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jhwegener
2010-Jun-24, 06:56 PM
Science, at least by what we may call by modern methods and standards, is very "new", compared to many of the studied topics. Some decades, or at most a few centuries (geology, evolutionary biology, astronomy) compared to the millions or billions years of existence of many "objects".
Perhaps to be compared to use a snapshot of a growing organism, then making claims about the whole proces. Some may object that our telescopes observes not present day universe, but a cut through the ages. Still the individual objects may only have been observed in an extremely little part of their existence. Perhaps a problem?
Could some very "long term" observations be of value, making the period of observation at least a little bit longer?

01101001
2010-Jun-24, 07:49 PM
Lost me.

What do you mean by "long term"? Of course more data is more better.

But, for instance, I don't see why we would have to observe neighboring Andromeda for a few million years before beginning to make some conclusions about what it is/was and what it is/was doing. (I shift tenses only for the literalists who might make the usual unuseful claims about what "now" means.)

Or are you talking billions of years? Or what?

jhwegener
2010-Jun-24, 09:39 PM
As much as realistic possible, so programs for decades, perhaps more may be a bit better than nothing.
And then there may be "historical" observations, were perhaps there may be some usefull data for one or some more centuries.Of course an extremely short time span relative to the age of the earth and geological processes, "astronomical objects", and organisms.

kleindoofy
2010-Jun-24, 09:51 PM
Although not comparable to present day observations, astronomical data is available from about the last 4000 years, in varying degrees.

E.g., it has been shown that the Babylonian astronomical and weather data from the Neo-Babylonia period is surprisingly accurate and useful to modern day researchers.

Still, 4000 years is peanuts.

01101001
2010-Jun-25, 04:19 AM
As much as realistic possible, so programs for decades, perhaps more may be a bit better than nothing.

Your wish is granted.

Still not sure this arrow's flying toward any target.

korjik
2010-Jun-25, 05:03 AM
Science, at least by what we may call by modern methods and standards, is very "new", compared to many of the studied topics. Some decades, or at most a few centuries (geology, evolutionary biology, astronomy) compared to the millions or billions years of existence of many "objects".
Perhaps to be compared to use a snapshot of a growing organism, then making claims about the whole proces. Some may object that our telescopes observes not present day universe, but a cut through the ages. Still the individual objects may only have been observed in an extremely little part of their existence. Perhaps a problem?
Could some very "long term" observations be of value, making the period of observation at least a little bit longer?

Generally, a long term observation is overkill. If you take a large enough group of people and observe them for an hour, you can figure out how humans age. Watching a group from birth to death is a bit much in that case.

On the other hand, sometimes only a long term experiment is valid tho. If you want to know what the onset of puberty does, you are going to have to follow around a group of kids for a couple years.

These things are checked ('http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitch_drop_experiment').

jhwegener
2010-Jun-25, 06:39 AM
Generally, a long term observation is overkill. If you take a large enough group of people and observe them for an hour, you can figure out how humans age. Watching a group from birth to death is a bit much in that case.

On the other hand, sometimes only a long term experiment is valid tho. If you want to know what the onset of puberty does, you are going to have to follow around a group of kids for a couple years.

These things are checked ('http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitch_drop_experiment').
An hour of observation may only give a very scethcy impression of how physical appearances change. For deeper insight into humans it may not at all be enough.
And in many cases it is a question if we have what can be compared to one hours observation in a lifetime - perhaps it is more like an instant were we may imagine every photographic picture is taken, too short to observe any certain "change in the system". Of course I may be wrong in some cases. Perhaps there is a lot of data confirming the movements of continents (drift).
On the other hand we have the change over time of objects like stars, planets etcetera, were the view of evolution over time seems to be primarily based on theoretical models. such models of change should perhaps be "cheked" as far as possible by observations, to see how well they "fit". Perhaps one century may be enough to observe "systematic change" or "ageing"?

01101001
2010-Jun-25, 02:23 PM
Perhaps one century may be enough to observe "systematic change" or "ageing"?

Perhaps one day is. Perhaps one second.

Again, yes, more data is better. But you can begin to form an understanding of what you see as soon as you have data. As you gather more data, your understanding may improve. Or it may not. Or it may not change for a long long time and then suddenly more data makes a difference.

It's science. You're never done. But you can start immediately.

I still don't see the target.

jhwegener
2010-Jun-25, 08:46 PM
It's science. You're never done. But you can start immediately.

I still don't see the target.
My point?
To question "sensationalism", and the idea that only brand new results are "valid". Also to avoid "short-sightedness" - thatresearch should always give very big results immediatedly. I admit not to be qualified to say wether or not this may be problems for "pofessional scientists", but have an impression it may be for the "popular level". And "we" the larger "unprofessional" part of populations may have influence at the spending level, especially to the degree there is "public" money involved.

kleindoofy
2010-Jun-25, 08:53 PM
My point?
To question "sensationalism", and the idea that only brand new results are "valid". ...
Show me a scientist who believes that and I'll show you a very poor scientist, if not an outright fool.

Please don't mistake reports in the press about what scientists supposedly say and think with those scientists' true words and thoughts.

JohnD
2010-Jun-26, 10:54 PM
JHW,
"Modern" science has been concerned with working out why things are the way they seem. In doing so it has dug down to some fundamental values, like the mass of electron. It has been assumed that such values, once established are so for all time, before of after. But recently cosmologists have proposed that similar values have changed in the history of the Universe, so you have a point.

But others propose different mechanisms to account for the observations. I suspect that when we did deep enough, the 'fundamentals' will be constants, but that is speculation.

John

01101001
2010-Jun-26, 11:31 PM
To question "sensationalism", and the idea that only brand new results are "valid". Also to avoid "short-sightedness" - thatresearch should always give very big results immediatedly. I admit not to be qualified to say wether or not this may be problems for "pofessional scientists", but have an impression it may be for the "popular level". And "we" the larger "unprofessional" part of populations may have influence at the spending level, especially to the degree there is "public" money involved.

I need an example to help me understand. Could you give us an example of some research that was mischaracterized at some level and what you'd like your readers to do about it?

(And if you could advise, should I ignore your major use of quotation marks? For you, what extra meaning do they add to your words? I tried to read what you wrote as if they were used to indicate irony or unusual usage, but that was a struggle that yielded no useful results. For instance what is the difference between "public" money and public money?)

Geo Kaplan
2010-Jun-27, 02:56 AM
It has been assumed that such values, once established are so for all time, before of after. But recently cosmologists have proposed that similar values have changed in the history of the Universe, so you have a point.

Questions about the constancy of constants have been asked for a long time -- it's hardly a recent phenomenon. Google, e.g., for Dirac's Large Number Hypothesis, Milne's time-varying G hypothesis, etc. These latter two date from the mid-1930s or thereabouts.

JohnD
2010-Jun-27, 11:10 PM
Geo Kaplan,
The questioner was asking if constants change over "millions or billions years of existence".
The past 70 are as the blink of an eye in his vision.

JOhn

korjik
2010-Jun-27, 11:25 PM
An hour of observation may only give a very scethcy impression of how physical appearances change. For deeper insight into humans it may not at all be enough.
And in many cases it is a question if we have what can be compared to one hours observation in a lifetime - perhaps it is more like an instant were we may imagine every photographic picture is taken, too short to observe any certain "change in the system". Of course I may be wrong in some cases. Perhaps there is a lot of data confirming the movements of continents (drift).
On the other hand we have the change over time of objects like stars, planets etcetera, were the view of evolution over time seems to be primarily based on theoretical models. such models of change should perhaps be "cheked" as far as possible by observations, to see how well they "fit". Perhaps one century may be enough to observe "systematic change" or "ageing"?

did you see the link?

We have a theory of stellar evolution. It mostly fits the data involved. It is only going to be a theory until we have observed how stars evolve from beginning to end. That will take a few trillion years. On the way, we will realize that some things are off, that some approximations are bad, and that some new science is involved.

The thing is that it works the other way too. A large enough sample and you can get nearly any info you want. If I had a sample size of 6.5 billion people, I would be able to know as much about aging as the sum total of human knowledge. That is pretty much by definition. At 6.5 million people, anything that has a one-in-a-million chance of happening I will still know about. That is a pretty complete set of knowledge. At 6500 people I should know about anything that has a one in a thousand chance of happening when you age. Still pretty complete.

So, like I said before, there is alot of science that isnt proven, that is only a fit to theory, but when we have more data, the theory is checked against observation with the more complete set of data.

jhwegener
2010-Jun-28, 07:27 PM
There may of course be a lot of research I do not know about.but it seems likely to me there is more interest in ever brand new results than in following up older programs.
How much interest is there today in say 100 years old results and data?

kleindoofy
2010-Jun-28, 08:03 PM
There may of course be a lot of research I do not know about.but it seems likely to me there is more interest in ever brand new results than in following up older programs.
How much interest is there today in say 100 years old results and data?
Once more, are you talking about the scientific community or the press?

Different types of data are useful for different things. A datum's age is not a sole criterion for it's usefulness.

If older data is considered to be accurate and objective, then of course it's used, as long as it fits the purpose of the study.

As I wrote above, ancient Mesopotamian data is being used today (to help form theories of long term climatic behavior).

Btw, sediment layers are very old, extremely reliable data. Just because somebody puts it in a table in a new book doesn't make the data new.

On what observation do you base your question?

Strange
2010-Jun-28, 09:05 PM
There may of course be a lot of research I do not know about.but it seems likely to me there is more interest in ever brand new results than in following up older programs.
How much interest is there today in say 100 years old results and data?

People are constantly doing new, more precise experiments (or experiments that weren't practical previously) to test "old" theories like relativity, QM, etc. I seem to remember reading about a more accurate version of Galileo's Leaning Tower experiment a few years ago (and then there was the feather and wrench(?) demo on the moon).

jhwegener
2010-Jun-29, 04:16 PM
On what observation do you base your question?

If I made a claim or definite statement or "theory" of course there should be evidence. Questions however, should (my point of view) not be defended by proofs or evidence. Perhaps I will say my question is based (though I do not think questions need to be based upon anything in the usual way) on what we may call "non-observation". A non observation (sorry but I need the citation marks) that old data are used very much, or that long term programs (observations to see change over many decades, at the very least) are in progress.

Nereid
2010-Jun-29, 04:59 PM
If I made a claim or definite statement or "theory" of course there should be evidence. Questions however, should (my point of view) not be defended by proofs or evidence. Perhaps I will say my question is based (though I do not think questions need to be based upon anything in the usual way) on what we may call "non-observation". A non observation (sorry but I need the citation marks) that old data are used very much, or that long term programs (observations to see change over many decades, at the very least) are in progress.(bold added)

In astronomy there are plenty of these, I mean PLENTY!

Are you familiar with AAVSO (http://www.aavso.org/) (American Association of Variable Star Observers)? Despite its name, it is thoroughly international, and has done an awful lot work of exactly the kind covered by your "non-observation".

In radio astronomy, there are several long-running programs to observe pulsars; the combined data is regularly used for papers on a wide range of topics.

"Old data", such as digitised plates, is regularly mined for all sorts of research, from improving the orbital elements of asteroids (especially PHAs), to finding and monitoring previously undiscovered variables, to proper motion studies.

And so on.

Geo Kaplan
2010-Jun-29, 06:25 PM
Geo Kaplan,
The questioner was asking if constants change over "millions or billions years of existence".
The past 70 are as the blink of an eye in his vision.

JOhn

I understood the question perfectly well, but you did not understand my answer. You are drawing grossly incorrect inferences from my post. Humans may make observations that apply to a span of time that greatly exceeds the lifetime of a couple generations (e.g., determining the 13.7BY age of the universe). Tests of the constancy of constants reveal that, over billions of years, the constants have remained constant. [This is a simplified explanation, but if you want to pursue this in a separate thread, I'd be happy to participate.]

BigDon
2010-Jun-29, 06:38 PM
(bold added)

In astronomy there are plenty of these, I mean PLENTY!

Are you familiar with AAVSO (http://www.aavso.org/) (American Association of Variable Star Observers)? Despite its name, it is thoroughly international, and has done an awful lot work of exactly the kind covered by your "non-observation".

In radio astronomy, there are several long-running programs to observe pulsars; the combined data is regularly used for papers on a wide range of topics.

"Old data", such as digitised plates, is regularly mined for all sorts of research, from improving the orbital elements of asteroids (especially PHAs), to finding and monitoring previously undiscovered variables, to proper motion studies.

And so on.

Arrg! You reminded me of a terrible crime I was forced to do by circumstances beyound my control.

Back when I was a furniture mover we were doing an estate job for the family of an old Palomar astronomer who had a whole slew of astronomy plates. Unfortunately his adult daughter had a pathological hatred for her father that was unlike anything I had encountered personally before this. She had us throw away all the plates into a dumpster, AND she specifically instructed us to throw them hard enough to break them. About two and a half cubic yards worth. She even went as far as to grab a wrecking bar to break up stacks until the driver made her stop, nominally for safety reasons, actually because she was freaking out the crew, myself included. When real insanity comes down the road you don't need a ph.D to see it.



The pictures were stereoscopic negatives between glass plates with some sort of juice between them. Hundreds and hundreds of them.

jhwegener
2010-Jun-29, 07:39 PM
(bold added)

In astronomy there are plenty of these, I mean PLENTY!

Are you familiar with AAVSO (http://www.aavso.org/) (American Association of Variable Star Observers)? Despite its name, it is thoroughly international, and has done an awful lot work of exactly the kind covered by your "non-observation".

In radio astronomy, there are several long-running programs to observe pulsars; the combined data is regularly used for papers on a wide range of topics.

"Old data", such as digitised plates, is regularly mined for all sorts of research, from improving the orbital elements of asteroids (especially PHAs), to finding and monitoring previously undiscovered variables, to proper motion studies.

And so on.

Perhaps I was simply wrong then, at least regarding astronomy programs.

korjik
2010-Jun-29, 08:01 PM
Perhaps I was simply wrong then, at least regarding astronomy programs.

You are only half wrong. Old stuff is checked.

On the other hand you are right. Right now anything with nano- in the name is sexy, and gets lots of cash. Science is a bit faddish with funding.

Nereid
2010-Jun-29, 08:03 PM
In astronomy there are plenty of these, I mean PLENTY!

Are you familiar with AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers)? Despite its name, it is thoroughly international, and has done an awful lot work of exactly the kind covered by your "non-observation".

In radio astronomy, there are several long-running programs to observe pulsars; the combined data is regularly used for papers on a wide range of topics.

"Old data", such as digitised plates, is regularly mined for all sorts of research, from improving the orbital elements of asteroids (especially PHAs), to finding and monitoring previously undiscovered variables, to proper motion studies.

And so on.Perhaps I was simply wrong then, at least regarding astronomy programs.
It's interesting to take the example of (glass) plates.

Before contemporary digital devises, these were the workhorse of astronomers. And their data density is extremely high - at least a GB for any decent-sized plate.

The problem was that they were extremely expensive to digitise, and hard to use in the non-digitised form. This lead to the loss, or outright destruction, of huge numbers of such treasures (Big Don's tale is bested, in the annuls of astronomical awfulness, by decisions of various observatory directors, over time, to trash their plate collections!).

Today, with fast and robust plate measuring machines, and data storage cheap, cheap, cheap, many of these collections are now available online.

It's true that the oldest plates are, almost certainly, of only historical interest (they have far less than a GB of good data on them); however, some plate collections span ~a century.

Pulsar observations are another interesting tale.

Almost from the day they were discovered, astronomers have realised the great value of long-time series pulsar observations, for many specific purposes (and as a data record for future analyses no one has yet even thought of). Considerable resources have been devoted, at several leading radio observatories, to making these observations.

And thousands of hours of research has been devoted to teasing out what might be records of historical supernovae, from ancient Chinese, Korean, etc material (and even proper motions, over thousands of years, from ancient Greek records; and more); I doubt that astronomical data could get older than this.

Apart from AAVSO, I doubt that many people outside the astronomical community (which includes amateurs of course) knows anything at all about the long-running programs (and the vast quantities of "old data").

kleindoofy
2010-Jun-29, 08:12 PM
... Science is a bit faddish with funding.
Yes, but that's part of my point.

Funding is often (mostly) decided upon by non-scientists. Those people love shiny things and shift their attention as soon as a new rabbit hops by.

Good scientists don't behave like that, except where they have to prostitute a portion of their time to do things which impress the pauperes spiritu who control the cash flow.

People who base their opinion of the ways and means of scientific research on what they read in the press are bound to very terribly mistaken.

BigDon
2010-Jun-29, 09:23 PM
Actually, what's "novel" is the internet's ability to make most knowledge availible to anybody that can afford it.

korjik
2010-Jun-29, 09:27 PM
Yes, but that's part of my point.

Funding is often (mostly) decided upon by non-scientists. Those people love shiny things and shift their attention as soon as a new rabbit hops by.

Good scientists don't behave like that, except where they have to prostitute a portion of their time to do things which impress the pauperes spiritu who control the cash flow.

People who base their opinion of the ways and means of scientific research on what they read in the press are bound to very terribly mistaken.

amen to that. That is why some of us are pretty mean about science by press release. It is generally so watered down and misunderstood that it is less than content free

korjik
2010-Jun-29, 09:28 PM
Actually, what's "novel" is the internet's ability to make most knowledge availible to anybody that can afford it.

unfortunately ignorance is free

jlhredshift
2010-Jun-30, 01:22 PM
Actually, what's "novel" is the internet's ability to make most knowledge availible to anybody that can afford it.

Personally, I am in love with google Scholar, it is not perfect, but it provides more papers than I have time to read. (and when are printer ink cartridges cease to be so expensive?)

As to cost, there is this guy at work that makes the proverbial penny squeak. He only works part time and is somewhat retired but due to choice not age. He gets his DVD's at the library and shudders at the thought of paying more than ten dollars for a meal, for two. But, the point is that the libraries, around here anyway, always have computers available for free hooked to the internet, he just wouldn't pay the dime for a page prinout.