Are engineers scientists?

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Re:Thank you Einstein (Score:5, Insightful)

by warrax_666 (144623) on Sunday March 29, @03:43AM (#27377271)

Engineers are scientists, of a sort.

No, they’re not. They “merely” apply science to specific well-known problems.

Anecdote and casual observation accumulated over time equate to empirical evidence.

Absolutely not! If we went by your standard of evidence, we would consider there to be a mountain of evidence that the Sun goes around the Earth. Nowadays it’s easy to see that it’s the other way round, but if we went by your standard of evidence it’s doubtful that our collective scientific knowledge would actually have gotten far enough to discover that.

You’re no scientist and have no idea what scientists actually do.

Re:Thank you Einstein (Score:5, Insightful)

by LateArthurDent (1403947) on Sunday March 29, @12:12PM (#27379645)

No, they’re not. They “merely” apply science to specific well-known problems.

I take offense to that. Although a lot of engineering involves solving well-known problems, there’s a good deal of “never-before-done, at the conceptual stage, we’re not sure if it’s even possible” problems. Yes, we still use well known physics in the design process, but calling us “not scientists” is a little bit like saying modern mathematicians are not mathematicians because all they’re doing is applying well-known math to solve their new problems.

Good engineers apply the scientific method in their design process. When creating something nobody has done before, they examine previous work, they construct a “hypothesis” of how to best solve the problem, they perform tests and simulations to make sure their assumptions are correct, and then they analyze the data, draw a conclusion (create a plan), and build the thing.

if we went by your standard of evidence it’s doubtful that our collective scientific knowledge would actually have gotten far enough

I agree with you in principle. You can’t take anything for granted, common sense is often wrong. And that applies in engineering a LOT.

If we went by your standard of evidence, we would consider there to be a mountain of evidence that the Sun goes around the Earth. Nowadays it’s easy to see that it’s the other way round

However, you picked the worst example ever to make your point, because you just used a “common-sense, everyone thinks this is right, but technically it’s not” example. It’s not necessarily “wrong” to say the Sun goes around the Earth. It’s inconvenient for calculations because the center of mass of the earth-sun system lies inside the Sun. It doesn’t mean that you can’t come up with an elaborate mathematical model with the Earth as the reference center of the solar system (and it has been done), it just means that you’ll be doing too much damn work.

There’s no absolute reference points in the universe. Picking the Sun as the center of the solar system is the equivalent of using the cylindrical coordinate system instead of the cartesian one for problems that make sense. Things get a whole lot easier, and the math is way simpler and more elegant.

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