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TE is equal to CS is equal to RE

Welfare-Worker
Posts: 1,206
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11/26/2016 2:10:13 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
Thought Experiment is equivalent to Computer Simulation is equivalent to Real Experiment.

This is conventional wisdom in the scientific community today.
This is the bedrock of "the gold standard" of knowledge, as one poster put it.

This is not, to my knowledge, controversial. Of course there will be some dissenters.
The majority of scientists do not question the use of computer modeling, or computer simulations, as as acceptable replacement for hands on experiments.

Computers are not capable of providing any information not available to the human mind, they just do it faster. We might say they do it better, in that sense. They allow thought experiments to be completed in a short amount of time, compared to manual calculations.

Consider:
"The main purpose of this paper is to investigate some important aspects of the relationship between thought experiment (hereafter TE) and computer simulation (hereafter CS), from the point of view of real experiment (RE). In the first part of this paper, I shall pass in critical review four important approaches concerning the relationship between TE and CS. None of these approaches, though containing some important insights, has succeeded in distinguishing between CS and TE, on the one hand, and REs, on the other. Neither have they succeeded in distinguishing TEs and REs (Sect. 1"4). In Sect. 5, the paper briefly outlines an account of CSs as compared with TEs that takes REs as a central reference point.

From the perspective of the analysis of the empirico-experimental intensions of the concepts of TE, CS, and RE"considering their empirical content and actual performance within a discipline"the attempts to find a distinction in logical kind between TEs, CSs and REs breaks down: for every particular characteristic of one of these notions there is a corresponding characteristic in the two others.

From an epistemological-transcendental point of view, the only difference in kind between TEs and CSs consists in the fact that any simulation, even a computer one, involves a kind of real execution, one that is not merely psychological or conceptual. In TEs the subject operates concretely by using mental concepts in the first person; in contrast, real experiments and simulations involve an "external" realisation. As shown in Sect. 6, this manifests itself in the higher degree of complexity often found in CSs as compared with TEs."
http://link.springer.com...

When "scientists" were still known as Natural philosophers, thought experiments were common practice, for the progress of knowledge.
When natural philosophers sought to distance themselves from philosophers, they started calling themselves "scientists" (about 1880 as I recall).
About this same time, they recognised they had a standard to maintain, a level of excellence, that required them to not rely on the tools of philosophy, but to rely on hands on experiments.
The Scientific Method which had been around loosely for some time, became formalized, and was taught in the universities.
The SM carried the requirement of hands on experiments.

Now, today, when noted Scientists express their disdain for Philosophey, they have returned to using the tools of natural philosophers.
We really should be calling them Natural Philosophers.
Welfare-Worker
Posts: 1,206
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11/26/2016 9:19:06 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
Consider:
"The role of computer experiments

Computer experiments play a very important role in science today. In the past, physical sciences were characterized by an interplay between experiment and theory. In experiment, a system is subjected to measurements, and results, expressed in numeric form, are obtained. In theory, a model of the system is constructed, usually in the form of a set of mathematical equations. The model is then validated by its ability to describe the system behavior in a few selected cases, simple enough to allow a solution to be computed from the equations. In many cases, this implies a considerable amount of simplification in order to eliminate all the complexities invariably associated with real world problems, and make the problem solvable.
In the past, theoretical models could be easily tested only in a few simple ``special circumstances'. So, for instance, in condensed matter physics a model for intermolecular forces in a specific material could be verified in a diatomic molecule, or in a perfect, infinite crystal. Even then, approximations were often required to carry out the calculation. Unfortunately, many physical problems of extreme interest (both academic and practical) fall outside the realm of these ``special circumstances'. Among them, one could mention the physics and chemistry of defects, surfaces, clusters of atoms, organic molecules, involving a large amount of degrees of freedom; an accurate treatment of temperature effects, including anharmonicities and phase transitions; disordered systems in general, where symmetry is of no help to simplify the treatment; and so on.

The advent of high speed computers--which started to be used in the 50s--altered the picture by inserting a new element right in between experiment and theory: the computer experiment. In a computer experiment, a model is still provided by theorists, but the calculations are carried out by the machine by following a ``recipe' (the hialgorithm, implemented in a suitable programming language). In this way, complexity can be introduced (still with caution!) and more realistic systems can be investigated, opening a road towards a better understanding of real experiments.

Needless to say, the development of computer experiments altered substantially the traditional relationship between theory and experiment. On one side, computer simulations increased the demand for accuracy of the models. For instance, a molecular dynamics simulation allows to evaluate the melting temperature of a material, modeled by means of a certain interaction law. This is a difficult test for the theoretical model to pass--and a test which has not been available in the past. Therefore, simulation ``brings to life' the models, disclosing critical areas and providing suggestions to improve them.

On the other side, simulation can often come very close to experimental conditions, to the extent that computer results can sometimes be compared directly with experimental results. When this happens, simulation becomes an extremely powerful tool not only to understand and interpret the experiments at the microscopic level, but also to study regions which are not accessible experimentally, or which would imply very expensive experiments, such as under extremely high pressure.

Last but not least, computer simulations allow thought experiments--things which are just impossible to do in reality, but whose outcome greatly increases our understanding of phenomena--to be realized. Fantasy and creativity are important qualities for the computer simulator!"
http://www.fisica.uniud.it...

~ ~ ~ ~

"Fantasy and creativity"
Ya gotta love that.
Looncall
Posts: 463
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11/26/2016 10:25:00 PM
Posted: 2 weeks ago
At 11/26/2016 9:19:06 PM, Welfare-Worker wrote:
Consider:
"The role of computer experiments

Computer experiments play a very important role in science today. In the past, physical sciences were characterized by an interplay between experiment and theory. In experiment, a system is subjected to measurements, and results, expressed in numeric form, are obtained. In theory, a model of the system is constructed, usually in the form of a set of mathematical equations. The model is then validated by its ability to describe the system behavior in a few selected cases, simple enough to allow a solution to be computed from the equations. In many cases, this implies a considerable amount of simplification in order to eliminate all the complexities invariably associated with real world problems, and make the problem solvable.
In the past, theoretical models could be easily tested only in a few simple ``special circumstances'. So, for instance, in condensed matter physics a model for intermolecular forces in a specific material could be verified in a diatomic molecule, or in a perfect, infinite crystal. Even then, approximations were often required to carry out the calculation. Unfortunately, many physical problems of extreme interest (both academic and practical) fall outside the realm of these ``special circumstances'. Among them, one could mention the physics and chemistry of defects, surfaces, clusters of atoms, organic molecules, involving a large amount of degrees of freedom; an accurate treatment of temperature effects, including anharmonicities and phase transitions; disordered systems in general, where symmetry is of no help to simplify the treatment; and so on.

The advent of high speed computers--which started to be used in the 50s--altered the picture by inserting a new element right in between experiment and theory: the computer experiment. In a computer experiment, a model is still provided by theorists, but the calculations are carried out by the machine by following a ``recipe' (the hialgorithm, implemented in a suitable programming language). In this way, complexity can be introduced (still with caution!) and more realistic systems can be investigated, opening a road towards a better understanding of real experiments.

Needless to say, the development of computer experiments altered substantially the traditional relationship between theory and experiment. On one side, computer simulations increased the demand for accuracy of the models. For instance, a molecular dynamics simulation allows to evaluate the melting temperature of a material, modeled by means of a certain interaction law. This is a difficult test for the theoretical model to pass--and a test which has not been available in the past. Therefore, simulation ``brings to life' the models, disclosing critical areas and providing suggestions to improve them.

On the other side, simulation can often come very close to experimental conditions, to the extent that computer results can sometimes be compared directly with experimental results. When this happens, simulation becomes an extremely powerful tool not only to understand and interpret the experiments at the microscopic level, but also to study regions which are not accessible experimentally, or which would imply very expensive experiments, such as under extremely high pressure.

Last but not least, computer simulations allow thought experiments--things which are just impossible to do in reality, but whose outcome greatly increases our understanding of phenomena--to be realized. Fantasy and creativity are important qualities for the computer simulator!"
http://www.fisica.uniud.it...

~ ~ ~ ~

"Fantasy and creativity"
Ya gotta love that.

This seems blindingly obvious to me. Do people actually get paid for producing this stuff, complete with po-mo jargon?
The metaphysicist has no laboratory.