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Is physics almost 'done', so to speak?

  1. Dec 7, 2003 #1
    I know many people will probably disagree with me, but from what i've found out lately about quantum, string theory, M-theory, supergravity, etc. we know a lot more about the universe than I had assumed. Assuming these theories turn out to be true, is that it for physics? Have we found everything after that, and just have to tie up a few loose ends? We all know the story about Charles H. Duell, U.S. Commissioner of Patents, and "everything that can be invented has been invented."

    No one can deny we've made a tremendous amount of progress relative to 3,000 years ago.. but on an 'absolute' scale of knowing everything, are we close to the end, or nowhere near it?

    (Sorry if this is in the wrong forum, i'm new here )
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  3. Dec 7, 2003 #2
    Some scientists say that the world is about to enter an information darkage in the next hundred or so years. The last information darkage was just after the Romans. A huge chunk of their culture was lost and only preserved in literature. Personally i disagree and say that the new paths being explored, such as super-string theory, are merely opening new doorways to completly new areas of science. I believe that the same cannot happen due to the fact that we have come so far in the handling of data that it will be very suprising if we lose it all.
  4. Dec 7, 2003 #3


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    About 5% of the universe is made up of ordinary matter. The rest is non-baryonic (dark) matter (about 25%) and dark energy (about 70%). Physicists have only some vague ideas about what this 95% of the universe is made of. I think it will be a while yet before we see the end of physics.
  5. Dec 7, 2003 #4


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    The same things were being said at the end of the 1800s. There was just the nagging question, which many felt was an error on Maxwell's part, about the speed of light as a constant. And a little fuzziness about blackbody radiation, and what was called the UV Catastrophe.

    Currently we have 2 separate theories, one for large scale and one for small scale. String theory is still pure math with little or no linkage to experimental physics. How can you even begin to think we are near an end! There is much to be learned the next century should reveal much. If we can maintain political stability.

    I totally disagree that we could not lose everything. The current knowledge is held by an incredibly small fraction of the worlds population, our power net and communications system is very fragile, a major disruption would be very hard to recover from. Without power our computers and all the stored information would be inaccessible. I believe that if for some reason our civilization were to collapse within 30 years the information age would exist in the minds of elders only, within 60 years a little believed legend.
  6. Dec 7, 2003 #5


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    Welcome to Physics Forums deltabourne!

    I think your question is a very good one, and as I hope you've seen from the responses to far, PF is a great place to get good answers, or at least informed debate.

    "Dark energy" is my current favourite example of why we're not even close to the end. While there were some theoretical concepts which bore some resemblance to 'dark energy' before the distant supernovae teams started their observations, no one really expected what they actually found ...
  7. Dec 8, 2003 #6
    I won't accept any point as the end until I can...
    "... see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wildflower . . .hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour . . . " ~William Blakeg.

    Physics isn't done till all the nooks and crannies have been cleaned. We have alot of information but very little base to put it on.
  8. Dec 8, 2003 #7


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    Could you give a reference for this? I've never heard such a thing and would like to see what reasons they give for saying such a thing.
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