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194) Comments about theories

Ludwik Kowalski (December 5, 2004)
Department of Mathematical Sciences
Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ, 07043

This morning I received an interesting message from an Israeli researcher, Boris Khachaturov, who I met at the last cold fusion conference. Referring to the Occam’s Razor principle, and showing the URL below, he wrote:'s_razor

“. . . In any case, Occam’s principle should be a guide to researchers trying to explain experimental facts. That is what I learned from my teachers. The principle is used, implicitly or explicitly, not only in science but in everyday life as well. I was surprised to discover that cold fusion researchers often ignore simple explanations of experimental facts and invent incredible “theories.” Such theories are great brain teasers but they have nothing to do with what is actually observed in laboratories. Such treaties could easily be recognized among presentations at our cold fusion conference. But I am not saying that all theoretical presentations belonged to that category.”

Yes, a theory that is simple is more desirable than a theory that is complicated, when both of them explain experimental facts successfully. But I am not sure which “simple explanations” are being ignored. Also, what might be simplier to one person might be more difficult to another. Does the concept of simplicity apply to the number of assumptions made to dervive a theory or does it apply to the mathematical sophistication of the derivation process itself?

In the unit #191, on this website, I am trying to describe my own understanding of the “polyneutron theory” of John Fisher. This work is in progress. The theory is rather simple, as far as mathematics is concerned. But its assumptions are far from being obvious. Do polyneutrons exist and do they have properties assigned to them by Fisher? Only experiments can answer this question. One has to admire those who invent theories explaining experimental facts. But tentative theories, in my opinion, should first be presented to people able to understand them. I did not see too many people able to understand the monopole theory defended at our conference. If I were the author of that theory I would not bring it to a cold fusion conference; I would bring it to a conference on electrodynamics, for example.

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