How science works

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That is how science works. Ideas range from the solidly accepted to the literally half-baked-those in the process of forming, the sorts of things about which people call each other up in the middle of the night. All science involves speculation, and few sciences include as much speculation as geology. Is the Delaware Water Gap the outlet of a huge lake all other traces of which have since disappeared? A geomorphologist will tell you that, in principle, the idea is O.K. You have to deal with partial information. In oil drilling, you had better be ready to act shrewdly on partial information. Do physicists do that? Hell, no. They want flexplek huren maastricht to have it to seven decimal places on their Hewlett-Packards. The geologist has to choose the course of action with the best statistical chance. As a result, the style of geology is full of inferences, and they change. No one has ever seen a geosyncline. No one has ever seen the welding of tuff. No one has ever seen a granite batholith intrude.” Since I was digging his sample pits, I felt enfranchised to remark on what I took to be the literary timbre of his science. “There’s an essential difference,” he said. “The authors of literary works may not have intended all the subtleties, complexities, undertones, and overtones that are attributed to them by critics and by students writing doctoral theses.” “That is what God says about geologists,” I told him, chipping into tlrn sediment with his broken shovel. “You may recall Archelaus’s explanation of earthquakes,” he said cryptically. “Earthquakes were caused by air trapped in underground caves. It shook the earth in its effort to escape. Everyone knew flexplek huren amsterdam then that the earth was flatulent.” Deffeyes said he had asked his friend Jason Morgan-whose paper “Rises, Trenches, Great Faults, and Crustal Blocks” defined the boundaries of the plates-what he was going to do for an encore. Morgan said he didn’t know, but possibly the most exciting thing to do next would be to prove the theory wrong. That would be a reversal comparable to the debunking of Genesis. I remembered Eldridge Moores, of the University of California at Davis, telling me what it had been like to be in graduate school at the height of the plate-tectonics revolution, and how he had imagined that the fervor and causal excitement of it was something like landing on Guadalcanal in the middle of the action of “a noble war.”

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