The Pace of Progress in Theoretical Physics … ncna879346

Speaking about theoretical particle physics more than the more applied specialties of physics…

A hundred years ago, physics was the most rapidly evolving science. Relativity and quantum physics were newly arrived on the scene and things were changing very quickly. Today, the most ontologically fundamental areas of theoretical physics seem to have slipped into a rut.

Most of the scientific excitement right now seems to be coming from molecular genetics. That seems to be the only science that’s really progressed noticeably since the year 2000. (When the human genome project ended up generating more questions than answers.)

That might tell us something about the academic world. Science advanced at some rate in the 19th century, with a smaller number of universities and scientists. So the idea took hold that if the number of scientists and universities was dramatically increased, then science would advance much faster. So after World War II countless new universities were established, all fully staffed with professors. And academic journals have multiplied just as fast, all filled with papers.

But… the pace of progress seems to be just about the same as it ever was, maybe a little higher in some fields, but slower in others. This increase in numbers leading to no real increase in productivity is observable throughout the academic world, especially in the humanities (which seem to be shriveling up and dying at the moment, despite there never having been more humanities professors than today).

The signal-to-noise ratio in most fields has fallen noticeably, and in a few it’s fallen off a cliff.

there are a couple of reasons for this state of affairs…

first of all it lies in the very nature of education itself…

we don’t educate to teach wisdom or to pursue knowledge,
education in the modern world is training to be a ‘‘useful’’
productive citizen…modern education is training one to get and
hold a job/career…it has nothing to do with seeking the truth…
or think outside of certain beliefs and values…to seek money over
all other values is our modern education…to pursue worthless trinkets
like wealth, fame, titles, power is the point of modern education…
any other pursuit is forbidden…

the next value is that modern education is training people
to be obedient…the greatest modern crime is insubordination to
the state/society/the culture…that is the focus of education…to
train people to be obedient to the state…there is no attempt
to train people to think or act independent of the state/society…

thus our education is to set people on to certain thoughts…
thus education is brainwashing people into certain set beliefs…
capitalism is the best possible economic system
the current political system is the best political system ever…
that we have ‘‘American exceptionalism’’’ to thank for the greatness of

notice there is no attempt to allow people go outside of or beyond
these set beliefs…from this brainwashing into a set belief
system that doesn’t allow dissent, this also prevents people from
actually engaging in honest scientific thought…thought which could
set people free from their ‘‘education’’…an Einstein or a Newton
is a dangerous matter for the society/state…the state/society
actively works against having another person like Einstein or Newton…
for that person automatically becomes a danger to the state/society
because they could bring about change that nullifies the pursuit of money
as the one and only goal of the society/state…

seeking any thing outside of wealth or money is discouraged, strongly
discouraged…for that pursuit is what the society/state demands and
encourages…hence any attempt to create new knowledge about
the nature of the universe is strongly discouraged…and blocked
by the use of government/military grants… those who obey the
government and pursues wealth/money is given grants and allowed to
continue on with their research… anything that might produce wealth/profits
is allowed, anything that doesn’t is denied and discouraged…

hence the recent failure of science…


I agree with Peter.

I’ll add that even if an idea is correct, nobody has the intestinal fortitude to stand up and support the idea, for fear of being labeled a Crank!

What a sad state of affairs. BS trumps truth. Play the BS card and you too can be a hero. Play the truth card and you are a Crank!

Have you considered the possibility that a lot of the low hanging fruit has been claimed?

We discover the easiest stuff first. Galileo discovered the rate at which things fall down. After that, the category of “discoverable facts about the universe” was reduced by one. And every discovery after it had the same effect.

To make a new discovery in physics in the 70s generally required a deep knowledge of all the physics research before that point, and a new discovery now generally requires you to know all that plus the stuff from the last 50 years.

It’s natural that tangible, useful discoveries will slow I think. I don’t think we’re near the point of knowing everything about physics that it’s possible for us to discover, but there may come a time when we hit a brick wall in physics where there’s nothing humanly possible to learn more.

That’s a possibility. But low hanging fruit can be poisonuous and those who eat it may end up blocking the progress of those who chose to eat a healthy one so as long they made the decision first and the poison doesn’t kill immediately. And some poisons don’t kill immediately.

I’m thinking that all of physics has already been figured out. James went through just about every concern and even he said that all of that could have been known for a very long time - so now I’m thinking that all of these “new theoretical physics” fantasies are just public entertainment in the effort to make science interesting during the decline - bubbles of belief and hopeful aspirations.

One of the big problems is that physics has become extremely mathematical. In Einstein or Schrodinger’s day it was acceptable to provide the preliminary form of a theory with the dimensions trimmed to those essential to understand it. The emphasis was on visualisation and understanding.

It is often said that no physicist truly understands Quantum Physics but it is also shocking that the majority do not understand the physics of simultaneity. See Yet they can solve the maths…