- Book Title: The Universe - A Biography
- Author:John Gribbin
- Year written/published: 2006
- Summary: From Big Bang, the birth of the Universe to the future - how will the universe end?
- Some extracts:
In fact, all scientific models have restricted applicability. None of them is ‘the truth’. The model of an atom as perfectly elastic little sphere works fine for calculating in pressure of a gas under different circumstances, but if you want to describe the way an atom emits or absorbs light, you need a model of the atom in which it has at least 2 components, a tine central nucleus (which can itself, for some purposes, be regarded as a perfectly elastic little sphere) surrounded by a cloud of electrons. Scientific models are representations of reality, not the reality, and no matter how well the work or how accurate their predictions under the appropriate circumstances, they should always be regarded as approximations and aids to the imagination, rather than the ultimate truth. When a scientist tells you that say the nucleus of an atom is made up of particles and protons and neutrons, what they should really be saying is that the nucleus of an atom behaves, under certain circumstances, as if it were made up of protons and neutrons. The better scientists take the ‘as if’ as read, but appreciate that their models are, indeed only models; lesser scientists often forget this crucial distinction.