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Rolci

how constant, in fact, are "constants"?

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Frank Merton

May I refer to Einsteinium's response to answer your question how your thinking is muddled. You seem to have no sense of the evidence that exists for deep time on the earth and solar system and the fact that when we look into space we necessarily see things as they were in the past.

Our understanding of the deep nature of phenomena is a philosophical answer to which there are many outstanding theories only now in this century being clarified. I have no doubt though that whatever answers are found will only lead to deeper questions.

Edited by Frank Merton
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keithisco

May I refer to Einsteinium's response to answer your question how your thinking is muddled. You seem to have no sense of the evidence that exists for deep time on the earth and solar system and the fact that when we look into space we necessarily see things as they were in the past.

Our understanding of the deep nature of phenomena is a philosophical answer to which there are many outstanding theories only now in this century being clarified. I have no doubt though that whatever answers are found will only lead to deeper questions.

Actually No. It is clear that Einsteinium and yourself appear not to have fully read nor understood my Post. You impute that we have datasets that stretch over the life of the universe, when in fact all observational data necessarily is quantized by the amount of actual observation time allocated to a specific project.

Newton gave us some very good tools for Orbital Mechanics in our local region, he gave us a theory for Gravity that works for our local region as well, the fact that the underlying mechanisms are far from understood - and to suggest they are, or to accuse someone of "muddled thinking" for opposing your own belief that Scientific measuement is infiitely precise, is really not helpful.

This goes to the heart of the OP question: do we have enough knowledge and evidentiary based information to actually say that a Constant really describes fully an underlying mechanism?

Edited by keithisco

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ChrLzs

Well, I'm finding it difficult to understand the point of the question.. Constants are simply numbers that CURRENTLY help us to best describe and explain what we observe. As more observations come in, the explanations and the constants allied to those explanations either get verified or 'honed', or if necessary they get replaced with better theories that might approach the problem differently and may introduce new or varied constants.. The best example of that is of course relativity that 'replaced' the Newtonian stuff.. That didn't mean the Newtonian stuff was wrong - it was perfectly well suited to a limited set of 'normal' circumstances - it was only when we started to be able to do stuff at very high speeds (ie near c) and energies that we realised things were a little more complex than we thought. That's just how science works. You don't get to complain about constants and theories UNLESS you got sumpin' better.

That's how science works and all I see here is rather pointless debate based on a misunderstanding of how science really works, and perhaps a desire to paint it as close-minded and dogmatic. It is quite right to reject silly claims about constants possibly being wrong, UNTIL comprehensive evidence for that is presented. I see little or none of that happening here, despite the fact that some constants and explanations are in fact inadequate/ not well-understood. Science does not claim otherwise and awaits better explanations for these holes in our knowledge. If you've got some better explanations, then fire away. If not, then keep using that computer, that smartphone, that gps, etc etc all of which come from science using all those horrid, dogmatic constants..

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Leonardo

Well, I'm finding it difficult to understand the point of the question.

I suspect the point is to ask "If we went back in time, say, 5 billion years, would our observations of the universe then cause us to arrive at the same constants we have arrived at today?"

Edited by Leonardo
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Einsteinium

I suspect the point is to ask "If we went back in time, say, 5 billion years, would our observations of the universe then cause us to arrive at the same constants we have arrived at today?"

Considering that we can peer back 5 billion years by looking at objects 5 billion light years away, and we see that they do not behave drastically differently, and as precise as we can measure them, behave just like objects near to us at the relative present time- I would say that yes, if we travelled back in time 5 billion years, our observations would lead us to arrive at the same fundamental constants that we have arrived at today.

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keithisco

Considering that we can peer back 5 billion years by looking at objects 5 billion light years away, and we see that they do not behave drastically differently, and as precise as we can measure them, behave just like objects near to us at the relative present time- I would say that yes, if we travelled back in time 5 billion years, our observations would lead us to arrive at the same fundamental constants that we have arrived at today.

I fear the point here is that we are relying on unfounded theories to make that statement. In this case the Doppler effect, that we choose to extrapolate out many bilions of years is tenuous at best

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Einsteinium

I fear the point here is that we are relying on unfounded theories to make that statement. In this case the Doppler effect, that we choose to extrapolate out many bilions of years is tenuous at best

Well sure, anything in science could be wrong, the current state of science is just what best explains the observations that have been made. If you have an alternative theory that can be tested that explains things better than the current theory. I would love to hear it. Otherwise we are just speculating endlessly which can be fun, but we will not make any new discoveries or realizations just doing that. The theory must fit the observations. The current theories fit the observations quite well, and no alternative theory proposed fits the observations as completely as current theory, that is why current theory is the mainstream most widely accepted theory.

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Leonardo

Considering that we can peer back 5 billion years by looking at objects 5 billion light years away, and we see that they do not behave drastically differently, and as precise as we can measure them, behave just like objects near to us at the relative present time- I would say that yes, if we travelled back in time 5 billion years, our observations would lead us to arrive at the same fundamental constants that we have arrived at today.

That's not really the same, as our observations may be influenced by the changes that might have occurred over time/distance.

The exapnsion of space is one obvious example that has an influence on the conclusions we can make regarding some of our observations of distant objects.

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Einsteinium

That's not really the same, as our observations may be influenced by the changes that might have occurred over time/distance.

The exapnsion of space is one obvious example that has an influence on the conclusions we can make regarding some of our observations of distant objects.

You obviously don't understand fully what you are talking about. Yes the expansion of space has an influence, one that we can measure mind you. What kind of changes do you think might have occurred over time/distance that magically makes it seem like everything behaves by the same laws of physics over time and distance? The more plausible explanation is just that everything is the same over time and distance. Your hypothesis is untestable, and therefore non-scientific. We can only develop laws and theories based on our observations. If you assume that those observations are somehow wrong because of a hypothetical totally unpredicted 'force' or 'effect' that we cannot measure, test, see, or otherwise know about, then that falls into the realm of science fiction, not science.

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Leonardo

You obviously don't understand fully what you are talking about. Yes the expansion of space has an influence, one that we can measure mind you. What kind of changes do you think might have occurred over time/distance that magically makes it seem like everything behaves by the same laws of physics over time and distance? The more plausible explanation is just that everything is the same over time and distance. Your hypothesis is untestable, and therefore non-scientific. We can only develop laws and theories based on our observations. If you assume that those observations are somehow wrong because of a hypothetical totally unpredicted 'force' or 'effect' that we cannot measure, test, see, or otherwise know about, then that falls into the realm of science fiction, not science.

As an example, if the 'duration' of a unit of time has changed during the universe's lifetime (which may be difficult to ascertain) a great many things we think are 'constants' may be variable over time.

A question to ask could then be "Are they variable compared to current values when measured in their present, or ours?"

And it might pay to drop the ad-homs. They benefit no-one in any reasonable discussion.

Edited by Leonardo

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ChrLzs

I fear the point here is that we are relying on unfounded theories to make that statement. In this case the Doppler effect, that we choose to extrapolate out many bilions of years is tenuous at best

Problem with that approach is that you have singled out a particular effect and suggested it might be wrong without offering a shred of evidence or, and this is the important bit, addressing all of the effects we observe and measure that show the Doppler effect is completely valid within our sphere of observation.

It is easy to dismiss stuff if you don't fully understand why the theory/hypothesis exists. Is the Doppler effect the most likely candidate for error, in your opinion? If so, perhaps we should spend some time looking at all the reasons we currently think it is extremely valid. We could start with the very simple one of a car/train/plane engine note changing as it goes by..

BTW, if you want to concentrate on an area that really does puzzle science, how about Dark Matter/Energy? That does suggest there is something fundamental we don't properly understand.. but again there is no point throwing up suggestions unless you understand fully all the observations and other valid theories that it must interconnect with.

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Einsteinium

As an example, if the 'duration' of a unit of time has changed during the universe's lifetime (which may be difficult to ascertain) a great many things we think are 'constants' may be variable over time.

A question to ask could then be "Are they variable compared to current values when measured in their present, or ours?"

And it might pay to drop the ad-homs. They benefit no-one in any reasonable discussion.

Those are good questions, but questions that we have no ability to answer, measure, etc. And the evidence we have shows no hints that any of that is true. So this is just speculation/science fiction. Not science.

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spacecowboy342

We must make the assumption that natural laws don't change over time or we can't make predictions at all. As long as science keeps working this assumption would seem valid.

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keithisco

You obviously don't understand fully what you are talking about. Yes the expansion of space has an influence, one that we can measure mind you. What kind of changes do you think might have occurred over time/distance that magically makes it seem like everything behaves by the same laws of physics over time and distance? The more plausible explanation is just that everything is the same over time and distance. Your hypothesis is untestable, and therefore non-scientific. We can only develop laws and theories based on our observations. If you assume that those observations are somehow wrong because of a hypothetical totally unpredicted 'force' or 'effect' that we cannot measure, test, see, or otherwise know about, then that falls into the realm of science fiction, not science.

You should really state "your hypothesis is CURRENTLY untestable with the tools that we have". It most certainly does not put it in the realm of Sience Fiction at all. Almost every Posit in Quantum Physics is CURRENTLY untestable, or not amenable to being measured - I guess that makes this field of endeavour pointless as it is "non - scientific".

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keithisco

Problem with that approach is that you have singled out a particular effect and suggested it might be wrong without offering a shred of evidence or, and this is the important bit, addressing all of the effects we observe and measure that show the Doppler effect is completely valid within our sphere of observation.

It is easy to dismiss stuff if you don't fully understand why the theory/hypothesis exists. Is the Doppler effect the most likely candidate for error, in your opinion? If so, perhaps we should spend some time looking at all the reasons we currently think it is extremely valid. We could start with the very simple one of a car/train/plane engine note changing as it goes by..

BTW, if you want to concentrate on an area that really does puzzle science, how about Dark Matter/Energy? That does suggest there is something fundamental we don't properly understand.. but again there is no point throwing up suggestions unless you understand fully all the observations and other valid theories that it must interconnect with.

I am not dismissing anything, just stating that the Scientific Status Quo should be challenged. In terms of the Redshifting of the light spectrum then there are issues that need to be fully explored, in particular the apparent Quantisation of the Redshift. ("Quantized Galaxy Redshifts" by William G. Tifft & W. John Cocke, University of Arizona, Sky & Telescope Magazine, Jan., 1987, pgs. 19-21);

Edited by keithisco

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lightly

Problem with that approach is that you have singled out a particular effect and suggested it might be wrong without offering a shred of evidence or, and this is the important bit, addressing all of the effects we observe and measure that show the Doppler effect is completely valid within our sphere of observation.

It is easy to dismiss stuff if you don't fully understand why the theory/hypothesis exists. Is the Doppler effect the most likely candidate for error, in your opinion? If so, perhaps we should spend some time looking at all the reasons we currently think it is extremely valid. We could start with the very simple one of a car/train/plane engine note changing as it goes by..

BTW, if you want to concentrate on an area that really does puzzle science, how about Dark Matter/Energy? That does suggest there is something fundamental we don't properly understand.. but again there is no point throwing up suggestions unless you understand fully all the observations and other valid theories that it must interconnect with.

I keep wondering if the presence of Dark matter and energy ( if they exist) have an effect on our observations? It is said that dark Matter does not interact with Light .... does not emit or reflect light... BUT.. Does the MASS of dark matter bend light? If so.. the universe could be entirely different than our observations? A HUGE planet or galaxy wayyyyy out there... might actually be smaller and closer.. and visa versa.

who knows what dark energy might effect......

Edited by lightly

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spacecowboy342

I keep wondering if the presence of Dark matter and energy ( if they exist) have an effect on our observations? It is said that dark Matter does not interact with Light .... does not emit or reflect light... BUT.. Does the MASS of dark matter bend light? If so.. the universe could be entirely different than our observations? A HUGE planet or galaxy wayyyyy out there... might actually be smaller and closer.. and visa versa.

who knows what dark energy might effect......

We know the distance to distant galaxies from the apparent brightness of type 1-A supernovae in those galaxies. Type 1-A supernovae are used as a "standard candle" because they always go off with the same power and intrinsic brightness. The gravity of dark matter does have the same effects as the gravity of regular matter as this is how we know about it. Dark energy does have an effect as the expansion of space accounts for the reason we can see things farther than 13.8 billion light year away. We can tell the velocity of spatial expansion because of the red shift of light from these distant galaxies. Again, we have to assume a uniformity of physical law or we could draw no conclusions at all and may as well go back to living in caves.
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spacecowboy342

You should really state "your hypothesis is CURRENTLY untestable with the tools that we have". It most certainly does not put it in the realm of Sience Fiction at all. Almost every Posit in Quantum Physics is CURRENTLY untestable, or not amenable to being measured - I guess that makes this field of endeavour pointless as it is "non - scientific".

Quantum mechanics is the most successfully tested theory in the history of science.
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Rolci

Considering that we can peer back 5 billion years by looking at objects 5 billion light years away, and we see that they do not behave drastically differently, and as precise as we can measure them, behave just like objects near to us at the relative present time- I would say that yes, if we travelled back in time 5 billion years, our observations would lead us to arrive at the same fundamental constants that we have arrived at today.

5 billion light years? Based on what? Your theory that the speed of light is constant? Dunno if you noticed but this whole topic is about questioning the baseless assumptions scientists call constants. And if you explore the possible implications of the non-constancy of even just ONE "constant", the speed of light, the number one consequence is that what you call billions of light years away may just be an object being viewed as it was just a few million years ago, on which you can't really base your conclusion that all laws and constants are constant across space and time. We have signs pointing at the very good possibility that there is dark matter or energy, can't remember right now, even in our solar system. So all we have for the speed of light right now, that we can measure, is its speed in dark stuff. Now what kind of an arrogant assumption would it be to state that it's the same in intergalactic space?

Those are good questions, but questions that we have no ability to answer, measure, etc. And the evidence we have shows no hints that any of that is true. So this is just speculation/science fiction. Not science.

In the 19th century we couldn't make experiments that would prove crazy and counter-intuitive ideas like mass is not a constant. The very idea would've been called heresy, the assumption in the framework of any theory would've been called unscientific. We needed the 20th century to do those experiments with speeds close to the speed of light to prove that. Doesn't mean that a bullet fired in 1863 didn't gain mass. Or that questioning the constancy of mass is unscientific... But if YOU had lived in those times, do you think you would've said "yeah, it's possible"? You seem to have a problem with speculation. But if no one had speculated that maybe time and space are relative (however crazy the ideas seem) we wouldn't have relativity, and the same goes for quantum mechanics, in fact, speculation is the cradle of all inventions and all scientific progress, without it you'd be throwing stones at animals, if that.

Long live people that speculate!! :D

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spacecowboy342

5 billion light years? Based on what? Your theory that the speed of light is constant? Dunno if you noticed but this whole topic is about questioning the baseless assumptions scientists call constants. And if you explore the possible implications of the non-constancy of even just ONE "constant", the speed of light, the number one consequence is that what you call billions of light years away may just be an object being viewed as it was just a few million years ago, on which you can't really base your conclusion that all laws and constants are constant across space and time. We have signs pointing at the very good possibility that there is dark matter or energy, can't remember right now, even in our solar system. So all we have for the speed of light right now, that we can measure, is its speed in dark stuff. Now what kind of an arrogant assumption would it be to state that it's the same in intergalactic space?

In the 19th century we couldn't make experiments that would prove crazy and counter-intuitive ideas like mass is not a constant. The very idea would've been called heresy, the assumption in the framework of any theory would've been called unscientific. We needed the 20th century to do those experiments with speeds close to the speed of light to prove that. Doesn't mean that a bullet fired in 1863 didn't gain mass. Or that questioning the constancy of mass is unscientific... But if YOU had lived in those times, do you think you would've said "yeah, it's possible"? You seem to have a problem with speculation. But if no one had speculated that maybe time and space are relative (however crazy the ideas seem) we wouldn't have relativity, and the same goes for quantum mechanics, in fact, speculation is the cradle of all inventions and all scientific progress, without it you'd be throwing stones at animals, if that.

Long live people that speculate!! :D

The motion of a bullet fired in 1863 was governed by Newton's laws of motion. A bullet fired today is governed by Newton's laws of motion. A bullet fired 1000 years from now will be governed by Newton's laws of motion. Einstein's theories didn't disprove Newton's. They refined them. To suppose because we have gained more refined knowledge of reality means one day it might all get overturned just shows a lack of understanding of the progress of science. But there is nothing wrong with speculation

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ChrLzs
Based on what?

That is a question that could only come from an armchair googler who has stumbled over a few tinfoilhat sites and perhaps had his opinions verified by a few more...

Your theory that the speed of light is constant?

And there you have proof of that armchair googler - mainstream science does NOT claim that the speed of light is constant. It in fact claims that the speed of light in a vacuum is a fixed value measurable to a very high degree of precision. That theory (which is open to refinement or improvement - more on that in a second) is on pretty solid ground as it is made on the basis of ALL current available observations and measurements, including those done at incredibly high velocities (eg in the LHC), over incredibly long distances (eg Voyager, and of course near and far stellar observations).. it is even 'experimentally verified' every time a person, no matter how ignorant, logs onto the Internet or even turns on their computer, every time they use their mobile phone, watch TV, use a gps, etc, etc, etc, etc.

As far as Doppler effects, relativity, etc, that too is based on observations and actual effects that we can measure. Again, it is open to improvement... keep reading...

Dunno if you noticed but this whole topic is about questioning the baseless assumptions scientists call constants.

This is what is known as meaningless handwaving. Science, as explained above, welcomes new theories as long as those presenting them have the requisite knowledge, and the new theory better explains what we observe. Earlier, I invited Rolci or anyone to BE SPECIFIC, to name their most hated constant or theory and to present something solid that:

a - indicates the constant/theory is not accurate

b - is a better/simpler explanation/theory than that which currently exists and explains all related observations.

Dear reader - have you seen ANY of these folks putting up an example or offering up a new theory and being willing to debate all the issues relating to it? Have a wild guess at why they are afraid to do so. YEP, you got it - they know that their knowledge isn't up to supporting their criticisms. Prove me wrong, science critics...

And if you explore the possible implications of the non-constancy of even just ONE "constant", the speed of light, the number one consequence is that what you call billions of light years away may just be an object being viewed as it was just a few million years ago

There's the PERFECT example. Rolci, I'll bet, will not be willing to start debating the full implications of what he just proposed, eg why it is measured at certain speeds for *everything* we have observed so far? There is also the simple fact that if such a value varied across the Universe, an enormous stack of cards in other disciplines of science would fall over and have to be completely re-written to degrees of complexity that Rolci hasn't given the first thought to.

Now, why has Rolci offered that particular idea up? Because he doesn't like the sound of how big the Universe might be? If not, WHAT? And before we even start looking at all the other stuff that his silly claim would affect, can he offer any observation that is best supported by a varying speed of light in a vacuum?

Just to repeat, science works like this - first up, it DOES NOT 'proclaim proof'. It simply offers a methodology to build up a set of theories (and constants) to properly explain observations. In order for a new theory to topple anything that currently exists (aka 'mainstream science'), it must:

- explain ALL observations (in all/any related disciplines) better and/or more simply than the existing theory.

- have a mechanism that can be properly explained, or if not, that has been shown by direct observation to match 'reality'

- not be contradicted by other accepted and currently valid theories in related disciplines

So given all of that, perhaps Rolci will first point out any direct observations that support his 'idea'..

We have signs pointing at the very good possibility that there is dark matter or energy, can't remember right now, even in our solar system.

:D

Gee, I reckon Steve Hawking and his ilk are ion the edge of their seats - amazing how this memory-challenged guy can just see through all their years of work and pick out the fatal error!!

Now what kind of an arrogant assumption would it be to state that it's the same in intergalactic space?

Actually, the more arrogant assumption would be that someone who very obviously hasn't any in depth knowledge of the HUGE base of observations on the speed of light, can just handwave such silliness and expect to be taken seriously..

In the 19th century we couldn't make experiments that would prove crazy and counter-intuitive ideas like mass is not a constant. The very idea would've been called heresy,

How many times have I heard this irrelevant hogwash... Yes, it might well have been called heresy by people like you. Scientists however, IF they were able at that time to do the required measurements, would have immediately begun work on new theories. And that's why our knowledge base is constantly improving and is also self-correcting - science isn't perfect and it does not pretend to be - sometimes we briefly head down the wrong path, but as soon as contrary observations are made, then new theories mus be developed - and ARE.

But those new theories are almost ALWAYS crafted by those with an intimate knowledge of the old ones and why they are now requiring correction. Amateur handwavers will simply grab any half-baked idea and then wonder why science ignores them. I repeat, it's because they haven't offered anything of any value whatsoever.

Long live people that speculate out of knowledge, not ignorance. (There, fixed it for you.)

So, Rolci, want to talk about your changing light speed idea? Start with the observations it explains better - if you think it helps with Dark Matter/Energy it's time for you to show some numbers and mathematics, or at the very least the basic, step-by-step logic that you are hypothesising... Then we'll move onto all the contrary evidence you have to build into your theory, and also look at your proposed mechanism and how you could test your theory - you are familiar with this sort of approach, I trust?

Edited by ChrLzs
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keithisco

Quantum mechanics is the most successfully tested theory in the history of science.

I will agree that Entanglement appears to be reducible by empiricism, however: Brane Universe;QuBits; Dark Matter; Dark Energy, Loop Quantum Gravity; 10 - 26 Dimensions; Multiverse, Buble Universes are all untestable - and may lie entirely beyond the realms of humans to test and measure.

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ChrLzs

I will agree that Entanglement appears to be reducible by empiricism, however: Brane Universe;QuBits; Dark Matter; Dark Energy, Loop Quantum Gravity; 10 - 26 Dimensions; Multiverse, Buble Universes are all untestable - and may lie entirely beyond the realms of humans to test and measure.

(These are more generic questions, rather than aimed at Keith...)

Which of those are mainstream science? Which are speculations, which are hypotheses, and which are theories? Perhaps even more importantly, why do these 'speculations' or whatever exist, and are they being proposed by experts in the field, or amateurs? How can they morph from one type to the next..? (Read the Wiki's or see below)

Following on from that (and I don't really want to start a full debate on the scientific method, but ....)...

Are they ever going to be testable, falsifiable, etc? If not, do you think they are likely to become 'accepted' or 'mainstream'? What sort of things would(should) make them so?

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spacecowboy342

I will agree that Entanglement appears to be reducible by empiricism, however: Brane Universe;QuBits; Dark Matter; Dark Energy, Loop Quantum Gravity; 10 - 26 Dimensions; Multiverse, Buble Universes are all untestable - and may lie entirely beyond the realms of humans to test and measure.

Quantum electrodynamics makes predictions which are confirmed experimentally to 14 decimal places. Don't confuse quantum mechanics with string or brane or M theory. Dark matter is definitely there though no one knows what it is or it's exact nature. But there is something detectable by it's gravitational effects. Dark energy is a bit harder to figure but something is accelerating the expansion of the universe and dark energy explains mathematically the flatness of space we observe Edited by spacecowboy342
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