Science and practical application.

thingy
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Science and practical application.

Is there any field or sub-field in science which does not have a practical application?  Is there anything being studied right now, or studied in the past and at this stage accepted as true, which could not be used in practical situations even if not now, in the future?

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thingy
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Bump.The reason I'm asking

Bump.

The reason I'm asking is because an argument I use against ID is that it cannot be used in a practical manner to produce anything.  I haven't had anyone argue that there's other fields that are the same, but I'm a little worried there might be one I am not aware of.

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nigelTheBold
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thingy wrote:Bump.The reason

thingy wrote:

Bump.

The reason I'm asking is because an argument I use against ID is that it cannot be used in a practical manner to produce anything.  I haven't had anyone argue that there's other fields that are the same, but I'm a little worried there might be one I am not aware of.

Some things start off with no practical application. For example, there's all kinds of interesting experiments slowing light, which is pretty cool, but currently has no practical application of which I'm aware. The strange thing is, most things that start off with no practical application, end up with enormous practical application.

There is one huge impractical science: cosmology, especially research into the origins of the universe. Also, portions of astronomy are not practical. Who cares what planets orbit which stars? There's nothing very practical about it. One day we might have practical applications, but not in our lifetimes. (I care, but that's because I'm a geek, and hopelessly optimistic.) But that doesn't matter. Both studies have ancillary benefits, as they increase our knowledge about the nature of the universe.


The reason why ID can't be used in a practical manner is because it cannot give us new information. That's part of why it's not scientific. It makes no predictions. It is used to explain things after the fact, rather than explaining things we haven't even discovered yet. Basically, new evidence arrives, and you can say, "But that's just the way God works." ID is impractical because it gives no new information. The lack of a basis in science and its impracticality are related, but not necessarily identical.

For hypothesis and theories based on science, there are specific deductions that may be made, often concerning knowledge we don't currently have. Evolution, for instance, predicted many things in genetics (just to mention the obvious; evolution also explains much in sociology, ecology, biology, and many other -ologies.) Some or all of that unknown knowledge may not have a practical application, but it is new knowledge.

There is nothing one can deduce from ID. You can't even deduce anything about the proposed designer, though many use it to bolster their favorite architect (Elvis, in my case). It cannot give any new knowledge whatsoever.

Anyway, that's how I see the distinction. Even currently non-practical research leads to new knowledge, practical or not. ID can't even do that.

"Yes, I seriously believe that consciousness is a product of a natural process. I find that the neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers who proceed from that premise are the ones who are actually making useful contributions to our understanding of the mind." - PZ Myers


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Look up Dislocation Theory

Look up Dislocation Theory in Materials Science/Solid state physics.

"The history of dislocations is one of the great success stories of physics, as applied to materials science. Beginning life as a purely theoretical construct in mathematics, with no apparent practical application to anything, the dislocation concept first enjoyed practical success when it was found that it could explain the worrying large discrepancy between the theoretical and real strengths of solids."

Is that the sort of thing you are after?

 

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Yellow_Number_Five
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thingy wrote:Is there any

thingy wrote:

Is there any field or sub-field in science which does not have a practical application?  Is there anything being studied right now, or studied in the past and at this stage accepted as true, which could not be used in practical situations even if not now, in the future?

 

You first need to realize that science is not necessarily about utility or practicality - it's about the pursuit of knowledge, at its essence.

Humans have a desire to explore and understand their world (at least the majority of us start out this way before we given the answers to our questions by outside sources, typically religious in nature). A six year old is the purest scientists you'll ever know. Why? Because he or she is still genuinely curious about the world around them and wants, longs to know how it works. That sort of curiousity tends to be beaten out of them as the years go by though - as persistent questions of "why" are met by lazy or frustrated parents who throw up their hands and say "because" or, worse, such questions get answered by dogma.

I suppose I was lucky. Even in a Catholic home, my parents encouraged me to explore. They bought me chemistry sets, took me to the library, sent me to science camp, let me play with dad's tools, started teaching me multiplication and division in first grade because I wanted to know what the "x's" and "railroad tracks" in the back of my books were used for, and above all else, they said "I don't know" when I asked something that they did not in fact know.

 

So, frankly, you and your friend are looking at science in the wrong way. Science is exploration and the pursuit of knowledge - an exercise in attempting to understand the world around us. Whether or not that research leads us to a better TV or more fuel efficient car is incidental. What MATTERS, is that ALL science furthers UNDERSTANDING - whether it be in nuclear physics or the on the mating habits of fleas.

Typically, we don't know what utility any mode of research will produce while doing it, but the basic knowledge gained from such research does lead to major breakthroughs.

When Johann Hitorff was doing physics experiments with cathode tubes in the late 19th century, he had NO idea the basic research he was doing would later be instrumental in developing medical x-ray technology - Johann was simply a curious physicists working to understand and interesting phenomena.

People need to be reminded of sciences true purpose from time to time, as it is evident even atheists forget it.

Science is a way for studying and understanding our universe in a logical, consistent and systematic fashion. I can think of no more noble endeavor.

 

I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world. - Richard Dawkins

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