The Spectrum and Limitations of Science

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18th May 2020 Sciences Reference this

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The ongoing controversy about the reproducibility of key scientific experiments has sparked a lively public debate if the opposing limits of science are coming to a halt. This leads to the question; Can Science be infinite? Gaining broad publicity, many in the scientific community have been greatly puzzled by this consternation. Thus, this prompts one to ask to contend what scientific results are or are not telling us about the world; or how scientific research is or ought to be conducted.

The most refined and modern definition of science according to late Sir Richard Gregory is “Organized and formulated knowledge of natural objects and phenomena derived from verifiable observations and experiments” [1].

Every scientist tries to obtain as much knowledge about the world. This dream of knowing all there is to know and achieving a unified theory of nature is extremely unprecedented. Thales, a Greek philosopher, questioned of whether humans can ever achieve the dream of “knowledge of all that is to be know.”[2] Thales stated everything that exists derived from a single substance which he believed was water, establishing his plausible theory of understanding the universe. The philosophy that the world could be simplified has been part of our intellectual, theoretical history.

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Understanding has progressed triumphantly as researchers have begun to seek methods to simplify all knowledge with a grand theory becoming ever more confident in our capacity to create such a theory. Modern theories of physics have constituted their own unified theory of nature called the super-string theories. “String Theory is a notoriously untestable model that attempts to describe all the interaction of fundamental forces and forms of matter.” This is a quote by Marcelo Gleiser, professor of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth, in which he points out, for string theory to have true significance to our world it must be able to design an experiment to test it [3]. However, string theory involves multiple hidden dimensions resulting in an unjustifiable theory. Geiser delineates the challenge by comparing it metaphorically to an island. He states that knowledge is an island. Geiser supposes that the border of what we do is determined by the growth of the island [3]. Hence, the historical spectrum of knowledge can never inexplicably complete because our ability and human creativity have its limits. We cannot know everything there is to know, as humans are unable to inquire about all the questions that will lead us towards complete knowledge.


The knowledge acquired by science is partial and conditional. Science collects progressive information as this refers to the quote ‘the more we know, the more we ignore’ [4]. For this to be in effect, the limits of our real capacity in physics need to be defined to obtain reliable knowledge. The borders between speculation and scientifically constructed theories are indistinct.

This notion of a unified theory of the universe has been greatly challenged by astonishing, recent discoveries in physics, such as the importance of the dark matter and the Higgs Field. This concept is applicable to this statement “The more we learn, the more it pushes the boundaries of what we don’t know.” [5]

Science borderlines are defined by the pioneering scientists’ studies and research. By addressing specific scientific issues, this enables sensitive challenges to be tackled which fuels new elusive research questions. However, certain variables which are also possibly restricted are determining the limitations of the science of technology. Scientists, for example, have restricted concepts of science questions when developing complex techniques, producing fresh findings and generating innovative thoughts.

In addition, there is a limited nature to technology which is essential in the evolution and alteration of scientific experimentation [6]. Therefore, modern instruments that allow new information constructions and fresh methods of exploration are also restricted. On this premise, partial and conditional science understanding, and accomplishments are extremely limited for scientists to obtain.

The Spectrum and Limitations of Science

Science has a self-imposed limit: we restrict ourselves to the scientific method. Therefore, we are only able to study nature, and cannot study the questions that are beyond religion. The scientific method is continually practiced which consists of developing a testable hypothesis and provable and that experiments and observations can be reproducible. Scientists believe that science can answer all philosophical and religious questions. They believe that any question that cannot be answered using the standard of scientific methods should be rejected This stipulates certain topics beyond the reach of scientific method causing limits. Compelling aspects of universe and life theories can be expounded only in the context of divine and complex power; however, this is contradictory as a divine being cannot be tested within experiment. Several reasons that exemplify this notion is are that scientific theories are constantly being altered, limitations of data and limitations of the human mind. Therefore, there are indubitably limits to science progression and science knowledge.

John Horgan’s book: ‘The End of Science’

One contention is that because of intrinsic physical constraints or practicability, we were about to attain the “end of science” and the boundaries of scientific research. In John Horgan’s book, The End of Science opposes that science and its other divisions is most likely ending. [7] John Horgan, a defiant journalist, attempts to address these cosmic queries by visiting famous scientist by noting their philosophy. An equal divide amongst the scientists in their beliefs which half believe science is infinite and the other do not. He later explores the amusing issue in how internal paradoxes of knowledge will be entangled and whether it will become untangled. Horgan’s completely subjective point from the outset, considers we are the end of the science era and affirms that we have already discovered the significant complexities about physics.

Science is fundamentally concluding in three cogent phenomena according Horgan. In his book, Horgan proposes a compelling statement “There just aren’t many more truly fundamental discoveries — like quantum mechanics, relativity, evolution, the big bang, DNA — left to be made. Only fewer interesting activities will remain, such as exploring the detailed implications of the basic theories, working on applied problems, and so on.” [8] Horgan debates that most of the major science obstacles have been solved, or soon will be.

Horgan’s second standpoint dictates that science will eventually approach its inherent boundaries because evolution, relativity, quantum mechanics, these fundamental aspects are only left to be discovered. Pushing those limits will be “practicing science in a speculative, post empirical mode” [9] that Horgan calls ironic science. Horgan’s given definition is stated “Ironic science resembles literary criticism in that it offers points of view, opinions, which are, at best, interesting, which provoke further comment. This cannot achieve empirically verifiable surprises that force scientists to make substantial revisions in their basic description of reality.” [9] Researchers are up to the stage where they can complete or implement this understanding for practical reasons in detail in past excellent paradigms. They are trying to demonstrate how Quantum can be grasped by a fresh high-temperature superconductor or how a mutation in a part of DNA is responsible for breast cancer. Certainly these are valuable objectives.

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The third aspect that is manifested in this book is that Horgan projects that science is running up against the law of diminishing returns. As science advances leads to elusive and more unrealistic experiments. As a result, resources and technology are becoming increasingly cumbersome and unaffordable due to the limited nature of technology and its cost.

In conclusion, these testifiers can only practice research in a speculation, non-empirical fashion called ironic research. Ironic research represents literature or philosophy or theology by offering viewpoints, that contribute to a more comprehensive knowledge. Once science is within practical and physical limits, researchers can only speculate over observations that cannot be falsified

Harry Cliff Ted Talk – Higgs Field and Dark Energy

A leading expert in particle physics, Harry Cliff, articulated a profoundly worrying and contested thinking that challenges the paradigm of science. His definitive impression that we are imminent to the utter limit in comprehending the spectrum of the universe through science. Scientists are approaching its intrinsic limit as “the laws of physics forbid” in which Cliff has remarked about a more a further detailed comprehension of the universe [10]. His theory is stimulated on the Higgs Field and dark energy which account for everything that the Universe is made up of, yet it opposes significant limits to our underlying understanding of physics.

Mr. Cliff denotes the value strength of the Higgs Field; an energy field, that expands when particles make contact because they convert into subatomic particles that builds the foundation the universe. The Higgs Field should either be empty, according to Einstein’s Relativity Theory, which does not offer the volume of the electrons or should be exceptionally high, which gives the electrons too much power. Instead, the Higgs field is only little, and it isn’t as small or as large as it should, instead of being exceptionally high or non-existent. “It’s not zero, but it’s ten-thousand-trillion times weaker than its fully on value — a bit like a light switch that got stuck just before the ‘off’ position. And this value is crucial. If it were a tiny bit different, then there would be no physical structure in the universe.” [10] Higgs Field’s weakness is that it defies the laws of physics and leaves majority of the science community perplexed for a comprehensive answer.

The second number addresses a complicated phenomenon called dark energy. Reference to Cliff he defines dark energy “a repulsive force that’s accountable for the accelerating expansion of our universe.” Much of the information about dark energy is still left to be found out. Theoretical physicists estimated the value of dark energy which anticipated to be 10 to the power 120 times, extremely greater than any value observed from space [11]. Cliff mentions this prediction is highly unlikely as it contains more atoms in the universe. Possible answers can be discovered, but having plausible evidence is improbable.

However, theorists postulated that dark energy value is far smaller than the assumed value. Past theoretical models comply if this was factual, the sheer volume of repulsive force of dark energy would essentially evaporate the universe. Therefore, no universe would exist since fundamental forces which unite atoms together would be impractical against it.  In the end physicist ultimately need to determine new particles that maintain the concept of string theory, to our extent predicts the presence and our perception of the multiverse [12]

Assessment of Credibility

The credibility of the sources used in this report are highly reputable, reliable and their contexts of ideas are presented in a verifiable, coherent manner. The first source is a book by John Horgan, ‘The End of Science’ regarding the conceptual insights and mapping out the theories on the ends of science. The information contained in this source is highly reliable, synthesized from 45 prominent scientists’ interviews discussing their refutable concerns on science. Horgan, a high-profile journalist for Scientific American, facilitates the scientific ideologies and theories in a very relevant, respectable manner as he directly receives of his subjects to reveal their perceptions on the current state of the science. Ideas throughout this book are proposed in a verifiable, intuitive manner, because they come directly from the scientists themselves.

In addition, the second source that I utilised is a 2016 Ted Talk by Harry Cliff called ‘Have we reached the end of physics?’. This conversation is from an extremely credible publication (TED TALKS), is one of the most distinguished, reputable publications in the education entertainment industry. The information in this source is extremely trustworthy, as the information is presented from Harry Cliff, who is an authoritative particle physicist. His ideas addressed are falsifiable and rational in terms of being scientifically valid.  


In conclusion, the view of all these points embodied above, constitutes to my hypothesis where science holds both deficiencies and limitations. Many areas of the reality of which the scientist method is incompetent to make an approved claim. Since, scientific areas where science isn’t complete, it should not be the reason why they do not exist as claimed by empiricists.

My hypothesis cannot be testified as there is no centralised and transparent answer to this topic but can compared to the analysed sources. The main conflicting proponent of this report is John Horgan book, “The End of Science.” It comprises many contrary ideologies in which he further explores his statements with applied scientific evidence. Horgan’s theory hasn’t entirely persuaded me into his argument, yet it does have intuitive sense. Hypothetically, if a map of our scientific development can accurately be represented as an S-curve, “the rapid growth in human knowledge we have seen since the time of Galileo would be considered the steep vertical portion.”[13] This map of reality that scientists have constructed, and this narrative of creation, from the big bang to the basic laws of physics, is essentially true. Hence, it will be as viable in the far future as it is today. Given how far science has already come and given the limits constraining further research, science will be confronted with a frontier to make any truly profound additions to the knowledge it has already generated. Further research may yield no more great revelations or revolutions but only incremental returns.     “


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