Science: Is it True?

Dear All,

Is science true? Yes, that is the question. Is it really, really true? Helping to motivate this discussion, we recently assailed upon a little philosophy of math, here, where we remarked and marveled how math can represent both real and non-real things and yet both kinds can teach us about reality.

I thought this was incredible, and so it is! However, I used the Navier-Stokes equations in fluid mechanics as an example and as one commenter stated, even the respected Navier-Stokes equations aren’t true in the hard sense…they neglect many things like radioactive decay. This did not sit well with me, for I like to think what I am doing is true, and caused me to wonder what is truth, and what in science matches this. Let’s combine this discussion with a little science history.

Navier-Stokes momentum equation

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A Little Philosophy of Math

To All Concerned,

Through grad school this past year I have been amazed by Mathematics, mainly that is works! Math is amazing, in one way, because it actually describes the world. Since I believe the world functions in an orderly manner and according to fixed laws, (though those laws may be quite bazaar at times), this seems reasonable for math to describe these laws. Though this is amazing in its own right, this isn’t what has been boiling my noodle recently.

What’s been boiling my noodle is when math describes things that aren’t real, yet it may teach us things that are real. Here is what got me thinking about this:

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