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How are experiments for major scientific theories performed and verified?


Alex Mercer
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Is there a link to the process in which is done for layman to read. Random thought is what if someone just fakes a result to get a desired outcome. Is there like a group of people/association that you must inform and must be there to verify everything that is done in the experiment and whether it is valid etc.

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1 hour ago, Alex Mercer said:

Is there a link to the process in which is done for layman to read. Random thought is what if someone just fakes a result to get a desired outcome. Is there like a group of people/association that you must inform and must be there to verify everything that is done in the experiment and whether it is valid etc.

The is what the peer review process is there for. If someone arrives at a new result that is potentially relevant to science, it is published in a peer review journal - other scientists who work in the area will then review that paper (methodology, results, interpretation etc). If the results seem valid, and important enough, someone will eventually want to repeat the experiment.

So what protects against falsification of experimental results is that these results are made public, and that they must be repeatable and thus independently verifiable - simply meaning if someone else performs a similar experiment, they should obtain the same results.

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To add to Markus. Peer review publication creates somewhat of a double check. The first is that when you submit an article it will be sent to some other scientists in the field, normally about 3, chosen by the journal (sometimes you can make suggestions to make it easier for the editors). They will review it in depth and provide feedback to the journal and the authors, often anonymously to the authors, sometimes this is all public. 

The second phase is if you pass they review then you get published. Then any other interested person with access to the journal can read your article. That allows them to do other experiments, repeat your experiments/analysis and then write their own paper in support or counter yours. During my PhD we discovered a new way to do something. Someone else showed something similar before us but their explanation didn't agree with our results so we published saying we thought they were wrong, here's some new results and a new explanation which agrees with both sets of results. They responded with a modified first explanation they fitted both. By then my successor had more results that again agreed with our explanation but showed their new explanation didn't work either. I've left the field so I'm not sure where it ended but there was a useful and constructive back and forth. 

 

I think you might benefit from reading generally about the scientific process. Certainly in physics you don't get big new ideas from nothing. They are generated on the foundations of those that went before (...shoulders of giants...). A new theory must encompass all the evidence that has gone before. Even something seismic like special relativity must have agreed with the electrodynamics and classical mechanics that came before it. Then the following experiments will build on the evidence and understanding, there is rarely a single experiment that goes "yep, Frank was right" and there will always be scientists that question and check. For relativity every GPS device is effectively constantly checking the consistency of the theory with reality. 

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The details of verification depends on the claim. Sometimes you can re-create the experiment, or do a similar experiment with a different target. (e.g it worked with one atom or isotope, does it work with another?) Sometimes it relies on obtaining data independently (astronomy, for instance). Sometimes you can build on the discovery, and the new experiment will not work if the underlying science is wrong. (see the above GPS example)

 

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