Re: virus: Discoveries and Inventions
Thu, 6 Feb 1997 10:57:54 -0600 (CST)

On Mon, 3 Feb 1997, Reed Konsler wrote:

> >From: "Wade T.Smith" <>
> >Date: Sat, 1 Feb 97 22:23:30 -0500
> >Subject: Re: virus: Discoveries and Inventions
> >
> >>What is the difference between an invention and a discovery? I'm suspicious.
> >
> >Really?
> >
> >An invention is a creation, a thing which was not before.
> >
> >A discovery is a find, or a description, of that which is.
> >
> >An invention is not discovered, nor a discovery invented, unless you're
> >talking about cold fusion.... ;-)
> How about the electron...was it discovered or invented? It seems to me
> that your answer depends on how you define "electron". In one sense, the
> particle was "discovered" in that it was found as part of reality and is a
> description of "what is".
> On the other hand the "electron" in continiously being re-invented as new
> observations are made. There have been several Quantum/Reletivity/Chaos
> posts here (and elsewhere) that I don't feel like rehashing.
> Her is a list of concepts central to each science:
> Astronomy and Physics The General Theory of Reletivity
> Chemistry Thermodynamics, Quantum Mechanics
> Biology Neo-Darwinism
> Geology Plate Tectonics
> I'm not being exaustive and not saying that these are in any way the "most
> central" concepts...simply that the modern sciences would be quite
> different without these ideas.
> Are they discoveries or inventions?
> How about these concepts?
> Astronomy and Physics Newtonian Mechanics, Geocentrism
> Chemistry Phlogiston, The 4 Elements, Bohr's atom
> Biology Lamarckian evolution, Spontaneous Generation
> Geology Catastrophism
> Discoveries or inventions?

1) Observe that these fields are interrelated. For instance, the decline
of Catastrophism in Geology has much more to do with NeoDarwinism in
Biology, and the doctrine of uniformitarianism, than any physical
evidence that I have read summaries of. [It *is* compatible with
plate tectonics. Another of the annoyances I have with current Geology
writeups is the systematic misreporting of date estimates computed with
most radioactive dating methods [C-14 is exempt]. It takes only College
Algebra, or a decent philosophy background, applied to the procedure in
question, to see that the dates are "maximum possible ages", rather than
"ages" as reported in the literature I have read. [Or has the reporting
convention been reformed since ~1992?]]

Geocentrism *hasn't* been refuted, it just has been shown to be
inconvenient for calculations on the scale of the solar system and larger.

General Relativity effectively reduces to Newtonian mechanics under
Earth-normal conditions. I have *not* seen a General-Relativistic
mechanics text; the K-State Engineering department uses Newtonian
mechanics texts

I have not properly convinced myself [worked enough classical limits]
that Quantum mechanics usually reduces to Newtonian mechanics at
macroscopic scale, but this is usually held to be true. Note that
Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity have yet to be properly integrated.

/ Towards the conversion of data into information....
/ Kenneth Boyd