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New Discovery Disproves Quantum Theory? 933

An anonymous reader writes to tell us the Guardian is running a story that has quite a few physicists up in arms. From the article: "Randell Mills, a Harvard University medic who also studied electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims to have built a prototype power source that generates up to 1,000 times more heat than conventional fuel. Independent scientists claim to have verified the experiments and Dr Mills says that his company, Blacklight Power, has tens of millions of dollars in investment lined up to bring the idea to market. And he claims to be just months away from unveiling his creation." The only problem is Mills' theory is supposed to be impossible when using current rules of quantum mechanics.
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New Discovery Disproves Quantum Theory?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06, 2005 @07:31PM (#13965492)
    "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
  • by Dr. Zowie ( 109983 ) <slashdot@ d e f o r e s t .org> on Sunday November 06, 2005 @07:33PM (#13965510)
    These guys (energy crackpots) are always around on the sidelines; they pop up every once in a while when they need a new sucker^H^H^H^H^H^Hventure capitalist to invest. The fractional-quantum-number chestnut has been around since at least the USENET days; I remember folks trying to use fractional quantum numbers to justify cold fusion among other things.

    Hot fusion is always 50 years away; tabletop fusion is always 4 years away. Nothing to see here, move along.
  • by CyricZ ( 887944 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @07:35PM (#13965518)
    Theories are just that: theories. It's perfectly fine to disprove them. In fact, that's what science is all about.

    If the current theories are shown to be inadequate or flat out wrong, then that's just how it is. It'll be up to scientists to create new, better theories that take into account this development.

  • by Buran ( 150348 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @07:36PM (#13965521)
    I noticed they claim to have peer-reviewed journal articles, but don't cite any of them. I'd like to be able to verify that they exist before I believe any of this crap ...
  • by DieByWire ( 744043 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @07:38PM (#13965541)
    And he claims to be just months away from unveiling his creation.

    Let me guess, that and a few million dollars away. You can get in on the ground floor.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06, 2005 @07:39PM (#13965554)
    "We ran into this theoretical resistance and there are some vested interests here. People are very strong and fervent protectors of this [quantum] theory that they use."

    Wow, sounds a lot like religion.
  • by servognome ( 738846 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @07:48PM (#13965614)
    True, but part of disproving a theory includes a better theory which explains all observed phenomenon

    No it doesn't. All it takes is a verified observation to disprove a theory. There are disproven theories in science that can remain for years without something better taking its place.
  • by Pendersempai ( 625351 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @07:53PM (#13965637)
    Can we PLEASE have the editors do at least a cursory background check on these "scientists" before posting their pyramid scheme crackpot press releases? We've had five or more stories in the past TWO DAYS about how the rules of science were about to be rewritten by someone who can pull heat out of nothing for free, or extend wifi coverage for TEN MILLION MILES on a watch battery, or fly to the moon with a tablespoon of vinegar, or extend a battery's shelf life by nine million percent by putting a sticker on it.

    Seriously, WTF? It's embarrassing. This place reads like the fucking National Enquirer when it comes to science. There are legitimate breakthroughs happening all the time in science; why do we have to cover these retard con men? Is it that pseudoscience is more FLASHY AND EXCITING than real science, or is it that our editors are too fucking brain dead to tell the difference?
  • by drgonzo59 ( 747139 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @07:55PM (#13965654)
    Yesterday some inventor had plans for H-B fusion in a "coffee can" now energy from water. What is next? Time travel, UFO's and Zombies?

    This guy if full of shit. Just because he graduated from MIT, deosn't mean he is that good. Remember the Unabomber graduated from Harvard, for all that's worth.

    To all those "But, wait what if it is true! He is the other other Einstein" comments I would just have to say that this guy doesn't know quantum mechanics. He is a medic and an electrical engineer, what the fuck is he doing publishing papers on "The Fallacy of Feynman's Argument on the Stability of the Hydrogen Atom According to Quantum Mechanics". He has two or three equations and the rest is bullshit in "essay format". Check out his website []. He might as well be selling tin foil hats to prevent damage from space death rays.

  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @07:55PM (#13965658) Homepage Journal
    And then? 5000 years from now these atoms collapse; the electrons' charge cancel out against the protons', and you release so much energy that the earth gets cooked?

    I'd want to have at least some idea what we're doing before we go messing with atoms - we all know how nuclear fission was touted to be the energy source of the future and what became of that.
  • by Buran ( 150348 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @07:56PM (#13965662)
    Which they've reportedly had "just around the corner" (it's in one of the other comments in this story) for a while, hence the skepticism I showed. Sure, if they have something that works it will have to be explained by new theories, but always being "a few months away" or whatever doesn't really add to their credibility.
  • by Private Taco ( 808864 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @07:56PM (#13965664)
    No, what I'M SAYING is that one barking looney seems to bring hundreds of others out of the woodwork.
  • No waste? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cramer ( 69040 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:10PM (#13965750) Homepage
    What's this about "no waste"? If he's creating what he's claiming, "hydrinos", then he's partially collapsing a hydrogen atom. Once it's collapsed and thus energy released, it'll take energy to get it back to normal.

    The hydrino's being created from the process(es) ARE the waste product. What the hell are you going to do with collapsed hydrogen atoms? They won't behave like normal hyrdogen; compounds created from them won't behave in expected ways. What's he going to do, cycle hydrino's through the "reactor" until they've collapsed into a neutron? Then what's to come of these free floating neutrons? (neutrons don't stay neutrons when they're all alone.)

    For my money, I think this guy slept through every physics class he's ever taken.
  • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:20PM (#13965825) Journal
    "Theories are just that: theories"

    Snake oil is not a theory, it's a marketing device.
  • dreck. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dotmax ( 642602 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:23PM (#13965841)
    This is the second time in as many days we've been treated to recycled bullshit from, the infinite energy crowd and the established science oppressing us crowd. WTF? "News for dopes, stuff that's bullshit"

    It's been my experience that working with the false, obsolete, oppressive and illusory rules of "establisment science has been more useful than trying to apply raving website drivel.

    But what do i know, [barney fife] i'm just the only person on earth making antiprotons, 16E10/hr of them, for about 130E10 so far today. ayep... [/barney fife]

    ob.geek: and i ate pizza while i was doing it. .max
  • Wonderful (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mensa Babe ( 675349 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:26PM (#13965857) Homepage Journal
    First the perpetuum mobile [] sticker and now this? A medic [sic] claims to have built a 1,000 times better power source which also happens to contradict quantum mechanics, ergo an anonymous reader considers the whole fucking theory of quantum mechanics disproved and this is a front page news on Slashdot Science? Can we finally have the [] section please?
  • Occam's Razor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Snook ( 872473 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:26PM (#13965859)
    Okay, we have two choices:

    a) An MIT EE dropout who advertises his irrelevant association with Harvard turns physics on his head and has a working prototype that generates incredibly cheap energy.

    b) Yet another cheap energy fraud/error/delusion.

    I'd be thrilled if Occam's razor was wrong this time around, but this whole thing reads exactly like every other cheap energy scam/hoax/error in history.
  • by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:29PM (#13965871) Homepage
    > And there were absolutely no scientists that were patent clerks,
    > pushing paper around a desk?

    Einstein had a doctorate in physics.

    > The man who invented the tool to determine longitude was ... a
    > watch maker!

    Quite appropriate, as what was needed was a watch.
  • by ETEQ ( 519425 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:37PM (#13965924)
    If you look carefully, you'll find Dr. Mills is the only person to publish any results supporting Hydrino theory. This is VERY suspicious, seeing as how science is founded on the idea that other people doing the same experiment reproduce your results. This doesn't mean he's overtly lying, but it could mean that some part of his experiment, he makes a mistake that his team doesn't catch because he's been doing it so long. The moral is: I'll believe when other people can reproduce the results.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:42PM (#13965944)
    This is more imagination than knowledge. Someone at Slashdot really likes crackpot physics, lately.
  • by NitsujTPU ( 19263 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:45PM (#13965963)
    Not to mention that nuclear fission is the cleanest, safest, most abundant practical source of energy on the planet at the moment.

    All that the environmental nuts caused was for us to burn MORE fossil fuels at diesel plants. So much for saving the planet.
  • by munpfazy ( 694689 ) * on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:47PM (#13965971)
    "Knowledge isn't important."

    There's a big difference.

    And, it's one that will bite the ass of anyone dumb enough to invest in hydrinos. (As it has everyone who has done so since Mills first floated ths idea way back in 1991, at which time he announced that commercial applications of his theory were, oddly enough, just a couple years off.)
  • by STrinity ( 723872 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:49PM (#13965985) Homepage
    These guys (energy crackpots) are always around on the sidelines; they pop up every once in a while when they need a new sucker^H^H^H^H^H^Hventure capitalist to invest.
    And they're always electrical engineers.
  • by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:51PM (#13965995) Journal
    Just because you believe in something (or don't) does NOT mean it IS or IS'NT true
  • by Danathar ( 267989 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:56PM (#13966017) Journal
    Not to validate this guys claims....

    But it WAS college dropout patent office flunkie that published one of the greatest works of physics EVER. Einstein's work was dumped on by other scientists.

    Like I said, not to validate this guys claims. But to dismiss it outright without even really looking at it (or ignoring actual results) puts one in the same class of people who dismissed Einstein.
  • by Buran ( 150348 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @08:57PM (#13966025)
    No matter what it's called, the point/problem is that they don't clearly cite the citations. They make you work for it. Making it more difficult to find makes me wonder what they're hiding. Most research articles will say "According to research to be published in issue X of journal Y..." and this one does not.
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @09:05PM (#13966064)
    Extraordinary Claims require Extraordinary Proof.

    Einstein provided mathematical proofs in his groundbreaking articles IIRC.

    I believe this new discovery when I see the conceptual proofs, namely this mystery device in action with 3rd parties able to test it. Till then, I'll nod my head and smile.
  • by chazR ( 41002 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @09:16PM (#13966119) Homepage
    Still, it would be nice to have some major shakeup in physics... there really haven't been any in my lifetime.

    How old are you?
    Inflation as a solution to cosmic microwave anisotropy []

    Problems with General Relativity: Dark Matter? []

    Dark Energy. 90% of everything. []

    Pioneer anomaly. []

    Every year, in every field, we answer more and more questions. However, every answer raises many more questions. We are still exploring our ignorance, but we know more about it every day. What are you doing to help?
  • by ichin4 ( 878990 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @09:20PM (#13966135)

    I do have the background to judge the believability of this claim (Ph. D. in theortetical elementary particle physics) and I'll tell you: this is fucking embarassing.

    Here's a simple way to judge these sorts of claims that doesn't require any scientific training: major breakthroughs in fundamental physics are not made by people developing a secret product that will solve the world's energy problems.

  • Re:Keeping Score (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Elote ( 649512 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @09:44PM (#13966245)
    No, dumbass. You can't prove QM by the fact that transistors et al work as they do. QM, just like every other theory of physics is just a mathematical model and when cases are found where it does not fit our experience it must be adjusted. Newtonian mechanics was "law" for a LONG time until we could make more precise measurements. I don't even believe in this story enough to look it over, but "proof by example" is VERY DANGEROUS.
  • by plnrtrvlr ( 557800 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @09:50PM (#13966281)
    Did you ever stop to wonder if the /. editors don't post these things just to get the activity level a little higher around here? There is always a lot more posts on flamebait political subjects and quack science then for for most of the other things that appear around here... And besides, it's a lot of fun to listen to the collective intelligence of the /. community go ballistic on some crackpot, almost as much fun as it is to watch the more gullible parts of the same community defend those crackpots! In my opinion, post away at this crap: maybe /. needs a new story category for them, crackpot science and flamebait politics. They can even give it a little tin-foil hat emblem (the crack-pot scientists always think the establishment is out to get them...). Then, when I'm in the mood to be amused by this stuff, it'll be here waiting for me.
  • by GaryPatterson ( 852699 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @09:52PM (#13966288)
    Every single transistor in the computer you typed your post on is a working example of Quantum Physics in action.

    Every one of them. That's hundreds of millions of examples right in front of you.

    Look around at the world. Quantum physics is *everywhere* and we make a lot of use of it. It's demonstrated in just about everything technological, it's verifiable using equipment (not cheap equipment, but you *can* do it) and it's well-documented and understood.

    You say you want "TANGIBLE evidence" ? It's right there, literally in front of you. You just need to understand your world better.

    Intelligent Design offers nothing to help us understand the Universe better. It draws a line in the sand and says "This side is ineffable. You cannot know anything more about it." That's the exact antithesis of Science, which is about saying "Why does this occur and how can we predict it?"

    What does ID give you? How can we make use of that 'knowledge'? How can we use it to predict future events? Why should we stop questioning the Universe, and isn't that a fundamental abrogation of the intelligence that (ID believers say) we were given?

    It's not science, any more than saying "Quantum Physics is wrong! My tests (which I won't give you the details of) prove it beyond all doubt!"
  • by billysailing ( 929035 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @09:57PM (#13966311)
    You're missing the point - The Bible is not a text book on where we came from and how everything works.... It is a guide/law to how you live your life. There is a very small mention of where we came from, which incidentally matches science's own creational theory - "let there be light". God made the universe, "Science" is the working out of how he made it stick together....
  • by GameMaster ( 148118 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @09:57PM (#13966312)
    There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding exactly what Mills is claiming. I'm not saying he's necessarily correct in his theory, but if you read his site and the Hydrino Study Group (HSG), both linked to by the Wikipedia article, they are much clearer about it.

    After reading through the company page, the Wikipedia article, and the HSG last nigh (I found it linked to by a forum I frequent) I'll try to cover some of the most basic issues that are in dispute:

    • The article says he is a medic

      The Wiki article, his company site, and the HSG all agree that he received a full Doctor of Medicine degree from Harvard and that he spent time at MIT doing graduate Electrical Engineering work.

    • The Guardian article says he is claiming a 1000x increase in energy output over traditional fuel.

      At some point while reading through either his site or the HSG I saw mention of the number being a 100x increase. This may be a case of the Guardian reporter doing some of that crappy science reporting we always hear about and accidentally adding an extra '0'. In general, Mills' claim seems to be that the process produces energy output higher that a chemical reaction but lower than a nuclear one.

    • People in this forum have been claiming that there is no explanation of what happens to the hydrogen after it's made into a hydrino

      His company site, as well as the HSG, are specific in claiming that the process creates new, unexplored, materials that have potential uses in material science. This also ties in with his claims that his theory explains the existence of "dark matter" since he claims that "dark matter" are hydrinos with the electrons at extremely low levels.

    • People in this forum have been claiming he's angling for money like other "free energy" people.

      Documentation hosted on Mill's site as well as comments on the HSG claim that he already has a great deal of funding from a number of major corporate backers. He has never, according to anything I've seen on any of these pages, looked for private donations like many of the other "free energy" scam artists. This doesn't mean he isn't running a hoax, but it lends doubt to that idea.

    • People in this forum claim there has been no experimentation done by outside authorities to prove his claims.

      All sources agree that he has had a number of major, third party, labs (including a NASA lab, an MIT lab, and a Westinghouse lab) run experiments on his prototype hydrogen cell. The reports from these labs are reportedly linked to on the HSG. Mills has been doing this research for many years. If these reports were fabricated then it would be expected that someone from one of those labs would have stepped forward long ago to discredit them but no one has. Even his harshest critics in the physics world don't seem to be claiming his experimental results are fabricated.

    The simple fact is that it has been well documented that something special is actually going on in these hydrogen cells that he's been sending out to be tested. Some critics have come up with a short list of possible, conventional, explanations for why the reaction appears to be producing more heat than a chemical reaction would seem to allow but most of them have been refuted by the labs doing the experiments.

    While I'm as skeptical of his Grand Unified Theory as the next person (as convenient as it would be when compared to the mess that is Quantum Physics. Heck, even I understand most of it and I'm not even a physicist). The experimental results of his technology suggest strongly that there is something pretty special going on.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that there seems to be a little more involved here than most other "free energy" claims or even "cold fusion". Maybe we should all put away the anti-crackpot rhetoric and give this guy a chance to prove his claims with actual high-minded discourse.


  • by dotMantle ( 860523 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @09:58PM (#13966323)
    Ignore all the stuff about quantum mechanics. The IT equivalent would be something like: * New chip design contains 5 times more transistors * Automation technique reduces materials consumption and pollution by 416% The proposed product was to produce energy at 1.2 cents per kilowatt, versus 5 cents for coal.
  • by Proudrooster ( 580120 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @10:08PM (#13966365) Homepage
    First off, I struggled to get through quantum mechanics and found a lot of the theories that were taught to be unbelievable. However, I have read Mills's paper on CQM (Classical Quantum Mechanics) and like it a lot. It is a bit short in the derivation department, but so was my quantum mechanics book. So here is Mills in a nutshell.

    First, Mills tosses the following concepts from QED
    1. Schrödinger's equation
    2. Bohrs interpretation of the Schrödinger's equation as a probability density
    3. Standard Model
    4. Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle
    5. Entanglement and correlation

    Second, he states with some proof and handwaving that quantum mechanics can be derived 100% with classical physics equations and Einsteins relativstic equations (gamma).

    Third, he states the electron is really a 2D current loop which when captured by a proton becomes a 3D sphere called an orbitsphere.

    Fourth, he states that the ground state of the Hydrogen atom can be lowered. He claims this can be accomplished with a chemical reaction and a catalyst. When this happens, the Hyrdrogen atom releases energy which can be used for useful purposes, like creating heat or electricity.

    Fifth, Mills believes that the mysterious "dark-matter" in the universe is composed of Hydrinos and believes the Big-Bang theory is wrong and has proposed and alternate theory.

    In my opinion, Mills needs to put-up or shut-up. He has been screaming breakthrough for 5-years, but hasn't produced a practical device. I believe he is an incredibly smart and talented man. I believe he gets no respect because he is a chemist, and not a physicist. I hope his hydrino theory is true and that we can harness new forms of energy by decreasing the ground state of Hydrogen atoms. A single hydrogen atom possess an amazing amount of energy, it's simply a matter of figuring out how to release it in a controlled and safe way.

    Until I see a working reproducable experiment, I won't believe Mills has done it. I need a demonstration. However, I think Mills is keeping his research secret due to patent concerns, since the trick to creating hydrinos (if possible) is probably fairly straghtforward chemical reaction and simple to copy.
  • Re:Open Mind (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @10:10PM (#13966380) Journal
    It's not that scientists reject these notions out of hand, it's that there is a basic principal to any science, that can best be summed up as "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Quantum mechanics describes a very large number of observations quite well, and makes many predictions, many of which have been confirmed over the years. Nothing is going to overthrow quantum mechanics, because whatever replaces it is going to have to explain the same data that lead to the development of QM. So, when some folks come along claiming that they've overthrown a theory that's used in everything from making your CD player work to transmitting data at high speeds, the weight is going to be on the claimants to demonstrate their case.

    Believe me, anyone who can find a better theory than QM to describe the physical interactions we see is going to have a Nobel prize at the end of it, and the eternal admiration of his or her fellow scientists. But there are scammers out there of the "this shampoo was designed in a Scandinavian university!!!" who will try to use pseudo-science as part of the con game, so I'm sure you'll probably understand why physicists might be perfectly right to go "wait a minute..." It's not as if some guys haven't tried to scam the scientific community in the past.

  • by Quadraginta ( 902985 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @10:16PM (#13966400)
    I think this guy has focussed on the big and sexy issue of QM and whether it's the Last Word because it's a dazzling distraction. The real hard-to-swallow issue here is thermodynamic. Namely, how is that almost every atom in the Universe has, from the Big Bang right up until 2005 and Dr. Mills' clever insight, remained conveniently "stuck" in a high-energy state?

    Frankly, I would more easily believe QM is rubbish than believe that. He's asking us to believe nearly every atom in the universe is not in its lowest energy state. Well, why not? What pushed all of them up there? Why have they stayed up there for umpty billion years, and, for that matter, continue to stay up there everywhere in the Cosmos except for the environs of 493 Old Trenton Road, Cranbury, NJ, 08512?

    It's not that it would be hard to know if atoms occasionally fell down into states lower than the "lowest" predicted by QM. When they did, if they did, then as Doc Mills says they would emit visible photons. That is, they'd broadcast their activity far and wide: "Yoo hoo! Here I am! Falling to a lower orbit than you thought existed! Whee.....!" The light from this process could hardly be missed by all those folks with giant telescopes peering into the heavens.

    I'm perfectly willing to believe that Doc Mills has stolen a march on Wolfgang Pauli and assorted quantum mechanics. They're only human. But...believe he's discovered a natural process that just happens to not occur anywhere else in the Universe, and just happens to have not happened here on Earth any time from 4,500,000 BC right up until Mills filed his patent? Erg, that's a bit much to swallow.

    My recommendation on Blacklight stock would be Hold, at best.
  • Re:Keeping Score (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lionheart1327 ( 841404 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @10:20PM (#13966415)
    There's always room for refinement.

    I'm as big a fan of our current theories as anybody, but we still have no scientific explanation of high-temperature superconductors even though there's plenty of commercial products that use them.

    Don't worry, they'll figure it out in a few years.

    But I'm saying that just because we think its impossible right now, doesn't mean it is.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06, 2005 @10:20PM (#13966417)
    There is no proof for that. There can be no proof for that. There's merely gobs and gobs of evidence with no counterevidence.

    Proof is for mathematicians, leave it there. Physicists deal in evidence, not proof.
  • by JLF65 ( 888379 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @10:41PM (#13966508)
    Actually, it probably will end up cooking the Earth. Lowering the orbit of the electron increases the probability of fusion. That's how muon catalyzed cold fusion works - replace the electron with a muon, which being heavier orbits at a reduced distance. The lower the orbit, the more likely fusion is to occur. As you build up larger quantities of these hydrinos, their increased odds of fusing means some WILL fuse and you then get lots of nice heat. Since it's a NUCLEAR reaction, it's probably much greater than what will be absorbed by the other hydrinos, resulting in a net heat increase.

    In fact, that's probably what they'll do with these hydrinos in the first place - save them in special containment cells for use in cold fusion. So we get heat from making the hydrinos, then later get even more from their fusion into helium. The net result is this: water -> hydrinos + oxygen -> helium. So the Earth loses water, gains helium, and we get cheaper energy. If we don't wish to deprive the Earth of all its water, eventually they'll have to start using water from someplace else - like comets or other kuiper belt objects.
  • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @10:48PM (#13966536) Homepage Journal
    That may be true, but the interesting thing to note is that a certain young man by the name of Thomas Alva Edison tried over 3,000 different theories since about 1878 before inventing the incandescent light bulb in 1879.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06, 2005 @10:58PM (#13966577)
    That's comparable to the Social Text scheme perpetrated by Alan Sokal [], not only in that they were both adding fake discussion into a system, but in that they both confirmed their preconceptions: that the system was filled with idiots. Wasn't that already obvious in both cases, though?
  • by KagatoLNX ( 141673 ) <> on Sunday November 06, 2005 @11:03PM (#13966592) Homepage
    Actually, that is my point. People get hung up on the cosmology. People try to equate Science with religion because there is an overlap in their answers. That's misguided and people that waste their energy trying to defeat the "enemy" that is Science, miss what's really important about their respective religions--the role of a guidebook, not a textbook.
  • by msuarezalvarez ( 667058 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @11:21PM (#13966663)

    In dealing with lots of these "major breakthroughs" in science, it is impossible or very, very to point at specific errors: it is not the case, usually, that one is dealing with a reasoning which goes all well until a point where a mistake occurs, and from there everything is logically fine. Most of this "breakthroughs" are completely misguided.

    I am a mathematician, so I will not give examples in physics, but in math. You may remember that last year (or was it two years ago?) that a swedish student claimed to have proved Hilbert []'s sixteenth problem []; this call quite widely covered by the media. The paper had been accepted by a respected journal, and it was supposed to have withstood peer review. While the subject of that particular problem is not my area of expertise, as soon as the journal published an electronic version of the paper (mostly due to "public" pressure) I downloaded it, printed it out, and sat down and read. Only by looking at it it was clear that there was absolutely no way that paper could have solved the 16th problem. It's not that there was a particular mistake (say, something you can point at: "the equation on page 4, line 5, has the wrong signum"). But it was plain to anyone who'd reached what's known as "mathematical maturity" that that did not any way imaginable solve (not even partially) the problem.

    The same thing happens quite frequently when grading work done by students...

  • by zCyl ( 14362 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @11:26PM (#13966682)
    No, the safest and most abundant practical source of energy is--conservation.

    That's a fairly incorrect statement. Can you make a conservation-powered battery or a conservation-powered electricity plant?

    Conservation is simply a proposal that everyone should just use less stuff, but it does not offer any substantial solutions for the remaining use that will continue after using "less". Populations continue to grow. Even after using "less", there are still more and more people who are each using "less", and in a short time consumption will rise to its previous level even with each person using "less". This is not a solution, simply a short postponement.
  • Re:Keeping Score (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paul the Bold ( 264588 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @11:30PM (#13966704)
    You are absolutely right, you need a theory that can explain all observed effects. My argument was intended to dissuade people from jumping on the Hydrino bandwagon because there is a great deal of evidence supporting quantum mechanics. Most people have not made measurements of quantum phenomena, but we rely daily upon devices that are only explained by quantum phenomena. Some of those devices (FET, MRI, LASER) were predicted by quantum mechanics long before their invention. Quantum mechanics has a remarkable record. I was trying to give people evidence supporting quantum mechanics without requiring that they step into a laboratory.

    You make a great point when you say, "If Mills' theory actually predicts that these devices would act differently, then yes, his theory is clearly flawed." Quantum mechanics already explains these things. If Mills wants to replace quantum mechanics, then the burden of proof is on Mills.

    If we were to observe something that cannot be explained by quantum mechanics, then I would eagerly study this new thing. I would be thankful to live in such an exciting time. However, I am not convinced that Mills has something new. When he opens his lab to the world, when he allows everybody access to his methods, when he stops making claims that it will be ready in just a few months, when he ships a working product, then I will be convinced.
  • You're taking quantum *theory* as gospel. At one point in time, people did the same thing when they *knew* the world was the center of the universe or that if you went too far from shore, you'd fall off.

    It's a theory, to be discarded when it's proven to be false. A working idea. nothing more, nothing less.
  • by scotch ( 102596 ) on Sunday November 06, 2005 @11:40PM (#13966738) Homepage
    Let's make the analogy more explicit. The flat earth theory was offered because it fit the evidence:
    • the ground is flat
    • the earth doesn't look like a ball from here
    • if the earth were not flat, wouldn't people fall off?

    So after the flat earth theory, we have the new theories: the earth is a sphere (appx). The important thing is that the new theory fits the existing evidence:

    • the ground is flat because the sphere is large and locally it looks flat
    • from close up to a large shape, you can't tell what shape it is
    • gravity holds us to the earth, the sphere-ish shape is a direct consequence of gravity, as well

    In the same way, any theory that replaces QM will need to explain the myriad and complicated evidences that QM explains.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 06, 2005 @11:46PM (#13966777)
    The Bible is not a text book on where we came from and how everything works.... It is a guide/law to how you live your life.

    Right then, I'm off to wipe out everyone I don't like, because a "voice from THE LORD" told me to. You might want to sit down and READ the "Old Testament", and no skipping the boring bits, before spouting nonsense like this ... you'll probably be a little shocked, unless you think genocide is a fine thing.

  • by Rutulian ( 171771 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @12:03AM (#13966861)
    Nevertheless, like the *theory* of evolution, it is well established by quite a bit of math and experimental evidence. It isn't perfect by any means; physicists have been trying to unify it with other theories like relativity for quite some time, and haven't succeeded yet. But you don't just toss it out the door on a whim. Anything that claims to "disprove" quantum theory is going to be heavily criticized before it has a chance of being accepted.
  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @12:09AM (#13966890)
    Still, it would be nice to have some major shakeup in physics... there really haven't been any in my lifetime.

    Geez. How young are you? ;-)

    Just off the top of my head: the fact that the expansion rate of the universe appears to be *increasing*? That was a pretty discipline shaking discovery.

  • by lambadomy ( 160559 ) <> on Monday November 07, 2005 @12:28AM (#13966981)
    There is no reason it couldn't be in the middle, or some Intelligent Designer started evolution, etc. The whole ID vs Evolution problem is that ID isn't an actual scientific theory, it's just "well...god did it". Not testable, not provable, makes no predictions, etc. So the debate isn't whether or not people can go and believe in ID all they want, or if the two are compatible...but whether or not ID should be taught in science class with all the actual science.

    So while people taking theories as gospel is a problem sometimes, a bigger problem is people not understanding what *theory* means, and assuming it's just a guess to be tested. No, thats a hypothesis. Most of these theories are pretty well tested. And as for taking it as gospel...the whole point is that not only are they tested, but we continue to test them and modify them if we need to. People don't come up with discoveries that blow away well-tested theories very often.
  • by ChuckleBug ( 5201 ) * on Monday November 07, 2005 @12:36AM (#13967018) Journal
    The problem is that so many people take these *theories* as gospel and set out purposely to make anything that might contradict them in the least fail, ignoring evidence or worse. Theories are ideas, not hard fact. A lot of people have lost sight of that and seem to be trying to turn science into the new religion.

    I think you're missing something, though. A theory isn't a guess, it's a body of knowledge that explains/describes observed facts. In evolution's case, this theory is built on a massive pile of evidence from biology, genetics, geology, astronomy, and on and on. It, like all scientific knowledge, could be superceded by something else, but that something would have to be very, very, VERY well supported and undergo a huge amount of scrutiny. Same thing with Quantum Meachanics. It's very well supported, and has been verified over and over again empirically. For someone to claim to overturn that, it would take a lot more than one anomalous claim. That's how it's supposed to work.

    When someone tellss me they can "disprove evolution," or "disprove quantum theory," I am immediately very skeptical and would require a lot of convincing to take them seriously. That's how it's supposed to be. If they really can overturn well supported theories, they have to bring with them enough evidence to do the job. That's not religious dogmatism--it's just sensible. If they're right, that QM is no good, then they should be able to demonstrate that. Their mountain of evidence has to be big and strong enough to topple my mound of evidence.

    On top of that, we have a constant barrage of crackpots claiming to have built perpetual motion machines or have a new form of energy. Yes, their "evidence" is often ignored, but that's partly the fault of crackpots. They've cried wolf too many times, and most scientists (and science teachers) don't have time to closely examine every claim. Life's too short to waste on chasing wild geese. Yes, there are some doozy examples of scientists ignoring someone who was right. That's because science isn't perfect, but it does have self-correcting mechanisms. People talk about Wegener being laughed at when he proposed continental drift. That looks foolish now, but the evidence won out in the end. The scientific process works, even if it sputters a bit now and then.
  • by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @12:40AM (#13967039)
    You are way off base. Every theory backed by sufficient evidence has to be subsumed in future theories (i.e. they have to explain those results as well). Nobody ever "disproved" Newtonian physics, they just came up with more complete theories that reduce to the old Newtonian physics for most normal, human scales (i.e. quantum mechanics and all that came from it for the very small stuff, and general relativity, for the very big stuff).

    So if you have a new theory that explains otherwise unexplainable results, great, but it better also explain why my toaster over, and my CRT, and my LCD, and my computer, and my car and so forth all work too, or else it's worthless.

    BTW, a huge amount of very useful physics is still done using Newtonian mechanics. To think that physicists "discarded" a useful theory because there were more accurate ones for other domains is foolish. I think most physicists would tell you that quantum mechanics is useful and accurate, but I am sure most will tell you that they don't think it's "right" in the sense of being complete and correct. That's old news. If this guy has something that's more complete and correct in that it explains all the old stuff and some new stuff too, I am certain physicists will embrace it, though it will probably take somewhere between a few years and a decade to convince themselves that it all works out (similar things happened with GR and QM).

    Also, not every new discovery is "revolutionary". Plenty are simply minor modifications to the existing theories to account for new results. That seems plausible here to me. That or this guy is defrauding investors big time. Which seems to still be the most likely explanation.
  • by internic ( 453511 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @12:50AM (#13967079)

    Look, I'd certainly like to see a good debunking of various crackpot theories, but the bottom line is that Slashdot is not really the right forum. Articles are only on the front page for a day and usually only receive significant attention for a few hours. That's not a good format for a detailed intelligent exchange, not to mention the lack of good resources for formatting equations and diagrams. We may lack people with enough time and the appropriate expertise in our audience, and even if we have them we'll also have a lot of "armchair physicists" in the mix creating a lot of noise in the discussion. Finally, if you want to read actual exchanges on the technical details of scientific theories and really understand them you need the appropriate background (like, say, a B.S. in Physics), which undoubtedly the /. audience overwhelmingly lacks. The point is that there's a place for debates about the scientific validity of a new theory: scientific journals. There the reviewers and the readership have the background to address the details properly and completely.

    Could there be someone out there on the net with a revolutionary theory just waiting to be discovered? Perhaps, but for each one of those there are hundreds or thousands of crackpots. Slashdot is not equipped to properly decide which is which. If Slashdot continues posting stories about supposed breakthroughs without the requisite evidence of plausibility (which I discuss a bit here []), then at best it is wasting the time of the readers, and at worst it is helping to perpetuate scientific hoaxes that are used to swindle the gullible out of their money.

    As to scientific reasons why this fellow's theory may be incorrect, I have not looked into it in detail. I gave some reasons that it seems implausible at first glance here []. It strikes me, however, that there is almost certainly another problem with this theory, which is that it violates Bell's Theorem []. I glanced at Mills' book, in which he claims that his theory is based upon the classical, macroscopic laws of physics, which would make it what is called a "local realistic hidden variables theory". John Bell (and others) proved a theorem that states any local realistic hidden variables theory must obey certain relationships, known as "Bell's inequalities", (e.g. the Clauser-Horne-Shimony-Holt inequality), while quantum mechanics violates them in some cases. This means that if any Bell's inequality is violated, no local hidden variables theory can explain that phenomenon. Over the years, many tests of Bell's inequalities have been done (e.g. A. Aspect et al., "Experimental Tests of Realistic Local Theories via Bell's Theorem", Phys. Rev. Lett. 47, 460 (1981)) and shown them to be violated, meaning no local realistic hidden variables theory could be true. Thus, it seems, Mills' theory should be already experimentally ruled out. Appreciating why Bell's inequalities must be true requires some knowledge of quantum mechanics, but I hope you can get the gist from what I've said here and the Wikipedia article.

    Now, I have no idea if the effect Mills' claims to see is real. It's possible the effect is real, but he just has a completely incorrect explanation. It could also be some sort of systematic error. Personally, I wouldn't give it much credence until an independent group with a good background in spectroscopy can repeat the experiment and consistently get the same result.

  • by arminw ( 717974 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @01:03AM (#13967144)
    .....If he has a prototype it is a theory....

    No! If the prototype actually does what is claimed, it is a working model, living proof that it works by producing the huge amounts of energy. Explaining HOW or WHY it works as claimed would be the theory. Until such a working model actually exists and can be demonstrated publicly, it appears to be in the same catgory as the "cold fusion" business of some years ago, namely a hoax.
  • by utnow ( 808790 ) <> on Monday November 07, 2005 @01:06AM (#13967156) Homepage
    But where did the "only takes one exception to disprove an entire theory" thing disappear to? I was under the impression that scientists were just looking at evidence and deriving unbiased models to explain it. Repeat his experiment... if you get the same results, and those results fly in the face of Quantum theory... then it needs to be thrown out. It dosen't matter how many years of existing evidence or experimentation exist for it. When did scientists become creationists?
  • by Flawless Void ( 928916 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @01:10AM (#13967170)
    Actually, the structure of quantum mechanics is quite simple--objects (states) that are defined on a linear vector space are about as simple as you could possibly get. The axioms of the theory have analogues in optics and wave mechanics--are those any less beautiful or elegant? Some of the quantum numbers are in fact not arbitrary--they are constrained by the solutions to the partial differential equations from which they are derived (example: the spherical harmonics in the solution to the hydrogen atom--not Mills' version...). Quantum mechanics, and its relativistic extension into quantum electrodynamics has provided us with the most accurate measurement of any physical quantity (the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron). I'd say the theory deserves a little more than only being correct "mathematically speaking". Feynman's (and Dirac's) "sum-over-histories" path integral approach to quantum mechanics is actually quite beautiful, and even has applications in "nonquantum" physics. It might be the genesis of the theory that will eventually subsume quantum physics. It took Euler, Lagrange and Hamilton a century or so to bring classical mechanics to a new level. Don't be too hard on the quantum. It's still quite young.
  • Crackpots (Score:3, Insightful)

    by srleffler ( 721400 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @01:14AM (#13967197)
    I have often noticed that medical doctors and engineers seem to make the best crackpots. Interestingly, this guy seems to be both. The reason seems to be that engineers and M.D.'s have enough science and math training to think they understand science, and can do math well enough to think they have 'proved' their crackpot theory. They don't, however, have enough background to understand how things like quantum mechanics and relativity actually work, and they aren't really trained in the scientific method so they don't understand how to actually support or refute a theory.
  • Re:Occam's Razor (Score:2, Insightful)

    by greg_barton ( 5551 ) <> on Monday November 07, 2005 @01:17AM (#13967210) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot comment, circa 1904:

    "Okay, we have two choices:

    a) A lowly patent clerk who can hardly support his family, let alone get a faculty position at a respected university, has revolutionized physics.

    b) Yet another cheap fraud/error/delusion.

    I'd be thrilled if Occam's razor was wrong this time around..."
  • by tehdaemon ( 753808 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @02:23AM (#13967455)
    You misunderstood the 'one exception' principal. You don't throw out a theory when it is proved wrong. You just mark it as 'in need of replacement'. A flawed theory is usually better than no theory at all, especially if you know where the flaws are and work around them.

    So, when do you throw out a disproved theory? When you come up with a better one. (better means it explains everything the old one did, plus whatever evidence disproved the old one. Usually you get some more stuff too - that is bonus)

    Assumption - this guy is right and Quantum mechanics has been proved wrong. Where is the better theory?

    To those replying 'we still use newtons law of gravity - and we know it is wrong' That is different. we have a better theory, newton's laws have been thrown out. It is just that the new theory is hard to use, and the flaws in the old theory are well known. We use it because it gives good enough answers. Nothing more. As an explaination of 'how the universe works', Newton's laws are long gone.

  • by Ahnteis ( 746045 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @02:25AM (#13967466)
    Their mountain of evidence has to be big and strong enough to topple my mound of evidence.

    No, their evidence just has to be verifiable. One fact is enough to disprove a theory. You only need a mountain of evidence to demonstrate that a theory appears to be true.

    Now, it's quite possible to have a theory or model that is USEFUL because it fits MOST circumstances -- we use those all the time in science. But eventually you have to realize that it is only that -- useful, not law.
  • by ChuckleBug ( 5201 ) * on Monday November 07, 2005 @03:44AM (#13967737) Journal
    No, their evidence just has to be verifiable. One fact is enough to disprove a theory.

    But look what you've done. You've gone from "evidence" to "fact" in one fell swoop. One fact can be enough to disprove a theory. But determining that the fact is indeed a fact will take a lot of evidence. It is only right that extreme scrutiny be applied to claims of facts that disprove well-established theories. "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." So yes, you will need a lot of evidence to overturn the second law of thermodynamics or QM. Evolution is such a far-reaching and complex theory that I find it hard to imagine a single fact that could disprove it. Maybe you can give an example of one?

    Usually, facts like these don't result in well-established theories being discarded. They result in theories being modified. It always bothers me when, for example, people will claim that Newton's theories were proven "wrong," when in fact they were merely incomplete. The Mars rovers got there on Newtonian physics. Quantum theory isn't useful for orbital mechanics. So, I agree with you about models being important in proportion to their usefulness.

    I don't know about the usefulness of discussions of the semantics of the word "law". If someone wants to call the laws of thermodynamics "suggestions," I don't know what's gained or lost.

    P.S. Sorry for any typos. I checked, but I seem to always miss some. I cut my finger and am trying to type with a big ol' bandage on my left index finger.
  • Problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Monday November 07, 2005 @04:27AM (#13967862) Homepage Journal
    Virtually everything written by Fermat was also wrong. However, Fermat's Last Theorum has ended up not only being right (in a way Fermat could not possibly have known), but has shown a fascinating relationship between two different geometrical systems.

    Does this mean we should take every crackpot seriously? No, of course not. What it does mean, though, is that serious scientists should be encouraged to not rule something as meaningless merely because it is likely incorrect as stated. If we'd done that, we'd never have learned anything about anything.

    A trivial example is the "Cold Fusion" fiasco from Fleich and Pons (spelling may vary) from Utah. Well, I doubt anyone seriously expected anyone from Utah - especially chemists - to stumble onto anything interesting in physics. And, surprise surprise, they didn't. What they DID stumble onto, however, was a very interesting form of fuel cell that can store fairly large amounts of hydrogen within the cell.

    ObTrivia: The problem with Apollo 13 was that hydrogen and oxygen stored for use by the fuel cells was vented into space after an explosion. Conclusion: If the fuel was stored in a chemically stable form, which could be electrically released to generate more power than was used to release the fuel, then you'd have an fairly accident-proof fuel cell. If the fuel was then contained wholly in the cells, you would need no fuel tank or fuel lines, removing a problem with existing hydrogen technology.

    Can these claims have any meaningful value? I don't know, but I do know that if they do and they are 100% ignored because they're meaningless as is, we never will know. The trick is to learn what is useful without being burned by the useless, discarding that which cannot be usefully learned from without discarding information which would save time to examine closer.

  • by Herve5 ( 879674 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @04:45AM (#13967922)
    "When someone tells me they can "disprove evolution," or "disprove quantum theory," I am immediately very skeptical and would require a lot of convincing to take them seriously."

    I fully second this.
    When Einstein's relativity took on the classical mechanics, it didn't "disprove it", it showed it to be a peculiar case (working 99% of time) in a more general picture.

    Tell me about a new theory that would *include* quantum mech. as a specific case, I'll start being interested.
  • by nickco3 ( 220146 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @06:27AM (#13968211)
    Nor was there ever a "theory of the flat Earth" (in fact, no observations would support that conjecture, so it could never become a theory).

    If you're an ancient Greek ship captain in 1000 BC, the current theory is a flat Earth surrounded by a rotating-sphere of fixed-stars. The observations support it and it's an entirely usable theory. You can use that knowledge to navigate around the Mediterranean. Like Newtonian mechanics, it's accurate enough for 99% of real-world cases. For our captain, a round-Earth concept is an unnecessary complication.

    Consider this: how often do you navigate with a map in preference to a globe? That's an implicit acceptance that the ground beneath your feet is flat like the map, and not curved. The flat map is accurate enough, right? Your own observations are supporting a flat Earth model. You aren't observing to a high enough accuracy to detect the error.

    The old flat Earth idea is a useful way to demonstrate how incorrect theories can still be supported by the evidence, and even used in real world applications.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 07, 2005 @09:30AM (#13968822)

    Evolution happened. In that sense, it is a fact, and all that remains is to explain how it happened.

    You accept on faith the eternity of matter.

    You accept on faith that the most complex processes that we still don't fully grasp despite our best technology happened accidently.

    You accept on faith that matter without intelligence managed to organize into the most complex organisms.

    Hmmm...evolution sounds like a nice religion. Where do I go to church?

    If I say the universe has an intelligent design and point out complex systems that require intelligent design while you point to some fossils in some strata and natural differentiations between animals as evolution, then I would suggest that you require a lot more faith than most religions.

    If I point to a house and say that house, over millions of years formed naturally through evolution you would think I was on crack, yet you point to complex organisms with multiple systems working together and say that they happened accidently. Well, that is unless you believe in IE (intelligent evolution) which I suppose you do considering your comments.
  • by Dolda2000 ( 759023 ) <fredrik@dol d a 2 0 0 0 . c om> on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:07AM (#13969406) Homepage

    You accept on faith the eternity of matter.

    Why do you think that? It is widely accepted that matter is likely to disintegrate in a couple of billion years thanks to proton decay. To generalize more than that, however, the concept of eternity of matter is based on induction, like many other scientific principles: Since noone has ever seen fermionic matter decay or otherwise disappear, and such future decay cannot be deduced from the laws of nature that we have so far discovered, there is no reason to assume otherwise. It's called "Occam's razor": Don't assume more complexity than is necessary to explain a given phenomenon.

    You accept on faith that the most complex processes that we still don't fully grasp despite our best technology happened accidently.

    What makes you think that it is accepted "on faith"? These days, evolution has even been actually observed in labs, and on not only microbes, but even insects and possibly even larger animals. Even before that, however, what evolution allowed was to deduce the creation of life from a very simple set of rules. In that manner, evolution is not accepted on faith: It was deduced as a reduction of the complexity that we see in nature, and conversely, the complexity that we see in nature can be deduced from evolution. That does not hold true for ID: It offers no way of deducing why life looks as it does, nor does it offer a way to deduce how life will continue to change in the future. In that manner, evolution is a "better" theory than ID, since it allows more observations to be deduced, and more future observations to be predicted (and hence also confirmed), and also in that way, it is not accepted "on faith".

    You accept on faith that matter without intelligence managed to organize into the most complex organisms.

    Again, what makes you think that that is accepted "on faith"? It has been observed in mathematical simulations over and over again, that simple building blocks without intelligence and governed only by extremely simple rules, can organize autonomously into very complex organisms. Consider things such as neural networks, cellular automata, simulated evolution, or only the Game of Life. The building blocks of nature (elementary particles or superstrings or whatever it turns out to be) are governed by even more complex rules, they have had much more time than our simulations and they are far more numerous than we will be able to simulate in the coming millenium or so (indeed, we can never simulate our entire universe, since that would require a computer larger than the universe, but even if we restrict the simulation to "only" our own galaxy or solar system, we won't be able to do it in quite a while), so it is no more than natural to assume that they will be able to organize into more complex organisms than we have seen in simulations.

    Conversely, why do you accept on faith that matter requires intelligence in order to organize into complex organisms? That simpler things organize into more complex things is something that happens all around us, all the time. Just think of how the individual living things on earth organize into eco systems, and similar happenings. It can be simply deduced how non-intelligent things organize into complex things (for example, this is what the theory of evolution helps doing) -- how would you go about deducing that intelligence is required in order to organize complex systems?

    Now, to take care of your more explicit flames:

    If I say the universe has an intelligent design and point out complex systems that require intelligent design while you point to some fossils in some strata and natural differentiations between animals as evolution, then I would suggest that you require a lot more faith than most religions.

    Please do that. I would be very interested in seeing what kind of natural systems that "require" intelligent des

  • creationism != ID (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Parity ( 12797 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @11:27AM (#13969547)
    'creationism/ID (yes, they are the same thing).'

    No, they are not the same thing. They are both philosophical and theological theories, and not scientific theories at all, of course, but that doesn't make them the same thing any more than it makes gravity and conservation of energy the same thing. Creationism is a fundamentalist point of view that god actively created the world (in the extreme case, literally in 7 days). Intelligent design is compatible with creationism, but it's also compatible with the Theist notion of the divine clockmaker - the notion of a God who created the universe by giving it a push at the dawn of time, and since has been hands off. (Intelligent design would hold that such a god would have had to be very selective in the direction of his push, of course.) Not that I'm endorsing these views, but, claiming that they are the same is oversimplification, and including such errors weakens your whole argument. (Not as badly as claiming ID is a scientific theory weakens your opponent's arguments, of course.)

  • by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @02:11PM (#13971239) Homepage
    "...Blacklight Power, has tens of millions of dollars in investment lined up to bring the idea to market."

    Most marketing firms would have stuffed a sock in this person's mouth at this point; Because without a working model, it's just noise that wakes up any competitors. But consider the Venture Capitalists here. V.C.'s make their money by selling the idea to investors, not advertising by talking to the likes of /.

    On a positive note. This V.C. Founder just might be the first to do it; Then I'll say, "I'm sorry."
  • by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Monday November 07, 2005 @04:17PM (#13972648) Homepage
    A theory is not a fact.

    Correct. But don't forgect to inculde the Theory of Gravity in that. That is not a fact either.

    It is purely an argument of ingorance to attempt to attack evolution as "just a theory". The computer you are typing on right now and the silicon microprocessor inside were created through the theories of chemistry and electricity and quantum mechanics and more. Your computer is built on nothing but scientific theories. And it works.

    The theory of evolution is just as scientifically valid and well supported as the theories of chemistry and geology or any other field of science. Evolution is, and sghould be treated as, just another field of science.

    Go ahead and attempt to attack chemistry as "just a theory". People will dismiss you as a crackpot and an idiot. Chemists will insult you and treat you like an idiot. You should expect exactly the same treatment from biologists when you make the exact same rediculous argument.

    I guess I realy shouldn't blame you, it's most likely your local highschool's fault for failing to properly teach what science is and what it means and how it works.

    Does anyone really believe that a giraff's neck grew longer because generations stretched their necks to get food higher up a tree?

    Ignorance, and again your highschool's fault. That idea is called Lamarckian inheritance. Any decent highschool biology class should explain Lamarckian inheritance... including that exact giraff example... and explain that it was the old idea before evolution and that it has been proven wrong. Any proper highschool biology class should have taught you that evolution does not say that.

    Your comment is like attacking the science of geology by saying "Does anyone really believe that the earth is flat?" OF COURSE the world is not flat. The science of geology SAYS the world is not flat.

    You would be ridiculed for attacking geology with that argument, ridiculed for suggesting geologists thought the world was flat.

    Evolution says that some giraffs had longer necks than others (normal variation), and that the giraffs with the shortest necks died (the main reason probably being that they couldn't get as much food as taller giraffs), and evolution says that baby giraffs generally inherit the exact same trait their parents had... and in this case there weren't baby giraffs with shorter than average necks because the there we no parents with shorter than average necks because they all died. That even without mutation, the average neck length will constantly increase because the below average ones drop dead. If you keep eliminated the bottom half the average will always increase, even if the top half is unchanged. And on top of that unchanging inheretance, sometimes there will be a mutation which will randomly increase or decrease their neck length at random. And again, any giraff born with a mutated shorter neck would likely drop dead and have no children. We would never see anything of that shorter-neck mutant from 30 million years ago because it would have died and left no children. So the only mutation from 30 million years ago that you ever see, the only one that sticks around, is the one for the longer neck. And now that there is this new variation in the population, again the girraffs with the longer than average necks multiply while the ones with the shorter than average necks all dropped dead and had no children. All pretty simple and obvious. And over 30 million years you can accumulate a lot of mutations. And while all of the mutations appear to magically go in the same direction, that is merely because the ones that didn't all DIED. That selection is the "magic" that creates informaton and keeps mutations moving in a positive direction. The mutations that don't move in a postive direction existed, but they died, were erased from visible history. And we have plenty of fossils showing the line of evolution of giraffs. Millions of years ago they were much like deer, and if you put the fossils in date
  • by ThaReetLad ( 538112 ) <sneaky@blueRABBI ... minus herbivore> on Monday November 07, 2005 @07:44PM (#13974825) Journal
    What you'll find there is an expert (A guy studying for a PhD in Critical textual analysis of ancient documents, who goes by the name caesar) pointing out that there are no serious and well regarded scholars who deny that Jesus existed, and that some of the new testament document have their origin just a few years after Jesus was crucified. Given that is the case, anyone who wishes to deny the historical accuracy of the claims of the gospels has to come up with a good theory as to why this fledgling cult wasn't killed off like so many others.

    Once you accept the fact that Jesus existed and that the NT is generally reliable, insomuch that it hasn't been significantly altered since it was written, you have then only to believe or disbelieve what the books actually contain. To disregard the claims of the gospel you have nothing more solid than simply denying that such things are possible. This is also known as an argument from incredulity, a logical falacy.

    If the claims of the NT had been false, they would have been convincingly squashed very early on, simply by the Jewish authorities producing the body of Jesus, or people who were cited as eyewitnesses to these events would have been produced to deny that they did witness them, and that would basically have been that. Instead, people chose to die rather than say they did not see these things, some of them in extremely gruesome ways.

    To be honest, I cannot begin to imagine how difficult it would have been to fake the claims of the gospels, and to find people willing to die for a lie.

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.