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Wolfgang Paul

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There are many examples in physics showing that higher precision revealed new phenomena, inspired new ideas, or confirmed or dethroned well-established theories.
--
in Electromagnetic Traps for Charged and Neutral Particles, Nobel Lecture, December 8, 1989

 
Wolfgang Paul

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There are many examples of old, incorrect theories that stubbornly persisted, sustained only by the prestige of foolish but well-connected scientists. ... Many of these theories have been killed off only when some decisive experiment exposed their incorrectness. .. Thus the yeoman work in any science, and especially physics, is done by the experimentalist, who must keep the theoreticians honest.

 
Michio Kaku
 

Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts do not go away while scientists debate rival theories for explaining them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's, but apples did not suspend themselves in mid-air pending the outcome. And human beings evolved from apelike ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other, yet to be discovered. [...] Evolutionists make no claim for perpetual truth, though creationists often do (and then attack us for a style of argument that they themselves favor). In science, “fact” can only mean “confirmed to such a degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent.” I suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility does not merit equal time in physics classrooms.

 
Stephen Jay Gould
 

While the new physics was developing in the twentieth century, the mechanistic Cartesian world view and the principles of Newtonian physics maintained their strong influence on Western scientific thinking, and even today many scientists still hold to the mechanistic paradigm, although physicists themselves have gone beyond it.
However, the new conception of the universe that has emerged from modern physics does not mean that Newtonian physics is wrong, or that quantum theory, or relativity theory, is right. Modern science has come to realize that all scientific theories are approximations to the true nature of reality; and that each theory is valid for a certain range of phenomena.

 
Fritjof Capra
 

While the new physics was developing in the twentieth century, the mechanistic Cartesian world view and the principles of Newtonian physics maintained their strong influence on Western scientific thinking, and even today many scientists still hold to the mechanistic paradigm, although physicists themselves have gone beyond it.
However, the new conception of the universe that has emerged from modern physics does not mean that Newtonian physics is wrong, or that quantum theory, or relativity theory, is right. Modern science has come to realize that all scientific theories are approximations to the true nature of reality; and that each theory is valid for a certain range of phenomena.

 
Fritjof Capra
 

Bohr's investigation had typified what had become a standard procedure in problems of theoretical physics. The first step was to discover the mathematical laws governing certain groups of phenomena; the second was to devise hypothetical models or pictures to interpret these laws in terms of motion or mechanism; the third was to examine in what way these models would behave in other respects, and this would lead to prediction of other phenomena-predictions which might or might not be confirmed when put to the test of experiment. For instance, Newton had explained the phenomena of gravitation in terms of a force of gravitation; a later age had seen the luminiferous ether introduced to explain the propagation of light and, subsequently, the general phenomena of electricity and magnetism; finally Bohr had introduced electronic jumps in an attempt to explain atomic spectra. In each case the models had fulfilled their primary purpose, but had failed to predict further phenomena with accuracy.

 
James Jeans
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