It's wrong, but it still works
January 14, 2010 12:11 PM Subscribe
Can you identify some scientific theories or models that were wrong, yet did a reasonable job of predicting real-world events. For example, the Ptolemaic Geocentric Model
of the solar system predicted the paths of planets in the sky relatively accurately.
posted by ShooBoo to science & nature (21 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Another example I can think of is the Ultraviolet Catastrophe
which the Rayleigh-Jeans law accurately calculated black-body radiation at lower frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum, but failed for higher frequencies.
Those examples were essentially attempts at mathematical models of the real world. I'd be in interested in non-mathematical models as well.
This brings up philosophical questions about the relationship between a model
of the real world and the real world, and if you have any thoughts on that, I wouldn't mind some discussion on that as well.