Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: boundaries of science

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 03/30/2013
Q:
why science dont accept the concept of ghosts,afterlife etc science can accept 11 dimensions of universe but not this why scientists dont say that their so called science stands no where when terms like (aliens,ancient civilizations technology,UFOs,afterlife etc) comes into play before it.. it simply ignores them ..
- himanshu (age 22)
new delhi,india
A:
Let's tackle those 11 dimensions (10 space +1 time) first. Science does accept the possibility that there may be another 7 spatial dimensions, beyond the 3 familiar ones, but we don't accept that as a definite conclusion yet.Why do we even consider the possibility? We have a broad theory, quantum mechanics , which does a spectacularly good job of predicting a huge variety of qualitative and quantitative results. The problem is that that QM becomes logically inconsistent if you try to combine it with any sort of classical field, including our current theory of gravity (general relativity). So there's strong reason to think that there's some quantum version of gravity. It's very hard to make quantum gravity without its own logical problems, but the task gets easier in M-theory, with those extra dimensions. So people are trying to develop that theory, especially in the hope that it will make some testable predictions.

Most of science is much closer to the core of experimental data and clear mathematical theory than M-theory. Still, this whole business of making definite predictions outside the range of what we've seen, using mathematical reasoning, may sound arrogant to you. Nevertheless, it has a strong record of success, with the recent discovery of the long-predicted Higgs boson being one of the most famous recent examples.

So what about those other areas you mention? There is a lot of fascinating archeological work on ancient technologies, but I believe you're referring to claims that various ancient civilizations had technologies like radio, etc. The problem with that is simply that it doesn't fit any of the evidence that we have. (No, the absence of telegraph wires is not proof of the existence of radio.) In principle, it would be possible for life forms to visit from elsewhere, but again the evidence has always fallen apart on close examination. It's hard to see how theories of afterlife could fit with what we know about how biology works.

Mike W.

(published on 03/30/2013)

Follow-up on this answer.