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Other How to get a theory reviewed?

  1. Nov 16, 2015 #1
    Hi all!
    I am 13 years old and I have a theory I would like to have reviewed. I have looked at other posts like this one, and I am not a "quack." I understand how small the chance is that I am on to something. I just want it checked out, so I can see if I was on to something and I can learn new things. Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 16, 2015 #2


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    Do you have physics in high school? Maybe you can talk with your physics teacher and explain what you have done?
  4. Nov 16, 2015 #3
    You're 13, you get a free pass on being called a crank, crackpot, quack, whackjob, or idiot until you've at least graduated high school. It's called the "cute factor", literally anything physics-related that goes even remotely beyond what you do in school that comes out of your mouth at that age will be regarded as a sign that you're a child prodigy whether it's valid or not. Take advantage of it while you can, though get used to the Dexter's Lab comparisons.

    Back to topic.

    Even if it's not a new discovery, it's a good learning experience to talk about new questions that you have that go beyond what you've done in school. You should ask your teacher in school about what you're thinking of, or ask here (preface by saying you're 13 so the mods go easy on you, "original theories" tend to be frowned upon).
  5. Nov 16, 2015 #4
    Ok, I will try to talk with my teacher.
  6. Nov 16, 2015 #5
    Well let's not call an idea you have a 'theory', and then I'd say the mods will be easy with you.
    What exactly is your idea?
    There is a good chance that:
    a. somebody already thought of the idea.
    b. somebody else did an experiment, (or really clever maths), which proves the idea is wrong.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  7. Nov 16, 2015 #6
    I'm pretty sure nobody has come up with the same idea (maybe a slightly different one, though). I also don't think an expariment has ever been done to test my theory, because the type of expariment required would be outrageously expensive and nearly impossible. I did develop it off of the shortcomings of other theories, and it fits all current experimental evidence to my knowlage (which may be wrong). It may be nonsense or contradictory to a major theory (I am not too farmiliar with the more advanced parts of special relativity, which my idea may possibly conflict with). That is why I am perusing someone to read it over.
  8. Nov 16, 2015 #7
    OK, so you have an idea which you think explains an observable measurable phenomena better than presently accepted theories do.
    It is what?
  9. Nov 16, 2015 #8
    Don't be so harsh. He's a teenager, and he's trying to engage with the subject, which is far more than most people his age would be doing.

    Well, you would need to be very familiar with all of the parts of special relativity before you go around saying you've discovered something conflicting with it. More likely your idea isn't so much a new theory but rather a question you just don't yet have the background knowledge and experience to answer on your own yet. Luckily, you're on an internet forum filled with people who do. What is your idea? And to make this more instructive, try formulating it as a question.
  10. Nov 17, 2015 #9
    First thing you need to do is to formulate your idea/theory and write it down as clearly as you can. What is the physical process/problem/phenomenon that your theory addresses? State how your theory addresses that problem. At this point you would/could consult others you feel may have expertise, physics teachers, university researchers colleagues etc.

    The next step would be to see if generally accepted physics in standard textbooks address the problem you think that your idea addresses. If you find there is a physical explanation of the the same problem/process/phenomenon, is there something that your theory explains that the currently accepted theory does not. If there is then you have something to work with. You would probably need to look at university level textbooks at this stage as the physics is often more completely described than in high school textbooks.

    The next step is an extension of reviewing the accepted physics of the process/problem phenomenon and that would be to search the current scientific literature to see whether any one else has attempted an explanation of /P/P/P. You then compare your explanation critically with those others have offered in the sense that "Does my explanation more fully explain the observed behaviour".

    If it does. then you may be on to something.

    At this point one would normally try and develop some sort of critical test of your idea. Is there some behavior that your theory/idea predicts about the system you are examining that the currently accepted knowledge in the field does not? In this case you can design and conduct an experiment to see that the behavior your theory predicts does actually occur.

    If it does, you are in a position to contribute new knowledge to the field and you would write a research paper describing the above process and you would submit that to a journal. That paper would be reviewed by others who work in that area and/or have generally accepted expertise in physics for the soundness of the arguments presented, the validity of your experiment.

    If those peer reviewers are satisfied that you have proven that your theory better explains the phenomenon than any other your paper would then be published in the journal. Other scientists would then read the paper critically. If they find any flaws in the process or your argument and conclusions they may publish a rebuttal of your work or they may carry out further work themselves if they think of an explanation which better fits the observations of the phenomena you are studying or an improvement to your idea.
  11. Nov 17, 2015 #10
    Already done.
  12. Nov 17, 2015 #11
    Not really.
  13. Nov 17, 2015 #12


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    How can you be sure? Do you read the relevant peer reviewed scientific journals on the subject? Do you know what the current experimental and theoretical state of the art is in the subject?

    The basic rule of thumb is that if you do not know how or where to get your results published, you are likely not aware of the current state of the art and therefore oblivious to the fact of whether your work is of interest or at all relevant.
  14. Nov 17, 2015 #13
    The thing is I don't know if it conflicts with special relativity. That's where I need help. I developed it off of the shortcomings of the Big Bang theory, more specifically the singularity. It satisfies all experimental evidence for the Big Bang. I have actually used calculus in it as well, and I have revised it multiple times after reasearch. It is currently in the best form I can get it without a professional.
  15. Nov 17, 2015 #14


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    Do not take this the wrong way, but at your age it is very unlikely that you have an accurate understanding of the Big Bang theory. In particular as you say that you are not sure whether your theory contradicts special relativity. In order to describe and understand the current cosmological standard model, you will need a certain amount of general relativity, which is taking steps even further beyond.
  16. Nov 17, 2015 #15
    You can learn SR and GR yourself if you really want (using free ebooks and university lectures online) and then see if your theory still holds, but it will take a certain amount of effort and time. It might pay off later on.
  17. Nov 17, 2015 #16
    As I mentioned before, I do understand that my theory is likely wrong. I want to learn from it. I understand some of GR, including the Einstein field equations (not to say I'm an expert on them, because that would be a lie), and I understand how special relativity describes spacetime. I am still learning about SR.
  18. Nov 17, 2015 #17


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    I am sorry, but you simply cannot understand Einstein's field equations without already knowing special relativity. Trying to understand physics by making up your own theories and asking people to shoot them down is not a good way of learning physics.
  19. Nov 17, 2015 #18
    I have looked up every concept in my theory, and many different forms of my equations. I am not positive that nobody has thought of it before, but the closest I could find was cosmic inflation, which is what I based my theory off of.
  20. Nov 17, 2015 #19
    I'd say put your theory in a back gear for now and learn relativity and cosmology in-depth. It might take a few months, or maybe even a few years, but until you know modern physics like the back of your hand, you simply cannot determine if your theory is correct or not (without showing it to anyone else).
  21. Nov 17, 2015 #20


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    In #17 of Warren Siegel's "Are You A Quack", he wrote this:

    Now, you may not consider yourself to be a quack, and you may want to learn what's wrong with what you have in mind. However, if we allow this, then we must also allow ALL the other crackpot ideas by members who claim to "want to learn what's wrong" with all their ideas as well! After all, how are we to judge the actual intention of every single one of these members and to know which one is truly a crackpot?

    We used to be inundated with these "Oh, I have a theory. Can you tell me what's wrong with it?" It is why we prohibited it, and it is also the reason why our forum has a higher signal-to-noise ratio than most forums on the 'net!

    There is another aspect to what you are asking that could be frustrating to many of us. Considering that you have not learned much, even if we entertain your idea, there is a very good chance that you would not understand the responses you will be given. I've seen this very often in this forum where a member who does not have a good knowledge is asking a very complex, and very advanced subject. When other members responded and gave a thorough explanation, the original member did not understand them, and we ended up having to explain the explanation. In other words, we take 1 step forward, and 3 steps back! It gets very frustrating and very annoying very quickly!

    There is a "theoretical minimum" of knowledge that people must know before attempting to formulate a physics theory. Even this minimum isn't sufficient most of the time. Physics is not made of a series of disconnected pieces of information. You try to change one part of it, and you have to account for an observation made in another part of it. The idea of the Higgs mechanism in elementary particle physics came out of a study of superconductivity in materials! So if you are ignorant of a large part of physics, your "theory" might easily already have an observation elsewhere in another field of physics that contradicts it! You cannot study physics in bits and pieces!

    Learn Special Relativity, General Relativity, Classical Mechanics, Classical E&M, and Quantum Mechanics. Those are the bare MINIMUM that you must know before you think you can come up with a physics theory. Otherwise, you are opening yourself up to be called a quack.

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