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[Phys-L] physics of virus spread ... and scientific heresy


Megan Molteni has a long (5000 words) article in WiReD magazine. It's
interesting on multiple levels, including:
-- The physics and biology of how viruses spread, and
-- How science is really done, including how and why deadly wrong
answers persist.

In particular: Being a scientific heretic is never easy. (Been there,
done that.) Being right is nowhere near enough.

Very little science is "green fields" new discoveries; mostly it's
"brown fields" refinements of old ideas. Contrary to what they told
you in junior high school, you can't just discover the right answer,
publish it, and move on.

For starters, you have to uphold the /correspondence principle/. That
is, you have to explain why your new idea is consistent with the old
notions in the appropriate limits, at least in the cases where things
have been checked. Otherwise nobody will listen to you. It has always
been this way, since the days of phlogiston (which remained part of
science for a long time even after better notions came along, such as
energy and oxygen). Thomas Kuhn wrote a book about this.

Additional details here: