I found myself following a random link to a YouTube video (by the way, “the LHC” [mentioned in the video] is the Large Hadron Collider, if you were wondering). There was a lot of time in the video given to words by a woman named Dorota Grabowska. Dr. Grabowska is a senior fellow at CERN.
I still haven’t watched the whole video, but there was a quote that gave me such strong feels, that I decided I needed to write this while I was still feeling them. Dr. Grabowska said something that fiercely led me to remember a post I made on Sliding Constant over twelve years ago.
Dr. Grabowska was asked these questions:
“…Does that mean that we know that there are these types of dark matter?…” [critical aside: Dr. Grabowska nodded at this point, before the next words] “…or they’re still all theoretical?”asked to Dr. Grabowska
“They’re still all theoretical.”Dr. Grabowska
I think this concerns the core of what “theoretical” means to most people versus what it means to a scientist speaking in a formal context. I really think that most of us see “theoretical” as meaning something much closer to “hypothetical”.
I understand the thought process here. “Knowledge” implies experimental result. However, for Dr. Grabowska, the word “theoretical” caries a lot more weight than for most of the viewers. Theories are certainly not the end of things, but they’re far from the beginning.