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Author Topic: How to think physics  (Read 3281 times)

Offline thebrain13

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How to think physics
« on: 25/01/2007 07:20:42 »
This is my opinion, and what I use when trying to decipher the way physics works. The key is simplicity. Einstein understood this. Think about it, did Einstein create tons of new physics laws? No, sitting here right now I cant think of any.  Einstein didn't create physics laws, he destroyed them. All he did was create a few postulates which helped guide logic. Like the principle of relativity, and the constancy of the speed of light. Then he explained how certain thing were equivalent to each other like mass and energy. Like time distance and mass. Like gravity and uniform acceleration(the equivalency principle). Using these simple trains of thought he created all of special and general relativity.

People think those things are so complicated, but what is really complicated about them is how simple they are. You dont learn relativity, you unlearn what you previously thought, and thats what's Left.

I'll give you a few Einstein quotes, see if you can catch my drift.

"the most incomprehensible thing in the world is that it is comprehensible"

"the whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking"

"everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler"

"If you can't explain it to your grandmother, you don't understand it"

"any fool can make things bigger, more complex, more violent. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction"

"the eternal mystery of the world is its comprehensibility"

I think the reason that Einstein still doesn't have a successor is due to the fact that genius and simplicity seem to be so incompatible. It takes a genius, to look at the universe, see how excruciatingly complicated it is, and understand that what governs it isn't. Nobody stops to wonder, maybe the universe wasn't created with tons of arbitrary laws, constants and probabilities.

or as good old Albert would put it

"God does not play dice"
« Last Edit: 25/01/2007 18:58:21 by thebrain13 »


 

Offline Soul Surfer

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How to think physics
« Reply #1 on: 26/01/2007 23:10:35 »
I agree with you in a way but feel that I must add a couple of important points.

Firstly you appear to suggest that modern leading edge physics thinking is not striving for the simple.  I assure you that this is not the case.  The underlying theories are extremely simple but creating the models needed to help us understand the way they work can be extremely complex.

Also it is amazing how extremely complex and apparently random behaviour can come from an extremely simple physical rule and in all cases when an idea has first been modeled and then measured in detail the reality almost always turns out to be much more complex than the initial models suggested.

A good read for examples of this is Stephen Wolfram's relatively recent book "A new kind of Science"  which is rooted in some of the simplest relationships involving cellular automata.
 

Offline Pentcho Valev

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« Reply #2 on: 21/02/2007 12:52:56 »
HYPOCRISY OR WHY THEORETICAL SCIENCE DIED

http://www.nyas.org/publications/UpdateUnbound.asp?UpdateID=41
“A Crisis in Fundamental Physics…Then, about 30 years ago, something changed. The last time there was a definitive advance in our knowledge of fundamental physics was the construction ofthe theory we call the standard model of particle physics in 1973. The last time a fundamental theory was proposed that has since gotten any support from experiment was a theory about the very early universe called inflation, which was proposed in 1981.”

http://www.logosjournal.com/issue_4.3/smolin.htm
“Quantum theory was not the only theory that bothered Einstein. Few people have appreciated how dissatisfied he was with his own theories of relativity. Special relativity grew out of Einstein’s insight that the laws of electromagnetism cannot depend on relative motion and that the speed of light therefore must be always the same, no matter how the source or the observer moves. Among the consequences of that theory are that energy and mass are equivalent (the now-legendary relationship E = mc2) and that time and distance are relative, not absolute. Special relativity was the result of 10 years of intellectual struggle, yet Einstein had convinced himself it was wrong within two years of publishing it.”

Has the author of the two texts (Lee Smolin) ever seen the close relation between them? Surely he has.

Pentcho Valev
pvalev@yahoo.com
 

Offline thebrain13

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How to think physics
« Reply #3 on: 21/02/2007 19:06:42 »
Pentcho, do you know anything about what einsteins theories were in his later life? the ones that were immediately rejected?
 

Offline Mr Andrew

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« Reply #4 on: 23/02/2007 01:27:14 »
I totally agree with you thebrain13.  Actually, I've noticed that in physics, everything is based around proportional relationships.  Take mass and acceleration for example: Newton's Second Law of Motion is really mreversible arrow1/a.  They are inversely proportional and we choose to call their product a Force.  There is no such physical thing as a Force.  It is just a proportionality constant.  This is true of many things.  The irrational, numerical proportionality constants that result from empirical data are caused by complicated quantum mechanic calculations.  The simpler ones though, such as 1/2, result from integration.  The inverse square laws like Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation and Coulomb's Law come from the rate of change of potential energy (a direct proportion between masses/charges and their separation: m1•m2reversible arrowr or q1•q2reversible arrowr) as masses/charges are accelerated away from each other.  In the end, every mathematical part of physics relates back to some simple proportion which can be intuitively derived.  It's beautiful in my opinion, how simple it all really is.
 

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« Reply #4 on: 23/02/2007 01:27:14 »

 

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