Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The wonderful, messy process of science.

In articles written across a wide range of media recently, journalists summarize the research by Harvard scientists to press hydrogen into metal, a feat attempted for eighty years. In the New York Times article I read, Professor Isaac Silverton describes the lustrous, shiny material that resulted when hydrogen gas was squeezed between two pieces of diamond under extreme pressure. The research was published in the prestigious journal Science, where submissions must pass a rigorous peer review process, and the editor in chief stated that only about seven percent of submissions are published. Still, skeptics abound from across the globe. For example, a University of Edinburgh professor called the claims by Silverton “… the product of Ike’s imagination from beginning to end.”
            This report highlights the wonderful, messy process of real science, where scientists submit research results to peer-reviewed journals for consideration, reports are published when strict standards have been met, and other scientists from around the world begin to shoot holes in the arguments and the data while rushing to their own labs or field locations to attempt replicating the results. Such has gone the process of climate science for decades. And, for once, there is near-unanimity: Through the emissions of greenhouse gases into our thin atmosphere, humans have significantly altered the Earth’s climate. Pretending or hoping otherwise is foolish.

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