to the scientific community – or the controllers of the paradigm die off.  At some point the majority (and usually new practitioners) see the new theories for what they are – revelations in the field – and accept them as such based on their own, recent and valid science.

Instead of doing what science should do and objectively searching and testing the paradigm against actual nature/reality, the TRUE concern is over the current paradigm owners’ losing face/ego/stature/ownership/notoriety/authority/respect/prominence/etc. against a competing, threatening new paradigm. Existing paradigm owners have their ENTIRE career grounded in, and invested towards, the prevailing orthodox paradigm.

Does this sound like science by the scientific method?

It’s dogma . . . plain and simple. Where is Intellectual Integrity in this process?

 

Is there a solution?

Perhaps two camps (communities) of science needs to coexist simultaneously for each field in order to more rapidly progress science to attain the most accurate understanding of nature:

  • Normal (paradigm/orthodox) science
  • Questioning/challenging/heterodox/paradigm-breaking/extraordinary science

Use the competition to push scientific research results as rapidly as possible.

There’s always the issue of funding – which I will cover in another article. Briefly . . . funding always comes from either government or corporations and neither group are interested in pursuing science for its purist motives – objective reality. Those that fund science expect the results they’re paying for (not objective reality).

I’m PRO-science – if it’s done properly. I abhor dogma, whether science or religion. I cannot abide by ego-driven stupidities; ignoring reality; fraudulent activities; . . . all to protect the prevailing paradigm. When science and its self-anointed god-priest authorities refuse to address questions and challenges to its base theories and assumptions, then it has become nothing more than another religion.

Remember:  Science is NEVER settled. The concept of “settled” science is the antithesis of real science.

In the end . . . Nature cares not a whit about fitting a prevailing paradigm. Nature is the ultimate arbiter of truth and reality. Question everything. Don’t accept orthodox answers (to science, religion, politics or any element of belief and culture).

Carpe diem my friends!

 

 

 

Total Solar Eclipse – August 2017

Since I just posted about this week’s Lunar Eclipse, I may as well also post about our 2017 Total Solar Eclipse experience. The United States was treated to a rare opportunity to see a total solar eclipse as it traveled across the continent on August 21, 2017. I promised myself when I was a kid while watching the 1970 eclipse on TV, that I would make a point of directly experiencing the totality of the next one in 2017.

The path is noted here:

Path of the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse – by USFWS Mountain-Prairie, CC BY 2.0

Since the path was so close to us here in Kentucky, I decided to book a hotel room nine months before the event. I wanted to find something in Hopkinsville, KY where the maximum totality on the continent would be experienced. Even with very little media press nearly a year ahead of the eclipse, all hotel rooms in Hopkinsville were already booked. Amazing. I found a hotel nearby in Clarksville, TN which was still in the path of totality for a duration of 2-1/2 minutes.

My wife Debbie, brother Steve and his wife Amanda took the trip. I also took along my 6-inch Celestron Dobsonian telescope with solar filter. It’s not proper equipment for solar eclipse photography (which I don’t own), but it would help get a closer view of the impending totality as the moon slowly crept across the solar disk.

We arrived the day before and spent a little time wandering around Hopkinsville (aka Eclipseville):

After spending the night in Clarksville, we decided to stay there in the hotel parking lot rather than try to drive up towards the insanity in Hopkinsville. Our hotel owners were very pleasant and had no problem with us hanging around, so we set-up for picnicking and refreshments under the shade:

We set-up the telescope with its filter, donned our solar eclipse glasses and waited for the moon to start covering the sun:

After awhile, others who decided to hang around came to visit with us and look at the progress through the telescope:As we got closer to the time of totality, we started seeing crescent shadows as the sunlight filtered through tree leaves:

Here’s a photo a bystander took through the eyepiece of my telescope. You can see the orb of the moon covering about 80% of the sun disk:

Our family looking at the eclipse just before totality:

Totality!  Unfortunately, my phone’s camera just couldn’t take an acceptable picture of the sun’s corona glowing around the dark disk.  Had I been less excited I may have had the presence of mind to remove the solar filter on the telescope and try to shoot a pic through the eyepiece; but that didn’t happen.  🙁

Again, this pic of totality doesn’t correctly show the dark disk with corona:

And this is what totality looks like. I incorrectly expected near-total darkness. Instead, it’s mostly dark (like very late dusk) but there’s a gold/red glow on the horizon that you see all 360-degrees around you:

And this photo during totality is much brighter than it was in reality.  You can see that everyone removed their eclipse glasses and are looking directly at the sun during totality.  We had to make sure to put those glasses back on as we approached the end of the 2-1/2 minutes of darkness:

Totality finished, the bright sun returned, and eclipse glasses back on our eyes:

We didn’t hang around to watch the moon’s shadow recede off the sun.  We knew traffic back to Louisville would be nuts, so we loaded up and hauled ourselves back home. And, yes, traffic was horrendous on the return trip.

Was it worth it?  Oh, yes – – VERY worth it!  We found out from friends that if you weren’t actually in the direct path of totality, the sun still looked relatively normal with essentially no darkening of the sky (even though 95%-plus of the sun was covered for their location).  So, definitely worth it to be in the actual path.

I’m SO pleased we took the plunge and made the trip into totality.  We’re already planning to travel to near my brother in Evansville, IN for the next total solar eclipse in April 2024.

Carpe diem my friends!

 

Total Lunar Eclipse – January 2019

Sunday night January 20, 2019 we were treated to relatively clear skies in Louisville, KY for a total lunar eclipse.  I stepped outside into the frigid cold before midnight to have a look just prior to, and into the time of totality.  What a beautiful red hue this magical orb took on! It was called a “super blood wolf moon eclipse.”

I don’t yet have my recently-purchased (used) Meade LX200 Classic 10-inch telescope up and running.  Once I do, it will be able to track objects in the night sky which will allow nice photography. In its absence I was stuck with trying to shoot an image using my smartphone.  Yes, it’s a bit blurry, but you get the idea of what the full moon looked like that night:

Standing in the driveway, alone in the cold, silence everywhere, no-one else around with enough interest to come out and look . . . it was a brief, romanticized adventure into the wonders of the cosmos. I love the awe-inspiring Universe!

Can’t wait to get full use of the computerized telescope with Go-To functionality.

🙂

 

The Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse of 2019: A Red Lunar View! – Space.com

How to see the ‘super blood wolf moon eclipse’ in the Louisville area – Courier-Journal.com

 

 

 

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

 

Empirical

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)

or

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 list that shows the normally accepted steps as taught to most students.  (source)

  1. Observe – Make observations
  2. Question – Ask a question or identify a problem
  3. Research – Search for existing answers or solutions
  4. Hypothesize – Formulate a hypothesis
  5. Experiment – Design and perform an experiment
  6. Test Hypothesis – Accept or reject hypothesis
  7. Draw Conclusions – Make conclusions based on the hypothesis
  8. Report – Share your results

 

 

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)

 

Hypothesis

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)

 

Theory

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

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)

 

Funding

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.

 

Summary

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 which can be viewed here.

All-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 sources 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 sources 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 sources describe the solar system plane at 60o to the galactic plane
  • One (1) out of 18 sources describe the solar system plane at 0o to the galactic plane
  • Two (2) out of 18 sources 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.

An example of the image can be seen here.

 

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. They can be viewed here, here and here.

 

  • 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. The diagram can be viewed here.

 

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 if you look at a large version of the image here, you can see that the plane is shown as a 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. The original image was created by Grant Hutchison and linked to his page here from the CosmoQuest forum noted above.

 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.

Helical Solar System Motion Through the Galaxy: Heretical Revelation or Well-known Fact? – Part 1

An instinctive visualization?

Based on science classes in school, books we’ve seen, images online, and even TV  documentaries, most of us (laypersons) visualize the Solar System something like this or this.

We are taught the planets circle the sun in elliptical orbits at various distances and speeds, and for the most part the orbits are very nearly in the same flat, geometric plane (Pluto being the obvious exception) .  Through life we end up carrying a visualization in our brain that the whole arrangement is situated in space in a flat orientation, like a dinner plate resting on a table – most likely due to all the images we’ve been exposed to that show it in that manner.

Animations, if you see any, always show the planets circling the sun in a flat plane such as this, this or this.

Even gorgeous orreries have been built for hundreds of years to show all this happening in a flat plane with the sun apparently stationary, such as this one in the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History.

As solid as this visualization exists in our brain, I don’t remember ever seeing anything about the next element of motion – does the solar system as a whole move in some way?  If so, in what way and in which direction?

We’re told our sun resides in what is known as the Orion Arm of the Milky Way galaxy.  I assumed we must move as the galaxy arm spirals and drags us around.  I just never had a reason to research the specific details further.

I took up amateur astronomy shortly after the Hale-Bopp comet appearance in 1997.  I bought a 6″ Dobsonian telescope, learned the night sky, and subscribed to Sky & Telescope magazine.  I didn’t give much thought to the questions above as I cruised along using star charts to locate and view my various astronomical targets of planets, star clusters, nebula and galaxies.  I still (as wrong as it may have been) had an instinctive visualization of our solar system orientation as flat dinner plate moving along as the galaxy rotated – meaning: all in the same relative geometric plane (our solar system oriented at 0o to the plane of the galaxy).

What?!?

About three years ago (c. 2013) someone shared a video showing Nassim Haramein describing a different way to view the planets orbiting the sun as it moves through the galaxy.  It looked something like this:

See also his related video here. He describes how the solar system (the sun and all its orbiting planets) move through the galaxy in a helical motion.

(Yes, I know Nassim Haramein is not a respected mainstream scientist. But here’s the bottom line: he showed me something orthodox science never showed me, which triggered my brain into “oh-wow” overdrive.)

I was taken aback – – – surely that couldn’t be right!  But then, I thought about how we see the Milky Way in the sky and it’s tilted 60o to the ecliptic:

droppedimage_2(source: Your Handle on the Night Sky (website) by Daniel Pope, August 16, 2009 [web page no longer available])

Then, and only then, did I realize the concept he proposed was indeed correct (or at least above and beyond what I instinctively visualized).  If the solar system’s orbital plane was flat (0o) in the galactic plane, the Milky Way we see in the sky would not be at an angle; it would be horizontal to the Earth’s orbit – which it isn’t. Holy cow!  This was a sudden revelation to me!

My initial thoughts at the time:

  • Certainly Mr. Haramein can’t be the first person to notice and share this concept, right?
  • If not, why is it I never saw this before his video?  He’s an outsider in terms of mainstream science – so how could this be?
  • I’ve always been a lover of science and astronomy, so why didn’t I already know this?
  • I should be able to find other, more standard, sources displaying the same concept if I search the internet and science/astronomy books, right?
  • I’ll dig and research to confirm this is already a well-known concept and I’m sure I’ll find out it’s simply something I wasn’t heretofore exposed to (or recall).

This should be fun.  Little did I know.  🙂

The Search

So . . . . I did some digging; as much as I could do without yet visiting the local university library (soon to come).  Google is extremely helpful in an initial query to find a LOT of valid information.
Searching all content, images, and videos, page after page after page, I barely found a thing!  What the hell?!?
I did find one diagram from The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada which shows the orientation at what appears to be 60o to the galactic plane.  This was helpful and exciting!  View their diagram here.  And their nice animation here.

The Shit Storm

I found another source:  a link to Phil Plait’s “Bad Astronomy” page criticizing someone else’s efforts to share the same concept.  That person, DjSadhu (who’s a DJ, not a scientist), had his own “aha moment” and was inspired enough to create his own 3-D animation videos.
Unfortunately DjSadhu’s “aha” inspiration was from a very non-scientific paper by an apparent unorthodox, non-mainstream academic named Dr. Pallathadka Keshava Bhat. However unorthodox the source, DjSadhu’s exposure to this concept made him realize his instinctive visualization of the solar system as a flat plane (dinner plate model) moving horizontal with the galactic plane was incorrect.
Like me, he also couldn’t find any related information online so he created his own animation videos to share with those willing to see and hear his newfound revelation. These can be seen in two different videos (here and here) and their associated blog posts (here and here).  Make sure you read the entertaining comments on the posts.  🙂
Unfortunately. . . . because his revelation was based on the unscientific ideas of Mr. Bhat, DjSadhu reaped a monstrous amount of criticism from the staid-and-true scientific community as well as their dedicated protectors, the skeptics, who pointed out numerous errancies with his representations.
He finally admitted to the various scientific errors in his first two videos, which included:
  • The planets are in the wrong order
  • It’s a helix, not a vortex
  • The sun is not like a comet and doesn’t have a tail
  • The heliocentric model is not “wrong”
  • The sun does not lead the planets
  • The angle with the Galactic plane is 60o not 90o
If you read all his posts and follow-up comments, DjSadhu’s overall intent was not the specific details of the science itself – – – his only reason for doing this was to share a revelation with others about the overall motion of the solar system orbital movement as it travels through the galaxy – the overarching concept of a corkscrew spiral. He more or less took an approach of, “Hey, look what I just found out!
Based on the comments to his blog posts, Reddit, Phil Plait’s “Bad Astronomy” article, and other misc posts, he hit a home run with the general public.  His videos went viral and laypersons shared the fact they had no idea this is how it worked – it wasn’t what they understood. The only people who claimed to hold this helical orbital travel concept as a de facto, well-known, fact were scientists – astrophysicists and astronomers.  I have yet to read a comment from someone who is a layperson that claims to know this as self-evident.
Much to the chagrin of academia, it took a disc jockey (DJ) to illuminate the general populace to the revelatory nature of the solar system’s helical orbit around the galaxy. If this is so obvious to orthodox academia, why didn’t they proactively produce and share a similar educational tool for the general public?  Why are they surprised this is such a revelation to laypersons?

What Actually is Known and not Known?

In Part 2 I’ll share sources of both critical and supporting articles, an analysis of claims that this knowledge was shared long before Mr. Haramein or Mr. Sadhu shared their findings, as well as incorrect diagrams from science sources who are supposed to inherently know this as self-evident (including NASA).
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.

What is Knowledge Adventuring?

If I had to identify the most critical element of the shaping of my life and persona, it has to be my passion for the pursuit of truth/accuracy/reality.  At first I thought this was something that came about in my thirties. However, over the years in doing various exercises to identify my true mission and purpose in life, I realize I’ve always been hugely concerned with identifying, understanding and conveying what was truthful and accurate – for my own purposes, but also for others; even from childhood.

Unfortunately, this drive resulted in a young boy who naively thought everyone wanted to hear the accurate details and retelling of this-that-or-the-other. Surely everyone wanted to know the most accurate conveyance of truth, right? I went on FAR too long describing something and everything I experienced (or “knew”) to the n’th degree, quickly losing the interest of whomever it was I was communicating.  My now-adult son is similarly stricken. I only hope he comes to this realization during his life and makes an appropriate adjustment.
🙂

At some point in my mid-twenties, I realized no-one really cared about the details of pretty much anything.  In my twenties I also was married, working a full-time job, going to night school, raising twins, doing improvements on my first home, and later, restoring a vintage muscle car. There was little time for philosophical thinking of any sort. So, my youthful obsession with identifying and conveying “truth” took a 10- to 15-year hiatus.

At some point in my late-30s or early 40s I became exposed to, and started exploring, the more philosophical aspects of life. My passion and drive for “truth” was resurrected. Since then it’s something I cannot escape.

When setting up the categories for this website I struggled with what to name this inescapable passion of mine. I finally settle on “Knowledge Adventuring” because I truly feel that the digging, researching, seeking and discovery has been (and continues to be) a wonderful adventure.

 

What Does It Include?

For the world at-large it could mean any number of things. For me it boils down to four primary areas:

  • Proper Thinking
  • Philosophy & Religion
  • History
  • Science

Once again, I struggled with how to group and categorize the elements of “Knowledge Adventuring” that encompass my obsession and which drives my focus. I could have laid out numerous sub-categories, but in the interest of simplicity I stuck with these four, as almost everything can be rolled up under them.

 

Proper Thinking

In this arena you’ll be seeing topics oriented towards what I can best describe as “Intellectual Integrity.”  It includes all the various barriers to accurate (and true) critical thinking that face us as sentient, emotional human beings.  Appeals to emotion . . . authority . . . confirmation bias . . . cognitive dissonance . . . orthodoxy . . . conditioning . . . persuasion . . . group-think . . . disinformation . . . propaganda . . . logical fallacies . . . poor observation . . . skepticism . . . pseudo-skepticism . . . All the things that screw us over from getting to the absolute truth.

The bottom line:
>>> How can I (or anyone) practice the most sincere, accountable intellectual inquiries in order to uncover and identify the real, most accurate picture of the “truth?” And don’t think this will be a simple exercise in “what do the experts say?” or “what is the majority, orthodox opinion?”  This won’t be of interest to lazy thinkers. At all.

The result of “proper thinking” as applied to a person’s intellectual pursuits? . . . a world of adrenaline-rush discovery!

 

Philosophy & Religion

I’m not a philosophy major. But the simple act of asking the big questions of life put you into the act of philosophical thinking. Big questions like: Why are we here? Where did we come from? How should we interact with others? What ethics and morals should I pursue and use? Is religion necessary for spiritualism, morals, ethics? How much control should one person (or a group of people) have over another individual? Should I trust the things I’ve been taught while growing up? Is there a god? Am I honestly looking at all alternatives before settling on what I believe to be the foundations of truth? Can I be sure what is “real?”  Is it okay for cultural norms to be different from one society to the next? Am I thinking correctly?

Surely, these are some heavy-duty questions.  But they drive you towards some fun realizations and personal, intellectual, emotional challenges. They are life-expanding.

 

History

History is boring for many (perhaps most) people. For me, there is a great richness in so many elements of history. The magnificent achievements of the Sumerians, Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Mayans – among others. What caused the Dark Ages? How advanced were the Greeks? (far beyond what you may imagine) How magnificent is The Renaissance? What about The Enlightenment?

Beyond the standard textbook history is also an undercurrent of alternative history. Who actually writes the history? What have they left out, and why (both ancient and more modern)? What is the evidence of more advanced civilization during a time before what we’re taught?  What are the issues with academic archaeology? What are the issues with specialization vs generalization? Why are engineers seeing things in ancient artifacts and architecture that archaeologists have heretofore ignored and glossed over? What anomalies are discovered, buried and ignored? What is the “Knowledge Filter?”

 

Science

Science too can be very boring for most people. How exciting is it though to discover the mysteries of the universe? Planets, stars, nebulae, galaxies, electromagnetism, gravity, physics, applied sciences, etc.

And again, beyond the standard textbook science, there is an undercurrent of alternative science. Do we really know what propels the wheels of the solar system and universe? Are academic theories of cosmology workable and observable beyond the math employed to arrive at their conclusions? Is the Big Bang backed by solid science and observation? Are Black Holes real and observed?  Is gravity the only major motive force in the universe?  Is there more to “what’s out there” than we’re taught?  Is zero-point (free) energy possible?  If so, what are the ramifications? How do scientific revolutions occur and who typically makes those paradigm-shattering discoveries? Is the Scientific Method really used in science? And again, as in History, what anomalies are discovered, buried and ignored? What is the “Knowledge Filter?”

 

Conclusion

For those with an intellectual bent, there is a rich and exciting world of possibilities and discovery awaiting beyond the mundaneness of daily living and spoon-fed “news.”

As for me, I have to search, seek, refine, tear down and rebuild assumptions and beliefs with each new element of discovery that is validated with a reasonably high-level of confidence.  If I can’t get to that percentage, I must withhold a firm stand until more truth can be uncovered.