Thursday, September 2, 2010

Newton Was Right

From a debate with a relativist:

Perhaps you have some bizarre definitions of “false” and “correct” then. There is always a more precise way to calculate something - this can be done ad infinitum. Someday another genius may find a better way to calculate relativistic stuff and “correct” Einstein. That doesn’t mean the theory of relativity is false.
To claim that the Newtonian theory is false because its calculations can be improved is absurd. “False” means “does not correspond to reality”. The statement “Newtonian calculations are correct with a given degree of precision” does correspond to reality, and therefore the Newtonian theory is correct in this sense.

1 comment:

Richard Thornton said...

A similar observation can be made for the "ideal gas law." It is a model of reality as experienced by a gas, only in low pressure or high temperature regimes. The most famous correction to the equation came from Van der Waals and individual gases have different sets of Van der Waal constants. But van der Waals did not "invalidate" the former law, he only improved upon it.