The general public has a stranglehold on the notion that Scientists are extremely objective and nonpartisan. However, a quick review of the history of Science demonstrates that the majority of Scientists have been anything but objective and nonpartisan. In fact, we observe many examples of the majority of Scientists being wrong and slow to change on any number of areas throughout the centuries, including our own. For instance, for centuries, Scientists taught us that heavier objects fall faster than light objects, that everything orbits around the earth, and that the earth is flat.
We would be wise to keep in mind however, that Scientists are human beings who put their pants on one leg at a time, just like you and I. They have passions, prejudices and persuasions just like anybody else. And when the funding of one’s work is coming from the federal government, state or university, and your livelihood, shelter and food is directly attached to promoting an idea or agenda that you come to discover is incorrect, it is tough to abandon views and jettison your life’s work.
This is no more visible than in a discussion regarding the amazing work of Danish Astronomer and Mathematician, Olaf Roemer.
The masterminds in the world of Science during the 17th Century were Rene Descartes and Johannes Kepler for their broad and sweeping discoveries. However, Descartes and Kepler were also of the view that light was instantaneous and considered infinite. Since this was the view of the masters, no one dared question it.
That is until 1677 when Olaf Roemer came along and developed a technique for measuring the speed of light.
Roemer’s experimental technique involved the taking of measurements of the eclipses of Jupiter and Io, one of it’s moons in order to make some determinations regarding the speed of light. These snapshots and calculations were administered at different times of the year in order to use the 8,000 mile distance across the earth as two points of a very large triangle. What Roemer discovered was that light was not infinite and that it was measurable at a rate of approximately 307,600 +/- 5400 km/sec or about 300,000 meters per second.
Of course, since this conflicted with Descartes and Kepler, it was laughed off and not taken seriously.
It wasn’t until 1729, that British Astronomer James Bradley came along and confirmed the work of Roemer, thus giving him and his discoveries the credibility and due recognition that they deserve.