There is natural variation in all things. Few processes give exactly predictable results. Management and control lean heavily on measurement and reporting. It is important to distinguish between “noise” (i.e. the natural variation from the process) and “signal” (i.e. data which tells you something significant has happened). It is all too easy to waste time, energy and money chasing noise. Understand your data: statistical significance is the key.
April 11th 1905: the earth moved. It had always moved, of course, and we thought that we understood why it moved. For two hundred years, we thought we knew. Two hundred years is a long time to believe. There were doubters: there always are. And the religious zealots were never far away, ever looking for a chink in the reasoning. But no-one of any import seriously doubted that Isaac Newton had the explanation essentially right. You only had to look at the huge swathe of events that Newtonian mechanics reliably and repeatedly predicted. So there might be a few quirks and specialised grey areas, but the theory worked.
Then a patent clerk, called Albert Einstein, chose that day in 1905 to show us that Newton’s wonderful theory could not be trusted in all situations. Shock enough, you might imagine, but there was more. Apparently, mass and energy are really two versions of the same thing and, under the right circumstances, may be converted, one to the other: bizarre. But there’s more. Speed is an illusion, depending upon one‘s viewpoint. We need to consider motion as a change in four dimensions or spacetime. Everything in the universe has the same speed in spacetime. Light only appears very fast because all of its spacetime is used up in motion. Paradox upon paradox.
The earth had never moved like this before.
(For the Inkwell’s monthly Friday Frenzy challenge)
I really enjoyed “Meet The Izzards” on BBC One, 2100hrs gmt, yesterday. Eddie Izzard was tracing his genetic ancestry. Eddie is a blue-eyed, white, caucasian, Englishman, yet he was able to track back to ancestors in Southern Africa. There is overwhelming evidence that ALL humans originated there, through one female line, two hundred thousand years ago. So we’re ALL related. It matters not whether you’re black, white, yellow, brown, pink, or polka-dotted. Somewhere in the past, you and I share an ancestor.
….is an oxymoron. Science provides no proof. Proof has nothing to do with science. It disappoints me that so many people still don’t understand this.
Science is a method of enquiry. It generates explanation and theory, not proof. No theory is ever proven, but either supported or refuted by observed data. That there is always doubt, always an opportunity to revise and reassess, is science’s greatest strength and why it has shown itself so spectacularly successful.