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martes, 4 de junio de 2013

Cómo avanza la Ciencia: dos ejemplos

(En el ámbito de las) natural sciences (a diferencia de las Ciencias sociales) … it may be easier to set up experiments that can refute the theory. For example, Einstein’s theory of relativity was considerably strengthened, and Newton’s theory shown to be insufficient, during the solar eclipse of 1919. Scientists were then able to observe that the light from distant stars was bent by the Sun’s gravity, just as Einstein had predicted.
Many scientists once believed that the Earth looks the way it does, with mountains and valleys, because the Earth was originally a red-hot mass that gradually shrivelled as it cooled. We know what an orange looks like after a long drying process or what clay looks like after being exposed to the air for a time. What was a smooth surface becomes wrinkled. It was 100 years ago this year that the German meteorologist Alfred Wegener proposed an alternative theory of continental drift. He used heuristic arguments based on studies of coastlines. Brazil has a coastline that is an apparent perfect fit with the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa. Even so, the theory was not accepted until it was given a proper theoretical foundation and empirical grounding. The breakthrough came 50 years ago, when the American geologist Harry Hess proposed his theory of sea-floor spreading, and by the end of the 1960s the theory of plate tectonics became established science.
Jan F Qvigstad: On learning from history – truths and eternal truths

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