The scientific method and the objective truth

Physics is a natural science which seeks to deduce the laws of nature by establishing 'objective truths' through experimenting with physical systems to test hypothesis on the nature of reality. Knowledge is achieved by uncovering the mathematical laws which account for the observable physical processes.

An observable physical process could be a state of matter such as; a solid, liquid, gas, a Bose-Einstein Condensate, a plasma, or perhaps a ferro fluid. The mathematical laws may be described by thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, classical mechanics, electrodynamics, and so on.

Scientific knowledge is in constant flux, and at any instant in time our perspective of reality has a certain resolution. The degree of which depends on current knowledge and current practices - a development of knowledge or a shift in practice the resolution of our perspective can change. "Physics concerns what we can say about nature" [Bohr].

This little note is written to draw attention to the peer review process and the future of the natural sciences. The topics of interest are the scientific method and the objective truth. At the out set it is of interest to ask the following question.

Is there any such thing as an objective truth?

This is an interesting inquiry as - in the first instance we are using language to define 'objective truth'. This is assumed to be logically consistent as it is assumed that language is itself an objective truth. But language is in constant flux - it is ever changing, and the meaning of phrases and expressions can be dependent on tone, location and context. By contrast the exact sciences, that of mathematics and geometry, are clearly defined languages which offer an unprecedented degree of precision in their expression. They permit the precise expression of an observable hypothesis -, whereas the same cannot be said for language. It is questionable to use language to define 'objective truth' because the 'objective truth' of language is on shaky foundations.

"We must be clear that when it comes to atoms [and nature], language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images and establishing mental connections. "
 - Niels Bohr

Using mathematical equations we can make objective statements about physical reality; The mathematical laws are themselves 'known with certainty' and therefore are used to form an accurate and balanced perspective. Applied to physical reality the mathematical laws are 'not necessarily absolute truths' - they would describe an aspect of reality but not the whole. The laws of physical reality are written in the language of mathematics and geometry;  "For whether I am awake or asleep, two and three added together are five and a square has no more than four sides." [Descartes]

"The world is not presented to the reflective mind as a finished product. The mind has to form its picture from innumerable sensations, experiences, communications, memories, perceptions. Hence there are probably not two thinking people whose picture of the world coincides in every respect."
 - Max Born

The scientific method

The scientific method is simply a set of guiding principles which map one possible path toward a goal; That goal is to clearly uncover the laws of nature. This pursuit requires no less than a process of removing all personal bias, and the development of critical thinking faculties. With these in place the scientific method unfolds as we;

  • 1. Observe a fundamental process in nature or some property of the universe.
  • 2. Create an hypothesis to account for the phenomena observed.
  • 3. Use the hypothesis to make predictions.
  • 4. Test those predictions by experiments to gauge and develop the accuracy of the hypothesis.
  • 5. Extract the objective truth from the account of the observed phenomena.

The goal of modern physics is - as one would think - to define the key in which reality is written. Nowadays people are scrambling to build a quantum computer. This whole quantum computing malarkey looks to me that we have an "if its not broke don't fix it" situation on our hands. What is wrong with everyday classical computers? - they work just fine. Who even cares about a quantum computer, This thing that will supposedly do every possible calculation in parallel while operating on non-deterministic logic, .... pardon my disbelief,.. I genuinely feel like the child telling the masses that the emperor has no clothes. This quantum theory you are bandying about is non-sense, the emperor is naked!

The scientific method and the ballistic equations of motion

Any line of inquiry has the potential to unfold the entire universe, and asking the right questions is an art. There are many gates through which one can enter in the process of uncovering the unknown.
A question as simple as;
How do I truthfully describe the trajectory of a stone, thrown with a momentum P at an angle ϴ to the plane on the surface of the earth?
- and our journey toward uncovering the unknown has begun.

"All direct experiences are absolutely valid but are subjective ... the exact sciences presume to aim at making objective statements but they surrender their absolute validity. ... Relative measures take the place of absolute impressions. [While sometimes] a new doctrine upsets all the ‘old facts’ ... the regions of ‘known with certainty’ are growing, [relieving] the pain which arises from solitude of the spirit, and the bridge to kindred spirits becomes built."
- Max Born

We postulate that the 3 ballistic equations of motion truthfully describe the trajectory of a stone - and we wish to test this hypothesis.
The scientific method can be used to guide our testing and to help uncover the objective truth contained within; as follows

  • 1. We observe the path of a stone thrown with a momentum P at an angle ϴ to the plane on the surface of the earth.
  • 2. We hypothesize that the 3 ballistic equations of motion truthfully describe the path of the stone (figure).
  • 3. We create prediction models for the paths of different shaped objects, with different masses, angles of incline, different heights etc.
  • 4. We experimentally test the predictions; with varying experimental conditions - different weather conditions, altitudes, atmospheric pressures, temperature etc.
  • 5. The experiments reveal that the 3 ballistic equations of motion truthfully describe the path of the stone - to a degree of accuracy.
     - There are are demonstrable deviations from prediction caused by, but not limited to - the density, rotation and spin, the geometric shape, wind and aerodynamics, etc.
     - It is concluded that the ballistic equations truthfully describe the trajectory of a stone; with the understanding that it is not the whole truth, but a half truth.

The "objective truth" of the stone's path is known, since "we can all agree" that the ballistic equations of motion truthfully describe the stone's trajectory - with the acknowledgement that they are but a half truth, as other factors are at play.

"The development of the exact sciences leads along a definite path from this state to a goal .... of creating a picture of nature .... for the purpose of depicting the sum of all experiences uniformly and without inconsistencies."
 - Max Born

The scientific method is a process which attempts to separate the bias of being an observer from the observation — letting ‘reality’ show itself in the simplest possible way.

"The world is not presented to the reflective mind as a finished product. The mind has to form its picture from innumerable sensations, experiences, communications, memories, perceptions. Hence there are probably not two thinking people whose picture of the world coincides in every respect."
 - Max Born

The scientific method and the peer review process

Some resistance is to be expected toward a work which has claimed to have defined the hidden variables of quantum mechanics, and is subsequently is calling into question the entire theory. This is no surprise.

The global phase of the qubit was first proposed as a candidate for the hidden variables of quantum mechanics in an article entitled "Unit quaternions and the bloch sphere", published in J. Phys. A. Given that the original hypothesis is published there - one would think the closed form solutions to the hidden variables would be of interest to this journal. One would think J. Phys. A would fulfill expectation and see that this article be appointed to the relevant referees for review. Alas,  the girls and boys at J. Phys. A have wavered all responsibility of meeting these claims with a judicial peer review process.

Given the absence of a suitable journal available for peer review - I have assumed the responsibility of seeing that this article is refereed myself. And I have already found a number of suitable referees among the lads. At the present moment the article is being examined and the results of the review process will be made available here shortly.

"Some subjects are so serious that one can only joke about them."
-Niels Bohr


[1] Max Born, "Einstein's Theory of Relativity" Courier Corporation, (1965).