Friday, November 24, 2006

Atoms - Do they exist - have we been conned?

In the theory atoms have a nucleus with protons. Then theory scientists talk of electrons sailing around this in orbits. There are so many electrons in each orbit. "We can even tell you how many electrons is in each type of atom", says Mr Smith (Janitor of Bored University). When asked how this could be known considering no one had actually seen anything with these parts he was unavailable for further comment. But Dr. Waff Ell said, "it is really all very obvious. You see we realised that there are substances and they are all different. So obviously the things inside them are the same but different. So we invented the atomic theory to explain it. And we have proven it in the way we prove all 'scientific' theories: We prove that the thing exists for which we created the theory. We have proven it because all things are the same but different. You see. It proves the theory. It's all obvious".
Dr Ell went on further to state, "you take certain facts and make a theory as to why it is so. Then to prove the theory you just prove the facts on which the theory was based. This is called 'modern science'. If you are still finding people don't quite believe you then you just make some large names involved in your theory to make it sound like it must be right, highly complicated and intelligent. Then you put it on TV with David Ratinburra; and everyone believes it".
Prof. Gig (Professor in nuts, bolts and screws of all kinds) said, "atoms are tiny little things that are so small that we can't positively identify one even with what we call 'electron microscopes'. Although we have never seen an atom we know they are there: A bit like leprechauns and Santa Claus really".
Miss Iva Teavy said, "I saw how they said they have seen electrons. But all you could see was that it was a stream of something. The scientists claimed the stream had to be electrons, but had no real proof. It could have been my mother's washing. They also show dots that they claim must be atoms. But these small dots could be anything also".
Doctors White and Knight said, "we have an entirely different theory altogether. We believe that matter is made up of little beings that live in general proximity to each other in communities. Certain things act upon them to create disharmony in the colonies and forces that we use are thus produced".
Prof. Gig commented on this by saying, "we are aware of fringe groups with other theories. But the atomic one sounds nice enough and I have enough trouble with leprechauns digging in my garden to worry about and making sure I hang out my Christmas stocking".
Repairman Mr T. V. Fikzitt says, "the vast majority of TV technicians can tell you of incidences that show there are problems in the theory. Some old circuits start to do things they shouldn't. You find that a diode won't work unless you put a piece of wire in parallel with it and the wire won't work without the diode either _ this completely defies atomic theory".
Mr I. Builditt of Powers Electronics states, "yes, our electronic engineers tell me that the actual methods used for palient-doping of semiconductors and the end result completely refute atomic theory of palient-doping: REAL semiconductor barriers are wrong according to the theory".
Mrs. Lotsa Luck of Coldlotto Inc. said, "have you considered the odds on how close to impossible it would be for someone to make up a theory like the atomic theory and be correct? Over the decades they have invented electrons, protons, a nucleus, orbits, how many in each orbit, effects, attractions, splitting atoms and polarities of orbits. All this without ever seeing one! The odds on them being correct on even one issue is astronomical; let alone on the whole lot".
Scholar Iah Tolla foresees problems ahead with atoms. "Yes", he said, "I noticed this the other day with a block of cheese I left on the table. When I came back the next morning it was smaller. This proved that actually the electrons are getting closer and closer to the nucleus. I foresee a time, MILLIONS of years from now (and I won't be around to be proven wrong), when electrons will actually fall into the nucleus and burn up".

15 comments:

Rob Osborn said...

Good post.

I enjoyed studying atoms and releativity years ago. I used to have a saying that went-"If only the naked eye could see an atom, we could advance technology more in ten years than we have in a millenium". It is true, we have no idea what an atom looks like and exactly what it does on a sub-molecular level. All of my science books through the years show different models and explain different theories all saying that we know what atoms look like.

Sounds more like the search for Bigfoot if you ask me- Many claims and yet no solid evidence. Science in general is like that. I do like our advances in technology though we should be more careful in factualizing theory. It's always the theories that seem to carry more weight than the actual facts and actual conclusions. When we finally figure something out, the hype dies and the scientists for the most part disolve in the fabric of time.

jeff g said...

Scientists usually assume a sort of naive realism in that they think their theories are true in the strongest sense of the word. This is not so. Philosophers have sought long and hard for some kind of criteria by which somebody can claim knowledge of the world to be true rather than merely accurate. Such a criterion will never be found. Scientific theories are not "true", but they "work" really well.

Nevertheless, this is not to say that scientist do not have any criteria at all. When a theory allows us to make very accurate and very unexpected predictions it gets hard to simply write such things off as luck.

Some theories "work" better than others, thereby eliminating the others. This is because we assume that if a theory is true, then it will work best. Therefore, if a theory does not work best, it cannot be true.

When it comes to atomic theory, our theories work really, really well. Far better than anything else which has been put forth.

I guess the moral of the story is that we don't really get to meaningfully criticize a scientific theory for not being true, because we have no idea if any of them are true.

Furthermore, we do not get to criticize a scientific theory for not working well, unless we have one which actually works better in mind. Otherwise we should probably accept the theory as the best we have for the time being.

The problem with religious criticism of science is that the theories which they have in mind do not work at all. They don't even claim to in most cases, for they offer nothing by way of accurate and unexpected predictions. They assert that they are true whether they work or not.

The fact is that any number of theories can be equally claimed to be true if they are not bound to any kind of pragmatic criteria whatsoever. We can say "God did it" "An unusual coincidence happened" "the devil did it" "it did it to itself" "a leprechaun did it" and so on. While each of these might actually be true, they don't work worth crap. They just aren't explanations in any kind of meaningful way.

Doug Towers said...

Good comments.
I tend not to see much difference between religion and science in many ways, myself. Both have theories that are either fact or fiction. Both work at times - through luck or accuracy. Both have parts that are proveable and parts that aren't. Both can have highly paid lying ministers or sincere people who care for truth.
jeff g, I agree with your thoughts about the ease of working with theories. Theories are invented to explain known facts. Therefore using these theories can make it easier to keep in mind what to expect - sort of like a kids diagram of the situation. I don't believe in atomic theory, and yet in doing electronic repairs I used the model to work out problems. In the vast majority of cases this worked.
I don't believe in the "is religion right or science right" type concept. I believe any concept must prove itself in its own light. Religion may cause a person to doubt a scientific concept, and visa-versa. But each should be considered in its own sphere. Can a scientific theory be truly proven. If so then it is also a religious fact. If a religious theory can be proven then that is equally a scientific fact. It is silly, in my opinion, to make some kind of competition. We are after truth.

MistaBen said...

Doug and Rob,

I'm not entirely convinced you know what you're talking about. The "science" you critique isn't very reminiscent of modern atomic physics. It actually sound more like 19th-century atomic theory (and cartoons).

Wikipedia has a nice introductory article on atoms.

We can image individual atoms.

As far as the structure of atoms goes, the "electrons sailing around ["a nucleus with protons"] in orbits" model was outdated about 100 years ago. Quantum mechanics is the current best theory to explain the mechanics of the experiments that have been done during the last century.

For example, for a particular quantum state (e.g. an electron) one can measure something called the Lande' g-factor. The g-factor of the electron has been measured extremely well. The referenced Wikipedia article states, "It should be noted that the electron g-factor is one of the most precisely measured values in all of physics, with its uncertainty beginning at the twelfth decimal place.[emphasis added]"

The framework (or 'theory,' if you like) called quantum electrodynamics allows one to calculate the value of the electron's g-factor. Getting a result that's increasingly accurate is extraordinarily difficult. Even so, the current best result is approximately 2.002319326 (my own calculation, based on this site's references, and using his value for 'alpha'), and the two results (experimental and theoretical) differ by 2.2e-8, which is a fractional difference of about 1e-6 percent!

Much better calculations than mine have been done, and the "QED prediction agrees with the experimentally measured value to more than 10 significant figures, making the magnetic moment of the electron the most accurately verified prediction in the history of physics."(source (I'm looking for a more 'official' source)). 10 significant figures is a whole lot of agreement.

Scientists (well, at least physicists) aren't dark-robed wizards making unfounded pronouncements from the sanctuary of an ivory tower. Rather, they're regular people working hard to understand our world, and doing a bang-up job.

Are the current theories complete, final, or set in stone? Of course not, and the vast majority of physicists keep this in mind. As new experiments are performed, theories will have to be improved or replaced in order to keep up. We have so much to learn, but that doesn't take away from the awe-inspiring things that we do know.

Instead of disparaging science and scientists, you should acquaint yourself more fully with the wonderful things God has allowed his children to learn about our world in this dispensation!

Doug Towers said...

A good post, mistaben.
I must confess, however, being a little confused by your belief that the electrons in orbits concept was rejected 100 years ago. It seems to have taken people a long time to hear of this. Science books have been full of it all my life.
I looked at the articles you pointed out. I only see what I have already said to be true - no atoms that match the theory that existed before the dots were seen. If they have taken photos of dots and now wish to claim them to be the things they were speaking of (which don't look anything like what they said) then I could do the same and become a scientist. This may seem a bit cynical, but we have to be honest about where to look for truth when things are uncertain.
Scientists have presented themselves as having answers that oppose religious beliefs. Here I am exposing that where these people present to KNOW they are not the source of altimate truth that they pretend themselves to be. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones if they can't handle people throwing them back.
These tests you have referred to only prove the facts on which the theory was based. Once again this demonstrates what I have said _ that science takes known facts and creates theories of how they happen. Then to prove the theory they prove the facts on which the theory was based. Any idiot could do the same.
Theory scientists have fed us the greatest load of clap-trap known to man. In my opinion evolution (for example)would not have been accepted by any logical person if it wasn't for constant brainwashing.
I accept your point, however, that not every person working in science areas are silly. My blog was to present the concept that scientists aren't priests with the answers to life that so many present they are. In fact far from it. It's a call to realism.

Jared* said...

Once again this demonstrates what I have said _ that science takes known facts and creates theories of how they happen. Then to prove the theory they prove the facts on which the theory was based. Any idiot could do the same.

Do you really mean that science only deals in pre-existing known facts? How then does the pool of known facts get expanded, and why have many hypotheses been thrown into the junk heap of history? If the reasoning is really as circular as you portray it, then all hypotheses have equal merit (since they are all based on known facts) and we shouldn't learn anything new.

Anyway, as I read this post I couldn't help but think of this passage from Elder Scott's April 2003 Conference talk:

"Years ago I participated in the measurement of the nuclear characteristics of different materials. The process used an experimental nuclear reactor designed so that high energy particles streamed from a hole in the center of the reactor. These particles were directed into an experimental chamber where measurements were made. The high energy particles could not be seen, but they had to be carefully controlled to avoid harm to others. One day a janitor entered while we were experimenting. In a spirit of disgust he said, “You are all liars, pretending that you are doing something important, but you can’t fool me. I know that if you can’t see, hear, taste, smell, or touch it, it doesn’t exist.” That attitude ruled out the possibility of his learning that there is much of worth that can’t be identified by the five senses. Had that man been willing to open his mind to understand how the presence of nuclear particles is detected, he would have confirmed their existence."

Doug Towers said...

The quote you gave from Elder Scott is a good one, Jared. We believe in many things unseen. I use electricity while using the computer. And I certainly can't see that. Gravity works without us seeing it. And these facts aren't in dispute.
Making theories is fine by me. People can make theories as much as they wish, and explore the possibility. I agree that we have to think beyond our 5 senses.
But science has come up as a problem in that science has made itself a religion. It's attempted (and done so quite successfully) to turn these theories into facts in the minds of so many.
The problems caused here are enormous. Satan has used science (as he does with so many good things) and created evil. It should be good. And it can be. But first we need to clean it up.
And if we can't do that then at least as individuals we should be totally aware of the problem areas.

Jared* said...

Science is a process for understanding the natural world around us, and it's the most successful process we've got--I would say including revelation. I don't disagree that some use science to beat against religion--usually by importing philosophical views that, strictly speaking, are not derived from science. But if trying to undo the atomic theory is your idea of cleaning up science I think you are on a fool's errand--you'll be dismissed by most people as a crank.

You've not actually explained why the atomic theory is a problem area, to say nothing of why it is being twisted to evil ends. From your comments on another blog, I understand that your views are rooted in your electronics work, and that you have made observations that don't seem compatible with the atomic theory. Have you discussed this with electrical engineers or physicists? It is such a foundational concept, with such a successful track record in physics and chemistry, that it seems most likely that your beef with it is due to misunderstanding or incomplete information, rather than a critical hole in atomic theory.

You can complain that some treat science as though it has the ultimate answers (no careful thinkers I know of actually make such a claim). Just remember that we're still learning on the religion side of things as well. As I've said elsewhere, yes, scientists have much to learn, but so do the Saints.

Doug Towers said...

I am fully in favour of further scientific study in regard particles. Don't misunderstand me in that regard.
In the past there has been a sneering at the idea of God from some scientists, proposing that by them proving that parts exist that can't be seen, this proves the concept of God creating things as incorrect. In this process they presented themselves as the ultimate source of knowledge and that all should turn to them. Part of this was to claim an understanding of these particles. They created the atomic theory. And preached it as a fact.
This lack of a God leaves people to do evil without consequence, in their mind.
However when mentioning of the evil effects I was thinking more on evolution. I brought up atoms merely to point out that this religion doesn't have all the answers it proposes to have relative to things not seen.
I, personally, believe the concept of seeing the parts that make up matter with the physical eye to be an oxymoron. I don't believe it possible to photograph them either, for the same reason. I'm speaking here of the actual most basic parts of matter.
I have actually been fortunate enough to have seen the parts that do make up matter with my spirit eyes. But that is a spiritual occurance that I obviously have no evidence of. So is purely hear-say to anyone else.

an electron said...

Doug Towers - Does he exist - have we been conned?

Doug Towers said...

Well you'll know when the next post comes.
Actually, according to the theory, to calculate how many electrons it would take to say that it would take 50 times (as there are 50 characters in that statement - including spaces). Multiplied by 8 (as that is the amount of ASCII characters required to come up with each letter on the keyboard).
Then you would need to find out how many ones, rather than zeros, were used for each of those specific characters. Then you would need to multiply the ones by 1.62 X 10 to the power of 18 (if I remember correctly). That would give you the rate at 1 Volt per each one. However to obtain a one rather than a zero you need 5 Volts. So you would then need to multiply this by 5. Of course to obtain a one it is not required to have the entire 5 Volts precisely. And it would rarely come up with a perfect 5 Volts. Equally the zeros aren't always a perfect zero Volts either. And so the answer would only be rough anyway.
Yes, I had to do all this stuff.
But this is all on the assumption of electrons actually existing.

MistaBen said...

Doug,

There are indeed too many people who take scientific results and use it to shore up their philosophical or religious beliefs. A few scientists themselves use clear, logical, and careful methods during their work hours, then make outrageous claims in their spare time. Current examples include Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.

However, this must not be construed to mean that all (or even most) scientists do this, and that all (or most) scientific theories are suspect.

Neither should you believe that all (or even most) scientists are crusaders against religion, or anti-religious, or even atheists or agnostics. Plenty of scientists are religious, and plenty of those are Christians.

[That said, Latter-day Saints must not make the related mistake of believing science when it's convenient and scoffing when it seems to go against our beliefs. I personally believe that science and revelation are both appropriate ways to discover Truth, and that for the most part they apply to non-neighboring regions of Truth-space.]

These tests you have referred to only prove the facts on which the theory was based. Once again this demonstrates what I have said _ that science takes known facts and creates theories of how they happen. Then to prove the theory they prove the facts on which the theory was based. Any idiot could do the same.

Fortunately, scientists (well, most) are not idiots, and what you've described is NOT how science is done. For any theory to be useful, it must not only predict the data used to build it, it must make new predictions which can also be tested. If the predictions fail, the theory is tossed or modified. If the predictions are indeed observed, the theory is kept (as long as further predictions are verified -- whenever one observes something that doesn't jive with the predictions, the theory needs to be changed or tossed).

That's science. Modern scientific theories have been developed by this method (I can speak particularly to theories in my field, physics). Most scientists understand that our current theories are not the the last word. However, when a theory has been around for decades or even centuries and continual experiments only strengthen it or lead to slight modifications, scientists have every reason to think they're on the right track, and that the theory in question, though not 100% correct, is getting there.

None of this excuses those who misuse scientific results to further an agenda, be it atheism or creationism.

I must confess, however, being a little confused by your belief that the electrons in orbits concept was rejected 100 years ago. It seems to have taken people a long time to hear of this. Science books have been full of it all my life.

I should have been more specific. Whenever you see a diagram of electrons zipping around a nucleus, it's a cartoon. It's been dumbed down, because most people don't need anything more in order to study their respective fields. To understand what's really going on, one has to study quantum mechanics, which is a beautiful theory and which has made a great number of new predictions, many many of which have been observed during the past 100 years or so. Some quantum mechanical topics that may interest you include the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, the hydrogen atom, lasers, and atomic clocks.

Doug Towers said...

Thanks for your interesting post, mistaben.
I must say that I join you in equal scepticism of creationist's scientific claims. As I stated in my post of dating methods "those against evolution CLAIM". I hold some of their claims as sounding a little suspect also.
I feel that because of my strong opposition to the dogmas of the religion of science that some are concluding me to be against all science. It's a bit like suggesting that if I don't agree with what the pope says that I oppose Jesus Christ. I don't throw all the eggs in one basket and assume they have all gone rotten. I have continually stated (and meant) my support of true science. I am as interested in knowing the facts as much as the next person. In fact, I'd claim, more than the great majority.
My use of the word "idiot" wasn't directed at anyone, of course. Having studied the make-up of TVs and signal processing I know that these scientists/engineers certainly aren't idiots. Our science sits in one of those strange positions that we know so much, yet so little. And I greatly appreciate the efforts of those working to improve mankind.
I was interested in what you have said in regard the atomic model. Are you presenting that it was never believed that electrons actually go around a nucleas? If not what are you saying?

MistaBen said...

Doug,

Sorry if I interpreted too extremely some of your comments. Now I think I have a better idea of where you're coming from. Also, this is fun.

I was interested in what you have said in regard the atomic model. Are you presenting that it was never believed that electrons actually go around a nucleas? If not what are you saying?

Sorry, I'm trying to explain these things without using physics-jargon, and I sort of stumble. Wikipedia has a lovely introductory article on quantum mechanics (this is roughly the same material you'd see in a sophomore-level Modern Physics course, though in less detail). I encourage you to go through it, but my really short answer to your question above follows.

Many things have been believed about what, exactly, electrons do around the nucleus. Currently the scientific consensus obeys the rules of quantum mechanics. We still talk about electron orbitals, but usually using names like "energy levels," "energy eigenstates," and "spherical harmonics." But due to "particle-wave duality" and the "uncertainty principle", an electron's position cannot be described by a single point in space. Rather, a "wavefunction" describes the "probability amplitude" of finding the electron at a given point in space when you measure its position.

So an electron in a particular orbital (energy level) of an atom isn't orbitingd the nucleus at an exact radius (call it R) and an exact speed. Instead, the electron has a three-dimensional wavefunction, with a maximum (ie the electron is most likely to be found there) around R. Extending this idea, another electron in a higher orbital has a wavefunction with a maximum at some other radius, larger than R.

Reading up on any of the items enclosed in quotes in this post will help immeasurably in understanding what I'm saying!

Doug Towers said...

Due to lack of answers from those supporting science I have revised my last post _
I have read through the article you mention. Most of these terms I'm familiar with anyway. So I believe I understand what you are saying.
If I'm correct you are saying that although electrons may be said to be sailing around a nucleus, it is a very erratic course due to these influences. Also the speed isn't consistent for many of these same reasons.
Is that what you are presenting?

None of this information changes what I presented in regard the theory _ there are no photos of electrons going around a nucleas.