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Merging theoretical and experimental physics: the 'correct' standard model

  1. Apr 1, 2010 #1


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    It is my understanding that the world of physics is split by a fast chasm into experimental and theoretical physics. The first time I told my father I wanted to be a physicist, he asked me “experimental or theoretical physics?” I thought for a second and responded “both!” He went on to explain the large void between the two fields which I presume is meant to focus my studies and career in one or the other, but never both. Ever since Newton got bonked on the head by an apple, or when Maxwell composed the Maxwell Equations, or when Rutherford proposed the existence of a nucleus and so many others, humanity’s perspective and ‘understanding’ of the observable universe has been largely mobile.
    Right now, the vast majority of experimental and theoretical physicists accept the theory of the atom and its components based on observations and mathematics made in the past and present. Now, I’m a college undergrad and have limited experience in the physics community, but my experience and observations thus far suggest that today’s physics and educational community seems to largely resist (or make up ‘excuses’ to make the current model work) most radical new perspectives. True, the standard model today may be the best explanation for mankind’s observations, but what happened to the huge imagination component? Albert Einstein once said “Imagination is more important than Education”.
    It is obviously the dream of many to truly understand the ‘real’ mechanics of our universe, but the grand body of accepted physics is seemingly almost impermeable towards radical, new proposals. The proposal of the atom was a huge leap into modern theoretical physics, and it is radical ideas like those that will take us forward; not down a seemingly endless tangent.
    A good example was the original proposal of string theory described on NOVA’s “The Elegant Universe”; how a man (I forgot his name) was in his attic thinking and conceptualized string theory. He submitted his proposal to a notable physics journal, and it was turned down; saying something like “your proposal is unique, but the board does not wish to publish it in our journal.” Fortunately, this theory has developed significantly since then, but similar ideas can easily be plowed over by experiences like that.
    I’m not suggesting the standard model is wrong, but I’m emphasizing the existence of communities that are resistant to change which could take humanity’s grand understanding forward, not to a standstill. I urge both theoretical and experimental physicists to not so easily reject new or radical ideas, just because they don’t conform to the common accepted belief.

    Due to the large amount of unexplained phenomenon in the universe, it is practically inevitable that a grand, new theory will prevail over the current standard model.

  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 2, 2010 #2

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    Did I understand this right? Your position seems to be "I haven't studied it myself, but I am sure the people who have are doing it all wrong."
  4. Apr 2, 2010 #3


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    I'm not saying that at all. I'm simply emphasizing the evident resilience of bold, new ideas in the physics community. I'm not, and do not intend to discredit or deny the validity of any scientific work or theory of any kind. I'm urging people to be more creative and to not fear rejection or condemnation from the scientific community. That is all.
  5. Apr 2, 2010 #4
    The universe being made out of little balls is far more plausible than it being made out of un-observable spaghetti.
  6. Apr 2, 2010 #5
    Given that Distler just recently finalized the publication of the final rebuttal of Lisi's simple theory of everything, I think your advice is especially untimely.
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