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Old April 27 2014, 06:14 PM   #55
gturner
Admiral
 
Location: Kentucky
Re: 51% of Americans don't accept the Big Bang theory

Theories and facts are very different. Facts are more observational data, real-world things that have to be explained by a theory, which is a construct of the mind - an idea that would best explain all those observations (facts). A theory can range from well confirmed (evolution, relativity) to not confirmed at all (string theory). In some uses a theory is an upgrade from the hypothesis (a maybe), which is an upgrade from a conjecture (what if).


A scientific law is generally just a mathematical relation found in a set of observations, usually without a lot of deep reasoning as to why the relation seems to hold, just that nature seems to enforce the relation for some reason. Sometimes laws hang around even after violations are found, because they remain some general usefulness, such as Stefan-Boltzman's law relating radiation to temperature (which predates quantum mechanics and thus can't explain why your laptop screen isn't 6000 degrees Kelvin). Some hang around long after they've failed, just because they're historically useful or handy rules of thumb, like Bode's law for planetary distances.
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