Sheldon: Dawkins was part of the cancel culture 30 years ago “Christianity is like smallpox only harder to eradicate”. So the fact that the cancel culture turns on its own, is not surprising.
But the multiverse isn’t really about evidence or falsifiability. The theory is held in defiance of the demand for evidence and believed in such a way as to make falsifiability sound unCool. As Ball perceptively notes, “Even though most physicists dismiss or even deride it, it is often eagerly embraced by physics popularizers and their audiences.” Perhaps it is best described as a lifestyle choice.
Sheldon: If I recall correctly, the original definition of “functional” was whether that piece of DNA was turned into a protein, which depended on finding a “start” and a “stop” codon. The Human Genome Project reported that some 90% of the human genome didn’t have these “start/stop” features, and hence was “non-functional”. [“Non-functional” underwent considerable revision later.]
Sheldon: I hate to disappoint you, but most of my gut reaction is negative… In fact, this 40-year stasis in particle physics has meant that two generations of graduate students have never had a successful breakthrough experiment, or confirmed a new theory. The field, as Sabine Hossenfelder reminds everyone, is littered with wrong papers.
Sheldon: The skeptical neuroscience student talks about the sin of employing too many statistical searches on the data, also known as “p-hacking”. Once again, the sin is not in using statistics, but rather in refusing to tell the world how many searches you made on the data before you settled on this one. Because the significance is not simply the data p-value, but the search space you used in finding it.
It is most unfortunate that both scientists themselves and the popular press discuss black holes (bh) as if they are (a) a scientifically defined object; and, (b) an experimentally observed one.
Rob Sheldon: Hawking did not get the Nobel, however, because he hung his hopes on the radiation emitted by BH–the so-called “Hawking radiation”. And it was never observed. Sabine tries to explain why. But one argument that Sabine doesn’t make, is that Hawking radiation may never have been observed because BH are themselves never observed.
Recently, our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon took issue with the use of the term “half-life” to describe the survival of DNA in fossils. He says the term has a specific meaning with respect to radioactive decay that just does not apply to other events in nature. In the biology paper at issue, with “half-life” Read More…
Sheldon: “As a physicist, I would like to point out that biologists are misusing the word “half-life”. DNA does NOT have a half-life of 521 years. Radioisotopes have a half-life, because the nucleus is unstable to natural decay through the weak force (for isotopes of interest).” He goes on to say that the weak force of the universe “is unaffected by temperature, pressure, time, or chemicals.” Not so for DNA.
Trust our stalwart physics color commentator Rob Sheldon to draw the logical conclusion about horizontal gene transfer between plants and insects: If plants and insects can exchange genes (and who knows what else can?), what are we to make of dogmatic claims about universal common descent?
Possibly, the most productive aspect of Darwinism in these times is the minting of new terminology to try to paper over the plausibility gap.
Sheldon has some fun with the logical nonsense of the concept.
Siegel: “… if the theory of inflation is a good one, and the data says it is, a multiverse is all but inevitable.” Our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon writes to offer a response.
Sheldon: It is curious that the author of this Aeon article has frozen Wheeler at his second stage, neglecting to mention his final conclusion.
The question, addressed by theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, is more complicated than it appears at first.