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Encyclopedia > Predictive power
The New York Times reported on Einstein's confirmed prediction.

Predictive power is a property of a scientific theory which, generally speaking, refers to its ability to generate testable predictions. Theories which strong predictive power are heavily valued, because these predictions can often encourage the falsification of the theory. It is different from explanatory or descriptive power, by which already-known phenomena are explained by a given theory, in that it presents a new and novel test of theoretical understanding. Einstein theory triumphs - New York Times, November 10, 1919, p. ... Einstein theory triumphs - New York Times, November 10, 1919, p. ... The New York Times is an internationally known daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed in the United States and many other nations worldwide. ... In mathematics, theory is used informally to refer to a body of knowledge about mathematics. ... This page discusses how a theory or assertion is falsifiable (disprovable opp: verifiable), rather than the non-philosophical use of falsification, meaning counterfeiting. ...

One of the famous cases of predictive power was in Albert Einstein's theory of General relativity, which predicted that if photographs taken of the stars near the edge of the sun during an eclipse were compared to photographs of the same stars not near the sun, a "bending" of their light would be perceived. Einstein put forward this prediction, a logical outcome of his theory, in 1915, but it could not tested until 1919. The reporting of its accuracy was heralded throughout the world as a revolution in physics, as its results would not have been expected through the previous theory of gravitation. As a contrast, an example of Einstein's explanatory power was his theory's ability to explain the strange perihelion of the planet Mercury's orbit. Though this aided in its acceptance by scientists (as the current theories could not explain the phenomena), this was not considered sufficient evidence of its accuracy, as the phenomena to be explained was known before the theory was formulated. Portrait of Albert Einstein taken by Yousuf Karsh on February 11, 1948 Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955) was a German theoretical physicist who is widely regarded as the greatest scientist of the 20th century. ... Two-dimensional visualisation of space-time distortion. ... The Pleiades star cluster A star is any massive gaseous body in outer space just like the Sun. ... A sun is the star at the center of a solar system. ... Total solar eclipse in Zambia, 2001 An eclipse (Greek verb: ecleipo = cease to exist) is an astronomical event that occurs when one celestial object moves into the shadow of another. ... 1915 was a common year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ... 1919 was a common year starting on Wednesday (see link for calendar). ... The willingness to question previously held truths and search for new answers resulted in a period of major scientific advancements, now known as the Scientific Revolution. ... This article is about several astronomical terms (apogee & perigee, aphelion & perihelion, generic equivalents based on apsis, and related but rarer terms. ... Atmospheric characteristics Atmospheric pressure trace Potassium 31. ...

Scientific ideas without any predictive power are known as "conjectures", or, at worst, "pseudoscience". Because they cannot be tested or falsified in any way, there is no way to determine whether they are true or false, and so they are not afforded the label of "scientific theory". More philosophically murky is when theories have predictive power but only in respect to technologies not currently possible. For example, certain aspects of string theory have been labeled as predictive, but only through the use of machines which are not yet built and some of which it is not sure could ever be built. Whether or not this makes it truly predictive or not is a matter of dispute among scientists and philosophers. A pseudoscience is any body of knowledge purported to be scientific or supported by science but which is judged by the mainstream scientific community to fail to comply with the scientific method. ... String theory is a physical model whose fundamental building blocks are one-dimensional extended objects (strings) rather than the zero-dimensional points (particles) that were the basis of most earlier physics. ...

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Predictive power - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (923 words)
The concept of predictive power differs from explanatory or descriptive power (where phenomena that are already known are retrospectively explained by a given theory) in that it allows a prospective test of theoretical understanding.
One of the most famous cases of predictive power was the confirmation of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity.
The prediction was made by Einstein in 1915 as a logical outcome of his theory, but it could not be tested until a solar eclipse on May 29, 1919, when observations made by the astrophysicist Arthur Eddington which seemingly confirmed Einstein's predictions.
  More results at FactBites »



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