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College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Published

  1. Jun 24, 2012 #1
    Hello Physics Forum. I am in a highly unconventional predicament and was told by a friend this forum might be a good place to talk about my first steps into the world of science. So before I go on, let me give you background and also ask that you bear with me as I have a lot to say and will do my best to condense my thoughts.

    I am a college student living in the Baltimore, Maryland area and am not (currently) majoring in anything physics related. However, I do have an insatiable curiosity of astro and partical physics and like to consider myself of the creative type. About a year ago I came up with a simple idea that in itself is a pretty major statement, but I realized I was just another schmuck with an idea in theoretical physics that was among a million other ideas formed by many other people with more credability then I. This fragment of an idea led me to, for the next year, learn everything I could about particle physics and about the workings of the universe. A sizable amount of my free time was dedicated to educating myself in the most entailing ways I could. I knew my idea was untraditional and relativly unfounded, but I also knew that with the right knowledge, it could either be debunked or grow into something meaningfull and noteworthy. Over the next year, I found myself more genuinely enthralled by science then I ever thought possible, and even excited to be learning about its secrets.

    Nearly everything I have learned and have come across in my year or so in learning not only did not debunk my theory, it fortified it and took it in directions that I see to be logical and immensely important to the way some sciences can be viewed. I like to consider myself a logical person, and am also aware that it is easy to self justify an idea in your own eyes by subcontously overlooking variables that could speak against it, or even simply viewing an idea as more meaningful then it is because you were the one who thought of it. For every section I have added to my theory I have done everything in my power to look at all sets of facts and determine the validity and probability of each one of my thoughts in order to eliminate any holes in the foundations and so that when the time comes I will be able to present it to professionals for critique. I am at the point where I consider my theory perfected and complete to its fullest. The original path I was going to take was to send a copy of it to many, many academic establishments, astrophysicist, and other places/persons that fall into that category as possible. I was also planned on designing a website and use social media as a kickstart to getting it out there.

    I was at the stage where I just needed to pull the trigger, to follow threw and finally start this process, but then I had other thoughts. Instead of sending out my idea to people and to the Internet, why not first try to get a professional to look over it and, with a lot of luck, try to get it published? This is where anyone with a half-a-mind would tell me I'm trying to overreach what is feasible and that my hopes are to high. A year ago I would have agreed, but there is something about this that gives me the energy to at least try, and I know if I don't I will regret it. Im painfully aware that you can't just knock on the door of a science journals headquarters and get published. I'd even be suprised if they give anyone a second look who tries it, let alone a 21 year old college student who has no scientific experiences on paper. But this world is full of suprises, and my goal is to be one of them, and I will not stop until someone listens.

    I am here to ask for any type of guidance that this community can offer and am open to any suggestions. I ask that anyone with advice on how to get a toe in the door be kind enough to share. I am confident that if I can speak to someone with an open mind they will not regret spending time on listening, even if nothing comes of it. As of now, my current plan is to talk to the head of the science department at my college and see if I can stir up interest. Other then this I am at a loss as to what paths I should look into, and would like any sort of help I can get. This is by far the most significant thing I will be attempting in my life so far and have the drive to see it threw. This is a lot for one forum post, and I thank you for taking the time to read about the first few chapters in my journey, I hope that you can help me in forming the next few chapters by lending me any advice and guidance. I really can't say enough how grateful I will be.
     
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  3. Jun 24, 2012 #2
    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    Is your mathematically rigorous? If it is, have you expressed it in a framework that makes it easy to compare to current physics (can you express it as a Lagrangian?) Have you checked that it doesn't make obviously wrong predictions? (i.e. if you have a new model in particle physics you need to check to make sure protons don't decay, for example).

    These are steps you must do before anyone will take your idea seriously.
     
  4. Jun 24, 2012 #3
    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    First of all, if no one else has looked at it, then your theory is likely to be crap. That's not necessarily a bad thing because everyone's theories start out to be crap, it's just that professionals get take a crap theory and beat it to pieces before it turns into something that is presentable.

    Second, your theory more than likely just won't work. This happens a lot. You come up with a brilliant idea, and there is just a fatal flaw because the universe doesn't work that way. So what professionals will do is to be very quick to abandon something that won't work, and then work on something else, which also probably won't work, repeat until you get something that does.

    Third, do you know what a theory looks like?

    No. You don't want to talk with someone with an open mind. You want to talk with someone that thinks your theory is crap and wants to pulverize the idea to shreds and leave you in tears. Physics is about mental combat. If you want to play with the professionals, that means getting into the boxing ring and going three rounds with someone that is trying to pound you into dust.

    When you submit something to a journal, it will go through a set of peer reviewers whose job it is to crush your soul. The idea is that if your idea is any good, it will survive this sort of extreme punishment.

    I'm pretty sure that your theory is crap. If you want to understand why it's crap so that you can come up with a better one, then there will probably be someone that will help you with that. If you want moral or ego support, you are knocking on the wrong doors and your theory is not ready for publication.

    You are going at it with the wrong approach. The trouble is that your theory is more than likely wrong. Most theories are. If you have a lot of ego attached to your own ideas, it's not going to work. You need to just remove the ego, find someone to tell you why your ideas are worthless, use that to come up with new ideas, and then after a few iterations, you'll might come up with something that isn't horrible.

    Also something that I've found very useful in getting people to talk to you is to find someone that is doing research similar to yours, figure out what they are doing, and then come up with some intelligent questions about what they are doing.
     
  5. Jun 24, 2012 #4
    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    @twofish-quant. There is nothing more I'd like then to talk to someone who wants to pulverize my theory into dust. Trust and believe, and as for it not being able to work because I have the sciences wrong, I don't. I understand skepticism here but the framework that makes the foundations are all firmly accepted as scientific truthes. The only way my theory can get definitively debunked is if the concepts and understanding of our universe or quantum mechanics change.

    Im honest when I say I want to have a sit down with a skeptic as this idea is more then offhand self justifications of a college student. I want to find someone like yourself who also has the means to introduce me to the right people and also has the idea going into it anything I come up with is crap. I just ask how you recomend to find this pulverizer.
     
  6. Jun 24, 2012 #5
    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    Just out of curiosity, OP, what are you majoring in currently and how much mathematics have you done?

    BiP
     
  7. Jun 24, 2012 #6

    WannabeNewton

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    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    How did you manage to learn QM and QFT well enough in one year as a non - physics major to the point where you could fully realize and defend your theory? Just curious is all. QFT is quite an expansive subject.
     
  8. Jun 24, 2012 #7

    Pengwuino

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    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    Just publish it in whatever journals you have been doing most of your research based off of.

    Which journals are those by the way?
     
  9. Jun 25, 2012 #8
    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    I liked this little experiment I had. Didn't think that everyone in a physics forum would discourage the Pursuite of pursuing new sciences in the up-and-coming college demographics. Ah well I didn't come to expend energy and defend an idea that others don't even know. Goodnight all knowing beings, I've enjoyed the constructive criticism.
     
  10. Jun 25, 2012 #9
    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    If you think that a few people asking you basic questions (How is your math, which journals do you read, etc.) is discouraging, then you'll need to grow a much, much thicker skin if you want to do science. Twofish's post may seem a bit discouraging, but he's right. Historically, most theories turn out to be incorrect. You're not the first person to promote a new theory without having a rigorous training in math and physics. It's possible your idea is correct and awesome, but given history, is very unlikely.

    People may be more helpful if you care to answer the questions asked by others so far.
     
  11. Jun 25, 2012 #10
    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    Until people know what you know, unfortunately it is very difficult to take your idea seriously. It might sound good in theory, and maybe you have done tedious research through legitimate science journals, and as far as you know, it holds strong. Even if this is true, there's a lot more to it, and we need to know what you know in order to get an accurate idea of whether this is BS, or might actually have something to it.

    My guess is that people here don't appreciate somebody thinking that they have a world-altering theory when you (as far as I can tell) aren't even majoring in physics. Had you possibly come here posing questions to further your theory as opposed to saying that you already have one, who knows, maybe people would have been a little more receptive to this.

    Don't get discouraged. Like bcbwilla said, they actually weren't that harsh to you, I've seen a lot worse. Look at the questions they are asking, and try to figure out what they want from you. If you can answer them, then they might be able to actually help you out. Until then, they don't have any obligation to take you seriously.

    Good luck with what you're doing. It's not bad that you have an interest in science. That's something that we all share. You mentioned that you're in college. I see no reason why, if you really want to take this to the next step, you don't show up to a physics teacher's office and go over this with him. I would assume that they would appreciate somebody interested in science, but just make sure you go there posing valid, well though out questions, and not going there acting as if you have some fool-proof theory that you want them to publish.
     
  12. Jun 25, 2012 #11

    micromass

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    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    Surely you don't blame us for being skeptical of your idea??

    What if somebody came tomorrow and said he had a cure for cancer, but he had no medical training what-so-ever. Would you believe him?? Of course not.

    It's very good that you're interested in science and we certainly support that. The mistake you're making is that you're too found of your ideas. A good scientists should bend over backwards to test his theory. He should criticize the flaws mercilessly and he should not be afraid to falsify his theory. In a way, I always say that when a scientist has a theory, he should be its greatest critic (not that this always happens in practice).

    I once heard the phrase that 99% of what a mathematician does turns out not to work. That's how harsh the field is. So you have a nice idea, good. Go and learn more about physics and science and try to find out why the idea is wrong. Ask questions to people who know physics well. Etc. If you end up researching it and you still don't know how it's wrong and if other people also can't find flaws, then it's worth publishing. This is how science works!!

    Science is not: hey, I have a good idea, let's publish it. No, a scientist has good ideas and then presents it to his colleagues who try to destroy the idea completely. A theory also gives rise to predictions. If you tested these predictions in experiment and they turn out to work, then you got something. In the other case, you got nothing.

    So, let me ask you: do you have experiments that could falsify your theory?? What predictions does your theory make?? These questions are absolutely crucial.

    Don't be afraid of criticism and don't take it personally. All we want and all you want is to find out how nature works.
     
  13. Jun 25, 2012 #12
    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    It's "tough love."

    Also, when people say that physics is for "intellectual masochists", it's meant quite literally. At some level you have to enjoy "mental whips and chains" in order to make it in the field.

    That's how the game is played, and that's why physics is such a tough sport. If you want to be an world class boxer, you have to learn to fight. I'm pretty sure that your idea is a stupid one. I'm pretty sure of that because you are human, and good ideas don't come into the world without difficult. Your first idea is probably stupid, because *everyone's* first idea is stupid.

    Me. I like getting beaten up. I *know* my first thought is stupid. Tell me why my idea is stupid, and I'll come back with something else. It's a lot of energy, but I like boxing.

    It's not constructive criticism. It's destructive.
     
  14. Jun 25, 2012 #13
    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    The first thing that do is to make it clear that you can take the heat. If you ask someone about what they think of your idea, and they tell you that it's the dumbest thing that they've every heard of, and you get all defensive and offended, then this was a waste of time for everyone.

    If you want it to be published, then you have to be ready to get into the boxing ring. When it comes to publication, people will not be nice and supportive. They will be quite rude and nasty. It's part of the process.

    The second thing to do is to go through your references section and then contact that people whose papers that you've cited, and try to start a dialogue about the topic you are trying to do research on. If you don't have citations, then it's not publishable, because you can't show that you've have the background knowledge on the topic, and you can't explain how this interacts with research in the field.

    The big problem with people trying to publish theories of physics is frankly, most people don't know what a theory of physics looks like.
     
  15. Jun 25, 2012 #14
    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    It's not a credential thing.

    If someone with a Nobel prize in physics came tomorrow and said that he had a new theory about the universe, I'd be just as skeptical about it. I had the privilege of listening someone that had a Nobel prize in physics talk about one of the ideas he got published, and he had to fight very hard with the peer reviewers before it was accepted.

    Also, one thing about Nobel prize winners is that sometimes they can be quite nutty. It's often hard to figure out whether someone is nutty or brilliant, and I've come to the conclusion that being brilliant in some things means being nutty in others.

    The other thing is that it's not enough to come up with one good idea. You need about a dozen ideas in the pipeline. This is one reason most scientists are very open to sharing their ideas. For every idea that they have time to work on, they have about a dozen things that they don't have time to develop, and if someone else is willing to it, then great!!!!

    Criticism is good. That's why people end up becoming masochists. In physics, if someone is willing to whip and beat you up that means that they care about you.
     
  16. Jun 26, 2012 #15
    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    I don't think you have a new theory, and I don't think you'd really want to have a new theory either. Trust me, theoretical fundamental physics is nearly incomprehensible in the formalism it uses, and you probably don't know the formalism.

    Hell, many professors of physics cannot even understand theoretical fundamental physics. I'm willing to bet 1/3 of the physics faculty at some schools have not taken classes on general relativity or quantum field theory, much less know enough about them to do fundamental theoretical research, so unless you feel really, really luck to be better than PHD physicists as someone still in college, better just watch some TV and forget physics.
     
  17. Jun 26, 2012 #16

    Ryan_m_b

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    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    Firstly I think it's important to point out that this website is not a place for you to develop a theory, see the rules for why (TL;DR version: we teach science, we don't produce it). Secondly a lot of what you have described is similar to how crackpots behave/act. Please note that I am *NOT* calling you a crackpot but have you any idea how many crackpots post on the internet:

    - That they've come up with an amazing new theory
    - That they've never (until recently) had formal training
    - Set up a personal website/blog and advertise it for attention
    - Spam social media
    - Spam academics with email copies of their theory.

    The best thing you can do is to take on board what you have read here, use this site to learn about what your theory addresses, assume your theory is wrong and try to write up and publish your theory in a journal. For the latter choose a journal out of the ones you have been reading over the last year that best reflects your theory's field and write it in the style they want (most journal websites list the style and format). If you can't do the latter because you haven't read many journals then your theory most likely is worthless. Don't get me wrong you could be a genius who happened to come up with a paradigm altering view but in reality unless you know everything about the current status of your field you wont be able to push the boundary.

    Lastly one more piece of advice would be this: remember than an analogy, however detailed, is not a theory. This might not apply to you but in my experience the majority of personal theories are just extraordinarily elaborate analogies that at best say nothing about the world (no predictions) and at worst are horrendously incorrect.
     
  18. Jun 26, 2012 #17

    Ryan_m_b

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    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    This type of attitude will not get you anywhere. Responding to legitimate (even if it is rude) criticism and speculation as to your theory's worth with defensiveness and insults will never, ever help you progress.

    If you are interested in continuing to seek help then you should address some of the points given. Chiefly:

    What education have you gained?
    What journals have you read?
    What papers does your theory cite?
     
  19. Jun 26, 2012 #18
    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    What is your theory? Where's the Beef? All we're talking about here is the procedure of sharing information without any actual sharing going on.
     
  20. Jun 26, 2012 #19

    micromass

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    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    It is against the forum rules to discuss personal and speculative theories.
     
  21. Jun 26, 2012 #20

    Evo

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    Re: College Student Seeking Advice Concerning Working Towards Getting A Theory Publis

    Also, learn how to spell or use a spell checker.

    If you want to be taken seriously, you need to know how to spell.
     
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