Neutrino Hypotheses Non Fingo

The final sentence of the neutrino paper that everybody is buzzing about:

We deliberately do not attempt any theoretical or phenomenological interpretation of
the results.

From a somewhat older work in physics:

Rationem vero harum gravitatis proprietatum ex phænomenis nondum potui deducere, et hypotheses non fingo. Quicquid enim ex phænomenis non deducitur, hypothesis vocanda est; et hypotheses seu metaphysicae, seu physicae, seu qualitatum occultarum, seu mechanicae, in philosophia experimentali locum non habent. In hac philosophia Propositiones deducuntur ex phaenomenis, et redduntur generales per inductionem.

Ethan and Sean have more, of course, and as always XKCD is on it.


I have not as yet been able to discover the reason for these properties of gravity from phenomena, and I do not frame hypotheses. For whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy. In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and afterwards rendered general by induction.

(via Wikipedia, so salt as needed.)

I’m not trying to claim that this work is on the level of the Principia, or anything. Or even to make a detailed analogy between the paper and the General Scholium (which is mostly Isaac Newton being kind of pissy, in Latin). But I recently re-read the chapter of the book-in-production that mentions the Newton quote, so the phrases struck me as amusingly similar.


  1. So exciting. Could be an anomaly, could be bad data, or it could be seriously exciting news: I hope it’s the latter.

  2. #2 Paul Karl Hoiland
    December 5, 2011

    Even most of us who have written anything on solutions to this whole Neutrino issue believe everything depends upon the measurment being duplicated and verified. That is the true scientific method at work. Without it science would be simply mathamatics based faith and dogma.

The site is currently under maintenance. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.