DailyDirt: Scientific Measurements

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Accurate scientific measurements are pretty important. It's actually hard to overstate how critical it is to science that measurements can be repeated. (Hello, Cold Fusion...) But it's not quite an easy task to get everyone to agree to the same metrics -- especially when different approaches might have different results. Still, we make do with what we've got -- and looking at the fine details of measuring stuff has lead to discoveries like buckyballs, the heliocentric model of our neck of the universe, and all sorts of cool stuff. So here are a few quick links on measuring things.

Filed Under: battery, helium, hydrogen, kilogram

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  1. identicon
    KD, 2 Feb 2011 @ 4:29am

    Cheap shot at cold fusion ...

    I take exception to the cheap shot at cold fusion.

    There is no doubt that Pons and Fleischmann screwed up by adopting their "publish via press release" approach, but people like, apparently, you, who tar anyone wanting to investigate that phenomenon with the same brush, possibly have held back progress in a potentially fruitful area.

    P&F found something unusual. And, contrary to popular knowledge, other labs HAVE seen results similar to what P&F reported. Nobody understands what is going on in those experiments, which is probably the biggest reason why reliably reproducing the phenomenon is so hard. If you don't know what the reaction is, you are likely not to know what conditions it requires, and so only stumble onto creating them haphazardly. Blocking most funding for research into understanding what P&F reported by pointing, laughing, and saying "cold fusion" is grossly irresponsible.

    Fortunately, there are a few funding sources with a properly open scientific attitude who have been funding a low level of research into the phenomenon over the past 25 years, but progress has been far slower than it should have been.

    If it turns out that the phenomenon is something that, when thoroughly understood, can be exploited to provide a clean, inexpensive source of power, those who have blocked the studies by their ridicule ought to be tracked down and punished. If the phenomenon turns out to be an interesting curiosity, but not commercially useful, then there still has been harm done to accumulation of scientific knowledge. It is just as important to understand ways that won't work so they can be recognized easily and quickly when they crop up again.

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