[M.M.X.I.V. 296/O.C.T.O.B.E.R. III-23] She Blinded Me With Science

SCIENCE!

How fortuitous that this song popped up as the eighth song of the day!  Today is 10/23, and this corresponds to the base and exponent in scientific notation of Avogadro’s number.  In particular, it is 6.02 x 10^23.  This is a ridiculously large number, but it is the number of particles in a mole of any substance.  Yes… today is Mole Day, so enjoy it, my fellow scientists!

Mole Day

Of course, “mole” has other scientific meanings as well:

  • It is an unsightly bump on the body, which oftentimes is banal, but can occasionally be a sign of trouble (i.e. cancerous growth).
  • It is a subterranean animal that creates hills that we don’t want to turn into mountains!

Other words which are used in science are used in colloquial speak in much different forms.  The worst offender here is the word “theory.”  (Some of the remaining argument is based off a Scientific American article.)

In everyday language, people often associate the word “theory” with what scientists consider a “hypothesis.”  The former is an observation that has been verified through many experiments.  The latter is a proposal on how to test a scientific idea, as opposed to just an educated guess.

This is most often seen when talking about the “theory of evolution” or the “theory of climate change”.  Saying that evolution is “just a theory” is like saying that gravity is “just a theory.”  I do not see people failing to be attracted to the ground, especially those that are “skeptical” of science.

Yes, “skeptics” as seen by scientists are those that use critical thinking when discussing science.  By the general public, “skeptics” tend to be those that are under-informed and is therefore the antithesis of critical thinking.  As mentioned in the article, the public’s definition of the word “scientific skepticism” might better be “scientific denial.”

One key thing about science is that it is not like math.  Math (and logic) are based in axioms and definitions, and therefore proofs in math are deduced and will ALWAYS be true.  However, science must be testable, falsifiable, and observable.  The key word is the middle one: “falsifiable”, which I think is missed by the mainstream media when covering so-called scientific controversies.

I’ve got a busy day ahead, so even though I could write more about this, I have to start compiling my code and doing some numerical experiments on crack-opening displacements!

====================================================

Today is the two-hundred and ninety-sixth day of M.M.X.I.V.  That makes forty-two weeks and two days.

Today is the twenty-third day of O.C.T.O.B.E.R.  That makes three weeks and two days.

Happy Mole Day!

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2 thoughts on “[M.M.X.I.V. 296/O.C.T.O.B.E.R. III-23] She Blinded Me With Science

  1. Great stuff, Noah; I always like it when you write about words and their meanings – and the way misunderstandings of a word’s true nature become mainstream and are rarely questioned. Shows that we do, to a greater or lesser extent, create our own reality!

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