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Other How do I convince myself that my ideas are bad?

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Hello. I'm looking for some advice. Like many before me, I've tried to come up with something that could unify GR with QM and came to a possible answer. Unfortunately, like those before me, I'm probably wrong. I'm an amateur, I'm not schooled in Physics or Math, I'm not a genius, and I'm prone to making mistakes.

However, while working on my theory, I've come across several points of evidence that it could be close to the truth. This annoys me. It means that from my perspective, the odds of being right may despite my lack of qualifications perhaps be as high as 0.1-1%. Not a lot, but just enough to make me think it may be worth continuing to explore this. In terms of expected value, it may be one of the best things I can do with my time.

So, my question is, what is the best path to get convinced my ideas are nonsense? If I'm wrong, I'd be much happier just being able to rid myself of the entire thing as soon as possible.

The most obvious solution -figure out myself why I'm wrong- has turned out to be an impossible task for me over the years. I find errors all the time, but never anything that fundamentally threatens the core concept.

The second solution -just throw it all out there- is not going to be very effective either I'm afraid. It's an ongoing project, and what I've written down so far is all way too chaotic, unfinished and badly written to be seriously engaged with. If anyone even bothers reading it and understands the ideas well enough to offer criticism, then it'll be easy for me to still escape into the mindset of 'well yeah it's unfinished'.
It also seems like serious, knowledgeable people are just about the last people willing to discuss such ideas. If anyone is willing to engage, they're probably badly informed crackpots like myself, which wouldn't be very helpful.

The third solution -get the proper education to help me figure out why I'm wrong- is going to take a colossal time investment I'm really hesitant to make with such minimal chances.


Are there any other good solutions, or are there any other insights you could give me? Thanks!

(I'm not interested in discussing the contents of my theory here)
 

Orodruin

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I'm not schooled in Physics or Math
Frankly, this should already lead you to suspect that you do not grasp neither relativity nor quantum physics on a level sufficient to understand the steps that need to be taken in order to unify them. If you are not aware of what the theories actually say and predict (but base your understanding solely on popularised accounts), how do you hope to be able to unify them? How do you hope to be able to find a common description for two things that you are unaware of how they are described?

So, my question is, what is the best path to get convinced my ideas are nonsense? If I'm wrong, I'd be much happier just being able to rid myself of the entire thing as soon as possible.
The best path is to learn what relativity and quantum physics actually are and how research is conducted - as opposed to the popularised accounts you will read in popular books and magazines. So this
The third solution -get the proper education to help me figure out why I'm wrong- is going to take a colossal time investment I'm really hesitant to make with such minimal chances.
is actually the only proper solution if you are really serious about wanting to know why you are wrong.

the odds of being right may despite my lack of qualifications perhaps be as high as 0.1-1%
How did you make this estimate? Based on my experience with people without formal education who try to "figure it out for themselves", this probability is much more likely below ##10^{-9}##.

Edit:
(I'm not interested in discussing the contents of my theory here)
And you should not be. It would directly violate the forum rules.
 

russ_watters

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Try picking up a high level physics textbook. Once you see how little you understand, that should convince you.
the odds of being right may despite my lack of qualifications perhaps be as high as 0.1-1%.
The odds aren't even that good for trained physicists. Your odds are exactly 0 because you aren't even doing what you think you are doing. It is like you are sitting in a car and telling us you are flying it to the moon.
 
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Frankly, this should already lead you to suspect that you do not grasp neither relativity nor quantum physics on a level sufficient to understand the steps that need to be taken in order to unify them. If you are not aware of what the theories actually say and predict (but base your understanding solely on popularised accounts), how do you hope to be able to unify them? How do you hope to be able to find a common description for two things that you are unaware of how they are described?
And it does make me suspect that I'm wrong. Hence my post.
Small clarification though, the theory itself is much more a GR replacement than a unifier.

The best path is to learn what relativity and quantum physics actually are and how research is conducted - as opposed to the popularised accounts you will read in popular books and magazines. So this is actually the only proper solution if you are really serious about wanting to know why you are wrong.
I'm self-taught with the help of online resources and books and have focused in particular on available experimental data. So I don't know nothing, and not just popularized knowledge, but I've lacked the guidance of good teachers and still clearly lack knowledge in many areas. I agree that the formal education is probably necessary to be able to find the answer myself, but well, I don't really feel comfortable investing 7 years of studying to chase a single answer to a nonsensical question.


How did you make this estimate? Based on my experience with people without formal education who try to "figure it out for themselves", this probability is much more likely below ##10^{-9}##.
That sounds about right. I wouldn't give higher odds to someone like me either from an outside perspective.
What mainly drove me to bump that number up, is three things:
- Most predictions are identical to GRs predictions or are very close in the earth environment
- I've predicted some effects which turned out to be real things I was unaware of when I made the predictions.
- A simulation of universe expansion (adjusted to get a good fit for redshift of far objects) pumped out both an age and mass density of the universe which are very close to currently accepted values for the age and for the estimated mass density including black matter

But yes, this is obviously going to be utterly unconvincing to you that it's even 0.1%. And since I'm not here to convince you all, let's just take a priori that those are my odds predictions, and that they don't have to be accurate, but that they do affect me.
I'd like to know how to get those estimated odds to 0% so that I can abandon this.
 

Vanadium 50

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help me figure out why I'm wrong- is going to take a colossal time investment I'm really hesitant to make
It also seems like serious, knowledgeable people are just about the last people willing to discuss such ideas.
So your position is that your time is too valuable to understand what professional physicists know, but preofessional physicists' time is not too valuable to spend the time to figure out where you are making a mistake? Just how much more valuable do you think your time is than ours?
 
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Try picking up a high level physics textbook. Once you see how little you understand, that should convince you.
Haven't had any luck with that, it's rare to find a book that's both applicable and impossible to understand. Like of course I might not grasp some high level book about say superconduction, but it'd be mostly irrelevant anyway. Do you have any recommendations?

So your position is that your time is too valuable to understand what professional physicists know, but preofessional physicists' time is not too valuable to spend the time to figure out where you are making a mistake? Just how much more valuable do you think your time is than ours?
Huh? I never stated this was an odd thing or that physicists should be blamed for that. It's a sensible thing to not want to waste your time. I was only stating that to support that it'd be pointless to try and post my stuff on the internet to try and find valuable criticisms. Isn't that something you agree with? I'm sure you'd all be happier not having to engage with quacks like myself.
I have no intention to waste anyone's time. If I'm asking for a professionals help, I'd be fine paying an hourly rate for the effort.
 

russ_watters

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Haven't had any luck with that, it's rare to find a book that's both applicable and impossible to understand. Like of course I might not grasp some high level book about say superconduction, but it'd be mostly irrelevant anyway.
I'll leave the specific textbook recommendation to one of the professors here, but are you saying you've gone through QM textbooks and understood everything? Including the math?
 
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I'll leave the specific textbook recommendation to one of the professors here, but are you saying you've gone through QM textbooks and understood everything? Including the math?
Only entry level for QM (maybe 1.5 years into undergrad?). I wouldn't be able to understand more advanced books without the help of professors / without knowing where to get the prereq info.
My main focus is experimental results in SR and GR though. Being able to calculate the time evolution of some particle isn't necessarily that relevant here, nor is say the exact GR predictions on what happens right outside of black holes, when the experimental data is too limited to be able to tell whether the predictions are even correct.
 

Orodruin

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I have a much easier litmus test, which if failed will tell you that you simply do not have the appropriate knowledge to have any chance of understanding and the current theory (not failing does not necessarily mean that you do though). Answer the following questions (without looking them up), they should be really basic if you know what you are doing:

  • What is parallel transport and what mathematical objects need to be in place in order to talk about it?
  • What is the Einstein-Hilbert action and how does it relate to Einstein's field equations?
  • What is the S-matrix?
  • What are the Callan-Symanzik equations? How can you compute the beta function of a gauge theory?

nor is say the exact GR predictions on what happens right outside of black holes, when the experimental data is too limited to be able to tell whether the predictions are even correct.
This is wrong. In particular thanks to the recent observations of gravitational waves, we know quite well what occurs in the close vicinity of black holes. The observations fit the GR predictions very well and put very strong limits on alternative theories of gravitation. You cannot cherry pick what things you want to consider.
 
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I have a much easier litmus test, which if failed will tell you that you simply do not have the appropriate knowledge to have any chance of understanding and the current theory (not failing does not necessarily mean that you do though). Answer the following questions (without looking them up), they should be really basic if you know what you are doing:

  • What is parallel transport and what mathematical objects need to be in place in order to talk about it?
  • What is the Einstein-Hilbert action and how does it relate to Einstein's field equations?
  • What is the S-matrix?
  • What are the Callan-Symanzik equations? How can you compute the beta function of a gauge theory?
Alright, thank you, that helped. I failed of course, so I'll take that as strong evidence I do indeed have no business even thinking about this.


Edit: I shouldn't lie to myself. It's honestly not very convincing for me. It may further convince you I'm full of crap, but that's not why I asked my question, I assumed everyone would default to that anyway. I'm here to try to convince myself.
I know I lack knowledge about a lot of aspects of GR and QM, but these types of mathematical constructs used to work with GR seem entirely irrelevant when working on something new. All a GR replacement needs is an internally consistent system which makes more accurate predictions about some aspects of the natural world.
That doesn't require Einstein-Hilbert actions nor knowledge thereof. If you had said 'frame dragging is a thing' and I wouldn't have known what you meant, that would be a serious issue. Not knowing what Callan-Symanzik equations are does indicate that I'm not very knowledgeable, but that was already established, it doesn't indicate whether I'm able to come up with something that can make accurate predictions.
It feels like being told: "there's no way you can write a good book when you haven't extensively studied Shakespeare". Sure, it's not the same situation since this is orders of magnitude harder, but it just isn't a very convincing type of argument.
 
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Vanadium 50

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If I'm asking for a professionals help, I'd be fine paying an hourly rate for the effort.
Good. You can contact your favorite national lab and they can set up a work package. You can get a week's time from a professional theoretical physicist. It will cost you about $10,000 for 40 hours of their time.

t it'd be pointless to try and post my stuff on the internet to try and find valuable criticisms. Isn't that something you agree with
I certainly agree with that.
 

Orodruin

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but these types of mathematical constructs used to work with GR seem entirely irrelevant when working on something new
I am sorry, but this is just fooling yourself. The mathematical formulation of a new theory, whatever it may be, must eventually reduce to the GR description in the appropriate limit. If it does not then it is likely already ruled out vy experiment. Not learning GR and finding the theory to replace it are mutually exclusive at this point.
 

Orodruin

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It feels like being told: "there's no way you can write a good book when you haven't extensively studied Shakespeare". Sure, it's not the same situation since this is orders of magnitude harder, but it just isn't a very convincing type of argument.
Honestly, it is more like telling you that you cannot come up with your own theory of brain surgery without first reading up on what has been done to date. I sure would not trust myself to poke around in someone’s brain. Would you? If not, why do you think brain surgery would be any more difficult than finding a theory that supercedes GR? Unlike the latter, there are actually brain surgeries that work.
 
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Honestly, it is more like telling you that you cannot come up with your own theory of brain surgery without first reading up on what has been done to date. I sure would not trust myself to poke around in someone’s brain. Would you? If not, why do you think brain surgery would be any more difficult than finding a theory that supercedes GR? Unlike the latter, there are actually brain surgeries that work.
Lobotomy included? Because the current trend in modern neurosurgery is Deep brain stimulation (DBS) :wink:
 
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Honestly, it is more like telling you that you cannot come up with your own theory of brain surgery without first reading up on what has been done to date. I sure would not trust myself to poke around in someone’s brain. Would you? If not, why do you think brain surgery would be any more difficult than finding a theory that supercedes GR? Unlike the latter, there are actually brain surgeries that work.
No I agree that this topic could be mentally much harder than brain surgery theory. But in brain surgery you create risks if you're wrong and it's safety first. By doing at-home physics crankpottery, I only hurt myself.
And of course I do look at GR first, it is remarkably successful and has immense amounts of experimental evidence supporting it. Predictions from GR and from Newtonian Mechanics are always the first thing I look for when trying to see if I could be correct. I just don't know what to do now when some results indicate I may be, while I'm clearly not competent enough. Wouldn't you want to know what's going on if you stumbled upon some seemingly correct results?
 

Vanadium 50

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Then I think you have your answer. There is nothing whatsoever that will "convince you that your ideas are bad".
 

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