Saturday, October 27, 2007

End of science

On May 5th, 1997, a book called "The End of Science" by John Horgan was released. Since the moment when this Gentleman announced the end of science, the following discoveries, among thousands of others, were made.

In high-energy physics, I only include some results usually with more than 500 - and in almost all cases, more than 1,000 - citations:
  • it was found that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating; the cosmological constant problem got more serious because the constant is apparently nonzero
  • neutrino masses and oscillations were finally measured, including some accurate numbers; later, sterile neutrinos were excluded
  • the WMAP satellite provided us with detailed evidence of scale invariance of the spectrum, supporting inflationary cosmology, and measured deviations from scale invariance for the first time
  • the holographic AdS/CFT correspondence was found, evidence for it was collected, and its implications were studied in 5,000 papers
  • among these results, string theory was used to calculate properties of the quark-gluon plasma in heavy ion collisions at RHIC more accurately than older methods, putting ancient stringy interpretation of strong interactions on a firm ground
  • noncommutative geometry and K-theory were derived as limits of string theory
  • the entropy of many black holes included in string theory has been calculated to all orders in a perturbative expansion
  • it was realized that the additional dimensions of space may be as large as many microns; later, it was also realized that the additional dimensions may be warped which even allows them to be infinite in size
  • a large number of AdS and metastable vacua of string theory were constructed, leading to the prediction of a landscape, possibly consistent with the cosmological constant at the top,

and so on. In climate science, the predictions got roughly 100 times more catastrophic than ever before. The newly found incredible clarity of the subject has even allowed the former vice-president Bc. Al Gore to become the leader of the field and win a Nobel prize for it. ;-)

OK, for entertainment purposes, I had to include a rotten apple. Nevertheless, I think that even climate science has made progress - it is just elsewhere than in the reports served by the mainstream media.

In genetics, the first animals were cloned, the human genome was fully scanned, and the genetic origin of hundreds of diseases, conditions, and characteristics of organisms were identified. I could continue for a long time and include other disciplines.

Nevertheless, the author of the stupidity from 1997, after those ten years that have demonstrated that his stupidity is among the greatest stupidities that have ever been pronounced by homo sapiens, has the stomach to come in front of a conference in Portugal and repeat the same stupidity.

How is it possible? Well, it is because there are almost no people who would be pointing their fingers at this - very politely speaking - intellectual shit that keeps on contaminating the public sphere. That's why the likes of Horgan keep on thriving. If we allow them to thrive, they can indeed force science to end on a sunny day in the future. This is the only way how science could possible end. Let's not allow it.

And that's the memo.

1 comment:

  1. "Well, it is because there are almost no people who would be pointing their fingers at this -"

    That is already an argument for the end of science as social endeavour.