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July 26, 2004

Scientific Theories and Change

After 29 years of thinking about it, Stephen Hawking says he was wrong about black holes.
The renowned Cambridge University physicist formally presented a paper Wednesday arguing that black holes, the celestial vortexes formed from collapsed stars, preserve traces of objects swallowed up and eventually could spit bits out "in a mangled form." Last week, in an interview with the British Broadast Corp., he revealed he had changed his long-held thinking on black holes. (complete story)

What are the implications of this reversal? One immediate and important note is that science is filled with uncertainty and theories change. Belief systems based upon science will also change as scientists refine their useful yet approximate theories about "truth".

from Worldmagblog

(1) Hawking's new calculations show that the fundamental law of the Conservation of Matter cannot be violated. Perhaps this will give scientists more faith in another fundamental scientific law, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, that systems by themselves becomes more disordered rather than ordered, a principle that throws Darwinistic evolution into question.

(2) There are no other universes. Just the one we have. This puts a damper on the new religiosity that tries to construct a purely naturalistic faith with supernatural, mystical overtones.

(3) An important thinker has admitted that he was wrong. This seems to almost never happen any more in our relativistic age. Hawking's findings, of course, developed with the absolutes of mathematics, remind us that there is an objective truth, to which our own ideas are subject.

Posted by Blogorithm at July 26, 2004 11:16 PM

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