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 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re: Cheap shot at cold fusion ...

    I believe you are looking at this wrong, or maybe haven't thought about it carefully enough. After all, it wasn't the point of the original article you posted.

    You, personally, probably have not blocked funding for good research into the phenomenon that P&F brought to our attention, but you seem to have accepted that it is okay to point and laugh rather than support diligent research to see what actually is happening with it. That is very closed-minded and not how science should be done.

    Certainly P&F screwed up, both in their poor technique and in premature publication by press release. But screw-ups by poor researchers should not shut off legitimate research in an area. Citing the inability to get repeatable results as justification for not investigating further is really off-base. The fact that the experiments are not repeatable is a strong signal that we, as yet, do not appreciate all the factors that influence what is going on there, and so we should investigate until we do understand. Remember the quote from Asimov about the most exciting thing to hear in science is not "Eureka!", but "That's funny."?

    Maybe the uncontrolled factor(s) in the cold fusion experiments is something we know about and just are not realizing is relevant. Maybe the uncontrolled factor is something really new. Either case is a good reason for continuing research until we understand what is going on. In the end, it might turn out to be the case that when we finally do understand what is going on, it won't be useful for power generation, but until we understand the phenomenon, dismissing it as pointless is very closed-minded. And even if it isn't useful for power generation, it might turn out to be useful for something else.

    Your profile says you are the head of research at Floor64. I don't know what research Floor64 does, but at a lot of tech companies, what they call the research group actually does development, or, at best, applied research. That is not bad. In fact, it probably is just what those companies should be doing, but it is not basic research. If that is what you understand as research, I imagine that would color your view a bit, and your apparent attitude on the question of supporting research into cold fusion would be a bit easier to understand. However, that would be applying criteria appropriate for one type of effort to a rather different type of effort, and so still does not justify ridiculing and blocking attempts to understand whatever P&F brought to light.

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