When good scientists go bad?

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Boustrophedon
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Re: When good scientists go bad?

Post by Boustrophedon » Mon Oct 16, 2023 4:51 pm

Not a Nobel Laureate by a long way but Eric Laithwaite comes to mind. Eric went certifiably bonkers later in his career with beliefs about gyroscopes, where his mathematical treatment was just wrong, he dropped a minus sign giving values that added instead of subtracting to zero, thus yielding a fallacious net force. This was pointed out to him but yet he continued to believe.

Then he had strange ideas about moths, arguing that their antennas were Yagi arrays in the infra red, they're not.

And it is not as if his electrical work was flawless either. He wrote a quite astounding article for a niche and now defunct publication called 'Electronics in Education' intended both for teachers and pupils. In the article he argued that superconductivity was useless because you could never get a current to flow in finite time, because the time constant L/R was infinite. I kid you not. Of course he should have considered V=L di/dt.

Laithwaite was an outstanding presenter, he made a good career promoting the linear electric motor and was often to be found on science programmes on the BBC. I think having had his ego stoked by these early successes, it all went to his head and he believed that everything he said was right.

I think this is the root cause of many of the example Nobel laureates cited.
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jimbob
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Re: When good scientists go bad?

Post by jimbob » Tue Oct 17, 2023 7:17 am

And it is not as if his electrical work was flawless either. He wrote a quite astounding article for a niche and now defunct publication called 'Electronics in Education' intended both for teachers and pupils. In the article he argued that superconductivity was useless because you could never get a current to flow in finite time, because the time constant L/R was infinite. I kid you not. Of course he should have considered V=L di/dt.


[/quote]

Didn't he spot the dimensions were wrong for a time constant?

And if he didn't think of the maths, didn't he spot the fact that reality disagreed with him, in that current had been observed to flow in superconductors within the lifetime of the universe?

Or even thinking that just as a large resistor increases the time constant of a capacitor, it does similar to an inductor.
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Boustrophedon
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Re: When good scientists go bad?

Post by Boustrophedon » Thu Oct 19, 2023 1:20 pm

jimbob wrote:
Tue Oct 17, 2023 7:17 am
And it is not as if his electrical work was flawless either. He wrote a quite astounding article for a niche and now defunct publication called 'Electronics in Education' intended both for teachers and pupils. In the article he argued that superconductivity was useless because you could never get a current to flow in finite time, because the time constant L/R was infinite. I kid you not. Of course he should have considered V=L di/dt.

Didn't he spot the dimensions were wrong for a time constant?

And if he didn't think of the maths, didn't he spot the fact that reality disagreed with him, in that current had been observed to flow in superconductors within the lifetime of the universe?

Or even thinking that just as a large resistor increases the time constant of a capacitor, it does similar to an inductor.
Um. L/R is a time constant, it describes the decay of a current in an inductor flowing through a resistor, it is just not applicable to the situation where an applied voltage is applied to an inductor.

Dimensions: L= [M^1 L^2 T^-2 I^-2], R= [M L^2 T^-3 I^-2]
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jimbob
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Re: When good scientists go bad?

Post by jimbob » Sun Oct 22, 2023 4:37 pm

Doh,

But he still should have spotted that superconductors had been observed carrying current
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: When good scientists go bad?

Post by shpalman » Sun Oct 22, 2023 5:05 pm

If a superconductor is in the form of an inductive loop and there's no resistance in the circuit then the current will indeed persist indefinitely. But ohm's law doesn't apply to getting the current to flow in a superconductor in the first place. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_equations
having that swing is a necessary but not sufficient condition for it meaning a thing
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