Page:Lawhead columbia 0054D 12326.pdf/46

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measurements in a novel spatial location—might turn out. Occasionally, they get a chance to compare those predictions to observed data directly. This is more common in some branches of science than in others: it is far more difficult to verify some of the predictions of evolutionary biology (say, speciation events) by observation than it is to verify some of the predictions of quantum mechanics (say, what state our measurement devices will end up in after a Stern-Gerlach experiment). More frequently, they are able to identify a number of different patterns whose predictions seem either agree or disagree with one another. Evolutionary biology is a well-confirmed science in large part not because large numbers of speciation events have been directly observed, but because the predictions from other sciences with related domains (e.g. molecular biology)—many of which have been confirmed through observation—are consistent with the predictions generated by evolutionary biologists.

Just as in the case of our toy science in Section 1.3, it seems to me that science generally consists in two separate (but related) tasks: scientists identify a domain of inquiry by picking out a way of carving up the world, and then identify the patterns that obtain given that way of carving things up. This is where the careful discussion from Section 1.3 should be illuminating: not all scientists are interested in identifying patterns that obtain everywhere in the universe—that is, not all scientists are interested in identifying patterns that obtain for all of S. Indeed, this is precisely the sense in which fundamental physics is fundamental: it alone among the sciences is concerned with identifying the patterns that will obtain no matter where in the world we choose to take our measurements. The patterns that fundamental physics seeks to identify are patterns that will let us predict the behavior of absolutely any sub-set of the world—no matter how large, small, or oddly disjunctive—at which we choose to look; it strives