Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen
In science, or, as scientific philosophy would have it, if you can’t duplicate and replicate a result over and over again within an acceptable margin of error, that result is discarded as invalid or subject to a variable yet defined.
Everyone is happy.
That is, until, someone comes up to you and says, “hey, when is a limit a limit?” Then you realise it’s not so simple. As a matter of fact, it becomes impossible.
For instance, when someone boils pure water under normal conditions (i.e., 1 atm pressure as per ASTM standards for boiling water), the water will boil only at 100 degrees Celcius. Repeat that a million times, and the result will remain the same.
As of yet, of course.
Because the result has remained the same with a zero percent margin of error, it is accepted as ‘definite’. Unless, of course, someone somewhere discovers that he (or she) can boil water at 101 degrees Celcius despite maintaining normal conditions.
That person would probably be the godzilionth person to boil water and obtain a different result. Then, when you examine his (or her) result, you realise that there is an abnormally high occurrence of neutrino activity that is otherwise not thought to have any effect on water.
As a result, you now have to revise the ASTM edition that says the normal condition for boiling water is 1 atm pressure. Now, you have to boil water hundreds upon thousands of times with varying degrees of exposure to neutrinos to decide if or not neutrinos affect the temperature in which water boils.
Good luck with that.
The point is, in science, something that is accepted as definite or a certainty is assumed as such because nobody has been able to provide evidence to the contrary.
So it’s an assumption. But when does an assumption become a ‘certainty’?
If you go by the example above, the answer is “never.”
For instance, everyone thought Einstein was right, that no particle could travel faster than the speed of light.
Actually, it was Albert A. Michelson and Edward W. Morley who discovered this as they conducted countless experiments to detect the existence of the luminiferous aether, a supposed medium permeating space that was thought to be the carrier of light waves
Their experiments compared the speed of light in perpendicular directions in an attempt to detect the relative motion of matter through the stationary luminiferous aether (“aether wind”).
But each time, the result was negative, as were the results of all others who came after them.
Finally, when it came to Einstein, he theorised that nothing could travel faster than the speed of light, because every experiment conducted under every conceivable condition could not prove otherwise.
The scientific community eventually gave in simply because Einstein was a ‘big name’, whose theories on light travel helped define the theory of relativity.
Everyone was happy, until some smart alec came along and proved, among others, that neutrinos could travel faster than the speed of light.
That jeopardized everything that Einstein had accomplished and threatened to rewrite the books on particle physics and quantum mechanics.
That is, until, another smart alec came along and proved that the experiment conducted by the previous smart alec had flaws.
The debate is ongoing.
But don’t fret.
Nobody has yet recorded any occurrence in which “water boils at 101 degrees Celcius under accepted normal conditions.”
As such, the “margin of error” insofar as “water boiling at 100 degrees Celcius” is concerned is zero, and scientists are happy to say that “water boiling at 100 degrees Celcius” is a fact.
Who says it?
Because they have yet to see anything to the contrary. Seeing is believing, they say, and in the case of science, ‘seeing’ is making measurements that quantitatively define a result. If they can’t ‘see’ it, they won’t believe it.
That explains why many scientists rubbish the existence of a God. There is no God, they say, because we have yet to ‘see’ Him.
But when a certain Ahmad stands for trial and tells the Judge, for whatever reason, that water in his house boils at 101 degrees Celcius, they call in the scientist.
And the scientist will swear upon heaven and earth and all that is between that water, under normal conditions, will boil only at 100 degrees Celcius – no more, no less.
Ultimately, it is the ‘science of law’ will prevail, because the ‘learned’ Judge will turn to a science officer, call in the officer’s science and accept that water does not boil at 101 degress Celcius.
Because the science officer swore upon God to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
“Water will only boil at 101 degrees Celcius when pigs fly”, the officer says.
But from where I stand, pigs are flying…
Why am I writing this?
I don’t know.
It’s one of those days, you know, when I stare at the empty wall and get some funny ideas..
Sometimes, I can be a very funny person…
Try decoding this…