The True Story of How a False Theory Led to the Discovery of Boron
Scientific theories can be used to make
predictions. Some of these predictions are successful in the sense that they
turn out to be true. And sometimes a theory successfully predicts the existence
of a phenomenon that was previously unknown. How could this happen? One
seemingly plausible explanation is that the theory in question must be true.
After all, how could a false theory make this sort of successful prediction?
But there are, in fact, examples of false theories that have successfully
predicted previously unknown phenomena.
One such example concerns the discovery of the chemical element boron. …
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