Arcadian Functor

occasional meanderings in physics' brave new world

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Marni D. Sheppeard

Thursday, January 03, 2008

At The Edge

This is just too funny: lest you thought the Lisi debacle was over, Garrett has contributed to The Edge New Year's essays for 2008 as an Independent Theoretical Physicist. Ooooh. His answer is one of the wittiest, by the way. CV has a summary of some essays, including a mind-bogglingly condescending one from Sean himself.

Sabbagh, the author of a book on the Riemann Hypothesis, tells us that he used to believe experts, but now he figures his guess is as good as theirs. Interesting essays on the scientific front include one by Ledoux, who explains that memory is not stored in the brain, one by Deheane on a theory of the brain being developed by Friston et al, and another by Steinhardt on taking quantum cosmology seriously. The token women include Janna Levin, who questions the assumption that the universe is infinite. Meanwhile, the journalist De Pretis discovers social processes in science.


Blogger L. Riofrio said...

Some of the biggest news is that Steinhardt no longer believes inflation. Janna Levin discussing a finite Space makes more sense than any of the others. As for the mind-bogglingly condescending one, is there a shrink in the house?

January 03, 2008 5:07 PM  
Blogger CarlBrannen said...

I liked Lisi's comment as well. It expresses exctly the difficulty in rewriting the foundations of physics; one wants to add knowledge to what is already known and this is incompatible with changes that are large.

The usual solution to the dilemma is to have someone who has not yet learned physics rewrite a piece of it. Then they don't have to change their mind because it is young. But this has become harder and harder over the years because physics has become deeper and broader. By the time you understand enough to rewrite a piece of the foundation, you are a part of the foundation and cannot rewrite it.

In a certain way, I think it is a good thing that I've been away from academia for 25 years. I was left with a memory of the laws of physics that was more beautiful than the truth. And when I relearned enough to realize that this wasn't true, the memory was strong enough to make me continue to fight, but weak enough to not allow me to think too much about the difficulty.

January 03, 2008 7:38 PM  
Blogger Kea said...

Yes, Carl, it's just like that for me too. LOL, Louise.

January 04, 2008 7:44 AM  

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