Scientist have exceptionally good track record for
reliability and accuracy in their research work but it
is totally invisible to much of the public. We will look
into this "hidden" method of achieving this track record
further on this
web site where we give a few examples of how this part of science works.
Lets first lets start by taking a fresh look at how
and what we are teaching about science, in our schools, museums
and though out the media. We concentrate well on topics such
as the physics of black holes, string theory, the wonders of
chemistry, and Einstein's old girl friends. Certainly
science or the lack of it is an everyday experience for
everyone. However there seems to
be a small but important part missing in our education of
science and about the Modus operandi of our scientist. There is to
little to nothing taught about the hidden science
that works behind the scenes, that controls how science is
done, the science that scientist
take for granted, and it is hardly ever stressed to the public.
This hidden science that the media finds too boring to talk
about, is a topic in what we
call "how science works" the so called
science of science.
Accuracy is one of the trade mark of science, a trade
mark that scientist use and depend on it to get
funding for their research especially for large issues
that are complicated and hard to understand, by the public
and the organization funding the research, i.e. global
warming, stem cell, and pandemic research are examples.
One of the features of "how science works"
is how scientist gain truthfulness, accuracy, and
trustworthiness in their business yet are not any more
truthful in their personnel lives than the average
persons in his or hers personal life.
Related but not a necessary Why can't we, Including the authors, do a
little better with the accuracy, especially for on one of natures simplest
telescope, two little pieces of glass, three tubes and some
glue, and especially for one of histories best known
telescopes, with an important story on "how science
It is one of the clearest
case studies in history for how we could do better with
gathering and disseminating knowledge. Plus isn't there
going to be a "Telescope Year" in or around 2010? Do we
want to carry with us miss information that other wise could
be corrected for the up coming celebration? Could we use
this opportunity to form a goal to develop such a course
teaching how science really works? Regardless how many
illegitimate children Galileo might have had.
The reason we are going to such an extent
(on this web page) on accuracy comes from the authors concern for the funding
of basic scientific research in the U.S. Which many of
us know is not doing that well in the U.S.
We made a small study, a pole of
some 150 people, about 50%
generally miss trust science. Studies by
Dr. Jon Krosnick, Professor of Humanities
at Stanford Univ. have found similar results with
professional surveys. In our pole we found quotes like the following comments below.
Scientist are always waffling and
cant make up their minds on most topic.
Scientist are bought and paid for
to support businesses products
Scientist are under great pressure to be
first and publish before they should and report
etc. etc. etc...
The major unsolved problem and challenge
science has faced and still faces is the mistrust of science. The majority of those who aren't familiar with
how science works are compelled to mistrust
it. Is there any question that one has no alternative but to
mistrust science as one mistrust all other things that are
difficult to understand.
This mistrust slows the progress of all science .
Of course this mistrust of science can and has
affected the funding and the acceptance of basic
scientific research in all areas of science some vital to
our and our planet's health.
For those who may disagree about trust and
science we recommend they run a pole
for themselves asking the questions.
on the form similar to the one on this link.
One should ask these questions of people from as many walks of life
as possible .Caution--Simply listen to
the answers thank those who have taken the time to
answer the questions without out challenging them.
Some of the examples "How science works"
A few examples of what we mean when we
use the words "How science works" are given
Most have never seen nor will never,
most likely, see through the entertainment media
information regards to;
the most elementary form of a scientific paper
with its guides spelled out for a proper paper
the steps that have to be taken to
validate a new discovery
the steps in writing proposal for
the number and type of organizations
that award funding
What is and how much is the cost of
All these and more things that are not
laboratory work but have to be done behind the scenes to do the
research is seldom or ever taught when teaching science.
These details of the working of science are at the
roots of the success of science. We need to have a fresh
look at how and what we are teaching in science, in schools,
at museums and though the media. We most do a much more
vigorous job at teaching topic in science (
Physics, Black holes, string theory, The wonders of
chemistry, Einstein's girl friends) than why and
how it works so well when funded. The authors feel strongly
about this issue.
What is the solution to gaining the trust
that science honestly deserves? Should we even care about gaining it?
It is absolutely essential for all of us
to understand the whole issue of why there are very few
errors, mistakes, falsehoods, or outrageous claims in
scientific work in comparison to errors, mistakes,
falsehoods or outrageous claims in every day life.
sadly there are few outside the professions of science who know how
and why this is true.
Accuracy is the first and absolute
requirement among scientists. This can be and
often is totally unexpected by the average person.
Every day we all encounter errors, mistakes,
falsehoods and outrageous claims everywhere and in
everything we do. There are so many errors, mistakes,
falsehoods and outrageous claims floating around
that most people take them for granted, even to
the point of ignoring them, and becoming a perpetual
The scientific community works in a system
of testable honesty and accuracy that ferrets out
errors, mistakes, falsehoods and outrageous claims.
The system is built on Homo sapiens natural fear of being "
wrong". One of the most crushing blows to a
scientist is be wrong. Its a very public wrong because their
work is out there for everyone to see. Scientist never work alone.
as Jules Vern etc. so often portrays them. They work intimately
with the ghosts of the past, tested constantly by scientist
of today and the future.
The standard process and rules of testing new
scientific discoveries or updating and
replacing existing ones that makes a scientist work one
of the bright spots in data reliability.
Example Scientific paper by Robert Oppenheimer
It is a form
all scientist use to describe their work it contains all
those things that are important in making the work of a
scientist reliable dependable honest and trust
worthy independent of their personal
What does not work-----A public verbal announce
of a discovery with out suitable documentation maybe be
exciting but not
acceptable to the scientific community.
What does work---
Everything about the new experiment,
---why it is being done, ----where it fits into the
general understanding of the field of investigation
-----The methods, instruments, error analysis, of the
data etc. ----has to
be published to the public -----with sufficient detail so others can
replication the discovery. This is
only the start the journey toward the
acknowledgment of the new work.
It has to be replicated
many times preferable by other laboratories.
Often scientist can
employ other methods and measurements to cross check the
When scientist publish their discovery
they are required to furnish textual descriptions,
formula, drawing, etc. written down for all to see
They are required to publish their methods of
gathering their data in detail.
Their analysis of the reliability of
The methods of analysis used to
determine the reliability of their data
When all of these things have been
completed to most everyone satisfaction it will be
accepted ---- until proven otherwise.
This process may go on for weeks month
and years before there is a enough data to check and
cross check the new discovery.
This does not delay experiments using
this new data to make new discoveries using hardware or
in fact often the experiment being
preformed based on the new discovery is a way of
confirming or trashing the new discovery.
Many times more accurate data will come
along and help to improve and alter the
Example of a change to the
orginal equation of a very famous scientist
F=MA mid 1600's Newton
et al. orginal equation
c 350 years later Einstein et
al. "modernized" Newton's equation to take into
the observation that mass is a function of speed
All things in science are connected by
time length and mass
The bottom line is---- each discovery
builds on many other discoveries before it.
Science is a team activity each
scientist works on a rather small part of the big
project of understanding of all parts of natural world.
They are very much dependant on other scientist
Each discovery will be used to
build other discoveries--- on and on in the steady march
forward to determine how all things in nature fit
together giving us the complete story of how
Thus honesty in science is at a higher level
than most other professions.
One can not ignore or go around errors,
mistakes, and especially falsehoods in scientific
investigations without being highlighted for all to see.
This issue is so important,
especially in today's world where science is again
being subjected to the Galilean syndrome, that
the authors take the opportunity to ask the reader to
examine the full error issue in a more detailed way.
Every discovery made by a scientist is built on
all the discoveries preceding it. An error, mistake, or
falsehoods in the
initial work can cause a catastrophe chain reaction to all
the work that follows it. Obviously all the scientist who
have been racing with each other to be first to find the
great new discovery and who have been mislead by bad data
have wasted their research grant money, their time, which is very dear to them
and the most catastrophic affect, they have
been slowed down by the bad data and lost the opportunity
of being first to a new disco
Can we use this error as a tool for
teaching how Science and scientist work?
We make a suggestions at the end about using this Galilean lens
issue to set the record straight about the accuracy of
scientific results in today research projects.
Does the error in the drawing of the lenses as noted above really matter?
Yes for a scientist with Galileo popularity because he
is often used as a symbol of science.
Galileo's story is a dramatic
interesting mile post in science. A subject that
constitutes a famous, simple, straight forward example
that most of us can appreciate of every aspects of science.
An almost perfect example to teach about
science and how science works. Its filled with lessons
showing how science fits into the larger world of politics,
business, and religion in 1600 and today.
Historians of science are
challenged with who invented or discover
what and when to see how science moves through history.
There is also a preoccupation with the quality of the
technologist's thinking. Was the work just an accident
by a run of the mill instrument maker? Others were working
at break neck speed to be first in the new world of
science. Didn't build the first telescopes solely for
There is a bright and useful side to this lenses
anomaly. It gives us a good teaching opportunity
to high light this very important aspect of
science. giving us a good opportunity to discuss the
role of falsehoods and errors in science and how they
can and do come about. It sad that there are some professions of reporting science
that are more likely to embrace such risks of being
wrong. See the examples
in the literature further on in this web page.
How to keep the record straight A few reasons for why errors
in the literature occurs.
Out side influences; Because of the Church's position
on the nature of Universe Galileo was forced to
modify his scientific interpretation of his data
and conclusions to save his life?
Reporting on Galileo using secondary sources.
in this case choosing schematics of
the instrument especially the very heart of the
instrument without checking for the accuracy of the
source. This error has been with us hundreds of years
Deliberately changing historical information
to emphasize an author needs to gain
more drama for popular consumption.
Some interpreter's judgment of Galileo's skills is keyed to the kind of
optics Galileo used for his telescopes. Perhaps some should also be judging
the reporting skills of the interpreters skills of
The dramatic aspects of this error has been its life
time. Its been around for hundreds of years being accepted and repeated
over and over again. It suggest extreme caution in using secondary
sources in the literature.
The big question is if one
can't rely on the reports for the shape of two simple pieces glass, the most important components of Galileo's
telescope, for one of the most significant instrument in the history of science,
what can one say about
the science of the popular versions of the history of science ?
So in producing a museum quality replica's of Galileo's telescopes one has be
very critical of any literature detailing the specifications
of the telescopes especially of the lenses, after all they are the telescope. One of the key
sources of information which has no language barrier are schematics,
drawings, or blue prints. They are a universal vehicle of
communication in the technical world. They are equivalent to the
wiring diagram of ones house, computer, brain, or
nervous system. Drawings don't
have to be to scale but one should expect then to
preserve the relative shape, location and interaction of the components
along with a clear description of the nature of the drawing, scale etc..
When one looks at the original lenses or photos
of the lenses of Galileo's telescope
IMSS 2427 one finds that they consist of a plano-convex objective
biconcave eye piece. (Note) We believe that original eyepiece of
this telescope was a plano-concave
here is an example of why the presumed error in the drawings
could affect our choice of lenses for the replica and our
evaluation of Galileo's sense of science forming his choice of lenses.
There is a potential major problem. When one
doesn't have access to the originals documents and data. We have go to
and rely on the literature, which
is generated by a number of sources. They are the profession historians
in science, scientist, and the media in all of its forms. There are
tens of thousands of schematics, drawings, or blue prints flooding the
literature on Galileo's lenses. Which source should we depend on?
Because this issue is so importrant The authors run
through our point again. Galileo is a wonderful
thrilling story with all of the essence of science, a
teacher, a technologist, an entrepreneur, a manufacture of
military weapons, a sales person, a basic, researcher
all roll into one at a time when science began to use
the tools of measurement of time, length, mass, calculation
and communication to really do science. He confronted one of
the most powerful institutions of Europe over a philosophic
issue that had meant little to nothing to the average persons
or their pocket book. Here it is nearly 400
years later and the only thing that has changed is it
takes teams of specialist to do what one person did in the
Galileo mightiest contribution to us all
might just be to
bring all the individual component together in one famous
case study that all can understand just how science
works. Galileo his instruments and his story tells us all about what science and civilization are all about so that we might
cure once and for all the slow downs caused by the Galileo Syndrome.
what and why
To neglect errors is never good science and certainly not good
for science. In the case of the lenses neglecting this error distorts
our view of what Galileo and the early lens makers knew about optics in
the1600's and raises even more strongly the issues of who invented
what and when. For example from the professional
literature Galileo did not invent the telescope but did invent a more
powerful telescope and presumably used lenses essentially flat
on one side. Why? Why did he use a negative lens as the
eyepiece in the first place?. Why didn't he use a plano convex or a double
convex lens giving a much larger field of view? What can we learn
about Galileo skills by looking at the possible reasons he chose plano
concave ...convex surfaces. Isn't the use of double curved lenses
a different invention by a different inventor? Are there sound and practical reasons and lessons
to be learned for his
choices? Does the nature of this choice give us an insight into
how all scientist make choices in the process of doing their work?
Are these choices intellectual, economic or philosophic? How did
the error in the drawing of Galileo's lenses get started in the
first place, and why has it persisted for hundreds of years? Doesn't it
cast more than a shadow of doubt over some professions reporting on
the scientific discoveries as a whole?
The big question; The simple shape of two little pieces of
glass, the lenses, the very essence of the invention of Galileo's
telescope. Can't we report this information correctly? Don't
we care about getting it right? What does this say about the
reporting of the very essence of science, especially basic research,
the very human activity for where there are
No Words Powerful Enough
To Express its Importance To Our Past, Present, And Future?
There is no room for sloppiness in
doing science or reporting science. The most essential tool of
scientific research is "accuracy" and " more accuracy". When the scientific
world present (publishes) their data publicly or in private
communications. The qualification of data is just as important
as the data. Question such as how accurate is it and how was it
measured is the heart of science. Using this qualification tool is one of the reason science has been so successful.
Each piece of data lays the ground work for next collection of data
etc. etc.. This is true for all or any data used in any science related
Conclusion; it is not good practice or science to assume that
drawing for the shape of the lenses in a diagrams of a
optical systems appearing in the text books and papers are the same as
the lenses used in the system. Generally for simple optical systems such
as a telescope it is traditional for the artist to show all the
lenses as either double concave or double convex. This is
certainly true for most illustrations of the earlier
telescopes. The actual lenses used more than likely have one
side of the lens flat the other shaped in a concave or convex
curve. They are faster and easier to make. So again the reader should be on the alert that the
diagrams outlining the optical layout are neither in scale
nor are the lenses shaped as they are in the telescope.
The authors ask the question if one cant rely on the accuracy of
data for the simplest combination of lens in the most celebrated
historically significant telescope how can we rely on
information for today's scientific projects where our main source
of information is interpreted by essentially a poorly
scientific educated media, business, political, religious leaders.
There Are No Words Powerful Enough
To Express The Importance Of Basic Scientific Research.