Tag Archives: theoretical physics

Hawking and the End of Physics

Is physics ending? Serious people say so, not always seriously. Are they right and should we care? In 1996 American science writer John Horgan wrote a book, The End of Science. His thesis was that all the big stuff has been done already, that what he calls ‘the primordial human quest to understand the universe […]

Twin mysteries: A ghostly fundamental particle and a physicist who disappeared after saying its antiparticle may not exist

Twin mysteries arose around 1937 when Italian theoretical physicist Ettore Majorana suggested neutrinos are their own antiparticles. Soon afterward he took the night ferry from Palermo to Napoli and vanished, leaving us to ask: What happened to him; and was he right? The Standard Model has a place for every known elementary particle. It says […]

WIMPed Out?

The mystery of the missing WIMPs is heading for a crisis. It’s looking like the reason we can’t find them is they don’t exist. Most people never heard of them. What is a WIMP? It is Dark Matter by another name. It stands for Weakly Interacting Massive Particle. They must be weakly interacting because no-one’s […]

Fields of Dreams

Here is a mystery that needs help from armchair philosophers. Nowadays physics describes the world in terms of “fields”. What, then, is a field? It is weasel math that physicists invented to allow them to ignore the paradox of action at a distance. In the annals of thought the concept of action at a distance […]

Saving Time

Last week’s post looked at how physics turned its back on time. It had consequences. Today, leading physicists speak of time in despairing terms. Some propose to abandon it. Though buried deep in science journals, this situation eats at the roots of our economy. Is time lost beyond recall? Let’s recap: In 1905 Albert Einstein […]

Making Sense of Space   

Making Sense of Space        Last week we looked closer at the crisis in cosmology. Physicists are inventing increasingly implausible models to describe what they observe. Clinging to descriptions, they abandon understanding. Indeed some heavy-hitter physicists propose to abandon physics. For example, American Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg says: Now we may be at a new turning […]

Is the Beginning Physics or Religion?

The universe’s first few minutes are well-understood, or so it seems. A wealth of evidence tells physicists that, after one minute (some 13,780,000,000 years ago), it was very hot and rapidly cooling, very dense and rapidly expanding, a condition known as the Big Bang. Yet most physicists are curiously incurious about how it got to […]

Einstein and the Death of Physics

  Motion is smooth, as any eye can see. In 1738, Scottish philosopher David Hume could―with little chance of challenge―say: ‘The infinite divisibility of space implies that of time, as is evident from the nature of motion.’ But physics now knows that, at scales far smaller than an atom, space isn’t smooth and motion must […]