jeudi 30 janvier 2014

Qu'est-ce que la science (post)moderne ?

Sans commentaire // ou presque (20ème épisode)

//Commençons par une célèbre formule qu'on ne doit peut-être pas à qui on croit...

Measure what can be measured, and make measurable what cannot be measured.
Galileo Galilei (folklore?)  
Although Galileo is quoted with these words in a large number of publications, the authenticity of the sentence is highly dubious because no one has ever provided a precise bibliographical reference for where to find it in Galileo’s works. Galileo’s alleged rule about measurement can be traced back to the works of two nineteenth century French scholars. This phrase was subsequently picked up by some internationally renowned scientists, who were responsible for its dissemination in German and English books and articles. The two English versions of the measurement quotation published by Hermann Weyl in the late forties of the last century strongly contributed to its worldwide diffusion. The sentence was even re-translated into German and French, and in recent scientific textbooks it is frequently used in order to characterize the methods of modern science. Notwithstanding its increasing popularity, referring to this expression as a quotation from Galileo is a striking example of academic sloppiness.
Kleinert Andreas, Der messende Luchs : Zwei verbreitete Fehler in der Galilei-Literatur 2009
//Où l'on voit que la pression pour publier et communiquer de façon attrayante pousse parfois des gens a priori sérieux et rigoureux à faire des citations non étayées ...
//Passons à une très récente illustration possible de la formule précédente qui est supposée caractériser la Science Moderne; celle-là même qui naît avec Galilée et rend compréhensible le réel empirique par des concepts a priori impossibles (le principe d'inertie) validés par des expériences incroyables (dans le vide un marteau tombe à la même vitesse qu'une plume) mais difficiles à réaliser.
One of the striking and longstanding problems of fundamental physics is the irreconcilability among the two main theories of last century, General Relativity and Quantum Theory. A manifestation of this tension is the value that quantum field theory attributes to the vacuum energy density, enormously larger than the value constrained from General Relativity by considering the radius of our universe. This problem, known as the cosmological constant problem, has been faced over the last decades with deep theoretical investigations, following also the evolution of the most important quantum gravity theories, like string theories, loop quantum gravity and many others. None of the theoretical efforts has so far succeeded in finding a consensual solution, so that it is still questionable whether vacuum energy does interact with gravity, and what is its contribution to the cosmological constan. In spite of the common belief by the scientific community in the existence of an interaction between vacuum energy and gravity, not a single experimental test of this interaction exists. About a decade ago, it was pointed out that a possible way to verify the interaction of vacuum fluctuations with gravity was to weight a (suitably realized, layered) rigid Casimir cavity. At that time it was yet unclear whether Casimir energy could be modulated in a rigid cavity. Furthermore, the most important macroscopic detectors of exceedingly small forces, the gravitational wave detectors with which we compared our force, were still under construction. Nowadays, thanks to many activities in the various fields mentioned, the situation has been remarkably improved so that it is possible to step from the initial idealistic experiment to a road map towards the measurement of the effect. 
Enrico Calloni et al,  Towards measuring the Archimedes force of vacuum, 27/01/2014

//Il reste à vérifier que le contenu de cet article n'est pas lui aussi un exemple de négligence académique ;-)
(ce billet a été légèrement remanié le 01/02/2014)

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