Most Insightful, Clearest-Thinking Physicist?

  • Thread starter inflector
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Physicist
In summary, I nominate Julian Barbour, who approaches theoretical physics with a strong grounding in philosophical principles and has made significant contributions to the field. He has also been praised for his clear and deep thinking about foundational issues in physics. Additionally, I would also consider Leonard Susskind and John Archibald Wheeler for their insights and contributions to the field.
  • #1
inflector
344
2
Who do you think is the most insightful clearest-thinking physicist alive today?

I nominate: http://www.platonia.com/" .

I placed this in the philosophy section because I want the analysis to be based on philosophical principles and I find Julian's thinking to be most strongly grounded in philosophical principles. I am no expert, but I see a clear contrast in his thinking and exposition as compared with other physicists I have read.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Physics news on Phys.org
  • #2
Leonard Susskind.
 
  • #3
dx said:
Leonard Susskind.

What, in particular, do you like about Leonard Susskind? Two or three sentences would suffice.
 
  • #4
I would nominate John Archibald Wheeler, from the list of his students.
 
  • #5
humanino said:
I would nominate John Archibald Wheeler, from the list of his students.

I might agree with you but it's two years too late for Wheeler to be alive today.
 
  • #6
inflector said:
Who do you think is the most insightful clearest-thinking physicist alive today?

I nominate: http://www.platonia.com/" .

I placed this in the philosophy section because I want the analysis to be based on philosophical principles and I find Julian's thinking to be most strongly grounded in philosophical principles. I am no expert, but I see a clear contrast in his thinking and exposition as compared with other physicists I have read.


I would like very much to know from you what you know to be the philosophical principles which Julian thinking is most strongly grounded on.


Allow me to take this occasion to thank the owner and operator of this forum for allowing discussions on philosophical grounds in this physics forum.

I cannot say that for so many socalled science oriented forums which right away close down a thread, if not ban anyone, for so much as going into the philosophical underpinnings of scientists' ideas and views and consensus teachings.

That certainly indicates a heart and mind that are already self-closeted from any possibility of philosophical considerations of scientists' ideas, opinions, and consensus teachings.



In another forum with this message the thread would already be closed or I be banned.




Yrreg
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #7
T.Padmanabhan

reality is about statistical mechanics. i.e. numbers
 
  • #8
inflector said:
What, in particular, do you like about Leonard Susskind? Two or three sentences would suffice.

Making conceptual progress in quantum gravity requires extraordinary clarity of thought and a very deep understanding of physics. He is the leading figure in a field which most physicists are not even capable of thinking sensibly about, let alone contribute to. All the good ideas in quantum gravity (UV/IR, black hole complementarity, stretched horizon, string theory, holographic principle) can be traced to him in some way.
 
Last edited:
  • #9
I read Susskind's The Black Hole Wars shortly after I read Wilcek's The Lightness of Being and the contrast in the two authors was remarkable. I found Susskind to be much more lucid than Wilcek. He also seemed far humbler about the limits of knowledge in physics. I have found humility to be a marker of extreme intelligence in other areas.
 
  • #10
Most insightful and philosophical physicists alive...two names I think of are Freeman Dyson and Paul Davies. Dyson is particuarly good about the history and philosophy of science. I consider him the closest thing to the polymath scientists of old. Feynman is great of course, though dead, and a pupil of Wheeler like Dyson.

Great scientists come in two varieties, which Isaiah Berlin, quoting the seventh-century-BC poet Archilochus, called foxes and hedgehogs. Foxes know many tricks, hedgehogs only one. Foxes are interested in everything, and move easily from one problem to another. Hedgehogs are interested only in a few problems which they consider fundamental, and stick with the same problems for years or decades. Most of the great discoveries are made by hedgehogs, most of the little discoveries by foxes. Science needs both hedgehogs and foxes for its healthy growth, hedgehogs to dig deep into the nature of things, foxes to explore the complicated details of our marvelous universe. Albert Einstein was a hedgehog; Richard Feynman was a fox.

-Dyson
 
Last edited:
  • #11
Thanks again everyone for the nominations.

I just read http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/14/science/14wheeler.html" . If he was still alive, I think he'd get my vote too.

My favorite lines:
John A. Wheeler said:
I confess to being an optimist about things, especially about someday being able to understand how things are put together. So many young people are forced to specialize in one line or another that a young person can’t afford to try and cover this waterfront — only an old fogy who can afford to make a fool of himself.

If I don’t, who will?
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #12
yrreg said:
I would like very much to know from you what you know to be the philosophical principles which Julian thinking is most strongly grounded on.

What I really like about Julian is how he thinks so clearly and deeply about the foundational issues of theoretical physics: time, Mach's Principle, the nature of general relativity, etc.

He seems to me to approach his work with the idea of finding the core principles which guide theory. I have gained a lot of new insight by reading him as compared to other physicists.

I believe his perspective is one that Einstein and Wheeler both shared: that one should build ideas on a philosophical foundation and then develop the math around those ideas to arrive at a successful theory.
 
  • #13
I would nominate Wheeler as well if he were alive. Besides his many famous students and crucial insights he also inspired people in other ways. I often use his request to the AAAS to expel parapsychology as "pseudoscience", despite his own personal beliefs, as an example of real scientific integrity.
 

Related to Most Insightful, Clearest-Thinking Physicist?

1. Who is considered the most insightful and clearest-thinking physicist?

The answer to this question is subjective and can vary among individuals. Some may argue that Albert Einstein is the most insightful and clearest-thinking physicist due to his groundbreaking theories of relativity. Others may argue for physicists like Richard Feynman or Stephen Hawking for their contributions to quantum mechanics and cosmology. Ultimately, it is up to personal interpretation and perspective.

2. What qualities make a physicist insightful and clear-thinking?

Insight and clear thinking are subjective qualities, but generally, a physicist who is able to think critically, creatively, and logically is considered insightful and clear-thinking. They should also possess a deep understanding of complex concepts and be able to communicate their ideas effectively.

3. How do insightful and clear-thinking physicists contribute to the field of physics?

Insightful and clear-thinking physicists contribute to the field by pushing the boundaries of our current understanding and expanding our knowledge of the universe. They are able to come up with innovative theories and experiments that help us better understand the fundamental laws of nature.

4. Can anyone become an insightful and clear-thinking physicist?

While some individuals may have a natural inclination towards critical thinking and problem-solving, anyone can develop the qualities of insight and clear thinking through practice and dedication. Becoming a physicist also requires a strong foundation in mathematics, a curious and open-minded attitude, and a passion for the subject.

5. What role do insightful and clear-thinking physicists play in society?

Insightful and clear-thinking physicists play a crucial role in society by advancing our understanding of the world and its workings. Their discoveries and inventions have practical applications in various fields, from technology to medicine, improving our daily lives and shaping the future of humanity.

Similar threads

Replies
3
Views
3K
  • Science and Math Textbooks
Replies
29
Views
2K
Replies
10
Views
1K
  • STEM Educators and Teaching
Replies
7
Views
2K
  • STEM Academic Advising
Replies
33
Views
6K
  • General Discussion
Replies
10
Views
2K
  • General Discussion
Replies
2
Views
2K
Replies
27
Views
4K
  • General Discussion
Replies
4
Views
856
  • Quantum Physics
Replies
14
Views
2K
Back
Top