Friday, 15 January 2010

Feynman and Tufte on Science

I posted this on Ask E.T. 

Browsing my copy of Feynmans lectures on Physics Vol 1 (admittedly to look at the page design). Page 1-1 has the following;

"The principle of science, the definition, almost, is the following: The test of all knowledge is experiment."

This still looks good to me after all these years.

Edward Tuftes response is;

The Principle of Science

It seems to me that The Deep Principle of Science is this: every empirical observation is a manifestation of the operations of Nature's universal laws. Thus the physical sciences are distinguished from the social sciences by the marvelous guarantee that whatever is observed in physical science is a product of universal laws. And the core principle in scientific verification is this: theories are confirmed or disconfirmed by empirical observation. In Feynman's statement, if "experiment" means what is usually means--the systematic manipulation of causes (to see their effects) in otherwise tightly controlled situations--then that would place astronomy, weather, and cosmology outside of Feynman's principle of science. In those fields, manipulations typical of experiments are generally impossible. 

January 13, 2010