# What qualifies as science?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by Jozen-Bo, Apr 25, 2017.

1. ### exchemistValued Senior Member

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Even that is all about mathematics and then handwaving generalisations, with no mention of any specific biological mechanism that operates by a particular defined fractal algorithm.

3. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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You can see the basic issue even confined within the mathematics. Look at "Example 5" in your link, where a given fractal (the Sierpinski Triangle) has at least two fundamentally different generating algorithms, producing successive approximations that in their first few iterations (and therefore at all sufficiently small scales) do not closely resemble each other let alone the fractal limit.

Whatever the Sierpinski Triangle is an "expression" of is not specified by the Triangle itself, and any given Sierpinski Triangle of unknown origin cannot be assumed to have been the "expression" of any given algorithm - even one that would work.

If one expands attention to physical manifestations of approximate S Triangles, finite objects that seem in some way to be tending toward that fractal, the situation is worse yet: now generating algorithms that in their limits do not produce fractals at all must be considered.

Last edited: Nov 10, 2017

5. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Is that not how we do science? With mathematics?

Fractal patterns are observable, mathematically describable, and testable. What more do you need?

7. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Drop all the artistic and abstract fractals, they are not pertinent to the subject except in the most abstract way. Fractals are not things, they are mathematical sequences. They can have beginnings and they can have physical limits (ends).

Fractals are used throughout applied sciences, and exist throughout the entire universe.

The Fibonacci sequence is a limited fractal found throughout nature. Nowhere does it say that the Fibonacci sequence must be extended into infinity. In nature it is just an evolved formula with a start point and an endpoint. "Phi" and the "Golden Ratio" are just imaginary patterns, which have no application in nature?

What about Pi? Its a number which can extend infinitely without a repeating pattern. It appears in nature and we use it almost everywhere. You don't even need a circle to calculate Pi. How then is that possible?

Look at Barnsley and the "L" system, which deal specifically with fractals as found in biological systems. It specifically mentions DNA coding and how and why these fractal properties emerge as specific growth patterns.

I gave the links, which look pretty scientific to me, including the maths.

Are these people not scientists performing science? All of the sciences (our understanding of how and why things work) depend on the maths we can apply to them.
By your standards nothing is science. Might as well sit back and enjoy the view.

Tell me what you would consider science in biology. You tell me to look up definitions in Wiki, and when I do you tell me Wiki is wrong in some areas.

Is biology a scientific disciple or not? If it is, where is the science part? If not, should I start praying for miracles?

Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
8. ### exchemistValued Senior Member

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No. It is not.

In science, we tease out actual mechanisms, for specific individual phenomena, that operate by specific rules, expressed mathematically if we can do so.

I would therefore expect someone to study one specific growth process, in a specific organism, show what mechanism operates and put forward the exact algorithm (out of the billions that can be conceived of) that accounts for how it works.

Handwaving waffle, showing that some algorithms can generate something-that-looks-like-a-fern, does not cut it.

9. ### exchemistValued Senior Member

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Drop the rhetoric and learn how science works.

10. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Do you know how science works? Why don't you tell me?

Then why don't we take a specific fractal growth process in a specific organism and study its DNA coding which gives it its fractal properties?

But I believe Barnsley already did that. Did you even bother to read the link? You are the scientist, you should be able to make sense of the formal argument and the maths.

.

11. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Research Article
Fractals and Hidden Symmetries in DNA
Carlo Cattani
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Salerno, Via Ponte Don Melillo, 84084 Fisciano, Italy

The Influenza Virus.
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/mpe/2010/507056/

Does this count as science?

12. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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No, it isn't.
You seem to have trouble here. Here:
https://www.quora.com/Is-the-Fibona...a-related-concept-thats-different-in-some-way
So are circles and triangles
No, they don't. Neither do circles and triangles.
He did not demonstrate even whether the DNA coding was responsible for the fractal-approximating growth habit - any of it.
Not the "how and why" - it specifically refers to that as a speculation, in your link.

13. ### NotEinsteinValued Senior Member

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If it demonstrates that a fractal exists in nature, why would it matter whether it's science or not?
Some of the terminology in the paper seems to be above my level. Can you describe in simple terms what exactly is a fractal, according to that paper?

14. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Knowledge? Survival?
I'll let this link speak for me.

I cannot do better than that, so you'll have to read the link.

Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
15. ### iceauraValued Senior Member

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Your link seems to have nothing to do with your arguments here, and it deals with none of the issues raised in the posts you quoted.

16. ### NotEinsteinValued Senior Member

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Naming arbitrary things is not an answer. Let's say the paper is scientific: that doesn't mean it's using the word fractal correctly. If the paper isn't scientific, that doesn't mean it's using the word fractal correctly.
One is unrelated to another (although one might expect better from the former). Just like "survival" is unrelated. And for "knowledge": that's what's up for debate.

I should have specified: what are "shapes and symmetries in DNA sequences"?
What are "DNA walks"?
What is a "time serie"?
What are wavelet coefficients, and what is "the cluster analysis of wavelet coefficients"?

17. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Neither does it mean that it's using the word fractal incorrectly.
Knowledge is the aim of science, no? Natural selection of specific traits seems to be important for survival and procreation, no?
Perhaps this (looks fractal to me);

No clue
No clue
No clue.

I'll leave all those questions for you to pursue on your own.
If I have peaked your interest, then I am satisfied with my contribution to this discussion.

Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
18. ### NotEinsteinValued Senior Member

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So we agree that your question was totally irrelevant.

Sure, that's why we are debating if "fractals exist in nature" is knowledge (i.e. truth) or not.

What does this has to do with anything?

That's (a rendering of a part of) a DNA-molecule, not a DNA sequence.

In other words: you have no idea what the paper is about. How can you judge its merits then?

In other words: you aren't even going to bother trying to find out whether this paper is worth anything. Then I can dismiss the paper just as easily.

You have posted a link to a paper, and now you show you don't even understand its terminology. I think that's called "being off-topic", not "contributing to this discussion".

19. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Carry on ...........

20. ### NotEinsteinValued Senior Member

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What do you mean?

21. ### exchemistValued Senior Member

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Of course I read the link. But that link was almost entirely abstract mathematics. The only observation referred to was - indirectly - that of the growth of algal populations, and even for that no experiment or other observations had been done and no actual quantitative model of an actual experimentally observed population had been verified. This is the same with just about every other description of fractals in nature that I have come across. Lots of pretty pictures and arguments in principle, but no quantitative modelling of actual systems. It is undeniable that natural growth processes seem to follow fractal-like, iterative steps and result in very similar patterns, but there does not seem to be much, if anything, in terms of specific quantitive modelling of specific, experimentally observed processes. I found a more persuasive explanation of the power and limitations of fractal analysis in plant growth here: http://algorithmicbotany.org/papers/abop/abop-ch8.pdf No need to read all the maths but the summary at the end is worth reading I think.

I continue to get the strong impression that there are fairly few techniques in science , even in biology where it is most obviously applicable, that rely on fractal mathematics to make predictive models of natural behaviour. Frankly, fractals, after all the hype (they do look so pretty and "organic" to journalists, after all) , appear to me to be something of a disappointment. I'd love someone more knowledgeable to show that I am wrong, because they are very seductively beautiful.

As for "Why don't you tell me" how science works, what do you think I have been telling you in the last few posts? Did you bother to read post 785 for instance? There is a limit to how often you can expect me to repeat myself.

P.S. the opening of the link nicely makes the point that these fractal representations are approximations, not true fractals, due to their finite range of scales. This is exactly what Not Einstein and Iceaura have been telling you.

22. ### Write4UValued Senior Member

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Thank you for that informative link.....