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Hawking's approach

  1. Jul 1, 2006 #1
    Not sure which category to post this in (if moderators deem it necessary, then by all means, move it ;)))

    Anyway, so i read about this new approach from Stephen Hawking so quote time! ;)

    So what do you think guys? Is it a novel approach or just a retooling of something already existing?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2006 #2


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    Well I think it is a novel approach, but is also very likely to be as much a waste of time as what has been tried for the last 25 years. There may be some interesting mathematics come out of it, but they won't make any real progress.

    The problem is that the method still reeks of the same problems that have dogged quantum mechanics. A real advance in physics will require a new ontology for QM, one that does not require physics students to believe what amount to mathematical fairy tales.

    What we have now is just a calculational tool, not a true understanding of how the world works. What we have now is just an "effective" theory, it does not extrapolate. Since it is just a calculational tool, it cannot be reliably extrapolated to conditions far far beyond the ones in which it was developed.

    To extrapolate that far is like extrapolating the lifetime of the hydrogen atom when the only tool you have is Maxwell's equations. You can crank the mathematics (maybe). You may get an answer. But your answer will have little to do with the way the world works.

    When we get a theory of everything, you will recognize it because it will allow us to calculate all the parameters of the standard model in the same way (i.e. with great effort, but definitively and from very simple assumptions) that QM now allows us to calculate the properties of the chemical elements.


    Last edited: Jul 2, 2006
  4. Jul 1, 2006 #3


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    That's a very good question, alexsok. Some of us would be tempted to say no, not really to the former question, but perhaps some of the cosmologists here might like to express their opinion.

  5. Jul 2, 2006 #4


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    here are some references
    Cosmology from the Top Down
    Stephen Hawking
    Talk presented at Davis Inflation Meeting, 2003

    that Physical Review Series D 73 article is available online as:

    Populating the Landscape: A Top Down Approach
    S.W. Hawking, Thomas Hertog
    22 pages, 1 figure
    "We put forward a framework for cosmology that combines the string landscape with no boundary initial conditions. In this framework, amplitudes for alternative histories for the universe are calculated with final boundary conditions only. This leads to a top down approach to cosmology, in which the histories of the universe depend on the precise question asked. We study the observational consequences of no boundary initial conditions on the landscape, and outline a scheme to test the theory. This is illustrated in a simple model landscape that admits several alternative inflationary histories for the universe. Only a few of the possible vacua in the landscape will be populated. We also discuss in what respect the top down approach differs from other approaches to cosmology in the string landscape, like eternal inflation."

    Last edited: Jul 2, 2006
  6. Jul 2, 2006 #5


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    alexok, I want to compliment you on finding some interesting articles
    (not this one in particular, but several over time)
    I especially remember your coming up with this Max Tegmark thing about the steadiness of Lambda, reported in Physicsweb


    and starting a thread about it

    but in this case, at least for the time being, I have nothing to add to what Kea and Carl already said.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2006
  7. Jul 2, 2006 #6
    wow! this resonates strongly with some of my thinking of late- specifically the idea that the 'past' is a sum-over-histories of many different rule-systems and universes running in parallel superposition-
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2006
  8. Jul 14, 2006 #7
    Very refreshing read and I agree alot with what carlB said. As a physics student I often feel some of it turns into a mathematical game. With things as elegant and clean as relativity and bits of astronomy ect some of the particle physics and QM seems like it's been made up on the spot.

    Well time to leave work but I'll be reading more on this later!
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