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In
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...

science
, a
theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, G ...

theory
is superseded when a
scientific consensus Scientific consensus is the collective judgment, position, and opinion of the community of scientist A scientist is a person who conducts scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring ...
once widely accepted it, but current science considers it inadequate, incomplete, or debunked (i.e., wrong). Such labels do not cover protoscientific or
fringe science Fringe science refers to ideas whose attributes include being highly speculative or relying on premises already refuted. Fringe science theories are often advanced by persons who have no traditional academic science background, or by researchers o ...
theories that have never had
broad support
broad support
within the
scientific community The scientific community is a diverse network of interacting scientist A scientist is a person who conducts scientific research The scientific method is an Empirical evidence, empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterize ...
. Furthermore, superseded or obsolete theories exclude theories that were never widely accepted by the scientific community. Some theories that were only supported under specific political authorities, such as
Lysenkoism Lysenkoism ( rus , Лысе́нковщина , Lysenkovshchina) was a political campaign led by Trofim Lysenko against genetics Genetics is a branch of biology concerned with the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms ...
, may also be described as obsolete or superseded. Some theories have been discovered to be incomplete or not hold precisely, but remain in use as practical approximations. For example, all of Newtonian physics is satisfactory for most purposes, and so is widely used except at velocities that are a significant fraction of the
speed of light The speed of light in vacuum A vacuum is a space Space is the boundless three-dimensional Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional space) is a geometric setting in which three values (called paramet ...
. It is also simpler than
relativistic mechanics In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. ...
and so is usually taught in schools. In some cases, a theory or idea is found baseless and is simply discarded. For example, the
phlogiston theory The phlogiston theory is a superseded scientific theory that postulated the existence of a fire-like element called phlogiston () contained within combustible bodies and released during combustion Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperatur ...
was entirely replaced by the quite different concept of energy and related laws. Occasionally, a discarded theory is later revived, typically in heavily modified or limited form. For example, while
Lamarckism Lamarckism, also known as Lamarckian inheritance or neo-Lamarckism, is the notion that an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies ...

Lamarckism
was discarded in favor of
Mendelian inheritance Mendelian inheritance is a type of biological Biology is the natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific me ...

Mendelian inheritance
, there have been proposals for a revival in
epigenetics In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechani ...
. Similarly, while
miasma theory upright=1.1, An 1831 color lithograph by Robert Seymour (illustrator), Robert Seymour depicts cholera as a robed, skeletal creature emanating a deadly black cloud. The miasma theory (also called the miasmatic theory) is an Superseded scientific ...
(bad air) was replaced by the
germ theory of disease The germ theory of disease is the currently accepted scientific theory A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world and universe that has been repeatedly tested and verified in accordance with the scientific method ...
, some of the practices associated with miasma theory, notably ventilation, are applicable to the
airborne transmission An airborne transmission is through small that can be transmitted through the air over time and distance. Diseases capable of airborne transmission include many of considerable importance both in and . The relevant s may be es, , or , and t ...
of germs, and have been revived during the
COVID-19 pandemic The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing global pandemic A pandemic (from , , "all" and , , "local people" the 'crowd') is an of an that has spread across a large region, for instance multiple or worldwide, affecting a substantial numbe ...

COVID-19 pandemic
.


Superseded theories

Scientific theories are
testable Testability, a property applying to an empirical hypothesis, involves two components: #Falsifiability or defeasibility, which means that counterexamples to the hypothesis are logically possible. #The practical feasibility of observing a reproducibi ...
and make
falsifiable In the philosophy of science, a theory is falsifiable if it is contradicted by ''possible observations''—i.e., by any observations that can be described in the language of the theory, which must have a conventional empirical interpretation. ...
predictions frame, '' The Old Farmer's Almanac'' is famous in the US for its (not necessarily accurate) long-range weather predictions. A prediction (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the ...
. Thus, it is a mark of good science if a discipline has a growing list of superseded theories, and conversely, a lack of superseded theories can indicate problems in following the use of the
scientific method The scientific method is an empirical Empirical evidence for a proposition is evidence, i.e. what supports or counters this proposition, that is constituted by or accessible to sense experience or experimental procedure. Empirical evidence ...

scientific method
.


Biology

*
Spontaneous generation Spontaneous generation is a body of thought on the ordinary formation of living organisms without descent from similar organisms. The theory of spontaneous generation held that living creatures could arise from nonliving matter and that such process ...
– a principle regarding the spontaneous generation of complex life from inanimate matter, which held that this process was a commonplace and everyday occurrence, as distinguished from univocal generation, or reproduction from parent(s). Falsified by an experiment by Louis Pasteur: where apparently spontaneous generation of microorganisms occurred, it did not happen on repeating the process without access to unfiltered air; on then opening the apparatus to the atmosphere, bacterial growth started. *
Transmutation of species Transmutation of species and transformism are 18th and 19th-century evolutionary ideas about the change of one species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism ...
,
Lamarckism Lamarckism, also known as Lamarckian inheritance or neo-Lamarckism, is the notion that an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies ...

Lamarckism
,
inheritance of acquired characteristics Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property, Title (property), titles, debts, entitlements, Privilege (law), privileges, rights, and Law of obligations, obligations upon the death of an individual. The rules of inheritance differ ...
,
Lysenkoism Lysenkoism ( rus , Лысе́нковщина , Lysenkovshchina) was a political campaign led by Trofim Lysenko against genetics Genetics is a branch of biology concerned with the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms ...
– first theories of evolution. Not supported by experiment, and rendered obsolete by
Darwinian evolution Darwinism is a theory A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with such processes as obser ...
and
Mendelian genetics Mendelian inheritance is a type of biological inheritance Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property, titles A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either ...
, combined in the
modern synthesis Modern synthesis or modern evolutionary synthesis refers to several perspectives on evolutionary biology, namely: * Modern synthesis (20th century), the term coined by Julian Huxley in 1942 to denote the synthesis between Mendelian genetics and s ...
, though some elements of Lamarckian evolution are coming back in the area of
epigenetics In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechani ...
(on a very limited scale). *
Vitalism Vitalism is the belief that "living organisms are fundamentally different from non-living entities because they contain some non-physical element or are governed by different principles than are inanimate things". Where vitalism explicitly invoke ...
– the theory that living things are alive because of some "vital force" independent of matter, as opposed to because of some appropriate assembly of matter. It was gradually discredited by the rise of
organic chemistry Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and th ...
,
biochemistry Biochemistry or biological chemistry, is the study of chemical process In a scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and pr ...

biochemistry
, and
molecular biology Molecular biology is the branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, P ...
, fields that failed to discover any "vital force".
Friedrich Wöhler Friedrich Wöhler () FRS(For) HFRSE Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) is an award granted to individuals that the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland's national academy of science and Literature, letters, judged to be "em ...

Friedrich Wöhler
's synthesis of urea from
ammonium cyanate Ammonium cyanate is an inorganic compound In chemistry, an inorganic compound is typically a chemical compound that lacks carbon–hydrogen bonds, that is, a compound that is not an organic compound. However, the distinction is not clearly defined ...
was only one step in a long road, not a great refutation. *
Maternal impression The conception of a maternal impression rests on the belief that a powerful mental (or sometimes physical) influence working on the mother's mind may produce an impression, either general or definite, on the child she is carrying. The child might b ...
– the theory that the mother's thoughts created
birth defects A birth defect, also known as a congenital disorder, is a condition present at birth Birth is the act or process of bearing or bringing forth offspring, also referred to in technical contexts as parturition. In mammals, the process is initiat ...
. No experimental support (a notion rather than a theory), and rendered obsolete by
genetic theory
genetic theory
(see also
fetal origins of adult diseaseThe thrifty phenotype hypothesis says that reduced fetal growth is strongly associated with a number of chronic conditions later in life, including coronary heart disease Coronary artery disease (CAD), also called coronary heart disease (CHD), Is ...
,
genomic imprinting #REDIRECT Genomic imprinting#REDIRECT Genomic imprinting Genomic imprinting is an epigenetic phenomenon that causes gene In biology, a gene (from ''genos'' "...Wilhelm Johannsen coined the word gene to describe the Mendelian_inheritance#His ...

genomic imprinting
) *
Preformationism In the history of biology The history of biology traces the study of the living world from ancient Ancient history is the aggregate of past eventsgamete A gamete ( /ˈɡæmiːt/; from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply ...
s contain a miniature but complete preformed individual, in the case of humans, a
homunculus A homunculus ( , , ; "little person") is a representation of a small human being. Popularized in sixteenth-century alchemy File:Aurora consurgens zurich 044 f-21v-44 dragon-pot.jpg, Depiction of Ouroboros from the alchemical treatise ''Aurora ...
. No support when
microscopy Microscopy is the technical field of using microscopes to view objects and areas of objects that cannot be seen with the naked eye (objects that are not within the resolution range of the normal eye). There are three well-known branches of micr ...

microscopy
became available. Rendered obsolete by
cytology Cell biology (also cellular biology or cytology) is a branch of biology studying the structure and function of the cell, also known as the basic unit of life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have bi ...
, discovery of
DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically Electricity is the set of physical ...

DNA
, and
atomic theory Atomic theory is the scientific theory A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the that has been and verified in accordance with the , using accepted of , measurement, and evaluation of results. Where possible, theories are ...
. *
Recapitulation theory The theory of recapitulation, also called the biogenetic law or embryological parallelism—often expressed using Ernst Haeckel Ernst Heinrich Philipp August Haeckel (; 16 February 1834 – 9 August 1919) was a German zoologist Zoology ()T ...
– the theory that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny". See Baer's laws of embryology. *
Telegony The ''Telegony'' (Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 mil ...
– the theory that an offspring can inherit characteristics from a previous mate of its mother's as well as its actual parents, often associated with
racism Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority Superior may refer to: *Superior (hierarchy), something which is higher in a hie ...

racism
. * Out of Asia theory of human origin – The majority view is of a
recent African origin of modern humans In paleoanthropology Paleoanthropology or paleo-anthropology is a branch of paleontology and biological anthropology, anthropology which seeks to understand the early development of anatomically modern humans, a process known as wikt:hominiza ...
, although a
multiregional origin of modern humans The multiregional hypothesis, multiregional evolution (MRE), or polycentric hypothesis is a scientific model that provides an alternative explanation to the more widely accepted "Out of Africa" model of monogenesis for the pattern of human evolu ...
hypothesis has much support (which incorporates past evidence of Asian origins) *
Scientific racism Scientific racism, sometimes termed biological racism, is the pseudoscientific Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that claim to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method. Pseu ...
– the theory that humanity consists of physically discrete superior or inferior races. Rendered obsolete by
Human evolutionary genetics Human evolutionary genetics studies how one human genome differs from another human genome, the evolutionary past that gave rise to the human genome, and its current effects. Differences between genomes have anthropological, medical, historical a ...
and modern anthropology. *
Mendelian genetics Mendelian inheritance is a type of biological inheritance Inheritance is the practice of passing on private property, titles A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either ...
,
classical genetics Classical genetics is the branch of genetics Genetics is a branch of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecula ...
, Boveri–Sutton chromosome theory – first genetic theories. Not invalidated as such, but subsumed into
molecular genetics Molecular genetics is a sub-field of biology that addresses how differences in the structures or expression of DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image ...
. * Germ line theory, explained immunoglobulin diversity by proposing that each
antibody An antibody (Ab), also known as an immunoglobulin (Ig), is a large, Y-shaped protein used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects such as pathogenic bacteria and Viral disease, viruses. The antibody recognizes a unique mo ...

antibody
was encoded in a separate germline gene.


Chemistry

*
Caloric theory The caloric theory is an obsolete scientific theory In Science#History, science, a theory is superseded when a scientific consensus once widely accepted it, but current science considers it inadequate, incomplete, or debunked (i.e., wrong). Such ...
– the theory that a self-repelling fluid called "caloric" was the substance of heat. Rendered obsolete by the mechanical theory of heat. *
Classical element Classical elements typically refer to Water (classical element), water, Earth (classical element), earth, Fire (classical element), fire, Air (classical element), air, and (later) Aether (classical element), aether, which were proposed to expla ...
s – All matter was once thought composed of various combinations of classical elements (most famously air, earth, fire, and water).
Antoine Lavoisier Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier ( , ,; 26 August 17438 May 1794), When reduced without charcoal, it gave off an air which supported respiration and combustion in an enhanced way. He concluded that this was just a pure form of common air and t ...

Antoine Lavoisier
finally refuted this in his 1789 publication, ''Elements of Chemistry'', which contained the first modern list of chemical elements. *
Electrochemical dualismElectrochemical dualism is an obsolete scientific theory in chemistry relevant between around 1800 and around 1830 and pioneered by Jöns Jacob Berzelius.''Jöns Jacob Berzelius'', Richard A. Pizzi, Today's Chemist At Work, 2004, page 58 The theory h ...
- the theory that all molecules are salts composed of basic and acidic oxides *
Phlogiston theory The phlogiston theory is a superseded scientific theory that postulated the existence of a fire-like element called phlogiston () contained within combustible bodies and released during combustion Combustion, or burning, is a high-temperatur ...
– The theory that combustible goods contain a substance called "phlogiston" that entered air during combustion. Replaced by
Lavoisier Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier ( , ,; 26 August 17438 May 1794), When reduced without charcoal, it gave off an air which supported respiration and combustion in an enhanced way. He concluded that this was just a pure form of common air and th ...
's work on oxidation * Point 2 of Dalton's Atomic Theory was rendered obsolete by discovery of
isotope Isotopes are two or more types of atoms that have the same atomic number 300px, The Rutherford–Bohr model of the hydrogen atom () or a hydrogen-like ion (). In this model it is an essential feature that the photon energy (or frequency) of ...
s, and point 3 by discovery of
subatomic particle In physical sciences, subatomic particles are smaller than atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All ...
s and
nuclear reaction In nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry, a nuclear reaction is a process in which two atomic nucleus, nuclei, or a nucleus and an external subatomic particle, collide to produce one or more new nuclides. Thus, a nuclear reaction must cause a t ...
s. *
Radical theoryRadical theory is an obsolete scientific theory in chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, ...
- the theory that organic compounds exist as combinations of radicals that can be exchanged in chemical reactions just as chemical elements can be interchanged in inorganic compounds * Vitalism – See section on biology. *
Nascent state The nascent state (''Statu Nascenti'') is defined as a psychological process of destructuration-reorganization where the individual becomes capable of merging with other persons and creating a new collectivity with a very high degree of social soli ...
refers to the form of a
chemical element In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo du ...
(or sometimes compound) in the instance of their liberation or formation. Often encountered are
atomic oxygen There are several known allotropes Allotropy or allotropism () is the property of some chemical element Image:Simple Periodic Table Chart-blocks.svg, 400px, Periodic table, The periodic table of the chemical elements In chemistry, an eleme ...
(Onasc) and nascent hydrogen (Hnasc), and
chlorine Chlorine is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemica ...

chlorine
(Clnasc) or bromine (Brnasc). *
PolywaterPolywater was a hypothesized polymerized form of water that was the subject of much scientific controversy during the late 1960s. By 1969 the popular press had taken notice and sparked fears of a "polywater gap" in the US. Increased press attention ...
, a hypothesized
polymer A polymer (; Greek ''poly- Poly, from the Greek :wikt:πολύς, πολύς meaning "many" or "much", may refer to: Businesses * China Poly Group Corporation, a Chinese business group, and its subsidiaries: ** Poly Property, a Hong Kong inc ...

polymer
form of water, the properties of which actually arose from contaminants such as sweat


Physics

* Emission theory of vision – the belief that vision is caused by rays emanating from the eyes was superseded by the intro-mission approach and more complex theories of
vision Vision or The Vision may refer to: Perception Optical perception * Visual perception Visual perception is the ability to interpret the surrounding environment (biophysical), environment through photopic vision (daytime vision), color vis ...
*
Aristotelian physics Aristotelian physics is the form of natural science Natural science is a branch of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general) ...
– superseded by Newtonian physics *
Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy (; grc-koi, Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, , ; la, Claudius Ptolemaeus; AD) was a mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes ...
's law of
refraction In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular ...

refraction
, replaced by
Snell's law of light at the interface between two media of different refractive index, refractive indices, with n2 > n1. Since the velocity is lower in the second medium (v2 < v1), the angle of refraction θ2 is less than the angle of in ...

Snell's law
*
Luminiferous aether Luminiferous aether or ether ("luminiferous", meaning "light-bearing") was the postulated medium Medium may refer to: Science and technology Aviation *Medium bomber, a class of war plane *Tecma Medium, a French hang glider design Communic ...
– failed to be detected by the sufficiently sensitive
Michelson–Morley experiment The Michelson–Morley experiment was an attempt to detect the existence of the luminiferous aether Luminiferous aether or ether ("luminiferous", meaning "light-bearing") was the postulated medium Medium may refer to: Science and technolo ...
, made obsolete by
Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. Einstein is known for developing the theory of relativity The theo ...

Einstein
's work. *
Caloric theory The caloric theory is an obsolete scientific theory In Science#History, science, a theory is superseded when a scientific consensus once widely accepted it, but current science considers it inadequate, incomplete, or debunked (i.e., wrong). Such ...
Lavoisier Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier ( , ,; 26 August 17438 May 1794), When reduced without charcoal, it gave off an air which supported respiration and combustion in an enhanced way. He concluded that this was just a pure form of common air and th ...

Lavoisier
's successor to phlogiston, discredited by
Rumford
Rumford
's and
Joule The joule ( ; symbol: J) is a derived unit of energy In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates ...

Joule
's work * Contact tension – a theory on the source of electricity *
Vis viva ''Vis viva'' (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...
Gottfried Leibniz Gottfried Wilhelm (von) Leibniz ; see inscription of the engraving depicted in the " 1666–1676" section. ( – 14 November 1716) was a German polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo universalis, " ...
's elementary and limited early formulation of the principle of conservation of energy * "Purely
electrostatic Electrostatics is a branch of physics that studies electric charges at Rest (physics), rest (static electricity). Since classical antiquity, classical times, it has been known that some materials, such as amber, attract lightweight particles af ...

electrostatic
" theories of the
generation of voltage differences
generation of voltage differences
. * Emitter theory – another now-obsolete theory of light propagation *
Balance of nature The balance of nature (also known as ecological balance) is a theory that proposes that ecological systems are usually in a stable equilibrium or homeostasis, which is to say that a small change (the size of a particular population, for example) wil ...
– superseded by
catastrophe theory In mathematics, catastrophe theory is a branch of bifurcation theory in the study of dynamical systems; it is also a particular special case of more general singularity theory in geometry. Bifurcation theory studies and classifies phenomena char ...
and
chaos theory Chaos theory is an interdisciplinary Interdisciplinarity or interdisciplinary studies involves the combination of two or more academic disciplines into one activity (e.g., a research project). It draws knowledge from several other fields ...
* Progression of
atomic theory Atomic theory is the scientific theory A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the that has been and verified in accordance with the , using accepted of , measurement, and evaluation of results. Where possible, theories are ...
**
Democritus Democritus (; el, Δημόκριτος, ''Dēmókritos'', meaning "chosen of the people"; – ) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , o ...

Democritus
, the originator of atomic theory, held that everything is composed of atoms that are indestructible. His claim that atoms are indestructible is not the reason it is superseded—as it was later scientists who identified the concept of atoms with particles, which later science showed are destructible. Democritus' theory is superseded because of his position that several kinds of atoms explain pure materials like water or iron, and characteristics that science now identifies with molecules rather than with indestructible primary particles. Democritus also held that between atoms, an empty space of a different nature than atoms allowed atoms to move. This view on space and matter persisted until Einstein described spacetime as being relative and connected to matter. **John Dalton's model of the atom, which held that atoms are indivisible and indestructible (superseded by nuclear physics) and that all atoms of a given element are identical in mass (superseded by discovery of atomic isotopes). **Plum pudding model of the atom—assuming the protons and electrons were mixed together in a single mass **Rutherford model of the atom with an impenetrable nucleus orbited by electrons **Bohr model with quantized orbits **Electron cloud model following the development of quantum mechanics in 1925 and the eventual atomic orbital models derived from the quantum mechanical solution to the hydrogen atom * All of classical physics, including Newtonian physics, superseded by relativistic physics and quantum physics. However, classical physics is a limiting case of the latter two theories, and it is often a very good approximation.


Astronomy and cosmology

* Ptolemaic system – replaced by Nicolaus Copernicus' heliocentric model. * Geocentric universe – made obsolete by Copernicus * Heliocentric universe – made obsolete by discovery of the structure of the Milky Way and the redshift of most galaxies. Heliocentrism only applies to the selected Solar System, and only approximately, since the Sun's center is not at the Solar System's center of mass. * Copernican heliocentrism, Copernican system – made obsolete by Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton * Newtonian gravity – superseded by general relativity, to which it is a good approximation unless typical speeds approach that of light in a vacuum (c). The anomalous perihelion precession of Mercury was the first observational evidence that Newtonian gravity was not totally accurate. *
Luminiferous aether Luminiferous aether or ether ("luminiferous", meaning "light-bearing") was the postulated medium Medium may refer to: Science and technology Aviation *Medium bomber, a class of war plane *Tecma Medium, a French hang glider design Communic ...
theory * Steady state theory, a model developed by Hermann Bondi, Thomas Gold, and Fred Hoyle whereby the metric expansion of space, expanding universe was in a steady state, and had no beginning. It was a competitor of the Big Bang model until evidence supporting the Big Bang and falsifying the steady state was found.


Geography and climate

* Buenaventura River (legend), Buenaventura River *Flat Earth theory. On length scales much smaller than the radius of the Earth, a flat map projection gives a quite accurate and practically useful approximation to true distances and sizes, but departures from flatness become increasingly significant over larger distances. * Terra Australis * Hollow Earth theory * The Open Polar Sea, an ice-free sea once supposed to surround the North Pole * Rain follows the plow – the theory that human settlement increases rainfall in arid regions (only true to the extent that crop fields evapotranspirate more than barren wilderness) * Island of California – the theory that California was not part of mainland North America but rather a large island * Inland sea (geology), Inland sea of Australia * Pre-Modern Environmental determinism (as explanations for moral behavior, as opposed to modern theories such as Factor endowment, factor endowments, state formation, and theories of the social effects of global warming) :*Climatic determinism :*Topographic determinism :*Moral geography :*Cultural Acclimatization *Global cooling *Drainage divide, Drainage divides as always being made up by hills and mountains.


Geology

* Abiogenic petroleum origin * Catastrophism was largely replaced by uniformitarianism (science), uniformitarianism and neocatastrophism * Cryptoexplosion craters, now discarded in favour of impact craters and ordinary volcanism. * Flood geology replaced by modern geology and stratigraphy * Neptunism replaced by plutonism and volcanism * Granite#Granitization, Granitization, a discredited alternative to a magmatic origin of granites * Monoglaciation * Oscillation theory of land-level rise and subsidence during deglaciation * The following were superseded by plate tectonics: ** Elevation crater, Elevation crater theory ** Expanding Earth theory (superseded by Plate tectonics#Subduction discovered, subduction) ** Contracting Earth ** Geosyncline, Geosyncline theory ** Erich Haarmann, Haarman's Oscillation theory ** Various lost continent, lost landmasses including Lemuria (continent), Lemuria


Psychology

* Pure behaviorist explanations for language acquisition in infancy, falsified by the study of cognitive adaptations for language. * Psychomotor patterning, a pseudoscience, pseudoscientific approach to the treatment of intellectual disabilities, brain injury, learning disability, learning disabilities, and other cognition, cognitive diseases.


Medicine

* Theory of the Humorism, four bodily humours (see also Four temperaments) **Heroic medicine – a therapeutic method derived from the belief in bodily humour imbalances as the cause of ailments. * Miasma theory of disease – the theory that diseases are caused by "bad air". No experimental support, and rendered obsolete by the
germ theory of disease The germ theory of disease is the currently accepted scientific theory A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural world and universe that has been repeatedly tested and verified in accordance with the scientific method ...
. * Phrenology – a theory of highly localised brain function popular in 19th century medicine. * Homeopathy – a theory according to which a disease can be cured by infinitesimal doses of the substance that caused it * Eclectic medicine – Transformed into alternative medicine, and is no longer considered a scientific theory * Physiognomy, related to phrenology, held that inner character was strongly correlated with physical appearance * Tooth worm, an erroneous theory of the cause of dental caries, periodontitis, and toothaches


Obsolete branches of enquiry

* Alchemy, which led to the development of chemistry * Astrology, which led to the development of astronomy * Phrenology, a pseudoscience * Numerology, a pseudoscience


Theories now considered incomplete

These theories that are no longer considered the most complete representation of reality but remain useful in particular domains or under certain conditions. For some theories, a more complete model is known, but for practical use, the coarser approximation provides good results with much less calculation. * Newtonian mechanics was extended by the theory of relativity and by quantum mechanics. Relativistic corrections to Newtonian mechanics are immeasurably small at velocities not approaching the
speed of light The speed of light in vacuum A vacuum is a space Space is the boundless three-dimensional Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional space) is a geometric setting in which three values (called paramet ...
, and quantum corrections are usually negligible at atomic or larger scales; Newtonian mechanics is totally satisfactory in engineering and physics under most circumstances. * Classical electrodynamics is a very close approximation to quantum electrodynamics except at very small scales and low field strengths. * Bohr model of the atom was extended by the quantum mechanical model of the atom. * The formula known as Newton's sine-square law of air resistance for the force of a fluid on a body, though not actually formulated by Newton but by others using a method of calculation used by Newton, has been found incorrect and not useful except for high-speed hypersonic flow.Aerodynamics: Selected Topics in the Light of Their Historical Development,book by Theodore Von Karman, 1954, Dover Publications, p10 and following pages
Detailed discussion of Newton's sine-square law, invalidity in the general case and applicability at high supersonic speeds. * The once-popular cycle of erosion is now considered one of many possibilities for landscape evolution. * The theory of continental drift was incorporated into and improved upon by plate tectonics.


See also

* Pseudoscience * Scientific theory * Philosophy of science * Protoscience * Fringe science * Pathological science * Paradigm shift * History of evolutionary thought * Creation–evolution controversy


Lists

* List of discredited substances * List of experiments * List of topics characterized as pseudoscience


References


External links

* {{DEFAULTSORT:Superseded Scientific Theories Obsolete scientific theories, History of science