• Question: If you have created any theories, have they been disproved and how?

    Asked by georgiahouse to Akram, David, Gill, Jack, Laurence on 20 Mar 2012.
    • Photo: Jack Snape

      Jack Snape answered on 20 Mar 2012:


      I haven’t really created any theories yet 🙂 I’ve only recently started being a scientist…. A theory is usually disproved using maths – a theory will make a prediction… here’s a silly example:

      Say your theory is that elephants trunks get longer the heavier the elephant.. so you predict that a 5 ton elephant has a 1 metre trunk and a 10 ton elephant has a 2 metre trunk. You can write that down in an equation:

      trunk size = weight divided by 5

      The next step is to go out and weigh lots of elephants and measure their trunks. A few elephants might be ‘weird’ and have unusually long trunks – that’s why it’s important to measure lots of elephants, so you can see what is ‘weird’ and what is ‘normal’

      If most elephants trunks agree with your equation, then your theory is a good way of predicting the length of an elephants trunk.

      Hope that example hasn’t just made it more confusing 🙂

    • Photo: Gill Menzies

      Gill Menzies answered on 21 Mar 2012:


      Like Jack I can’t claim any major theories as such. I get my students to do a lot of hypothesis testing. This is similar to Jack’s idea. The hypothesis might be that exercising 3 times per week for 20 minutes each time is just as good as exercising once a week for an hour. You would devise a way to test the hypothesis with a sample of people (big enough to make it statistically significant), measuring their fitness level at the start of the exercise, and again after several weeks of following one of the exercise programmes. You could then plot the difference in fitness level for each participant and draw your conclusions. The fitness level may relate to several properties like body mass, heart function, lung function, etc).

      So – if you set the hypothesis up appropriately, it can be fun to prove or disprove a theory. 🙂

    • Photo: Akram Alomainy

      Akram Alomainy answered on 21 Mar 2012:


      For me not really a big theory but part of my work is to develop new equations to explain how radio waves will get around the body …

      I have come up with one of those models then applied it on my computer and to design systems so we can test them but when we did the last test we found out that we missed an important variable and one of the research students here found that out so he managed to flaw my model 🙁 So he felt the master for a day then it was back to normal and I started bossing him around 😉 Only kidding I am seriously a nice guy wohahahahah

    • Photo: Laurence Harwood

      Laurence Harwood answered on 21 Mar 2012:


      I have proposed several theories and so far they have stood the test of time – in fact people seem to have given up trying to disprove them. They are all to do with how, when and where organic molecules react.

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