7 famous disagreements in science

Updated on 19 Jan, 2018 at 3:45 pm


Science is basically based on fact and observations. There is disagreement in science because a fact or observation of one scientist is often challenged by another scientist. Different scientists can form different theories around the same unknown fact, which may lead to disagreements. Disagreements in science are actually fruitful, since a disagreement encourages discussions and further testing of a theory until it is proven, leaving absolutely no room for disagreement. There have been numerous disagreements in science over time. We have listed below the 10 most famous disagreements in science ever.

7. Phlogiston:

Joachim Becher in the mid-17th century believed that fire-like element called phlogiston existed in combustible objects and was released from them during combustion. Experiments carried out in the mid-18th Century concluded that the theory was false. It was mainly concluded from the fact that when metals were burned, they gained weight instead of losing it, which should have been an ideal case with phlogiston.

Phlogiston - famous disagreements in science

6. Stress theory of ulcers:

In the 20th century, doctors believed peptic ulcers to be an outcome of stressful lifestyle. The general theory of accepting stress as the perpetrator of peptic ulcers became so common that doctors began advising patients to take antacids; people in turn began to alter their lifestyles to make it less stressing. In the 1980s Barry Marshal – An Australian clinical researcher discovered bacterium H. pylori, which he said actually caused peptic ulcers. Marshal won a Noble Prize for his scientific discovery in 2005.

Stress theory of ulcers - famous disagreements in science

5. The existence of a planet beyond Mercury – Vulcan:

Mathematician Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier claimed that there existed a planet between Mercury and Sun. He proposed the existence because this guy was unable to explain the peculiarity of Mercury’s orbit. Le Verrier argued that the peculiarity of Mercury’s orbit was caused by existence of some object. It should be a planet, he thought. The scientific theory was acclaimed by many amateur and seasoned scientists of the time. Everyone has got some followers, right? When Le Verrier died in 1877, he was hailed as a scientist who had discovered a new planet. All was well until the year 1915 when Einstein debunked the claim of a planet once and for all by explaining the strangeness of Mercury’s orbit with his theory of relativity.

The existence of a planet beyond Mercury – Vulcan - famous disagreements in science

4. Canals on Mars:

Scientist Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli believed that there existed canals and network of gullies on Mars. The concept of Martian canals had become a phenomenon so widely accepted that scientist of the likes of Percival Lowell came up with theories that these canals were part of an irrigation system built by some intelligent species. Very imaginative! All these theories were disagreed to when the first unmanned spacecraft to Mars took pictures of the red planet’s surface. Pictures revealed that canal-shaped structures on the surface were optical illusions of steaks of dust blown on the surface by heavy winds.

Canals on Mars - famous disagreements in science

3. The every growing earth:


Majority of scientists, till the late 20th century believed in a theory that the earth was increasing in volume all the time. Weird, no? Put forward as expanding Earth hypothesis, the theory propagated that our planet was gradually growing larger – creating more distance between continents and increasing the earth’s crust leading to creation of new mountains. The theory hasn’t been disagreed to the fullest but has been replaced with a more sophisticated hypothesis of plate tectonics.

The every growing earth - famous disagreements in science

2. Geocentric universe: heavenly bodies orbit the earth:

Ever since 600 B.C, most Greek Philosophers believed that the earth was the center of the universe. They proposed that the Sun, Moon and all the other celestial bodies orbited the earth, but the theory was found false after De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was published by a very intelligent guy Nicholas Copernicus in 1543.

Geocentric universe - famous disagreements in science

1. Theory of static universe:

It was long believed and even eminent scientists like Albert Einstein professed that the universe was static. The universe is neither expanding nor contracting, they said. Everyone was in the favor of the theory until Hubble found that the objects in the universe were moving quickly away from us. Recently in 1999, scientists made a revelation by finding that not only was the universe expanding, but the expansion-rate was just increasing with each passing moment.

Theory of static universe - famous disagreements in science