Yea you're mostly right. You can cause movement of a closed pipe, or change the speed of a spinning space station by moving things around inside. This is exactly what physicists already know.

BUT! It isn't sustainable, so you can't actaully travel and useful distance. In the spinning space station example, Those people who climbed to the center are now in the center! If they ever go back to the edge the thing will slow down again.

For linear motion, after you've transferred some momentum internally and made the outer pipe move, the mass you moved has to stop, and when it does, it cancels out any momentum it gave the pipe to begin with. So the pipe moves a short distance then stops. You can only repeat the process as long as you have mass at one end of the pipe. If you try to recirculate it in any way, you'll only move the pipe back to where it started from.

This is all clearly obvious by considering that the _total_ momentum of the closed system remains constant. You're just transferring it between the pipe and the internal moving parts.

Science education can't "poision" people because it allows them to think more rigorously, so they have the skills to challenge anything authorities try to tell them. In fact trusting an authority is considered to be non-scientific.

Science isn't just a random collection of facts, it's mostly a tightly interwoven system of many compatible ideas. If one 'fact' was inconsistent with the others, then it'd be easily detected. That's not something that people can fake, especially not when the whole world has access to experiments they can do themselves to discover the truth.

Although I do see your point that when you're immersed in one common set of knowledge it's hard to come up with new, different ideas. Most good new ideas come from young people who don't have such a long lifetime of the same old thing. But equally when you have hardly any knowledge, it's easy to think of millions of ideas that are wrong.

Edited by kallog (06/07/10 05:18 AM)