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Necessity of theoretical physics and philosophy

  1. Feb 25, 2009 #1
    hi to all

    i read stuff on theoretical physics especially GUT's and also read littlephilosophy but i keep wondering why is it that people even study these things when we all know that they will have close to zero applications in the real world. also money is spent on all these things like the LHC for particle physics. why cant we use this money for things like medecine and charity.

    just wanted to see your thoughts on this subject
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 25, 2009 #2


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    How do we "all know this"? Do you have a crystal ball that you're staring into?
  4. Feb 25, 2009 #3
    People aren't necessarily studying it because it has applications. Some of them study this subject because its there. Its not up to you to decide what we should study. And physics has no applications??? Google "physics" please.
  5. Feb 25, 2009 #4
    for the record all i mean is that just because we find out a GUT will it help the world in a major way. will it cure cancer for instance or have a big advance in engineering. take the LHC for instance. 6 billion has been spent on it just to see what atoms are made of. do you think that that will have a major impact on the world. will it cure the darfur crisis.
    think about it.................

    please read properly what i wrote on top and you will not 'physics' but theoretical physics'. google that and see what applications you get. and if at all you get any, well they too will be irrelevant. and nothing was said about controlling what people study. only relevance
  6. Feb 25, 2009 #5
    Please go and find out how much funding is already given to "finding a cure for cancer", compare that to the funding for fundamental physics which you are griping about. I think you'll find that it is just a drop in the bucket in comparison.
  7. Feb 25, 2009 #6


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    I don't know.. do you? Ultimately, we do science for the benefit of knowledge, and understanding the world in which we live. In my opinion, it's rather short sighted of the human race to demand immediate practical applications of the theories we are testing. Why not think of the bigger picture: who knows what developments will be made possible in the future by our greater understanding of the physical laws of the universe?

    Anyway, if you're interested in potential medical benefits, read this article, for instance: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/09/080912-lhc-practical_2.html

    Well that's just plain wrong. Surely building the biggest particle collider yet is, by definition, an advance in engineering?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  8. Feb 25, 2009 #7


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    When you have to get a proton therapy, or use some medicine that benefited from the studies done in biochemistry using a synchrotron light source, then maybe you might want to rethink about "zero applications" of particle physics and the likes.


    Think of how primitive your life would be if people at the turn of the 20th century actually thought that way when QM and SR were about to be formulated. Do you think they could have foreseen all the applications from these two seemingly esoteric physics at that time?

    And oh, since you're complaining about "money spent", you might want to do a bit of a homework on the amount of money spent for bio-medicine within the past 10 years, and then compared that not only to money spent for high energy physics, but also for physical sciences in general. Try to argue why you want to remove the PUNY amount for physical sciences, when compared to the humongous funding of the NIH.

    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009
  9. Feb 25, 2009 #8
    I need an animated gif of a messerschmitt being shot down by AA. brrrrrrrr... tak tak tak tak tak, pogh wheeeeeerrrrrrrrr... crash. for all those guys that think pf is a good place to question why physicists do what they do. right now I'll settle for :biggrin:
  10. Feb 25, 2009 #9
    Why do so many people devote their lives to art and such things like broad way musicals? There is absolutely ZERO implication and all these artsy fartsy things wont help anyone. "YES, lets make a giant finger painting, that will stop the war!", no it wont. Even if physics didn't lead to significant scientific advancements in medicine and technology at least it is a major cultural achievements that I believe defines the success of the human race.
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