Science

Theory Change in Science — Could This Be a Case in Point?

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Fuel’s paradise? Power source that turns physics on its head

· Scientist says device disproves quantum theory
· Opponents claim idea is result of wrong maths

Alok Jha, science correspondent
Friday November 4, 2005
The Guardian

It seems too good to be true: a new source of near-limitless power that costs virtually nothing, uses tiny amounts of water as its fuel and produces next to no waste. If that does not sound radical enough, how about this: the principle behind the source turns modern physics on its head.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,3605,1627424,00.html

16 Replies to “Theory Change in Science — Could This Be a Case in Point?

  1. 1
    jaredl says:

    I take it you posted this to illustrate the difficulties inherent in assaulting the ruling paradigm, and the methods of retaliation used.

    The reason why ID won’t get assimilated – I think – is because what’s at stake is people’s fundamental justifications for their lifestyles.

  2. 2
    JeffK says:

    I think it weakens the case for ID when you put up examples of voodoo science. The hydrino and cold fusion (throughly tested and debunked) are examples of just this.

  3. 3

    We only know what is voodoo science by testing it. Of course I don’t think QM is about to bite the dust. But unless we approach all of science as in principle revisable and refutable (that includes both ID and conventional evolutionary theory), we’re in for trouble.

  4. 4
    mamoulian says:

    Notice the nature of this scientific discussion. It’s in peer-reviewed literature, by people who are experts in the field that they are discussing. This is how science is supposed to happen. If anything, your reference to this article shows your own argument’s shortcomings.

  5. 5
    neurode says:

    Sounds interesting. However, before dumping the best-confirmed theory in modern physics (quantum mechanics) on Mills’ self-interested sayso, I think we need to see a working power source.

    Personally, I think that if Mills actually has a working device (as opposed to mere written data supposedly generated by some putative device that may or may not actually work), he’s managed to come up with an empty theoretical rationalization that is all but irrelevant to how it actually functions. If, as reported, several corporate types have invested money, it means only that they have been directly convinced by Mills, or that they have been convinced by a very small number of others who were directly convinced by Mills. In either case, I won’t be impressed until I see the device at work, and even then I’ll regard Mill’s explanation of it as hogwash.

    Of course, I may be wrong. But I should add that if Mills’ theory is correct – if we live in a totally deterministic universe – then one can say goodbye not only to free will and its attendant moral responsibilities, but also to any form of ID that is not completely front-loaded, encoded in natural law, and thus equivalent to theistic evolution. Otherwise, one need merely say say hello to somebody who is at worst a con man, and at best another dedicated tinkerer who fatuously supposes that he has all the answers.

  6. 6
    MGD says:

    http://www.news.com.au/story/0.....62,00.html

    Here’s a story in the same vein, questioning Einstein’s relativity this time. What he says about “dark matter” is interesting because recently some researchers were able to model galactic rotation without resorting to hypothetical “dark matter”.

  7. 7
    DaveScot says:

    Further reading:

    http://www.blacklightpower.com

    After reading the claims on the website of patents issued and pending I did a patent search. Pending patents are nothing. Issued patents are as they’ve been reviewed by experts in the field. I realize Blacklight is a British company but the USPTO is the gold standard and people worldwide file with it for IP protection.

    http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi.....;&OS=“blacklight+power”&RS=”blacklight+power”

    The USPTO is notorious for rejecting perpetual motion patent applications so I didn’t really expect to find anything when I searched, figuring that any issued patents were in some other country. Color me surprised!

  8. 8
    DaveScot says:

    Oops – sorry. Blacklight is an American company. I was thinking “British” because Bill’s link was to “The Guardian”, a UK journal.

  9. 9
    scordova says:

    JeffK,

    Voodoo science? Were you referring to Darwinian Evolution?

    An interesiing anectdote. Shelby Brewer is on the board of directors of BlackLight Power. He is an MIT grad, and Assistant Secretary of (Nuclear) Energy. He testified at the senate hearings on the Department of Energy Abolishment Act:

    http://thomas.loc.gov/r104/r104d04se6.html

    (Congressman Tiahrt was involved hearing. And incidentally, Tiahrt’s campaign manager was at the showing of Privileged Planet at the Smithsonian. Tiahrt is a good guy! 🙂 )

    QM is the one of the most successful theories in physics, accurate to 13 decimal places as Berlinski reminds us. At issue for a long time is whether a classical structure may underlie QM. Mills is not dispensing all of QM, he is amending it. His theory is itself GUTCQM (gutsy QM, I like that). If Mills is wrong he’s wrong, but give the guy a chance.

    He is receiving a respectful hearing in the scientific community, and he has the chance to become filthy rich and forever famous if he’s right. Time will tell.

    I point readers to :
    http://www.blacklightpower.com/process.shtml

    I must admit, I’m quitely hoping his ideas are at least partially right, especially if it provides an alternative source of energy.

    Salvador

  10. 10
    Charliecrs says:

    JeffK : “I think it weakens the case for ID when you put up examples of voodoo science. The hydrino and cold fusion (throughly tested and debunked) are examples of just this.”

    Not sure about hydrino but Jeff have ya ever heard about a cold fusion reactor ?
    Check out this link. http://jlnlabs.online.fr/cfr/html/cfr40b.htm

    Is cold fusion really dead ?, think having an alternative power source is a great idea.

    Charlie

  11. 11
    Gumpngreen says:

    Dr. Dembski,

    For the sake of discussion let’s assume Mills’ GUTCQM is correct (or at least closer to reality than classical indeterministic QM). What then becomes of the arguments made in Chapter 20 of your book The Design Revolution?

  12. 12
    neurode says:

    scordova: “QM is the one of the most successful theories in physics, accurate to 13 decimal places as Berlinski reminds us. At issue for a long time is whether a classical structure may underlie QM. Mills is not dispensing all of QM, he is amending it.”

    It’s the “classical” way he’s “amending” it that won’t hold water.

    I’m certainly no expert on Mills or his theory, but it looks like he considers it possible to measure the exact position and energy of a particle, and believes that the classical laws of physics can operate on it in much the usual way. That comes dangerously close to a blanket denial of the most fundamental principle of quantum mechanics (uncertainty), implying that Mills is advocating something a bit more serious than a mere revision of QM. In the absence of uncertainty, the universe would be totally deterministic, free will would be a pathetic illusion, religion would be as meaningless as the atheists and materialists say it is, and of course, goodbye, Intelligent Design.

    I’m sure that nobody will complain if somehow, Mills has tumbled onto a magic bullet capable of solving the world’s energy problems. But even if he has, it’s probably not because he’s the master theorist he’d clearly like to be. (Then again, insofar as great experimentalists are almost never great theorists, he wouldn’t really have to be. If he turns out to have a working device, expert theorists will be all over it in no time flat. Just don’t be too surprised if very little of his grandiose “classical” theory survives the ensuing surgery.)

  13. 13
    Gumpngreen says:

    “In the absence of uncertainty, the universe would be totally deterministic, free will would be a pathetic illusion, religion would be as meaningless as the atheists and materialists say it is, and of course, goodbye, Intelligent Design.”

    *waits for Dr. Heddle, a hardcore Calvinist, to come in and argue that point*

    😉

  14. 14
    dodgingcars says:

    “Dr. Heddle, a hardcore Calvinist”

    Is there any other kind of Calvinist? 🙂

  15. 15
    DaveScot says:

    Actually my admittedly speculative wavering agnostic belief systems entertains the idea that the universe is deterministic with the exception of rational man who God made to keep him from being bored with knowing everything that was going to happen before it happened. I know if I was omniscient and could change it so I no longer knew everything that would happen I surely would to keep myself from going insane with boredom. I’m bored enough as it knowing almost everything… 😉

  16. 16
    scordova says:

    neurode wrote:

    “It’s the “classical” way he’s “amending” it that won’t hold water. ”

    The most important part of Mills theory is the fractional quantum numbers. Interestingly enough, Laughlin won the Nobel Prize for the fractional quantum hall effect. I get a funny feeling there is a connection!

    I have a feeling the theory has a chance of being right without destroying ID. I’m am deeply interested in this as I have stated, ID at it’s root is simply an interpretation of quantum mechanics. Barrow, Tipler, Belinfante have effectively said as much.

    Salvador

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