fredag 2 oktober 2015

Why Not TOE?

Lawrence Krauss summaries the present state of physics in The Trouble with Theories of Everything:
  • There is no known physics theory that is true at every scale—there may never be.
  • When quantum mechanics is combined with relativity, it turns out, rather unexpectedly in fact, that the detailed nature of the physical laws that govern matter and energy actually depend on the physical scale at which you measure them.
  • So, what is going on? Is a universal theory a legitimate goal, or will scientific truth always be scale-dependent?
The trouble Krauss is here talking about is that relativity theory and quantum mechanics are contradictory, a deep trouble which has brought modern physics into a deep crisis. Krauss asks if a universal theory as a theory somehow without contradictions, is thinkable and then crushes all hope that it could take the form of string theory: 
  • There is no example so far where an extrapolation as grand as that associated with string theory, not grounded by direct experimental or observational results, has provided a successful model of nature. In addition, the more we learn about string theory, the more complicated it appears to be, and many early expectations about its universalism may have been optimistic.
Krauss concludes with the pessimistic message that a universal theory as a theory without internal contradictions, is beyond reach for the human mind. The logic is that since both relativity and quantum theory are correct but unfortunately contradictory, no universal theory theory without contradiction is possible.

But why is it not thinkable that relativity or quantum theory is not correct physics? My bet is relativity theory is incorrect physics, supported by in particular the fact that while quantum mechanics has been awarded a countless number of Nobel Prizes, none has been awarded to relativity theory, of course because nobody in the Nobel committee could ever understand anything of Einstein's curved space-time.

Another obstacle to a universal theory is that the nature of quantum mechanics is postulated to be fundamentally different from the continuum mechanics of macroscopic phenomena and as such is beyond description in terms of concepts understandable to the human mind such as the partial differential equations making continuum mechanics understandable. But this is an ad hoc postulate blocking progress. How come that physicists can be so sure that the world of atoms is beyond human comprehension as expressed by Richard Feynman:
  • I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.
So, after all a TOE may be thinkable, if only we do not limit the thinking by relativity and quantum theory beyond reach for the human mind.

It is maybe not necessary as scientist to be paralyzed by ideas and concepts beyond human understanding as characteristics of religion.

1 kommentar:

  1. This video may interest you Einstein gets a (unfavourable) mention
    EU 2015 (Phoenix, Arizona): Stephen J. Crothers
    General Relativity – A Case Study in Numerology