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In the context of Pirsig's classic Zen and the ART of Motorcycle Maintenance, his Guggenheim sponsored LILA, the subsequent formation of the LILA squad of quantum physicists and Dan Glover's LILA's Childthe trouble with physics by Lee Smolin states ...

"how is it possible that string theory, which has been pursued by

more than a thousand of the brightest and best-educated scientists,

working in the best conditions is in danger of failing ?"


What I believe is failing is not so much a particular theory but a style of doing

science that was well suited to the problems we faced in the middle part of the

20th century but is ill suited to the kinds of fundemental problems we face now


The standard model of particle physics was the triumph of a particular way of doing

science that came to dominate physics in the 1940's. This style is pragmatic and

hard-nosed and favours virtuosity in calculating over reflection on hard conceptual

 problems. This is profoundly different from the way that Albert Einstein, Neils Bohr,

Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schrodinger and other 20th century revolutionaries did

science.

Their work arose from deep thought on the most basic questions

surrounding space, time and matter, and they saw what they did as

part of a broader philosophical tradition, in which they were at home.

 

"I sometimes ask myself ... how did it come that I was the one to develop the theory of relativity. The reason, I think, is that a normal adult never stops to think about problems of space and time. These are things he has thought of as a child. But my intellectual development was retarded, as a result of which I began to wonder about space and time only when I had already grown up. Naturally I could go deeper into the problem than a child with normal abilities."

Albert Einstein

 

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In the approach to particle physics developed by Richard Feynman, Freedom Dyson and others, reflection on foundational problems had no place in research. This freed them from the debates over the meaning of quantum pysics that their elders were embroiled in and led to 30 years of dramatic progress.

 

"Schwinger's quantum electrodynamics and Feynman's may have been mathematically

the same, but one was conservative and the other revolutionary. One extended an

existing line of thought. The other broke with the past decisively enough to mystify

its intended audience. One represented an ending: a mathematical style doomed to be

fatally overcomplex. The other, for those willing to follow Feynman into a new style

of visualization, served as a beginning. Feynman's style was risky, even megalomaniacal"

 

-James Gleick, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman


and

the future well being of the KOSMOS.
A fitting tribute to Richard Feynman - RIP

 

 

First posted by Michael Grove on February 19, 2007 at 18:00

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Michael : catalyst-producer

over 3 years later

Michael said


During the Middle Ages there were all kinds of crazy ideas, such as that a piece

of rhinoceros horn would increase potency. Then a method was discovered for

separating the ideas–which was to try one to see if it worked, and if it didn't work,

to eliminate it. This method became organised, of course, into science.



And it developed very well, so that we are now in the scientific age. It is such a

scientific age, in fact that we have difficulty in understanding how witch doctors

could ever have existed, when nothing that they proposed ever really worked–or

very little of it did.

Richard Feynman - ”Cargo Cult science”




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Comment by Michael Grove on May 24, 2014 at 17:28



Richard Feynman is one of the few who have written about the experience of realising a

previously-unknown law of physics and even being aware that one is the first person in

history to have understood it. The deeply cherished and valued nature of these unsurpassed

experiences is a sign of how deep is the human longing that they meet.

Tom McLeishFaith & Wisdom in Science | A theology of Science p 177

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