101 votes
Accepted

General relativity (and other theories) when proven wrong

My question would be, what happens in the scientific community if one experiment proves it wrong We have already seen what happens in this circumstance by looking at what happened to Newtonian ...
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82 votes

Why do most formulas in physics have integer and rational exponents?

There is a non-subjective and quite mathematical approach to this question. First, we have the simple linear proportionalities that aren't really physical laws but just definitions of physical ...
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43 votes

Why do most formulas in physics have integer and rational exponents?

I think a very easy-to-understand answer is that we humans rig the game to make things easier for us. For example, we choose to express the volume of a sphere as a function of its radius because a ...
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  • 1,591
37 votes

General relativity (and other theories) when proven wrong

Words like "proven" and "wrong" have to be used carefully in this context. It is more meaningful to talk about "accuracy" and "limits". If an experiment was ...
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  • 6,433
30 votes

How does the whole universe agree on the laws of physics?

Have you perhaps mistaken the meaning of the word "law" in this context? It simply means "pattern" or "regularity". If a given property or behaviour is neither constant ...
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28 votes

How exactly do physicists reject and accept theories/models in physics?

The philosophy of science distinguishes between realist and instrumentalist treatments of a theory, which respectively want it to be true and useful. In real life, this translates into technically ...
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  • 22k
25 votes

Why do most formulas in physics have integer and rational exponents?

I'll bring in a less technical answer. Actually, even more dominant than integer exponents, is exponent 1, i.e., linear dependence between causes and effects. And often, exponent 2 comes from ...
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23 votes

Is the second law of thermodynamics a "no-go" theorem?

From the perspective of statistical mechanics, the second law is neither an axiom nor a strict no-go theorem. It's a practical no-go theorem in the same sense that getting $10^{100}$ heads when ...
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21 votes
Accepted

Understanding this quote by Feynman

[...] the wave theory was unable to explain things like the Photoelectric Effect and Compton Scattering [...] This is true. As a result, we know that classical electrodynamics is only an ...
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19 votes

Why do most formulas in physics have integer and rational exponents?

A simpler answer would be: units. For example, in $F = ma$ the unit of measurement for force would match the units of measurement for mass and acceleration. By definition, a Newton of force is a ...
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  • 307
18 votes
Accepted

Accuracy of physics laws

Accuracy can mean different things. While the question asks about the statistical accuracy, what immediately comes when talking about the Newton's laws is that they are non-relativistic, i.e., they ...
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  • 39.3k
15 votes
Accepted

Why is conservation of angular momentum considered a law?

Conservation of angular momentum really is a new phenomenon, one that does not follow from the Newtonian mechanics you already know; therefore it deserves its own place as a law. Specifically, you ...
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  • 95.4k
15 votes

Understanding this quote by Feynman

There is no single-sentence statement which can capture the whole of makes a theory good or bad. In its context, this statement is making the point that in the end what science is about is grappling ...
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14 votes

Why do most formulas in physics have integer and rational exponents?

You ask a very interesting question. The other answers here point at some fine examples and reasonable explanations. However, I think they only touch on the largest cause for your observation: the ...
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  • 511
14 votes

How exactly do physicists reject and accept theories/models in physics?

A theory in physics is a strict mathematical model, with extra axioms and axiomatic statements that relate physically observed quantities to the mathematical variables. A theory is validated (...
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  • 222k
13 votes

Is the second law of thermodynamics a "no-go" theorem?

The reciprocal status of Thermodynamics and Statistical Mechanics is not a basic law of Physics and there is space for different point of views. However there are a few facts which should be borne in ...
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13 votes

How does the whole universe agree on the laws of physics?

The hypothesis that the fundamental laws of physics are the same everywhere in the universe and at all times is based on empirical evidence. Detailed observations of distant galaxies confirm that ...
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  • 33.9k
13 votes

How to know if the error is in a law or in uncertainty of the measurement?

Measurement errors or experimental errors can be reduced by, for example, using more accurate and more sensitive equipment; making multiple measurements and taking an average; thinking about possible ...
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  • 33.9k
12 votes

Accuracy of physics laws

There are errors that come from measuring the quantities and errors that come from the inaccuracy of the laws themselves. If we know only approximate values of parameters in the equation, then we can ...
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12 votes
Accepted

Why does the national center for science education say “gravity is only a theory”?

This is a satirical piece showing the absurdity of what anti-science lobby organizations are trying to do regarding evolution by showing how it would impact a textbook presentation of gravity if those ...
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  • 65.8k
11 votes

Why do most formulas in physics have integer and rational exponents?

The math we use to describe the behavior of the world around us has two types of quantities: values and units. "3.4" is a value. "Meter" is a unit. There are extra rules that value-...
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  • 21.6k
11 votes

Why do most formulas in physics have integer and rational exponents?

In most cases, the answer is: Because the creator of the formula wanted to express it in a simple way. E.g. in $F = ma$ we are defining the mass ($F/a$), as the property that matter has to offer ...
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  • 301
11 votes

Why Light and Observers have different laws of physics

To make progress we need to be clear what we mean by the laws of physics and observer. A law of physics is just some set of equations that we use to predict what happens. So if for example we're ...
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11 votes

Why is conservation of angular momentum considered a law?

Just to expand a little on @knzhou's answer: If you have a system of particles of masses $m_i$ at positions $\mathbf r_i$ then they have external forces $\mathbf F_i$ acting on them as well as ...
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  • 35k
11 votes

Are Laws of nature independent of time?

There are two approaches to time dependence in physical laws. One is to say that there could be different laws at different times. Another is to say that there is one "true" unchanging law, ...
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  • 33.9k
10 votes

Justification of Physical Laws

Rather than saying the physical laws are based just on experiments I would say they are based on the Scientific Method. There are steps that must be checked: Observation - We observe some ...
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  • 16.4k
10 votes

Are Laws of nature independent of time?

Yes, the laws of nature are independent of time. That is, when and if we have the 'correct laws' of physics. It's quite subjective and philosophical as physical laws can't be proved right, only ...
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  • 13.4k
10 votes

Why does the national center for science education say “gravity is only a theory”?

The article is a parody, and is intended to be humorous. As it says at the top: This satirical look at "only a theory" disclaimers imagines what might happen if advocates applied the same ...
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