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Space Science

Most Stars Are Single 100

An anonymous reader writes to tell us is reporting that 'for more than 200 years, astronomers thought that most of the stars in our galaxy had stellar companions. But a new study suggests the bulk of them are born alone and never have stellar company.' The key difference seems to come from the difference between the highly turbulent clouds that produce massive stars in groups and the less active smaller clouds that produce red dwarfs."
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Most Stars Are Single

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  • by orkysoft ( 93727 ) <orkysoft&myrealbox,com> on Monday January 30, 2006 @06:05PM (#14602159) Journal
    Then you were taught wrong. Science isn't about absolute truth. Science is about finding explanations for phenomena, and making predictions based on those explanations. We can prove the explanations false by providing counterexamples, but we can never prove them to be true. The most we can say about these explanations is that we haven't been able to prove them false, and that as such, they're, AFAWK, pretty good.
  • by ZombieWomble ( 893157 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @06:05PM (#14602163)
    The longer I live, the less enamored I am with science. I was always taught that it's this great infallible thing,

    Whoever taught you were incorrect then. Science's biggest strength is the fact that it is based around the concept that what we know can, and likely is wrong, and that it can only be verified by observing facts.

    In this case, it's quite like relativity generalising Newton's laws - for large, easily observable stars, this rule holds true. But more detailed measurements indicate errors which happen in 'special' (or, in truth, more general) condition.

    Development in science is nothing to be afraid of - sure, we were wrong in the past, and probably still are, but now we're a little more right. Maybe it's not a big problem, but it's better than sticking our heads in the sand and never learning.

    (Besides, everyone knows Astrophysicists aren't real scientists... or at least that's what I tell my friends in that department. They usually don't disagree :) )

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 30, 2006 @06:09PM (#14602200)
    If you're looking to science for Truth, that's where you've gone wrong yourself.

    Key word in science: THEORY.

    There is no truth.
  • by JWW ( 79176 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @06:14PM (#14602252)
    Science is the _path_ to truth, not truth itself.
  • by Wombat ( 6297 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @06:21PM (#14602330) Homepage
    I personally find it exciting when we're able to revise our theories based upon new information. It means that we have new information, and that's always a good thing.

    Recall that Astrophysics is still a relatively young science. As we acquire new observational tools, we find ourselves with more and better data. And so assumptions are adjusted.

    It's not flip-flopping. It's learning.
  • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Monday January 30, 2006 @07:02PM (#14602671) often we have to unlearn what we've been taught for so long by scientists. This has been one of the more basic tenets of astronomy, something almost always mentioned when discussing extrasolar planets at any length. And now we're being told that two hundred years of teaching was wrong?

    I know you are somewhat joking, but...

    The point of scientific truth, is that there are no constant truths except maybe speed of light. (Even then people are trying to disprove that as we speak)

    You must assume everything taught in scientific theory is probable, but someday someone could come along and provide a better theory and make the previous theory look horribly stupid in retrospect.

    What science attempts to find is basically a logical methodology of how things appear to work and try to predict what happens if we perform x action under y criteria.

    Cause and effect.

    But the problem is that the universe is not constant (except for speed of light) and that all things time, distance, position, chemical makeup, atomic makeup, and various other things are constantly changing.

    I always like to give my sky example for this.

    I make a hypothetical statement about the color of the sky which is "The sky is blue!"

    Is this true or false? On a sunny day this is very true, but on a cloudy day or at night it is not.

    But if we say at 10am, at Sometown USA, and the weather is clear then the sky should be blue. If the same conditions exist tomorrow, my theory would say that the sky should be blue.

    The problem with thinking science makes things always true and set in stone is a fallacy since there are a trillion different criteria we still don't know about yet.

    But the more we know, the better we can understand the universe.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 30, 2006 @11:57PM (#14604287)
    No slashdotter will ever get a chance at women that hot

    That's only a function of the probability of meeting them and making a good first impression upon such meeting. Some celebs do date non-celebs; mostly rich non-celebs, but not always. The most significant limits (in order of precedence) to a relationship like that are:

    a) Believing that your are unworthy or incapable of such a relationship, in which case, where do you draw the line? Believing "I'm not good enough for X" precludes X from happening. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. The biggest single division between average people and famous/influential people is that the latter display extremely high self-confidence, and often believe that they were "destined" for their position in society. Their belief fuels them; there is no such thing as destiny.
    b) Overcoming the other person's belief that you are not good enough for them. This is much easier than overcoming self-imposed limits, but the method is not always intuitive. Some people prejudge others, but in most cases you have a blank slate, regardless of who the other person is, and you merely have to present yourself as worthwhile. Hint: Using the verbal equivelant of "omg ur pretty!" wouldn't seperate you from the masses. Poor grooming is also the quickest and easiest way to get prejudged.

    At any rate, celebrities are no better (and perhaps worse) at personal relationships than anyone else, so the quality of such a relationship is not necessarily going to be higher. All that glitters is not gold.
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @10:22AM (#14606462) Journal
    Whoever taught you were incorrect then. Science's biggest strength is the fact that it is based around the concept that what we know can, and likely is wrong, and that it can only be verified by observing facts.

    I agree with you in both cases, that this is science's greatest strength and it was incorrectly presented.

    HOWEVER, I'll also point out that - barring a few scientists that are very forthright about the limits of their knowledge with "Well, we're pretty sure about X, but we don't know how it explains Y..." or "The best we can tell, Z is true. But..." - I *rarely* hear scientists talking about the limits or doubts of their own knowledge. Maybe it's simple human ego, or maybe it's a fear of empowering the creationists, (er "intelligent design advocates"...nahhh creationists is more accurate) but to me science would be a lot more credible if MORE scientists were more forthright about what they know, what they suppose, what they hypothesize, and what they're guessing at.

    Go to any undergrad science course. Science is taught as a certain bedrock of facts with no doubt, no questions, and certainly no 'grey' areas.

    How's that for ironic? The scientists don't hedge enough, and the politicians hedge too much.
  • by ZombieWomble ( 893157 ) on Tuesday January 31, 2006 @04:23PM (#14610163)
    Go to any undergrad science course

    I dunno, my undergrad particle physics was taught by stepping through all the developments of the 'facts' in that area, showing what evidence demonstrated they went wrong, what the new model was, and so forth. And finished up with modern questions and details of experiments which are working on them. Similarly, one of my QM lecturers loved to set assignments researching the background of open questions or significant limitations in QM as taught. An excellent example of how to teach material from a developing field.

    The problem arises when you are teaching material which forms the basis of an established field, which while removed from the cutting edge a bit, but is still effectively a "special case" of some much more general law, which may have a rather different form. Newton's laws are a subset of Relativity, but when you're teaching this material for the first time, introducing this would take a lot of teaching time, which is at a premium in a lot of places now. It is simply more practical to state something as 'fact' when it is not, and clarify it when it's studied at higher levels ("Lies to children" was a nice description of it I heard once).

    Of course, I would really like it if some material on the basis of the Scientific Method was taught fairly rigorously to all students at some point - then they would know to ask these questions themselves. Alas, it's another thing which runs up against the requirements of teaching these days.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"