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Christine Dantas personal take on The Trouble with Physics

  1. Oct 16, 2006 #1

    marcus

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    Christine has written a very personal take on Smolin's book

    http://christinedantas.blogspot.com/2006/10/book-review-smolins-trouble-with.html

    In this case her unguarded reaction makes for a good review
    the book has unusual depth and honesty, so she has answered it honestly from her own depths---experience and thoughts about being a scientist.

    In her review Christine linked to Bee Hossenfelder's review, which is also a good one but in a different way, written less introspectively, and the first comment she got was from Bee (see how well blog works for book reviews)

    it turns out, as one sees from these comments, that Bee has considered that she might sometime write a wide-audience science book herself----well everybody can see that she has the style and talent to do this in an interesting way, if she ever wants.

    Anyway, I really like Christine's take on TwP, just because it is a personal response does not mean that it is singular---without necessarily trying to, she speaks for more than herself


    more conversation here
    http://backreaction.blogspot.com/2006/10/inverse-problem.html
    about the coverage in Nature magazine (5 october)
    interesting discussion involving recognizable voices as well as B.H. and C.D.
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2006
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  3. Oct 16, 2006 #2

    turbo

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    Nice catch, Marcus! Christine Dantas is a charming person - free to give praise when she senses you have an idea that holds promise. We had a few exchanges about the possible role of the vacuum in gravitation after I read her blog a while back and found her reference to Padmanabhan's paper "Gravity: A New Holographic Perspective". She is not afraid to engage in epistemology, and I value that. Her "take" on Smolin's book is personal, as you say, but like much of her blog, her thoughts are well-motivated and characteristically open-minded.
     
  4. Oct 16, 2006 #3

    selfAdjoint

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    Very interesting take, and makes me want to read the book. The fact that it resonates with two people I respect so much who are active researchers tells me that even if there are things to be said otherwise, it carries important truths.

    I remember that my father, a Naval officer who saw action in both world wars, told me that the navy ethic for combat was, "Steer toward the sound of gunfire". I get the impression that Smolin is saying the analogous thing for physics research.
     
  5. Oct 17, 2006 #4
    Thank you for the kind words! :redface:

    I would be very interested to know about your opinions on the last part of Smolin's book. Its domain is not limited to the string theory community.

    Best regards,

    Christine
     
  6. Oct 17, 2006 #5

    turbo

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    The kind words are well-deserved. Your blog is entertaining and insightful, without the posturing and combativeness of some sites. The feedback comments (I just left one in regard to a paper by you) generally reflect the appreciation of your readers in this regard. Thanks.

    Best regards
    Skip

    P.S. If you are interested in quantum gravity, I highly recommend following this link and exploring for a while. Christine digs up some really interesting stuff and presents it in an evenhanded way that is refreshing.

    http://christinedantas.blogspot.com/
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2006
  7. Oct 19, 2006 #6
    Hi turbo-1,

    Yes, I read your message (I receive all comments from my blog through email as well), but this was (is) a busy week :grumpy: , and I had no time to comment back to you appropriately. I'm looking forward to write a post on Mach's Principle. Since your comment is not appearing in the Recent Comments sidebar, I guess you have submitted it to an archived post (probably to a post linking to a paper by Padmanabhan, in which I refer to a paper of mine as well). So when I write that MP post (as I hope I will), I'm willing to transfer your comment there and continue our discussion. If things get really interesting, I can link that post to the sidebar, where it gets a more permanent position.:wink:

    There is one drawback of the blog philosophy: posts get archived and simply "forgotten", discussions tend to get dissolved as time goes by, which is bad.:frown:

    Best wishes,
    Christine
     
  8. Oct 19, 2006 #7

    turbo

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    Hi, Christine:

    Yes, I think it was submitted to an archived post (I tend to dig back into your blog a bit, having come across it relatively recently). Mach's Principle (with its implication of instantaneous spooky action-at-a-distance) troubled Einstein quite deeply and drove him back toward acceptance of an etheric GR in which gravitation, inertia, and EM transmission were all determined by the qualities of the local ether. He actually feared the emergence of QFT (see the closing paragraphs of "Uber den Aether", which Saunders translated quite nicely as chapter 1 of the book "The Philosophy of Vacuum" for some insights here). He was decades before his time, and perhaps could have united EM with GR if he understood and accepted the nature of the quantum vacuum. I think that the LQG folks will blaze the path to quantum gravity. I do not rule out string theories, but they are unattractive to me because they complicate matters and I believe that at the root, the universe is simple and obeys the same rules everywhere.

    Skip
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2006
  9. Nov 12, 2008 #8

    Fra

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  10. Nov 12, 2008 #9
    Making a long story short: the blog was entirely deleted, but afterwards I decided to leave some information available. You will find that review on the main (and now only) page of the blog:

    http://christinedantas.blogspot.com/

    Just scroll down a bit. I have left there two book reviews, and an invited post by Daniele Oriti on his research and new upcoming book. All in the front page, just scroll down. A partial backup of the blog can be found in that page as well, by downloading a zipped file indicated there.

    Thanks.

    Christine
     
  11. Nov 12, 2008 #10

    Fra

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    Thanks Christine, I found it :)

    I know this thread is old and I'm probably a bit of a retard but I am just about to start reading this book now. I read smolins 3 roads to QG and likes his inspiring style of writing, and I figured I ought to read this book as well.

    /Fredrik
     
  12. Nov 12, 2008 #11

    marcus

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    heh heh
    The bottle may be old but the wine just gets better, Fra.
    Christine's review is still good. Smolin's book is still relevant---maybe even more so than in September 2006 when it came out.
     
  13. Nov 12, 2008 #12
    Thanks, Marcus.

    BTW, my ex-supervisor, a very hard working and competent, relatively well-known astrophysicist (at his speciality), who is extremely skeptical about anything concerning quantum gravity, and who was not even a little bit interested in reading Smolin's book, come to me the other day and said he decided to read the book some time back, and -- he was very, very much impressed. I must say that my ex-supervisor is very critic at every detail. He found Smolin's writing remarkable. He did not change much his opinion on quantum gravity, but agrees that Smolin have many points that deserve attention.
     
  14. Nov 13, 2008 #13

    Demystifier

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    For me, it was the best part of the book. I completely agree with its message, except, similarly to you, I think that it can be applied to all scientific communities, not only to string theorists.
     
  15. Nov 14, 2008 #14

    Fra

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    I barely finished the first chapter last night. I fell asleep twice and I think I read a couple of pages twice :-| Because when I woke up I forgot where I last read.

    The main thing that was new to me in this first chapter is when Smoling declared himself as a realist, and suggested that most reasearchers are drived by a kind of realism in the sense of search for the "truth". Considering smolins reasoning of evolution and questioning of physical law, and focusing on processes rather than states, I would have expected a more elaborated view on this, perhaps something along the line that perhaps the "search for truth" understood as an ambition, is more important than truth itself? But I am excited to see how this evolves throughout the book.

    OTOH, I am not aware of how smolins own reasoning has evolved and what the timeline is. This book is I asssume written in 2005? And I don't know how much smolin himeself evolved in the last 3 years? I could be confused by related to some of his more recent, or maybe also older states of reasoning.

    Edit: I fell asleep since I was tired, not because it was uninteresting. I have fallen asleep two nights in a row without reading anything and it pissed me off, so it was just out adrenalin that I forced myself to at minimum finish the first chapter last night.

    /Fredrik
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  16. Dec 3, 2008 #15

    Fra

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    I feel a tiny bit less retarded now when I finished it :)

    In large in was a good book. Many reflections, both on the open questions and in the last part the politics of research. Others found that last part to be best. While I think alot of what he says makes sense, I think he is just making an accurate observation of how things work, and what the logic is. And one always has the option to work for a slow change of this community logic. This is what Smolin encourages. But it was still nothing unexpected, but then I am reading this book 3 years late. I think that in time such change is unavoidable. But books like this might hopefully accelerate the process.

    /Fredrik
     
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