Scientific Sense Podcast

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hundred year yawn

Recent research from the University of Arizona, that illustrates that the parameters that still “fit” the “dark energy” explanation for the observed expansion of the universe is running out of space. The study shows that the remaining relevant patch for the dark energy enthusiasts is a 2inch square area in a football field size of available ranges. The original explanation, proposed a hundred years ago, still seems to be more relevant than the “theories” that have been doled out since then.

Theoretical physics – a hundred year yawn – has accomplished little since the remarkable insights of Einstein, Plank and Heisenberg. More importantly, it has opened so many dead ends that it drained the intelligence and creativity of two generations of physicists, with nothing to show. Granted, in the last few decades engineers have made telescopes, atom smashers, space vehicles and other remarkable things to see, listen and measure that would have made Einstein blush. But what they delivered are noise in an expanding ocean of particles, confusion and empiricism.

There are three primary axes of exploration that has held the field back. First, educational institutions, around the world, appear to have set lower priority to theory compared to experimentation. They have led budding physicists into the rabbit tunnels of immense size and scope that they get lost in them for their entire careers. Second, space exploration has become an activity of pride and prejudice, with entire nations competing to send people and machines to nearby planets, asteroids and moons. Now, seeking extra-terrestrial life by looking for “earth-like planets,” or finding water, are considered to be research of the highest order. Finally, scientists seem to have lost the pure joy of seeking the truth – instead they appear happier if they can publish more papers or grab a Nobel prize.

Let’s hope the hundred year yawn in theoretical physics will end soon – but it will take the emergence of beautiful brains again.

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