Humans are addicted to cherished principles, certainties that have been expensively acquired and should not be questioned. Science is in this respect extremely human—it is always relieved to feel that however large our ignorance there are some questions that appear to have been settled once and for all. Around these questions it tends to draw the wagons: anyone who insists on reopening them is eccentric, misguided if not anti-scientific.
However, if we look at scientific history, the decease of sacred cows is a regular event, and culling the herd an important scientific discipline. This has usually happened by accident. What if one were to deny the postulate of Euclid? Kant said it was impossible—Reimann did it. What if Newtonian mechanics were a special case referring to middle-order events where velocities were «c? It takes either a striking observation or a creative lunatic to do this. What if the inspection were...
Interested in reading more?
Become a Member of
Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?