Top 4 debunked scientific theories

Scientists make mistakes too...

Scientists aren’t arrogant enough to assume that every one of their discoveries is irrefutably sound. In fact, their ability to self-correct and adapt is pretty notable considering the amount of time and effort they put into nurturing and developing their intellectual bambinos. They’re great at re-evaluating and re-assessing, so on the (infinitely) long path to complete scientific enlightenment, quite a number of previously accepted theories have been disproved and discarded. Here are a couple of the most famous:

1) Fleischmann-Pons’s Nuclear Fusion

In 1989, scientists Fleischmann and Pons released results to suggest that they had achieved something called ‘cold fusion’. Cold fusion is the concept that nuclear reactions - generally believed to require extreme conditions - can, in fact, take place at room temperature. Of course, the scientific world was hugely piqued; it seemed that a bounty of cheap, nuclear-waste-free energy had been delivered on a golden platter. However, as other scientists tried - and failed - time and time again to replicate the results, the initial excitement turned to a sour suspicion. In due course, it was revealed that Fleischmann and Pons’ research had been sloppy and untrustworthy, and the theory was swiftly rejected.

2) Luminiferous Aether

Throughout much of the nineteenth century, it was generally believed that an invisible, infinite medium called ‘luminiferous aether’ existed everywhere in the universe in order to transmit light. Towards the latter part of the 1800s though, scientists began to question its existence with increasing fervour, and by the 1920s it had been completely dismissed as a plausible theory.

3) Einstein’s Static / Stationary Universe

Prior to the development of the Big Bang Theory and Hubble’s discovery of the relationship between red shift and distance (proving the expansion of the universe) in the 1900s, it was widely accepted that the universe’s size is unchanging. Later, after having factored it into his theory of general relativity, Einstein referred to it as the ‘biggest blunder’ of his career.

4) Spontaneous Generation

For thousands of years, Aristotle’s principle that life could be spontaneously born from inanimate matter was accepted by most. However, when in the nineteenth century Louis Pasteur proved that the supposed ‘spontaneous generation’ of maggots from dead meat (upon which Aristotle had based much of his theory) was actually the product of airborne microorganisms, the theory was definitively dispelled. 

Lara Schull VII