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Science

Ununoctium Discovery a Mistake 81

Posted by michael
from the not-every-day-do-you-see-ununoctium-in-a-headline dept.
Lars Mooseantlers writes: "The New York Times reports, "Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California yesterday retracted a 1999 claim that they had created a new, superheavy element." Hmmm... first the Higgs Boson doesn't exist, now Element 118 turns out to be a myth too. Or is it all just part of some wider, cosmic conspiracy? ;)" Mmmmm, ununoctium. Well, I guess this story's out of date, and so is this paper.
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Ununoctium Discovery a Mistake

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Rocky and Bullwinkle announced that Upsidasium was a cruel hoax perpatrated on Boris and Natasha Badinoff.

    ~~~

  • by Anonymous Coward
    > The problem that I have with this is the following. If I were going to make a claim of this magnitude I would make sure that there is repeatability of the
    > results before I opened my mouth about it.

    That cant be done and isnt the way it is done. First of all, a research scientist only has to find the discovery once. After that it has to be reproduced by a totaly seperate lab to verify it.

    If your right, then you have your own chapter in history. If your wrong, then your the boy that cryed wolf. Either way the stakes are high, but if you sit on it, then someone else just may step up and steal your limelite. There goes all your grants to the other guy.

    That is the problem with subsidized research. Every now and then, findings are relesed befor they are mature, just to stablize their funding....
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I agree that Christians who accept some of the more obvious facts that contradict the tenants of their religion can often be a little more pleasant to be around BUT... then why do they continue to believe the rest of their religion? Christianity only makes sense (sort of) in the context that the Bible is a holy book and anything that contradicts it is simply not true. So if some of the Bible is false, why continue to believe the rest. I actually can tolerate hardcore Christians a little more because at least their logic isn't quite as screwy.
  • by Ranger Rick (197) <slashdot&raccoonfink,com> on Saturday July 28, 2001 @09:21AM (#2186704) Homepage
    Would that make it Un-Ununoctium? =)
  • Yet another disclaimer: I, too, am a Christian, who believes in the bible, goes to church, all that sort of thing. However, I find the concept of the earth being created in six days flat bizarre. Given the sun was only created on the fourth 'day', how do you judge how long each of those days was? Surely the sun and the rotation of the earth is what governs a 'day'?

    Well, I suppose the rotation would still govern days, even without the sun, and it makes sense that it would have been created spinning. I would assume that the "days" referred to were lengths of time equivalent to the days after Creation.

    Other than the definition of "days", do you find anything else about a six-day creation bizarre?

    --

  • Disclaimer: I am a church-going Christian, and have been for many years.

    I am a Bible-believing Christian, although I haven't been going to church regularly lately.

    The key difference between religion and science is right here, from the article: "As scientists, we have a responsibility when a mistake like that is made to fess up."

    I believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God, and I believe God to be infallible. Of course, fallible humans often make some pretty imaginitive interpretations of what the Bible says, and when someone does make an erroneous interpretation or judgement, I expect them to own up to their mistake. You're not helping anyone by living a lie.

    I visited the Institute for Creation Research a few years ago. These fools try to make the claim that belief in evolution is as much a matter of faith as belief in God -- and one counter to the Bible.

    The study of origins is essentially nothing more than a feasibility study: could this have happened? We cannot scientifically prove what we cannot observe - we can only make an educated guess about what really happened, and then compare our model with obervable evidence to see whether our model is consistent with the facts. Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to recall reading that the existence of black holes (singularities) has not actually been proven - we can observe what appear to be the effects of a black hole, and our observations have been consistent with the black hole theory, so it's a pretty good bet that that's what's going on, but it's always possible that there could be something else happening that we haven't thought of. We don't know, because we can't (currently) observe it.

    The theory of evolution (macroevolution, species evolving into other species over millions of years) is clearly inconsistent with the Bible, which says that the Earth and everything on it was divinely created within six days, and there is no indication anywhere in the Bible that this was not intended to be taken literally. As I have stated, I personally believe the Bible to be infallible, but that's just me. It certainly cannot be proven scientifically that the Biblical account of creation actually happened as described - we can only compare that model with observable facts.

    But this is patently false. The difference is, when scientists learn something new, they -usually- (but there are exceptions) give up on the old theories and make new ones.

    When religious scholars learn something new, they usually give up on their old interpretations or assumptions. This seems to vary greatly between religions, and some religious groups have become so set in their traditions that they've begun to ignore the foundation upon which their faith is based. I personally base my faith on the Bible, and have yet to see anyone point out a valid contradiction between the Bible and scientific fact.

    Compare with religion: Once something becomes part of religious doctrine, it can take CENTURIES before someone convinces people that it was a mistake. And the folks at the ICR are like this: You cannot convince them, even with scriptures that plainly contradict their beliefs, that they're wrong. The human doctrine has become their God.

    Please, show me where the scriptures contradicts ICR's beliefs. If you can find a good example, I'll write to them myself; I'd really like to hear their response for myself. What you describe is certainly a real danger.

    The relevant point I'm trying to make here is this: Don't poke fun at the scientists for making a mistake; give them credit for admitting it. It's what they ought to be doing. It's how science advances, and how we learn. This is, in the end, a very good thing.

    I agree completely.

    By the way, I'm not a huge fan of ICR; my biggest problem is that they have almost no materials presenting evidence for Creation that can be used in a secular context; they constantly make religious references in all of their scientific discussions.

    I highly recommend the book In Six Days [amazon.com], edited by John F. Ashton, PhD. It's a collection of essays by 50 scientists in a variety of disciplines, each with a PhD, explaining why they believe in the six-day creation described in the Bible, and giving scientific evidence to support their belief. If you don't read the book, at least read the reviews at amazon.com.

    --

  • Dr. Pier Oddone... Hands up, who believed this story anyway with that name?

    (Me, I'm just minutes after seeing Dr. Strangelove...)

  • by Ranger (1783) on Saturday July 28, 2001 @09:28AM (#2186708) Homepage
    Last time I checked, science distinguishes itself from any other field of human endeavor by its ability for self-correction. Science is littered with the corpses of discarded theories. How are we to understand the world around us if scientists don't make mistakes?

    The public needs to understand that most scientific research is going to end up a failure, but the rewards for success make it worthwhile. And it's hard to predict when or where the next breakthrough will come. We get a skewed view of scientific progress because we only see the breakthroughs (e.g. Galileo's telescope, Maxwell's equations, Darwin's natural selection, Crick & Watson's DNA).
  • Who cares about ununoctium anyway. That stuff doesn't have any useful applications. Not like ununpentium [boblazar.com]. It's the magic behind the "Reticulan propulsion system."


    there are 3 kinds of people:
    * those who can count

  • michael [mailto] writes:

    " Hmmm... first the Higgs Boson doesn't exist, now Element 118 turns out to be a myth too. Or is it all just part of some wider, cosmic conspiracy? ;)"

    The Higgs Boson likely exists & Element 118 may well be possible, we just don't have proof of them yet.

    Please don't editorialize innacurately.

  • Beautifully put. The social phenomenon you're referring to is sometimes called a "Kuhn-ian Revolution" after Thomas Kuhn's book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

    Kuhn plotted out the social and psychological patterns of scientific revolutions, from rejection to doubt to acceptance of new theories. This book is a must-read for those interested in the social progress of scientific endeavor.

    On the other side of the coin, various authors (both psychologists and theologians) have theories of stages of psychological progress. One of these stages is inevitably a dogmatic phase, in which the dogmatic individual actively needs (in a psychological sense) a strictly disciplined environment/worldview. For a person in this phase, the flexibility to toss out an old worldview for a new one, to shift the entire ruleset, simply isn't possible. Scott Peck's Further Along The Road Less Travelled discusses one perspective on this sort of developmental theory.

  • Please...half a millisecond is an eternity in modern measurement technology.
  • Remember if you will that "element" as it applies to chemistry came into being at a time when its chemical definition was NOT in conflict with your second definition of an "irreducible constituent of a composite entity." Elements and the periodic table were scientifically established quite some time before we found out that our irreducible constituents were in fact quite reducible, to smaller bits-n-pieces that are themselves reducible. Democritus' "atom" has the same story.
  • maggard [mailto] writes:

    Please don't editorialize innacurately.

    Please do not criticize the editor innacurately. All the words you quote are from the original news sender, Lars Mooseantlers. michael is probably far from flawless, but you are completely wrong here.

  • Thank you for the link, troll, for now I am enlightened.

    (Sometimes you need to be offtopic and indignant to get a message out...)
  • As far as I remember from my college physics course the problem with unstability in larger atoms is that the electrical force overcomes the strong(nuclear) force.

    Protons and neutrons are bound by the strong force together. Unfortunately with so many positive charge protons together they tend to repel each other. In order to counter this the nucleus in the higher atoms normally contains a lot more neutrons than protons to spread the protons out a bit so the electrical force is not so great between closely packed protons.

    I may be slightly off here becasue it's been a while but thats the general explanation.

  • If one day we find out E really does not equal MC^2, I think it will take a very long time to get everyone to stop saying it/believing it.

    I guess how well something is entrenched in our minds is relative to the amount of time it takes to finally get it out.

  • Yes, mc. Should have previewed my post, but the message still holds true. Religion is fed to alot of people since birth (even more true 300+ years ago when the catholic church had much more influence).

    In early times it went something like this:

    You are born, your whole life everyone tells you the world in flat, everything revolves around the earth, some big bad ass mean man from the sky created us all, you die, and go to heaven if you're good, hell if you're bad. This was not taught as 'we believe that...', it was taught as fact. If someone came along and told you the world was round, you'd pick up your nearest clue stick and smack him upside the head.

    The longer a belief is believed, the harder it will be, even with irrefutable proof to back yourself up, to convince people you're right, and their father, mother, teachers, and leaders were wrong.

    Element 118 did not have 2000+ years of being 'fact'. It's easy for us to dismiss it as a mistake. Proof of the existance of a god (or proof there is no god) would never be swallowed that quick. The older the belief, the larger the truth pill becomes. The bigger the pill, the harder it is to swallow, and some people are going to choke and spit it back up.

    This is why religious beliefs are hard to shake, and most scientific proofs are easy to forget if it is shown to be flawed or flat out wrong. They haven't been around long enough to carry the same weight.
  • Don't forget that Aristotol's theories were taken to be unbreakable laws and thus no one wanted to around proving that they were wrong for fear of death. I think that this prevented science from advancing for over 4 centuries.
  • Due to its half-life, it's never been seen outside the Intel labs...

  • It's how science advances, and how we learn.


    Three cheers from the Amen Corner, brother.
  • That's a very interesting question. According to Webelements [webelements.com] Ununhexium (element 116) only existed as a shortlived decay product of 118.

    The WebElements page for 118 has information about, and a link to, the retraction (the 116 page doens't) But reading the retraction [lbl.gov], though it mentions 116, doesn't retract any claim regarding the existence of 116. So its possible that when the krypton collided with the Lead, an alpha particle was thrown off in the creation of Ununhexium, rather than during the decay of Ununoctium.

    However, IANANP (I am not a nuclear physicist), so what do I know?

  • The scientists claimed that 118 was seen which decayed into the "never before seen" 116. Does the invalidation of 118 also mean that 116 also didn't exist? Does anyone have any further information? Thanks.

  • Well lets see. We throw heavy nuclei together and for a brief moment in time they bond. Creating matter that we most probably can't find in nature. Sure sounds like we "created" something.
  • Amazing! From just one statement opposing your narrow view of the universe you have deduced my intellegence. Keep your eyes open. Theories are not true by default sir. Often they are proved wrong after much wasted effort.
  • I dont place much faith in what comes out of accelerator collisions. When slamming 2 energy streams together at very close to C, guess what, we CREATE matter. It isnt matter that can occur naturally, and decays in nano-seconds, but who cares right. We got the big grant money to study it and produce reams of paper to prove we are doing something. Bah, I say. The information from this research hasnt provided the answers we seek about sub-atomic structure. It has IMO produced some wild theories with little merit and helps to obscure the true path that we seek.

    Dont get me wrong. I too want to understand the structure of the universe. But we have been spinning our wheels with this research for some time now.

    Flame away if you must, I have metaphasic shielding.

  • It should be noted that all of your arguments are perfectly sound when applied to euclidean geometry as well, just so long as you include time as part of your position marker - and there's no reason that you shouldn't. I'm somewhat confused by this whole thing: what part of relativity are you complaining about?

    I have nothing against relativity. My problem is with famous sicentists who make all sorts of cockamamie claims (like wormhole, time travel, etc...) on the basis of relativity's success.

    Well, we change relative to time, yeah?

    No, we just change. Static time intervals is derived abstractly from change.

    you say time is static... because'changing time' is self-referential Well, if it's static, then it doesn't change over time, which, according to you, causes the same problem.

    There is no such thing as "changing over time" because it implies an independent time coordinate t that changes. A changing time coordinate is illogical, by definition. Why is that so hard for you to understand? You must be a physicist or maybe you aspire to be one.

    I use the word 'static' for want of a better term. 'Unchanging' may be more appropriate. In a model where there is no change, even the concept of 'no change' is meaningless. However, an outside observer can come to the conclusion that there is no change.
  • you know worm holes and time travel aren't really accepted as such outside the minds of Jack Sarfatti, Rudy Rucker, bored middleschool kids and science fiction writers.

    You're kidding me. A simple search on Google for either wormhole or time travel contradicts your statement. Stephen Hawking claims that time travel is a serious scientific pursuit. See the references on my site.

    Quantum computation, on the other hand, has something behind it

    Quantum computing is just as much snake oil and crackpottery as time travel, if not more so. In fact, Dr. David Deutsch of Oxford, who has set himself up as the quantum computing pope, also believes in time travel (I quote him on my site). It's just snake oil on top of snake oil. I am preparing a page on my site to unmask the crackpottery of quantum computing. Stay tuned.
  • For those that read element names like "Unonoctium" and wonder what people are smoking, there's a reason for names like that.

    Years ago the soviets and the americans and any other two-bit chemist would get into fights over who found the heavier element first, and correspondingly each give their own name.

    Consequently, IUPAC (busybodies that they are) set out to define the uniform naming nomenclature for heavier elements. There's a summary here: http://www.resource-world.net/IUPACnam.htm . Which more or less says "latin for each digit in the atomic number"

    What it really comes down to is there won't be any new cool element names from this point.

  • by Jovian (106485)
    I looked at your web page, and you made the statement that "the equation for velocity along the time axis would have to be v = dt/dt which is, of course, meaningless as far as motion is concerned." (dt/dt=1, clearly), and "We know that a dimensionless number such as 1 has absolutely no meaning in as far as expressing velocity or any sort of change."

    It should be noted that all of your arguments are perfectly sound when applied to euclidean geometry as well, just so long as you include time as part of your position marker - and there's no reason that you shouldn't. I'm somewhat confused by this whole thing: what part of relativity are you complaining about?

    Another gem: "'changing time' is self-referential." Well, we change relative to time, yeah? So, using ourselves as a metric, time changes relative to us. Or, to attack this another way, you say time is static... because'changing time' is self-referential Well, if it's static, then it doesn't change over time, which, according to you, causes the same problem.

    A couple of flaws in logic, I think. Feel free to disprove these points, but I really don't see what your worries about a grand physics conspiracy are caused by. You've got to ask yourself "why would they bother?"

  • From Physics Web [physicsweb.org]:

    Tully and co-workers have combined the data from the four experiments at LEP and found evidence that the Higgs boson has a mass of 114.9 GeV c-2. 'It is a 2.6 sigma effect,' he told PhysicsWeb, 'so there's still a 6 in 1000 chance that what we are seeing are background events, rather than the Higgs.'

    The international physics community gives its golden stamp of approval for the existence of a particle is, I believe, 1 in 10 000, and the LEP at CERN would probably have been able to get that accuracy within a year or two had it not been dismantled for something even bigger [web.cern.ch].

  • IIRC, Pons and Fleischmann were chemists.
  • I agree... I've never understood modern Christianity's ability to take some parts of the Bible at face value while acknowledging and accepting the fact that other parts are just so much made-up nonsense.

    As an agnostic, I actually have more respect for the faith of the hardcore fundamentalist types than I do for the more "progressive" denominations. At least the fundies stick to their guns (sometimes a little too literally).

    People can rationalize their beliefs to a truly amazing extent, and religion is by no means unique in that respect. Much of the ideological backlash Copernicus had to put up with didn't even come from the Church, for instance. It's easy to blame all irrational human behavior on our atavistic God/alpha leader-seeking genes, but it's also very wrong.
  • by cybermage (112274) on Saturday July 28, 2001 @09:46AM (#2186734) Homepage Journal
    Am I the only person who has a problem with the concept of artificial elements?

    I think defining [dictionary.com] an element as something that "cannot be reduced to simpler substances by normal chemical means," is awfully convenient and runs contrary to a more simple definition: "A fundamental, essential, or irreducible constituent of a composite entity."

    I think that cramming more protons into a nucleus and calling it a new "element" (yes I know this is over-simplified) is a bit of a logical stretch. No wonder people who were not brought up speaking English have such a problem learning it when we have contradictory definitions for the same word based on context.
  • >>Or is it all just part of some wider, cosmic conspiracy? Wake up. This "comic" conspiracy of those ridiculous clowns is lasting for more than forty years. Their so-called theories are shaken every week. They no more know what to invent in order to justify their work and now even the government starts loosing faith and cut their funds. Slashdot admins are always the last ones to become aware of the obvious, and of course they have no clue why. That's just because they live in a dream and they are stupid.
  • Not much is wrong. I would hate to be in that research group right now. Can you imagine how something like this can effect your career options? In research, there is a fine line to walk. You have to balance what you say and hold back so that the "discovery" remains yours and you also remain "open and communicative" to the world. It's tough. It hurts to see this happen to a group as prestigious as this. Groups else where will hold back findings as a result of this occurance. -=fshalor
  • Is this the beginning of the Science-bomb ( as in dot-bomb ). This sounds kinda like some of the claims that were made by companies looking for Venture Capital a year or so ago. "Lets push out this claim of finding a new element so we can get more grant money".

    Maybe Transmeta needs to start doing research like this, its not like they can piss off their share-holders any more.

  • You, sir, don't know what the heck you are talking about. You clearly do not understand what accelerator collisions do ("we CREATE matter"). In fact, you don't even know the meaning of the word "sub-atomic". You are not Cynical, you are just Stupid.
  • I did not state that theories are true by default. Nor did I oppose your view : I can't since they do not make sense.

    The use of the word "wasted" in your sentence is an affront to the many many years of effort scientists put into their work. Nothing is wasted if something is proved wrong. Science is in the enterprise of finding out things that don't work, and keeping those that do (until the next revelation).

    Do not confuse narrow-mindedness with being aware about the limitations of current theories. Science is a hard game, and the price of admittance is many years of hard work. If you want to comment and rant ('bah') about the work scientists do, then learn the subject before complaining about it.

  • If you can make elements in the labs, then the said elements exist. You call them "artificial" because you made them, but who is to say that the very same processes cannot happen in a more natural setting like in a the core of a neutron star or in a hypernova?

    So no, I don't have a problem with man-made elements because what we humans can do and create is insignificant compare to the possibilities that nature Herself can accomodate.
  • Well, you can have a look at a Neutron Star. That's one very big atom!

    (Disclaimer : strictly speaking a Neutron Star is not an atom, but it is a very big ball of neutrons and protons in a bound state.)
  • Disclaimer: I am a church-going Christian, and have been for many years.

    The key difference between religion and science is right here, from the article: "As scientists, we have a responsibility when a mistake like that is made to fess up."

    I visited the Institute for Creation Research a few years ago. These fools try to make the claim that belief in evolution is as much a matter of faith as belief in God -- and one counter to the Bible.

    But this is patently false. The difference is, when scientists learn something new, they -usually- (but there are exceptions) give up on the old theories and make new ones.

    Compare with religion: Once something becomes part of religious doctrine, it can take CENTURIES before someone convinces people that it was a mistake. And the folks at the ICR are like this: You cannot convince them, even with scriptures that plainly contradict their beliefs, that they're wrong. The human doctrine has become their God.

    The relevant point I'm trying to make here is this: Don't poke fun at the scientists for making a mistake; give them credit for admitting it. It's what they ought to be doing. It's how science advances, and how we learn. This is, in the end, a very good thing.
  • by deglr6328 (150198) on Saturday July 28, 2001 @10:08AM (#2186743)
    The creation of new heavy elements through heavy element fusion in particle accelerators is real. It is how: seaborgium: 1974, bohrium: 1981, meitnerium: 1982, hassium: 1984, ununnilium: 1994(and others I believe), were all created. The researchers in this case thought they were reaching a so called sea of stability(and had good reason to believe this) where nuclear stability would slightly increase with mass again enough to allow the production of atoms with neasureably long half lives before falling off with increased nuclear mass again.

    Why would they have come out retracting thier previous claim 3 years after the fact at a time when no one was questioning thier results if they had falsified data? They went over thier data again and realized something was wrong, they retracted an honest but mistaken claim, this is how science works at it's best. When an astronomer a few years ago at the yearly American Astrophysical meeting found out (WHILE HE WAS AT THE ACTUAL MEETING NO LESS) that he had made a mistake in his calculations and the stars he had been studying were not orbited by any extrasolar planets, he got up in front of the entire congregation of scientists at the meeting and confessed he had made a mistake. He recieved a standing ovation. That is exactly what should happen here.

  • *sigh*.

    You mean Lars Mooseantlers writes:

    "Hmmm... first the Higgs Boson doesn't exist, now Element 118 turns out to be a myth too. Or is it all just part of some wider, cosmic conspiracy? ;)"

    Remember, the stuff in italics and quoted up there is written by the submitter. The only thing michael added was:

    Mmmmm,
    ununoctium [encyclopedia.com]. Well, I guess this story's [slashdot.org] out of date, and so is this paper [lbl.gov].

    --

  • by bonzoesc (155812) <bkerley&brycekerley,net> on Saturday July 28, 2001 @08:40AM (#2186745) Homepage
    I shouldn't have bought all those Ununoctium and Higgs boson futures! First pets.com, now this! I guess I'll just invest in record companies and Microsoft.
  • It is a 2.6 sigma effect,' he told PhysicsWeb, 'so there's still a 6 in 1000 chance that what we are seeing are background events, rather than the Higgs.'

    Not to knock my experimental colleagues, since what they do is actually much more difficult than what we theorists tend to do, but.... the number of 2 and 3 sigma effects that disappear when more data is taken, or old results that feed into their calculations are updated, or theorists calculate the next order correction... well, that number greatly exceeds 6 results in 1000. That's why physicists as a group don't tend to "believe" results until they reach a significance of 5 sigma, which is something like a 1 in 2 million chance of background fluctuations.

    But that doesn't stop the theorists from writing dozens of papers based on 2 sigma results :-)

  • >> Due to its half-life, it's never been seen
    >> outside the Intel labs...

    No, it's also been observed in the Black Mesa
    Research Facility.

    Chris Mattern

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Saturday July 28, 2001 @09:53AM (#2186748) Homepage
    Scientists have announced that Schrodinger's cat is dead. Oh wait, he's fine. No, he's not; he's dead. Er, now he's alive again...
  • The trouble with the larger man-made elements is that when one atom gets so huge it's really friggin unstable. Perhaps it's due to geometry in the nucleus or simple quantum mechanics. In any event I'm saddened by this news... Not! We don't understand squat about Hydrogen, how can we pretend to understand something so big.

    It'll be nice when they can build an atom so big the human eye can see it but until then we need to forget building big atoms and spend more time learning about the small ones.

  • Firstly, it's mc^2, not MC^2. Secondly, it doesn't. The actual formula (general, as opposed to special relativity) is considerably more complicated (and won't go through the lameness filter) and probably isn't perfect.
    --
  • It's worth mentioning that most of the time people's views actually differ greatly from the Bible. For instance, nowhere in the Bible is it stated that the earth is the centre of the universe. THAT was an idea people came up with on their own.

  • Ph33r the undead cat!

  • Hm, makes me think of IANAL posters... :)
  • Any believer worth the name either avoides sciense altogether, or comes to a conlusion similar to "God doesn't want to be found."

    If you were an all-powerful being who decided to take 6 earth-days to create a Thing, and then fill this Thing with other Things, including smart Things called People, and you wanted to hide your own existnace from these People to see if they would believe in you... well, you could do it, becasue you're all-powerful.

    The conflict between science and religion comes when science tries to extrapolate its theories and laws backwards to infinity. Take, for example, evolution. No one in their right mind says "beings do not evolve", when it's clear that they do--just ask any plant breeder, for instance.

    The problem is when "animals evolve to best fit their environment" is extended backwards to "all beings evolved from other things."

    And moving on, just to ensure that this is marked as offtopic, I feel like pointing out that my Christian faith isn't rooted in a book, it's rooted in a man called Jesus whom, when viewed from a modern persepctive, was really the first hippie.
  • The theory of evolution (macroevolution, species evolving into other species over millions of years) is clearly inconsistent with the Bible, which says that the Earth and everything on it was divinely created within six days, and there is no indication anywhere in the Bible that this was not intended to be taken literally.

    Yet another disclaimer: I, too, am a Christian, who believes in the bible, goes to church, all that sort of thing. However, I find the concept of the earth being created in six days flat bizarre. Given the sun was only created on the fourth 'day', how do you judge how long each of those days was? Surely the sun and the rotation of the earth is what governs a 'day'?

    Just a thought.

    Dua

  • by curtS (214040) on Saturday July 28, 2001 @08:51AM (#2186756)
    This may not be the best time to reveal the new element I've discovered, unobtainium. It has no mass, infinite strength, and a firewire port.
  • Oh dear, I can feel a troll feeding frenzy coming on...
  • Because they retracted it twice before. This is the third time. ;)
  • by hillct (230132) on Saturday July 28, 2001 @09:03AM (#2186760) Homepage Journal
    It's great to see physicists with integrity rather the embarasment to the field perpetrated by Drs. Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons in March 1989 when they claimed to have devised a process to produce cold fusion [virtualschool.edu].

    --CTH
  • The problem that I have with this is the following. If I were going to make a claim of this magnitude I would make sure that there is repeatability of the results before I opened my mouth about it.

    This kind of crap really hurts the scientific cause. Most of all the research in the fundamental sciences (physics and math) is funded via the federal government. And when it comes times to renew contracts and get more funding people always remember the bad science, like cold-fusion.

    I believe that this research is much needed and I detest the fact that this type of bogus science really hurts the rest of the legitimate scientific community by making funds that much harder to come by.

    If it is discovered that they falsified those results to get and or continue funding then that group should be suspended from future federal funds.
  • What don't we understand about Hydrogen that should stop research being done into the existence of new atoms? I believe we have the Schrodinger wave equation sorted out for it, along with a huge list of properties. Of course we cant understand to the same extent larger atoms, but knowing their existence can only be good surely.
  • Disclaimer: Me too.

    Here's a thought... Science changes almost completely every 200 years, but the basic truths of the Bible have stayed the same for centuries. As we discover more powerful and more accurate models for the way things in the world work, we can more accurately predict the way things are going to behave, and we can better and more responsibly harness the forces of nature for our own betterment. Science is really good.

    But scientific fact is ephemeral. Look at Ununoctium. If you go around saying "Current science will not verify the Bible (eg Creation, The Flood etc etc) so therefore I won't believe the Bible", your faith in current science is greater than mine in God!

    OK, another Christian has contributed. Let the flamings continue...

  • You're thinking too small.
    Combine Gold + Silver + Iron = Element 152 (79+47+26 atoms)
    After doing so, you'll have the material that powers the Legion of Superheros' Flight Rings.
    And look at these built-in features!
    Just think of the cash you'll rake in with an antigravity metal that is telepathically responsive.
    One of the pieces of Legion equipment created by Invisible Kid, the flight rings are made out of Element 152, an anti-gravity metal created by Mon-El. Experimenting with the metal for months, Invisible Kid developed a flight ring with the following attributes:
    * Flight through the will power of the wearer.
    * Allows its wearer to link with other ring-wearers. This allows all those linked to travel at the speed of the fastest linked character.
    * Signaling device is activiated by twisting the L symbol clockwise a quarter turn. This activates the ring's SOS transmission and tracking beam.
    * Allows the wearer to hover even is he/she loses consciousness.
    * Communication is allowed via ring to other wearers. The wearer focuses his or her will through the ring to "send" a message to another person or persons. For more personal messages or ones that need to be kept from others, telepathic plugs must be used.
    Small wonder that Booster Gold made a fortune with his.
  • the number of 2 and 3 sigma effects that disappear when more data is taken, or old results that feed into their calculations are updated, or theorists calculate the next order correction... well, that number greatly exceeds 6 results in 1000. (Laughter) Let's see, you spin a cobweb of mathematics that predicts a new "particle" might have certain characteristics, including breaking down in less than a femtosecond. You predict how it is going to break down and affect other particles that stay around long enough to be detected, then you try to get a few flickers in the detectors that sort of match. And you do a statistical analysis based on your theory that indicates those flickers probably confirmed your theory. Seems a bit of circular reasoning is involved... But at least the treatment of statistics by physicists beats the heck out of that in social science.

    I switched from physics to engineering over 20 years ago, because the only parts of the field that were still making new theories were running into a wall when it came to verifying them. Particle physicists need a multi-billion dollar machine running for weeks to get a few flickers on the detectors. But they're in much better shape than cosmologists, who've got no way to run experiments at all, and who are perhaps drawing far too sweeping conclusions from too few observations. I salute you guys that are still hanging in there.

  • According to you, if part is wrong, then all is wrong? If so, if a textbook that talks about ununoctium, it has to all be wrong? Now don't get me wrong, some of the bible is false. Most of these mistakes are from translation to other languages, but some of it was diliberate revisions (by the Catholic church among others) to stay in control.
  • Right on. I was on that experiment and NO! we never claimed discovery. The fact that it's 2.6 sigma effect is a stastical statement and it's still valid.
  • Begin quote: "At least those guys are honest. Wait till the big time-travel/wormhole/quantum-computer/snake-oil fiasco makes it out in the open. It won't be pretty. The physics community should realize that the lay public is not as stupid as they would want everyone to believe. " End quote. What the hell are you talking about?
  • Please don't editorialize innacurately.

    If you'll take another look, you'll notice that comment is in italics. That means that it was part of the submitter's comment, not a statement made by Michael.

    'crow

  • Bah, I say. The information from this research hasnt provided the answers we seek about sub-atomic structure.

    For one thing, it isn't new matter being created here, just the forced fusion of heavy elements. For another thing, this isn't just an exercise in who can make the heaviest element. While most of the artificial heavy elements discovered so far have half-lives of microseconds, current theory predicts that there is a band of super-heavy elements that are relatively stable, with half-lives of seconds or more. The only way to test the theory is to actually create such elements.

    So, bah yourself.

  • by s20451 (410424) on Saturday July 28, 2001 @09:49AM (#2186771) Journal

    If I were going to make a claim of this magnitude I would make sure that there is repeatability of the results before I opened my mouth about it.

    Firstly, this discovery isn't anything that will result in fundamental shifts in scientific knowledge, nor is it anything that will affect the daily lives of individuals (in the same way as, say, nuclear fission). So I'm not sure why you would consider this a discovery of great magnitude, aside from the fact that an average person could probably understand the nature of the discovery. Furthermore, repeatability is the work of other researchers, so in this case the system worked as intended.

    I believe that this research is much needed and I detest the fact that this type of bogus science really hurts the rest of the legitimate scientific community by making funds that much harder to come by.

    Again, I disagree. The research in question was neither "bogus", nor did it hurt the reputation of the rest of the scientific community. There was some evidence from an experiment that could have been a legitimate discovery, and it was published as such, then withdrawn when the evidence was reviewed. In fact, as many posters have pointed out, the forthrightness of the scientists in pointing out their own mistakes can only help their reputations. The research funding agencies understand how science works, and won't likely turn off the money taps because of one failed experiment.

  • I hated everything to do with religion for years because I assumed Christians were all of this Creation Science nonsense variety.

    Boy was I surprised (and relieved) to discover that there are scads of intelligent, logically minded people within the broad framework of Christianity. Not as many as one would like, but these "reformers" are really courageous and their long-term impact on reducing the uglier aspects of the Christian tradition is not to be underestimated.

    Way to go.

  • Elements should be introduced with a flashy line like:

    w00t! n3W 373m3nT oWn2 j00!
    f1rST n3W 373m3nT!

    Then revoking it is no problem, because people don't believe you in the first place.

  • I smell a government conspiracy to squelch further research in this area in the name of national security!

    It's common knowledge that the superheavy elements, particularly Ununpentium (115), are what power the alien spacecraft the United States has secretly captured and reverse engineered. It works by amplifying the so-called "Gravity A-waves" that extend from these strange atoms, to compress and expand the surrounding space. This is the stuff Star Trek is make of, and it's being kept from us hippies by power freaks for no good reason!

    Bob Lazar [boblazar.com] was right after all! Spread the word! The truth is out there! Fight the spooks! Keep watching the sky! Don't let THEM get you! And always remember to keep your tinfoil beanies crisp!

    ;-)

  • you know worm holes and time travel aren't really accepted as such outside the minds of Jack Sarfatti, Rudy Rucker, bored middleschool kids and science fiction writers. Quantum computation, on the other hand, has something behind it, but I don't think the superposition of q-bit values for hard combinatoric problems will be quite what most people are looking for in the term "supercomputer", as supercomputers are generally regarded as things that perform operations incredibly fast whereas the quantum computers specialize in attacking problems that under traditional methods exhibit explosive complexity as the size of the problem increases. Finally, snake oil is entirely real and has been duping the gullible masses since the beginning of human civilization.
  • Didn't Steven hawking propose that the reason that you have 3 dimensions instead of 2 is because if we had two dogs would fall apart owing to their digestive systems cutting them in half? I personally much prefer the theory that with three dimensions its possible to be lost, ala the measure theoretic probability of an infinite random walk returning to the origin infinitely often in two dimensions (1), versus the similar probability of returning to the origin infinitely often in 3 dimensions (0). Makes good sense to me.
  • I know there a good number of physics people out there, so here goes. .

    Other than perhaps Plutonium and Neptunium, have any of the transuranium elements been at all useful? I ask not because I think this research is pointless (on the contrary as a chemist I think it is valuable toward understanding nuclear forces) but I expect any application would be rather novel and interesting.
  • by Captain Oblivious (467184) on Sunday July 29, 2001 @12:38AM (#2186778)
    I am a church-going Christian, and have been for many years.

    Man, you'd think you'd have got there by now.

  • I'm not going go so far as to accuse these guys of "scientific trolling"; I reckon they really thought they'd made an element (don't use the word new, if it can be made in the lab, it can be/has been made in a star/gas cloud/supernova/etc). OTOH, they now risk being classed with the likes of the "cold fusion" fellers of old (who were either morons and/or just trolling the sci community). I'm not saying that scientists should be paranoid to publish (they must, else perish), but they should _really_ be certain of their data and methods before making such a bold claim. Publish or perish/Publish rubbish at your peril!
  • The only attitude displayed is the same I've seen here and the same one we all see everyday in the media and the general public. Everyone has their profound $0.2 about how this and that is impossible in physics or how 'they don't quite get how it could be' and hence could not be. It is quite annoying to see people who don't understand what they are talking about pontificate as if they do. Oh and a piece of paper doesn't make you a qualified reader but many years of study and good achievements do.
  • by physicsgrad2005 (471599) on Saturday July 28, 2001 @10:18AM (#2186781)
    As a graduate student in physics at Berkeley, I take great offence at some of the comments here. What bothers me is that some people make comments as if they knew what they are talking about. Nothing annoys physicists more then idiots who make half-baked comments without even knowing what they are talking about. The fact that these particles live for a fraction of a second does not mean that the proof of their existence is flimsy. They are detected by looking for a series of reactions (decays) that occur once the particle has been created. It is not easy but at least physicists are honest enough to make their errors public. It is a shame the general public is too stupid to understand this or the work that is carried out.

It seems that more and more mathematicians are using a new, high level language named "research student".

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