The sensational detection of gravitational waves has turned out to be a fake. As a layman, how can you find out what you can believe in science?

My prof always says all models are wrong, but some are useful.

Not even a professional scientist knows what is right and what is wrong.He navigates in a sea of different uncertainties. There are hypotheses, such as quantum mechanics, in which the prediction of the theory has so far been confirmed extremely well by a variety of experiments. It is important to make hypotheses that can also be falsifified in principle by an experiment. Other hypotheses, such as how to simply add two speeds in classical mechanics, may sound logical, even in our area of life below the speed of light, but have fundamentally turned out to be wrong. Then there are hypotheses that are fundamentally correct, but are totally impractical for real applications, quantum mechanics is again a good example of this. Thermodynamics is also a theory that cannot make any meaningful statements for a single particle, since variables such as temperature for a particle are not defined at all. The more professional scientists have independently tried to disprove a hypothesis, but failed to do so, the more likely you are to know that it must be theory very good, and can also be considered “correct” for most relevant applications. A good scientist always knows the limits of a theory. He knows whether he can expect correct results from a theory in his field of application, or whether he has to use a theory that describes the phenomenon on a more detailed level. He knows this because he knows all the situations in which theory has proved useful in the past (and I deliberately do not use the word “correct” here). This is probably also what distinguishes an interested layman from a professional scientist.

Gravitational waves are the first experimental confirmation of the hypothesis.This should be viewed critically in principle. There is no laboratory where you can build and reproduce the experiment. There are then many effects that overlay the actual phenomenon. Let’s wait and see for some of them to get behind them and critically illuminate the experiments. That’s what LIGO does, otherwise they could make their investment after the one-off result. But just because someone critically evaluates an experiment, the theory doesn’t yet falsify it. It is usually only said that the currently used structure is not suitable to confirm the hypothesis. Scientists also cite the problems with the experimental structure in the publication, it is mostly the journalists who read this over and prefer to draw an exaggerated headline out of it. But scientists also have an increased external compulsion to publish positive results, as project-related grants and careers are linked to this and basic funding is lacking.

Leave a Reply