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Comment Dated Nov 1, 2008


Mathematics, in itself, can say nothing about what's true of reality. Some mathematical procedures approximate real-world processes sufficiently closely over a limited range of applicability to be of help in understanding nature better, and enable useful predictions to be made. But whether this is true in a particular instance, and if so, to what degree, can only be determined by observation. An assumption that seems to run strongly through much scientific thinking today is that Nature is somehow obligated to mimick systems of formal symbol manipulation devised by humans.

The skepticism I express from time to time over the reality of black holes has drawn assurances that they have, indeed, been observed. I point out that what is observed are extremely energetic events taking place in remote regions of the cosmos. The rest is interpretation of the data, based on certain prevalent assumptions. The possibility that such events might be a result of familiar, laboratory-demonstrable electrical phenomena, and hence not in need of such exotic mechanisms as black holes and dark matter to explain them, for example, is seldom considered.

But finally we have the real McCoy in the form of, well, not exactly a Hubble image, but a reconstruction that a leading scientific institution assures us depicts a black hole being expelled from a galaxy.

Further information and comments from Dave Smith et al at http://www.thunderbolts.info/thunderblogs/archives/davesmith_au08/050208_max-plancks_comedy_capers.htm