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Rory
Post  Post subject: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 7:42 pm
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What is magnetism?

The typical answer to this question describes magnetic field lines, magnetic materials and (depending on the level of study) a mathematical description of magnetism.

Most entities in Physics ultimately boil down to charge. If you then ask what is charge, you will tend to receive a reply that is merely a restatement of empirical observations but dressed up as explanations, using terminology that is arbitrary (positive vs. negative) without necessarily any accurate bearing on reality.

What is magnetism?

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 7:57 pm
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Since you posted this in philosophy, I don't trust that I can give a valid answer. It will always boil down to something more basic... "It's a concept invented by humans" or "it's an emergent phenomenon due to the chemo-electrical impulses in our brains" or some other "turtles all the way down" idea. My immediate thought, however, is that it's a gauge field. >> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduct ... uge_theory

Btw - Hope you've been well. Nice seeing you!

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 8:36 pm
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Why do opposite charges attract?

And don't say 'because they're opposite'.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2015 9:28 pm
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Rory wrote:
Why do opposite charges attract?

And don't say 'because they're opposite'.


why not ? it is, after all, the only sensible answer

oh, you were talking about ELECTROmagnetism, not personal magnetism ?

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Fri Nov 20, 2015 8:50 pm
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Yes marnix :-P Why do opposite charges attract?

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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 2:56 am
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It's due to nuclear forces and quark charges.

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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 9:16 am
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Isn't the nuclear force just a description of attraction? It may also feature a mechanism (exchange of mesons) but that then elicits questions about the role of mesons. Quark charge is just another type of charge. Even if you slice matter up into increasingly smaller bits and describe the wave function mathematically, does that constitute an explanation?

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scoobydoo1
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 10:37 am
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Rory wrote:
Even if you slice matter up into increasingly smaller bits and describe the wave function mathematically, does that constitute an explanation?

We have observed that negatively charged particles being attracted to the positively charged, and vice versa. We have also observed that both the positively and negatively charged are attracted to neutral objects.

At some point, one simply accepts the observation of how physical systems behaves at this time. These observed interactions within a physical system behave in such a way that has been reduced to what one might provisionally conclude as being fundamental in nature.

[A] behaves in such a way because of [B],
[B] behaves in such a way because of [C],
[C] works because of the interactions between [D], [E], [F], and possibly [G],
[D], [E], [F] functions because of [J],
[J] behaves as such primarily because of [G],
[G] derives its nature from [H].

[H] is provisionally accepted as being a fundamental force within the physical system where [A], [B], [C], [D], [E], [F], [G], [J] and especially [H] reside and function. When we learn more, you'll be the notified.

Q: "Does Science ever explain anything?"
A: Yes, it does.


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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 3:24 pm
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Arguably, though, the series you delineated isn't a full explanation. It is just a description of interactions between parts.

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marnixR
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 4:10 pm
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if i remember correctly the W boson is the carrier of the strong force - so the question should be reworded : what is it about the W boson that make it link between opposite charges

on the other hand the OP question "does science ever explain anything?" is in essence unanswerable
answers come in different levels and each of them become unsatisfactory if you decide you want to drill deeper

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scoobydoo1
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2015 4:23 pm
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Rory wrote:
Arguably, though, the series you delineated isn't a full explanation. It is just a description of interactions between parts.

In your opinion, what would qualify as a "full explanation"?

Understanding how a physical system (such as our universe at the present time) functions is the primary purpose of science. We observe the behaviour of a subject, defined it, studied it, formulate hypothesis about it, test it, and derive a model of how this subject behaves in a physical system. At some point, why it behaves the way it does comes down to some fundamental properties of the universe, which in itself can't be reduced any further at the present time. As unsatisfying as that may appear to some, it is just the way it is.

In the pursuit of scientific endeavors, we have come to better understand why certain materials that exhibit magnetic properties attract a select few others. We can demonstrate this by simple observation, we can demonstrate on a two dimensional surface (a sheet of glass/plastic/paper) that iron filings are affected in such a way that we have come to understand that there are invisible forces at work (magnetic fields), so on and so forth, till we arrive at how elementary particles possess certain intrinsic properties that all the "upper layers" derives its behaviour from. At some point, it comes down to some fundamental properties of the universe that makes it what it is at the present time.

Can science ever explain anything? Sure it can.

Can science ever explain all the "why" questions? Probably not.


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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Sun Nov 22, 2015 9:59 pm
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How do you discriminate between the genuinely fundamental and that which is merely the current limit of scientific endeavour?

Pre-Einstein, the Newtonian model of gravity probably looked 'fundamental'. Alas, gravity could be described at a deeper level.

I would regard the constants of nature to be fundamental to our Universe
in an axiomatic type of a way.

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scoobydoo1
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 2:54 am
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Rory wrote:
How do you discriminate between the genuinely fundamental and that which is merely the current limit of scientific endeavour?

Notice that I mentioned "at the present time" three times in my last reply.

scoobydoo1 wrote:
    1. Understanding how a physical system (such as our universe at the present time)...
    2. At some point, why it behaves the way it does comes down to some fundamental properties of the universe, which in itself can't be reduced any further at the present time.
    3. At some point, it comes down to some fundamental properties of the universe that makes it what it is at the present time.

And of which, in my earlier reply below.

scoobydoo1 wrote:
When we learn more, you'll be the notified.

I'm not quite sure if I can give a more honest answer without going beyond the bounds of what is currently known (again; at the present time) by our observations of the physical system that is our universe, and what the pursuit of science has yielded so far.


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Rory
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 1:43 pm
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In that case, "fundamental" is used to signpost our ignorance but I don't see how this impacts upon the explanatory power of Science.

Can Science, at the present time, explain why opposite charges attract?

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scoobydoo1
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 4:12 pm
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Rory wrote:
In that case, "fundamental" is used to signpost our ignorance but I don't see how this impacts upon the explanatory power of Science.

Can Science, at the present time, explain why opposite charges attract?

To an extent, Yes. I suspect the following links may be insightful.


The following Feynman interview may also be relevant to this thread topic - if you are able to digest and relate to what he has said.



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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Mon Nov 23, 2015 6:41 pm
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I always liked that clip.

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Harold
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Mon Dec 28, 2015 9:55 am

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Richard Feynman compared science to watching a game of chess being played, where we can only see a corner of the chessboard. After watching long enough, we can deduce (some of) the rules of chess. Every once in a while, we will see something different, like castling, and we learn a new rule.

That's all science does or can do. With this method you will never know if you have discovered all the rules, nor will you learn who is playing chess, why we are playing chess instead of parcheesi, or even if those are valid questions to ask.


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wegs
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Mon May 16, 2016 1:50 am
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Science gives us the tools to explain things, but science doesn't know everything, and can't know everything. It can only help to reveal truths.


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iNow
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Mon May 16, 2016 3:01 am
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wegs wrote:
Science gives us the tools to explain things, but science doesn't know everything, and can't know everything. It can only help to reveal truths.

Or perhaps more apropos, it can only help to peel back layers of falsehood and provide a mechanism to avoid falling prey to our own biases and (often unconscious) self-deception.

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PhDemon
Post  Post subject: Re: Does Science ever explain anything?  |  Posted: Mon May 16, 2016 11:48 am

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Rory wrote:
Why do opposite charges attract?

And don't say 'because they're opposite'.


Because the system with them in contact is a lower energy state than that where they are separated. Most things* rearrange themselves in the lowest energy state if left to their own devices.

* to quote Dr Goldacre, it's a bit more complicated than that but it's essentially true for a given value of true... :P

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