See his Week246
Always delightful to hear you chime in, cc. John Baez is my hero. He explains things in terms even a dimwit like I can grasp.
It's a kind of unusual post from Baez, a comment to the effect that physics really is in trouble and needs a new approach. But who knows what it is.
My feeling is that if you can't explain the basic underlying principle of your theory to a high school student, it may not be wrong, but it will not be the final theory.
A great thought!
I think I will cite it sometime and somewhere.
There is also a similar one (I am not sure who said that, but it was somebody famous, perhaps Einstein):
If you cannot explain a theory to a layman, then you do not really understand that theory.
John Baez is one of the best expositors I can think of (and, of course, a leading mathematical physicist).
One thing that I also found out is that he is a very patient and attentive person. I've been drawing figures for his quantization and cohomology course and from this process I have learned a lot from him.
Yes, I also think this particular TWF unusual. A lot has been said and written about these books for a while now and I believe it is the first time he openly writes something about them.
I think all that he wrote is reasonable, mainly:
- "(...) casual observers must have gotten the impression that physics was always on the brink of a Theory of Everything... but mysteriously never reaching it. These books correct that impression."
- "It's true there's no obviously better theory than string theory. Loop quantum gravity, in particular, has problems that are just as serious as string theory. But, the "only game in town" argument is still flawed."
- "If everyone pursues the same approach, we'll all succeed or fail together - and chances are we'll fail. The reason for backing some risk takers is that it "diversifies our portfolio". It reduces overall risk by increasing the chance that someone will succeed."
These are the main messages of the books by Smolin and, as far as I can tell, by Woit (I didn't read the latter). All this has been said and debated endlessly elsewhere, but it's nice to read them from John Baez, who has this great capacity of explaining things so that anyone can understand.
Separate names with a comma.