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Old 14th October 2021, 09:27 PM   #104
Penultimate Amazing
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Shanghai
Posts: 14,988
Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
And I still don't have an answer to my question.
I think my attempt was pretty decent: we can understand something in a way that works very well empirically, even to the point that no observation or experiment that we're currently capable of can contradict it, yet that understanding can be unclear or even contradictory at a fundamental level.

An example is gravity. GR works great on it's own, and it's also completely consistent with experiment. But we know the universe is quantum mechanical in nature, yet when we try to apply the principles of quantum mechanics to gravity, we get results that don't work (infinities that can't be got rid of through the normal methods of renormalization, for instance).

So we understand gravity very well, but on a fundamental level there's something we're missing.

Or to take it a step back, Newton also understood gravity pretty well, but not on a fundamental level. Einstein came much closer to a fundamental level, and if my above paragraphs were wrong we could say that Einstein understood it fundamentally, but that doesn't mean that Newton didn't understand it at all.

Anyway, that seems like a meaningful distinction to me.

But maybe you were complaining not that no one answered your question but that the person you asked didn't answer it...
"... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."
Isaac Asimov
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