“Undiscovery” is the discovery that something “discovered” was not

Some Saturday trivia.

A “discovery” is an observation of something new, something (animal, mineral or abstract) which had not been observed before.

But what is an “undiscovery”?

Something “undiscovered” is “undetected”. It may or may not exist. If it does not exist it is something which is “undiscoverable” and always will be until it exists – if ever. But something which exists may also be “undiscoverable” with available techniques of observation but that is not to say that it will always be “undiscovered”.

With a “discovery” it is always implied that the “discovery” is subject to the limits of observation available at the time of the “discovery”. “Scientific discovery” is very rarely just observations and in these days requires much interpretation of the observations. The interpretation – in turn – is subject to the limits of knowledge and language and philosophy available (where I take mathematics to be another language and concepts of the cosmos or the micro-cosmos as philosophies). A “discovery” is not necessarily for ever. A “discovery” may be of something transient as of a state which exists for a period of time and then does not. A “discovery” could be a false claim or in error, in which case the supposed “discovery” was no discovery after all.

The “discovery” of an error is just another “discovery”.  Does that make the “supposed discovery” an “undiscovery”? When, in 2012,  it was discovered that Sandy Island in the Coral Sea and shown on many maps, did not exist and had not existed, it was described as the “undiscovery of Sandy Island”.

Which begs the question whether the discovery of something thought to exist, but which does not exist, could be an “undiscovery”?

As in the past with the undiscovery of the Sun’s motion around the Earth, or the undiscovery of phlogiston, or the undiscovery of the aether.

And as we are currently discovering, the undiscovery of man-made global warming, the undiscoveries of the catastrophic dinosaur or Neanderthal extinctions and the undiscovery of the ozone hole.

And yet to come is the possible discoveries of the  undiscoveries of the Big Bang, dark matter, dark energy and the graviton.

Tags: ,

%d bloggers like this: