måndag 4 april 2011

Dr Faustus of Modern Physics

Front page of a play by Christopher Marlowe, stabbed to death in 1593 at the age of 29.

I have now completed (more or less) the new book
The theme is the birth of modern physics in the late 19th and 20th century in the work of
  • Boltzmann: statistical mechanics
  • Planck: blackbody radiation
  • Einstein: relativity
  • Bohr: quantum mechanics
with the conception being forced by the following problems which seemed unsolvable within classical deterministic continuum physics:
  • 2nd law of thermodynamics and irreverisbility
  • ultraviolet catastrophy of radiation
  • Michelson-Morley experiment indicating constancy of speed of light independent of observer motion
  • interpretation of the wave function of the Schr\"odinger equation.
These problems had to be solved to save the science of physics from collapse, but solutions could only be obtained by abandoning the most holy of principles of classical science:
  • reality of space and time
  • determinism
  • cause-effect.
This confronted the scientists taking on the challenge with a Faustian dilemma: To succeed it was was necessary to sell their classical scientific souls and make a deal with the Devil. The book describes this drama in the form of a trial with the reader as jury. Confessions, witnessing and background materials is presented to allow the reader to make a verdict.

The effect of the deal with the Devil is a despair today of ``end of physics" or more generally as a crisis in science, in particular climate science, and science education.

At the end a door is opened to resolutions without nya deal with the Devil.

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