Essays: Theories, Facts and Fallacies
In the field of science, as in other areas, there are “facts” that are actually “fallacies” because theories come to be accepted after a period of time as if they were actual facts rather than tentative explanations. When a theory is around long enough or expostulated by enough people who are considered as experts, it metamorphizes in the collective consciousness as a “fact.”
Throughout human history there has existed the theory that there may be some sort of intelligence as a first cause to existence. This theory has been enshrined in many cultures in the form of theistic religions and has been accepted as fact by millions of people throughout the ages. Different views as to the form or forms of this intelligence or intelligences have been the basis of conflict from time immemorial.
The theory, or perhaps the observation, that all information can be considered as relative to the observer, was extended by Albert Einstein into a complex mathematical model, a General Theory of Relativity, which has been accepted by much of the scientific community in the form of “Space-Time” as being the reality of existence rather than simply a mathematical model.
The idea that the basic structural units of something can perhaps be determined by smashing it to fragments and analyzing what is found has led to many years of discoveries in atomic and nuclear physics wherein atomic physicists have found “elementary particles” by slamming different units together at higher and higher energies. While they have come up with much information, no-one seems to have suggested that many, if not all, of their “elementary particles” are actually alternative states of matter which are created in the extreme conditions of the atom smashers.
Since the discovery of the neutron in the 1930’s, the nuclei of atoms have been considered to be composed of neutrons and protons. This “fact” has led to the divergence of nuclear/atomic chemistry from molecular chemistry. Neutrons can be shown to exist in space for a period of time, are emitted from nuclei under certain conditions, and make an excellent “bookkeeping” device for certain purposes. This does not mean that they have existence, as such in nuclei. Had there been adopted the alternative suggestion that there be electronic orbitals within nuclei, such as are thought to occur in the non-nuclear part of atoms, and in molecules, it is very possible that the two fields might have developed together, and very possibly in different directions than they have.
The idea that all chemistry involves the combinations of certain elements has worked well for most cases. However, since the various units which are considered as making up a particular element, “isotopes,” are not truly identical, much information may be obscured and there may be unintended consequences. One obvious case is that of the three entities that are classified as “Element Atomic number 1, “Hydrogen.” The only thing that the three entities have in common is the fact that they apparently bond to other elements by the use of one electron. All form a substance considered to be “water.” These three waters have different physical characteristics and most certainly would have different biological effects. “Tritium oxide” would be very dangerous because of the radioactive decay of Tritium to Helium 3. Both tritium oxide and deuterium oxide almost surely would have poisonous effects and would possibly be cumulative poisons because of subtle differences in their chemistries from that of “Protium oxide.”
It is known that fusion reactions such as that which changes Hydrogen into Helium 4 take place at the high temperature and pressure which is possible in the interior of the Sun. From this has come the belief that fusion type reactions can only take place under such conditions. this ignores the fact that “fusion” is an exothermic process, and hence there should be conditions under which a process that gives off energy could take place at much lower temperatures, even at temperatures near absolute zero. If one were not convinced that high energy processes were necessary for fusion, one might wonder, for instance, if a molecule of deuterium, which consists of four electrons and four protons, could not transform into a Helium 4 atom which also consists of four electrons and 4 protons. When, what may well have been this exact transformation occurred some years ago, the scientific community “went ballistic.” Some quite well-respected scientists, previously well respected, that is, announced that they had observed excess energy production in the electrolysis of Deuterated water with a Palladium electrode and called the process, “Cold Fusion.” Although a number of other researchers have been able to show that the phenomenon is real, “Cold Fusion” remains a pariah, scoffed at by the conventional scientific community. There is a mind-set in the scientific community that, while it is well-known that atoms combine to form molecules, molecules can not change into atoms, even if the process would release energy. This mind-set, i.e. theory, become belief, become fallacious “fact,” may well have obscured a possible middle-ground between molecular chemistry and nuclear physics which the “Cold-Fusion” experimenters are slowly starting to explore.
In the above case, we have noted the instant, wide-spread scorn which was heaped upon a new idea which was announced through the conventional channels by accepted scientists. An additional theory, accepted quite generally in the scientific community is that if any work of significance is done it will come from some accepted research group and be announced through the standard channels. This may not necessarily be true. In the past few months, a couple of writers on Helium.com have written on some different ideas on the possible basic structure of what ever underlies existence. One result is the postulate that a basic unit might be a “pseudo-sphere” having a mass pf about 4.7 x 10^-19 g. and a radius of approx. 4.7 x 10^-19 cm. rotating at a rotational velocity of the speed of light. This entity could transmit information at a tangential velocity of the speed of light. Going into the details here would be beyond the scope of our discussion, but their ideas can be extended to explain many phenomena such as electron-anti-electron “annihilation,” as a rejoining to a “parent particle.” and even to a theory of a pulsating universe which would periodically go through a “Big Bang.”
As their work is not being submitted for “Peer Review” for publication in s prestigious scientific journal, there is little chance it will ever be even noticed. One might see a positive side to this. Had it survived “peer-review” without being either rejected or pirated, and then been actually accepted as worthy of notice. we might have had scientists spending much energy trying to find this “sin-free” particle. (This name is a pun from the first syllables of the writers’ names put together as “Sin-Vree.”) There is already much energy being expended in trying to find another postulated particle, the “Higgs Boson,” which seems to have no more probable validity. In truth, the “sin-free” particle may well be, like an “average person,” some sort of a mathematical mean of many particles, and hence not have any real existence.
We have spent this essay noting that scientists are like all humans in that they fall into habitual thinking patterns which may blind them to alternatives and new ideas. We could quote many more examples. If the scientific method were applied to all of our examples there is a high probability that some of the ideas about theories becoming “facts,” which are presented here, have errors. Perhaps the only fact that we should accept is the fact of existence. As a French philosopher is quoted as saying, “I think, therefore, I am.” The theory that that statement be correct, I’m willing to accept as a fact.