John wrote:You know, until the Wright brothers took off, theoreticians would have had us believe that heaver than air flight was impossible. Luckily the 'show me' attitude prevailed.
Strictly speaking the theoreticians knew that heavier than air flight was possible. This follows from the fluid dynamics work of Bernoulli in the 18th century. It was the people who failed to grasp the implications of this who thought man would never fly.
That said, i totally share your empiricist viewpoint John.
Ever heard the old story that bumble-bees defy the laws of physics? I've heard that used as a justification for all sorts of things and proof of the existence of god. The truth of it is simply that our current models of fluid dynamics work well on the scale of, say, an Airbus A320, but not on the scale of a bee's wing. Its the model being flawed, not the bee being supernatural. The 'Show me' attitude says that bees fly, even if the science is not so sure.
A bit of wisdom from Arthur C. Clark:
"When a scientist says something is possible, he is usually right. When he says something is immpossible, he is usually wrong"
Arthur C Clarke also said that any technology sufficiently more advanced than our own is indistinguishable from magic. That's how i feel about museum glass - spooky voodoo science, and not wholly to be trusted.