envy will not be healthy, but it is difficult to deny that envy of the physicists sometimes makes sense

From the edition of 25 of January last of the Economist:

Speaking of physicists trying to review the ideas of gravitation of Einstein, and who have the idea that they could have some limitations, then goes on to discuss the principle of equivalence (that is, the idea that all bodies accelerate at the same rate regardless of their mass). More precisely, it says the following:

According to general relativity, because the Earth and the moon orbit the sun, they should “fall” towards it at the same rate, in the same way as Galileo’s balls fell to the ground. By repeatedly measuring the distance between them, scientists can calculate the orbits of the Earth and the moon around the sun relative to each other.

If the equivalence principle were violated, the moon’s orbit around the Earth would appear skewed, either towards or away from the sun. So far, Dr Murphy told the conference, these experiments have merely confirmed the equivalence principle to one part in 10 trillion. Dr Murphy and his colleagues hope that even more precise measurements could ultimately show general relativity to be only approximately correct. This would usher in a new revolution in physics.

A theory that is confirmed to one part in 10 trillion. It is good that the sociological, the topic that discusses, can not -should not – have that kind of theories; that to follow the path of physics is not a good way for sociology (we will not enter now into the whole discussion about the nature of theories in our discipline). But if someone doesn’t get something to be envied by the type of theories that are possible in other disciplines, for a job that you can get to that accuracy and that success, then -well, in my humble opinion – you do not have much interest in sociology, by the knowledge of the social affairs (*).

(*) The humility of the views has nothing to do, in my again humble opinion, resounding with the claims. The first has to do with the recognition of the possibility of being wrong, the second thing has to do with the fact that when one asserts something, in fact what you are claiming.

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