One point about it is that the probe had a lot of noise, so much noise that it swamped the signal. It was only by developing computer models of the source of the noise, and then subtracting it from the signal that the result was found.
But I find such "adjustments" distasteful. I mean everyone expects a certain answer, and voilà you get that answer. Is there a bug in your code? Or course not - you got the expected answer didn't you?
(See the section called "NASA review" in the wikipedia article.)
Anyway, now that they learned so much about such probes they should launch another one and get much cleaner data.
Well, you have to deal with it somehow. If you know the source of the noise, there's no excuse for not modelling it.
Look at the history of Milliken's oil-drop experiment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_drop_experiment#Millikan.27...
He got the wrong answer, but subsequent researchers who got different results kind of smoothed their own results to match the "correct" (actually wrong) expected result.
I'm not saying that happened here, but it's always a possibility.
Essentially, how do you know when you've modelled the noise accurately enough? When you get the expected right answer? Why not continue to refine the noise model, or consider other ones?
Given Dr. Everitt's commitment to this experiment, I'd wager he was humble enough according to that definition ... though that assumption of mine would simply be a "halo effect" instance?
There's something so profound about that.
To think of how many jobs I've held in my comparatively short life, how many minor career changes I've had here and there, how many massive shifts in interest and passion I've had over the years, and to hold these up beside someone who has been wholly dedicated to the same singular goal since before I was even born--that's just mind-boggling.
And it was selfless! This one singular goal to which he's dedicated himself, every one of the fifty years of work that went into it, ultimately ended up becoming--at least when boiled down to a headline--a footnote to someone else's greatness.
Five decades. I can't even begin to fathom what sort of drive and passion and commitment that must require.
Don't forget that we do science because we don't know the answer, not because we do. The best-case scenario would have been that after forty years you prove that relativity is wrong.
Falsifiable scientific experiment -- the gold standard for physics -- cannot prove that something is right. It can only fail to demonstrate that something is wrong.
(side note: RRC is one of the best commenters to ever happen to /r/science, or more generally Reddit)
so it's a beautiful but largely pointless exercise that nasa is spinning in a "romantic" way because, well, astronomy and space science depend hugely on public goodwill for government funding.
It took me a second look to realized, but in today's dollars, quite the bargain!
In day to day conversation, people use it interchangeably with the word opinion (or as you mentioned hypothesis).
"My theory is the government should such and such." This is bogus! So later, when someone hears about the "theory" of evolution, it strikes them as something with which they can disagree.
A common distinction made in science is between theories and hypotheses, with the former being considered as satisfactorily tested or proven and the latter used to denote conjectures or proposed descriptions or models which have not yet been tested or proven to the same standard.