Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Unresolved Science Issues


The last digit of a random number does not occur randomly!  Except for 2 and 5, random numbers end in 1, 3, 7, or 9.  But these aren’t distributed randomly.  And the sixteen possible combinations of consecutive random numbers don’t occur randomly, either.  This was only discovered about 18 months ago.  Some sense can be attributed to this situation by referring to a 100-year-old mathematical conjecture that still hasn’t been proven.  There’s an excellent short video explaining all this at:


Modern computers are based on a controlling central element called the “central processing unit” or, briefly, the CPU.  This CPU was invented in 1947 by John von Neumann, one of the greatest mathematical minds of the 20th century.  Howsoever, computers cannot generate a genuine sequence of random numbers.  All iterations of a mathematical formula are thus subject to bias.


Computers make mistakes.  They only work in a temperature range where the P-N-P junctions and N-P-N junctions are stable.  If they “run hot,” they are subject to errors.  Subjected to intense electromagnetic fields, they scramble data into errors.  They can make these mistakes undetectably (unlike old vacuum tube computers, for which “on” means on and “off” means off and there are typically no scrambled data).  Parallel processing, used for large databases or very complex math iterations, is inherently subject to error and thus requires the computer to periodically back itself up in the middle of its operations, because parallel failures happen and are difficult to predict.  Finally, computer programs (which are really external human input, not a mechanical limitation of the computer itself) always contain errors if the programming is large enough.  Always.  It’s impossible to confidently find every error in a program with one million lines of instruction.


We still don’t know how many states of matter there are.  New ones keep cropping up.   We are ignorant about the actual nature of “dark energy” and “dark matter,” too.


We still don’t completely understand static electricity.


Combustion of hydrocarbons, as well as incandescent, florescent, LED and other lights produce massive amounts of photons.  So does lightning.  “Where do those photons come from?”


There are many unsolved mathematical problems as well as dozens of conjectures that have neither been proven nor disproved.


There’s a lot of work to be done by scientists and it should be performed with humility.

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